Saturday, February 21, 2015

Gap between the records and what happened

A common family history problem is trying to reconcile what may have happened when the available records hint at (or very clearly indicate) difficult patches for the family being researched. This week I have been writing about my wife's 3rd-great-grandfather, Joseph Halter. In a previous post, I had found Joseph in the 1871 City Directory for New Orleans, working in Raphael Tudury's Orleans Syrup Manufactory.

The next record noted the birth of a daughter, Francis Christian Halter, born on 16 January 1872 in New Orleans (found in the New Orleans, Louisiana Birth Records Index, 1790-1899 on Ancestry). In this record, Laura Williams Halter is listed as "Lora Eunis Williams". So far this is the only record I have seen for Francis Halter.

It looks like Joseph and family left New Orleans sometime after 1872, probably returning to Evansville and Newburgh, Indiana. I have not been able to find Joseph or any of the family in the 1880 US Census.
Source: David Rumsey Map Collection. Newburgh, Indiana in 1876.

The next available record appears to be divorce papers, filed in Vanderburgh County, Indiana beginning in 1881. According to another researcher on Ancestry, the divorce was granted on 26 October 1883 in Evansville, Indiana. Three days later, Joseph married Katherine ("Katy") Masterson in neighboring Warrick County.
Source: Indiana Marriages 1811-1959 on FamilySearch.
The couple had a daughter, Leona Pearl Halter, in August 1884. The next time Joseph appears in the records is in the 1900 US Census. Joseph, Catherine and daughter Leona Pearl Halter were living in Newburgh, Warrick County, Indiana. Joseph was working as a "day laborer".

A year later, young Leona married Harry Rowe in Boonville, Indiana on Valentines Day, 14 February 1901. From the records, it looks like she had two daugthers (1902 and 1905). Leona Halter Rowe died on 9 August 1908 in Newburgh. In the 1910 US Census, Kate Halter is listed as head of household ("widowed"), taking care of Leona's daughters. But Joseph was not dead, as he appears back in New Orleans in the 1912 City Directory living at 3813 Dauphine Street. It looks like Joseph left the family. Katherine died on 26 June 1917 in Newburgh.

Back in New Orleans
Joseph was in the New Orleans City Directory in 1912 (see below), but not in the directories for 1913 through 1915.

Another tragedy struck when Joseph's brother John died on 25 May 1914. We're lucky to have a letter written in Joseph's own hand, written in New Orleans on 28 April 1915 to Joseph's younger brother Antoine Halter in Pope County, Illinois. Thanks to distant cousin Tamara for preserving a copy of this letter.

There's still a bit more in the story of Joseph before I look into his parents, which will follow in the next post.

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