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Friday, May 26, 2017

A Farm Girl in New York City: VirginiaT., 1940


After Virginia’s stressful experience with her first teaching job, she went back to Nebraska State Normal School and Teacher’s College at Wayne1 where she lived in Pile Hall2 with a good friend, Irene Dangberg.3 She needed to further her education and prepare for the next adventure.

Upon completing her teacher certification, Virginia secured a job at District 24, Wayne County, Nebraska, where she taught four years.4 During this period in the summer of 1937, she and Neville traveled to Virginia to visit their brother Verne (See “Sisters. . .”). While there, a tall, slender young man named Raymond DeBord5 caught Virginia’s eye, and she caught his.6 But they lived far apart and a summer visit was too short to make life-changing decisions. Nonetheless, they wrote letters.


In 1939, Winside schools hired Virginia to teach in the intermediate room.7 Not only had Virginia been a top student herself, but also she encouraged her students to excel.8 She taught at Winside for one year.9 

History of Winside, 1942, by Jones & Dimmel, p. 97

Then her adventurous spirit prevailed. She applied for and was hired to teach in Puerto Rico.

And off she went, first by train: the Pacemaker, New York Central’s “premier all coach service” between Chicago and New York.10 In a letter to her parents, she raved about her good nights sleep, the boy scouts in her car who entertained the passengers, and the sights of the Hudson River from Albany to New York City: West Point Academy, Sing Sing Prison, and the Palisades of the Hudson.11 She complained about having to pay $3.00 a night for a room at the Commodore Hotel, and she felt astounded by the fact that she could walk for blocks from building to building “and never be out on the sidewalk with the sky above [me].”12

Envelope mailed from Commodore Hotel, NYC.
After settling into her room, resting, and freshening up, Virginia set out to find a place to eat.  Her description of her experience is priceless:

 “I knew the food was above my style here at the hotel so I walked down to the lower level of Grand Central and spotted an air-conditioned restaurant that didn’t look so ritzy. But lo and behold when I got to the door there was the head waiter to show me to a table. I almost collapsed when he brought me a menu. The cheapest thing I could get was a sandwich for 75¢. So I ordered a tuna fish sand. Then the darn waiter asked what I’d have to drink and I ordered a glass of milk. The tuna fish sand. filled a dinner plate. I got 13 slices of bread—5  different kinds, three slices of tomato, half of a hard-boiled egg, half a head of lettuce and a whole can of tuna. When I asked for my check, would you believe it when I told you that I had to pay 20¢ extra for the glass of milk. I gave them a dollar and said Good Night!”13

 She had learned her lesson. The next day, she found a dime store lunch counter on Fifth Avenue and paid five cents for her lunch. Her favorite, though, was an innovative method of getting food that she had never before seen: the Automat. “They are cafeterias where you can get anything from soup to nuts by putting a nickel in a slot," she writes. “All food except steamed dishes are behind little glass doors all along the walls. You put in your nickel and the door flops open. What won’t they think of next?”14

That night she went to Radio City Music Hall to see “Pride and Prejudice,” which was “swell.” But what dazzled her beyond words was the “floor show . . . . presented by the R. C. A. symphony orchestra, ballet, and glee club.”15

And so after two days in New York City, the little Nebraska farm girl reported to her parents that she felt like “one of these New Yorkers who seem to like no one quite so much as themselves. I’ve learned to strut down 5th Avenue and Broadway, crowd at every corner, speak as if you were commanding an army, keep your eyes straight ahead and look at no one unless it’s a cop.”16 She had adapted.

The next leg of her journey took her by boat to Puerto Rico.


1 The name of State Normal School and Teacher’s College was changed in 1949 to Nebraska State Teacher’s College at Wayne and then in 1963 to Wayne State College.
2 Mary Troutman, Winside, Nebraska, to Virginia Troutman, letter, 26 March 1935; relates information about a teaching job opportunity and cousin news; Troutman Letters, CD compiled by Leo W. Nelsen, Jr., copy privately held by Z. T. Noble, [ADDRESS FOR PRIVATE USE] Anderson, Indiana.
3 “The Bride’s History: To be Opened on Their Silver Wedding Anniversary,” not dated, but the bride married 27 Oct. 1946; Troutman Letters, CD.
4 Ibid.
5 Raymond DeBord and Virginia Troutman were actually third cousins, but they probably didn’t know it. Their common ancestors were their great-great-grandparents, Oliver Pratt and Mary Fulks Pratt. Their grandmothers, America Ann Pratt and Susan Marion Elizabeth Pratt were first cousins.
6 “The Bride’s History . . . “
7 Ibid.
8 Ibid.
9 F. M. Jones and F. J. Dimmel, The History of Winside, Nebraska (no place: no publisher, 1942), 97.
10 “The Pacemaker,” AmericanRails.com (http://www.american-rails.com/pacemaker.html : accessed 24 May 2017).
11 Virginia Troutman, New York City, New York, to Clint Troutman, letter, 14 August 1940; relates details about train ride to New York City and her impressions of the big city; Troutman Letters, CD.
12 Ibid.
13 Ibid.
14 Ibid.
15 Ibid.
16 Ibid.

© 2017, Z. T. Noble

Friday, May 19, 2017

A Letter: Stories of Homesteading


Letters. For many years after I married, I used to spend Sunday afternoons writing letter to my parents 500 miles away and to my siblings scattered here and there. Regularly, for years, my aunts and my mother penned letters to each other. My mother kept all the letters and now I have some of them. Many of those letters have helped me piece together the family history. Being a genealogist, family history is my passion and letters are crucial. It pains me that people no longer write letters. Yes, they communicate other ways, but the beauty and intimacy of letters are gone.

Once in a while, the impact of letters takes my breath away. This past week it happened again when I received an e-mail message from my cousin, Jill. She had found a letter among her mother’s papers that she found fascinating. The writer, Edith Hillier, had been a close friend of Jill’s and my grandmother, Mary Troutman. Gracefully worded and filled with stories of the Hillier family’s adventures homesteading in Montana, the letter is a treasure. Jill wondered if we could locate Edith’s descendants to see if they would like to have the letter.

Well, you know I took the challenge.

Since Edith had been my grandmother’s friend, I figured, I ought to be able to find her living in Wayne County Nebraska at some point in time. And, I did. She lived in Brenna Precinct in 1920, same precinct where my grandparents lived. She was age 37 (about four years older than Grandma Mary), married to W. R. Hillier; they had two children, Anabel, age 11, and Ralph, age 9. Mr. Hillier was working as a hired man for W. K. Dobeneker.1

I found that Edith Irene Hall had married William R. Hillier on 20 June 1907 in Hennepin County, Minnesota,2and that’s where they lived in 1910. They had a one-year-old daughter Laura A. (for Anabel?). William worked as a carpenter.3

When William registered for the World War I draft, the family lived in Hennepin County, Minnesota, his next of kin: Edith Irene Hillier.4 Doesn’t that appear as if they have lived in Minnesota for at least eleven years, then moved to Nebraska between 1918 and 1920?

But no. In telling the homesteading stories, Edith says children are three and four years old.5 That sets this homesteading tale at about 1913-14.

Without this letter, would the family know Edith and William had homesteaded? Maybe there were stories. Maybe Edith entertained her grandchildren with homesteading tales. But, maybe, not. What a treasure the letter could be for the family!

So I built a Hillier family tree on Ancestry and posted a scanned copy of the letter for the Hillier descendants to find. I hope they enjoy it.

Here is an excerpt:
Excerpt from Edith Hillier letter to Neville Troutman, 1957.
Edith also tells about a horse falling through the roof of her dugout henhouse where she kept “a lovely bunch of Buff Orpingtons” she had “raised by hand.” The roof of the dugout was covered with boards and straw. Foraging for food on a snowy winter night when temperatures dipped below zero, the horse found the straw and his hind legs fell through the roof. Edith tried to free it, but it was too frightened.6

She hitched her horse to a buggy, wrapped her children in blankets, loaded them into the buggy and set out to get help. She tells about driving her horse through snow up to its belly and taking hours to go four miles. She was terrified her children would freeze, but she made it to a neighbor’s homestead, and the man set off to town two miles away to get Edith’s husband.7

When the family returned to the homestead the horse was dead. They couldn’t get it out of the henhouse, so they just buried it there in the hillside. She moved her prize chickens into the family’s shanty (temporarily, I hope). She added, “That was one of the many things that made me tough.”8

Buff Orpington, photo by Rebekah Noble, used with permission.
The letter also revealed tidbits about my Aunt Neville’s family, but I’ll save that for later.


1 1920 U. S. census, Brenna precinct, Wayne County, Nebraska, population schedule, enumeration district [ED] 218, p. 4-B, dwelling 288, family 300, William R. Riley family; digital image Ancestry.com (http://www.ancestry.com : accessed 15 May 2017); NARA microfilm publication T625, roll 1003.
2 “Minnesota/u002C Marriages Index/u002C, 1849-1950,” database, Ancestry.com (http://www.ancestry.com : accessed 15 May 2017), entry for William R Hillier and Edith I Hall, 20 June 1907; citing Hennepin County. 
3 1910 U. S. census, Minneapolis, Hennepin County, Minnesota, population schedule, enumeration district [ED] 205, p. 13-B, dwelling 70, family n/a, W. K. Dobenecker, see W. R. Hillier and Edith Hillier; digital image Ancestry.com (http://www.ancestry.com : accessed 15 May 2017); NARA microfilm publication T624, roll 706.
4 “U. S. World War I Draft Registration Cards, 1917-1918,” images Ancestry.com (http://www.ancestry.com, accessed 15 May 2017), card for William Riley Hillier, serial number 3481, Local Draft Board, Hennepin County, Minnesota. 
5 Edith Hillier, Atkinson, Michigan, to Neville Lamson, letter, 17 October 1957; relates information about homesteading in Montana and other news about her family; privately held by Jill Gran [ADDRESS FOR PRIVATE USE] Pierce, Nebraska.
6 Ibid.
7 Ibid.
8 Ibid.

Friday, May 12, 2017

Aunt Virginia Versus the School Board


My Aunt Virginia was no less adventurous than her sister, Neville—maybe a bit more so.

Fall, 1934. After only one year at Nebraska State Teacher’s College, Wayne, Virginia took a teaching position at a small country school in Wayne County—District 63, a school that was already embroiled in controversy.1 She was only eighteen. 

Virginia's high school graduation photo, 1933.
During the 1933-34 school year at District 63, the teacher and two board members had expelled ten-year-old boy Bobbie Johnson,2 the youngest son of Swedish immigrants Nels J. and Hilma V. Johnson.3 As young teenagers Nels Johnson and Hilma Vennerberg4 had immigrated to America with their respective parents about 1888-1890. They likely met in the U. S.; they married about 1900, probably in Nebraska.5 Their children were all born in that state starting in 1901 with Russell.6 By the time the trouble started at the school, Nels had been farming in Wayne County since before 1910.7 Most likely, all the Johnson children had attended District 63.

For many years, one-room schoolhouses were the norm for children of farm families in Nebraska. Children in grades one through eight were taught in the same room. By the 1930s teachers had at least a year of teacher training, and some more. With better roads and transportation, some families sent their children to high school in town, but the formal education of many farm children ended with eighth grade, which was typical of most of the Johnson children.8 By this time, the one-room school was being questioned, but still in 1930, Nebraska ranked number two in the nation for one-room schools.9

Bobbie was the youngest of the Johnson children. Eight years younger than the next sibling, he was born about 1923 when his mother was 47 years old. As a small child, Bobbie experienced a serious ear and gland infection (possibly measles) and ran a high fever, which left him mentally disabled.10 In those days, children with disabilities were not  welcome in public schools. They slowed down the classroom for other students, people said. Bobbie was accused of being unruly in other ways, as well, so the teacher and board members expelled him.

Bobbie’s father sued, and the issue went to court. Mr. Johnson claimed that Bobbie had been expelled without due process, that the only reason the teacher expelled him was that he had asked her about gossip he had heard about her at home. The Johnsons won the first round when the court ordered that Bobbie be allowed to attend school.11 The teacher resigned.

That’s when Virginia accepted a teaching position at District 63 with the stipulation that she accept Bobbie as a student.12

Nonetheless, the controversy continued. Some parents didn’t want Bobbie in the school. One of the board members took his four children out of District 63 and insisted they be allowed to attend at another district.  The board pressured Virginia to expel Bobbie, but she stood up to them. She apparently had more confidence in the boy’s ability to learn than did others. When she refused, they fired her and hired another teacher who agreed to expel the boy.13

The controversy continued for years. In 1943, Bobbie’s father sued the two school board members for slandering Bobbie, for causing him great distress, depression and other problems. He asked for $10,000.00 in damages. Virginia and her father, my grandpa Clint Troutman, were subpoenaed along with several others. Eventually, Mr. Johnson dropped his suit and had to pay court costs. The court record does not offer an explanation. Virginia was paid $4.90 witness fee in the case.14

Wondering about the fate of Bobbie Johnson, I contacted a family member through Ancestry.com. I learned that he had been killed when hit by a car in August of 1950 while riding his bicycle. He was 27 years old.15 I’m sure this was a sad day not only for Bobbie’s family but also for Virginia.


1 Wayne County, Nebraska, District Court Files, Case number 4526, Bobbie Johnson, a minor by his father and next friend Nels J. Johnson vs. Iver Prince, et al., 20 Jan. 1934, County Clerk’s Office, Wayne.
2 Wayne Co., NE, District Court Files, Case no. 4526, Bobbie Johnson, a minor by his father Nels J. Johnson vs. Iver Prince, et al., 20 Jan. 1934, County Clerk’s Office, Wayne.
3 1930 U. S. census, Wayne County, Nebraska, population schedule, Chapin township, p. 598 (penned), enumeration district [ED] 90-02, sheet 5-B, dwelling 105, family 106, Nels J. Johnson family, see Bobby G. ; digital image Ancestry.com (http://www.ancestry.com : accessed 10 May 2017); NARA microfilm publication T626, roll 1295.
4 For Hilma’s maiden name, see “U. S. Social Security and Claims Index, 1936-2007,” database Ancestry.com (http://www.ancestry.com : accessed 10 May 2017); citing Helen R. Johnson. This index includes mother’s maiden name. Also, U. S. Chicago and Northwestern Railroad Employment Records, 1935-1970, database Ancestry.com (http://www.ancestry.com : accessed 10 May 2017); citing Clarence Dale Johnson. This record also includes maiden name of mother.
5 1910 U. S. census, Chapin township, Wayne County, Nebraska, population schedule, enumeration district [ED] 209, p. 4-B, dwelling 77, family 78, Nels Johnson family; digital image Ancestry.com (http://www.ancestry.com : accessed 10 May 2017); NARA microfilm publication T624, roll 767.
6 1930 U. S. census, Wayne Co., NE, population schedule, Chapin tnshp, p. 598, ED 90-02, sheet 5-B, dwell. 105, fam. 106, Nels J. Johnson.
7 1910 U. S. census, Chapin twnshp, Wayne Co., Ne, pop. sched., ED 209, p. 4-B, dwell. 77, fam. 78, Nels Johnson.
8 1940 U. S. census, Chapin precinct, Wayne County, Nebraska, population schedule, enumeration district 90-2, sheet 1-B, visit no. 19, Nels J. Johnson family; digital image Ancestry.com (http://ancestry.com ; accessed 11 May 2017); NARA microfilm publication T-627, roll 2268. Also, 1940 U. S. census, Allen precinct, Pierce County, Nebraska, population schedule, enumeration district 70-1, sheet 1-B, visit no. 19, Russell A. Johnson; digital image Ancestry.com (http://ancestry.com ; accessed 11 May 2017); NARA microfilm publication T-627, roll 2260.
9 Jim McKee, “The One-room Schoolhouse in Nebraska,” Lincoln Journal Star, 5 May 2013 (http://preview.tinyurl.com/mazuvvh : accessed 11 May 2017).
10 “Parashont” to “ztnoble,” private message, 4 May 2017, “Johnson Family”; “Messages,” Ancestry,com (http://www.ancestry.com : accessed 11 May 2017), private use only.
11 Wayne County, Nebraska, District Court Files, Case number 4615, Bobbie Johnson, a minor by his father and next friend Nels J. Johnson vs. Iver Prince and Artie Fisher, 29 Oct. 1934, County Clerk’s Office, Wayne.
12 Ibid.
13 Ibid.
14 Ibid. Letter from Clerk of the District Court, Wayne, NE, to Clint Troutman, 23 Feb. 1943,  included in case file, asks Clint to forward the check to Virginia who is in Washington, D.C.
15 “Parashont” to “ztnoble,” private message, 4 May 2017, “Johnson Family”; “Messages,” Ancestry,com (http://www.ancestry.com : accessed 11 May 2017), private use only.

© 2017, Z. T. Noble

Wednesday, April 12, 2017

Gay Nedd: Fourth Marriage and Later Life



For previous posts about Mrs. Nedd see "Who Was Mrs. Nedd?," "Mrs. Nedd's Second Marriage," and "Gaynelle Moritz Nedd Marries a Third Time."

We left Gaynelle in Houston, Texas, married to Paul B. Wagenseller to whom she had been married about 14 years. The last record of their being together was a 1932 Houston City Directory. When the marriage ended is unknown.

And then, somehow, Gay and her first husband, Earl J. Nedd, got together again. They remarried in Denver, Colorado on 17 January 1937.1 The next year, Paul Wagenseller took off for a trip to Europe.2

How romantic for the two young lovers to reunite after thirty years! you might think so, but no. Apparently, the second marriage between Earl and Gay didn’t fare any better than the first. By 1940, Gay Nedd, manager of the guesthouse where my aunt Neville stayed in 1939, was divorced.3 Earl Nedd was married to Helen and living in San Francisco again with his daughters, Shirley and Patricia, and two of Helen’s sons. Earl was manager of the meat packing company.4

Finding more details about Gaynelle after 1940 is difficult without going to the various places where she lived. She seems to have been an attractive and enterprising woman, not content to live with someone who didn’t suit her. She likely never married again, for the name Nedd is on her tombstone. When she lived on her own, she was self-sufficient and enterprising. The husbands she chose were men of some means who went on to lead financially successful lives. Evidence indicates that her son Louis and his family lived near her much of his life. Eventually, she returned to Houston, Texas, lived to the age of 84 and succumbed to lung disease on 20 February 1975. She was buried in Forest Park Lawndale Cemetery. Her devoted son Louis supplied the information for her death certificate.5
Find A Grave photo by "Moon Child."
As for the later lives of Gaynelle’s husbands:

1. When Earl Joseph Nedd registered for the World War II draft in 1942, he lived in San Francisco and was employed by the South San Francisco Packing & Provision Company. He named his daughter, Mrs. R. G. Davey, as the person who would always know his whereabouts.6 Earl died at age 66 on 22 July 1952 in San Mateo County, California, and was buried at Holy Cross Cemetery.7
Earl J. Nedd's signature from his World War II draft registration.
2. Harry Boyd Brown lived for a time in Germantown, Pennsylvania. On his World War II draft registration, he named Miss Jeanne Brown of Pikesville, Maryland, as the person who would always know his whereabouts.8 Was she his daughter? After an illustrious career of twenty-two years with Philco, part of that time as National Advertising Manager,9 in demand as a speaker for advertising conventions, and writing for industry magazines, he retired in 1950. But he wasn’t finished working. He became president of the Kenya Gem Corporation 10 and copyrighted a couple of advertising slogans. He died at age 84 in Dade, Florida in 1968.11
Harry Boyd Brown's signature from World War I draft registration
Harry Boyd Brown's signature from magazine article cited in 9.

3. Eventually, Paul Brandom Wagenseller had his own law practice in Houston, Texas. On his World War II draft registration, he named his father as the person who would always know his whereabouts.12 At some point, he remarried. He died 2 May 1971 and was buried next his "beloved wife," Grace (nèe Tatters), at Forest Park East Cemetery, Webster, Harris County Texas. 13
Paul B. Wagenseller's signature from his WWII draft registration.
Wagenseller, Paul & Grace, Find A Grave photo by "Taterhands."
Online research can reveal much about our ancestors and anyone else who intrigues us. My effort to answer the question "Who was Mrs. Nedd?" was piqued by my aunt Neville Troutman's statement in a letter from Denver, Colorado to her sister Virginia in Winside, Nebraska that she liked Mrs. Nedd, her landlady and employer at a rooming house there. Aunt Neville didn't like just anyone and everyone. Something about Mrs. Nedd must have impressed her. I wanted to know more. Through records on Ancestry.com, FamilySearch.org, Newspapers.com, Hathi-Trust.org, Findagrave. com, and Google, I have learned much about the life of this intriguing woman and the people surrounding her. If she were my ancestor, I would go into more depth with research in the places where she lived, but this much has satisfied my curiosity.

1 Arapahoe County, Colorado, “County Marriages and State Indexes, 1862-2006,” digital image FamilySearch.org (http://www.familysearch.org : accessed 21 March 2017); entry for Earl J. Nedd and Gaynelle M. Wagenseller, 17 January 1937.
2 “New York Passenger Lists, 1820-1957,” digital images Ancestry.com (http://www.ancestry.com : accessed 21 March 2017), citing Paul Wagensellar, arriving New York, from Southampton, England on the Champlain, 13 October 1938.
3 1940 U. S. census, Denver, Denver Co., Co., pop. sched., ED 16-21, sheet 10-A, no. 135, Gay Nedd household.
4 1940 U. S. census, San Francisco, San Francisco County, California, population schedule, enumeration district 38-378, sheet 5-A, visit no. 4, Earl Nedd household; digital image Ancestry.com (http://ancestry.com ; accessed 27 March 2017); NARA microfilm publication T-627, roll 312. 
5 “Texas, Death Certificates, 1903-1982,” digital image Ancestry.com (http://www.ancestry.com : accessed 21 March 2017), for Gaynelle M. Nedd, 29 February 1975. 
6 “U. S. World War II Draft Registration Cards, 1942,” digital images Ancestry.com (http://www.ancestry.com : accessed 21 March 2017), card for Earl Joseph Nedd, serial number 2552, Local Draft Board, San Francisco County, California. 
7San Mateo California Colma Cemetery Index, 1887-2001,” database Ancestry.com (http://www.ancestry.com : accessed 24 March 2017), citing Earl J. Nedd, 1952. 
8 “U. S. World War II Draft Registration Cards, 1942,” digital images Ancestry.com (http://www.ancestry.com : accessed 21 March 2017), card for Harry Boyd Brown, serial number 2149, Local Draft Board, Allegheny County, Pennsylvania. 
9 Harry Boyd Brown, “Mystery Control Will Deliver the Radio Prospects of America to the Philco, Dealers,” Radio Today, July 1938, p. 8 (http://www.americanradiohistory.com/Archive-Radio-Today/30s/Radio-Today-1938-07.pdf : accessed 22 March 2017). 
10 Anne Haywood, “Your Career,” Shamokin (Pennsylvania) News-Dispatch, 16 Dec. 1958, p. 4, col. 2; Newpapers.com (https://www.newspapers.com/clip/10218755/h_b_brown_career/ : accessed 27 March 2017). Searching Newspapers.com for "Harry Boyd Brown" results in numerous article about him and his career in advertising.
11 Social Security Administration, “U. S. Social Security Death Index, 1935-Current,” database Ancestry.com (http://www.ancestry.com, accessed 24 March 2017), entry for Harry Boyd Brown, 1968, SSN --- -- -061. Also, for the advertising slogan copyright: Library of Congress, Catalog of Copyright Entries, Ser. 3, pt. 11B, v. 13-15, 1959-1961, Labels (Washington, U. S. Government Printing Office, 1891- ) 42; Hathi-Trust (http://www.hathi-trust.org : accessed 11 April 2017) search words: "'Harry Boyd Brown' copyright".
12 “U. S. World War II Draft Registration Cards, 1942,” digital images Ancestry.com (http://www.ancestry.com : accessed 21 March 2017), card for Paul Brandom Wagenseller, serial number 4463, Local Draft Board, Harris County, Texas. 
13 Find A Grave, database with images (http://www.findagrave.com : accessed 24 March 2017), photograph, memorial # 131971537, Paul Wagenseller (1893-1971), Forest Park East Cemetery, Webster, Harris County, Texas; gravestone photographed by “Taterhands.”  


© 2017, Z. T. Noble
 

Wednesday, April 5, 2017

Gaynelle Moritz Nedd Brown Marries a Third Time




The first two parts of Mrs. Nedd's story were posted previously. If you need to catch up with the story, go to "Who Was Mrs. Nedd?"  and "Mrs. Nedd's Second Marriage".
 
Brief overview: Gaynelle Moritz, age 16 (she claimed she was 19) married Earl Joseph Nedd, age 22, in Davenport, Iowa on 15 July 1907. She filed for divorce in Omaha in January 1909. In 1910, she and her two-year-old son, Louis, were living with her parents in Omaha. Earl Nedd lived in Centralia, Washington. Gaynelle remarried to businessman Harry Boyd Brown later that year. Their marriage had dissolved by 1913, but during this marriage, evidence suggests that Gaynelle may have developed her own business enterprise.

In 1918, Gay remarried. This time, she chose Paul Brandom Wagenseller, a Decatur, Illinois native son. Paul and Gaynelle ran off to Boston, Massachusetts, to get married1 (another destination wedding!). Paul’s parents were Blanch Brandom and Charles Newton Wagenseller,2 a former newspaper man and partner in Mueller Manufacturing in Decatur. In fact, Paul's uncle George Wagenseller owned The Decatur Herald.Perhaps that's the reason I found many articles including information about the Wagenseller family.

About three years younger than Gay,4 Paul was a musician in high school who had sung in the Glee Club and played a flute in the orchestra.5 After high school, he had gone to law school in Chicago and made visits home to see his father as noted several times in the society columns of The Decatur Herald.6 By 1916, Paul had joined the 1st Field Hospital Corps, I. N. G. serving in Texas. The Decatur Herald ran several articles on him and other hometown boys who joined the same unit.7 Light haired, gray-eyed Paul was still single when he registered for the World War I Draft in 1917.8 

Paul Wagenseller with Glee Club, 1910.
The next year Paul married Gay. With Gay living in Omaha and Paul in Chicago, how they met is a mystery. Perhaps, Gay's association with the Madame Josephine Boyd company took her to Chicago more often than simply the trip to marry Harry Boyd Brown.
By 1920, Paul, Gay, and eleven- year-old Louis had moved to Houston, Texas and were living with Gay’s parents and her brother Ralph. The elder Moritz was working for the railroad, Paul Wagenseller was an accountant, and Ralph Moritz was a salesman for a newspaper.9 Gay’s brother Carl Ray and his family had also moved to Houston, where Carl was the proprietor of a restaurant.10

Meanwhile, Gay's first husband, Earl Nedd and his second wife Mynie had added two children to their nest: Stewart, age 7, and Shirley, a baby. In San Francisco, Earl was a salesman for a meat packing plant.11

Gay’s marriage to Paul Wagenseller lasted longer than her first two marriages, for she and Paul were still together in Houston in 1930. Living in the same city at age 21, Gay’s son Louis, worked as a salesman for a retail grocery and was married to Margaret, a stenographer for an auto parts store. Paul and Gay were still together in the 1932 city directory for Houston, Texas. Paul was an accountant.12

Meanwhile, 1930 found Earl Nedd still in San Francisco, but tragedy had struck his family. His wife Mynie had died in November 1929.13 The census shows that two more children had been added to his nest: Jerome H., age 8, and Patricia M., a baby. Did Minnie die in childbirth? Earl was working in the “executive department” of a “produce company.”14

Apparently, Gay and Paul Wagenseller divorced sometime between 1932 (the city directory date) and 1937, the year Gay married for a fourth time. Next week.


1 “Massachusetts Marriage Index, 1901-1955 and 1966 – 1970,” database Ancestry.com (http://www.ancestry.com : accessed 21 March 2017), citing Paul B. Wagenaeller and Merta G. Nedd (Mority), 1918.
2 “Texas Death Certificates, 1903-1982,” digital image Ancestry.com (http://www.ancestry.com : accessed 12 May 2014), Paul Wagenseller, 2 May 1971. This names his parents and includes his mother’s maiden name, Brandom.
3 “Mueller Exhibit Best Displayed,” The Decatur Herald, 1 July 1909, p. 18, col. 3; Newspprs.com (https://www.newspapers.com/clip/9733677/charles_n_wagenseller/: accessed 22 March 2017). Also, “Wag Is Dean of Herald’s Staff,” The Decatur Herald, 5 October 1930, p. 46, col. 2: Newspapers.com (https://www.newspapers.com/clip/
9733816/the_decatur_herald/: accessed 22 March 2017).
4 “U. S. World War I Draft Registration Cards, 1917-1918,” digital images Ancestry.com (http://www.ancestry.com : accessed 21 March 2017), card for Paul B. Wagenseller, serial number 677, Local Draft Board, Decatur County, Illinois.
5 “High School Notes,” The Decatur Herald, 29 Nov. 1906, p. 3, col. 4; Newspapers.com (www.newspapers.com/clip/9713353/p_wagenseller_flute/ : accessed 22 March 2017). Also, “High School Boys Glee Club,” photo, The Decatur Herald, 13 April 1910, p. 8, cols. 1-4; Newspapers.com (https://www.newspapers.com/clip/9713851/
with_glee_club_p_wagenseller/: accessed 22 March 2017).
6 “Twenty-five Years Ago Today,” The Decatur Herald, 26 Dec. 1936, p. 6, col. 2; Newspapers.com (https://www.newspapers.com/clip/9713602/law_school/ : accessed 22 March 2017).
7 “Paul Wagenseller Enlisted,” The Decatur Herald, 22 June 1916, p. 3, col. 2; Newspapers.com (https://www.newspapers.com/clip/9713432/the_decatur_herald/ : accessed 22 March 2017). Also, “Paul Wagenseller Praises Treatment,” 24 May 1917, p. 3, col. 3; (https://www.newspapers.com/clip/9713653/the_decatur_herald/).
8 “U. S. World War I Draft Registration Cards, 1917-1918,” card for Paul B. Wagenseller, serial number 677, Local Draft Board, Decatur Co., Illinois.
9 1920 U. S. census, Houston, Harris County, Texas, population schedule, enumeration district [ED] 90, p. 13-B, dwelling 242, family 282, William Moritz household; digital image Ancestry.com (http://www.ancestry.com : accessed 21 March 2017); NARA microfilm publication T625, roll 1814.
10 1920 U. S. census, Houston, Harris County, Texas, population schedule, enumeration district [ED] 90, p. 4-A, dwelling 29, family 51, C. R. Martz [Moritz] household; digital image Ancestry.com (http://www.ancestry.com : accessed 21 March 2017); NARA microfilm publication T625, roll 1813.
11 1920 U. S. census, San Francisco, San Francisco County, California, population schedule, enumeration district [ED] 147, p. 1-A, dwelling 1, family 7, E. J. Nedd household; digital image Ancestry.com (http://www.ancestry.com : accessed 21 March 2017); NARA microfilm publication T625, roll 136.
12 Houston Texas, City Directory, 1932, “U. S. City Directories, 1822-1925,” digital images Ancesty.com (http://www.ancestry.com : accessed 22 March 2017), citing Paul B. Wagenseller (Gaynelle).
13 “Town Talk,” The Chehalis Bee-Nugget, 15 Nov. 1929, p. 7, col. 1; Newspapers.com (https://www.newspapers.com/clip/9712653/minnie_nedd/ : accessed 22 March 2017).
14 1930 U. S. census, San Francisco, San Francisco County, California, population schedule, enumeration district [ED] 38-231, sheet 8-B, dwelling n/a, family n/a, Earl J. Nedd family; digital image Ancestry.com (http://www.ancestry.com : accessed 21 March 2017); NARA microfilm publication T626, roll 203. The names of this family and all the info on them have been crossed out on the census. Yet, it has all been transcribed.