Wednesday, January 7, 2015

Finding Katie

Some cases are harder than others to solve. The mystery of Katie Hildebrand has been one of them. In my research, Katie first appeared on the 1900 census. Then she was the 12 year-old granddaughter of Isaiah and Libbie Lowmaster in Montgomery Twp., Wood Co., Ohio. Libbie was Mary Elizabeth Truett (Truit/Truitt).

In 1900 this Lowmaster family were the following members:

Isaiah Lowmaster 60, b. Mar 1840 Married 35yrs
Libbie Lowmaster 50, b.  May 1850 Married 35yrs 6/4
Philma Lowmaster 33, b.  May 1867 Single Son
Alvin Lowmaster 30, b.  May 1870 Single Son
James Lowmaster 26, b.  Feb 1874 Married Son
Martha Lowmaster 18, b.  Apr 1881 Married 1/1 Dau-In-Law
Roy Lowmaster 0, b.  May 1900 Single grandson
Katie Hildebrand 12, b.  Jun 1887 Single Granddaughter

The death record we have for Isaiah Lowmaster (1911) listed his name as Lowmaster. However, this family also moved north across the border to Michigan and the children, at least some, eventually went by the name Lawmaster. Although even in 1940, James Lawmaster was listed as Lowmaster on the 1940 census. This is simply noted to point out that either Lowmaster or Lawmaster was used as the written name.

Libbie, as noted in the census, had six children, four of whom were living in 1900. Three of those children were living in the household: Filmore, Alvin, and James (with his wife, Martha).

The fourth child, Carrie May, was living, although I haven't found her on the 1900 census. She does surface on the 1910 census, in Toledo, wife of Edward Ball.

That leaves two of the six children unaccounted for based on Libbie's declaration of six children, four living. Thus both were deceased by 1900.

Historians know that the 1890 census was lost to a fire. Complicating matters is I cannot locate the 1880 census. The best I can do is jump back to the 1870 census where Eliza J. (Jane) is a four year-old, thus she was born around 1865/66. Brothers Filmore and Alvin are also on the 1870 census. Carrie was born in 1871 and James Alfred was born in 1874.

Finding Eliza J. accounts for five of the six children. The sixth one is lost to me.

I set out to find out about the granddaughter named Katie Hildebrand. She was living with her grandparents and could be the child of any of the children of Isaiah and Libby but likely one of the women. She would probably, but not necessarily, have the family name if she was the daughter of one of the men.

I know never to rule out something completely but Carrie had her own son, George Earl Kline, in October 1888, making it extremely doubtful, yet not impossible, that she was Katie's mother. My speculation was Katie's mother was Eliza J. or the missing child which I cannot locate.

I accept the most logical reason for Katie to be living with her grandparents is because her mother was deceased. This is another reason to rule out Carrie because Katie probably would be with her and not her grandparents if Carrie was her mother.

That missing child has long been out there as a wildcard. And it has always stalled my search.

In November I got a big break in a most unusual way. Geraldine Hansen, 87, died. She appeared to have gotten the most out of her life as evidenced by her obituary: "On November 13, 2014, Jerry received eternal rest. She was born on June 13, 1927 to Roland James and Iva Helen (Brewer) Bogart. Jerry (also known as 'Bogie') graduated from Oregon Clay High School and was voted Most Likely to Become a Famous Blues Singer. She then attended nursing school at Mercy Hospital in Toledo, Ohio and graduated with her Registered Nurse degree - in the days when nurses wore capes and starched their hats and wore white uniforms. She was a true Florence Nightingale."

Complete Obit Here

It is usual that obituaries usually mention survivors, occasionally mention the predeceased, but usually restrict that to parents, children, spouses, and siblings. Jerry's obit stated that in addition to those whom we might expect that she was predeceased by grandmother, Katherine Mae (Lawmaster) Brewer.

This was, hopefully, the big break that I have been waiting for although I did not recognize it as such. My first thought was there was a Lawmaster that somehow I missed in my tree. I searched the tree for Katherine Lawmaster or Katherine Brewer and did not have either.  But having the name Brewer was a big clue.

I found an obituary listing for Katherine Brewer from the Toledo Blade. I requested a copy and was pretty disappointed when it came. There was so little information - I was really hoping it listed her parents.

But with the date of death, I could reverse search and I found a record in the Social Security Death Index for Katherine Brewer which matched the date of death. I then got her date of birth - 24 Jun 1887.

The only record I had of Katie was from the 1900 census. That census listed month/year of births although, anecdotally, it seems that the accuracy rate was about 80%. However, the younger the person the better the accuracy. And on the 1900 census Katie Hildebrand was listed as born in June 1887. A perfect match.

I was 100% sure I identified Katherine Lawmaster Brewer as Katie Hildebrand. Thus she was the granddaughter of Isaiah and Libbie Lowmaster (or Lawmaster). But that wasn't good enough. I needed the missing parent.

My search took me to Seth Brewer. I was able to locate a record for him and discovered his parents were Marvin and Josephine (Truitt) Brewer.

Now Truitt is not a very common name yet his mother and Katie's grandmother were both Truitt's. That raised my level of confidence that I had the right person to near 100%. They were surely neighbors. (And possibly distant cousins although I'll leave that for a Truitt researcher to prove or disprove.)

Katie Hildebrand and Seth Brewer were married on 6 April 1907 in Allen Co., Indiana. That's right across the Ohio border from Toledo. I'm not sure why an Ohio couple in 1907 would go to Indiana to get married but it may have had something to do with age of majority or the waiting period.

I found a marriage record for Katie. It listed her parents as Jacob Hildebrand and Liza Lowmaster.

Eliza Jane. And that's it.

Now we can write the story. It appears that Eliza and Jacob married. Or maybe they didn't. But by 1900 death had come to Eliza so Katie was living with her grandparents.

It was customary in that day for the kids to take on the family name of where they lived so to say it was Lawmaster (or Lowmaster) was not uncommon. Only for legal purposes, perhaps giving the name to the census taker or getting married, would she know her legal name, Hildebrand. I would not doubt that she was raised as Katie Lawmaster and perhaps, at marriage, was told her real name was Hildebrand.

If not for the beautiful writing of Jerry Hansen's life in her obituary, this link would have remained lost for much longer, perhaps forever. But I was able to link the names and the dates and now know where Katie fits into the family.

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