I have a great great uncle, Frank Weiss, who moved from the family home in Cassville Wisconsin to Pukwana South Dakota. He married Nannie Conaway in 1890, and they had 4 children. Robert died young, and the other three were Marion, Theodore, and Agnes.
I think I just solved some puzzles that in retrospect shouldn’t have been all that difficult to figure out.
The first is that I found a census entry for Nannie Weiss living with Agnes Weiss in Carlsbad, New Mexico in 1920. Nannie and Agnes were also listed in Pukwana in 1920. I found the New Mexico entry several years ago and wondered what that was about. Vacation?
The next part of the mystery is the 1915 South Dakota state census. The only member of the family I could find was Frank Weiss.
I figured Marion being missing was because she was attending the University of Illinois, as she graduated in 1917. And maybe Theodore was off working somewhere. And not finding someone in the records in a place I know they should be is very common. Records are spotty. I got a letter just yesterday from the Social Security Administration saying they had no record of my grandfather’s death, so they could not release information about him to me. Missing records are a common problem. I didn’t think too much of the missing members of the Weiss family.
The last puzzle was Agnes’ obituary. It mentioned that Agnes finished 8th grade in Wisconsin and then moved with the family to New Mexico for a few years. For some reason, I never connected that with the other pieces of information. The obituaries for Nannie and the other children never mentioned anything about New Mexico. In fact, Theodore’s said he lived in Pukwana his entire life save for the time he spent in the military.
It appears now that Nannie moved with the kids who were still at home. In 1915, the county assessor who conducted the census didn’t include them because he knew they didn’t live there. But the US Census in 1920 asks who normally lived in the domicile. And to Frank, Nannie and his children normally lived there, so he included them in his responses. At the same time, Nannie also answered the queries as if she normally lived on her own with Agnes in Carlsbad, New Mexico.
The questions the records don’t answer is why Nannie took the kids and moved out for a time? There’s all sorts of possibilities, from domestic trouble to plans for the whole family to move to New Mexico that fell through. Perhaps the family fell on harder times and Nannie took several teaching positions. And why New Mexico?
The last grandchild of Frank and Nannie died last September. A number of great grandchildren are still alive, but none of them were older than 4 years when Nannie died in 1959. Unless Frank or Nannie wrote it down somewhere, I won’t get a chance to hear the story from someone who heard it directly from one of the participants.
That’s why when I meet distant relatives, I don’t ask them about names and dates. I ask them to tell me stories.