My research started with her death certificate, she was born in 1909 and died in 1932 at age 23 due to acute cardiac dilatation, it’s a swelling in the heart, that makes it ineffective at pumping blood, the result is oxygen not being able to get to your muscles and brain there are sometimes no symptoms. The only listed contributory cause was pregnancy. Mrs. Thomas Biggs was the informant that provided her background information.
I my research by trying to find a grave for Bertha, the document listed place of burial in Hempstead, so I scoured the internet to find it digitalized somewhere with no luck, I had even less with the funeral homes. The funeral homes in the area weren’t built until years later, the graveyards existed at the time. I was under the assumption that she was cremated until I tried looking on Ancestry.
I resumed my search on Ancestry my first decision was to find the death certificate I had a copy of. I did that, with little difficulty, it was accompanied by a picture of her grave, there were no quotes or ornate workings on the grave. Just her name and her birth year followed by the year she died. I explored her family tree after that, neither document had her spouse listed, but it did offer her parents, her mother was the daughter of two German immigrants. A census in 1910 revealed multiple siblings, Mary Lou, age 21, Willie Boldoser age 18, Sam Lee age 16, Emma age 13, John Townsend Brooks age 6, Ruby age 3, and the following census in 1920 showed the first four had moved out and Bertha’s only younger sister was born in 1911 as well as someone named Edward Teida age 47. It also held my first discovery, it had an error, John Townsend Brooks was shortened to Townsell.
My second discovery was that several of they took their middle names as their common one. This discovery was due to a census I found later in my research. In the 1900 census Duke and Bertha Brooks had four kids Mary Lou, age 11, Willie age 9 Lonie L age 7 and Malissa E age 2. I quickly realized that the ages lined up and so did Malissa Emma Brooks, born 1904, so I had the right family. Lonie changed his name to Sam and Malissa changed her name to Emma and John changed his to Townsend. I continued my investigation to find out more. It was about this point I realized stalking dead people was kind of fun.
I proceeded to research each of her siblings one by one. The first was very interesting Mary Lou married into the last name Gilbert and died of a busted hemorage, with hypertension as a contributing factor in 1948 at age 59. The interesting part was that the informant was the same. Mrs. Thomas Biggs the difference was only 12 years so there is a likelihood that she was a friend of them both, or just the town’s gossip.
Next and more productive is Emma or Melissa if you prefer, she was moved out by 1920 and had her first daughter at 17 or 18. She married a fellow named Eddie who took her last name, they have six kids all by 1930, their first child is Gertrude age 15, followed by Georgia age 12, Frances age 10 Ottis age 8, Annie age 7 and Maurine age 5.
Sam was the least productive so far and probably a liar, he was married to Hatie and renting a home in 1920 and 1930, married to her either at age 20 or 30 both cases they had been married five years. You can think what you want about that.
John Townsend had a different story from everyone else he was selected in the WWII draft, his next of kin was Hilda Brooks, possibly his wife.
I once again resumed my search closer to the suspect I was assigned, the husband of Bertha was named Fred Barr his parents weren’t known, they married in 1927 and she died five years later pregnant with their only listed child, with no known children or relatives the trail died quickly. I found some interesting stuff, but the trail went dead when I saw 8,000 results for Fred Barr in Texas. Yeah, apparently, it’s the most common name in Texas. Going into this I hadn’t expected that women would be easier to track than men, but they were, it’s like guys needed to keep track of them all.
I didn’t find mistakes with the girls records except approximation with Emma’s birth, the guys had changed names, and missing documents. Fred Barr’s parents weren’t accounted for at all, but Bertha’s grandparents from Germany were. There are clear gaps in information, it makes me think that census are done wrong, maybe everyone should have a spread sheet, not every home.