The first people I wanted to look for in the 1940 census I still haven’t found. A day or so after the release of the 1940 census I went browsing to find my parents. Not so different from searching through microfilmed censuses after all, and they didn’t used to be indexed either.

I started out looking in Yellow Springs Ohio for my parents who were both college students at Antioch College from the late 1930s to the early 1940s. I used the Steve Morse webpage to pull up enumeration districts covering Yellow Springs and then to look at the 1940 ED description for each of the three (who would have thought 3 separate EDs for a small village like Yellow Springs??) EDs listed. The ED numbers are 29-15, 29-16, 29-17 for anyone interested in looking. The description shows that there were actually 4 EDs but the CCC camp had no population. There was one ED for the village of Yellow Springs. There was one for Antioch College and Infirmary with a population of 42 (huh?!) and one for the township outside the 2 villages in the township. I took a look at the couple of pages in 29-16 which covered the College and Infirmary and, sure enough, there were a small number of people listed – none of them students. A quick skim of the Yellow Springs village ED showed no students at the college. At this point I decided to move on.

Recently I went back to the Yellow Springs village ED to see how many of the college teachers and administrators I heard about from my parents I could find. The first page produced Paul and Jessie Treichler, which I had seen on the first page when I looked the first time around. He was in the Drama department and she was secretary to the college president. Her mother lived with them, and they had all been in the same house in 1935.

Then there was George Geiger a couple of pages later. He was listed as a Language teacher on the census in 1940 but he was a philosophy professor. His widowed mother-in-law also lived with them. The Geigers had been in Peoria Illinois in 1935 (one of the interesting pieces of information collected in the 1940 census). Both of my parents spoke of Professor Geiger and taking a course with him. Professor Geiger was also another who was still there, still teaching philosophy when I was a student.

Manmatha Chatterjee and his family were found next. He was a Social Sciences teacher and my mother talked of taking courses with him. He had been at Antioch for some time at that point, and was listed with his family as living in the same house as in 1935. Another Social Sciences teacher from that time that I looked for, but haven’t found, was Clarence Leuba. My mother spoke with great respect about both of these professors.

The last professor of note to me, was Denton Magruder, professor of accounting and my father’s adviser his senior year. My father never said much about him, so I don’t have a sense of what he was like in that role. He lived with his wife and daughter in the same house they had lived in in 1935. There was also a roomer living with them, a public school teacher.

I also found several administrative or management people whose names I knew. The first of these was Marion Dickinson, the college office manager. My mother (and probably father) had dealings with her, and spoke fondly of “Miss Dick” who helped them figure life out on campus. She was a roomer in a house with its owner and 2 other women, living in the same place as in 1935.

Then there were the families of Basil Pillard and of J. Dudley Dawson on the same page. Dr. Dawson, who was an icon on campus when I arrived, was listed as Manager, Personnel in the 1940 census. I suspect, but haven’t yet been able to verify, that Personnel may have included the co-operative education department for which Antioch became known. He lived with his wife and three young sons and his mother, having been in Tennessee in 1935. The Pillard family included Basil who was Dean of Students, his wife, two young sons and a daughter. My mother told the story of running across Dr. Pillard riding his young son’s trike on her first day on campus. On that same census page, at the bottom, was Miss Susan Fralick who was the college registrar. She signed a letter for my father in 1942 certifying that he had been granted a B.A. I’m not sure why he needed this, but he had two official copies among his papers.

The other administrator I found, who my mother talked about periodically, was the college president: Algo Henderson. My mother always called him “Algo D.” which I presume is what most people called him. He lived with his wife and two children in the same place they had lived in 1935.

And then there was Bessie Totten, who I don’t remember hearing about from my parents but who I know was the first archivist of the college. She was listed as librarian, I think she was head in 1940, and she retired soon after that but stayed on organizing the college archives.

The one other person who caught my eye was Axel Bahnsen, the local photographer. When my parents were students they all had pictures taken by him as freshmen and again as seniors. The picture of my mother I grew up seeing was her senior college picture taken by him, and she was lovely. Mr. Bahnsen and his wife were counted, living in the same house as in 1935, with no children. He was the proprietor of a photography shop.

This is obviously a limited view of even a small place like Yellow Springs. There were many other people employed by the college in a variety of jobs. There were also many other jobs and industries represented, including shopkeepers, schoolteachers, doctors and nurses, laborers, skilled laborers, maids and cooks and housekeepers, various researchers (at the Fels Research Institute), etc. The most exotic job I noticed was a test pilot at the nearby air field (Wright-Patterson), but there were others also employed in other jobs at the air field too.

Now, 2 months after the census was released, I am back to thinking about how to find my parents. I searched the internet looking for how college students were handled by the Census Bureau back then. It looks to me like the usual approach was to count college students at their parents’ home even if they lived away at school during the school year. Hm. So I need to find my grandparents. Unfortunately I know where my father’s parents were. His father had died almost 20 years before and his mother Carrie had been committed to the Longview State Hospital (for the Insane). Although my father seemed to use his aunt’s address as his home address (my great aunt Susan R. Salt), he was not listed with her there. So I have more searching in store to find him. My mother’s parents were still in Canton and I have an address from 1938 but I haven’t found them yet.

Catherine about 1863-1865

I’ve been thinking about my great great grandmother, Catherine Justice Coffin, again. I recently finished reading a book, American Grit edited by Emily Foster. This is a collection of letters from a woman in western Ohio to her family back home in Maryland after she and her husband moved to the wilds of the West to farm. The time period is about the same as for my g-g-grandmother so I thought it would be interesting and might show me something about what life in Ohio was like in those days. Although I think there was a difference between living on a developing farm and living in the state’s biggest city, I felt like I had more of a sense of just how much work day to day life took in that time period. Thanks to Judy for taking it out of her library for me.

Last year, I had started a timeline of Catherine’s life, back around when the COG assignment was to write from a timeline (the 91st COG, just about a year ago). What I quickly discovered was that I didn’t have much beyond dates and places for major life events to bring her to life.

And so, as is typical for me, my FRADD (Family Research Attention Deficit Disorder) kicked in. I never did get the story of my great great grandmother, Catherine, written. An archivist friend, when asked about Yellow Springs Ohio and the old spas, recommended a couple of books. I ended up requesting and reading a book about Mary Gove Nichols life. (Thanks to the library consortium system, I can often get books that my local library doesn’t have.) The connection was that Mary Gove Nichols was born and lived in the same time period as Catherine, and more importantly was the co-owner of the Yellow Springs Spa at about the time that Catherine was there. The title of the book is Shameless and it is a very good description of women’s status in the early to mid 1800s in this country. The Water Cure was popular as a treatment for a number of ills, particularly consumption (which Catherine had). The Water Cure included baths in cold water, drinking lots of water, and healthy meals (lots of vegetables I think) among other prescriptions. The Yellow Springs, in Greene county about 60 miles north of Cincinnati, was already known in the 1830s to have some benefit for those with chronic diseases.

CEC cemetery record

Although I don’t have any direct evidence that ties Catherine to the Water Cure, I do have evidence that she died of “pulmonary consumption” in Yellow Springs, Ohio.

Catherine Elizabeth Justice was born the 30th of December 1821, in Clermont county, Ohio. This is southwestern Ohio just east of Cincinnati and bordered by the Ohio River on the south. Her father was Jesse Justice Jr., from New Jersey and her mother was Susan Wilcox from Nantucket originally. They met in Clermont county and married in 1818. Their first child, a son, had been born in February 1820 and died as an infant in the fall of 1821 before his sister, Catherine, was born. The family stayed in Clermont county until sometime after the next brother, Theodore, was born in January 1824. Between then and December 1828 the family moved into Cincinnati. The family is enumerated in the federal census of 1830 in Cincinnati. In the mid to late 1820s Cincinnati was growing quickly, and became the first major inland city in the young United States. Incorporated in 1819, Cincinnati had river transport by the Ohio River which was the main route to New Orleans. The population of Cincinnati, or the greater Cincinnati area including Newport and Covington, Kentucky, in 1835 was about 35,000. Jesse Justice opened a grocery shop and became active in the city. By 1834 he was City Marshall.

Between January 1833 and April 1834 3 children of Jesse and Susan died. An infant son died at 3 months old. A 4 year old daughter died of cholera. And a second infant daughter died within a day of being born. Catherine and her brother Theodore were the only living children. Catherine and Theodore were close in age but there is little information in the family vault about him. The last child born to Jesse and Susan, William Harrison Justice, was born in April 1840.

Catherine was 18 years old, married for 6 months, and pregnant with her first child when this last brother was born. She married Zebulon B. Coffin, who also had a grocery shop in Cincinnati, and was involved in the community. Her daughter, Jessie Malvina, was born in November 1840 so was just 7 months younger than her uncle Harrison. At the time of the 1840 federal census, I believe that Catherine and Zebulon must have been living with her parents in Cincinnati. At least, they fit the right age groups for the Jesse Justice family enumerated in Cincinnati; in addition I have not found them enumerated anywhere else separately.

At some point, before the federal census in 1850 but not documented beyond stories, the family adopted (probably not legally) a young boy said to have been found by Harrison in Cincinnati on the street with nowhere to go. The story is that Harrison found Anthony Burton, about age 9, living on the street and told his mother who took him in. In 1850 Anthony was enumerated with the Zebulon Coffin family in Newport, Kentucky (which is directly across the Ohio River from Cincinnati). Jesse and Susan Justice and their family lived next door. At the time of the 1860 federal census, Anthony lived in Newport in Susan Justice’s home along with Harrison. Between the two households there were three young people within a year or two of the same age: Jessie Malvina Coffin, Harrison Justice, and Anthony Burton.

There is little passed down in the family lore about Catherine (or Kate as some of her cousins called her) as a person. She and Zebulon had 2 more children, each about 6 years apart. It is likely that she was “delicate”. Much of the picture of Catherine that exists is from a few letters I have, both to and from her. She, along with others in the family, wrote to Anthony while he served in the Civil War. By that time, she was also probably experiencing the effects of her consumption. We know she was only 44 when she died August 31, 1866 in Yellow Springs, Greene, Ohio.

I think the next step in learning about g-g-granmother Catherine’s life will involve looking more closely at these few other documents I have. All of these need to be transcribed. As I remember, I got as far as putting them in sheet protectors, but need to take that next step. I wonder where I put them? I guess finding them and starting to transcribe them could get put on my March Genealogy To-Do List. Maybe.

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