The Case of the Disappearing Daughters, Part 2

In Part 1 of this post, I described my search for the daughters of James M. Galt (1849-1939) and showed how the probate record of the girls’ maternal grandfather David West (1823-1898) provided key information about their married names and whereabouts, information that enabled me to trace all but one daughter to the end of her life and complete her story.

In 2011 and 2012, when I first worked on this research, I stopped looking for the youngest daughter, Nellie Florence Galt, after her trail went cold in St. Paul, Minnesota, in 1905. Nellie’s story showed that she was born about 1882 or 1883 in Mitchell County, Iowa, to James M. Galt and his wife Janette West. She first appeared in the 1885 Iowa census in the tiny town of Otranto, a few miles south of the Minnesota border.1 Her next census appearance was in 1895, by which time she had moved across the Iowa border with her widowed and remarried father to Austin, Minnesota.2 In 1900 she was enumerated twice, once in Austin with her father, and once in Stearns County (Minnesota) with her married sister Lulu (Galt) Anderson.3 On April Fool’s Day, 1902, she married Fred Leroy Patterson in St. Paul, Ramsey County, Minnesota.4 The 1905 Minnesota census shows the couple living on Rice Street in St. Paul.5 City directories (which unfortunately, in this case do not list wives’ names) show Fred continuing to live in St. Paul until 1908, when he is noted as having moved to Bay City, Michigan.6 After 1908, Fred’s trail led to Texas and Arkansas, where he married again and raised a family, but Nellie’s trail was cold.

Cold, that is, until this year, when I was invited to give the “Disappearing Daughters” talk again, and revisited my research. The first new thing I found was an Ancestry hint for James M. Galt, whose name appeared as a parent in Ancestry‘s “U.S., Social Security Applications and Claims Index, 1936-2007” database. As you might guess, this database is compiled from Social Security applications and claims data, including SS-5 forms. The older your research subject is, the more likely you are to find records of their application, death date, and, if the research subject is old enough, even their parents’ names in this database.

In this case, the hint for James M. Galt led to the Social Security record of a daughter named Nell Florence Majors. According to the database entry, Nell’s mother was Jenette West, she was white, and she was born 6 October 1883 in “Austin Moure, Minnesota.” My Nellie Florence Galt was born about 1882 or 1883 in Mitchell County, Iowa, but she lived in Austin, Mower County, Minnesota as a young woman. Nell Florence Majors’ Social Security number was 544-16-9790.7 According to Stephen Morse’s Decoding Social Security Numbers in One Step website (https://www.stevemorse.org/ssn/ssn.html), numbers beginning with 544 were issued in Oregon, where Nellie’s sister Hattie (Galt) McLardy lived.8 The database entry looked like a winner, so I ordered Nell Florence Majors’ SS-5, Application for a Social Security Number.

When it came, the SS-5 proved to be the application of Nell Florence Galt Majors of 2424 Lovejoy, Portland, Oregon. Nell was 57 on her last birthday, having been born 6 October 1883 in Austin, “Moure” County, Minnesota, the daughter of James M. Galt and Jenette West. At the time of her application, dated 16 December 1940, she was married and unemployed. Her last full-time job ended in 1930, when she was a salaried manager of an apartment house.9 This document was definitely created by Nellie Galt, but what a leap in records and geography it revealed, catapulting her from St. Paul, Minnesota in 1905 to Portland, Oregon 35 years later!

To fill in the gap in Nellie’s records, fortified with her second (as I then thought) married name, I turned to the federal census. I was surprised to find no entries for Nell or Nellie Majors, born in Iowa or Minnesota about 1883 in 1910, 1920, 1930, or 1940. The 1940 census index did lead to one entry for Nell Jamm, age 55 (thus born about 1885), widowed, born in Iowa, a housekeeper for a private family, living in the household of George Major at 1036 S. W. Jefferson Street in Portland. Both lived in the same place in 1935.10 Is this the 1940 census enumeration for our Nellie? The date, the city, and the surname of the head of household match the SS-5, but the identification is not conclusive.

Could vital records help? The FamilySearch wiki article on Oregon vital records11 leads to a variety of online sources for marriage records; unfortunately, Multnomah County indexes in these sources are incomplete, and there are no entries for Nell/Nellie Florence Galt, Patterson, or Jamm. Ancestry‘s “Oregon Death Index, 1898-2008” had an interesting entry for Nell Majors, who died 6 September 1947 in Portland.12

The death certificate was obtained and shows that “Nell Majors” is Nellie Galt. According to the death certificate, the woman who died 6 September 1947 was the wife of George Majors, born 6 October 1883 (the date shown on Nellie Galt’s SS-5) in Austin, Minnesota, to parents James Galt, born in Wisconsin, and Jeanette West, born in New York. At the time of her death, she had lived in Portland for 26 years.13 Based on the death certificate, the George Major in the 1940 census record is most likely the George Majors Nellie married. Further, it’s likely that the marriage took place between the time Nellie was enumerated in the census in April 194014 and her submission of her SS-5 the following December.

Newspaper research revealed a funeral notice in The (Portland) Oregonian dated 10 September 1947: “MAJORS–In this city, Sept. 6, Nell; wife of George Majors, sister of Mrs. D. J. McLardy…”15

With these finds, we can create a timeline of Nellie’s life:

1883–Nellie Florence Galt was born in Mitchell County, Iowa.
1885–Nellie Galt was enumerated in the census household of her father James Galt in Otranto, Iowa.
1895–Nellie Galt was enumerated in the census household of her father James Galt, who had moved to Austin, Minnesota.
1898–Nellie Galt lived in Austin, Minnesota.
1900–Nellie Galt was enumerated in her father’s household in Austin, Minnesota,
and also in the household of her married sister Lulu (Galt) Anderson in Stearns County.
1902–Nellie Florence Galt married Fred Leroy Patterson in St. Paul, Ramsey County, Minnesota.
1905–Nellie F. Patterson lived in St. Paul, Minnesota with her husband Fred L.
Patterson.
1908–Fred L. Patterson left St. Paul for Bay City, Michigan, moving on from there to Dallas, Texas; Little Rock, Arkansas; and Houston, Texas, marrying again and raising a family.
Before 1940–Nell married a man named Jamm and became a widow. Separately or in conjunction with this husband, she came to Portland, Oregon, where her sister Hattie (Galt) McLardy lived, about 1921.
1930–Nell (Galt) Patterson or Jamm worked as an apartment house manager.
1935–Nell (Galt) Patterson or Jamm lived in Portland, Oregon.
1940–Nell Jamm was enumerated in the census household of George “Major” in Portland, Multnomah County, Oregon. As Nell Majors, she applied for a Social Security Number in December of that year.
1947–Nell Majors died in Portland, Multnomah County, Oregon.

There are still large gaps in Nellie’s story, but they’re getting smaller!

A cardinal principle of researching women is that their history is often shown in the records of the men they were related to, by blood or by marriage. In Nellie’s case, the records of George Majors are not particularly enlightening. George W. Majors was born 19 May 1880 in Illinois.16 In 1901, Geo. W. Majors married Dora L. Beck in Moultrie County, Illinois.17 By 1910, the couple had borne four children and moved to Jackson, South Dakota, where George farmed.18 In 1918 George, still married to Dora and still farming, registered for the draft in Scio, Linn County, Oregon.19 Two years later the family, having added two children since 1910, had moved to Portland; George was a stenciler with an oil company.20 In 1930, George, now a longshoreman, was enumerated alone; 21 in July of that year, Dora T. Majors filed for divorce from George W. Majors in circuit court.22 In 1935, George contracted a month-long marriage with a woman named Margaret Strothers; this marriage also ended in divorce.23 In 1940, as we have seen, George, now a pantryman with the WPA, lived with Nellie in Portland.24 In 1942 George, still living in Portland but now employed by Carbon Paper Co., registered for the World War II draft, naming Nell M. Majors as the person who would always know his address.25 George Washington Majors, spouse Nell, died 12 February 1951 in Multnomah County.26 While George’s records do add one item to Nellie’s chronology–her mention as the person who would always know his address in his 1942 draft registration–George’s records provide no evidence that he and Nellie were associated before 1940.

The remaining clue to Nellie’s life between 1905, when she lived in St. Paul, and the 1930s, when she lived in Portland, is the Jamm surname she bore as a widow in her 1940 census enumeration. Nellie’s 1930 occupation documented in her SS-5–apartment house manager, along with Portland city directories from the 1930s, led to the identification of Nellie’s second husband as Joseph Anton Jamm, an Alsatian immigrant to the U.S. In 1930, the Portland city directory lists Nellie F Jamm, manager Grand Oak Apartments, living at 66 Grand Avenue.27 The following year Nellie F. Jann appears at the same address, and Nellie Jamm appears at 632 Hawthorne, apartment 101.28 There are no Jamm entries in 1932 or 1933; in 1934, Nell Jamm, “wid Jos A,” lived at 1315 S.W. Salmon, apartment 401.29

The revelation of Nellie’s husband’s first name and middle initial in the 1934 city directory enabled research on him to begin. Joseph Anton Jamm was born in 1888 in Turkheim, Alsace, then a German possession.30 He came to the U.S. in 1911, arriving 24 December in Baltimore on the S.S. Neckar from Bremen. His occupation was machinist, and he was planning to join a sister in St. Louis.31 He filed a declaration of intention in 1913 in Missouri, stating his occupation as bartender.32 By 1922 he had moved to Portland, Oregon, where he filed motor vehicle registrations in July 1922 and February 1923; the second registration gave his address as the Grand Oaks Apartments.33 Also in 1923, he filed a second declaration of intention listing his occupation as driver cleaning works and naming his wife Nelle, born at Austin, Minnesota, and now residing in Portland.34 From 1924 to 1928, Jos. A. Jamm and Nellie, Nellie F, Nell, and Nell F Jamm, manager of the Grand Oak Apartments, appear in the Portland city directories.35 There were no Jamm city directory entries in 1929; in 1930, 1931, and 1934, as noted above, Nellie F. Jamm appeared without Joseph. The couple appears to have lived separately in those years; in the 1930 census, Joseph, listed as “single,” appears as a boarder in Oakland, St. Louis County, Missouri, with the occupation fountain clerk in a country club.36 Joseph Anton Jamm, steward at a country club and husband of Nellie Jamm, died 17 November 1933 in St. Louis, Missouri.37

Although no marriage record for Joseph Jamm has been found in Missouri or Oregon, Joseph’s records flesh out Nellie Galt’s chronology, which can now be viewed as follows:

1883–Nellie Florence Galt was born in Mitchell County, Iowa.
1885–Nellie Galt was enumerated in the census household of her father James Galt in Otranto, Iowa.
1895–Nellie Galt was enumerated in the census household of her father James Galt, who had moved to Austin, Minnesota.
1898–Nellie Galt lived in Austin, Minnesota.
1900–Nellie Galt was enumerated in her father’s household in Austin, Minnesota,
and also in the household of her married sister Lulu (Galt) Anderson in Stearns County.
1902–Nellie Florence Galt married Fred Leroy Patterson in St. Paul, Ramsey County, Minnesota.
1905–Nellie F. Patterson lived in St. Paul, Minnesota with her husband Fred L.
Patterson.
1908–Fred L. Patterson left St. Paul for Bay City, Michigan, moving on from there to Dallas, Texas; Little Rock, Arkansas; and Houston, Texas, marrying again and raising a family.
1921–Nellie came to Portland, Oregon.
1923–Nelle Jamm, born in Austin, Minnesota, was recorded as the wife of Joseph Anton Jamm in a declaration of intention filed in Portland, Oregon.
1924-1928–Joseph A. and Nell/Nell F/Nellie/Nellie F Jamm, manager of the Grand Oak Apartments, lived in Portland, Oregon.
1930 and 1931–Nellie F Jamm, manager of the Grand Oak Apartments, lived in Portland.
1933–Joseph Anton Jamm, husband of Nellie Jamm, died in St. Louis, Missouri.
1934–Nell Jamm, widow of Jos. A., lived in Portland.
1935–Nell Jamm lived in Portland.
1940–Nell Jamm was enumerated in the census household of George “Major” in Portland, Multnomah County, Oregon. As Nell Majors, she applied for a Social Security Number in December of that year.
1942–Nell W. (sic) Majors was named as a person who would always know the address of George Washington Majors.
1947–Nell Majors died in Portland, Multnomah County, Oregon.

Thanks to Ancestry hinting, city directories, and newspapers, the last of James Galt’s disappearing daughters has been found!

  1. 1885 Iowa state census, Mitchell County, population schedule, Otranto, p. 446 (stamped), dwelling 52, family 52, for Nellie Galt in James Galt household; “Iowa, State Census Collection, 1836-1925,” database and images, Ancestry (http://www.ancestry.com). This and other census records were accessed on Ancestry 4 December 2017.
  2. 1895 Minnesota state census, Mower County, population schedule, Austin First Ward, p. 12 (penned), no dwelling numbers, family 102, for Nellie Galt in James Galt household; “Minnesota, Territorial and State Censuses, 1849-1905,” database and images, Ancestry.
  3. 1900 U.S. census, Mower County, Minnesota, population schedule, Austin, enumeration district (ED) 82, sheet 4B, dwelling 81, family 85, Nellie F. Galt, and Ibid., Stearns Co,, Minn., pop. sch., Crow Lake township, ED 145, sheet 4B, dw. 60, fam. 60, Nellie Galt; database and images, Ancestry.
  4. “Minnesota Marriages, 1849-1950;” database, FamilySearch (http://www.familysearch.org : accessed 12 August 2011), entry for Fred Leroy Patterson and Nellie Florence Galt (1902).
  5. 1905 Minnesota state census, Ramsey County, population schedule, St. Paul Wards 9-11, sheet 28 (penned), no dwelling or family numbers, lines 20 and 21, for James L. Patterson and Nellie F. Patterson; “Minnesota, Territorial and State Censuses, 1849-1905,” database and images, Ancestry.
  6. R. L. Polk & Co.’s St. Paul City Directory 1905 (St. Paul: R. L. Polk & Co., 1905), p. 1328; digital images, “U.S. City Directories, 1822-1995,” Ancestry (http://www.ancestry.com), Minnesota > St. Paul > 1905 > St. Paul Minnesota, City Directory, 1905 > image 673. R. L. Polk & Co.’s St. Paul City Directory 1906 (St. Paul: R. L. Polk & Co., 1906), p. 1423; Ibid., Minnesota > St. Paul > 1906 > St Paul, Minnesota, City Directory, 1906 > image 717. R. L. Polk & Co.’s St. Paul City Directory 1907 (St. Paul: R. L. Polk & Co., 1907), p. 1463; Ibid., Minnesota > St. Paul > 1907 > St Paul, Minnesota, City Directory, 1907 > image 736. R. L. Polk & Co.’s St. Paul City Directory 1908 (St. Paul: R. L. Polk & Co., 1908), p. 1317; Ibid., Minnesota > St. Paul > 1908 > St Paul, Minnesota, City Directory, 1908 > image 581.
  7. “U.S. Social Security Applications and Claims Index, 1936-2007,” database, Ancestry (http://www.ancestry.com : accessed 4 December 2017), entry for Nell Florence Majors, SS no. 544-16-9790.
  8. Hattie was first recorded in Portland, Multnomah County, Oregon, in the 1910 census, and resided there continuously until her death in 1953.
  9. Nell Florence Majors, SS no. 544-16-9790, 16 December 1940, Application for Social Security Account Number (Form SS-5), Social Security Administration, Baltimore, Maryland.
  10. 1940 U.S. census, Multnomah County, Oregon, pop. sch. Portland Precinct 43, ED 37-68, sheet 1B, household 17, George Major and Nell Jamm; database and images, Ancestry.
  11. “Oregon Vital Records,” FamilySearch Research Wiki (https://www.familysearch.org/wiki/en/Oregon_Vital_Records : accessed 4 December 2017).
  12. “Oregon, Death Index, 1898-2008;” database, Ancestry (http://www.ancestry.com : accessed 4 December 2017), entry for Nell Majors (1947), certificate 3106.
  13. Oregon State Board of Health, death certificate 3106 (1947), Nell Majors; Oregon Center for Health Statistics, Portland.
  14. “About the 1940 Census,” 1940 Census (https://1940census.archives.gov/about.asp? : accessed 4 December 2017).
  15. “Funeral Notices, MAJORS,” The (Portland) Oregonian, 10 September 1947, p. 4, col. 4; digital image, GenealogyBank (http://www.genealogybank.com : accessed 30 October 2017).
  16. “U.S. Social Security Applications and Claims Index, 1936-2007,” database, Ancestry (http://www.ancestry.com : accessed 4 December 2017), entry for George W. Majors, SS no. 543-01-1847.
  17. “Illinois, County Marriages, 1800-1940,” Ancestry (http://www.ancestry.com : accessed 4 December 2017), entry for Geo. W. Majors and Dora L. Beck (1901), Moultrie County.
  18. 1910 U.S. census, Charles Mix Co., South Dakota, pop. sch., Jackson twp., ED 94, sheet 5A, dw. 93, fam. 93, Geo. W. Majors household; database and images, Ancestry.
  19. “U.S., World War I Draft Registration Cards, 1917-1918;” database and images, Ancestry (http://www.ancestry.com : accessed 4 December 2017), card for George Washington Majors, serial no. unreadable, Local Draft Board, Albany, Linn County, Oregon, citing NARA microfilm publication M1509.
  20. 1920 U.S. census, Multnomah Co., Oregon, pop. sch., Portland Precinct 8, ED 3, sheet 17A, dw. 301, fam. 400, George Major; database and images, Ancestry.
  21. 1930 U.S. census, Multnomah Co., Oregon, pop. sch., Portland Precinct 223, ED 272, sheet 4B, dw. 23, fam. 137, George Major; database and images, Ancestry.
  22. “Divorce Suits Filed,” The (Portland) Oregonian, 23 July 1930, p. 9, col. 3; digital image, GenealogyBank (http://www.genealogybank.com : accessed 4 December 2017).
  23. “Washington, Marriage, Records, 1854-2013;” database and images, Ancestry (http://www.ancestry.com : accessed 4 December 2017), entry for George W. Majors and Margaret Strothers (1935). “Divorce Complaints Filed,” The (Portland) Oregonian, 11 October 1935, p. 14, col. 1; digital image, GenealogyBank (http://www.genealogybank.com : accessed 4 December 2017).
  24. 1940 U.S. census, Multnomah Co., Oregon, pop. sch. Portland Precinct 43, ED 37-68, sheet 1B, household 17, George Major and Nell Jamm.
  25. “U.S. World War II Draft Registration Cards, 1942;” database and images, Ancestry (http://www.ancestry.com : accessed 4 December 2017), card for George Washington Majors, serial no. 0387, Portland, Multnomah Co., Oregon.
  26. “Oregon, Death Index, 1898-2008;” database, Ancestry (http://www.ancestry.com : accessed 4 December 2017), entry for George W. Majors (1951). Also “Funeral Notices–MAJORS,” The (Portland) Oregonian, 15 February 1951, p. 33, col. 2; digital image, GenealogyBank (http://www.genealogybank.com : accessed 4 December 2017).
  27. Polk’s Portland (Oregon) City Directory vol. 1930 (Portland, R. L. Polk & Co., 1930), p. 848; digital images, “U.S. City Directories, 1822-1995,” Ancestry (http://www.ancestry.com : accessed 4 December 2017), Oregon > Portland > 1930 > Portland, Oregon, City Directory, 1930 > image 431. A 1928 newspaper article indicates that the lease on the Grand Oaks apartments was held by none other than Nellie Galt’s sister Hattie J. McLardy. “Space Has Good Demand,” The Sunday (Portland) Oregonian, 4 March 1928, p. 2, col. 3; digital image, GenealogyBank (http://www.genealogybank.com : accessed 4 December 2017.
  28. Polk’s Portland (Oregon) City Directory vol. 1931 (Portland, R. L. Polk & Co., 1931), p. 685; digital images, “U.S. City Directories, 1822-1995,” Ancestry (http://www.ancestry.com : accessed 4 December 2017), Oregon > Portland > 1931 > Portland, Oregon, City Directory, 1931 > image 344.
  29. Polk’s Portland (Oregon) City Directory vol. 1934 (Portland, R. L. Polk & Co., 1934), p. 649; digital images, “U.S. City Directories, 1822-1995,” Ancestry (http://www.ancestry.com : accessed 4 December 2017), Oregon > Portland > 1934 > Portland, Oregon, City Directory, 1934 > image 470.
  30. Joseph Jamm declaration of intention (1923), no. 6829, U.S. District Court, District of Oregon; “Selected U.S. Naturalization Records – Original Documents, 1790-1974,” database and images, Ancestry (http://www.ancestry.com : accessed 4 December 2017), citing NARA microfilm publication M1540, roll 5.
  31. Manifest, S.S. Neckar, December 1911, stamped p. 252, line 23, Joseph Jamm, age 23; database and images, “Baltimore Passenger Lists, 1920-1964,” Ancestry (http://www.ancestry.com : accessed 4 December 2017).
  32. Joseph Jamm declaration of intention (1913), no. 6280, U.S. District Court, Eastern District of Missouri; “Missouri, Federal Naturalization Records, 1856-1942,” database and images, Ancestry (http://www.ancestry.com : accessed 4 December 2017).
  33. “Oregon, Motor Vehicle Registrations, 1911-1946;” database and images, Ancestry (http://www.ancestry.com : accessed 4 December 2017), entries for Joseph Jamm (Jul 1922 and Feb 1923).
  34. Joseph Jamm declaration of intention (1923), no. 6829, District of Oregon.
  35. Polk’s Portland City Directory 1924 (Portland: R. L. Polk & Co., Inc., 1924), p. 906; digital images, “U.S. City Directories, 1822-1995,” Ancestry (http://www.ancestry.com), Oregon > Portland > 1924 > Portland, Oregon, City Directory, 1924 > image 455. Polk’s Portland City Directory 1925 (Portland: R. L. Polk & Co., Inc., 1925), p. 852; Ibid., Oregon > Portland > 1925 > Portland, Oregon, City Directory, 1925 > image 431. Polk’s Portland City Directory 1926 (Portland: R. L. Polk & Co., 1926), p. 772; Ibid., Oregon > Portland > 1926 > Portland, Oregon, City Directory, 1926 > image 390. Polk’s Portland City Directory 1927 (Portland: R. L. Polk & Co., 1927), p. 825; Ibid., Oregon > Portland > 1927 > Portland, Oregon, City Directory, 1927 > image 413. Polk’s Portland City Directory 1928 (Portland: R. L. Polk & Co., 1928), p. 851; Ibid., Oregon > Portland > 1928 > Portland, Oregon, City Directory, 1928 > image 427.
  36. 1930 U.S. census, St. Louis County, Missouri, pop. sch., Oakland, ED 95-14, sheet 4A, dw. 77, fam. 78, Joseph Jamm; database and images, Ancestry.
  37. Missouri, State Board of Health, death certificate 38345 (1933), Joseph Anton Jamm; digital image, “Missouri Death Certificates, 1910-1966,” Missouri Digital Heritage (https://s1.sos.mo.gov/records/Archives/ArchivesMvc/DeathCertificates : accessed 4 December 2017).
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2 comments on “The Case of the Disappearing Daughters, Part 2

  1. Sheri Fenley

    What a great research project Lois!

    1. Lois Mackin

      Thank you, Sheri!