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Sunday, February 17, 2019

52 Ancestors: Week 6 "Surprise": Nellie Cox Finally Found!

For years, I have been searching for my 2nd-great-grandmother Sarah Claire "Sadie" (Dyer) Gatlin's half-sister Nellie Cox. Nellie and her husband Owen McDonough were charged as accessories to murder after Tom Cox, Nellie's brother and Sadie's half-brother, shot and killed Ben Dowell, a police officer in 1903. A mistrial was declared. The 1906 Nashville city directory stated that Owen McDonough had moved to Birmingham, Alabama. I hadn't been able to locate Owen or Nellie since then.

Sadie died in Chicago, Illinois on 20 January 1945. Her death notice mentioned a surviving sister, Mrs. E. Goolsby. All of Sadie's other siblings were dead, so Mrs. E. Goolsby had to be Nellie.

A few months ago, I finally located Nellie's first husband, Owen McDonough. I found him listed in Lorain, Ohio city directories in the 1920s. His wife was named Jennie. Apparently Nellie's first marriage ended in divorce. I don't know when Owen and Nellie split up, but I wouldn't be surprised if it were when Owen left Nashville. Being charged as accessories to the murder that Nellie's brother committed probably put a strain on their marriage.

Since I had finally located Owen, I decided to try searching for Nellie again, although I had searched before without success. And much to my surprise, I immediately found her!

Nevada. Department of Health. Death certificate 65-1741 (1965), Nellie Dale Goolsby. Nevada, Death Certificates, 1911-1965 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Operations, Inc., 2016.

Nellie died in Las Vegas, Nevada on 13 July 1965. I never expected to find her there! Her death certificate confirmed that her mother's maiden name was Mary Reynolds. My conclusion was correct. Her date of birth was consistent with the ages found in earlier census  records. And I now had her second husband's name, Ezra A. Goolsby.

I still haven't located her in census records after 1900. Ezra Goolsby was enumerated in Memphis, Tennessee in 1940. He was a hotel proprietor. Nellie wasn't listed with him. It's possible that he just didn't mention her, though. Nellie and her first husband Owen McDonough both seem to have managed to avoid the census takers for decades. They may have been afraid that they would be tried as accessories to murder again.

Ezra Goolsby's mother, Salemma W. (Harris) Goolsby, died in Chicago, Illinois on 6 May 1926. His brother, Fleming Goolsby, lived in Chicago in 1930. Perhaps Nellie and Ezra met in Chicago. Sadie and her husband and children lived there; she was Nellie's only living sibling.

Nellie and Ezra (who died in 1979) are buried in Woodlawn Cemetery in Las Vegas.

Saturday, February 9, 2019

52 Ancestors: Week 4 "At the Library": The Truth About the Death of Catherine Elizabeth (Winters) Graham Mapplebeck

According to her death certificate, my 2nd-great-grandmother Catherine Elizabeth (Winters) Graham Mapplebeck died of coronary sclerosis due to chronic nephritis on 4 March 1942.

 Elizabeth Maplebeck death certificate. Missouri State Board of Health.

She was 80 years old, so the cause of death seemed quite plausible. I never suspected that there was more to it until I visited the Hayner Public Library District's Genealogy & Local History Library in Alton, Illinois, where Elizabeth and her children had lived for a time. I searched the digitized newspaper collection and came across a brief item from the 5 March 1942 issue of the Joplin Globe entitled "Two St. Louis Women Overcome by Smoke, Die." One of the women was Elizabeth Mapplebeck!

I went to the St. Louis County Library to look for more information. At that time, I did not have access to the digital archives of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, so I looked through the microfilm. The 3 March 1942 issue of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch contained more details ("Invalid Perishes in Nursing Home Fire; 9 Overcome," p. 3.). A fire had broken out at the Brantwood Nursing Home in Lemay, St. Louis County, Missouri. The nursing home had opened about four months previously, and had no outside fire escape. The fire started near the motor for the electric icebox. One man, Henry Kern, died of asphyxiation an hour after he was taken to the hospital. Five others had been carried out while unconscious, but had been revived. Three people were stated to be in serious condition. Elizabeth Mappleback was at the hospital, but was not considered to be in serious condition. However, the next day, her death was reported ("Woman, 82, Second Victim of Lemay Hospital Fire." St. Louis Post-Dispatch, 4 March 1942, p. 7C. )

It is strange that there was no mention of anything related to the fire on her death certificate. She must have suffered from smoke inhalation. Perhaps the stress of the experience brought on a heart attack.