Monday, November 5, 2012

Crowd-Sourcing Cousin Edith

I tried something last week - I needed a blog post for Friday while we were out of town and unable to post regularly on Genea-Musings - and it worked better than I could ever imagine.

I tried crowd-sourcing a genealogical research problem.  What is that?  The definition is:  "the practice of obtaining needed services, ideas, or content by soliciting contributions from a large group of people and especially from the online community."

In What Happened to Cousin Edith? I explained my earlier research errors (thinking that they might be good examples of how not to jump to conclusions) and listed my failed attempts to find out what happened to Edith M. Kemp, one of my first cousins twice removed.  I did not know who she married, or when she died, and my last information about her was in the 1920 U.S. Census..

Several of my Genea-Musings readers contributed by helping me find more information about Edith over the weekend.  Here's how they helped and what they found:

1)  Alissa Booth searched the 1930 US Census for an Edith M born about 1905, and found one that might be the correct Edith.  It wasn't, but I appreciate the effort!

2)  Jay at 1FamilyTree said:  "I'm shocked you did not consult the obituaries of her parents and siblings! An important step!"  Indeed it is, and was the ultimate solution to some of the puzzle.  I did check Ancestry and GenealogyBank newspaper collections, but did not see a match for Edith Kemp.  Kemp is a fairly common name.  In retrospect, the brother's name might have found them easily.

3)  Finn noted:  "Randy, I looked for Edith, no luck, did find her older brother, Leroy Gordon Kemp in the Pedigree Resource File on FamilySearch. He appears to have some descendants. There is a submitters name, but that was a long time ago. Leroy died 12 Oct 1933 in Bell CA. Maybe there is an obituary."  I had not checked Family Tree.

4)  Joel Weintraub helped:  "LA Times Oct 13, 1933. Obit:  'Kemp, Oct 12, Leroy Kemp, beloved husband of Laura E Kemp; father of Jimmie Kemp. Mr Kemp is also survived by his parents Mr and Mrs James Kemp of El Monte and two sisters, Mrs Myrtle Marley of Santa Ana and Mrs Edith Conklin of Los Angeles....' "  Now we're getting somewhere!  Thank you, Joel!  This indicates that Edith was married, at some point, to a Conklin.  

5)  Gerald Cohail did some serious work:  "The Marley Family Tree on appears to be the original tree to provide the following birth date for Edith M Kemp, daughter of James A and Bertha Kemp: 25 Sep 1903 in California. As is typical with online trees, there is no source listed. Contacting the owner of the tree is likely to be fruitless, as his last log in was 'Over a year ago.'

"However, a search of the Social Security Death Master File ( produced one Edith born on that date who received her Social Security Number in the state of California (the most likely place): "EDITH OTT was born 25 September 1903, got Social Security number 562-10-2970 (indicating California,) and died October 1971."

"I then searched the California Death Index at and found the following: Name: Edith M Ott; Social Security #: 562102970; Gender: Female; Birth Date: 25 Sep 1903; Birth Place: California; Death Date: 2 Oct 1971; Death Place: Los Angeles (county).

"The Social Security Death Index on lists her last residence as Montrose, Los Angeles, California."

Well done, Gerald.  Great sleuthing - using a derivative source (an online tree) to find a key date (birth date) and using it to find a married female's surname and death date/place in the SSDI and CDI.  

6)  Joel also noted:  "On the 1930 Census Edith Conklin of Los Angeles shows as divorced.  So Edith Ott could also be the same person with a remarriage."  Bingo!  Great tip, Joel!

7)  So now I know a birth date (25 September 1903), a death date (2 October 1971), and the surnames of at least two spouses!  I'd better try to find more information and hold up my end of this problem:

*  It turns out that I had already found the Leroy Kemp obituary some time ago (but I had forgotten about it) on GenealogyBank in the San Diego Union newspaper, dated 13 October 1933.  The obituary was also in the Los Angeles Times dated 13 October 1933 (in's "Historical Newspapers, Birth, Marriage and Death Announcements, 1851-2003" collection):

I had neglected to enter this information into my database when I captured the image...another unforced error!  But it also provides the Conklin lead.

*  Here is the James Kemp notice that I found in the Los Angeles Times dated 13 September 1934 (in "Historical Newspapers, etc." collection:

*  Here is Bertha Kemp's obituary in the Los Angeles Times dated 27 January 1951 (in the "Historical Newspaper, etc." collection):

*  I looked on both and GenealogyBank and did not find an obituary or death notice for Edith (Kemp) (Conklin) Ott, or for Myrtle (Kemp) Marley.

*  Now I'm wondering what the given names of Mr. Conklin and Mr. Ott are!  I searched the 1930 U.S. Census for Los Angeles County, California for divorced male Conklins - and found four:

Only one of those is close to Edith's age - the Robert P. Conklin born about 1904 in Colorado (a lodger at 2408 South Figueroa Street in Los Angeles).  This might be the right one, but without more information it's difficult to know.

*  The California Death Index lists a Robert P. Conklin born 6 March 1904 in Colorado, died 28 February 1982 in Los Angeles County.

*  I checked the Los Angeles City Directories for Edith Conklin and Edith Ott on (they have some but not all of them in the 1940 to 1960 time period).

**  1937, Mrs. Edith M. Conklin resided at 1060 Klingerman in El Monte.
**  1943, Mrs. Edith Ott, a dressmaker, resided in Pasadena at 741 Olivewood Court.  I don't think that this is the right Edith.  In earlier years, the listing was Edith K. Ott.
**  1951, Edith M. Ott, a clerk, resided at 2030 Broadview Drive in Glendale - the same address given in her mother's obituary.

*  The California Voter Registrations for Los Angeles County on might help also:

**  1944, Mrs. Edith M. Ott, a housekeeper, a Democrat, resided at 628 N. Kingsley Drive, Los Angeles City.
**  1946, Mrs. Edith M. Ott, a Democrat, is listed in the same address as the 1944 listing.
**  1948, Mrs. Edith M. Ott, Democrat,  resides at 1932 North Wilton Place in Los Angeles.
**  In 1950, Mrs. Edith M. Ott, Democrat,  is not listed.
**  In 1952, Mrs. Edith M. Ott, Democrat, resides at 1941 W. 41st Drive in Los Angeles
**  In 1954, Mrs. Edith M. Ott, Democrat, resides at 1941 W. 41st Drive in Los Angeles

**  In 1946, Mrs. Edith M. Ott, resided at 1511 Broadview Drive in Glendale, a Republican.  The line below lists Dennis M. Ott at the same address (a DS = Democrat Socialist?).
**  1948, Dennis M. Ott, Democrat, and Mrs. Edith M. Ott, Repulbican, are listed at the same address.
**  1950, Mrs. Edith Ott, a Republican, resides at 2030 Broadview Drive in Glendale (the address given in Bertha Kemp's obituary).

From this I could deduce that there were two Edith M. Ott persons in the Voter Registrations in the 1946-1950 time period - one Democrat and one Republican (alternatively, one Edith M. Ott was registered twice!).  I could also deduce that the Republican Edith M. Ott was married to Dennis M. Ott, and their house was close to the house on Broadview in Glendale where her mother resided at her death.

*  The California Death Index lists Dennis M. Ott, born 8 September 1903 in Colorado, died 24 January 1965 in Los Angeles County.  If this was Edith's second husband, they may have divorced after 1948, but before 1950.  Dennis M. Ott's World War II Army Enlistment record on in July 1943 states that he is divorced.  In the 1940 U.S. Census in Los Angeles County, Dennis M. Ott has a wife named Audrey.  So, if this is the same Dennis M. Ott, he may have married Audrey before 1940, divorced Audrey by 1943, and married Edith before 1946.  Or not!

8)  There are still too many conflicting records on the lists above to draw conclusions from, and more information from other resources may resolve some or all of the conflicts.

Thank you to all of my commenters and crowd-sourcers - I appreciate the time and effort taken in order to find Edith (Kemp) (Conklin) Ott's married names and death date.

The URL for this post is:

Copyright (c) 2012, Randall J. Seaver


Unknown said...

Randy - Find A Grave had the following:
Edith M Ott
Birth: Sep. 25, 1903
Death: Oct. 2, 1971
Forest Lawn Memorial Park (Glendale)
Los Angeles County
California, USA
Plot: Kindly Light, Map B13, Lot 78, Space 5
Created by: Chris Mills
Record added: Feb 22, 2012
Find A Grave Memorial# 85482261

bgwiehle said...

When trying to match former spouses in censuses, watch out for marital status errors. I've found several cases where the couple are no longer living together and one party is enumerated as married and the other as divorced or even single!

Lisa S. Gorrell said...

Randy, I believe DS means "decline to state."