22 February 2006

Missing Sandra Day O'Connor

Texas birth records show that Sandra Day was born March 26, 1930 in El Paso County. Three weeks later, the census enumerator found her parents on the Lazy-B Ranch in Greenlee Co., AZ. No sign of little Sandra. Maybe she was out back roping a steer when the census taker came by.

19 February 2006

Inexplicable Epidemic of Death Hits 115-Year-Olds

In the past couple days, two-thirds of all Americans aged 115 have died. That leaves only one.

Bettie Rutherford Wilson was born September 13, 1890, in Benton Co., Mississippi. She died on February 16, 2006.

Susie Potts Wilson was born October 31, 1890, in Alcorn Co., Mississippi. She died February, 18, 2006, two days after Bettie Wilson.

Lizzie Jones Bolden was born August 15, 1890 in Fayette Co., Tennesee. She currently lives in Memphis, Tennessee.

18 February 2006

World-Famous First Winter Olympic Gold Medal Winner

The winner of the first event of the 1924 Winter Olympics in Chamonix was Charles Jewtraw. A speed skater who took part in events across the U.S. and Europe in the early 1920s, Jewtraw won the 500 meter event at the first Winter Olympics. Born in Clinton County, NY in 1900, Charlie grew up near Lake Placid, the 4th son in a poor family. His parents separated when he was in his teens and he went to live with a businessman who financed Charlie's training.

You'd think the name of the winner of the first gold medal in Winter Olympic history would be world famous. Or, since he was an American, at least famous in the U.S. Although remembered in the speed-skating community, Charlie's name is not as recognizable to the rest of us as, say, fellow speed-skater Eric Heiden or another 1924 Winter Olympian, Sonja Henie, who as an 11-year-old figure skater, finished last.

After the Olympics, Jewtraw attended Harvard for a while and took part in a few more skating meets and exhibitions following the Olympics. He became a spokesperson for Spalding and married a woman named Natalie. He died in 1996 in Palm Beach, Florida.

In case you are wondering, the Jewtraws came to New York from Canada, though I don't know the actual origin of the name. To bolster my theory that census takers never ever asked how to spell a name, between 1840 and 1880, the name is recorded as Jewstraw, Dutrow, Jutraw, Dutrand, Jertraw, and Dutraw.

Here is Jewtraw in 1900, just a month old. By 1910 the family was living near Lake Placid. In 1920, Charlie was living with his sponsor, James Mabbett.

06 February 2006

Coretta Scott King Laid to Rest

As everyone knows, Coretta Scott King was born in Perry County, Alabama on April 27, 1927. Two years and 11 months later, the 1930 census records her age (line 88) as one and 11 months.

Does that mean she lied about her age? Probably not. If you've done even a minimum amount of research in the census records, you will have found that people's birthyears varied quite a bit. When they are this young, however, the parents are less likely to make a mistake. Note that in the case of little Cora, her grandparents were likely the one giving her age, so an error like this is understandable.