Monday, December 22, 2014

Filling In The Blanks: Part Five

Continuing my Edna Henry and family research. In Part Four I found potential death dates for William and Florence in the land records for 3030 Westfield Avenue.  Now I want to get some other sources for their deaths.
Today I am going to see if I can find death notices for William and Florence in the Baltimore Sun.
I have a Baltimore County Public Library card so that allows me to access the archives over the internet.
The Baltimore Sun is not the only newspaper that would have a death notice but it is the one I can access from home, so it is the first one I check.  On my next trip to either the Baltimore County Public Library (I usually go to the Towson Branch) or the Enoch Pratt Library (I usually go to the Central Library) I will search other papers.  The Baltimore Sun may have just a death notice whereas other smaller, more local papers may have a larger article.
I go to the page and then scroll down to the Magazines & Newspapers area.
I log in on the next screen which leads me to the search page.
Notice that the database covers several papers.
Newspaper Options
In this case I only want to search the Baltimore Sun (1837-1988 and Sept 1990-Current).  If I can't find anything I will expand the search to all the papers.
To limit my search to the one I want I will hover my mouse over the Baltimore Sun (1837-1988 and Sept 1990-Current) and click "Search Baltimore Sun (1837-1988 and Sept 1990-Current)".
Limit database search
This brings up the search for the database I want to use.
To find William and Florence's death notices quickly, I want to limit the search further to specific dates ranges.  Let's start with William.  The land records had a death date for William of "on or about May 5, 1937".  Assuming he did die on the 5th, his death notice may appear on the 6th or 7th at the earliest and may be run until the funeral, maybe the 8th to the 10th.
I am going to search May 6th through May 10th and if I don't come across anything I will expand the search.
At this point I don't know where or how William died.  There are many factors that could affect his death notice appearance, if there even was a death notice.  I am using a date range that is typical for death notices, about a week from the death date.
To limit the date range I will use the Advanced search.

How to launch Advanced search
I fill out my search terms and my date range.  I am just searching by the name "Henry".
Many times, because of the format of the death notices, using the last name yields better results than using the full name.  This is just my experience.  Also, you notice there is an option to search Obituaries.  Although I am searching for a death notice, I don't want to limit to just obits.  You never know, there could be another article about him that would not show up in the limited obit search.

Advanced search

I get 72 results for the 5 days in my search range.  The first one in the list is promising.
Notice on the results page you can change the sorting of the results.  The default setting is "Relevance".  Usually if I am searching a wider date range I will change it to "Publication date (show oldest first)".
Search Results
I click on the first result.  I am hesitant on posing the image due to copyright but the transcription is as follows:
HENRY. - On May 5, 1937, WILLIAM
 R., beloved husband of Florence E.
 Henry (nee Sparks).
  Funeral from his late residence,
 3030 Westfield avenue, on Saturday
 at 2 P.M.  Interment in Moreland
 Memorial Park.
SOURCE - The Sun (1837-1988); May 7, 1937; ProQuest Historical Newspapers: Baltimore Sun, The (1837-1988); pg. 29; col. 7

The database gives me a choice to print or save the information.  I usually like to save it (in PDF format) but I like to save the entire page.
I like to have the articles in relationship to the entire page.  When I source a newspaper item I like to cite the section (if applicable), page and column and I like to attach the entire page to my source in Legacy.  Obviously this isn't possible for clippings I receive from relative, etc. unless I can go back and find the whole page.  If I access newspapers on microfilm where I can't print out the entire page, I always note the column for my source citation.

I click on a few other items in the results list but besides the same death notice on May 8, I find no other articles about William's death.

I next run a similar search for Florence and get 102 results.  I get a hit on a death notice:
HENRY. - On February 23, 1939, FLOR-
 ENCE E. (nee Sparks), beloved wife
 of the late William R. Henry.
  Funeral from her late residence,
 3030 Westfield avenue, on Saturday
 at 3 P.M.  Interment in Moreland
 Memorial Park.
SOURCE - The Sun (1837-1988); February 24, 19397; ProQuest Historical Newspapers: Baltimore Sun, The (1837-1988); pg. 21; col. 5

While I am here I will do a search for Edna as well.
I don't want to limit the dates this time so I will do a basic search for the phrase "Edna B. Henry".

I get 2 results for real estate transactions for another address, 2901 Bauernwood Avenue.
I make note of the address and date and make a to-do item to go back to the land records to search this property.

Now I search the phrase "Edna Henry" and get 27 results.  Many of these mentions are probably not her as they are from other states for years when she was very young and wouldn't be "working in Virginia" but some of them have a better probability of being her.
I save each possibility for closer inspection later.

  • Attended a birthday party in Nov 1906 for Gladys Elizabeth Cox, the daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Henry Cox in Govans, MD.
  • Participated in a piano recital and musical in April 1907
  • Graduated from Govanstown public school in June 1909
  • A lawsuit filed against United Railways for $10,000  (this one is a long shot, but worth exploring more)
I am pretty sure the first 3 are my Edna Henry because of the mention of Govans/Govanstown where William and Florence lived during those years.
The birthday party and piano recital may seem insignificant but I always make note of the other names mentioned, especially the party.  If Edna attended a birthday party it was probably a friend, maybe even a relative I have not yet discovered.
A few other interesting items:
  • An article in the Feb. 20, 1955 edition called "I Remember...A Child's Govans in 1900" written by Mrs. Edna Henry Wasson.  The article mentions her father's blacksmith shop, although it lists his middle initial as "P".
  • Letters to the Editor on Apr. 10, 1955 and May 8,  1955 commenting on her article.

There is the Wasson name.  So maybe she just used her married name when she felt like it?  So weird!
I also searched "Edna B. Wasson", "Edna Wasson", "Benjamin Wasson" and Benjamin H. Wasson" with no results.  Searching "Wasson" yielded 956 results.  I will plow through those later.

On my next trip to the library I will definitely search the other papers on microfilm for more extensive obituaries but for now what did my search yield?
  • May 5, 1937 as William's death date in the death notice.  I now have a second source for his death.  Actually it is a 3rd source since I found the date in 2 different land records yesterday.
  • May 5, 1937 was a Wednesday, so his Saturday funeral would have been on May 8, 1937.
  • I now have a second source for Florence's death date of Feb. 23, 1939.
  • Feb. 23, 1939 was a Thursday so Florence's Saturday funeral would have been Feb. 25, 1939
  • Florence E. Henry's maiden name is listed as Sparks in both his and her death notices.
  • They are both buried at Moreland Park cemetery.  I should check cemetery sites and/or call the cemetery.
  • Edna wrote an article for the Baltimore Sun about growing up in Govans
  • Edna did use the name Wasson so the SSDI and Florida death index probably is her.  Ugh!!
My next step will be to search the Maryland State Archives death indexes for William and Florence.  I will post about it next time.  The next post will probably be my last one for this project.

Sunday, December 21, 2014

Filling In The Blanks: Part Four

Continuing my Edna Henry and family project, I am getting ready to start a Land Records search on 3030 Westfield Avenue, the property that William Henry owned in 1930 and his daughter Edna Henry owned in 1940, based on the U.S. Federal census for those years.
Since the property still exists I am going to go to the Maryland Real Property Data Search site to get the Deed Number so I can (hopefully) trace the property back to the Henrys.  Depending on how many times this property has changed hands, I may have to look at several deeds.
If you have never used this method of research before it can be frustrating and intimidating at first.  Stick with it!  Once you have some positive results you will love it.
Also, there are other ways to research a property.  This is just one way.

OK, so off to  This site is public information and free (yay, I love free!!).
In the search area I will search in Baltimore City by Street Address.
Maryland Real Property Data Search
On the next screen I will plug in the street number and name.
Note the highlighted portion.
Maryland Real Property Data Search

I am not going to post entire screen shots of the next part because it will provide information on living persons.
Once I hit 'Next' the property information appears.
What we want is in the upper right area where it says Deed Reference:
The deed reference is 12136/00368.  12136 is the Liber (Book) and 00368 is the Folio (Page).
Also, always take note of dates.  Many times, plugging in a deed reference will generate several results.  This is because deed numbers are reused, but prefaced by the court clerk's initials.  Knowing the date will help grab the correct deed.  The date for this deed is 2009.
For a little more information on researching land records, this article from the Baltimore Sun may help explain the basics. 
Armed with that deed reference we can start the real search.

The Maryland State Archives provides land records on
To access the records you do need to apply for an account, but it is free.  At the workshop in May it was mentioned that certain email domains (the only one I remember is AOL) were having issues with the account process.  Since I already had an account at that point I really didn't pay close attention...sorry.
Also, I would suggest you look through the HELP! link before getting started.  I have used this site for several years so I am fairly familiar with navigating my way around.
Once logged in the site looks a little, well...barren.
I am going to start by selecting Baltimore City in the upper left.
Since I have the deed reference I am going to plug that in the search.
Otherwise I would search the indexes by location and year (much more tedious).
Deed reference search
Again, no full screen shots here, living people.  Also note that in this case the deed reference did not present multiple results.
There are a few items of interest in this deed.
SOURCE - BALTIMORE CITY CIRCUIT COURT (Land Records) FMC 12136, p. 0368, MSA_ce164_21289. Date available 11/03/2009. Printed 12/21/2014
The first paragraph above refers to a plat (drawing of the subdivision).  If I want I can go to (free!) and put in the plat number and get an image of the plat.
The next paragraph in this deed refers to Ground Rent.
In layman's terms, ground rent is when one person owns the land and leases it to the person who owns the real property (house) on the land.  Baltimore City has a huge amount of properties that have ground rent.  You can read more about ground rent here.
Although I am not interested in the ground rent information I will follow those references.  There may be information that does mot appear in the actual deed.  Basically, READ EVERYTHING!
The last part refers to the deed.  There are different types of deeds, I won't go into that.  But essentially, this is the reference we need to go back further.  FMC 648/0345 in 2000.
Remember, FMC are the clerk's initials.

Along the yellow menu bar is the option to JUMP TO A NEW VOLUME.  This allows me to plug in another deed reference.
If I just plug in the Book (648) and Page (0345) numbers I will get 4 results.
This is where I need to take note of the date reference of 2000 or the clerk initials of FMC to select the correct record.
Result by Book and Page
However, if I plug in the Clerk (FMC), Book (648) and Page (0345) I will be taken directly to the record.
I repeat this process back through the paperwork, deeds, ground rent information, mortgages etc.
I finally get to a mortgage release for Edna B. Henry on 3 May 1940 (no mention of her parents) that has a reference to a mortgage release on 7 Jun 1939 (MLP 5927/187) for Florence E. Henry widow and Edna B. Henry.
So, Florence Henry was a widow on 7 Jun 1939.  This doesn't mean William died on this date, but he was dead by this date.
SOURCE - BALTIMORE CITY SUPERIOR COURT (Land Records) MLP 5927, p. 0187, MSA_CE168_5935. Date available 02/10/2005. Printed 12/21/2014
Right below that mortgage release (on the same page) is another entry for mortgage on 7 Jun 1939 in the name of Edna B. Henry.
SOURCE - BALTIMORE CITY SUPERIOR COURT (Land Records) MLP 5927, p. 0187, MSA_CE168_5935. Date available 02/10/2005. Printed 12/21/2014
So basically a mortgage from one bank was paid off and another mortgage was obtained.
Interesting to note that this mortgage only lists Edna, no mention of Florence although it is the same day as the other mortgage record.  The mortgage record continues on the next page.

"parcel of ground known as" blah blah blah (deeds are really boring), "recorded in the land records" blah blah blah "Edna B Henry subject to the payment of" blah blah blah..."William R Henry having died on or about May 5 1937 and the said Florence E Henry having died on or about February 23 1939", blah blah WHAT?!?!?!  Back up!  Yup, there it is.
SOURCE - BALTIMORE CITY SUPERIOR COURT (Land Records) MLP 5927, p. 0188, MSA_CE168_5935. Date available 02/10/2005. Printed 12/21/2014
Aren't land records cool???
Searching back further there was another record that listed William's death date (SCL 5762/564) and I learned that 3030 Westfield Avenue was purchased by the Henrys on 7 Dec 1920 by William, Florence and Edna.
As I searched the land records I downloaded PDF copies and filed them to be transcribed and entered into my database.  Normally I would do this as I search but because I wanted to created these posts "live" I couldn't transcribe at the same time.
Oh, one other cool thing about the land records, source information is automatically printed on the left side of the pages in RED.  Sometimes it is a little hard to read depending on the page image but it is there.

I've looked at a lot of records but it did not take much time since I had reference numbers.
So, what questions have the land records answered? 
  • William R. Henry died on (or about) 5 May 1937
  • Florence E. Henry died on (or about) 23 Feb 1939
What questions do I have?
  • What is up with Edna's husband (or a lack of a husband)?
If she got married in 1936 why is she still using the name "Henry".  If it were 2014 I would not be at all surprised at a woman keeping her maiden name, but in the 1930s (and at least until the 1940 census in April)?  Maybe the Edna B. Henry I found in the Howard County marriage index wasn't her, so the SSDI and Florida Death index entries aren't for her either?
  • When did the house at 3030 Westfield Avenue get sold?
I never came across a land record for Edna selling 3030 Westfield Avenue.  I need to follow up on that, I may have missed something.

So now that I have potential death dates for William and Florence (I don't want to rely on just information in the land records), searches of the Baltimore Sun and the Maryland State Archives death indexes are in order.

Let me say that I was a bit surprised when I found death dates for both Florence and William!
Remember that I chose this method of searching because the property appeared to stay in the family after William and Edna disappeared from the household (1940 census) AND the property still exists.  I thought there was a possibility I could get some good information and (for once) my hunch proved correct.  I said before how I love free.  I also I love LUCK!

OK, the dogs won't walk themselves and it is football day.  So although it is so hard to stop, especially after finding some new information, those searches will have to wait.

Saturday, December 20, 2014

Filling In The Blanks: Part Three

This continues my Edna Henry and family project from Part Two where I summarized the records I collected from 2005-2008. Now I  will concentrate on evaluating what I have which should help to decide where to go next.

To help me decide where to go next I should define my goals for this project.  I talked about this a little in Part One, but let's list it out:
  1. When and where exactly was William born?
  2. When and where did William die?
  3. When and where were William and Florence married?
  4. What is Florence's maiden name?
  5. What happened to Edna's husband (since no one remembers him, only her)?
  6. Can I find any new information on William that will lead to new information on his father John Baker Henry, brother Charles Dorsey Henry or grandfather Charles L. Henry?
I realize I may not be able to answer all these questions during this small project but these are the things I am looking for.

First off, back to talk to my mother.  Both her and Aunt Ruth have mentioned Edna.  Let's go back and ask some more questions.  I ask Mom:
Did you ever meet Mom-Mom Pisani's cousin Edna, she died in 1979 in Florida?
I don't remember ever meeting her.  I do remember that Pop-Pop (Angelo Pisani, Ruth A. Henry's husband) used to make comments about her.  Apparently her and Mom-Mom (Ruth A Henry) used to go to Annapolis when they were younger before Pop-Pop and Mom-Mom were married.  Pop-Pop would tease her about them going to meet sailors.  And I think Edna traveled a lot and would make comments to Pop-Pop about how he should let Mom-Mom go with her.  And I think she worked as a nurse or something for elderly people.  I don't know where she did this exactly, whether she lived at their houses or what but I am pretty sure I heard something about that.  That is all I know.
Have you ever heard the name Benjamin Wasson, she married him in 1936?
No.  To be honest I don't remember anything about a husband.  I think she was always referred to as Edna Henry. 
Do you remember anything about Edna's parents?
Nope.  I knew that she was Mom-Mom's cousin, and a Henry but I was never quite sure how exactly she was related.
Next time you visit Aunt Ruth can you ask her these questions?
I will but I'm not sure what answers I will get.

Hopefully I will have more on that once Mom goes to visit Aunt Ruth.

In the meantime, unlike 2008, the 1940 census is now available.  So my first new search will be for William and family in 1940. Off to

Plugging in William R Henry, birth year of 1859 in Maryland yielded 147 results for the 1940 census.  The best candidate was the first on the list.
Search results for William Henry
Why is Cambridge, Dorchester County, Maryland a possibility when all earlier records were in Baltimore County and City?
  • My 2nd great grandfather (and William's brother) Charles D. Henry had 3 daughters.  Two of them married men from the Eastern Shore of Maryland.
  • Charles D. and his wife Charlotte lived there for a time as well.
  • There are many pictures that Aunt Ruth has that are from family outings on the Eastern Shore.  So there is a connection to the Eastern Shore so I wouldn't just eliminate the possibility.
  • The father-in-law relationship would hint that if this is the right William might be the household of Edna's husband.  I have a record that Edna married Benjamin H. Wasson in 1936.  Beyond his name I know nothing about Benjamin.  Maybe he is from the Eastern shore?  Or a sailor?
So I click the View Record button...
SOURCE - Year: 1940; Census Place: Cambridge, Dorchester, Maryland; Roll: T627_1547; Page: 9B; Enumeration District: 10-12

Unless Edna changed her name, married someone else, gained 3ish years in age, or William and Florence had another daughter that never showed up before, this isn't my guy.
I go back to the search list but no other matches fit seem to fit. I checked some of them out anyway.  Nothing.

OK, so maybe William has passed away between 1930 and 1940.  Let's look for Florence.

None of the 5 Florence Henry results matched at all and there were none in Maryland.  I clicked on a couple just to make sure but again, nothing.  Maybe both William and Florence died between 1930 and 1940.

Next up, Edna.  A search for Edna Wasson born in Maryland in 1894 yielded no hits.  But look, see something interesting?  (P.S., I cut and pasted since the "interesting" entries in question were 5 entries apart.)
Search Results for Edna Wasson
Ben H Wasson.  Same name as the man Edna married in 1936.  Maybe her name is transcribed incorrectly as Caroline L. Wasson in the records since the birth date matches Edna's?  More clicking...
SOURCE - Year: 1940; Census Place: Baltimore, Baltimore City, Maryland; Roll: T627_1520; Page: 4A; Enumeration District: 4-311
Hmmm...I am not going to throw this away, but I don't think this is who I am looking for.  So far, Edna has never been enumerated as anything other than Edna or Edna B.  We will file this as something to explore further later on.

Well, just for kicks, let's search for Edna Henry instead of Edna Wasson...

Search results for Edna Henry
Promising. Click...
OK, I think I found her.  Edna B. Henry in the 27th Ward of Baltimore City at 3030 Westfield Avenue.  This is the same address from the 1930 census when she was living with her parents.  Edna is listed as the single 45 year old head of household who owns the house and is employed in candy sales, making and selling candy.  There are 3 others in the household that I may need to revisit later.
SOURCE - Year: 1940; Census Place: Baltimore, Baltimore City, Maryland; Roll: T627_1539; Page: 10B; Enumeration District: 4-776B
What is important about this record (and why)?
  • Edna uses her maiden name and is listed as single. (Later records; SSDI and Florida Death Index lists her last name as "Wasson")
  • She is listed as "Single". (The marriage record from 1936.)
  • She is living in the same house as in 1930 but neither of her parents is there. (Maybe they are both dead)
  • She is now making and selling candy.  (Her change of occupation is not unusual but intriguing.  There is a history of candy making in the family.  My great grandfather Angelo Pisani married Edna's cousin Ruth Augusta Henry.  Angelo's father was a fruit dealer and candy maker in Baltimore after he emigrated from Italy.)
  • She has other seemingly non-related people living in the house.  (Maybe something to explore)
I continue to do some additional searches for William and Florence but still come up empty.

Now I decide that I am going to concentrate on trying to find out if William and Florence did in fact die between 1930 and 1940.  There are several directions I could go here and there may be readers who would choose a different path.  We will see where my path leads me.
  1. I could search the Baltimore City Directories to see if I could narrow down when they no longer appear in the directory.  Since I have a U.S. subscription to and a subscription to I can view many of the directories from the comfort of my home office.  But there are gaps in the directories between 1930 and 1940 and that method is not always reliable.  I could luck out but I'm going to search other resources first.
  2. I could search the Baltimore Sun archives. Since I have a Baltimore County Public Library card I can access the archives from home as well.  However, searching can be a bit tedious, especially when searching the name "Henry", even for a relatively small 10 year range.
  3. I could search the Maryland State Archives death indexes.  This is a great resource but at this point I will have to wade my way through each of the 10 years from 1930 to 1940 (for Baltimore City) and possibly the County indices as well.

Back in May I attended a Workshop hosted by the Maryland Genealogical Society on Maryland Land Records.  The workshop was excellent and what I learned has helped my research immensely. 
I am going to try a Land Records search on 3030 Westfield Avenue because:
  • Since William owned the property in 1930 and Edna owned it in 1940, maybe she inherited the house somewhere in those 10 years (if they are in fact dead in 1940).
  • I googled 3030 Westfield Avenue and it still exists, making it easier to track the property back through the records.  If the property no longer existed I could still search this way but I would have to start searching through the Grantor or Grantee indexes until I happened upon them. 
  • Land Records can provide some unique information.  Besides property information you may find death dates, filed will information, and relationship information. I have found this helpful to find maiden names or for the reverse finding names of men daughters married.  Sometimes however, it is just boring (but useful) property information.
Google search for 3030 Westfield Avenue
There is even a street view, what a cute little house.
Since real life calls, I will start my Land Record search...tomorrow I hope.