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.

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