McKnight / Guilds Mystery Part I

I love a good mystery, especially when it comes to genealogy. I have been reading a lot of Genealogy Related Mystery books lately and it got me thinking about some of the mysteries in my family tree. One of the biggest is a story my daddy has told me all my life, that I could never prove. Well last night, I couldn’t sleep, so I dived into the mystery and got some answers! My Daddy always said that our last name should have been Giles (his spelling), but that an adoption had occurred that made us McKnight’s. Last night as I was researching, I found a marriage record for Beatrice Mae Jones, my great-grandmother, to a Jay Guilds (pretty similar sounding to Giles) on 10 Nov 1922. Unfortunately for me, I do not have full access to right now to get the actual marriage certificate. However, what information I could gleam off the index listing leads me to believe this is the right one. Now fast forward to the 1930 census. Grandma Beatrice is living with her father, Charles Arthur Jones, Stepmother Goldie Guilds (notice the last name?) and her three children, Bernard (my grandfather), Wilma Mae, and Richard (Dick).

Guilds-Jones 1930 Census Record
1930 Census Record for Beatrice Guilds (1)

Hmmm…her husband is nowhere to be found on this census, which isn’t entirely unusual in the 1930’s during the great depression. I haven’t found a census entry for Jay yet, but I am still looking. However, when I searched Beatrice’s name I did find this:

Divorce Decree for Jones-Guilds
Divorce Decree for Jones-Guilds (2)

Wow, my jaw hit the floor when I saw this! I couldn’t believe it especially the cause of divorce “Extreme and repeated cruelty; non-support.

One other interesting thing about this mystery, did you notice the name of Beatrice’s step-mother? That’s right Goldie Guilds. Goldie is the younger sister of Jay C. Guilds. I having a feeling that made for some interesting family gatherings.

While the mystery isn’t completely solved and I may never know what exactly happened between Beatrice and my biological great-grandfather, Jay, every brick wall knocked down gets me closer to finding my family.

And the mystery continues here.

Bless your ancestors!


(1) Year: 1930; Census Place: West Bloomfield, Oakland, Michigan; Roll: 1019; Page: 29B; Enumeration District:0138; Image: 1119.0; FHL microfilm: 2340754. 1930 United States Federal Census [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Operations Inc, 2002. Original data: United States of America, Bureau of the Census. Fifteenth Census of the United States, 1930. Washington, D.C.: National Archives and Records Administration, 1930. T626, 2,667 rolls.

(2) Michigan, Divorce Records, 1897-1952 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Operations, Inc., 2014. Original data: Michigan. Divorce records. Michigan Department of Community Health, Division for Vital Records and Health Statistics, Lansing, Michigan. rolls.


Travel Tuesday – RMS Queen Elizabeth


Back of postcard says: THE PORT OF NEW YORK is the busiest port in the world. The Queen Elizabeth is shown being berthed. Other ships are from the bottom, The Independence, America, United States, Olympia, Aircraft Carrier Intrepid, Mauretania and Sylvania.

My grandfather and great-grandmother traveled aboard the Queen Elizabeth in 1948 (read that story here).

Happy Searching!


Historic Weiss Cottage – Cullman, Alabama’s Oldest Home

The history of Weiss Cottage dates back to February 24, 1875, when Dr. Aldo Weiss purchased the house and property from the L & N Railroad Company. As small as this house is Dr. Weiss, his wife, Magdelena, and 3 children, Emma, Charles, and Clara all lived there, and Dr. Weiss also used the home for his office and even kept his goats in the cellar. Dr. Weiss sold the home to Judge S.L. Fuller in December, 1889, and the home went through several owners until 1917 when Charles Ruehl purchased the property. In 1976, owner Inez Ruehl donated the cottage to the City of Cullman on the condition it be moved from 206 Sixth Avenue, S. E. to 401 1st Avenue SW.

Once the cottage was moved to it’s current location, the City of Cullman’s Federated Women’s Club began a restoration project to return the home to it’s historical style. On January 25, 1977 the cottage was added by the Alabama Historical Commission to the Alabama Register of Landmarks and Heritage by the Alabama Historical Commission.

I love my adopted home town, so much history packed into a small southern town.

Happy Searching!


St John’s Episcopal Church – Decatur, Alabama

As I was driving around Decatur today, trying to find the Morgan County Courthouse (yes, I got a speeding ticket that I had to go pay), I drove by this beautiful church and I couldn’t resist stopping to take some pictures.

St John’s Episcopal Church was established in 1890, in the heart of downtown Decatur, Alabama. In 1893, the congregation dedicated the original structure that was built in the Gothic-style. The wooden church has since been in encased in stone. In 1983, the church was added to the  National Register of Historic Places as part of the New Decatur/Albany Residential Historic District.

Wordless Wednesday – Port Elgin, Ontario

Happy Searching!


100th Anniversary of the Titanic Sinking

RMS Titanic 3.jpg

100 years ago today, the “unsinkable” ship the Titanic sunk. The Titanic sailed from Southampton, England on 10 April 1912 and was heading to New York with 2,223 people abroad. At 11:40 pm on the 14 April, the ship hit an iceberg and by 2:20 am on the 15 April the ship had sank along with 1,517 souls.  Within a few hours of the sinking, the 710 survivors were picked up by the RMS Carpathia.

As I thought of this anniversary, I realized how grateful I am. Had this been a year later (or had they decided to come to North America a year earlier) my great-grandparents may have been aboard this ship,but  instead they sailed from England in May of 1913.

There are many amazing stories out there about both the victims and survivors of this tragedy.  Instead of repeating stories that had already been told, I thought that I would share some of the stories that I have read in the last week.

A few stories that I found interesting on the survivors were:

Faces of the Titanic: Bridget Delia Bradley saved – crippled by fear she tried to climb back aboard the sinking ship

Faces of the Titanic: Nora Keane survived – almost didn’t make it as she wasted time putting on her corset

For the souls that were lost that night I found several interesting articles:

Faces of the Titanic: Mary Burns lost her life while tending to the needs of others on board

Faces of the Titanic: Chief Purser Hugh Walter McElroy lost his life – Irishman was “larger than life”

An interesting site for all things Titanic is Ultimate Titanic has a new Titanic Collection. You can find information such as names, ages, occupations of those who bought tickets, death records and coroner’s inquest files for the people who did not survive.