Tuesday, June 2, 2015

Wedding Wednesday - Donald Nellis

As I was looking to match up the funeral card of Terry Delveaux to someone in my family tree I came across the obituaries for his father, Richard Delveaux, and his step-mother, Joyce Colle-Delveaux nee Cravillion. Joyce and Richard were already in my tree so the obituaries helped to figure out who Terry was. One thing that caught my eye was that I had Joyce married three times in my tree, but when I looked at her obituary there were only two husbands mentioned, Peter Colle and Richard Delveaux, both of whom predeceased her. In my tree her first husband was Donald Nellis and they are listed as having divorced. It's telling that he wasn't mentioned in her obituary especially since they had a daughter together. In fact as far as I can tell it was the only child Joyce had, but her father was omitted from the obituary.

The information on this line in my family tree originally came from the family tree that was compiled and distributed by the Cayemberg-Villers Family Reunion. So I was fairly certain it was accurate as the information on family members in it isn't the result of research but of first-hand knowledge. I still get supporting documents for these members as I go through. Dates can be transcribed wrong and names can be misspelled. Pulling the obituaries mentioned above actually helped to add some sources by their names in my family tree. If someone were to be researching this line though without access to our family tree, Donald could be easily over-looked and placing her daughter with the correct father (or any father) could become challenging. My assumption is that Donald was persona non grata after their divorce. Not too surprising. We're human and it happens.

The fact he wasn't mentioned in the obituary was certainly enough to pique my interest, but that wasn't the only thing. I've seen that surname before. I couldn't remember where though. A quick search of my memorial cards and I couldn't find it. Looking at Richard's obituary I saw that his mother's name was Nellis and while that was incredibly interesting it wasn't where I had seen the name before. So I pulled out the scrapbooks and inside there were several clippings concerning the Nellis family. I'll be diving into them in the future.

So far nothing showing Donald and Joyce's wedding. What I could find on Donald was that he died in  1995. The Wisconsin Death Index and the SSDI give his birth and death information and FindAGrave has a memorial for him (without a tombstone photo). I'll be pulling his obituary from the Green Bay Press-Gazette when I get back to Wisconsin.

I went back and reread the information in Joyce's obituary and saw it. The bit of information that would help me confirm the marriage...Judith, Joyce and Donald's daughter, died before her mom. I searched Ancestry and found in the SSDI that Judith died in Green Bay on March 29, 2008 and was born on February 20, 1942. The birth date matches the one in my family tree which helps confirm I have the right person. There was also a memorial for her on FindAGrave. The memorial has a transcription of her obituary which lists her father as Donald Nellis. More it says, "to Donald and Joyce (Cravillion) Nellis," which is the obituary's way of showing the marriage. Judith's obituary is also still posted on Proko-Wall Funeral Home's website.

Even though I found Donald and confirmed he belongs in my tree I'll still pull his obituary. I want to see if Joyce is mentioned in his obituary with perhaps a date that they married. If I find that I can pull a wedding notice out of the paper (if there was one). In my family tree I only have that they married in 1942. Of course I don't know where they were married. Perhaps in Pulaski where Joyce was originally from. I could try to search records there for January and February of 1942 to see if anything was put in before Judith's birth. My guess would be that if the marriage did happen in 1942 that it most likely happened before Judith was born, but I could be wrong. Either way I've made the connection and that's enough for right now.