Friday, November 30, 2018

In the Bay Near New Pass Bridge

It was an abandoned family photograph that enticed me to delve into the story of the Knapp family and all the ins and outs of their many generations of brothers and sisters. And now that I'm almost to the point of confirming that the original portrait of William Malphus Knapp had made its way homeas well as some of the others from this familyI may as well wrap up the story of what became of William's brother George.

William and George had headed west to Washington from their family's Kansas home (as well as others in the Knapp family, but that's a story for another day). While George stayed in Washingtonor strayed to nearby Oregon when jobs were tighthe eventually dropped from sight in the Pacific Northwest.

There's a reason for that: he moved. Ultimately ending up in Floridaas far from Washington state as is possible in the continental United StatesGeorge eventually showed up in Sarasota, Florida, where he boasted, in the 1930 census, of being the captain of a yacht.

He was also known for a time as a barge operator. At least, that's what he was identified as in the Sarasota Herald in the edition for Tuesday, April 21, 1931. There, he made front page headlinesthough below the foldafter his boat had been spotted, early that morning, drifting. The vessel was being used to tow a barge but at the time the bridge tender noticed its unusual lack of purposeful activity, he had put in a call for help.

A body was spotted from overhead by the help of a small airplane, and by two that afternoon, the body of George Knapp was retrieved from the bay near the New Pass Bridge in Sarasota through the help of seven Sea Scouts.

It was odd to notice, in the next day's paper, the small paragraph dedicated to those in George Knapp's family who survived him:
Survivors include his widow and several grown children by a first wife, who resides elsewhere.

That first wife, incidentally, was none other than Lena Mary Overacker Knapp, whom we had last seen in desperate straits, living with her youngest daughter while working in an Oregon household as a domestic servant. That was according to the 1920 census.

Lena did, though, have a story of her own for us to discover, though one divulged by peering through the cracks of what records can be currently found online. I found it curious, on her son Jackson's 1917 draft registration form, to see his response listed for the entry requiring "nearest relative." He entered "Mrs. Lena Valinger" rather than Mrs. Lena Knapp. And no, he didn't have any sisters by that name.

Granted, a digitized version of an index for Oregon marriages did show two entries for someone named Lena Knappin one case, Lena M. Knappthough it doesn't show the name of the groom for either of those line items. Whenever it happened, though, we can also see that Lena was married yet another timeat an as-yet undisclosed date and location, although this 1928 petition for divorce published in The Tacoma Daily Ledger could lead us to assume a Washington locationwhen we turn to see her own obituary and burial information.

As it turned out, Lena did make it to Florida, as well. I doubt it was in the company of her first husband, George, if what was written on her son's draft registration form was correct. But she didn't exit her seventy year long life with either that first or second husband. Somewhere in Broward County, Lena passed away on September 2, 1944. Though her obituary got the spelling of her sons' surname wrongit was rendered as Knaptit at least gave us more information than we could glean from the unfortunate George Knapp's memorial over a decade earlier.
Funeral services were held Monday at the Hollywood mortuary for Mrs. Lena Mary Curtice, 70, who died Saturday. Burial was in Dania Cemetery. Mrs. Curtice is survived by her husband, Bert E. Curtice of Hollywood; two daughters: Mrs. Mable Gillingan of Bingham, Washington; Mrs. Dorothy Goolsby of Hollywood; four sons: Arthur Knapt of Tacoma, Washington; Jack Knapt of Portland, Oregon; Paul Knapt of Hollywood; and George Knapt of Miami.

Thursday, November 29, 2018

About Arthur

We found big brother Arthur Knapp, posing with his baby brother Peteralias Jackson Harlowe Knappin an abandoned family photo from 1899. The photo, after an unexplained hundred and twenty year journey, surfaced in an antique store in Sonora, Californiapretty much a seven hundred twenty mile trip from where the picture was taken in Kelso, Washington.

As we learned yesterday, Arthur and Peter, er, Jackson were sons of George and Lena Overacker Knapp. Arthur was the couple's second-born child and oldest son, born in Washington state in 1893. It was Arthur who, in 1910, garnered two entries in the census recordsone in the Portland, Oregon, household of his parents, and another along with his father as laborers in a railroad construction camp about one hundred miles on the other side of Mount Hood. Granted, they could have left home for work the day after the April 18 enumeration in town, and arrived at the Lyle Gap work camp before the head count there on April 25. But there is more to that story, I suspect.

Curiously, when Arthur registered for the draft in either 1917 or 1918the date is nearly illegible on the digitized copy of his registration (though we do learn from elsewhere that he enlisted on July 28, 1917)—he reported being married, although Washington state records show the actual date of the marriage he claimed as his first was August 22, 1920. Interestingly, that same draft registration card indicated that his mother and a sister were solely dependent on him for their support.

By 1930, Arthur and his bride, the former Philena Malone, were settled in Wahkiakum Countysame county where his brother Peter Jackson also resided. By then, Arthur and Philena were proud parents of a son and two daughters.

The story, after that point, gets murky. I can find neither Arthur nor Philena in the 1940 census. While there is a Mrs. Philena M. Knapp listed in the voter registration records of Los Angeles, California, as early as 1934, of course, that could be a case of mistaken identitiesalthough, c'mon, how many Philenas do you know?! The tale may be told to us in shadow form when we find Philena's Social Security record showing she received her identification number in the state of Floridawhere her father-in-law had movedand realize that Philena's burial and Arthur's were not in the same cemetery.

Which brings us to another point: just where did Arthur's father, George Knapp, go? While Arthur and his brother Jackson remained in the Pacific Northwest, what became of George Knapp, himself? While he is not in any of the Knapp family photos I found in that Sonora antique shop, we may as well get some closure to this family's saga, by visiting the rest of the story in tomorrow's post.

Above: Close up of six year old Arthur Knapp, from a photo with his baby brother Peter (Jackson Knapp) taken in 1899 in Kelso, Washington; photo currently in possession of owner until returned to a direct descendant of the Knapp family.

Wednesday, November 28, 2018

Alias Jackson

The labels on the front and the back of the abandoned family photograph might have said the one year old infant was named Peter Knapp, but if that was the only clue I had to go by, in seeking to return this picture to Knapp family descendants, I wouldn't have gotten far. Fortunately, the picture, taken in a studio in Kelso, Washington, featured not one boy, but two. In addition to Peter, there was someone named Arthur Knapp, listed as six years of age in 1899. Even better, the 1900 census led us to a family in Kelso with two appropriately aged sons possessing exactly those names—the household of George and Lena Knapp.

To find Peter Knapp anywhere else, however, was a bit more challenging. Wandering through all the possible documents and resources offered through a search at led mesomehowto the Find A Grave memorial for someone who was purported to be that very same Peter Knapp. Only...his name was listed as Jackson Harlow Knapp.

The Find A Grave volunteer responsible for this memorial made a note about Jackson Knapp:
He was born with the name of Peter, but when he went to get a delayed birth certificate in Portland, Oregon, in 1943, he changed his name to Jackson, as he preferred that name.

I scrolled through the possibilities found at Ancestry to determine just when Peter Knapp might have made the change to Jackson Harlow Knapp official. It was long before 1943, apparently. True, there is a transcription of a record showing a delayed birth certificate under the name Jackson Harlow Knapp, but the image of the actual document is not available online, so I can't verify the date that was drawn up.

However, as early as the draft for the first World Warwhich he completed on September 12, 1918he signed his name as Jack Harlowe Knapp.

Even before that point, he was identified with this same name, when a letter from his mother, dated June 19, 1918, was attached to his marriage license. The letter, naming Jackson Harlowe Knapp, granted parental permission for "Jack" to marry Alma Harriet Anderson in Wahkiakum County, Washington.

Peteralias Jackson Harlowe Knappapparently spent the rest of his life in the Pacific Northwest. We can see him first as a young couple with his Norwegian-descent bride, Alma, boarding in a home in Walla Walla, Washington in 1920, then back to the county of their marriage in Washington to raise their young family of three sons in 1930, and then to the city of Portland in 1940, where he worked as a machinist. Our last glimpse of him was still in Portland at the time of his passing in 1968, then over the river and across the state line to Vancouver, Washington, for his burial.

That, however, is the story of just one of two people in that hundred nineteen year old photo I rescued. Tomorrow, we'll discuss the other son of George and Lena Knapp in the picture—Arthur, the one who was big brother to Peter, alias Jackson Harlowe Knapp.

Above: Photograph of one year old Peter Knapp and six year old brother Arthur Knapp, taken in Kelso, Washington, in 1899; photograph currently in possession of author until claimed by a direct descendant.

Tuesday, November 27, 2018

Labels I Love

There is nothing I love more, when attempting to return abandoned antique photos to family members, than to discover a picture with enough information provided to lead me merrily down a trail of discovery. Whether written on the front or the back of a picture, names, dates, and locations go a long way in helping a researcher pinpoint the subjects' identities.

So far, we've been exploring the several photos I found in a Sonora, California, antique store which all had to do with the family of William and Clara Alice Knapp. One was of William, himself. Another was of his young family. The one we viewed yesterday was a photo of one of his youngest children, a son given that same first name.

Today, though, we'll switch tracks and look at another photograph which I believe must have originally belonged to the same family to whom the other ones once belonged. This picture, too, is of Knapp family members, but to see where these two children fit into the Knapp family constellation, we'll have to step back another generation.

William Malphus Knapp, son of yet another William Knapp and his wife, Corintha White, was the eldest of several children. As we can see from the family's entry in the 1880 census, the next child in line to the eldestWilliam, himselfwas a boy named George Harlow Knapp. Born in 1871 during that sliver of time when the Knapp family had moved north from Indiana to Michigan, George eventually left the home where the family finally settled in Kansas, and headed west.

Whatever drew him to Washington, I'm not sure, but on January 26, 1890, in Tacoma, he married Lena M. Overacker. Ten years later, the couple boasted five childrenand a household full of lodgers, as well as listing, as his occupation, the position of "mill owner."

Thankfully, the census record for 1900 listed their children's names as those with which they were commonly called. If I had to rely on official designations, I might not have been able to pinpoint this Knapp family as the correct one for the subjects of the photo I was researching. You see, the photowith identification provided characteristically right on the frontwas of two children named Peter and Arthur. But to find Peter in any other records would be a task near impossible for a researcher outside the Knapp family, as we'll see tomorrow.

The portrait, taken at Hargrave's Studio in Kelso, Washingtonright where the 1900 census had indicated this family livedincluded a handwritten note identifying Peter Knapp "age 1 year" and Arthur Knapp "age 7 years."

Another notethis time thankfully on the reverse, rather than crowding out the composition of the picture itselfprovided more information.  From that note, we learn that the photograph of Arthur and Peter was taken in 1899, at which time Arthur was six years of age, and Peter was still an infant of one year of age.

This made it fairly easy to locate the family in the 1900 census, in Cowlitz County, Washington, where the tiny city of Kelso had barely been in existence for eleven years. By that time, the Knapp family was part of a city with a population of less than seven hundred peopleincluding, thankfully, a professional photographer.

By 1910, though, the family's story had begun to change. The familyslightly larger with the addition of two more childrenwas now living in Portland, Oregon. Though the Knapps were still taking in lodgers, George's occupation had changed from the lofty-sounding mill owner to teamster for an express delivery company. That, however, was according to the report provided to the census enumerator by George's wife.

In the meantime, separated from his family by Mount Hood, over one hundred miles to the southeast of Portland in a little encampment in Crook County called Lyle Gap, George Knapp was not living, as his wife reported, in Portland, but was himself a boarder in a railroad construction camp, along with his son, Arthur.

The 1920 census told a little bit more about the story, with Lena listed as a divorced woman, serving as a housekeeper in Linn County, Oregon. Her youngest child, fourteen year old daughter Dorothy, was the only Knapp family member still living with her. Her ex-husband George had likely moved, by then, to Florida. If that 1920 census entry is for the right George Knapp, none of his children had moved to join him there, either.

Tracking down what became of their son, the infant Peter Knapp from the photo I found, in particular, would have been the greatest challenge...until I discovered why that name wouldn't produce many answers.

We'll continue that discussion tomorrow, as well as introduce that photographic memory of George and Lena's two sons from 1899, back in Kelso, Oregon. But one thing is sure: I would never have been able to determine who those two boys from the picture actually were, if it hadn't been for the foresight of an unnamed someone who took the time to write a note explaining when and where the picture was taken, and who the subjects were. No matter how much of a scrawl the handwriting might be, those are the labels I most love to see.

Monday, November 26, 2018

Not Leaving Anything to Guesswork

The postcard came with a note on the back: "I gess you know who this is." Fortunately, someone thought it better to not leave any doubts as to the answer, and, as typical of the Knapp family photographs rescued from a northern California antique shop, had scrawled the response on the face of the picture.

The photograph was of a young William Knapponly this son of William Malphus Knapp, like his father a generation previously, went by his middle name. Milton, son of Malphus, was born after his family moved halfway across the continent from Kansas to Washington. The location where the Knapp family chose to livea farm in rural Klickitat Countywas home in 1900 to his parents and five older siblings, plus one of his father's many siblings, Cornelius Knapp. I suspect that was not the only Knapp sibling to follow William Malphus Knapp's cross-country move.

William Milton Knapp made his appearance in the Knapp household early in 1903. He wasn't there long before his family decided to pull up stakes and return to the midwestthis time to Major County, Oklahoma. Unfortunately, not long after their arrival in Chester, Oklahoma, Milton's father died at age forty in 1908. By then, the younger William was barely five years of age.

The next few years saw Milton first in the household of his widowed mother and her father, Samuel Hoover, in 1910, and then ten years later, likely in the same home, living with his mother and step-father, George Banfill, in 1920.

Not long after that, Milton Knapp struck out on his own, marrying Agnes Lillian Houser in nearby Dewey County on March 21, 1922. By the time of the next census, the young couple was still living in Major County, but by then, they were joined by their two sons and a daughter. Come 1940, the family score edged upward to boys 3, girls 1 in the Milton Knapp household. By then, though, the family had been living in Alamosa County, Colorado for five yearsa place which they continued to call home, apparently, until Milton's death on Christmas day in 1979.

The photo I found in that antique shop was one of a young Milton Knapp, though it's hard to determine just when the picture was taken. The postcard came labeled, "William Milton Knapp, born Dot, Wash Jan 27 1904."

Dot, apparently now considered a ghost town, was in or near Klickitat County, Washingtonthe place where the Knapps lived for only a few short years. It's likely that Milton barely remembered that location from his early childhood, and judging by the outdoor scenery behind him in this photo, that was hardly the scene you'd expect in tiny Dot.

In this photo, Milton was possibly in his late teens or early twentiesperhaps, judging by his outfit, posing for this picture at the time of a special occasion. If we ever find a descendant who is interested in receiving this photo postcard, perhaps we'll have the opportunity to learn a bit more about any event prompting the taking of this picture. 

Above: Photograph of a young William Milton Knapp, undated; found in a Sonora, California, antique shop; currently in possession of the author until claimed by a descendant of this family.

Sunday, November 25, 2018


When I was a kid, enjoying the luxury of a four day Thanksgiving break from school, the worst feeling was to realize, at the close of the holiday, that I still had homework to finish before Monday.

Yesterday, one of the coordinators of our SLIG course on Advanced Southern Research and Resources emailed class participants our pre-class assignment. Yep. Homework. Thankfully, it is not due by the end of the Thanksgiving weekend. We have all of December and the beginning of January to tackle this assignment.

Still, I couldn't help but remember that end-of-weekend feeling from so many years ago. Holidays and homework do not blend (though tell that to all those college professors expecting term papers handed in, right after returning to campus from a rushed trip home to a family turkey dinner three thousand miles away).

So, what is the challenge we classmates have to look forward to for the next eight weeks? It is a task akin to what SLIG instructor Anne Gillespie Mitchell has taught at RootsTech 2018: "Using Cluster Research to Understand Your Ancestors." In our case, the assignment won't be quite as exhaustive a search as outlined in the RootsTech presentation. We need to select one southern ancestor and trace that family through three census records, noting observations on a spreadsheet, keeping in mind the principles of cluster genealogy.

In my case, I may just tackle one: my McClellan family and their associated lines in Wellborn, Suwannee County in Floridathough I am tempted to make my encore be the Broyles and Taliaferro lines in South Carolina. Maybe both will be too ambitious. After all, I only have until January 13, 2019, to finish my homework.

Saturday, November 24, 2018

Flora Finds her way Home

Sometimes, when I research an abandoned antique family photograph with the hopes of sending it home, I never do find signs of living descendants. I'm still holding several of those pictures, waiting to run across a family member who would love to receive them.

Others are quick finds: the subject's tree is readily discovered online and traced down to the most recent generation...and the descendant is actively working on that tree and responds quickly to messages from other researchers.

But there are some who posted their tree online and then, seemingly, just walked away and never gave another thought to their family history. I can send messages to such people, but I seldom hear back from them.

Such has been the case with some of the photos I've found during this last trip to the antique stores of Sonora, California. I've figured out who the descendants might have been. I just can't seem to entice them to answer meincluding some researchers who seem to be closely related to the family of William Malphus Knapp.

So, after a run of such experiences, I hadn't had much hope for a quick answer when I reached out to a descendant of Flora Knapp Jones a week before Thanksgiving.

It was Thursday evening, November 15, and I had just returned home from our genealogical society's last meeting of the year. I decided to send a late-night message to a researcher whose tree included Flora Knapp, sister of William Malphus Knapp, whose story had run in A Family Tapestry that same morning.

By the next morning, I had received a reply from Lauren in Dallas, Texas, explaining that Flora was her second great grandmother. Lauren actually remembers, from her childhood years, Flora's daughter Mildred. According to Lauren, her great grandmother Mildred, Flora's daughter, was quite talented. Mildred was Lauren's first piano teacher, and the family still has one of Mildred's paintings. To have this connection to Mildred's mother in the form of a photo of a young Flora Knapp confirms that her picture is returning home to a family which still cares very much about their personal heritage.

Flora's photo was in the mail the very next day, slated to arrive in Dallas on Monday. By Tuesday, I got confirmation that Lauren had indeed received the photo, and that it had arrived in good condition without any mishaps.

Any time I've been able to return a photograph to family, it has always been with expressions of gratefulness for being able to receive such a lost treasure. We seldom know what we don't have, of course, though most of us can imagine how we'd feel if such an unexpected gift were handed to us.

Of course, when something like this transpires during the holiday season, it seems to come with a second spurt of joy, just as happened last Christmas when a descendant got to surprise her husband's grandmotherstill alive at ninety threewith the photo of her father, whom she lost as a child (John Blain, the mustached man who died as a young father after being hit by a train in Kansas).

At this point in researching the extended family of William Malphus Knapp and his wife Clara Alice Hoover Knapp Banfill, so far we've managed to return one photo back home to family. I'm still waiting on responses to two other messages. And we've still got another Banfill descendant and one Knapp descendant yet to meetas well as some Knapp cousins, likely from a preceding generation. But for now, I'll celebrate one more who has made her way back home to family.

Above: Close-up of undated photograph of Flora Knapp of Douglass, Kansas; original now returned to a second great granddaughter in Texas.

Friday, November 23, 2018

Leftovers, Anyone?

After a day like yesterdayThanksgiving Day, for those of us in the U.S.perhaps you are already turning green at the thought of a week yet to come of turkey leftovers.

I'm not, at our home. Though we definitely overcooka twenty pound bird for only three of uswe have finally found a response to the dilemma of leftovers. My husband, whose immediate family history put him growing up in restaurantsworking, not dininghas a tradition of cleaning the bird immediately after dinner, then saving it for the stock pot the next morning. He roasts the bones in the oven with some vegetables, then sets up his gigantic stock pot and begins the simmering process of making turkey broth.

We freeze multiple containers of this broth for soups throughout the winter, of course. But over the years, we've also discovered that we can chop up all that leftover turkey and freeze a good portion of it in each of those soup containers. Makes for some hearty soups and helps us avoid dry turkey leftover syndrome.

Maybe at your house, you do things differently. I know some people pull out, at the other end of the feast day, feeling somewhat like their next step should be this:

Dietotherapy? Maybe that's not for you. Maybe your approach is to grit your teeth and persevere through one hundred iterations of turkey leftovers. Pretty soon, though, you'll get desperate enough for that new variation on the theme that makes you wish you could have found a recipe book like this, only for turkey instead of oysters:

In case you're wondering, I would never recommend considering Turkey à la modenor oysters. But I suppose everyone needs to find her own path. I hope your sensible plan for recuperating from yesterday's feast suits you just fine, and you are now on to a sensible plan for avoiding today's madness at department stores everywhere.

And if you are just the type to be curious as to how our ancestors used to prepare their feastswhether fancy or fulfillingyou might be interested in the trove of thousands of old cookbooks assembled at Internet Archive. Old church recipe books, even. It proved to be a fascinating diversion for me the other afternoonthough I have yet to find that church cookbook with all the wonderful treats my mother baked when I was growing up. Who knows, maybe someone will upload even that little paperback ladies' fundraiser to the Internet, eventually.

Thursday, November 22, 2018

Enjoy Your Blessings

Whether you happen to be the "Compleat Housewife" (I'm not, though I'm blessed with an epicurean husband), and regardless of whether you've prepared a feast for fifty or for few, I hope your day is not only filled with wonderful scents and scenarios, but with a chance to look at the bright side of life. Whether many or few, it's the blessings that add pep to your step. I hope you recall a few memories of good times that perk up your day for the better.

Happy Thanksgiving, wherever you are!

Wednesday, November 21, 2018

A Banfill Snapshot

We've met hers. We've been introduced to his. Now it's time to meet theirs: the children of George Banfill and Clara Alice Hoover Knapp Banfill. Today, we'll start with a snapshot of their son Harold and his wife.

After the October 10, 1912, marriage of widower George and widow Clara Alice in Major County, Oklahoma, they welcomed their firstborn in December of 1913. They named him Harold Lee Banfill. Born in the same Oklahoma county where his parents were married, Harold moved with them when they returned to Douglass, Kansas, and then, apparently, also to Modesto in California before the time of the 1940 census.

By the time of that 1940 census, Harold was already marriedto Emma Margaret Prien, a native Californian. Living next door to his parents, Harold was head of a household which also included a two year old son.

What is interesting about this photograph I found of Harold Banfill and his wife Emma is that, though it was a more modern-looking snapshot, it still contained that unnamed someone's incessant scrawl across the face of the composition that we've found in some of the older Knapp family photographs.

In this case, it noted, "Half brother of Myrtle Knapp McNown, Harold Banfill + wife Emma." Myrtle Knapp, as you might remember, was the young girl in her family portrait who couldn't help but wigglejust a little bit. She was the one who, though sharing a first name with her mother, always called herself by her middle name, Myrtle.

Myrtle had also moved out west with the family, though before leaving Oklahoma, she had met and married Arthur Floyd McNown in 1912. By the time of the 1930 census, she, Floyd and their two children were living in Stanislaus County, California, where Floyd was working as a chiropractor. (An adorable postcard from that time period, shared by an Ancestry subscriber, speaks to his practice in California.)

Myrtle and her husband eventually moved from the Modesto, California, area to live closer to the coast in Hollister, as did some of her relatives.

I doubt the photograph was retrieved from Myrtle's belongings. Rather, it must have belonged to someone who not only was related to the Knapps, but had a specific connection with this one particular Knapp descendant, rather than the whole Knapp family in general.

While I can't quite figure out who that linking person might have been, I do know there are a few Banfill family researchers who have posted their tree online. Now, it's just a matter of contacting one of those researchers and seeing if there is any interest in receiving these old photographs. It's now time to sit back, wait, and (hopefully) see. 

Above: Undated snapshot of Harold Banfill and his wife, Emma Margaret Prien Banfill, with a note that Harold was the half brother of Myrtle Knapp McNown. Photograph currently in possession of author until claimed by a direct descendant of this family.

Tuesday, November 20, 2018

Tracing Vina's Path

In trying to confirm whether each of the wives of George Banfill was actually sister to the other, one way to produce evidence to that fact is to view records of the children of George's first marriage. We have tried that for two of George's three childrenCharles and Hazelleand come up empty-handed. There is, however, one other opportunity: George's daughter Vina.

To try and track Vina's life story, though, turns out to be more challenging than one would expect. The easy part is finding her, along with her younger sister Hazelle and her brother Charles, in the 1900 census, back in Wichita, Kansas, in the household of her parents, George and Myrtle Banfill. There, we learn that Vina was supposedly born in April of 1896.

By 1910, Vina had lost her mother, and her widowed father had moved the remaining familyby now, only Vina and her sister Hazelleback to Douglass, to the home of his widowed mother, Mary Banfill.

After that point, it becomes challenging to track Vina, mainly because of her several marriages. In 1920, we can find her in the Kistler household, but it is not apparent just whom she has married by that surname until we find a Social Security record for her subsequently deceased son Jack. Then, we learn that her husband's name was George.

Again, in 1930, Vina's changed identity was a challenge. The census reveals she was by then living in Oregon, and married to Earl Hacker. But in the 1940 census, she was in Californiain the same county where I live, incidentallywidow of a man named McIntyre. Her daughter Dollie, from her marriage to George Kistler, was now married to Lindsay Douglas and living in the same household.

Where Vina ended up next, I cannot say at this point. I can't find any record of her deathperhaps owing to yet another married namethough I can find a record of her Social Security application, which was the point of this search in the first place.

And it is there that we face another disappointment, if we are hoping for verification that Vina's mother was sister to George Banfill's second wife Clara Alice. On that record, Vina reports that her father's surname was Banfillwhich we already knewbut that her mother's name was not Hoover, but Mary Baum.

Baum? Where did that come from?!

Actually, there may be a logical explanation. Remember, Vina and Hazelle were raised, as teenagers before their father's second marriage, by their widowed grandmother. Her given name just happened to be Mary. And while Mary is one of the most common given names for daughters, if we take a step back in George's own family history, we can find an explanation in the census before Vina's birth and even before George's first marriage.

In the 1880 census, George Banfill was still an eight year old boy in his parents householdhome of Levi and Mary Banfill. But George's parents didn't live on their own property; they actually lived with his father's in-laws. And their surname actually turns out to be Baum. Could it be that, having been raised by her grandmother, Vina automatically provided her grandmother's maiden name when filling out the Social Security forms? We can't say for sure, but the records sure vindicate us for having such a guess.

Still, that leaves me no wiser about the identity of George's first wife. For now, that may have to suffice us, until more documentation turns up, online. After all, I won't be traveling to Kansas again, any time soon.

In the meantime, though I have no photographs of George's children by his first wifewhoever she actually wasI do have a photo of each of the children of George and Clara Alice Banfill. You'll meet the first of the two, tomorrow.

Monday, November 19, 2018

Another Way to 'Splain It

It sure seemed that it was owing to the matchmaking prowess of a next-door neighbor that the widower George Banfill came to say "I do" to the widow Clara Alice Knapp. But there may be another explanation. I can't quite find all the documentation other researchers seem to intuit in their trees, but I'll lay it out for you to see for yourself.

It's no secret that it's possible to see the work of other family history researchers online, wherever publicly available trees can be posted. In the case of George Banfill and his first wife, there are a couple curious details which some researchers assertminus any documentationthat you may find interesting.

Bottom line to this curiosity: when George remarried after the death of his first wife, he may have married his sister-in-law. Here's how the story could possibly unfold: George's first wife's maiden name was Hoover. So was Clara Alice's. Clara Alice Hoover's parents were Samuel Hoover and Ellen Frettinger, a domestic servant Samuel met in the Benton County, Indiana, household of George and Caroline Krugh, where Samuel was also employed in 1870.

In that same census year, on November 6, Samuel Hoover and Ellen Frettinger were married in that same county, and went on from that point to have at least five childrenaccording to the several family researchers whose trees I was able to locate. Of those children, we already have met one: Clara Alice Hoover, who marriedand later became the widow ofWilliam Malphus Knapp. Her siblings included Ana, Charles, and Ellen Jennie, apparently lost in infancy in the same year that her mother also died.

From the point of those 1879 deaths, I have not able to find any verification or burial information that matched Ellen Frettinger Hoover's previous record from the 1870 census. Neither have I found the widower Samuel and his five children in the 1880 census. Not, in fact, until the 1910 census do I find Samuel againat the point at which his daughter Clara Alice, herself now a widow, had moved back from Washington with her own children to live with her father in Oklahoma.

There was, however, another daughter of Samuel and Ellen Hoover. Some family trees show her name one way, others report a wildly different take on this daughter's name. While some researchers assert her name was Beda Mamestes Hooverwithout providing any verificationothers say her name was simply Myrtle. For Myrtle, we have some indications of such a name; witness the possibilities at Wichita, Kansas, where we see Myrtle as the wife in the George Banfill household in the 1900 census, and likewise in the Kansas state census in 1905.

There is, of course, another way to see whether George's first wife was sister to his second wife: look for any records concerning the children of that first marriage. With that method, we have three chances for verification: one for their son Charles, and one for each of their two daughters, Vina and Hazelle.

With Charles, unfortunately, I've struck out. Though I can find records for an uncle, his namesake, I find nothing for the Charles Banfill who was born in December of 1899. Perhaps his family's appearance, sans Charles, in the 1910 censuswhere we first found them in Douglass, Kansasis an ominous sign of what became of young Charles Banfill. We won't be finding any clues as to his mother's maiden name in that case.

As for his sister Hazelle, we have the easiest route to finding any record of her mother's identity. Born July 16, 1897, Hazelle Grace Banfill married Homer Crump in Major County, Oklahomawhere the widowed Clara Alice Knapp had been livingon November 5, 1917. By 1930, Hazel and Homer and their only child, eleven year old Homer Walter Crump, were living far from Oklahoma, in Gustine, California, where they remainedat least until the elder Homer Crump's passing on April 28, 1938.

Homer Crump was buried in a cemetery in Modesto, Californiain the next county to the north of Gustinewhere, by 1950, Hazelle was eventually married to Arthur Rathhaus. A year after his father's death, Homer and Hazelle's son, also named Homer, was married, providing us with documentation that his mother's maiden name was indeed Banfill. His career in the Air Force ended abruptly in a headlines-producing collision of two B52s carrying him and fifteen other crewmen over an airfield in Spokane, Washington, the cause of his untimely 1958 death.

Hazelle lived until 1981, eventually moving from Modesto to the oceanside city of Montereyor at least the county by the same name. I cannot find her burial informationat least, not yet. But was it a confirmation of her mother's maiden name to discover that the California Death Index gave the answer to that question as Hoover? Or, as is often the case in moments of such stress, did a distant family member give the wrong information? After all, we know for sure that her step-mother's maiden name was Hoover. It could have been an easy mistake to make.

There is, however, one other option: reviewing the records of Hazelle's sister Vina to see if we can find any confirmation of this possibility that their dad's two wives were actually sisters.

Sunday, November 18, 2018

Still Good to Connect With Cousins

The deceptive pitfall of online research resources is that their ease of access tempts us to think we can do it all, ourselves. No matter how fast those genealogy giants digitize documents, however, there is still more to be found out there in the real world than out there in the ether. So you can imagine my delight when I was finally contacted, in real life, by an actual cousin.

Well, make that a third cousin, once removed. Of my husband's family. But that's still a contact worth making. Especially on a line in which I've been missing the fellow researcher whom I used to regularly share notes with, over the years.

With this new contact, I discovered I hadn't wandered down that way on my mother-in-law's Gordon line for a long time, so I had to go back and add some newly-found documentation, plus spruce up some missing branches. And I thought it might be a nice touch to add this particular newly-found cousin into the mix, so I worked my way down her line of descent and made sure she was part of the family tree.

All that to say my general intent, from last summer until the SLIG class I'm taking on southern research this coming Januaryto stay focused on my own mother's treehad a necessary detour so I could be equipped to adequately answer this newly-found cousin-in-law's email. And, since today is my biweekly count day, you'll see that number reflected in the slight uptick in the head count in a tree other than my mom'stwenty four more names, to be exact. That brings my mother-in-law's tree up to a total of 15,761.

All the rest of the work, in the past two weeks, centered on my research goal for next January's class. My mom's tree advanced by 214 to reach a total of 15,876. My dad's tree stays put at 516, and my father-in-law's tree remains at 1,514. Next year, we'll see changes when I settle on a new research goal for 2019.

Admittedly, there are a lot of details to clear up in all those trees. Every time another record set gets added to the collection at Ancestry, I find another "hint" to catch up with. Unless the hint is in the domain of my mother's tree, however, it doesn't get attended to, which means I have a lot of leaves shaking at me. They will have to wait 'til new growth in the spring. I have a research goal to accomplish before this year is out.

Saturday, November 17, 2018

Smoked In

Florida has hurricanes. The northeast has blizzards. And we here in sunny California have forest fires. As of this check, in fact, we have 146,000 acres worth of fire-demolished turfand counting. And that's just up here in northern California.

I may be at a safe 140 mile distance from the troubles up in Paradise, but don't think we're untouched by this tragedy. Other than the unhealthy air we're breathing, the bulging traffic in town makes me wonder how many refugees from the "Camp" fire have sought shelter, not in the completely packed emergency centers in Butte County and neighboring areas, but even as far away as down here with familyany family who will take them in.

Even while the northern part of our state is burning (not to mention, its twin tragedy down south), someone back east is fiddling. Apparently, it's no longer fashionable to provide media coverage of devastation while it is still occurringat least, apparently to some viral Twitter conversations mulling over whether it's more fair to give 24-hour coverage to hurricanes than fire-nados. Please. Somebody hand me a particulate respirator.

So, while the chaos continues, the rest of us stand by, useless, but warned to stay indoors. Colleges have closed their doors around hereyes, this far awayand as the air quality continues to plummet, I suspect other organizations will follow suit.

Meanwhile, what's an isolated family historian to do? Stay safely indoors and...and...well, go online and do more research. What else is there to do? And, apparently, so has everyone else, judging by the sluggish response of my favorite family history website last night. Admittedly, that is so First World Problem, but when we are captive in our own homes, what else is there to do?

Above: Watching the data as things go from bad to worse. The top segment in the map to the right represents the air quality rating for the county where I live. The number 290 written there places it within the range from 201 to 300 labeled "Very Unhealthy." The next category up is designated "Hazardous." That's for the Central Valley counties south of Sacramento, California. I can only cringe to think what the people north of the state capital are experiencing. Data courtesy the San Joaquin Valley Air Pollution Control District.

Friday, November 16, 2018

The Rest of Her Story: Clara Alice

Perhaps the reason little Myrtle Knappthe wiggleworm in the photograph from Tuesday's postused only her middle name was that Clara was both her first name and that of her mother. The matriarch of the William Malphus Knapp family was known as Clara Alice.

The elder Clara was widowed fairly youngshe was thirty four at the timewhen her husband passed away in 1908. By then, though the family had moved from Kansas to Washington state, they had returned to the midwest, this time to Oklahoma. The widowed Clara Alice Knapp was easily found in that same location in Major County, Oklahoma, by the time of the 1910 census, living with her eight children, along with her father, Samuel Hoover.

Meanwhile, about two hundred miles away, Clara Alice's deceased husband's auntthirty one year old Flora Knapp, whose photo we saw yesterdaywas by then married to Roy Jones and living in Douglass, Kansas.

The house immediately next door to the Jones' residence was a household with the exact opposite configuration of Clara Alice's situation back in Chester, Oklahoma. This was the home of Mary Banfill, whose widowed son, George, was living with his two teenaged daughters, Vina and Hazel.

While I have yet to find any documentation that Aunt Flora served as a cunning matchmaker, you are welcome to come up with your own guess as to how George Banfill in Kansas met Clara Alice Hoover Knapp in Oklahoma.

It wasn't long after those two 1910 census records were compiled, including the two households separated by nearly two hundred miles, when a couple met at the Major County courthouse in Oklahoma to exchange vows and blend their families. On October 10, 1912, George Banfill and Clara Alice Knapp became husband and wife.

By the time of the next census in 1920, George and Clara Alice had a family comprised of three of her childrenRobert, William Milton, and Florence Knappplus two children of their own: Harold and Nila Banfill. In the 1920 census, George's two daughters had already moved on, and by the time of the 1930 censusby then, moved back to Douglass, Kansasthe only children remaining in the Banfill household were those George and Clara Alice had in common.

When 1940 arrived, however, the couple had moved far afield of either midwestern state. They now showed up in the Great Valley of California, living next door to their son, Harold, himself a married man with a two year old son of his own. George and Clara Alice apparently remained in that California location for the rest of their lives, for George was buried in the Modesto Pioneer Cemetery in 1947, and Clara Alice followed in 1948.

For those who aren't familiar with this part of California, Modesto is located in Stanislaus County, the county just to the south of the one where I live. Though I found photographs of their familiesboth the Knapp family and the Banfill family, whom we'll meet next weekup in Sonora, which is a drive away in the foothills, I consider this to be a possible explanation for how pictures of a family from Kansas and Oklahoma might have ended up in California at all.

Best of all, though, I now can say I might have a better idea as to why the Banfills might have held on for so long to the picture of Aunt Flora.

Above: Close-up of Clara Alice Hoover Knapp from a Knapp family photograph taken circa 1898; photograph currently in possession of author until claimed by a direct descendant.

Thursday, November 15, 2018

Meet William's Baby Sister

Included in the set of family photographs I rescued from a Sonora, California, antique shop was a smaller grouping that obviously belonged to someone who knew the William Malphus Knapp family. We've already shared William's own portrait, as well as a family photograph with his wife, Clara Alice, and their (at the time) four children. Now, we're going to step back another generation and take a look at a photograph of one of William's siblingshis baby sister Flora.

It was a good thing this photograph was labeled, because not only did it provide a name for the young lady in the portrait, it help me zero in on the right generation in the Knapp family. You see, William Malphus Knapp had a daughter named Florence, a name which often gets shortened to Flora, but thanks to whoever labeled this photowith that characteristic scrawl right on the face of the picture framethe details help us to identify the right Knapp generation. This Flora was daughter of a William Knapp, alright, but the label also told us she was "sister of Wm. + Geo. Knapp."

As the younger William Knapp had a son named Williamwe'll be meeting him soon, as wellbut not a son named George, it is the previous generation to which we'll turn to identify this Flora.

Heading back to the Knapp home in 1880 Douglass, Kansas, if you recall, the family was comprised of William Malphus Knapp's parents, William and Corintha, as well as his younger brother George. The couple had apparently lost two other sons during the time they had moved to Michigan. After a gap of about eight years, along came Flora, born in 1878.

Flora apparently remained in or near Douglass for a good portion of her adult life, where we learn through the 1900 census that she had married, in 1897, a man from Illinois nearly eight years her senior, named Edward Roy Jones.

Despite having married in 1897, though, by the time of the census three years later, Flora and her husband were childless, as they were, also, at the time of the 1910 census. At that point, the only other person in the Jones household was a boarder, Helen Clifford, who worked in Flora's millinery shop.

Before the point of the 1920 census, though, Flora and Roy had news: they had welcomed in a daughter, now three years of age and born in Florida, whom they named Mildred. By the time of that 1920 census, Roy was forty seven and Flora was forty one. They were by then living in Wichita, not far from their old home in Douglasscertainly much closer than wherever their daughter was born in Florida.

The couple may have returned to Douglass after that point, but it is hard for me to tell, as I can't yet locate their record in the 1930 census. By 1933, however, Edward Roy Jones had passed away, and though his wife outlived him by another two decades, they were both buried back in Douglass, Kansas. By the time of the 1940 census, the widowed Flora was living in Wichita in her by-then married daughter's household, along with two young grandsons.

What is encouraging to me is to find a few family trees posted in which relate specifically to Flora's daughter's family. Perhaps that is a good sign; Flora's photo may make its way back home soon. What may complicate that possibility, though, is that some of those direct descendants haven't checked back to update their tree in over a year. If I send a message via their Ancestry account, they may or may not respond.

We'll just have to wait and seefor Flora's photo as well as several others. Perhaps this is just how things go in the avocational genealogy research world. While Life happens, sometimes family history has to wait.

Above: Photograph taken in Douglass, Kansas, of a young Flora Knapp, baby sister of William and George Knapp; photograph currently in possession of author until claimed by a direct descendant.


Wednesday, November 14, 2018

Alias Clara?

Middle names may come in handy for those daughters who, having grown up, decide they don't like their first name. At least, it appears so in the case of that photograph we viewed yesterday. While the picture of the family of William Malphus and Clara Alice Knapp provided the children's names as Richard, Ellen, Hazel and Myrtle, that certainly didn't agree with the records we located from the U. S. Census for the daughters in the Knapp family. According to the 1900 census, their names should have been Maud H., Clara M., and Corintha E.

Granted, it would have been easy enough to assume those initials could have represented H. for Hazel, E. for Ellen, and M. for Myrtle, but what if that was entirely incorrect? We need some documentation to boost our supposition.

Since looking at the next census record did nothing for us, other than add three more children to the Knapp family rostertwo of whom were sons, by the way, with the final addition being a daughter named Florence A. Knappwe need to look elsewhere for some verification.

Think wedding bells for the next stop in this search. At least for two of the three older daughters, that was enough to confirm our guesses.

We found the family in Major County, Oklahoma, in that 1910 census, and it turns out we didn't need to look far from there to find any marriage records. And not long after that 1910 census, eitherwhich makes sense for a widow with several teenaged daughters at the time. After their father's death in 1908, the first child to marry was Maud Hazel Knapp, who married Orville J. Holland in 1911.

We can connect another middle name with its counterpart from the census at the marriage of Ellen Corintha Knapp, who married Bennie McMullen in 1915. So far, we've found written documentation matching two of the three daughters' names.

But Myrtle? While Myrtle Knapp did get marriedin 1912, to Arthur Floyd McNownshe was careful, in that marriage record, to only be listed by one given name. It wasn't until the couple moved to California and then registered to vote, that we finally discover a record juxtaposing Myrtle's middle name with her true first name: Clara.

While that may solve the dilemma of matching first and middle names that didn't align from government records to family labels on photographs, we still have a few more puzzles to solve, in the form of additional photographs linked to this Knapp family. Tomorrow, we'll meet Flora and see where she fit into the family constellation.

Tuesday, November 13, 2018

Myrtle Moved —
and Other Mentions of Middle Names

True to form, whoever labeled the photographs of the William Malphus Knapp family was intent on keeping that message of identity front and center. We've met the patriarch of the family in a portraitalbeit with a fuzzy focus—which I shared yesterday. Now, let's take a look at a picture of the family from an unidentified location and date.

The front of the photo included a handwritten message explaining just who was included in the picture.

There was William's wife, Clara Alice. Of course, William, himself, was at her side. And if the person who so kindly provided the label did so systematically, we can presume the middle row of children included a listing from left to right: eldest Knapp son Richard, with Ellen next to him and Hazel on the far right. And, front and center in a row all by herself, was Myrtle.

Myrtle, as we can tell, moved. Ever so slightly, but enough to make her face and hands slightly fuzzy. Perhaps that was because the photographer was naive enough to trust a child of that age to sit still, all on her own.

But how old was Myrtle? Come to think of it, just who was Myrtle, anyhow? From the 1900 census we found yesterday, there wasn't any Myrtle. The children listed in that 1900 enumeration were Richard S., Maud H., Clara M., Corintha E., and baby Charles R., born in May of that census year.

We could presume, from the presence of four children rather than the five listed in the 1900 census, that the photo might have been taken some time right before 1900, providing enough time for the youngster front and center in this picture to be old enough to sit stillat least long enough for the photographer to arrange the tableau and then turn his back. But where was there a Myrtle in the census listing?

Even jumping to the 1910 censusfollowing William's death, when Clara Alice and the kids lived with her dad in Oklahomawe get the benefit of three more children added to the Knapp roster, but none of them had the name Myrtle, either. William M., James M., and Florence A. didn't even come close to answering that question.

According to the 1900 census, Clara Alice was, at that time, mother to six children, of whom only five were still living. It might have been tempting to assume Myrtle was the missing childmaking the same response on the 1910 census doubly confusing for its report that Clara had had eight children, of whom all were still alive.

That, it turns out, was not the route to finding our answer. The key was in the middle initials, which led me on a merry chase through digitized documents online until I figured out just who Myrtle wasand Ellen, and Hazel.

Whoever they were, here's their picture. Including fidgety Myrtle's.

Above: Undated photograph of the William Malphus Knapp family. No location is given. Handwritten entry below the picture indicates identity of each person, left to right, beginning with the back row: "Clara Alice + William Malfus Knapp, Richard, Ellen, Hazel, Myrtle." Photograph in possession of author until claimed by a direct descendant of this family.

Monday, November 12, 2018

A Knapp Family Collection

Sometimes, the photographs I find at Gold Rush Country antique shops don't come from far away. Sometimes, they come from down the street.

After having located photographs coming from as far away as Poland, Germany, and Montreal in Canada, that's what turned out to be the case for the last set of family photos we've been reviewing. All those Brockman and Purkey family photos I've been sharing these past few months were likely recent possessions of a Brockman descendant who settled in northern California for those golden retirement years.

The same thing is likely happening now, as we move from the many photos connected to that Sonora, California, estate to a collection of pictures from what I believe is a totally unrelated family. Many of the photos in this set were well markedalbeit irritatingly on the face of the picture, rather than more discreetly entered on the reverse. The photos also had one other distinguishing mark: they were each stored in a clear plastic container, sealed with tapelikely of the type that would make a proper archivist cringe. As much as I believe in the sanctity of provenance, I couldn't shake the compulsion to gingerly remove the photos from their encasement, soconfession time, herethey are freed, at last.

Now, to get down to the business of researching just who these people were so we can see their likenesses sent home to family. We'll begin with a little overview of the patriarch of the family, a man named William Malphus Knapp.

"Malfus," as it turns out, is an important middle name to keep in mind. As this William was named after his fatheralso a William, though his middle name was differentthe two were differentiated by the use of the younger William's middle name. And that, as we see through various spelling permutations such as the example in the 1880 census, is how we can find him when an abundance of hits for a name as common as William Knapp overwhelms us.

Though I was able to locate "Malphis" as a young teenager in his parents' household in Douglass, Kansasmaking him one of 369 inhabitants of a city whose founding occurred after young William's own 1867 birthdon't think he remained a resident of rural Butler County for long. Perhaps because his father was a carpenter, and thus of an occupation enabling the family to travel to find work, or perhaps because of his family's historyhis father was born in Ohio to Canadian parentsWilliam, too, eventually moved on.

That twenty year gap from the 1880 census to the next available United States enumeration has been bemoaned by many researchers, and with this next step in the younger William's chronology, I add my voice, once again, to this chorus. Still, we can read the tea leaves in the murky recording of the 1900 census, and realize that, after his birth in either Indiana or Michigan (each census gives a different response), his path led him to marry an Illinois gal who had moved to Butler County some time before the 1885 state census.

According to the 1900 census, William married Clara Alice Hoover around 1891, and they welcomed the first of their many children, Richard Samuel, in November, 1892. From that date through the 1897 arrival of their daughter Corinthanamed after William's by then long-deceased motherthe family remained in Kansas. With the addition of their son Charles, as we can see from the enumeration itself, the Knapp family was now resident in Klickitat County in southern Washington State.

If William Malphus Knapp had remained in Washington, I might have considered my acquisition of his abandoned family photos as just another case of a collection sent, over the years, to a relative in nearby California. In this case, however, I think it is a bit more convoluted than that simple conclusion. You see, not much after that 1900 census, William returned to the midwest, where he died in Oklahoma in 1908. By the time of the 1910 census, his widow and children remained in Major County, living with Clara's father, Samuel Hoover.

If William and Clara Knapp ended up in Oklahoma, though, what was the connection that brought all those Knapp family photographs to a home near Sonora, California, location of the antique shop where I found them? It's in the subsequent generations where I think the answer lies. Before we get to that point, though, let's meet the rest of the family, which will be easily accomplished, thanks to the information provided on each picture.

Whoever kept that set of Knapp family photos was someone intent on remembering exactly who they were, for each one came with a thorough label. For today, we'll begin with the picture of William Malphus Knapp, himself, and tomorrow, I'll begin introducing the rest of his family to you.

Above: Photograph labeled "William Malfus Knapp, born May 8, 1867 at Chesterton, Porter Co. Indiana, died April 20, 1904 at Chester, Major Co., Okla." Photograph with written entry as found at antique store in Sonora, California. Photograph currently in possession of author until claimed by a direct descendant.
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