Monday, April 16, 2007

Ancestors in the 1930 U.S. Federal Census - Part 3

April 1st was Census Day for the 1930 U.S. Federal Census. In honor of that census day, throughout the month of April I am posting lists of my known direct ancestors and where they were residing during that census. I'll also list who's missing; for us family historians, missing individuals on census records can be the most frustrating and intriguing challenges of genealogy!

In my last post on this topic, I presented my paternal grandmother, born Jane Marie YORK, living as Jeanne Marie HOLST with her foster (and later, adoptive) parents, Alfred Henry HOLST and Nellie May CONCIDINE. I also showed her biological brother, Harry Orlando YORK, living as James Howard ERWIN with his adoptive parents, Howard W. ERWIN and Effie M. GAUNT.

In this post, I will show the biological parents (divorced in 1927) of these children. Their father, Howard Merkel YORK was living with his father and step-mother, James L. YORK and Mary A. BOGERT on Atwater Street in Lake Orion, Oakland County, Michigan. Howard was listed as an unemployed house roofer and a veteran of World War I. (This image from is difficult to read; the one at HeritageQuest Online is much clearer, but I couldn't change the format of the better image to be used in this post.)

(The census image has been removed)

The children's mother, Mary Jane BARBER, has been very difficult to locate. I searched for her from 2002, when the 1930 U.S. Federal Census first became publicly available, until late last year (2006). I could not find her listed under either Mary Jane YORK or Mary Jane BARBER. Searches using her first name only, along with the approximate year of birth and state of birth were not helpful. I was searching in Michigan only, as I had been told by her sister-in-law that she had lived there all her life. I found a woman that possibly could have matched living in a state hospital, which made me wonder...

However, it was the realization that I could find all of Mary Jane's siblings on the 1930 census, with the exception of her older brother James Albert BARBER, which made me decide that he had to be the key. Mary Jane was extremely close to her brother; he was a father-figure to her, as their father, Orlando BARBER, died five days after her first birthday. Jim had been one of the witnesses to Mary Jane's marriage to Howard YORK. So I started searching for him in order to find her.

I couldn't find Jim in all of Michigan, so I expanded my search to include all of the United States. By using the search parameters of his first and last name, state of birth, and year of birth (1903), plus or minus 5 years, I discovered a James BARBER living in the first ward of the city of Manitowoc, Manitowoc Co., Wisconsin at 719 Jay Street. He was listed as 30 years old, employed as an engineer for a cement plant, a military veteran, whose father was born in Canada and whose mother was born in Michigan. A 57-year-old Greek immigrant, Peter CARLOS, roomed at the same address. So far, everything matched quite closely.

(The census image has been removed)

I then searched for any woman named Mary Jane, born c. 1910, plus or minus 5 years in Manitowoc County. Lo and behold, a woman named Mary Jane KUPSH, wife of Arthur, turned up. She was born c. 1911 in Michigan, father born in Canada, mother born in Michigan. She and husband Arthur were living at 1814 Clark Street in the fifth ward of the city of Manitowoc.

(The census image has been removed)

So far, this is only circumstantial evidence. I need to obtain a marriage record of Arthur KUPSH and Mary Jane [--?--] to determine if she is "mine." Uncle Jim's widow had never heard of Jim or Mary Jane living in Wisconsin, nor of Mary Jane being married to an Arthur KUPSH. However, Jim's widow did not marry him until 1950, so it is possible that she never knew that part of their lives.

(Part 1, Part 2, Part 4, Part 5, Part 6, Part 7, Part 8, Part 9, Part 10, Part 11, Part 12)


Randy Seaver said...


I took a look at your census records here. I like your logic of finding Mary Jane in the same county as her brother...BUT

From the census records for the two adopted York kids, Jean was age 5 in 1930, and Jim was age 4-7/12. That means that, if Mary Jane Barber was their mother, that she would have been no older than 14 (and perhaps 12 or 13) when she got pregnant with Jean. And Mr. York would have been, say 25 or 26.

That puts a red flag up in my mind - the age difference is scary and the age of pregnancy is too.

Do you have other records for Mary Jane Barber being born in 1910 or so? The 1910 census shows her age 3 months and the 1920 census shows her age 10. The ages are pretty consistent for someone born in late 1909 or early 1910.

As an aside, I really struggled trying to find Mary Jane in the 1930 census in Manitowoc County. I forgot that only heads of household have their birthplace indexed, so I got no hits until I removed that. Also, even though the record was indexed as Kupsh, the record could be Kupshi.

Have you looked for a death record or obituary for Mary Jane in Wisconsin? She might even be in the SSDI!

Cheers -- Randy

Miriam Robbins said...

Good questions, Randy!

I have Mary Jane's birth record, and yes, she was (just) 14 when she married my great-grandfather, who was 25. She lied on the marriage license and said she was 16.

Mary Jane was 14, almost 15 when my grandmother was born. Uncle Jim was born a year later, almost to the day. By then, they were separated. I have Jim's original birth certificate. I knew his birth name from his parents' divorce record, and ordered his birth certificate without mentioning adoption. I could do this legally, because he was deceased. I cannot order my grandmother's original birth certificate, because she is still living.

Mary Jane appears in the 1910 and 1920 U.S. Federal Censuses with ages agreeing with her birth date of 11 Dec 1909.

Howard's birth was not recorded in the two possible counties for which I have secondary information of his birth. I have lots of secondary information of his birth, including his WW1 Draft Registration that shows he was born 17 Sep 1898. Census records also agree with that date.

I also have death dates and cemetery records for both Mary Jane and Howard, along with obituaries (both died in Michigan and happen to be buried in the same cemetery). You can read more information about them on my AnceStories website or in my family tree databases. Links to both are in the right-hand menu of this blog.