Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Discovering Fred Kiefer's First Wife

During the development and testing of the Find-A-Record Research Assistant, it helped me find the SSDI entry of many of my ancestors including my great-grandfather Fred William Kiefer. Fred was born March 16, 1883 in Oakley, Summit, Utah. On September 9, 1924 he married Ida Dolder. Fred died January 30, 1964 in Idaho.

While reviewing his profile on the Research Assistant, I noticed the Idaho, Death and Burials collection from FamilySearch. Since his entry in the SDDI index didn't provide too many details, I hoped to find a more helpful death record.

Clicking the Idaho, Deaths and Burials, 1907-1965 link took me to FamilySearch and searched that collection for Fred William Kiefer. One result was found: a death certificate for Nan Kiefer where F. W. Kiefer was listed as the spouse.

This was obviously not my F. W. Kiefer because mine was married to Ida. But there was only one person in that area at that time who ever went by F. W. Kiefer. And then I noticed that Nan died in 1918, six years before Fred married Ida. I needed to know more. A quick search for a marriage record on FamilySearch returned nothing[1]. I would have to do this the hard way; I would need to learn more about who Nan was.

A search for Nan Kiefer born in Minnesota returned another version of Nan's death record that included an image. F. W. Kiefer wasn't listed as the spouse, he was just listed as the informant. Could we infer that W. W. was the spouse? First, the record didn't have a place to list the spouse. I think that was a huge oversight, especially since they asked for the parents names and places of birth, but nonetheless there was no place on the form to list the spouse. Second, Nan was married (not widowed) and her married surname was Kiefer. With F. W. being listed as the informant, it is most likely that he was the spouse.

Thankfully, Nan's parents were listed on the death record as P. A. Cenell and Mary Munson. Another stroke of luck is that Cenell is a very uncommon name in the U.S. Further searching revealed a wealth of information on Nan (Nannie) and her family[2] but no definitive evidence that her husband F. W. Kiefer was my great-grandfather Fred.

Then I thought to search for a marriage record on Ancestry instead of FamilySearch. Sure enough, marriage records were available. Even more surprising is that the top results were from collections that were given to Ancestry by FamilySearch. So I returned to FamilySearch determined to defeat the darn search engine and find that marriage record. I accomplished it by doing a collection specific search for Fred Kiefer in Utah Marriages. The birth date and location on the marriage record confirmed that it was my Fred. What a story it revealed.

Nan died from pneumonia and influenza just four years into her marriage with Fred. They had no children. Six years after her death, Fred married Ida Dolder and had two children. Thirty years after Nan's death, Fred's daughter Clara (from his second wife) would also contract pneumonia, only this time the recent development of antibiotics would save her life. Clara is my grandmother, and she's still alive today.

1. I must have been doing some seriously wrong that day because I can easily find their marriage record in FamilySearch now.

2. According to the 1900 and 1910 US Census, Nan's mother marry had 10 children. I have only been only to find 9. I would rejoice in receiving any tips or help with finding the last child.

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