Thursday, May 30, 2019

Sally's Sisters

A few years ago, I discovered that my maternal great-grandfather was not James Harris, but William "Frenchy" Vadnais, a French-Canadian from Alberta. It was a big surprise, and since then I've learned a lot about William's ancestry. One thing I haven't looked into too much yet is William's immediate family. I knew he was married to Charlotte Harris, and they were the parents of Bill Vadnais, but that was pretty much it. Once we learned about our relationship to William, my grandma talked to Bill Vadnais, and got some really interesting info - William had been married previously to a lady named Gladys, and they had had two daughters, Cherie and Yolanda. He even had some pictures of them!

Yolanda  Vadnais and her husband Bud.
Cherie Vadnais

I did a little searching on them to see what I could find, but didn't see much right away that seemed relevant, so I put them on the back burner.

For six years.

In my defense, it's been a VERY busy six years! But I felt inspired to go looking for them again, and found some really interesting details.

First up, Cherie. I had more info about her to go on. I had her death date and info - she died 11 April 2011 in Kansas, and at the time was married to Elliott Stanton. She'd been married a few times before, to Claude Ball and Robert Richardson. One thing I forgot I knew was that she wasn't raised by her parents - her mother died when she was 3, and she apparently grew up with the last name Skelton, as she was fostered out to Peter and Agnes Skelton. I can't find her in the 1930 census, and she wasn't listed with her father and his second wife, Charlotte Harris, so I don't know where she was between 1927 and 1940.

Her obituary names a number of kids and step-kids, so it sounds like she had a life full of family, which is what everyone wants right? The obit also said she was predeceased by a sister, but did not give her name (I hate when they do that).

Speaking of her sister, she was a lot harder to find info on. My grandma said her name was Yolanda, but I couldn't find anyone with that name in my searches on Ancestry and other sites. I looked at the public trees on Ancestry (which are notorious for being terribly incorrect sometimes, but can sometimes have absolute gold), and they actually had her name as Yvonne Vadnais. I tried looking for her, but the closest I can find is a 1930 census for Yvonne Vadnais, born about 1925 in Idaho, living in California as a "lodger" with Calvin and Pearl Cleveland. I doubt a 4-year-old girl chose to live as a lodger, but I don't know if that's even the same person I'm looking for.

Thinking that maybe some info on Cherie and Yolanda/Yvonne's mother would lead me in the right direction, I went looking for and found her death certificate. Gladys died on 25 January 1927 of double labor pneumonia, meaning she had it in both lungs, with acute follicular tonsilitis contributing to her death. She'd had the pneumonia a week when she died, meaning her decline in health and subsequent death must have come on rapidly. I found her obituary, along with a couple funeral and death notices, which all referred to Gladys as William's "beloved wife," making her passing even more heartbreaking to read about. The obit mentioned her daughters, and gave their names as Cherie and...Fritzie Jane! Not Yolanda, not Yvonne, nothing with a Y at all. Now I'm really stumped. I'm still looking for anything else on Fritzie Jane, but haven't found anything so far. I've reached out to the lady behind one of those online trees, to see if she knows anything about daughter #2. I checked with my cousin, the granddaughter of Bill Vadnais, and her side barely knew of Cherie and her sister's existence. Bill Vadnais apparently knew something of them, as he had photos, but he passed away last year, so he's not here to ask. I'm worried I waited too long. :( But perhaps this blog post will strike a chord with someone out there. If so, please drop me a line! I'd love to know more about Cherie and her sister.

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