Warning – may need some tissues handy. This week’s Ancestor isn’t exactly an ancestor, but Lorraine, the sister I never knew.
Week 11 of the #52 Ancestors Challenge. Here’s the story behind the challenge if you want to participate. http://www.nostorytoosmall.com/52-ancestors-in-52-weeks
Wanting to find out more about Lorraine is what got me interested in genealogy. I don’t remember the exact year, but I was maybe 12 – 13 when Mom talked about her first child, Lorraine. She only talked about Lorraine a couple of times. I could tell it was painful so I didn’t press her for more details. My hunt for finding Lorraine’s grave started in the mid-1970s. For those too young to appreciate this date, there was no Internet, no Ancestry.com, or any other web-based search capabilities.
Don’t know if it’s the biploar depression, ADHD, OCD, some other medical/genetic component or simply the desire to solve a myster , but I can obsess on some things. Lorraine became one of those obsessions. I was bound and determined to find where she is buried and hopefully to pay a visit to her grave one day. I had faith that I would find her grave and the faith never wavered in the 35+ years it took for me to find Lorraine’s grave. It took much longer than it should have and you will see why in a couple of paragraphs. I haven’t made it to her grave yet and Lord willing, one day I will.
Some background on Mom and why I think of Lorraine as a sister, not a half-sister. She grew up in a blended family. Both of her parents were married twice and had children from all three unions. She considered her half-siblings as full members of her family. She died in 1997 and I didn’t learn the parentage of her siblings until many years later. As a result, I don’t differentiate between half, step, and full siblings or certain in-laws when talking about my family in regular conversation. For genealogical purposes, I list the actual relationship. From a genealogical standpoint, Lorraine is my half-sister, but to me, she’s as much my sister as my full-blooded sister.
Lorraine’s story is a good example of personal memories and facts being on two different pages. In most of Mom’s story, I think the pain of Lorraine’s death clouded Mom’s memory.
Fred, my father, was Mom’s second husband. She didn’t mention her first husband except that his last name started with a C. Lorraine was born in 1947 and lived three days. She was born, lived, and died in Macon, Georgia. Lorraine was a blue-faced baby, a child born with heart and lung problems.
I spent 35 years looking for Lorraine based on the above information. I did not find her. The advent of the Internet and companies like Ancestry, FamilySearch, Find-A-Grave, etc. could have helped me tremendously. Yet, I found nothing. I did find a 1947 Alabama marriage record for what sounded like Mom and Thomas Baylor. Found out several years later this was Mom’s first husband, but didn’t sound like he was the father of Lorraine from Mom’s information. The marriage took place in Russell County, Alabama. I found no record for any children born of this marriage in either Alabama or Georgia.
The What I found version
I was researching online a few years ago and in mid-2012 I came across a marriage announcement in my hometown newspaper between Mom and John Strange dated 18 April 1950.
Could this be Lorraine’s father? This was Mom’s second marriage, making her marriage to Dad her third. I dug deeper and found a birth/death announcement for Dorothy Lorraine Strange, daughter of John and Ira (sic) Ruth (Kring) Strange. Should be Iva, not Ira. I had found Lorraine. She was born and died on March 18, 1951 in Columbus, Georgia and not Macon. The cemetery is on Macon Road and could be why Mom remembers Macon.
I searched Find-A-Grave and BillionGraves, but did not find a record for her. I contacted the cemetery and found out where she was buried. The cemetery did not have her in their database, but after several hours of digging around the old off-line hard copy files, they called me back and provided the information on her burial plot and an obit.
Here’s her Find-A-Grave memorial.
Headstone and Babyland photos courtesy of Valerie Scruggs and used with her permission. I appreciate her taking the time and effort to fulfill the photo request and provide a photo of the Babyland memorial.
I have a photo request for her on BillionGraves, but it has not been filled yet.
Some additional information
Mom and John’s marriage ended six months later and Mom moved back to Gulfport at some point, marrying Dad in Gulfport in May 1952. Dorothy was the name of John’s mother. John remarried and his next daughter was named Dorothy Ruth Strange. Ruth was Mom’s middle name and the one she went by. Not sure if the new Mrs. Strange was aware of this fact, but I think it shows he still had some fond memories of Mom.
On the first anniversary of Lorraine’s death, Mom posted this memorial in the local newspaper.
I originally intended for this post to be published on the 18th, but after talking with my sister today, I decided to publish it today. I contacted the local newspaper and ordered a copy to be published on the 18th. Here’s the preview copy of it.