“Missing Children”: The case of Lillian Maurer (abt 1901 – ‘died in infancy’)

Willie, age 3, appears on a census record. Ten years later, Willie’s name does not appear on the census record with his parents. What happened to Willie? You question relatives with no result. Using your best research practices, you search diligently for Willie in online databases – birth and death records, websites for newspapers and cemeteries, city and/or county genealogical society websites. You query the local historical society. Nothing turns up.  Viewing microfilmed newspapers at the local library also yields no information. You record everything on a research log, vowing to return another day.  You keep Willie in mind but, in essence, Willie remains “missing” in your family’s genealogy. Hopefully, you eventually find out what happened to Willie,  the “missing” child.

Two often overlooked sources are the 1900 and 1910 United States Census records. Column headings for 1900 census included “mother of how many children”  and “number of these children living”.[1]  Column headings for 1910 included  “number of children born” and “number of children now living”.[2]  For both censuses, instructions for enumerators stated: “Stillborn children are not to be counted.” [3], [4]  Compare the numbers recorded on the census with listed names and ages of children.  You may find that more children were born to this woman. These are among your “missing” children. Search your records obtained from other family sources. Again, compare that information with the census records.

Maurer_Lillian_b1901

Lillian Maurer photograph ca 1901, label taped to picture when received; privately held by Susan Posten Ellerbee, [ADDRESS FOR PRIVATE USE], Yukon, Oklahoma, 2018. Photographs originally held by Esbon Herman Tucker, grandson of William F. and Bertha. Photographs given to Ms. Ellerbee by Mary Ann (Tucker) Rogers, daughter of Esbon Herman Tucker, April, 2018.

I present the case of children, including Lillian,  born to Anna Klee Maurer, my maternal grandmother’s mother.  From Aunt Viola’s family history:  [5]  Herman Maurer and his wife, Anna Klee “had 8 children (all born in Brooklyn, NY)”:

  1. Edward (Eddy)    1887? – 1892. “Edward died at about 5 years of age.”
  2. Arthur                   6/ 17/ 1888? – 7/ 1954
  3. Charlotte               5/ 26/ 1892 –   4/ 9/ 1974
  4. William                  6/ 30/ 1890? – 11/15/ 1957
  5. Harry                      1894 ? – ? infancy
  6. Herman                  1893 – 6/ 1957
  7. Lillian                     1901 – ? infancy
  8. Viola                        1906 –

Given the reported birth and death years, the 1900 census should list 6 children born and 4 children living for Anna;  the 1910 census should list 8 children born and 5 living. Can Viola’s information be confirmed? After all, these are her siblings!

I began with the 1892 New York State Census, conducted in February, 1892: [6]

  • Page 2, column 2, lines 38-40: Herman Maurer, age 32; Annie Maurer, age 27; [illegible] Maurer, age [illegible]
  • Page 3, column 1, lines 1-2: Arthur Maurer, age 4; William Maurer, age 2.

Charlotte (my maternal grandmother) was born in May 1892. Her birth certificate[7] shows her as the 5th child of Anna, suggesting another child born between 1883 (Herman & Anna’s marriage year) and 1892.

Continue with the family as recorded on the 1900 census:[8]

  • Maurer, Herman, head, b. Oct 1859, New Jersey, married 16 yrs.
  • Maurer, Anna, wife, b. July 1864, New York, mother of 7 children, 4 living
  • Maurer, Arthur, son, b. June 1887, New York
  • Maurer, Willie, son, b. June 1887, New York
  • Maurer, Lotta [Charlotte], daughter b. May 1892, New York
  • Maurer, Herman, son, b. Aug 1893, New York

Analysis:  Compared information to 1892 census and family records. The 1892 census records 3 children; the 1900 census adds 2 more children (Lotta and Herman).  The number of children still living (4) suggests that one of the children reported in 1892 (illegible name and age) died before 1900. Family records show 6 children born by 1900 with 2 of those having died.  The 1900 census data support my hypothesis that another child was born and died. So, there is still one more child to be found!

What is revealed in the 1910 census? [9] Barely legible, the record lists Anna as the mother of 8 children with 5 still living.  The living children are Arthur, age 22; William, age 19; Charlotte, age 17; Herman, age 16, and Viola, age 3.

1910 Census_Herman Maurer family_3

Putting the census data together suggests:

  • 3 children born between 1883 (marriage year) and February 1892.
  • 4 children born between February 1892 and June 1900 (7 children born).
  • 1 child born between June 1900 and April 1910 (8 children born).
  • 3 children died between 1883 and 1910 (5 children living by 1910).

Family records (family history + Charlotte’s birth certificate) indicate:

  • 4 children born between 1883 (marriage year) and February 1892
  • 3 children born between February 1892 and June 1900 (7 children born).
  • 2 children born between June 1900 and April 1910 (9 children born).
  • 3 children died between 1883 and 1910 (5 children living by 1910).

Records agree that 5 of Anna’s children survived in 1910. Records disagree about the number of children born to Anna- 8 or 9. Was the “missing child” stillborn and reported by Anna in 1900 but not reported in 1910? If the child was stillborn, Viola may not have known about him or her.

Birth and death indexes support information given by Viola about three of the ‘lost’ children:

  1. Edward Maurer. Birth: 22 January 1885, New York City Municipal Archives, New York City Births [10].  Death: 30 June 1892, New York City Municipal Archives, New York City Extracted Death Index.  [11]  Recorded by Viola as “1887? – 1892. Edward died at about 5 years of age.”  Analysis: Database entries consistent with family history; confirmed.
  2. Charles Harry Maurer. [12] Birth: August 1893 (based on age 4/12 at death). Death: 10 January 1894. Recorded by Viola as “Harry , 1894 ? – ? infancy.” Analysis: Database entry consistent with family history. Estimated birth date of August 1893 suggests that Charles Harry was twin of Herman Charles.
  3. Lillian Maurer. Birth: 7 January 1901, New York City Municipal Archives, New York City Births [13].  Death:  Before 1910; Lillian is not listed on the 1910 census. Databases support handwritten family history.

Having a child every 2 to 3 years was common in the early 20th century.  The semi-final list of Herman and Anna’s children appear to fit this pattern:

  1. Edward Maurer      (22 January 1885-30 June 1892)
  2. Arthur Maurer        (19 June 1887 – 2 April 1953)
  3. Unknown child        (possibly abt 1888 – before February 1892)
  4. William Charles Maurer      (30 June 1890 – 15 November 1957)
  5. Amalie Charlotte Maurer    (26 May 1892 – 9 April 1974)
  6. Herman Charles Maurer     (22 August 1893 – June 1957)
  7. Charles Harry Maurer         (August 1893 – 10 January 1894) (twin of Herman Charles)
  8. Lillian Maurer                        (7 Jan 1901 ?  – before 1910)
  9. Blanche Viola Lucy Maurer  (16 March 1907 – November 1985)

Given the six and seven year gaps, Anna may have been pregnant more than nine times. I am still looking for information about the unknown ‘lost’ child. Lillian’s case is not yet solved but I am getting closer!

reflection-swirl-green-color-hi

REFLECTION:

Aunt Viola’s handwritten history provided the names of Edward, Harry and Lillian.  Without those names and dates, I would have had a more difficult time discovering information about them. Census questions about births and living children did not include stillbirths. Gaps of 3-4 years (or more) between births suggest additional pregnancies which may have ended in stillbirths or miscarriages.  I have 2 children, both living, and experienced several miscarriages. So, if asked the census questions now, my record would show ‘Number of children born to this person =2;  number of living children= 2.”

Initially, I discounted the August 1893 birth dates implied and reported for Herman Charles Maurer and implied for Charles Harry Maurer. One of the dates had to be wrong! Alternate question:  Were ‘Herman Charles Maurer’ and ‘Charles Harry Maurer’ the same person? Answer: No. Hmm- a subject for another post!

My research is not complete.  I don’t have copies of  records that could give more clues. A genealogist’s work is never done!

What I learned:  Look for hidden treasures in census records. Question every bit of data. Keep looking! Even scant information from a family member provides clues. A research log and/or software program are valuable tools to record conflicting data and your analysis. Writing up  stories for my blog helps to identify gaps.

What helped:  Viola’s family history. Access to multiple databases online. Copy of Charlotte’s birth certificate. Conflicting information required additional research to prove or disprove the claim. I put my questions aside for a period of time.

What didn’t help: ignoring clues from the records. Not considering one obvious answer- twins!  I don’t have a copy of the birth record for Lillian Maurer, born 1901, per NYC Birth Record Index.

Next steps:   Continue looking for evidence of the missing child. Request copy of Aunt Viola’s birth certificate. Identify potential birth & death records for Lillian Maurer from NYC Records Database;  request copies of most likely records, beginning with copy of birth record for Lillian Maurer born 1901.  Order birth and death certificates for Edward and Harry Charles.  Add these to my ‘BMD certificates to order’ list.

SOURCES: 

[1] Department of the Interior, Census Office. Twelfth Census of the United States, June 1, 1900: Instructions for Enumerators (Washington: Government Printing Office, 1900), 29, 30; accessed from U.S. Census Bureau (https://www.census.gov/history/pdf/1900instructions.pdf   : 6 June 2018).

[2] Department of Commerce and Labor, Bureau of the Census. Thirteenth Census of the United States, April 15, 1910: Instructions for Enumerators (Washington: Government Printing Office, 1910), 29; accessed from U.S. Census Bureau (https://www.census.gov/history/pdf/1900instructions.pdf   : 6 June 2018).

[3] Department of the Interior, Census Office, Twelfth Census of the United States: instructions for Enumerators,30.

[4] Department of Commerce and Labor, Bureau of the Census, Thirteenth Census of the United States: Instructions for Enumerators, 29.

[5] Viola Blanche Maurer Tucker, “Maurer-Tucker Family History,” pages 1 & 2; MS, 1800s to 1980s, Huntington, Suffolk County, New York; privately held by great-niece, Susan Mercedes Posten Ellerbee, [address for private use], Yukon, Oklahoma, 2017.  Carbon copy of original document created ca. 1975-1980; sent to Ms. Ellerbee by her great-aunt.

[6] New York State Department of Health, “New York, State Census, 1892,” database, Ancestry (http://www.ancestry.com : accessed, downloaded 31 January 2018), entry for Herman Maurer, age 32, page 2, column 2, lines 38-40; citing New York State Education Department, Office of Cultural Education, Albany, New York; Street Address: 173 Hopkins Street.

[7] New York, New York City Department of Records and Information Services, birth certificate 5947 (28 May 1892), Amalie Charlotte Maurer; Municipal Archives, 31 Chambers Stree, New York, N.Y. 10007.  Photocopy of original certificate held by Susan Posten Ellerbee, [address for private use,], Yukon, Oklahoma.

[8] 1900 U.S. Federal Census, Kings county, New York, population schedule, Brooklyn Ward 21, enumeration district (ED) 331, p. 3B (penned), dwelling 13, family 63, Herman Maurer head; digital images, Ancestry (http://www.ancestry.com : accessed, downloaded, printed 8 October 2010); citing National Archives & Records Administration, Washington, D.C. microfilm publication T623_1058.

[9] 1910 U.S. Census, Suffolk County, New York, pop. sch., Huntington, enumeration district (ED) 1367, p. 2B, Family #26, Herman Maurer (head); digital images, Ancestry.com (www.ancestry.com : accessed, viewed, downloaded 31 January 2017); National Archives & Records Administration, Washington, D.C., microfilm publication T624, roll 1083.

[10] New York, New York City Births, 1846-1909,” database, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/ark:61903/1:1:2WQN-B2J: 20 March 2015), Anna Klee Maurer entry for Eduwart Maurer, 22 Jan 1885; citing New York City Municipal Archives, New York.

[11] “New York, New York, Extracted Death Index, 1862-1948”, database,  Ancestry (http://www.ancestry.com : accessed 5 June 2018); entry for Edward Maurer, born 1885, died 1892, citing Index to New York City Deaths 1862-1948. Indices prepared by the Italian Genealogical Group and the German Genealogy Group, and used with permission of the New York City Department of Records/Municipal Archives. Certificate no. 10178.

[12]  “New York, New York, Death Index, 1892-1898, 1900-1902,” database, Ancestry (http://www.ancestry.com:   accessed 5 June 2018); entry for Chas. H. Maurer, death date 10 Jan 1894, age 4 M; citing New York City Deaths, 1892-1902; Deaths Reported in January-February-March, 1894 and Deaths reported in the city of New York, 1888-1965, New York Department of Health, Albany, New York; certificate no. 1429.

[13] “New York City Births, 1891-1902; Births reported in 1901. Borough of Brooklyn,” database, Ancestry (http://www.ancestry.com : accessed & downloaded 21 April 2018), entry for Lillian Maurer; citing New York Department of Health. Births reported in the City of New York, 1891-1902. New York, New York, USA: Department of Health; certificate #7178.

© Susan Posten Ellerbee and “Posting Family Roots” blog, posted on WordPress.com, 2018.

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