Thursday, February 6, 2014

Treasure Chest Thursday - We found a Boddy in Chicago

No, I didn't misspell body, this isn't a story about the Mafia. It's about my third-great-grandmother Friedericka (Wendt) Wagner, and some startling new information about her that came to me this week.

Friedericka (Wendt) Wagner, abt 1916
Earlier this week I got an unexpected email from my cousin Sylvia, a Wagner relative of mine. She had found my second-great-grandaunt Rose (Wagner) Randall and her husband Hector in the 1940 census for Chicago, along with her mother Friedericka, and sister Alice. However, there was a surprise addition to the family - Friedericka had a new husband, William Boddy! He was 66 at the time (compared to Friedericka's 91 - a difference of 25 years!), and born in England. Prior to this, we had no idea that she had ever remarried after the death of her husband Charles Wagner in 1909. Sylvia also sent me a page from the 1930 census, showing Friedericka and William Boddy together in Chicago. This got me very curious about who this William Boddy was, and how long he and my ancestor were together.

I went looking for them in the 1920 census, and found them very quickly, listed as husband and wife, renting a room from a guy named William Clarkson. I went back to the 1920 census for Friedericka's son George Wagner, and she was listed with him as well! There, her name was incorrectly given as Charles F Wagner (her late husband's name), but the age, gender, birth info matched. I don't know why she would be listed in two separate households, except maybe she had married William Boddy only recently and so was claimed in both families.

One document I found that supports that theory, though I didn't know that at first, is William's World War I draft registration. From it, I learned William's full name, William Francis Boddy, and his exact birth date - August 7th, 1873. In it, he lists his closest relative as Mrs. William Boddy, which I assumed (a bad thing to do, I know!) to be Friedericka, but with her residence given as Seattle, Washington. Since I had William and Friedericka identified in the 1920 census in Chicago, I thought maybe they had moved out to Seattle for a time and moved back, or were perhaps in process of moving back. Sylvia checked in city directories for Seattle around 1917, but didn't find anything on either William or Friedericka. While I was going back over the WWI draft registration, the idea hit me - what if William's father's name was also William, and he had died, leaving his wife a widow? William might then list his mother (a logical choice for closest relative) as Mrs. William Boddy. Worth a shot, right?

I went searching for likely candidates for William's mother in the 1920 census, and found a Sarah Boddy, a widow age 74 (so born about 1846) living in Medina, just a few miles east of Seattle. I traced her back to 1910 (still a widow, still in Medina), and then to 1900 - living in Minnesota, married to William Boddy, born 1846 in England, with a son named William F. Boddy born in August 1873. Jackpot!!

So I now have a little more complete idea of William Boddy Jr's family. From what I've seen in the census records, it looks like William's family moved around a lot - his father came to the US in 1866, his mother Sarah and brother Frederick in 1899, his brother Edward in 1890, and William himself in 1886. He also had one brother, John, who was born in Pennsylvania in 1877, so the father evidently went back and forth between the US and England to keep having children. Though John's birth confuses me - how was he born in the US in 1877, if his mother didn't immigrate until 1899? Obviously there is more to the story that needs to be dug up. Figuratively.

But that isn't even the best part! What really makes all of this a real treasure chest Thursday is the death record I found for Friedericka. It confirms that the Friedericka who married William Boddy really is my ancestor - it gives her name as Friedericka Wagner Boddy, and gives her birthplace as Mecklenburg, Germany, which is how it was listed in the census records from earlier years. But best of all, it names her parents - Ludwig Wendt and Friedericka! If this is accurate, this is the first time I've seen any information confirming her maiden name of Wendt (which was told to me by a relative who didn't name the source), as well as the first time I've seen her parents' names.

The only thing that really puzzles me about all this is the age difference between William and Friedericka. If they did marry in 1920, she was 73 and he was 47. So far as I've been able to tell, he never married anyone else. Why would he marry someone so much older than he was? They couldn't have had any children. They stayed married until Friedericka's death in 1940 (shortly after the census was taken).

I still haven't gotten over how much information I've come across on this heretofore little-known ancestor, and can't wait to see where all these new threads lead.

1 comment:

Gibson Family said...

I can explain it - your great great grandma was a cougar!! lol