Since my Mom's family lived in a small town, Greenwood, Cass, Nebraska, I assumed they would be easy to locate in the census. I checked every page of the Greenwood village census and they weren't there. Knowing the family had lived in Omaha for a while in the 1940s, I thought they might be there. I wasn't quite ready to tackle a city of that size just yet, especially without an address.
I knew where my Dad's family lived in 1940, so using the tools at SteveMorse.org, I started looking for the Petersens in Lincoln, Lancaster, Nebraska. Can it get any easier than this? I found him on Page 6 (of 56!) living with his parents and his younger sister.
|The Petersen family in Lincoln, Lancaster, Nebraska, 1940|
|Clara Laymon Pecht|
In the census, it looks like my grandfather, Otto W. Petersen, provided the information. He said that his wife, Ruby, was born in Nebraska, but all other documents indicate she was born in Kansas, just across the border from Hardy, Nebraska, where many in my family lived for decades (and still do).
I couldn't decipher the handwriting for Otto's occupation, but Dad picked it out clearly, "Fuel Foreman." We both agreed on the "Steam Railroad" part of this data item.
As I shared the census images with Dad, he started yelling out names of their neighbors for me to look up. I couldn't keep up with him! I found several and will definitely go back for a closer look. It was one of those unplanned moments when I wasn't prepared to start jotting down notes as he reminisced about the old neighborhood.
After my success in finding the Petersen family, I had to turn my attention back to the Kellys and see if I could find Mom's family in Cass County. After browsing the list of districts, "Salt Creek" jumped out at me as I knew I had seen "Salt Creek Precinct" on many other documents related to my Cass County kin.
|The Kelly Family in Greenwood, Cass, Nebraska in 1940.|
|Mom - Patricia Kelly|
My Aunt Jerry with her baby, Joe
Grandpa Bill Kelly
As I read through the list of names of the people in Greenwood in the three Enumeration Districts, it was a very eerie feeling. I came across other relatives who I never knew other than by their name, as they had died before I was born. I recognized the names of the Landon family, my Sunday School teacher, the janitor from the school I attended from kindergarten through fifth grade. Most of those names I see only when I go to visit the Greenwood Cemetery.
The families in Greenwood had been there for at least three generations in 1940. My Mom's contemporaries were the parents of the kids I went to grade school with. Even though I was young, apparently I had a pretty good memory for people and their names, even if I'm not able to place a face to many of them.
These census records are some that I will go through several more times. I found Grandpa Kelly's brother, Paul and his wife, Elsie. And there was Grandpa Kelly's mother, Mary (Welch) Kelly, living with her other son, Francis. Her husband, Dan Kelly, had just died in February of 1940. After celebrating 50 years of marriage, she had to have been going through some transitions when the census taker came around.
I've since located my Dad's great grandparents, Jens and Caroline Petersen, in Hardy, Nuckolls, Nebraska, but I haven't found his other grandmother, Clara Pecht, pictured above, who was living in Beatrice, Gage, Nebraska in 1940. My other great grandparents, John and Emma Bellinger, were dead by this time.
Now comes the part of putting the stories together to go along with the records.