Sunday, July 16, 2006

Lessons Learned

We are on the trail of Velma Mitchell, born 1910 in Rockport Texas. We' men identified her family of origin and we think we may have found at least two marriages and one child for her. She died in 1998 in Seattle, Washington. When last we met, we were examining records having to do with one of the putative husbands, Artie Dervin. The Texas birth index indicates that Artie O. Dervin and "Velma Mae Brady" had a child together in 1932. Could this Velma Brady actually have been Velma Mitchell?

Well, let's look back at the Texas Census records again. In 1930 the last year for which census records are available, Artie Dervin was living at home with his parents and five brothers in Wharton County, Texas. Artie would be about 17 years old at this time. Living next door to the Dervin's, was a 65 year-old widower caring for his 16 year old daughter Velma. So we know that this can't be the same person as Velma Mitchell. But what are the chances that Artie Dervin of Wharton County, Texas, would be involved with two women named Velma? And what about the Aransas county records showing and in 1939 Velma Mitchell had married Steve Marlin Hunt?

Let's continue our examination of records related to Artie Dervin. The next record is Artie Dervin's World War II enlistment papers. This record depicts Artie as 29 year old, born in Wharton County, Texas, and as divorced with dependents.

Clearly, what has happened is that Artie married Velma Mae Brady sometime in the early 1930s, and divorced her sometime before 1942. And Velma Mae Brady is not the same person as Velma Mitchell.

The records simply don't show when or where Velma Mitchell and Artie Dervin married. Apparently it was after 1942, but before 1954. It may be time now to find a knowledgeable relative. A relative tells us that he knew Velma throughout most of her life. He says he has no knowledge of Steve Hunt. The relative did say that at some point near the end of World War II, Artie and Velma were in Alaska, where the relative says, Velma gave birth to the first black child ever born in that state. The relative says that Artie and Velma thereafter returned to Seattle where they lived until they both died.

And, folks, that maybe all were able to learn from record sources about Velma Mitchell. Here's our lessons learned: first, understand what other names your subject might have used. Understand your subject's marital status at any particular time. Search surrounding counties. Examine the relatives of your subject.

Keep in mind that this was a research exercise, not a documentation exercise. Documentation is all-important in genealogy, and without it, your research loses value.

Just because you wanted to know: Pat Mitchell Sr, also known as Worth Mitchell, is believed to have been born on April 2, 1887 and died in January, 1966 in San Antonio, Texas. It is also possible, that Pat Mitchell Sr., was the son of a farmer named Manning Mitchell, and was born in 1872 in Austin County, Texas. Austin County is adjacent to Wharton County, and is not to be confused with Texas capital of the city of Austin, which is located in Travis County. The area of Wharton County where the Dervins lived is now known as El Campo. J.B. Mitchell's wife, Bernice, died in 1972 in Corpus Christi.


Stevie Kay Myers said...

I came across this page while "googling" my father's name, Stephen Marlin Hunt. Thought it might help you to know that the Velma Mitchell who married Steve Hunt and had a daughter named Stevie Kay Hunt (me)in 1944, is not the Velma you are looking for. Both my parent's are white and my mother had 12 siblings, one of which is a twin sister named Selma. Good luck with your search. Hope this helps!

Stevie Kay Hunt Myers

Craig Manson said...

And one "lesson learned" here is that two very different people sometimes co-exist in the same time and place with the same name! Thanks for commenting!