Thursday, November 7, 2013

Finding Ethel - Post 1: Candidate Search

During my crowdsourcing effort last week trying to find my friend John's grandfather's death (summarized in CrowdSourcing Opportunity: When and Where did John Louis Powell Die?Crowdsourcing Results: Louis B. Powell Attacked in Drumright, Oklahoma, and  Crowdsourcing Results: Louis B. Powell Death Notice and Obituary), we found that the wife of Louis B. Powell (1901-1935) was Ethel M. (age 22 in 1930 in Indiana).  Their first child was born in November 1922 in Sapulpa, Creek County, Oklahoma.  The 1930 U.S. census says that Ethel M. was 14 when she married, and Louis was age 20, which points to 1921-1922.  It also indicates that both of her parents were born in Indiana.

I have now shared all of the information about Louis Powell's demise with my friend John, and he asked me if I could do some family tree building for him.  How can I resist?  I love doing stuff like this!  I've spent the whole afternoon so far adding content to the FTM 2014 family tree for Louis Powell's ancestry based on records and family tree hints found online.  I still have a lot more to do on that, but I have a good start on it.

John told me what his father's name was, and I'm fairly confident that I can get back several more generations on that line.

The puzzler that is gnawing at my brain (scary thought, eh?) is Ethel.  What was her maiden name, and what happened to her after her first two husbands died (Louis Powell in 1935 in Oklahoma, Loy Lathem in Illinois in 1943).  John  told me that his grandmother's last name was Kays.  But was it her maiden name or the name he knew her by - a married name?  He didn't say it was Powell or Lathem.

The first step I took was to look for an Ethel Kays (I used the wildcard "k*y*s" for the surname), born about 1907 (plus/minus 2 years) residing in Oklahoma in the 1920 U.S. census.  There were no matches for that name in all of Oklahoma.  No "ka*s," or "ka*s*" or "kay" either.  Of course, Ethel may have been residing in another state in the 1920 U.S. Census.  The only Ethel "k*y*s" in the 1920 census born in Indiana was Ethel Keys, the wife of an Earl Keys in Dayton, Ohio.  I doubt that Kays (or a variant) was the maiden name.  Which means it is probably be a married name.

The next step was to assume that Ethel was residing in Creek County, Oklahoma in the 1920 U.S. Census, and look for different persons named Ethel with no surname.  That result is shown below:

There are 12 matches on the list that match that criteria.  None of them are anywhere near Kays.  Of the 12 matches, 9 were already married.  The three who were daughters in families were:

*  Ethel Hall, born about 1908 in Indiana, daughter of John and Emma Hall, residing in Sapulpa.
*  Ethel Faye Minnear, born about 1908 in Indiana, daughter of William V. and Della M. Minnear, residing in Sapulpa.
*  Ethel Weedman, born about 1909 in Indiana, daughter of A.G. and Eva Weedman, residing in Euchee.

Clicking on Ethel Weedman, I found that she was married to Doil Ozbirn in the 1930 census, and Ethel W. Ozbirn has a burial record in 2005 in San Diego, California on the Billion Graves website.  I don't think that this is the right Ethel.

Ethel Hall's father, John Hall was born in Indiana in the 1920 U.S. Census, and his wife Emma Hall was born in Ohio.  In the 1930 U.S. census, this couple resided in Lincoln, Oklahoma County, Oklahoma without a daughter Ethel.  This Ethel is a definite possibility, but her parents birthplaces don't match Ethel Powell's parents birthplaces.  This family was enumerated in ED 46, on sheet 2B in Sapulpa (image 254).

Ethel Faye Minnear's parents were both born in Indiana in the 1920 U.S. census.  In the 1930 U.S. census, the father resided in Dallas, Texas with a wife Mary and without any children.  I note that Ethel M. might be Ethel Minnear.  This Ethel is a definite possibility also, and her parents birthplaces match Ethel M's parents birthplaces.  The William V. Minnear family resided in ED 42 in Sapulpa, and were enumerated on sheet 3A in the 1920 U.S. Census.  

Where did the Icis Powell family, including Louis Powell, age 17, reside in the 1920 Census?  In ED 46, and was enumerated on sheet 7B (image 264), 10 sheets after the Hall family.

Because she was only 13 or 14, and he was 19 or 20, when they met and had a child in November 1922, my hypothesis is that they lived in fairly close proximity to each other.  Because of that, I'm going to focus first on the Ethel Hall, the daughter of John and Emma Hall, because I think that she is the most likely Ethel that married Louis B. Powell.  

I won't forget Ethel Minnear, and will consider her if my research reveals evidence that Ethel Hall was not the wife of Louis B. Powell.

A caveat:  There could have been Ethels who were residing in or near Sapulpa that were not enumerated in the 1920 U.S. Census.  Or Ethel may have lived outside of Creek County, Oklahoma in the 1920 U.S. Census.  It may be that I never determine who Ethel is, but I'm going to try to find out by methodically following leads as they develop.

What should I do next in this Ancestor Hunt?  What other options do I have?  What should I check next?  What have I missed?

The URL for this post is:

Copyright (c) 2013, Randall J. Seaver   


Paula Williams said...

Hey Randy,

My first thought when reading your post was that I didn't see consideration of Kays being Ethel's name after her other marriages, and only focusing on before. For example, this could be her: . Especially since she's buried in the same town where she lived with Loy Lathem before he died. Perhaps searching for this Ethel's obituary and/or a marriage record could lead to more information?

Gary Treat said...


One of the excellent online Oklahoma resources that should prove helpful in this case is the index to court records (including many marriages) found at It's a really good place to start. A search for Louis Powell reveals a marriage license was filed in Creek County, OK on 15 Mar 1922 between Louis Powell and Ethel Hall. Oddly, another marriage license was filed in the same county 2 years later on 11 May 1924 between Louis Burr Powell and Ethel M Powell. Obviously, this is only an index and additional research should be done in the original records, but it looks like you may be on the right track with the Hall family.

Geolover said...

Try findagrave for Ethel M. and John F. Kays

John was single son living with his parents for 1930 and 1940 in Big Mound Twp., Wayne Co., IL.

A check of the SSDI showed some likely Ethel Kays' but the most likely appears to have been married to a Marshall Kays in Nelson Co., KY in 1940 Census -- they are buried there according to a findagrave entry.

Elizabeth said...

If Ethel was a Catholic she may be registered as Mary Ethel. My experience has been that churchmen did not like plain old ordinary Ethel for some reason - perhaps there was no saint with that name. I found a very elusive aunt as Mary Ethel.

Elizabeth said...

If your Ethel was a Catholic she may have been registered as Mary Ethel. Churchmen seemed to dislike that name for some reason - no saint possibly. I found a very elusive aunt as Mary Ethel.

Geolover said...

PS, forgot to mention the Ethel Kays in SSDI, b. 3 Oct 1907, d. Feb 1981, last residence Fairfield, Wayne Co., IL. Which is where the findagrave entry is for, in Maple Grove Cemetery. Makes sense that Ethel did not move away from Wayne County after her last (not necessarily only) remarriage.

Geolover said...

PS oops, Maple *Hill* Cemetery. Should have stopped while ahead.

Cousin Russ said...


I have been looking for Ethel as well.

I did find John's parents in the 1940 Census, don't remember if you had or not. I sent you a link.

One observation about researching this group of folk. Each place I have looked, for the main characters in your story, have their names recorded many different ways. The elder Mr Collins in the 1940 census isn't the way it was recorded earlier. So, we need to be flexible in the order of how their names were recorded.


Geolover said...

Tip of the hat and apology to "pkw" whose post I did not read until just now.