Monday, April 11, 2016

1940 Roll Call!

I had an idea, not necessarily a grand idea, but an idea to find out what all "our people" were up to in  1940, by searching the US Census. I tried to find photos of everyone close to the age they were at when the census was taken. It wasn't always possible, but I did my best!
            So where were the Jonsson's? Well, let's find out, shall we?

The Jonsson Family: Helge, Esther and Arthur

  Both Helge and Esther, and their son (My grandfather) Art were residing at 627 Oakland Ave in Villa Park, IL.  Grandpa was 12 and in school. Great Grandma was at 39 years old, and taking care of the home, and Great Grandpa was working as a mechanical engineer for C.H. Hanson in Chicago. (Which, might I add is still in business! Look Here!) From personal knowledge, Helge was in the business of inventing machinery, specifically engraving machines. I also believe he knew Mr. Hanson personally, as I have a book on mechanics belonging to a "C.H. Hanson" with notes in it that was part of my great grandfather's things.
   At this point, both Helge and Esther had been in America around 17 years now.

Jonsson's in the 1940 US Census

 The Wille Family: Henry, Ida, Ora Jean and Don

Sooo.... The Wille Family in 1940 they do not turn up in any searches.... They transitioned from the farm in Elk Grove to life in Elmhurst about this time, with a few short stays in several places in Elmhurst. One on Elm Ave. One on Oak Ave, and then finally settling at 136 E. Grantley in Elmhurst. 
   I started browsing by enumeration districts, and it turns out, it wasn't the Wille's at the Grantley house yet in 1940... but a florist with a totally different name and family. So I searched up and down Elm ave and Oak Ave. They were not there unless I missed it. They are there somewhere, and I WILL find them, but it's safe to say that in 1940, the Wille family was shifting gears, and quite drastically from rural farm life to life in town. By 1942 the Wille's were at the 136 E. Grantley house in Elmhurst and Henry was working at the Buick Engine Plant in Melrose Park. 
   In 1940, though... I can't find any member of their household.  

The Smith/Olsen Family: Ole Olsen, AJ Smith, Hannah (Joanne), AJ jr. (Mick) and Patricia Smith

In 1940, AJ Smith and his family were living with his father in law, Ole Olsen in his house on M149 in unincorporated Thompson, Schoolcraft County in the Upper Peninsula. 

Ole was 69 and still farming his own small parcel. His daughter, my great grandmother, Hannah (or Joanne, as we knew her) was 35. Her husband, AJ was 46 and working as a teamster for a lumber camp. Hannah and AJ had 2 of their 5 children in 1940. AJ and Patricia, 8 and 3 respectively. Within the next 6 years, three more children would be born, including my grandmother. Shortly after her birth, AJ would die from complications of gangrene after an Axe split his foot, and Ole would suffer a horrible death from being burned alive. By 1946, Hannah would be on her own with 5 small children. A charmed life it was not, but life was often hard in the Upper Peninsula. Things didn't come easy and it looks like our glimpse into 1940 for them was the calm before the storm. 

Smith and Olsen Family in the 1940 US Census

 The Billings Family: Raymond and Lucille, who was pregnant with Leland.

    I have no photos of Raymond or Lucille, but I do have their census. They were owners of the home at 262 Elm in Manistique, Schoolcraft County in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan (Which doesn't seem to exist anymore). Lucille was about 4 months pregnant at the time with my biological grandfather, Leland Raymond Billings. Come September of 1940, there would be another addition to the household.
    Raymond was a painter of houses and their interiors, and Lucille worked as a Stenographer for the Bureau of Social Security. They were both 26 years old, and seemed to be doing quite well in a place where jobs could be hard to come by, now that the Lumber boom was slowly dying out.


The Billings Family, 1940 US Census

Next up in my 1940 Roll Call will be my husband's grandparents! Stay Tuned! 

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