My Family Tree is Missing Branches   2 comments

Recently, I have begun to research my family tree, having known little about it for all of my adult life.   It has felt strange to me that I know little about my family beyond the scope of my parents, their siblings, and children.

Two of my grandparents died before I was born: my mother’s mother at the age of 49, thirteen years before I was born, and my father’s father when my dad was only five years old.  My mother’s father died when I was three, and she never spoke of him.  I saw photos of a visit to see him when I was a toddler, but of course I have no recollection of that visit.  (It may have been the only visit.)  My father’s mother lived to the admirable age of 89, but she lived 350 miles away, and as a child, I saw her maybe once a year.  Once I was married and living 1200 miles from her, those visits were rare.  Save for one large oval photograph of my grandfather up on her living room wall, I know nothing about him.  Even though she never remarried, she did not speak of him.

I signed up for a membership on Ancestry.com a couple of weeks ago and was surprised at how fast my maternal grandmother’s side blossomed with information.  A number of people have worked on the Devereaux family tree, and I have that side of the family filled in with I feel a good degree of accuracy back to the Devereaux roots in New York and New England in the 1700s.  I have corresponded with one gentleman who is a cousin of some sort (we share the same great-great grandparents) who has sent me copies of his files on the Devereaux family.

Ah, but then comes the entire missing branch that was once connected to my maternal grandfather, John E. Stevens!   (Until two weeks ago, I thought his name was John D. — for Donald — Stevens but I have found only references to John E. Stevens.)  From census records, I nailed down a birth year of 1884.  My mother had mentioned that he was born in Virginia, and the records bear this out, although there is no mention of WHERE in Virginia, which is a state bigger than a postage stamp.  I think my mother may have mentioned Fredericksburg, but I’m not 100% positive nor am I sure that she was certain about that.   A death record indicates that he died on November 10, 1958 in Ohio.    Searching for records for a John Stevens born in 1884 in Virginia is like looking for a needle in a haystack.  I can’t find anything that would lead me with any certainty to his parents or any siblings.  So far, I’m at a deadend there.

My mother and all three of her siblings are deceased.  That source of information has dried up.  Of interest to me is the fact that the 1930 census record indicated that my grandfather and his second wife, Anna, had a daughter born approximately in 1927.  I did not realize that my mother had a half-sister.  Obviously, she had no relationship with her when I was a child.  She may still be alive, though.  She would have been 31 years old when her father died and may have a little family history to share.  I have no idea where she may be, though.  Her name was Geraldean Stevens.  Of course, I have no clue what a married name might be.  It is so easy to lose the link with female family members when names change due to marriage.

I’m very curious about this man, my grandfather, whom I only know by name: John E. Stevens, born somewhere in Virginia in 1884.  He married a woman, Della Edna Devereaux (although her Social Security death record lists her as Edna Della Devereaux, and that is also what her gravestone indicates.)  This woman was born in South Dakota.  Did he meet her in South Dakota?  She was only 16 or 17 when they got married, as one census record would indicate.  They were living with her parents, Edmund and Alice Devereaux,  at the time in North Dakota.   One might assume that they met in North or South Dakota, but why?  Did John Stevens’  job lead him across the United States?  What was his occupation?  Their first child, Elmer, was born in North Dakota in 1910, but then their second child, Elva, was born in the state of Washington (Lake County) in 1914.   The third child, Carl, was born back in North Dakota in 1916.  Then my mother, Hazel, was born in Canton, Ohio in 1919.  My, this family got around!  What was the motivation for all this travel from one coast to the other?  Inquiring minds would like to know!

On my dad’s side, I have filled in my maternal grandmother’s tree quite nicely back to the Backel’s (Boeckel) roots in Germany.  That was exciting.  However, on the Ness side, I’ve reached an impasse with George Emanuel Ness, my grandfather.  There are too many Nesses in the York County, Pennsylvania area, and there are many similar names.  I’m sure I’m related to half of them in some form or another, but I can’t get a grip on the right branch of the tree to start filling in the names.  I know that my cousin, Kit, now in her late 60s, has worked on the genealogy for many years and she will probably be able to lead me down the proper path.  I just need to write to her and find out what she knows.  Surprisingly, for having an MBA and being a retired career woman with the IRS, she is virtually computer illiterate.

So, if anyone arrives at this blog by way of searching for one of these names, please contact me if you can add to my knowledge base.  I’d appreciate it!

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2 responses to “My Family Tree is Missing Branches

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  1. Good luck with your search, Bonnie! If I can help at all, please let me know. 🙂

  2. Thanks, Lottie.

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