This adorable baby looks to be from a well-to-do family. The woman holding her is most likely not her mother. She is looking at the baby and not the camera, and is wearing what appears to be a nurse’s uniform and cap. (If you have an ancestor who was a nurse, further research on the shape and size of the cap can often identify the school of nursing attended.) Using the information found on the front (photographer in Michigan City, Indiana) and reverse (Katheryne Barker 3 months old May 14th 1896), we start our search with the 1900 U.S. census in Michigan City, LaPorte County, Indiana. We find Catherine Barker, born August 1895 living with parents John H. and Catherine Barker, a cook and 3 house maids. John H. Barker is listed as Pres. Car Works. The good news is that well-to-do families tend to leave behind a wealth of records and resources. This is helpful, because single records can be misleading! Just because something is in a contemporary record, does not mean it is always correct. Look at housemaid Laura Gallian, born Feb 1882, but age 28 in 1900. Was she really 18? Or born in 1872?
Let’s see how many different kinds of records can be used to document baby Catherine’s life! Using a birth date of February 1844, we find a Find a Grave record for John Barker. Remember that in most cases, the family relationships and other information on Find a Grave are submitted by volunteers. Without source documentation, information should be treated the same as a user submitted family tree. In this case, John’s family could afford a large monument, so we can get a good amount of information from the stone itself. A picture and narrative is also posted on the site. There’s some great information, but no source information is provided. A research goal would be to find the original documents, perhaps by contacting the volunteer who posted the information.
In addition to the cemetery records, we can find death information for John Barker at the City Health Office, Michigan City. The records were indexed by the Indiana Works Progress Administration. Wife Katherine also died in 1910, but because she died in Chicago, Cook County, Illinois, her death records may be found on the Illinois State Archive website, an excellent resource for Illinois ancestors. http://www.cyberdriveillinois.com/departments/archives/databases/home.html
Catherine was 14 years old when both of her parents died. There should be probate and guardianship records but I have not found them yet. They may be in Chicago, rather than Michigan City.
Let’s see what other types of records we can find. During this time period, many young people of a certain social status traveled abroad. We find a passport application for Catherine, born 4 Feb 1896 in Michigan City, Michigan. She stated her father was native born, but his name was not given. The application was completed January 1914, before the requirement to include a photograph (December 1914), so we have to be content with a physical description.
Our next record is the Harbor Point, Michigan marriage record, 30 July 1915 between Howard Henry Spaulding and Catherine Barker. It’s interesting that Howard was an employee of the Haskell + Barker Car Company. Both sets of parents, including mother’s maiden names are listed on the record. Other information included the officiant and witnesses.
We find another type of record in a draft registration card completed 5 June 1917. The young couple was living in Chicago, and Howard is no longer working for the Car Works.
In the 1920 U.S. Census, Henry and Catherine Spaulding were living in New York City, but they did not stay long. Using Caron’s Michigan, Indiana City Directory, we find Henry and Catherine Spaulding residing at 631 Washington Street in 1919, 1925 and 1927. Seems a bit odd. This may need a closer look.
Yet another record source, copies of New York passenger lists, shows us Howard Spaulding born in Kenilworth, Illinois and Catherine Spaulding, born in Michigan City returning to the United States aboard the S.S. Aquitania, sailing from Cherbourg in May of 1927. On the passenger list, both gave their permanent address as 227 E. Delaware Place, Chicago. Hmm, did they move to Chicago prior to traveling overseas? Or was this a business address? Or perhaps their address when they applied for passports for this trip? No matter what the reason, it does provide another place to look for records.
An interesting document is found date just prior to Howard and Catherine’s return to the United States. Catherine applies for an emergency passport in her own name. She had traveled to France listed as wife on Howard Spaulding’s passport. Both the regular passport application of Howard Spaulding and this emergency passport application provide us with pictures of Catherine as a young woman.
The 1927 passenger list is the last time we see Howard and Catherine as husband and wife. Using the Chicago location, we find Howard Spaulding in Chicago in the 1930 U.S. census. He is living in a boarding house and is listed as divorced. I was unable to find Catherine Spaulding.
Jumping ahead to yet another record type, the Social Security Applications and Claims Index, I find Catherine Barker Hickox, born 4 Feb 1896 in Michigan City Indiana, daughter of John Barker and Katherine Fitzgerald. So, time to back-track and look for Catherine Hickox!
Returning to Find-a-Grave, we find Catherine’s headstone in Greenwood Cemetery, Michigan City, Indiana in the same plot as the large monument to John Barker. The inscription on the stone tells us she was married to Charles V. Hickox. A similar headstone for Charles V. Hickox is found in the same family plot. A picture of Catherine was also posted, but no source was documented.
The passenger list of the S.S. Conte de Savoia sailing from Villefranche in 1933 lists Charles and Katherine Hickox, residing at 67 Wall St., New York City.
Charles V. Hickox was found in the 1930 U.S. Census in New York, listed as a single man. I was still unable to find Catherine Hickox in the 1930 census, but she is seen in the 1940 U.S. Census with husband Charles V Hickox and children Katrina age 6, Sarone age 6, Charles age 3, and John age 3 on 84th Street in New York City. Charles and Catherine are also listed as living at 631 Washington St in Michigan City, in the Michigan City Directory. Now that address sounds familiar! Going back for a second look at the 1910 census, we can see that the address of Katherine’s childhood home is 631 Washington Street! She must have maintained the home after the death of her parents, even though she was not a full time resident.
One last easy place to look- Google! The website of the Barker Mansion at (you guessed it!) 631 Washington St, Michigan City gives us the history of Catherine’s father and grandfather along with some insight into her life after the death of her parents. It also explains how she “lived” in New York and Michigan City at the same time.
So, let’s review. We have traced the life and vital records of baby Katheryne/Catherine Barker Spaulding Hickox using the following records:
- U.S. Census for Indiana, Illinois and New York
- Find a Grave
- Indiana Death Records
- Illinois State Archives on-line databases
- Passport applications: regular, as spouse, and emergency
- Draft registrations of husband
- Michigan Marriage records
- Social Security Applications and Claims Index
- City Directories
Other records that might be helpful include will, probate and guardianship records, school records, and newspaper society columns. Your ancestors may not be listed in all these records, or they may have records that we did not touch for Catherine. Just remember that dates and locations may be not be the same in all records. Go beyond the obvious! Look in all possible places and dates and trust nothing without a good source. You, too, should find a wealth of information!
Next time we will take a closer look at everything we can learn from the various kinds of passport applications.
Submitted by Alice Clark, SBAGS President, firstname.lastname@example.org