19 January 2012

Thankful Thursday - A Step for the Stellas

One of the most interesting things about doing research, whether we are doing it for our work or as a hobby, is that if you really want to be good at it you have to be able to suspend your own perceptions. I have been doing an incredible amount of research for both my job and my own genealogical interest, and I keep stumbling over this fact.

At my job, the last few weeks have been very challenging at my corporate client. They are an extremely complex corporation with a nearly 75 year history. Because there are so many locations, divisions, and departments, it's very challenging to be able to know when each place will be celebrating an anniversary (there's no single place this information has been retained to; the Archives do not hold typical 'business' material). 

Well, a person in a position of authority 'remembered' that a major location was started in 1982, making 2012 its 30th anniversary! Oh no! We almost missed it! Everyone scramble to find information to put something together for an upcoming show in March! Uh, wait a minute. I wasn't able to find any corroborating information that the location was started in 1982. As a matter of fact, after a very, very lengthy research day, I uncovered that the Grand Opening didn't happen until 1989. "But I was there in 1987!" someone says. Uh huh, you were. But business transactions didn't start, and you didn't let your stockholders know business was being transacted, until 1988 with the opening in 1989. Genealogists, does any of this sound familiar? (Oh, by the way, mad props, i.e., thanks, go to Dwayne at the Town & Country Public Library in Elburn for being an ultra-awesome Reference Librarian!!)

What people remember, and what actually can be proven, are often two very different things. And this brings me back to my lovely Stellas. I'm an exceedingly open minded person. The fact that Stella and Pipa, as they were known, might've had a relationship that went beyond just friends leapt to my mind when I found out they were buried in the same crypt in the Mausoleum at Calvary Cemetery in Los Angeles County, CA. Why would they do this unless they had an intimate relationship?

Well, I contacted the Calvary Cemetery to see what they could tell me about Stella Piper. All they were able to give me were her DOB and DOD along with the name of her cousin who made the arrangements, Frank Seifert. I asked if there was anything else, and the nice young lady who answered the phone told me that the name of the mortuary that had delivered her remains to the cemetery was called Goodbody Mortuary in San Diego. (Not kidding) So, I looked up Goodbody and, sure enough, they're still in business and thriving! A call to Goodbody's (heh) and Chris Ebert was kind enough to let me know that they can't give out any information due to privacy laws. However, he can confirm information, so I explained what I'm most interested in finding out: was Stella Piper a widow?

Huh?! So, here's where I had to suspend my perceptions. When I started looking into Stella Piper a few weeks ago, I thought I'd find her only in California (bad assumption #1). When I found someone in OHIO with the same birth year, she was  MARRIED WITH CHILDREN (bad assumption #2). So, kicking myself for falling into the 'lazy' habit of making assumptions about the person I'm looking for, and thankful that I found several people who were willing to provide enough information to help me refocus. 

I have to wait until Monday to get the information from Goodbody's because they're very busy (a good and bad thing), and I'll be waiting not so patiently. I still am trying to locate someone of the Random Act of Kindness sort in San Diego who would be willing to go to San Diego County to pull the ginormous Probate file for my great grand-aunt Estella. (Major hint, hint) ;-)

The Stella's are waiting patiently to have their story told. 


  1. Great post and a great reminder to not jump to conclusions right away about a person or family. Follow the paper trail.

  2. My great-grandparents are buried at Calvary Cemetery, small world!

    Good luck in unraveling the mystery. I hope you find a San Diego helper!

  3. Have you tried "ask a librarian" - possibly the could find an obituary for you that may give you the additional information you seek.

  4. We have to step back and try and look at things as if they are new to us sometimes. I hope your info arrives soon :-)

  5. So excited to hear if you've heard anything! Stella update please!!


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