Fritz Harper Abernathy

I found a newspaper mention of a Fritz Harper Abernathy during a Google search while looking for information on people from my family tree. I strongly believe he’s part of my tree, but I haven’t yet found that conclusive evidence. Here’s what I do have.

First, the newspaper clipping, from the “Mason City Globe Gazette”, 8 June 1964:

“Two cars collided head on late Saturday seven miles west of Mount Pleasant, killing Fritz Harper Abernathy, 24, of Ottumwa. Abernathy’s passenger, James Ellis, 21, of Oskaloosa, was hospitalized with head injuries, but others involved escaped serious injury.

Why did this person stand out as a possible relative? I had been doing a search on the surnames Fritz and Abernathy, but Fritz can also be a given name, which is usually something to dismiss in results. However, there’s a little more to it than that. I recognized Ottumwa, a city in Iowa. The Fritzes and Abernathys lived in Iowa.

My relation to the Abernathys is through my second great grandaunt, Louisia Christina Fritz, marrying Moses Henry Abernathy. They had four children. One died in infancy, two were daughters (Clara and Achsa), and the final was a son (Moses Walter Fritz Abernathy). If this Fritz Harper is related, he would be related to Walter.

Walter was born in 1898 and died in 1954 (at the age of 56). If Fritz Harper was 24 at his time of death in 1964, then he was born about 1940. This leaves a chance of maybe or maybe not being on the 1940 US Federal Census. Walter was 42 years old at the time, leaving the possibility for Walter to be either Fritz’s father or grandfather. I lack of any information (yet) on a wife for Walter, and have only his US Federal Census information up through 1930 (where he is living alone). Finding the 1940 censuses could shine a lot of light on his life.

The 8 June 1964 clipping says Fritz Harper died in an accident on Saturday. This would have been 6 June 1964. Looking on Find a Grave, I found a memorial for Fritz Harper Abernathy. Upon request (either by me or a cousin I’ve been working with), a photograph was taken and added to the page.

Fritz Harper’s birth date was known certainly known: 16 April 1940. The US Federal Census was taken on 1 April 1940, meaning he should be on it.

On, I found information on two marriages for a Fritz Harper Abernathy:

Name: Fritz H Abernathy
Age: 18
Marriage Date: 4 Oct 1958
Marriage Location: Lancaster, Schuyler, Missouri
Marriage County: Schuyler
Spouse Name: Esthelena Gee
Spouse Age: 18
Mother’s Name: Mrs. Walter Abernathy

Name: Fritz H Abernathy
Age: 21
Marriage Date: 15 Feb 1962
Marriage Location: Lancaster, Schuyler, Missouri
Marriage County: Schuyler
Spouse Name: Connie Dale
Spouse Age: 18

Looking over Fritz Harper’s first marriage, his mother’s name is included. Mrs. Walter Abernathy. This is a strong indicator of relation to the Walter Abernathy in my tree. It doesn’t help any to determine if Fritz Harper is my tree’s Walter’s son or grandson, however, as it’s common for a given name to pass down from father to son. (Likewise, Moses Walter Fritz Abernathy could have taken his second middle name and given it to his son.)

Returning to the US Federal Census, shows a strong match for a Walter F Abernathy in Ottumwa. He’s exactly the right age. He’s married to a Blosom H Abernathy. If her middle name was Harper, that would be strong evident of Fritz Harper being their son.

The Family Search page only lists Walter and Blosom (Blossom?), but the actual census scan shows a much larger household:

Walter F Abernathy – Head – 41 yrs
Blosom H Abernathy – Wife – 31 yrs
Albert Durant – Brother-in-law – 53 yrs
William Leland Warner – Lodger – 58 yrs
Joseph J Frankel – Father-in-law – 66 yrs
Donald McLeod – Son – 20 yrs
Vincent F Kelley – Lodger – 21 yrs
Elsie Lan – Maid – 22 yrs
Stephen G Graham – Grandson – 3 yrs
Anthony B Graham – Grandson – 10/12 yrs
Elizabeth Erbacher – (details erased) – 44 yrs

Walter is listed as working in life insurance, which follows with what my cousin Christine knows about him.

How does the brother-in-law, Durant relate? Moses Walter Fritz Abernathy had two sisters. Clara married a man named Gamble. I do not know if Achsa married. Perhaps Blossom has a sister and her sister married Albert Durant? An Albert M Durant is seen on the 1900 US Federal Census.

Joseph gives us Blossom’s maiden name (Frankel) for possible research into her marriage with Walter. I can find a Joseph J Frankel in Appanoose in 1930, giving a wife’s name. His 1920 entry (also in Appanoose) on gives his family as:

Joseph J Frankel – Head – 46 yrs
Minne Frankel – Wife – 42 yrs
Hellena Frankel – Daughter – 15 yrs
Myrtle L Morgan – Servant – 21 yrs

Could this be “Blossom Hellena Frankel”?

Donald McLeod is a mystery. How can he be a son with the name McLeod? A son-in-law, perhaps?

There is a Social Security death index entry for a Donald H Mcleod, born in 1919, last living in Appanoose, Iowa. He appeared on the 1920 US Federal Census and on the 1930 US Federal Census with parents Walter S and Mary Mcleod.

They have a couple of grandsons named Graham, but no mention of the parents of the grandsons. And most of all, no mention of a newborn baby named Fritz Harper Abernathy.

There is a California death index for a Steven Guy Graham (mother’s maiden name Brown) born in Iowa in 1935, but he would have been five in 1940, not three.

None of these have yet provided any clues on their links to Walter Abernathy, let alone open doorways to Fritz Harper Abernathy. The mystery of who Fritz Harper Abernathy’s parents were remains.

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