Monday, March 10, 2014

Edwin Bruce and his widow, Leona Ringo

The State of Missouri some time ago posted searchable images of death certificates from 1910 into the 1960s. A branch of an ancestor settled in Missouri well before the Civil War. I searched for the surname Ringo and was rewarded with many hits.

The female hits were either of unmarried women who were Ringos or women who married a Ringo. As I matched up the death certificates with names in my family tree, I found that I was missing death certificates for Ringo daughters who married. One such woman was Leona Ringo.

She was 3 years old when her family was enumerated in St. Joseph, Missouri in 1880. The 1890 Census was mostly destroyed in a fire. The next intact federal census was in 1900. She was not enumerated with her parents and some of her siblings in the 1900 US census. At the age of about 23, she was likely to have married.

Her father was a prominent lawyer in St. Joseph, Missouri and much of the family seemed to have remained in St. Joseph, I took a chance and searched the State of Missouri death certificates for a Leona in Buchanan County. Fortunately she married a man whose surname began with the letter B.

After looking at a half a dozen death certificates, I found her. She was Leona Bruce and died in St. Joseph, MO in 1961. Her son, John, was the informant and he provided the name of her husband. I then found the couple in the 1900 census. She was born in August 1878 and he was born in November 1878. They had been married a year.

Next I found an entry in a register of their application for a marriage license and the record of their marriage. Their marriage license was issued in Buchanan County, Missouri on December 31, 1898. They were married by Rev. C. M. Chilton on January 2, 1899 in St. Joseph, MO.

In 1910, Leona and her husband were living in Lamar, Barton County, Missouri where he was in the lumber business. They had a son, John, who was 6 years old and born in Missouri. In 1961, John was living in Norman, Oklahoma at the time of his mother's death.

In 1920, I found Leona and her son living with two of her sisters in St. Joseph, MO. She was identified as a widow. She was a widow at the time of her death in 1961 so I assumed that Edwin died before 1920. But to my surprise, I found the death certificate for Edwin Beldon Bruce who died in 1951 in St. Joseph, MO and was born November 25, 1878 in Princeton, Missouri. Leona was the informant for his death Certificate and was living in the same rural route number as was Edwin at the time of his death.

So confused...

I then found a World War I draft registration card for Edwin Beldon Bruce in Missouri who was born November 25, 1878. He was living in Jackson County, Missouri at the time and his wife was Edyna. Edwin and Edyna were enumeration in Jackson, Co. in 1920. I then found the register of their marriage in 1917.

It would appear that Leona and Edwin were divorced by 1917. However, in 1930, Edyna Ringo was divorced. She apparently did not remarry as she died in 1981 and the Social Security Death Index includes Edyna Bruce who was born on December 14, 1888 and died in September 1981. He last residence was Springfield, Greene County, Missouri.

At this time I have not found either Leona or Edwin in the 1930 or 1940 census, but at some time the couple reunited before his death in 1951

Sunday, March 9, 2014

Where are the oil wells of Southern California?

A sight that had never seen in Minnesota when I was growing up was an oil well. I recall seeing pictures of oil wells in Texas and Oklahoma that looked a lot like the windmills over water wells.

When my parents moved us to California, we settled in Orange County in Southern California. The first oil wells I saw were the oil wells off the coast south of Santa Barbara near Summerland as my father drove us north to visit his sisters and parents.

I mostly noticed them when we were driving south at night after a visit with my dad's sisters and parents. It looked like a city on the ocean, all lit up. As it turned out, the city that I thought was on an island was a series of oil platforms that were not connected to each other.

The oil wells on the "island" looked like the pictures of oil derricks that I saw as a kid.

A few years later I got my driver's license and had a former classmate who was living near Long Beach, California. On one trip to visit her, I had a chance to see the oil wells on Signal Hill. The oil in these wells was being extracted by a pump that resembled a grasshopper, like the image I found below.

Occasionally I saw one with eyes painted on the head. After my in-laws moved to Carmel, Charley and I would drive up California 101 to visit and along the route, I saw many of the grasshopper oil wells especially near Paso Robles.
There was even an oil well on the campus of Beverly Hills High School. I drove by it often and could see it from my doctor's office in Century City, California. Unlike the other oil wells I saw in Southern California, this was camouflaged.
I don't know when it happened but the oil wells that dotted the landscape along Highway 1, Highway 101 and Interstate 405 began to disappear from view.
The oil fields are ugly but I sort of miss the grasshopper pumps with eyes. These pumps have a name, pumpjack.