Tuesday, October 29, 2013

CrowdSourcing Opportunity: When and Where did John Louis Powell Die?

Once in awhile, I ask my readers to help me find genealogical and family history data for me, or ask them for advice on resources or methodology.  This is one of those times, and crowdsourcing is what it's called, and it usually works!

I received a phone call from John, a friend of mine here in Chula Vista.  His mother died several years ago, and he needs to know more about his maternal grandfather for probate reasons.  If he knew the grandfather's death date and place, he might be able to shorten the process.  So he asked me to search for his grandfather's death date and place.

John told me the following:

1)  His grandfather's name was John Lewis Burr Powell.
2)  He lived in his later years in Creek County, Oklahoma.
3)  His grandfather's wife's name was Ethel.
4)  His mother's maiden name was Jean Agnes Powell, daughter of John Lewis and Ethel Powell.
5)  John Lewis Powell died sometime after 1941 and probably before 1950 (friend John has a picture of him with his grandfather, John Lewis Powell), and may have been murdered.

I spent several hours yesterday committing genealogy fun yesterday trying to figure this puzzle out.  My first reaction was "This should be easy, there's probably census records, a cemetery record, maybe even vital records, probably a newspaper story about the death, etc."

Well-l-l-l-l-l-l-l... I did find two census records!  And that's it after searching Ancestry.com, FamilySearch, GenealogyBank, NewspaperARCHIVE, Mocavo, USGWArchives, Google, and more.  

1)  I found Louis B. Powell (age 28, born Oklahoma) in the 1930 U.S. Census, residing in Marshall, Logan County, Oklahoma with his wife Ethel M. (age born Indiana), daughter Agnes Jean (age 7, born Oklahoma), son Alfred N. (age 3, born Oklahoma), and son David (age 7/12, born Oklahoma).

This record provides many clues to help me find other records.

2)  The 1920 U.S. Census for Sepulpa, Creek County, Oklahoma has Louis Powell (age 18, born Oklahoma) in a household with a mother Jeis Powell (age 51, born Kansas), sister Frances (age 16, born Oklahoma), sister Ruby (age 13, born Oklahoma) and sister Lucy (age 10, born Oklahoma):

The entries for the four children indicate that their father was born in Ohio, and that Jeis Powell was a widow.  Those Facts may be helpful also.

3)  The 1940 U.S. Census revealed several families with a Louis (or John) with an Ethel, but none with a daughter Agnes or sons Alfred or David.  However, Ethel, Alfred and David were located in Fairfield, Wayne County, Illinois, after Ethel had married Loy Latham.

So either Ethel divorced John Louis Powell or John Louis Powell died and Ethel remarried to Loy Latham and moved to Illinois.

There are no credible "Suggested Records" for any of these persons on the census record summaries.

4)  Looking at Oklahoma records on Ancestry, I found a Find A Grave entry for Louis B. Powell who is interred in Fairlawn Cemetery in Cushing, Payne County, Oklahoma.

That may very well be him.  It fits the known information (the name is right (he went by Louis B. Powell in the census records), the birth in July 1901 is consistent with the census records, his wife married again).  Payne County is between Logan and Creek counties.  But my friend John said he died after 1941.  I will have to call John back and ask him his birthdate - it may be 1931.

This gravestone memorial may not be the right guy.  It's impossible to tell for sure without more information.

5)  There is no Ancestry Member Tree with a John Louis Powell (born about 1901) with a spouse Ethel and a daughter Agnes or Jean, that matches the known information.

6)  There are no newspaper articles on Ancestry.com with a John Louis Powell (born about 1901) with a spouse Ethel and a daughter Agnes or Jean, that matches the known information.

7)  FamilySearch has an "Oklahoma County Marriages, 1802-1995" collection.  I found no credible marriage of a John Powell, Lewis or Louis Powell, a B. Powell, an Ethel Powell or an Agnes or Jean Powell.

8)  The FamilySearch Family Tree does not include John Louis Powell who married an Ethel that matched the known information.

9)  GenealogyBank had no articles about John or Louis Powell, Ethel Powell or Latham, or Agnes or Jean Powell that matched the known information.

10)  A Google search for a John or Louis Powell (born about 1901) with a spouse Ethel and a daughter Agnes or Jean, found nothing that matches the known information.

11)  A search on Oklahoma marriage links on Joe Beine's site revealed a marriage of John Powell to Ethel Bennett in Creek County, Oklahoma on 5 February 1920.  That helps define Ethel's maiden name, but doesn't help with John Louis Powell's death date, which is the goal.

So that's where I am after several hours of thrashing through online databases.  I have one good lead, assuming that friend John erred with the date of the photograph.

What other online resources are there that I could look at?  What non-online resources might be available for these counties or Oklahoma as a whole?

Thanks for any suggestions!

The URL for this post is:  http://www.geneamusings.com/2013/10/crowdsourcing-opportunity-when-and.html

Copyright (c) 2013, Randall J. Seaver


Sharon said...

Some Oklahoma probate records are available on FamilySearch. They are browse only. I looked at the probate indexes for Payne County and found no likely guy. I checked Logan County and found a "Burel" Powel, whose estate was probated between 1934 and 1936. Unfortunately, the records themselves are not online, only the index.

The link for the index page is


This may (or may not!) be the Louis Burr Powell you are looking for. The date does appear to mesh with the find-a-grave entry you found.

GeneGinny said...

Have you thought of contacting local genealogical societies? Looks like there's a Cushing Gen. Society at http://cushingpubliclibrary.org/genealogy.aspx and a Payne County Gen Society at http://www.pcgsok.org/. The former does obit lookups.

Anonymous said...

The Oklahoma Historical Society has some Oklahoma resources online, including digitized newspapers. It's at www.okhistory.org, and the newspapers are at gateway.okhistory.org . Not sure if they cover the time period in question, but it may be worth a look!

Rosemary said...

And yet another place to ask for help is the Tulsa Genealogy Center located at http://www.tulsalibrary.org/genealogy-center

Also, Tulsa Genealogical Society at http://www.tulsagenealogy.org/ which has research services available.

P.S. "Sepulpa" is "Sapulpa".

Geolover said...

Noting that the 1940 US Census information included that all persons in Ethel's household were in Perry, Noble Co., OK in 1935, that could be a place to look for marriage and newspaper data.

The note from anonymous regarding OHS's newspapers is apropos. They do have some Perry papers for 1890s, 1910s and 1920s, but possibly not from the 1930s. A query regarding papers from there and elsewhere in the County might gather a more precise list.

Luin said...

While researching at the Oklahoma History Library today, I browsed the Cushing newspaper around the date of death in the FindaGrave memorial. A small article in the October 20, 1935, issue of The Cushing Daily Citizen states that Louis B Powell died in an Oklahoma City hospital from injuries sustained in a hatchet altercation. The article was datelined Oct 19, Oklahoma City.
Since the article indicated he was from Drumright, I also browsed The Drumright Daily Derrick and found an obituary in the October 20, 1935, issue, that indicates he would be buried in the Rose Hill cemetery on Monday, Oct 21. The list of survivors include his wife (who was not named) and three children, Agnes Gene, 12, Alfred Nil, 8, and David Lewis, 6.
I also found a lengthy article in the Oct 8, 1935, issue of The Daily Derrick, entitled "Hulsey Held in Jail Here for Attack with Ax."
I am willing to send you copies of these three articles if you desire. My direct e-mail is luinlr@aol.com.

Randy Seaver said...

Thank you all for your contributions here - excellent suggestions, all on point, and then Luin does some newspaper lookups for me without asking...WOW!

John will be ecstatic, and impressed, and I'm really stoked that I can tell him his grandfather's death date, place and cause of death, with details, within a one week time period.

Cousin Russ said...


To follow up on Sharon's comment, that image, I think, is a real 'hit'.

Logan County: Image 62 of 96; 2nd Column, 1934-1936; #3958; Book K, Page 9:

"Oklahoma Probate Records, 1887-2008," images, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/pal:/MM9.3.1/TH-1961-32125-16700-63?cc=2063710&wc=M9MP-XGQ:1122095691 : accessed 28 Nov 2013), Logan > Estate index 1894-1980 vol 1 > image 62 of 96.

It's in the 1934 to 1936 range and if he died in 1935 as indicated on the Find-A-Grave website the date would be right.

The Burel is really close to other spellings of his middle name. (Burr / Burel). As Sharon said it's an "index" log book, but it's typed.

It might be an interesting resource. I have it on my list to see if I can find that record. I am guessing it would be on line. But we do know the location from that log book. Book K, Page 8.