Thursday, March 1, 2018
Back and Forth
While many researchers prefer to delve into their direct line of ancestry, it sometimes becomes helpful to keep an eye on what's been happening on those collateral lines—the families of the previous generation's siblings. That turns out to be the case in tracking the whereabouts of the Elko, Nevada, high school graduate we were once introduced to as baby Fay.
In 1939, Fayetta Mae Randall was attending school in Nevada. By 1940, however, she was a married woman in northern California—married, incidentally, to a man born and raised in California, not Nevada. How did they meet?
Admittedly, we've already seen that baby Fay once lived in San Francisco, but we also saw that that was a short-lived residence during her toddler years—hardly the time of life for a budding romance. The rest of her childhood was spent in Elko. What was the nexus?
The man she married, Joseph Olindo Panuzzi, was the son of Italian immigrants Pasquale and Carolina Panuzzi, who, not surprisingly, operated a grocery store in the unincorporated area of Contra Costa County. Ever since their arrival in America, the family had been in the same northern California county.
It took some exploration through baby Fay's family tree to discover that there were other connections between her Nevada family and the Bay area. Back at the time of the 1920 census—that same year in which Fayetta lived in San Francisco with her parents, Charles and Hallie Kleckner Randall—baby Fay's maternal grandmother had shown up in a census record in California, not in the expected Nevada where the woman's husband and other children resided. By 1920, Hallie's sister, Fay's aunt Birdie, had married, then divorced, then remarried her husband in nearby Alameda County, and apparently needed assistance with the household, including her infant twins.
In that year of family upheaval when Hallie's mom was across the Bay in Oakland with Birdie and her husband, Percy Calcote, Mrs. Kleckner had brought along her son Clifton, then only eleven. I'm sure, upon his mother's return home to Elko, Clifton went with her. However, by the time of the next census, he was back in California, a single working man residing in San Francisco.
If it weren't for one detail in the 1940 census, we wouldn't have known that, in the midst of those years in which Clifton showed up as a resident in San Francisco, he actually spent some time back home in Elko. Fortunately, that one census question—"In what place did this person live on April 1, 1935?"—revealed that he was back in Elko.
He wasn't the only one in his household who was back in Elko in 1935. By 1940, Clifton was married, and his wife had also stated that she had been living in Elko in 1935. Could it have been upon the couple's return to California that Fayetta traveled with them?
Though Fayetta's young uncle, the newlywed Clifton, was back in San Francisco, that was not for long. By the end of the year, and at the age of only thirty one, Clifton was dead, succumbing on Christmas Eve, only two days after his wife's death, from injuries sustained when their car was struck by a Southern Pacific streamliner.
Clifton's older sister, the twice-married Birdie, had once again divorced her husband, returned to Elko, married another man and subsequently moved to Washington, so she was no longer a connection to California. The rest of the Kleckner siblings had remained in Elko. Not until decades later would Fayetta's mother return to California. But for the mystery nexus between Clifton's niece Fayetta and the son of an Italian immigrant in Contra Costa county, Fayetta would probably have been back in Elko, as well.