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Wednesday, March 29, 2017

Mrs. Nedd's Second Marriage



The first part of Mrs. Nedd's story was posted last week. If you haven't read it, go to "Who Was Mrs. Nedd?"

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.

Two days after the census was taken, 21 April 1910, Earl, age 24, married Mynie Mae Hoard, age 19.1 By this time, Earl’s parents had also moved to the northwest, to Portland, Oregon. The elder Louis was general manager for an excavating company.2

Soon, Gay also remarried. She really was 19 this time. She chose a tall, slender man with blue eyes and brown hair, Harry Boyd Browne. Born in Michigan about 1884 and living in Douglas County Nebraska with his mother in 1910, Harry worked in the mail order beauty and women’s health products business.3 The company was called the Madame Josephine Boyd system of Chicago, which had an office in Omaha; Harry was one of the owners.4

Gay and Harry ran off to Chicago (another destination wedding) and tied the knot on 16 July 1910.5 In 1911, Harry’s company was sued for $5,000.00 by Mrs. Lillian Bell, “a beautiful divorcee,” for using her photograph in their advertising without her permission.6 Lillian was awarded $1.00 for her efforts.7

Gaynelle may have assisted Harry with his business during this time, for ads using her maiden name ran in the St. Louis Post-Dispatch and the Philadelphia Inquirer:

“LADIES CAN MAKE at least $5 daily at home evenings, no canvassing; experience unnecessary; nothing whatever to buy. Particulars free. Gaynelle Moritz, Omaha, Neb.”8

On the other hand, these ads may have represented Gay's own business, for she apparently obtained a copyright on a "system of fat reduction and general health."9
This second marriage lasted not much longer than the first one, but no record of a divorce has been found online, as yet. Certainly, it had ended by 25 August 1913 when Harry remarried in Oceana County, Michigan to Agnes Gabrielson.10

Meanwhile, Earl and Mynie Nedd had moved to San Francisco, California by 1917 when Earl registered for the World War I draft.12

Who was Gaynelle's third husband? Next week.


1 Lewis County, Washington, “Marriage Records, 1824-2014,” digital image Ancestry.com (http://www.ancestry.com : accessed 20 March 2017); entry for Earl J. Nedd and Mynie Mae Hoard, 21 April 1910.
21910 U. S. census, Portland, Multnomah County, Oregon, population schedule, enumeration district [ED] 217, p. 16-B, dwelling 20, family 19, Louis W. Nedd household; digital image Ancestry.com (http://www.ancestry.com : accessed 20 March 2017); NARA microfilm publication T624, roll 1289.
3 1910 U. S. census, Dundee, Douglas County, Nebraska, population schedule, enumeration district [ED] 98, p. 4-B, dwelling 102, family 105, Jane Browne household, see Harry B. Browne; digital image Ancestry.com (http://www.ancestry.com : accessed 20 March 2017); NARA microfilm publication T624, roll 845. For Harry’s physical description: “U. S. World War I Draft Registration Cards, 1917-1918,” digital images Ancestry.com (http://www.ancestry.com : accessed 21 March 2017), card for Harry Boyd Brown, serial number 16, Local Draft Board, Cook County, Illinois.
4 “One Beauty Doctor a Man,” Omaha Daily Bee, 27 October 1911, p. 5, col. 5; Newspapers.com (https://www.newspapers.com/clip/9728124/omaha_daily_bee/ : accessed 22 March 2017).
5 Cook County, Illinois, “Marriages Index, 1871-1920, database Ancestry.com (http://www.ancestry.com : accessed 20 March 2017); entry for Gaynelle Nedd and Harry Boyd Browne, 16 July 1910.
6 “One Beauty Doctor a Man,” Omaha Daily Bee, 27 Oct. 1911, p. 5, col. 5.
7 “Lillian Bell Gets $1.00 Verdict,” Omaha Daily Bee, 2 Nov. 1911, p. 5, col. 4; Newspapers.com (https://www.newspapers.com/clip/9728081/omaha_daily_bee/ : accessed 22 March 2017).
8 “Salesladies Wanted,” St. Louis Post-Dispatch, 18 Feb. 1912, p. 40, col. 4; Newspapers.com (https://www.newspapers.com/clip/9730823/gaynelle_moritz_ad/ : accessed 22 March 2017). Also, “Personals,” Philadelphia Inquirer, 22 Oct. 1911, p. 38, col. 5; Newspapers.com (https://www.newspapers.com/clip/9730862/gaynelle_col_5/ : accessed 22 March 2017).
9 Catalog of Copyright Entries, Part 1. [B] Group 2 Pamphlets, Etc. New Series. 1911:3; (Washington, D.C.: Library of Congress, 1911), 1123; digital image Hathi Trust (https://babel.hathitrust.org/cgi/pt?id=coo.31924112597723;view=1up;seq=1157 : accessed 23 March 2017), Moritz, Gaynelle, co. Omaha, Neb.
10 Oceana County, Michigan, “Marriage Records, 1867-1962,” digital image Ancestry.com (http://www.ancestry.com : accessed 21 March 2017); entry for Harry Brown and Agust [Agnes] Gabrielson, 25 August 1913.
11 “U. S. World War I Draft Registration Cards, 1917-1918,” card for Earl Joseph Nedd, serial number 145, Local Exemption Board, San Francisco County, California. Names wife: Mynne Hoard Nedd.

Friday, March 24, 2017

Who was Mrs. Nedd?



Sometimes my curiosity lures me down rabbit holes, you might say. A name pops up in a letter: “Mrs. Nedd,” Aunt Neville’s employer and landlady in Denver. “I like the lady we work for,” Neville had written.1 Who was this lady? I had to find out.

The 1940 census divulges a lot: Gay Nedd, age 49, was manager of a guesthouse in Denver, Colorado. Her daughter-in-law, Margaret Nedd, age 30, was her assistant, and her only child Louis Nedd, age 31, worked as a salesman for an auto retail supplier. Margaret and Louis had two sons: nine-year-old Louis H. and five-year-old William. Gay had an eighth grade education. Twenty-two guests lived in the house—two married couples, one divorced woman, and the rest singles—eleven men and eleven women. Divorced, Gay had married the first time at age 16 and had been married more than once.2 Who were her husbands? Five years earlier, Gay had been living in Huston, Texas. Why had she come to Denver?

Gay was born Merta Gaynelle Moritz in Superior, Nebraska, on 15 September 1890 to William H. Moritz, a “house carpenter,” and Minnie Belinda (née Ray) Moritz,3 who had migrated to Nebraska from Pennsylvania. Gaynelle had two brothers: Carl Ray, three years older, and Ralph H., seven years younger. In 1900, the family lived in Falls City, Richardson County, Nebraska’s farthest southeastern county.4

Seven years later when Gay married, the family lived in Omaha. At age 16 (she claimed she was 19), Gay was married 15 July 1907 to Earl Joseph Nedd, age 22. Gay and Earl ran off across the state of Iowa to Davenport, to get married,5 a destination wedding, you might say. 
Marriage record, Davenport, Iowa, Earl's portion
Marriage record, Gaynelle's portion

Tall and slender with black hair and grey eyes,6 Earl was a “travelingman,” an only child born in Nebraska, to Louis Joseph Nedd and Mabel Margaret King.7 The elder Nedd was involved in the real estate business in Omaha.8

The marriage lasted less than two years. Gay filed for divorce in January 1909 claiming cruelty and desertion.9 In 1910, she and her two-year-old son, Louis Joseph Nedd, named for his paternal grandfather, were living with Gay’s parents. She was designated a widow,10 but Earl Nedd was alive and well and living in Centralia, Lewis County, Washington. His marital status was divorced, and he was working as a “commercial traveler” for a packinghouse.11
Gaynelle's life gets more intriguing as it goes. Next week, second husband.


1 Neville Troutman, Denver, Colorado, to Virginia Troutman, letter, 18 June 1939; tells about her work and activities in Denver; Family Letters CD, privately held by Z. T. Noble, [ADDRESS FOR PRIVATE USE] Anderson, Indiana.
2 1940 U. S. census, Denver, Denver County, Colorado, population schedule, enumeration district 16-21, sheet 10-A, visit no. 135, Gay Nedd household; digital image Ancestry.com (http://ancestry.com ; accessed 9 March 2017); NARA microfilm publication T-627, roll n/a.
3 Texas Death Certificates, 1903-1982, digital image Ancestry.com (http://www.ancestry.com : accessed 20 March 2017) entry for Gaynelle M. Nedd, 20 Feb. 1975. Also, Find A Grave, database with images (http://www.findagrave.com : accessed 20 March 2017), photograph, memorial # 82994747, Gaynell M. Moritz Nedd (1890 – 1975), Forest Park Cemetery, Houston, Harris County, Texas; gravestone photographed by “Moon Child.” 
4 1900 U. S. census, Falls City, Richardson County, Nebraska, population schedule, enumeration district [ED] 139, sheet 8-B, dwelling 177, family 182, William Moritz household, see Merta G. Moritz; digital image Ancestry.com (http://www.ancestry.com : accessed 20 March 2017); NARA microfilm publication T623, roll 938.
5 Ibid.
6 “U. S. World War I Draft Registration Cards, 1917-1918,” images Ancestry.com (http://www.ancestry.com : accessed 21 March 2017), card for Earl Joseph Nedd, serial number 145, Local Exemption Board, San Francisco County, California.
7 Scott County, Iowa, “Iowa Marriage Records, 1880-1937,” digital image Ancestry.com (http://www.ancestry.com : accessed 20 March 2017); entry for Earl Joseph Nedd and Merta Gaynell Moritz, 15 July 1907. Also, Scott County, Iowa, “Iowa Select Marriages Index, 1758-1996, database Ancestry.com (http://www.ancestry.com : accessed 20 March 2017); entry for Earl Joseph Nedd and Merta Gaynell Moritz, 15 July 1907. This source gives Louis J. Nedd’s birth place as Granada, Mississippi, but numerous other sources cite Nebraska, including record of marriage to his second wife: “Washington, Marriage Records, 1854-2013,” digital image Ancestry.com (http://www.ancestry.com : accessed 20 March 2017); entry for Earl J. Nedd and Mynie May Hoard, 25 Apr. 1910.
8 “Messrs. Hall and Stout. . .,” Omaha Daily Bee, 27 September 1905, p. 5, col. 4; Newspapers.com (https://www.newspapers.com/clip/9773885/louis_j_nedd_1/ : accessed 24 March 2017). Also, “Articles of Incorporation,” Omaha Daily Bee, 20 November 1887, p. 11, col. 7; Newspapers.com (https://www.newspapers.com/clip/9773903/louis_j_nedd_2/ : accessed 24 March 2017). Several other articles citing Louis J. Nedd and his business in Omaha can also be found by searching his name on Newpapers,com.
9 “Cruelty and Nonsupport,” Omaha Daily Bee, 8 January 1909, p. 5; Newspapers.com (https://www.newspapers.com/clip/9712962/nedd_divorce/ : accessed 22 March 2017).
10 1910 U. S. census, Omaha, Douglas County, Nebraska, population schedule, enumeration district [ED] 56, p. 9-A, dwelling 148, family 174, William Morritz household, see Gay Nedd; digital image Ancestry.com (http://www.ancestry.com : accessed 20 March 2017); NARA microfilm publication T624, roll 844.
11 1910 U. S. census, Centralia, Lewis County, Washington, population schedule, enumeration district [ED] 133, p. 3-B, dwelling 66, family 72, Joseph M. Jones household, see Earl J. Nedd, lodger; digital image Ancestry.com (http://www.ancestry.com : accessed 20 March 2017); NARA microfilm publication T624, roll 1666.

Thursday, March 16, 2017

Neville Goes to Denver


Noon, 18 June 1939, Denver, Colorado

Neville, c. early 1930s.
Neville sat at a small table in her basement apartment writing a letter to her sister Virginia Troutman back home in Winside, Nebraska. She had been describing the drudgery of her work. There must be something good she could say. She paused and looked at her surroundings. The two basement rooms where she lived were adequate for her and her friend Jean. The bed was just the right firmness, not too hard, not too soft. Windows let in light and air from the street. She breathed the cool evening air wafting in from an open window. So nice! Oh, the stifling heat of Nebraska summer nights! She was glad to be away from that.1 But the windows were situated too high for her to see out. She hated that she was so short, the shortest one in the family. Pap always said she took after his mother that way.


Bored with their small town teaching jobs in Meadow Grove, Nebraska, Neville and Jean had taken off for Denver hoping for a change. Maybe they could get teaching jobs in Colorado, but so far nothing. To support themselves over the summer, they hired on as maids in a rooming house in downtown Denver.2

Neville had no complaints about her employer: “I like the lady we work for. She’s from Texas. Came here two years ago & started this boarding house [at 906 Grant Street]. It’s in one of the best parts of Denver. There are two swell hotels in the same block. They are the highest buildings here except for Daniels and Fishers Tower.”3 Neville's employer, Gay Nedd, a divore, had come to Denver with her son Louis, his wife Margaret and their two young sons. Margaret assisted her with the work. Louis had found a job as a salesman for an auto supplier.4 Today, Louis and Margaret and the boys had gone to the mountains for the day.5 Exploring Denver and driving to the mountains relieved Neville and Jean of the tedium of their work.

Oh, the work was such a bore! Neville hated it. First they had to get up at 6:30 a.m., too early! She and Jean helped Mrs. Nedd prepare and serve breakfast for twenty boarders. And, oh, those boarders! All “old maids & baches,” they thought they were “pumkins” [sic]. Neville had had enough of them. She had tried to talk Jean into going home, but her friend wanted to stay. 6

Going home meant teaching at Meadow Grove again, so maybe staying here was best for now. Virginia had written her about an open teaching position at Bloomfield, Nebraska, but she had called too late. If only she had called the day before, but she had been suffering from a terrible headache and couldn’t talk on the phone.  She considered going back to college: “I’d rather borrow money and go back to school than go back to M. G.” She wondered if her brother Verne would be coming home from Virginia: “If [he does,] let me know ‘cause I’m quitting this and coming home. How do you suppose he would like to come out after me? You could come along and we could drive up in the mountains.”7 Wouldn't that be fun! 

Neville’s financial situation was stable: “I sent and got my check,” she wrote. “I still have $100 dollars in Traveler’s checks. I bought me 3 uniforms @$1.50, a pair of sport oxfords $2.98, white with crepe rubber soles, 1 white apron .39 & a pair of black & white pumps. $3.98. I got stung on the pumps. I can’t wear them. I’m taking them back tomorrow.” The pumps made her right foot “awful sore” and hurt her “big toe & instep.”8

She signed her letter and added one more sentence: “P.S. Don’t say anything much about me coming home . . . but you never know I might walk in one of these days.”9

Neville did walk in before summer was over. She kept her teaching position at Meadow Grove for at least two more years. But she continued to explore her options.
 Sept. 1939: James, Virginia, Mary, Neville; back: Carl, Clint, Verne.

Neville with her grades 3-4 students, Meadow Grove 1940-41.
Neville, seated 2nd from left, with Meadow Grove teachers.

1 Neville Troutman, Denver, Colorado, to Virginia Troutman, letter, 18 June 1939; tells about her work and activities in Denver; Family Letters CD, copy privately held by Z. T. Noble, [ADDRESS FOR PRIVATE USE] Anderson, Indiana.
2 Ibid.
3 Ibid.
4 1940 U. S. census, Denver, Denver County, Colorado, population schedule, enumeration district 16-21, sheet 10-A, visit no. 135, Gay Nedd household; digital image Ancestry.com (http://ancestry.com ; accessed 9 March 2017); NARA microfilm publication T-627, roll n/a.
5 Neville Troutman, Denver, Colorado, to Virginia Troutman, letter, 18 June 1939.
6 Ibid.
7 Ibid.
8 Ibid.
9 Ibid.

Wednesday, March 8, 2017

Sisters Find Their Virginia Roots


When your imagination has soared listening to your parents, grandparents, aunts and uncles tell stories of their childhood in Virginia, of mountain climbing and green valleys and rocks and streams; when your brother goes there to live and he writes you about his life in the green valley, you must grab the opportunity to go there to see for yourself.

This is what Neville and Virginia did. Their brother Verne had moved to Virginia in early 1937. In June, the sisters traveled to visit him, probably by train. Travelers customarily wore their Sunday best in those days, men in suits and women in dresses and heels, as did Neville and Virginia. They stayed through the month of July escaping Nebraska's hot, dry season to enjoy warm days and cool mountain nights in Smyth County. Neville was 26 and Virginia was 21.

Neville, Verne, and Virginia, c. 1937.
The sisters stayed in Marion at the home of their Uncle Jim, Aunt Susie, and cousin Frances Troutman.1 Their mother wrote motherly letters to them: worrying about why they hadn’t written, worrying that they might be sick. She hadn’t heard from Verne, either, and supposed that he was “too busy to write.” She worried that Verne was imposing on Clint’s niece Eula by boarding with her. With six family member and Verne, the house was too full, she thought. Verne ought to find his own place.2
James H. Troutman home in Marion, c. 1930s.
She reported the daily happenings. “Dad said to tell you,” she wrote, “that he was almost through laying by corn. They won’t start cutting small grain until next week.” The grasshoppers were “getting large and numerous,” she said, and were eating some of the small grain. They were hoping for rain to quell them. Her neighbors were canning, but her tomatoes and other vegetables were not quite ready yet.3 She hoped that the girls would get home in time to help cook for threshers.4 While Virginia saved letters from her mother, Mary did not save letters from Virginia, so we don’t know for certain what the sisters did while they were there, but we can guess.

Knowing Verne’s penchant for sightseeing, he probably took them to some of his favorite spots, such as Backbone Rock near Damascus, Virginia, and he surely took them to see the place where their father was raised in Rich Valley. They certainly drove over Walker Mountain to Marion and perhaps stopped at Hungry Mother State Park for a picnic. He certainly introduced them to his friends and maybe there was a party of two while they were there.

Backbone Rock, near Damascus, VA, c. 1937
Their soon-to-be, sister-in-law Ruth wrote them supposing they had “been to the capital city and [had] more than taken things in.”5 Whether she meant the capitol of Virginia of the capitol of the United States is not clear, nor is there any indication regarding either visit from any other letters.

Neville and Virginia returned home, hopefully in time to help their mother cook for threshers, and in the fall, Neville returned to her teaching position in Meadow Grove.

At Thanksgiving, Verne traveled home to Nebraska, and a family photo was taken. It must have been a warm Thanksgiving, for they’re not wearing coats.

Left to right: Irene Saks (Verne’s Nebraska girlfriend), Mary (Waggoner) Troutman, “Aunt Jenny” Virginia (Totten) Troutman (sister-in-law to Mary and Clint), Unknown (behind Jenny’s head), Clint Troutman (peeking between Jenny and Dorothy), Dorothy (Fleer) Troutman, Virginia Troutman, James Troutman (maybe, peeking between Virginia and Neville), Neville Troutman holding Darrell, Carl Troutman, Verne Troutman, and Gary (Darrell and Gary belong to Carl and Dorothy).

Verne would go back to Virginia for a few more years where he would soon meet the love of his life.


1 Mary Troutman, Winside, NE, to Virginia, Neville, and Verne Troutman, letter, 1 July 1937, newsy letter about activities at home: garden, canning, visits from friends, and so on; Family Letters; copy privately held by Z. T. Noble, [ADDRESS FOR PRIVATE USE] Anderson, Indiana.. Also, Mary Troutman, Winside, NE, to Virginia Troutman, letter, 12 July 1937, newsy letter about activities at home, anticipating the return of her daughters. Letters are addressed to Virginia Troutman, c/o J. H. Troutman, Marion, Virginia, Family Letters, CD.
2 Mary Troutman, Winside, NE, to Virginia, Neville, and Verne Troutman, letter, 1 July 1937.
3 Ibid.
4 Mary Troutman, Winside, NE, to Virginia Troutman, letter, 12 July 1937.
5 Ruth Schindler, Nebraska City, Nebraska, to Neville and Virginia Troutman, letter, 13 July 1937, asks about their activities in Virginia and tells them about an accident involving their brother James, Family Letters CD; copy privately held by Z. T. Noble, [ADDRESS FOR PRIVATE USE] Anderson, Indiana.