How I Found My Aunt
Jeffrey L. Vaillant
25 August 2013
Back Story: My father Benjamin was born in St. Louis, MO on 24 May 1913. He had two older sisters (June 1909-1973 and Pauline 1911-1974). His parents, August and Mary, were married in St. Louis, MO on 27 April 1907. This family grouping can be found from 1908-1916 in St. Louis city directories and the 1910 census with August being the principle person listed as a laborer. The next time found is in the 1920 Federal Census for Chicago with August missing. A mother and three children are found in the 1930 and 1940 Federal census in Chicago.
Many times during his life (1913-2002) my father would recall holding a very young child whom he thought was a sibling. He could not recall the gender or the name or the location. So for years the search has taken place to find if there was any kernel of truth to his story.
Serendipity (of course): My wife and I were invited to dinner with a couple she babysat for in Chicago. They insisted on paying for dinner ($$$$). I figured a way to say thanks was to put more research into their family line. [They are related to my wife via a brother-in-law.] One fact I was looking for was proof of death for our hosts’ grandfather, again in Evanston/Chicago, IL which I had determined could have been about 1923. A place to start was ancestry.com where I use the Search/Card Catalog feature.
Next was to concentrate on Illinois which took the databases from 31,394 to 569:
The first database caught my eye as it covered the period of interest. So a click brought up:
Sorry dinner folks, the genealogist’s mind works as it works! I turned to “MY” long standing hunt for that child my father remembered. After all, I could not find the family between 1917-1920, so just maybe-----I thought it best to start out with three letters and an asterisk:
Well, 1953 results seemed a little too much so I added a letter and got this result:
Further since I thought the missing sibling might have been born between 1916 and 1920 I decided to view all of the 266 results. On the third page I found the following index record that could fit:
Yes, the next step was to View Record!
The parents given names and surnames where the ones I wanted to see. A Family History Library film number is given; but, in this age of internet where else might a record be found? In the upper right hand corner of the Index listing was the following:
A click took me to:
A file number to follow to:
Yep, the blood is flowing a little faster! You will see by my LastPass id/password that I have used this site.
Next step was to insert the file number which results in the specific file being found AND:
For $17.00 plus a small handling fee I could see the document! Yep, the credit card numbers were inserted and as the website says I got an almost instant download to open and save. This is what was delivered----
So my father’s memory was sound! What I find amazing was my father was two years, 4 months and 5 days old when Gloria was born and three years, 8 months and 12 days old when Gloria died. While she only lived 16 months it made a strong impact.