Casefile Clues

04 April 2012

Read the Whole Page or District--Finding Two Aunts on One Page

My people are rural people. Locating one in a 1940 census enumeration district usually means that others are nearby.

I was searching for my Grandma Neill's sister Lillie (Trautvetter) Short and not really sure why. She was easy to find as after her marriage she always lived in Loraine, Adams County, Illinois. After reading her entry, I browsed down the page, not at the names but at the residences people listed in 1935. There was one for "R, Hancock County, Illinois." The "R" reference is to rural.

When I glanced at the name I realized it was my Grandpa Neill's sister, Nellie (Neill) Shanks.

They were renting a house in Loraine for $9 a month. Both of them were working as public school teachers. Nellie is listed as having worked for 33 weeks and having been paid $560. Armond (actually Armin who was always referred to as "Bony") worked for 40 weeks and was paid $1000. The census indicates that Armin had attended four years of college and Nellie had attended for two years.

It pays to read through the whole district when searching. As soon as I saw the entry, I remembered reading in the obituary that Aunt Nellie had taught school in Loraine, but I only remembered her living in Ursa.  She lived to be 90 (a little unusual for a Neill to be honest) and when I asked her about the "old days" and what she remembered, she only told me one story about her oldest brother, who was my Grandpa Neill (who died when I was six months old).  Maybe it's a good thing there was just one story as it's stuck with me for the longest time.

When she was going to start college, her folks didn't have any money to give her to help out as the Neills were not flush with cash. My Grandpa was still unmarried and living at home. He had built some hog houses and gave his sister the money he got from selling them to help her with her expenses.

If there was only one story to pass on...that's a good one.

I've got stories about Aunt Lillie too but those are for another day.

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This enumeration comes from the 1940 U. S. Census, Adams County, Illinois, Keene Township, Village of Loraine, Sheet 1B, household 22.