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.
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.
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.