Tuesday, March 6, 2018
Foiled by Another Elusive Lead
If I had any thought that, upon discovering more about that hundred year old postcard's recipient, I could then locate just how the item came into my possession, I should have recalled my difficulty in tracing its sender.
It's true that the 1917 postcard was clearly signed by Hallie Randall from Bandon, Oregon, but that didn't mean I'd actually find any record of someone by that name in the 1920 census in that town of less than two thousand residents. Likewise, to think that the Mrs. Henry Keefe whom Hallie was addressing would actually show up in the same record for Red House, Nevada, was naive of me. Bandon, at least, was designated as a city, small as it was; Red House was merely a bump in the road on the outskirts of Winnemucca.
Still, you can't blame me for trying. It seemed like a reasonable hypothesis. But in all of Nevada—not just that one-town county which contained Red House—there was not one Henry Keefe that I could find.
Of course, there were plenty of O'Keefes to be had—though not many Henry O'Keefes. I did manage to find a notice of sale in the Reno newspaper in 1926 regarding one Henry O'Keefe, liquidating his estate after his passing. Whether this was the same man whose wife Hallie had addressed as Mrs. Henry Keefe, I can't tell. And Reno isn't exactly the forsaken outskirts of Winnemucca, though there was precious little standing between the two.
The hope of determining the route taken by that little postcard of Baby Fay—from her mother's hand to the recipient in Nevada to, ultimately, the antique store in Jackson, California, where I found it—is, however, merely a secondary pursuit. The key question is: can I return the little treasure to a family member now who would appreciate having it? Even that question proved difficult to answer.
Usually what I like to do is look through all the family trees posted at Ancestry.com which include the person in question. In many cases, from those publicly-posted trees, I can tell which researchers are actually close relatives of the subject of my search.
In this case, though, most of the researchers had two discouraging points in common. One was that the tree was quite large and the researcher seemed to be only distantly related, often through marriage. The second drawback was that, because this family had unfortunate divorces, the relationship-by-marriage was on the other side of the divide. Somehow, I wasn't sure that this tiny photograph would be cherished by the distant relative of the ex of a hundred year old breakup. I wanted someone closer to Baby Fay.
There was, however, one tree where I couldn't quite tell who the home person was. Since I had no other options, I decided to make contact. If nothing else, at least this researcher might be able to connect me with a closer relative. It was worth the try.