Sunday, August 26, 2012
With a Name Like Mayo Lambie...
This next photo was taken in St. Johns, Michigan, a small town about 25 miles north of Lansing, Michigan, near the center of the state. I'm always surprised when I find a photo that originated outside of the area where I live. I guess I should state, I live in the DC area, and for one reason or another, most of the photos I come across tend to be taken in or near Philadelphia. Photos like this, however, make you wonder what track it took to get to you? Was it sent to a distant relative? Did the family move after the photo was taken? Were they perhaps on vacation when the photo was taken, and the fact it was taken in Michigan means little?
In this case the photo became even more interesting when I turned it over. The name written on the back read, "Mayo Lambie, adopted by Gabriel A." Since neither Mayo nor Lambie are common first or last names, I initially questioned whether I was reading it correctly. Was it perhaps "May" or "Mary", or was the name possibly a nickname of some sort? Since I had nothing else to go on, I went to Ancestry.com, and decided to see if anything would pop up. Luckily for me Mayo Lambie was indeed this little girl's name and she did live in Michigan.
According to baptismal records, she was born, May 15, 1888 to Nellie and Alexander Lambie in Essex, Michigan. This made me stop in my tracks. You see, in the 1900 census, Mayo Lambie was living with Alexander Lambie, age 44, a dealer in clothing, and his wife Libbie, age 41, along with Libbie's father Charles Olcott. Mayo is not listed as adopted and her mother is listed as having 1 child and 1 child living. Because Mayo Lambie is not a common name, I knew I had the right one, I just didn't know why the photo inscription insisted she was adopted by a Gabriel A.
The 1910 census solved many of my questions, however. Again, Mayo is living with Alexander, Libbie, and this time Alexander's father John Lambie. This time, though, Libbie is listed as having 0 children and 0 living, and while Libbie was born in New York, Mayo's listed as both parents born in Michigan. This seemed to seal the fact that she was adopted and it was not kept a secret. The only question left was who was Gabriel A? Although I have no proof, it is my belief that Alexander's name was really Gabriel Alexander.
My next object was to see what happened to Mayo?
Checking the 1920 census, I found out Mayo had married a man named Thomas Townsend, a retail merchant at a clothing store. Given that her father also worked in clothing, it seems likely he either introduced them or he secured Thomas a job after they married. In 1920 they were both 31, but they had no children.
When I clicked on the 1930 census, I held my breath, hoping against hope to find Mayo and Thomas had a child, otherwise I would strike out finding descendants again. As luck would have it, there was a 6 year old boy named Richard Townsend living with them. Taking a slightly closer look I realized something else interesting. Just like his mother Mayo, Richard was adopted! I don't know what the odds are to find several adoptions in a family line, but I admit, this one made me smile.
In 1940, Thomas, Mayo, and Richard had moved to St. Petersburg, Florida and Thomas was now a painter for a construction company. Although I can only speculate what brought them to Florida, my guess was economics. In 1930, Thomas was unemployed.
With the ending of the available census records, however, I've hit a roadblock finding out more. Did Richard marry? Did he have kids? I was able to find out that Mayo Lambie Townsend died in St. Petersburg, Florida, March 2nd, 1983 at the age of 94. Surprisingly, I wasn't able to find the death of her husband, Thomas B. Townsend. It doesn't seem likely he's still alive and kicking at 124, however.
As for Richard, from World War II records, I know he enlisted in the army in 1943 in Florida. After that I don't find him again until his death is recorded in the Social Security death index. Although I don't have absolute proof, I do believe Richard passed away the 15th of May, 1990 in Pittsburgh, PA. Based on the locality, this is perhaps how I ended up with Mayo Lambie's photograph.
At this point, on the ground research is needed to solve this riddle. This is one I intend to solve, and will update you on any breakthroughs.