Another Brick Falls

If you’ve been following along with my genealogy posts ( here’s one, and another), you know that I’m not having the best of luck running down my Campbell name.  So this week I took a break from looking for that elusive “immigrant ancestor” and tried my hand at a different brick wall.

My dad had a first wife. All I ever heard about her was the name “Trudie”. No last name, not even if Trudie was a nickname or not, but I have always gone on the notion that her name was Gertrude. But since I am the baby of my family, my older siblings had a little more knowledge than I. I did some searching via Ancestry, Fold3, Archives, and Newspapers.  All of those sites have different aspects that making internet search a bit easier.

I do remember finding a newspaper clipping of my father when he worked for Fairchild Airmotive during WWII era. The article was just a profile of him and his job, but it closed with a tantalizing clue. As best I can recall it said: “he and his wife live in Graham.” I asked my mom if she had ever lived in a town called Graham and she said no. I’m not positive, but I believe Graham is near Burlington, NC. I did find two clippings from The Daily Times which was Burlington’s newspaper of the era, that mention a Don and Gertrude Campbell.  Both of these clippings are from the 1943/1944 years, which is exactly the correct time frame for dad to be there.

I also found a Donald and Gertrude Campbell in the 1940 census living in Altoona, Pennsylvania. Now dad is a native of Pennsylvania, and my oldest sister was born in Altoona, so this was a promising find. On the 1940 census, one of the questions asked was where the person lived in 1935. Both Don and Gertrude answered “same place”. So I looked up city directories for Altoona in 1935. For those that have never heard of a “city

outside of campbell restaurant 3

directory” basically it’s the forerunner of a telephone book.  I could not find Don listed in the 1935 directory, but I do find him, with his mother, in the 1930 census in Antis
Township, Pennsylvania, which is in the same county as Altoona. I do find Don in the 1936 census in Tipton (maybe a suburb of Altoona?). I’m positive this is the correct Don as it has him listed as working in his mother’s restaurant.

Then I found a WWII draft card for Don. I know dad was “4-F” (medically unfit for service), so I was interested in this record.  Ancestry only gave his name and a few other tidbits of information. Just enough that I could say it was his record, but nothing more. The Fold3 site has lots and lots of military records. There I could see the entire card. And it was golden. It gives the same address as the 1940 census! So that was the correct couple. Sadly, they used the standard naming conventions of the times. For the emergency contact person, all it has is Mrs Don S. Campbell. Arrgghhh!!! Why didn’t they use their own names? I see so many old records like this. It is so frustrating.

Check out all the addresses crossed out. I’m not sure how to interpret that.

Family history says that Trudie died early in the marriage, for unknown to us reasons, and that dad married our mom very quickly after her passing.  By pure luck, I came across an obituary from the Altoona Mirror, dated 10 July 1945 for a Gertrude Campbell, with a spouse Donald Campbell. But it’s for Gertrude’s death in Washington D.C. Wait, what?? In DC? But then I remembered that mom and dad did meet in DC. And the death date is only seven months prior to mom and dad getting married. Which fits the family stories perfectly.

Gertrude M Campbell 07-10-1945-page-001

From the 10 July 1945 Altoona Mirror

One stumbling block I still have is I cannot find any marriage records for Don and Gertrude, nor a death certificate for Gertrude. Since her death was in 1945, she should be listed in the Social Security Death Index as the event occurred about ten years after Social Security was started. But she may not have had a social security number. I have no idea as to how long it took for social numbers to become “standard”.

So, yes, genealogy still sucks. But I have, finally, partially knocked down one brick wall.  I wonder which will be next!

So, what are your genealogy brick walls??


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  1. Oh, my! As soon as I read “Fairchild Airmotive”, I knew EXACTLY what you were talking about. Burlington is my hometown. And, I grew up in that area of town (east side). I vaguely remember Fairchild Airfield. It was an overgrown field when I was little. My mother worked for Western Electric, the same Airmotive building. The building is still there but is empty.

    Graham is the county seat of Alamance Co. Burlington & Graham are nearly the same town as locals rarely pay attention to city limit signs. They have always been attached.

    I read the registration card you put up. The marked out addresses are 309 Church St., Burlington, N.C. and what looks like a “Rural Route #1”, Box 504, Graham, N.C. I think your North Carolina & Pennsylvania records are tied together. Church Street in Burlington is the main drag thru the city, crosses right over Graham-Hopedale Rd. (where Fairchild Aircraft was on one side & the airfield on the other…formerly Huffman Airfield).

    And, FYI…The Burlington News & The Burlington Daily Times merged in 1931 to form The Daily-Times News. It would never have been called “The Daily Times” in the 40s. Whomever the historian was that wrote that is sloppy (no reflection on you, of course).

    And, FYI, there is a strong concentration of Scottish heritage here in NC. The festival at Grandfather Mountain is huge. Have you contacted clan Campbell for assistance?

    I am slowly doing research on my MacPherson heritage… I feel for you.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you so much for the information! Those are the addresses I added to my notes as well. An interesting note is the Hagerstown MD address. What would have to be many years later my family (pre me) also lived in Hagerstown. I guess Fairchild had a facility there as well.

      I have had the Clan look at my findings several years ago. But things have changed so I may resubmit my data. Unfortunately, the local chapter of the Clan and I are not the best of friends. My wife and I were the local area reps handling most of Central Florida games and such. But when they didn’t reimburse us for about $500 of equipment and printing we left. Hopefully they have new folks now.

      Best of luck with your search, and if I can help you in any way let me know!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. As it turns out, 309 Church St. could be N. Church or S. Church. As the town grew, they split the numbers on either side of the railroad that the town grew from (original name was Company Shops). Both addresses are, literally, two blocks away, north & south, from my childhood home. Either address is four blocks apart from each other. Any houses are gone.

        It is extremely possible that your father & his first wife crossed paths with my great-grandparents. It was a SMALL town back then & my GGF was the town building inspector.

        Church street is also known by another name…U.S. Hwy. 70.

        It would make sense that your father may have been transferred to Burlington for a short time hence all the address confusion.

        Liked by 1 person

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