In December 2012, I published an article called 1518 Wilson Avenue that recounted how I had found William M. Watts in the 1940 census for Chicago, Illinois. Go read it now. I’ll wait.
Now, as you recall (since you just read the article, right?), William was married to a person unfamiliar to me, a mystery woman named Louise who was born in Massachusetts around 1920. I’ve been digging ever since then to learn more about Louise with no success. She’s been a brick wall.
I recently came across a family tree on Ancestry.com that listed William’s spouse as Tura Leona Ragland. The marriage records at FamilySearch revealed that William and Tura were married on 18 December 1941 in Searcy County, Arkansas.
Whatever happened to Louise occurred between 1 April 1940 in Chicago and 18 December 1941 in Arkansas.
Just as I had first learned about Louise through the winding trail of chaotic genealogy, thus did I also discover her fate. While researching something else entirely (yesterday’s article on John Alexander Bohannon), I found myself at the web site for the Arkansas Department of Health, which has an online service to search for and order death certificates (which I also wrote about in December 2012). I began entering in family surnames and searching in Searcy County, first “Graham,” then “Bohannon,” then “Watts,” and on page two of the “Watts” results is where Louise appeared.
Name: Louise Watts
State of Birth: Massachusetts
County of Death: Searcy
Date of Death: 16 January 1941
She died nine months after the 1940 census.
With that one new bit of information, her date of death, I did a new search at Ancestry.com. I found her in the Arkansas Death Index, which listed her as Louise G. Watts, her middle initial now revealed.
I did a new search at Find A Grave, which returned an entry for Louise Gertrude Watts, interred at Rambo Cemetery, a place I’ve been many times. I had visited Rambo Cemetery in April 2010 and again in June 2011, and I wondered if I had taken a picture of her grave marker. I had, in 2010.
There was another photograph of a different grave marker of the exact style of Louise’s marker. It was for a child, an infant girl named Lillian Ruth Watts, “a flower, too soon faded.”
Louise died nine months after the 1940 census. Lillian was born twelve days before Louise died. I didn’t need a birth certificate to tell me what happened – complications from childbirth led to Louise’s death, and baby Lillian soon followed.
“In after-time we’ll meet her.”