Thursday, March 1, 2012

1940 Census. Who will I find?

Between 1936 and 1937, Carl and Luella Avery moved from western Kansas to Bakersfield, California. They took their young daughter, Gayle, with them. Carl and Lu were young themselves, only about 19 and 20 years old when they left. 

Times were exceptionally hard in the 1930s for much of the country. Western Kansas was no exception. Having survived the early years of the Great Depression, the people of the Great Plains suffered what came to be known as the "Dust Bowl." From 1933 until about 1940, over 100 million acres of land in western Kansas, eastern Colorado and the "panhandles" of Oklahoma and Texas was battered by seemingly never-ending winds that carried their land away in clouds of dust. It is estimated that approximately 100,000 people moved west with their meager possessions each year, presumably searching for a better life.
Keota, Colorado Dust Bowl
By Arthur Rothstein (U.S. Farm Security Administration) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

It was during this time that Carl took his little family to Bakersfield. What he did there, or why, I don't know. They lived with relatives, I do know that. In March of 1937, a little son, Carl Alan, was born. They returned to Gove County, Kansas, sometime after the Al's birth.

In February of 1938, another son was born, Fred Wayne. However, in 1939, Carl and Lu were divorced. Carl returned to California, where he remarried twice and had another daughter. He lived in California until his death in 1957.

The first person I will be looking for in the 1940 census will be Carl Avery, my biological grandfather. I know where he lived in 1944 and 1945. I know where he died and where he is buried. According to the information in his obituary provided by his mother, he was a musician. He was also a bartender. His residences were in, and near, Oildale, the home of 'the Bakersfield sound' and Buck Owens and Merle Haggard. I am so very curious to know where he was and what he was doing in 1940!

The snapshots, or peeks, into our family's lives that a census provides are invaluable, and intriguing. The 1940 census will give us an additional view of the Greatest Generation, and I can hardly wait!

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