Tuesday, May 29, 2018
One Last Try
You didn't think I'd give up so soon, did you?
Susie and Juanita have gifted us with another clue and that, of course, was their names and their (presumed) relationship. Like the photo postcard of Paul Emile and Lucien, I'm presuming this portrait is of siblings—although admittedly, it could be of cousins.
Let's just assume, though, that the hundred year old photo postcard I found of the children named Susie and Juanita was a picture of sisters. Let's also assume the person who wrote the note on the back of the card mentioned the name of the older of the two girls first. And, to add to those presumptions, let's estimate the older girl to be anywhere from age four to age six, and the younger one—do I detect a bit of baby fat still lingering?—to be barely three.
Of course, all of this could be wrong. But we have to start somewhere.
You likely can guess what will come next: head to FamilySearch.org or one's favorite online repository for census records, and search for those two given names in a pattern such as the one we are assuming. Factor in the dates when that type of postcard was used—1906 to 1912—and see what can be found with a search.
I used the 1910 census because it was right in the midst of that date range. I searched for Juanita's name as the lead query, with "Susie" as sister, even though the ages were likely the reverse, mainly because I felt Juanita would be the rarer of the names. Susie, of course, could be just a nickname, but what would I use in its place? Susan? Suzanne? At that younger age, it seemed best to gamble on searching with the name exactly as the writer had given it.
Feeding those parameters into the search box at FamilySearch, I ticked the box for exact match for each of the names and clicked the search button.
Next came time to reject possibilities. There were several hits, of course, but with that bonanza came multiple reasons to eliminate some of the results. I rejected those in which Juanita was older than Susie, or in which the two names were listed in the household, but were obviously not of relatives (such as lodgers). I tossed those where the age difference was too broad—for instance, a sixteen year old with a six year old.
What I was left with—assuming all search results for the 1910 census had been displayed, which I can't be certain of—were just two possibilities. One was for a ten year old Susie with a four year old sister Juanita in Michigan. Another was for a six year old Susie with a four year old sister Juanita in Colorado.
I liked the second possibility better...until I took a closer look. Susie and Juanita Baldz were part of a mid-sized family which had moved to Colorado from New Mexico before 1896. That, in itself, would have been no problem, but taking that closer look revealed a few more details about the family. The parents were listed as speaking, for their primary language, Spanish rather than English. In addition, the father's occupation was entered as laborer, and the stay-at-home mom was overseeing a family of six children, including an oldest daughter who was herself working as a servant in a private home.
I could be wrong, but add to my presumptions the consideration that this is hardly the economic milieu into which you'd expect someone to be trifling with photographs of their children in dress-up mode. Not in that time period. Nor is the chatty note on the back of the photograph what you'd expect to be penned by someone for whom English is a second language, not one used in the home on an everyday basis.
The other possibility was that of Susie and Juanita Laraway of Grand Rapids, Michigan. Interestingly enough, the Laraway family also had six children, but I spotted something interesting about this household grouping: Susie was the oldest of those six siblings. That might explain Susie's mature facial expression in the photograph.
In 1910, Susie Laraway was ten years of age, and her sister Juanita was four. While the age range was a little wider than I had expected, if the photograph had been taken a couple years earlier, the scenario would then shift to an eight year old Susie, with a two-to-three year old Juanita.
But there is a problem with this potential solution. In the Laraway household, there was another daughter in between Susie and Juanita: six year old Frances. Why would Frances have been left out of the picture?
Not happy with either of the possibilities I found, I suppose I could try my hand at searching for the alternate names for Susie. Or check the 1920 census and see if both daughters were still residing at home. It's a snap that I can't reverse engines and look at the 1900 census, though. Depending on the time frame, it is possible that Juanita would not have been born by that date.
A rerun of the search protocol may also be in order, or to try it at another service (I already had tried my hand at doing so at Ancestry with even less promising results, but we also have Find My Past and MyHeritage).
What is more likely the case, though, is that I'll set this puzzle aside for another day. Or search through posted family trees at Ancestry to look for possibilities. Now that I've put the names up on this post, I'm a firm believer in crowdsourcing, and may just have to be satisfied with letting the search muscle of Google draw curious cousins to this post and hope for the best.
Besides, I've got other projects coming up—and soon.