Sunday, February 10, 2019

Katrina, I'll find you if it takes me the rest of my life. And it might.

 Subtitled: Emilie saves the day

Jens and Katrina Jensen and their children lived in Council Bluffs, Iowa after immigrating from Denmark.  After a few years, they moved across the river to Omaha, where Jens owned a bakery and Katrina helped in the operation.   The next mention of them is in a couple of letters written by Katrina's brother Pete, who had moved to California, where she and Jens also lived at that time (1940s). 

Katrina Jensen
I don't know exactly when they moved to Los Angeles.  Katrina was a witness at the wedding of her sister, Caroline, in 1924 in Council Bluffs, so I presume they made the move soon after that.

My search for these people in California has hit more than one roadblock.  First, my best source of directories was Ancestry.com, and it was disheartening to realize that their collection from the late 1920s until about 1935 consisted of partial directories.  And, you guessed it, the parts I needed were missing.  I was able to overcome that by (eventually) discovering that the LA Public Library has online copies of the years that I needed.  Between the two sources, I figured I'd have it easy from that point on. 

Wrong.

There did not appear to be a Jens Jensen who was a baker, or who had a wife listed by the appropriate name.  There were no entries for a Katrina Jensen at all. 

Thank goodness I discovered a bare-bones death notice for Katrina, or I would have been totally up the creek, in more ways than one.  Born Ane Katrine in Denmark, her death notice called her Anna C.  If it hadn't listed her children by name, I would never have known it was her.   I went back to the directories and began not only looking for Anna, but Catherine, even Kathryn.  Unfortunately, all three are common names, and I had no way to distinguish which if any of these women were my Katrina.

In rereading her death notice, it finally hit me like a rock upside the head that her children would have been adults during those years.  So, back to the directories.   I was grateful that her oldest son had an uncommon name like Hilbert.  But he apparently did not go to Los Angeles with the rest of them, as he was not listed in any of the directories.  Her other son was Albert - and there were a number of Alberts listed.  Then - there was her daugher, Emilie.  No matter how it was spelled, it did not appear to be a common name at that time and place, and I was able to find one "Emilie" listed.  I noted the address, and went back to check Jens, Anna/Catherine/Kathryn and Albert.  I was able to find a Catherine and an Albert at the same address as Emilie.  Voila!  Catherine was a seamstress, which was a handy thing to know - because they moved every year or two.  Of course.  But at least they did not change occupations like they did addresses.

Albert got married and settled down in a house of his own, but I was able to continue to track Catherine and Emilie in this manner, until Emilie did the unthinkable - she got married.   None of the Catherines I found in the directories after 1936 was a seamstress, and none of them had the same address as Emilie or Albert.  The trail had gone cold.

And Jens?  I continued to find several Jens Jensens, who were bakers in Omaha long after Katrina had been documented in California.  Perhaps he didn't follow them when they left.  However, he is buried with Katrina in Los Angeles.

Clearly there are a lot of questions left to be answered, but right now, I'm out of ideas. I'm focusing my research on her descendants and siblings in hopes that I might get a fresh lead on her.

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