Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Chapter 4 - Four Hours

Hi everyone, Katie here.

Well the story continues. Are you hooked yet? Do you want to know how it all turns out? Even a fresh package of salmon couldn't buy ME off. My kitty lips are sealed. You're just going to have to read on...

But first, if you've missed my previous posts be sure to check out:
Searching For A Girl - Prologue
Chapter 1 - The Day After Mothers Day
Chapter 2 - So You Want To Be A Genealogist
Chapter 3 - Sam From Kansas

Glogirly cancelled every meeting she had, begged favors from coworkers to cover for her and shut her office door. She pulled up on her computer and dug in. Sam from Kansas had given her a name. Was Glogirly the Beecham baby? She hoped her self-taught crash course in genealogy would help her find the answer.

Young Glogirly
Santa Maria, California

Glogirly started by looking for her would-be grand parents. (her birthmother's parents) She found a number of Beecham's but none that were born the right year in the right state. None were matching the details of the background report.

The search engine pulled up anything that was even remotely close to Glogirly's inquiry, resulting in pages and pages of results. The search resluts appeared on the computer screen with limited details in list form. Each result had a link to open up the full item. Census records, birth records, death records and more, all mixed up together...there was much to sort through.

She found a Richard H. Buchman in the 1930 census. He was born in Wisconsin. Check. He was the right age, 40-years-old in 1930. Check. But the name wasn't right. Just two letters off from Beecham. The record showed a wife and three others living in the household. Two young children and one 21-year-old. Glogirly had found that servants or live-in boarders were often listed last on census reports. This 21-year-old may not even be a family member.

Hmmmm. It wasn't a full on match, but something told Glogirly to keep looking at this family.

She reviewed the details of the family members she was looking for:
  1. A man born 1889-1900 in Wisconsin, of English ancestry. In 1930 he would be 40 or 41-years-old. 
  2. A wife, 32 or 33-years-old, born in Indiana. 
  3. A daughter, 5 or 6-years-old.
  4. A son, 3 or 4-years-old.
  5. A son, 1 or 2-years old.
Remember, the other two girls, a sister and Glogirly's birthmom were not yet born. These details were all straight out of the background report and as far as she knew, they were accurate. She had checked her math 20 times in order to come up with the ages she was looking for based on the ages of each family member at the time of Glogirly's birth.

Even though the name was off and number of children didn't add up for this Buchman family, she clicked on the link to view the actual hand-written census report. Up until this point she was just reading the abbreviated information that had been transposed from the original census document into the database. Now she was looking at the real deal. The handwritten census report from 1930.

The actual census report
1930, Arroyo Grande, CA - San Luis Obispo County

There was Buchman right at the top. But WAIT. The census worker who wrote this report had very fancy, cursive handwriting. She zoomed in on Buchman. Oh my God. That was not Buchman with a U. It was Beechman with an EE. Richard H. Beecham. His wife was Nevah B, 32-years-old. Match. He was of English descent, she was born in Indiana. Match. Match. Richard's occupation was listed as highway construction. Another match. The children were always listed in chronological order from oldest to youngest. Servants and boarders listed last. First listed was Jeanette B, a 5-year-old girl. Match. Than James H, a 3-year-old boy. Match. Last was Frederich, a 21-year-old...son??? WAIT. It was the fancy, cursive handwriting again. The 21 was not 21 at all. It was a 2. A 2-year-old boy. MATCH!

Closeup detail
Large circle shows Richard H. BUCKMAN is actually Richard H. BEECHAM
Small circle shows Frederick is 2-years-old, not 21

All this and they lived in Arroyo Grande, California, San Luis Obispo County. A quick Google search verified the closest large town was Santa Barbara. That's where Glogirly was born and given up for adoption. That's where the closest Children's Home Society adoption agency would have been located.

Glogirly's heart felt like it was going to jump out of her chest. Now she just had to find the two missing children. But they were born in the 1930's. Without access to the 1940 census report, how would she ever find them? How could she verify that the Beecham's had two more daughters? And that Glogirly was the Beecham baby?

Think, Glogirly, Think. If you can't use a census report, what CAN you use to find the identity of someone. She thought about Sam from Kansas and the birth records he had sent her. She remembered the four pieces of information each birth record contained:
  1. Name of infant
  2. Date of birth
  3. County 
  4. Mother's maiden name
By now, Glogirly had been in touch with her cousin Lisa, the genealogy expert. Glogirly shared what she had found and they were feverishly searching in tandem. They needed the mother's maiden name if they were going to search birth records for the two missing children and know for certain they had the right ones.

Glogirly searched for the three oldest children, the ones listed on the census report - Jeanette, Richard and Frederick. Easy peasy. They were all right there. Most important, each had the same Mother's maiden name - Arthur. Nevah B from the census report had to have been Nevah B. Arthur.

Again Glogirly and her cousin Lisa were typing, talking and searching at warp speed. 2000 miles apart but together on the phone.

Glogirly pulled up the search window for California birth records. She left the first name of the child she was searching for blank and typed Beecham into the box for the last name. Her creative math told her that the next sister was born between July 1932-July 1933. She selected 1933 +/- 1 year. She was loving how exact you could get with the search parameters. For county, she typed San Luis Obispo, the same county from the census report. For the state, California. And finally, for mother's maiden name, Arthur. Fingers crossed. That was all she had. She hit enter.

Just as the search results came up on Glogirly's computer, Lisa called again. She had done the same. She found them! And so had Glogirly. Lisa read aloud the details they were both looking at. Glogirly read along silently.

Dorothy Lucille Beecham. Born May 3, 1933 in San Luis Obispo county. Mother's Maiden Name, Arthur. The same maiden name as the other siblings. MATCH. Dorothy was the missing sister.

Just a couple of lines below Dorothy, Glogirly spotted Alice. Alice Mae Beecham. Born December 26, 1936 in San Luis Obispo county. Mother's maiden name, Arthur. It was her. It was really her. Glogirly's birthmother.

The very next line was a death record. Alice Mae Beecham. Date of birth: December 26, 1936. Date of death: May 5, 1996. She was 59-years-old.

In the time it took to read just a couple of lines, a few seconds really, Glogirly found her birthmother, and then lost her. She was too late.

It took Glogirly only 4 hours to find them all. Four hours she will never forget. Four hours that would change her life forever.

Click HERE for Chapter 5 - A, B, C


  1. ARGH! The suspense of the whole story is killing me.

  2. OMC - poor Glorgirly - to have found and lost within minutes apart. But look at all the other useful information she found. She'd make a good detective.

  3. CRYING! This is riveting.
    Glogirly, you are a helluva gal!

  4. This is fascinating. I am so sorry that Glogirly found her birth mother only to discover that she had died.

  5. Oh my goodness what a story Katie! We are so sorry Glogirlys momma was gone. What did she die from did it say?
    Benny & Lily

  6. Oh no! But what happens next?!?

  7. Maybe it was wrong? Maybe she wasn't dead? The papers she'd gotten from the adoption place didn't mention that she had passed. Whoa, this is cool!

  8. I am so involved with your story Glogirly, but did you really find and lose your mother like that? Can't wait, really!

    BTW I have had experience of those census records being badly subscribed. Everything has to be so carefully gone through. Well done on your vigilance!


Thank you so much for your comment. We LOVE hearing from you!