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.


  1. Obituaries are great! :) Even if misspelled.

    1. What is even better is when a Find A Grave volunteer posts them to the appropriate memorial on their website. For this one, I couldn't find anything on all my usual subscription sites, so I wouldn't have found it without the kind help of this volunteer.


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