Sunday, October 10, 2010

Half-Orphan, Edna G. Hendricks Pugh

Edna is the daughter of John Harrison and Hannah (Meinzen) Hendricks. She was the oldest of 3 sisters and was born in January, 1908. Her sister Elizabeth Zerelda was born in May, 1909, and Anna Bell was born in August, 1910. When Hannah passed away 2 weeks after Anna's birth, 3 little girls became half-orphans.

It's unclear where the girls lived immediately after their mother's death. Perhaps they stayed with their father, or with their father's family; or maybe it was with her mother's parents or one of her sisters. When little Anna Bell died in March, 1911, she was living with her father's family.

By January, 1920, at the time of the census, Edna was living with Hannah's parents, Henry and Elizabeth (Armitage) Meinzen. That surely must have been a difficult time for Edna, just 11 years old, as she watched her grandmother's face become disfigured from the effects of cancer of the skin. Elizabeth passed away in June, 1920, and in July, when her will was filed in probate court, Edna and Elizabeth Zerelda were both living in Ambridge, Penna. I don't know with whom they lived in Ambridge and I lose track of Edna's whereabouts between July, 1920 and 1930.

On November 25, 1930, Edna G. Hendricks married Russell S. Pugh in Wheeling, West Virginia. She was 22, he was 23. They'd both been living in Steubenville, Ohio.

My aunt remembers that Edna and Russell moved to and lived in Maryland some time after their marriage. The April, 1941, obituary of John Harrison Hendricks, Edna's father, names her and indicates that she was living in Baltimore Maryland. So my search continued with Maryland in mind.

I haven't quite been telling this search in sequential order. When I began a search for Edna's death information I had found only the year of her birth based on census records, not an exact date of birth. I searched the SSDI and found a person who could have been Edna but without knowing an exact date of birth and a death date, it was hard to tell. I stored away the information from the SSDI until I could search further.

Searching transcriptions of birth records I found Edna G. Hendricks, born 28 January, 1908, with parents John H. and Hannah (Meinzen) Hendricks. Having this information indicated to me that the person I found on the SSDI was probably my Edna (though her name had become Edna H. Pugh). The last address of the Edna H. Pugh of the SSDI record was Easton, Talbot, Maryland. She died on February 17, 1997. I suspected that this was my Edna but I still had some work to do.

In my mother's papers I recently found a funeral card for Russell Sage Pugh, who died on June 3, 1963. The funeral service was held at Dundalk Presbyterian Church on June 6, 1963. He was interred in Bel Air Memorial Gardens. Mom had written at the top of the card "cousin by marriage."

I wrote to Bel Air Memorial Gardens to ask about death dates and burial information for Edna and Russsell. I received a prompt reply telling me that Russell was buried there on June 6, 1963. For Edna there is no burial record but there is a bronze memorial with the date 1997 on it which was purchased by a family member that year. The grounds superintendent checked the gravesite for a burial vault but found that there was not one. They conclude that Edna was cremated and that the family has her ashes.

I wish I could let it rest with that information and say done, but I can't. To feel good about the conclusion of this search I want to find, at the very least, an obituary that tells Edna's death date and names her husband and parents. At the most, I want a death certificate.

My other search options include writing to the church where Russell's funeral service was held; contacting the funeral home who took care of Russell's funeral in hopes they took care of Edna's body, too; and searching area newspapers for either a death notice, funeral notice, or obituary. Do you have other ideas where I can enquire for information?

You may think it strange that I'm searching for my mother's cousins. Some of these family members tug at my heart simply because they had no descendants. They have no one to remember that they lived and loved, that they laughed with joy and wept with sorrow. How did Edna manage all those long 34 years from the time of Russell's death until her own? I see part of the job of family historian as seeking not only those individual ancestors in my direct line but other family members, too. They all deserve to be remembered.

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