Thursday, February 25, 2010

Dismantling my Brick Wall - Zora Johnson

Well here she is. My "alien" ancestor. Zora Johnson, she just vanished into thin air. Well, maybe she just got back on the mother ship and flew far away from this place. At times I do not blame her. I just wish she left a forwarding address. At least I have this picture to help pick her out in the stadium filled with lost ancestors.

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Join me in my quest to break down my “Brick Wall” and find my Zora.

I have been on the hunt for ancestors for what seems like a lifetime and I think some of my hunting desire has rubbed off on my mom. She has been a great help with our Schmidt/Heckrote side of the family. I am so happy to have a tag-team partner on this line. We will slowly dismantle our Brick Wall and find all the answers on the other side, I just know it.

I am very fortunate to have so many people on maternal side of the family who are family researchers of sorts. It all started with my Great Uncle who joined the Mormon Church. It was his following and converting many family members to follow the Mormon beliefs that really got the ball rolling on our family history. Because of him and other great aunts and uncles, I have been blessed with many stories and mini bios on various Schmidt family members. How much of the work has been proved is the question. I find myself hunting down the “facts” to make sure I along with the rest of the family is heading in the right direction.

It is my other maternal line that gives me problems. The key problem of course is Zora Johnson. I wonder if she gave her parents as much of a problem that she is giving me. If she did, I now know where my son gets it.

Here goes the dismantling.

Step 1: What I wish to know.
I would love to be able to find the exact birth date of Zora. Who was her family before she was an adult and got married? With a name like "Johnson" it is like drowning in a pool of mistaken identities. Where did she run off to once her daughter Pearl was born and then sent to live with her ½ brother Ed and his family? When did she die? Where was she buried?

Step 2: What I do know and how I am sure.
I know her name is Zora Johnson or maybe it is Izora or Nora Johnson. She was born about 1888 in Pennsylvania. She lived in Talmar, Columbia County, PA when she was young. Her father’s name was William M. Johnson. I know she was divorced from her husband Fredrick Swisher and was a house keeper to a Dribelbiss family. I also know she had two children Clayton Swisher and Pearl Dribelbis.

Proof: Marriage record of Frederick Swisher and Zora Johnson from Columbia County, PA dated August 8, 1903. This record lists her age as 17 years, she was a resident of Talmar, PA and her father’s name as William M. Johnson.

Divorce between Frederick Swisher and Zora Swisher dated March 11,1907.

Will of Dallas Dribelbis dated February 25, 1911 lists her daughter Pearl Dribelbis. Which means Zora must have existed and been a part of this family for a little while.

Conversation / Interview notes with Jerry Travelpiece that took place on June 1, 1996. He remembered a woman came to keep house for the Dallas Dribelbis family when the wife/mother of that family became ill. In the interview it was implied that there was a relationship between Dallas and the house keeper and that is where Pearl came along.

In the 1910 Federal Census, Johnson Township, Columbia Co., PA you will find this family. Head of house: Dallas Dribelbis (age 62, widow); Servant: Izora Johnson (age 22, divorced); Daughter of servant: --- Pearl (age 3); Son of servant: --- Clayton (age 5).

After Dallas passed away Pearl went to live with her 1/2 brother and you will find Clayton in a few public records living once again with his father Frederick Swisher. I can not find Zora anywhere. The few people that I have been able to interview that remember her do not have any idea where she went.

Step 3: Can't find her, where do I look?

I know she was alive when her daughter Pearl was married and had at least one child. I do have a picture of standing with Pearl and her husband. Pearls children do not remember anything about her. Did she remarry? What kind of work did she do after Dallas passed? Where did she die? Where and with who was she buried? Would she have been buried as Johnson, Swisher or Dribelbis?

If there is anyone out there that can help me find my dear Zora, I would do the longest most happiest "happy dance" there ever was. This is my Brick Wall that I am having such a hard time breaking down.

If you are reading this and have answers, helpful tips, or are looking at a post about yourself [Zora - I know you are reading this, having a good laugh], please feel free to contact me.

Thanks for reading.

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