Saturday, May 4, 2013

The Mystery of John H (Henry J) and Ella L Fuller or Faller

At the time of the 1920 US Census, January 8, 1920, my great-grandparents, Alpheus McClelland and Ella (née Ward) Rote were living on Patterson Avenue in "New Castle City," Lawrence, Pennsylvania. My great-grandfather’s first name was misspelled as Alphus, but other information from the census, the location, his middle initial and age, Ella's name and age, and the names and ages of the two adult children living with them, John and Emma, are strong indications that this is actually my great-grandfather.

Figure 1: Fourteenth Census of the United States: 1920—Population
State: Pennsylvania; County: Lawrence; Name of Incorporated Place: New Castle City; Sheet 9A
Living with Alpheus and Ella in 1920 were two children listed as their grandchildren, as can be seen in Figure 2. When I attach the census record to Alpheus on Ancestry.com, they are identified as Emma's children, but I have reason to doubt this.

Figure 2: 1920 US Census, Detail of Alphus [Alpheus] M Rote and Household
The grandchildren’s names are given here as John H. Fuller and Ella L. Fuller, ages 5 and 4 9/12, giving them estimated birth dates of 1915 and September 1916, respectively. The two were born in Pennsylvania, as was their father, and their mother was born in Ohio.

When this census was attached to Alpheus, Ancestry.com interpreted the children as Emma’s children. However, Emma was born in Pennsylvania. The only one of Alpheus’ children to be born outside of Pennsylvania was Mabel, who was born in Ohio, and it is she who I believe must be the children’s mother.

Ten years later, on April 6, 1930, Alpheus and his family were living on Crease Street, and the children turn up again in the census, where the household is split between two pages:

Figure 3: Fifteenth Census of the United States: 1930—Population
State: Pennsylvania; County: Lawrence;  Incorporated Place: New Castle; Sheet 16A
Figure 4: Fifteenth Census of the United States: 1930—Population
State: Pennsylvania; County: Lawrence;  Incorporated Place: New Castle; Sheet 16B
Here are close-ups of the names in the household:

Figure 5: 1930 US Census, Detail 1 of Alpheus M Rote and Household
Figure 6: 1930 US Census, Detail 2 of Alpheus M Rote and Household
Over the past decade the family composition has changed slightly. John Rote has moved out and his sister Emma, now using the name Cavender, is still (or once more) living in the household, now with a daughter of her own, Anna G. Cavender. Once again, there are two additional grandchildren, now identified as Henry J. and Ella L. Faller The remaining details about the children are consistent with the 1920 census and it seems most likely that the child identified as John H in 1920 goes by Henry J in 1930.

Based on this, I have the following individuals:

First Name
Last Name
DOB
Place Born
Mother
Father
John H[enry] or Henry J[ohn]
Fuller or Faller
abt 1915
Pennsylvania
Mabel M Rote
Fuller or Faller
Ella L
Fuller or Faller
abt July 1916
Pennsylvania
Mabel M Rote
Fuller or Faller

I have not yet been able to locate any information about Alpheus after 1930; I do not know when or where he died. There are a number of individuals who may correspond to other members of the household, but I have not yet been able to discover any more information about the Fuller or Faller children, and they, with their mysterious origins and presence in their grandfather's house, is a mystery that appeals to me.

So, among my many other genealogical goals, I hope to uncover the mystery these children present. To that end, I shall attempt to:
  1. Discover the full names of each of the children, along with their exact birth dates and birthplaces,
  2. Confirm or disprove that Mabel M Rote is the children’s mother,
  3. Identify their father (full name, birth date, date of death, and parents' name, if at all possible),
  4. Demonstrate a “reasonably exhaustive search” and explain the research process as I go, and
  5. Record my research and findings.

As I research these individuals, I will post updates regarding the progress of my search and its results, positive or negative.

ETA: This post, with it's approach to documenting my researches on a specific individual, was inspired by the blog Pinpointing Dennis Buggy's Irish Origins.