Looking for Clues in All the Right Places


Sometimes finding someone’s parents is an easy job.  There would be a birth record or bible entry or you knew because a family member had told you.  But what if you were flying blind.  You knew someone’s name, their wife and children but no one knew anything else.  How would you find them?  My problem was George.

I know that George was born in 1902 and was married to Martha born in 1909.  I know the names of his sons.

From the 1940 U.S. Federal Census I know that he lived on 2nd Street in Philadelphia and worked as a machinist.  He was born in Pennsylvania and 3 of his sons are listed  George Jr, William and Robert.

A marriage record from the Philadelphia, Pennsylvania Marriage Index, 1885-1951  gave me the year that George and Martha were married as 1928.

Next I discovered a Death Certificate from 1930 for the death of George and Martha’s daughter Mary.  They were living on Hancock Street in Philadelphia.

My next stop was the 1930 U.S. Federal Census.  They were living on Hancock Street in Philadelphia.  As in the 1940 census he was working as a machinist in a machine shop.  This census gave the information that his parents were born in Germany.  Living with them was his brother Harry F. That was the first clue.

Harry F. was 38 years old, single, born in 1892 in Pennsylvania, was unemployed, his occupation was barber.  And he was a veteran of the World War.  Knowing he was a veteran meant military records.

There was no record of him being drafted so that meant he had enlisted.  I found him in the Pennsylvania World War I Veterans Service and Compensation Files, 1917-1919, 1934-1948.  The file was dated 13 February 1934.  It stated that he was born on August 9, 1892 in Philadelphia.  He served in Meuse-Argonne Offensive and received a spinal wound.  His parents were listed as Conrad and Mary E.  And when he entered the service he lived on N. 20th Street. This might have been my Harry but I needed more information.

There was also a document, Army Transport Services, Passenger Lists, 1910-1939.  Harry was a Private on his way to Europe.  His next of kin was listed as Minnie who lived at N. 20th Street.  The last name was different so I thought that she was probably a sister or aunt. I made note of this possible relative.

Further on I found a U.S. World War II Draft Register Card, 1942.  It listed the same birth date and an address of  N. Camac Street in Philadelphia.  It also has a line which reads, “Name and address of person who will always know your address.”  The name given was Ruth at N. 16th Street in Philadelphia. As the last name was the same and he was listed as single, I guessed that this was either an aunt or sister. Another clue noted.

The 1940 census just stated that he was single, unemployed and living on Camac Street.

So my next search was of the 1920 census.  There was Harry F. living with his sister Minnie and her family and also in the household was their sister Ruth.  He was a machinist in a textile company.  All three siblings listed their parents as having been born in Germany. The names were encouraging but now was the time to check my conclusions: parents Conrad and Mary, children Minnie, Harry, Ruth and George.

The 1910 census gave me Conrad, 45 married for 20 years to Mary, 43.  Their children were Harry, Ruth, George and Ethel.  Conrad was a baker and had worked for 9 years in. a bread Bakery.  He was an alien who arrived in this country from Germany in 1870.  His wife Mary was the mother of 11 children of which 6 were living as of April 1910.  It looked like the right trail but I needed more.

Another step backwards to the 1900 census.  There was Conrad born April 1866, married 11 years, working as a baker and an alien who had arrived in this country in 1870.  His wife Mary, born November 1868, mother of 4 children of which 4 were alive, she arrived in 1870.  Their children were Charles born January 1886, Minnie born 1891, Harry born August 1892 and Ruth born March 1899.

Nailed it!!

Barbara Capoferri

3 thoughts on “Looking for Clues in All the Right Places

  1. joan kelly says:

    My goodness!! You are a detective/librarian. Our family is so blessed you don’t give up until you “get you man!” Thank you!


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