Isn't Gertrude lovely? Gertrude was one of my Grandpa Frank Newton's sisters. There is a sgtrong family resemblance, but not with me -- with my youngest brother! Seems strange to say that, but they have the same brow and eyes, and something about the structure of the face, plus the dark curly hair. When I received this photograph last night in email I gasped when I opened it, the resemblance was that strong. I don't know how old Great-Aunt Gertrude was in this photo, but I think she doesn't look out of her teens.
Just the past couple of days things have reached practically volcanic eruption pace with regard to my Newton ancestors and particularly my search for more information about Phoebe, Gertrude's older sister.
Phoebe, Phoebe. I am obsessed with finding out as much as I can about the who and why of Phoebe. I am not sure if this image is Phoebe. I cropped it from a family photo of Great-Grandfather David Newton, wife and some of his children. Judging by the clothes, it was taken in the earlyto mid teens 1900's. My instincts tell me it is her, but there is no positive identification.
Phoebe was born on August 11, 1881 and died of cervical cancer with complications on April 16, 1948. I knew Phoebe's birthdate, but not her death date. That information and the fact that she died from cancer, and more information, came last night via email from a new contact through a contact I established months ago with a relative of descendants of another of Grandpa Newton's sisters, Florence. Thank you both!
Phoebe evidently had a mind and will of her own, and was a truly liberated woman long before that term ever was dreamed up by Gloria Steinem, et al.
I have confirmed, thanks to other people also looking into Phoebe's past, that I did not overlook anything --(you can drive yourself crazy with that because you just can't find anything in information and records online, but you wonder - what am I missing? What am I not doing right? There just are no records of her marriage(s) to anyone at all prior to her giving birth in 1901, 1906 and 1914. So my original surmise that Phoebe was an unwed mother appears to be the truth.
GASP! No big deal these days, millions of women around the world every year give birth to children outside of marriage. But back then, in this strict Roman Catholic family - I cannot even begin to imagine have three children under such circumstances!
Her first two babies died; indeed, the first child was stillborn. Her second child died a month after she was born. I cannot even begin to imagine that, either. Having a baby and he being dead; or having a baby and she dying a month later of pneumonia. Maybe she was premature -- you know back then, they didn't have the means to save a premature child whose lungs were not yet fully developed. Even President Kennedy and Jacqueline lost a baby that way. So sad. So sad.
On the 1920 U.S. Census she still listed herself as Phoebe Newton, along with her daughter, Geneva, who had been born in 1915. Phoebe listed herself as single.
By the time Great-grandfather David Newton-Villeneuve died in 1925, Phoebe was Phoebe Mineau. She was the "informant" on David Newton-Villeneuve's death certificate as "Phoebe Mineau."
On the 1930 U.S. Census, Phoebe was Phoebe Mineau, and she was a widow. Geneva, now 15, was listed as Geneva Mineau, but I think that was just a courtesy. Sometimes back then children of the wife took the name of their step-father. There was no legal adoption, etc. involved, it was custom.
Right now I'm on the hunt for Mr. Mineau. Thanks to the new information provided to me last night, I have first name(s). I spent part of today doing searches and I think I have found his family and the records to back up my suppositions. Now I need to find HIM when he was all grown up!