Thursday, March 8, 2018

I Know Jack! The Identification of my Maternal Grandmother's First Husband

Ockham's Razor is the problem-solving principle that, when presented with competing hypothetical answers to a problem, one should select the one that makes the fewest assumptions. The idea is attributed to William of Ockham (c. 1287–1347), who was an English Franciscan friar, scholastic philosopher, and theologian. (source)
Nine years ago I asked the question, "Do you know Jack?"

I knew that my grandmother had received letters in 1919 from her parents consoling her on her divorce from a man named, Jack.

Looking back, I know that I knew back then that Jack was a ubiquitous nickname that any man could use. I also knew back then that divorces take awhile between filing and finalization. How did I conclude there was another marriage in such a short span of time? My grandmother's marriage to Dale Bowlby Ridgely in 1927 only lasted three months, but her first marriage could have lasted longer.

I have found several pieces of evidence recently strongly suggesting Alfred Connevey was Jack.

From the 1919 El Paso City Directory. My grandmother is already using the address 'Miss,' even though she is still using the surname, Connevey. (It is interesting that Alfred Connevey is working at the same address, though for a different company. I am positive this is my grandmother, as she provided a letter of recommendation from China Palace to the St. Louis Post Office when she applied after her divorce was final in 1920.)

From the June 5, 1918 El Paso Herald - my grandmother is listed as Myrtle Connevey, and enrolling in the summer session of high school. She was 18 years old. I know from her application to the St. Louis Post Office that she had attended El Paso High School.

And the clincher: The 1910 Census record for a Jack Connevey residing as a boarder with a Diebel family. I am fairly certain Elsie Deibel was married to my grandmother's brother, Samuel O Van Every, for a period of time. I have not been able to find dates, however, an Elsa Diebel is listed as a wife in the family history notes left by one of my great grandfather's sisters. 

This census record indicates that Jack Connevey was born in 1889. My grandmother was born in 1900. If they were married in 1918, he would have been 29, and my grandmother 18. There is a possibility the marriage may have been in 1917. If Jack was boarding with the Diebels in 1910, there is a question of the ages of him and my grandmother when they first met. My grandmother's brother, Samuel, was born in 1886.

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