On this “Thankful Thursday” , I express my gratitude to Viola Blanche Maurer Tucker, my maternal great-aunt, for writing down names and information about the Maurer and Tucker ancestors. I have a carbon copy of the original.
Do you remember carbon paper? Before copy machines, there was carbon paper. First, insert a piece of carbon paper between two pieces of paper. Write or type on the top page. An exact copy, more or less, of the top page appears on the subsequent pages. Generally, you can produce three or four clear copies this way. Each piece of carbon paper lasts for 4-5 copies. Messy, but effective!
For more information about the history of copying, read this story: ‘Photocopier’
Back to my story. Viola was my mother’s aunt, my maternal grandmother’s sister. Called ‘Olie’ by us, she had always lived with my grandparents (at least, as far back as I can remember!). I didn’t really think much about those living arrangements when I was a child or even as I became an adult. I knew that both of Olie’s parents died when she was young and that’s why she lived with her sister. As I carefully reviewed documents for Genealogy Do-Over and recorded information on research logs, Olie’s situation really hit me.
Blanche Viola Maurer was born on March 16, 1907, the youngest of nine children born to George Herman Maurer and Anna Klee. Her brother, Herman Charles, born in 1893, was her closest living sibling. Between 1893 and 1907, Herman and Anna buried two children – Charles Harry and Lillian. Charles Harry, born in 1893 and died in 1894, was probably twin brother of Herman Charles. Lillian, born January 7, 1901,  ‘died in infancy’ according to Viola’s handwritten family history. 
Anna was 43 years old when Viola was born. It is possible that Anna was beginning to go through menopause at the time. When Viola was 11 years old, Anna died  leaving Viola and her 60-year-old father alone.
Charlotte (aka “Lottie”), Viola’s only living sister, married Esbon J. Tucker in June 1917 . Lottie and Esbon did not establish their own home immediately. In January, 1920, the census taker found Herman Maurer, widower and head of household with 13-year-old Viola, as well as Charlotte (Lottie), Esbon, and their two children, Esbon, age 2, and Eunice (my mother).
Herman , Viola’s father, died in May 1927 , leaving 20-year-old Viola an orphan. She continued to live with Lottie and Esbon.  Viola had no children of her own but was like a second mother or a big sister to Lottie’s children. Viola was an accomplished needlewoman. She taught her niece, Eunice, to knit and crochet. Eunice, my mother, then taught me. I still enjoy these crafts.
As mentioned in the introduction, I did not appreciate her situation until now. Olie was a constant person in my grandparents’ home, as she had been when my mother was growing up. I cannot imagine losing my mother at age 11 and my father by the time I was 20! What was it like to constantly rely on a sibling for a home? How did she respond emotionally to these events?
Consider the time period. Women rarely worked outside of the home in the 1920s and 1930s. Was Olie a ‘Rosie the Riveter’ during World War II, when so many women took on the jobs of men to support the war effort? Mom never said anything about that and I never thought to ask. According to the 1940 census, Viola worked as a salesclerk in a bakery.  That explains all of the wonderful cakes at their house!
By 1970, Lottie suffered several strokes and dementia. Pop and Olie cared for her at home for as long as they could. My mother said that she only found out about the problems when Pop decided to put Lottie into a nursing home, about 6 months before her death. This very difficult experience probably deepened the bond between Pop and Olie. After Lottie died in 1974, Olie married my grandfather. Two old people, living together for decades, now joined in marriage.
How did Viola feel about all of her losses? I remember her as being cheerful and kind. At first, she probably was overwhelmed then accepted her situation. I do not know how I would have reacted . Did the experience make her stronger?
Viola wrote the nine-page family history in the late 1970s or early 1980s. She mentions Lottie’s death (1974) and her own marriage to Esbon but not Esbon’s death in 1984. Using available resources, I have confirmed much of the information that she gave. One surprising fact is that she reported her full name as Blanche Viola Lucy Maurer when she applied for a Social Security number.  This is my first encounter with that name! I learned earlier that Germans traditionally used a middle name in everyday life rather than the person’s given first name.
Again, I express my gratitude to you, Blanche Viola Lucy Maurer Tucker, my third grandmother. Thank you for teaching my mother to knit and crochet, so she could teach me. Thank you for being part of my childhood. Thank you for taking time to write down our family stories. Questions still to be answered:
- Is there another ancestor named Blanche in the family history?
- Is Viola’s middle name of Lucy on any other documents?
I started writing this post about 2 months ago but wasn’t sure exactly what direction I would take. As I searched for inspiration, I looked again at daily blog prompts suggested by Thomas MacAntee. The idea of “Thankful Thursday” caught my eye. I am grateful to Viola for many things. We visited my New York grandparents only once a year but I vividly remember some things – a red and white enamel kitchen table with pull-out leaves (now a collector’s item!), two black and white cocker spaniels, German stollen (a sweet yeast bread), a sleeper chair (like a sleeper sofa but twin size), a musty basement. As I delve more into the family history, I see German connections in each generation. The written legacy of names and dates proves invaluable, even though, on the surface, the contents appear skeletal. I build from the bare bones outward. Without Viola’s document, progress would be much slower.
What I learned: carbon paper is hard to find in 21st century America. I developed a new appreciation for the difficulties that Viola must have faced from her early teens. Or, am I projecting my own values on her?
What helped: Amount of research already done on the Tucker-Maurer family. Transcription of Viola’s history done in 2010. Copies of birth and death certificates from New York.
What didn’t help: Nothing that I can think of. Not ordering Viola’s birth and death certificates before writing blog.
Future: Consider other daily topics for future blog posts. Order Viola’s birth and death certificates. Order death certificate for Anna Klee Maurer, Viola and Charlotte’s mother.
 Viola Blanche Maurer Tucker, “Maurer- Tucker Family History.” (Handwritten notes. Huntington, New York, ca. 1975-1980); carbon copy privately held by Susan M. Posten Ellerbee, [address for private use,], Yukon, Oklahoma, 2010. Copy given to Ms. Ellerbee by her mother who received copy from Viola ca 1980. Transcribed by Ms. Ellerbee in 2012. Ms. Ellerbee is great-niece of Viola Blanche Maurer Tucker.
 “New York, New York, Extracted Birth Index, 1878 – 1909”, online database, Ancestry (http://www.ancestry.com : : accessed 10 April 2018); entry for Lillian Maurer, born 1 Jan 1901, Kings, New York; citing “Index to New York City births, 1878-1909”, New York City Department of Records/ Municipal Archives, New York City, New York.
 Maurer., “Maurer-Tucker Family History,” Section – Charlotte Amalie (Anna) Maurer, page 1.
 Cyber Angel, “Anna b Bklyn d Huntington NY 1918 hus Herman,” Surnames: Maurer Family Genealogy Forum, discussion list, 8 February 2002; (http://genforum.genealogy.com : accessed & printed 9 June 2007), transcription of obituary posted in Brooklyn Standard Union, 28 July 1918.
 Suffolk county, New York, Affidavit for License to Marry (3 pages), 14570 (stamped); 783 (penned), Esbon J. Tucker Charlotte A. Maurer, 1 June 1917; New York State Department of Health, Vital Records Section, Genealogy Unit, Albany, New York.
 1920 U.S. Census, Suffolk county, New York, population schedule, Huntington, enumeration district (ED) 113, p. 7A (penned), dwelling 136, family 139, Viola Maurer, daughter, age 13; digital images, Ancestry (http://www.ancestry.com : viewed, downloaded, printed 14 March 2017); citing National Archives & Records Administration, Washington, D.C. Microfilm publication T625, Roll 1269.
 Hermann Maurer, death certificate no. 10424 (1927), Department of Health of the City of New York, New York City, New York.
1930 U.S. Federal Census, Suffolk County, New York, population schedule, Huntington, enumeration district (ED) 63, p. 2A (penned), p. 132 (stamped), dwelling 35, family 46, Viola Maurer, sister-in-law, age 23; digital images, Ancestry (http://www.ancestry.com : viewed, downloaded & printed 14 March 2017); citing National Archives & Records Administration, Washington, D.C. Microfilm publication T626, Roll 1651.
 1940 U.S. Federal Census, Suffolk county, New York, population schedule, Huntington, enumeration district (ED) 52-97, p. 12 B (penned), household no. 463, Esbon Tucker (head); Viola Maurer, sister-in-law, age 32; digital images, Ancestry (http://www.ancestry.com : accessed, downloaded, printed 14 March 2017); citing National Archives & Records Administration, Washington, D.C., microfilm publication T627, Roll 2785.
 Charlotte Tucker, death certificate # 031537 (9 April 1974), New York State Department of Health, Bureau of Vital Statistics, Albany, New York.
 Esbon J. Tucker, death certificate no. 100055063 (barely legible) (18 July 1984), New York State Department of Health, Vital Records Section, Albany, New York.
 Blanche Viola Lucy Maurer, SS no. 077-09-2343, 30 Nov 1936, Application for Account Number (Form SS-5), Social Security Administration, Baltimore, Maryland.