We have a photo of a man with two small girls on a horse. I vaguely remember being told it was “Grandpa and cousins Charlotte and Virginia.” I don’t have a Charlotte or Virginia in this neck of my database.
I compared the man in the photo to others in our collection, and confirmed that this was my great grandfather Charles Wesley Stillwell.
I do have a photo of Dad (Larry Stillwell) with a woman named Charlotte, also an alleged cousin, taken while he was with Mom at an all-school reunion in Watford City. Was told her last name was Wolby.
I searched Ancestry and Google for Charlotte Wolby. No luck.
I searched Google for Charlotte Walby and hit paydirt. Found her obituary with her living in Pueblo, Colorado. Her obituary photo is similar to the photo with Dad at the reunion. The obituary shows her as living a long time in Pueblo, Colorado. Says she was born March 25, 1926 in Watford City, N.D. No mention of her parents. Drats!
I found another obituary for Virginia Gail Hovet, born Nov. 26, 1928, with a sister Charlotte Walby, which is why the obit popped up in the search. I checked the family photo of great grandpa Charles and the notation in the file name listed “Virginia” and “Charlotte.” (I put all identifying information into the image’s file name.)
Chills went up my spine to find sisters Charlotte and Virginia in genealogical records. But have I hit a brick wall?
I tried finding descendants of Charlotte and Virginia in Facebook. Found one, but not yet ready to approach. People can be skittish about the approach of strangers on Facebook, so I want to look for more information first.
I looked at the birthdates of the sisters. 1926 and 1928. They should be listed in the 1930 census. But I don’t have their last name.
I accessed the free Census database through my online library using my account number.
In the 1930 Census, Charles Wesley Stillwell was 80, living alone in Tobacco Garden Township of McKenzie County, N.D. His wife, Frances, had died in 1924. Charles would die 11 years later.
Perhaps Charlotte and Virginia were daughters of a neighbor. Perhaps the family was checking on him. There were no sisters named Charlotte and Virginia in the whole township. So I widened the search and searched only for the first name “Charlotte” in all of McKenzie County, N.D.
Just a few lines down, I see a Charlotte Taylor. “Taylor” popped up in my mind as the married name of Ruth Blossom Stillwell. I click on the entry.
Bingo! Here in Northfork Township of McKenzie Co., North Dakota is the family of Lester F. and Ruth Blossom Stillwell Taylor. Listed below are daughters Charlotte and Virginia. Mystery solved.
My database did not yet include information for Charlotte and Virginia. I added what I learned.
Charles seems rather old in the photo to be just Grandpa to these two little girls. He was 54 when his youngest, Ruth Blossom Stillwell was born, 76 when Charlotte was born, and 78 when Virginia was born.
Next I did a relationship report and discovered that my Dad, Larry Stillwell (or LaMoine, his legal name) is first cousin to Charlotte and Virginia Taylor. All three are deceased.
I relabeled the photo image name including the new information and moved it to the folder of identified and labeled photos. It is growing.