Neither Heirs nor Marriage Record: The Mysterious Wedlock of Georgia E. Colvin and Robert Franklin McNemer.


While looking for some data on another ancestor, I found myself diverted to the birth and death dates of another heir of George Hammett Colvin (1860-1928) who was, himself, a fourth-generation descendant of Benjamin Colvin, the Revolutionary soldier who, once discharged, moved his family to Missouri. The heir was George H. Colvin, and so far as the records revel, he had been from a large family (five brothers and one sister,) and who was, himself, the first of his line to migrate from Missouri to Texas where he married in 1887, Belle M. Pearson (1867-1954), in Mitchell County on February 20th. [1] With Belle, he fathered a son, Malin Pearson Colvin (Sr.,) (1888-1957) and a daughter, Georgia E. Colvin (1899-1993). [2]

As I looked further into this family group, Georgia, in particular, intrigued me because of both her own two marriages, and the two marriages of her first husband, Robert Franklin McNemer (1897-1951.) I was intrigued because her second marriage to Edwin Lacy Gunckle (1888-1980) whom she married in Tarrant County, Texas on July 22, 1966, is recorded but the first one to Robert McNemer is not.

This was particularly vexing because it appears this marriage was a common law one. Let’s look at the scant documented evidence which gives rise to this claim.

Georgia, born December 2, 1899, as already noted, was one of two children.  One finds her with her brother, Malin, in both the 1900 and the 1910 federal census of Ft. Worth with their parents. The first address is 1418 Presidio Street. In the 1910 census, both children, now ages twenty-one and eleven respectively, are still in their father’s house only now Malin is with his new wife, Ona W. Million, (1889-1944) whom George H. Colvin told enumerators was his “Daughter-in-Law.” They were newlyweds, the couple having wed less than six months earlier in Pettis County, Missouri on December 9, 1909.[3] The family had relocated to 416 West Presidio Street in the same town.

Like most men of his generation, Malin, when the call came, in 1918, registered for the WWI Draft. He was twenty-nine years old. Robert F. McNemer also registered for the draft, in Ft. Worth. He was a single male, age twenty-one, and listed his mother, “Mrs. P.H. McNemer” as his nearest relative.[4] Robert’s parents were Phillip Hamilton McNemer (1870-1933) and Ella Mae Baldridge (1875-1952).  There is no record of a marriage for Robert until 1930, when Georgia McNemer is listed as Robert’s “wife” in that year’s Ft. Worth City Directory.[5] Georgia McNemer appears again as Robert’s wife in the 1932 directory.[6] If the couple were not actually married, it appears they were cohabitating as such. Vexingly, The McNemer household cannot be found in either the 1920 or 1930 census records, upon which one might be able to deduce a marriage date – or at least a period when they began cohabitation as a wedded couple.

After this brief sliver of evidence showing the couple together, Georgia vanishes leaving little trace of her whereabouts. It would appear she and Robert parted company sometime before 1940 when Robert re-appears in the census re-married to his second “wife, “Lucille Ruby Daniels,” whom has gifted him with a step-daughter, Carlene Russell, from an apparent previous marriage.[7]  Curiously, no marriage record can be found for Robert F. McNemer and his 2nd wife, Lucile although she is listed as his wife not only in that 1940 census, but in three other published sources, the first two of which are local period newspapers.  In the November 9, 1934 edition of the Corsicana Semi-Weekly Light, for example, “Mrs. Robert F. McNemer,” is spotlighted as being part of Eleanor Roosevelt’s, “Mobilization for Humanity’s Needs” a charity  program for the poor wherein communities were encouraged to care for the destitute among them and to expected no help from the government.[8] Then, in the August 5, 1935 edition of the Denton Record-Chronicle, she was named as being selected as the “chief case worker” for Tarrant County’s new aid relief program.[9]  Apparently, Lucille’s previous do-goodism helped launch her career in bureaucracy. The third instance is her appearance in the 1947 Ft. Worth City Directory wherein she is listed as Robert F. McNemer’s “wife”.[10]

As for Georgia’s whereabouts, less is known of it until her second marriage on July 22, 1966, in Tarrant County, to Edwin Lucy Gunkle (1888-1980)[11]  She was a bride in her 60s when she re-married – this time with proper documents.[12] The groom was in his late 70s. One can find the two listed in the 1971 Ft. Worth city directory as husband and wife.[13] Georgia Colvin is also listed, with her maiden name, as his spouse on Edwin’s death certificate.[14] Edwin, like his bride, had been married previously, to a Nannette Simpson (1891-1963) who died three years before he married Georgia. He married Nannette in 1920, judging by his answers on the 1930 federal census wherein, at age forty, he told the enumerators he married 1st at age 30.[15]

Georgia E. Colvin died April 15, 1993,  in Tarrant County, Texas.[16] She is interred next to Edwin at the Greenwood Memorial Park and Mausoleum in Ft. Worth. Robert is buried there as well, in a separately marked plot. [17]

Notes

[1] Digitized copy of original, Mitchel County, Texas marriage registry, Volume 1 (1881-1910) pp 108 in “Texas County Marriage Records, 1835-1965” (image 81) Collection, http://www.familysearch.org website.

[2] “Malin” is likely a play on Belle’s mother’s maiden name: Georgia Mann. (1848-?) Georgia’s middle name is yet unknown.

[3] Digitized copy of original marriage license, December 28, 1909, “Missouri, Marriage Records, 1805-2002” Collection, http://www.ancestry.com website.

[4] Digitized copy of original, WWI Draft Registration Card, Malin Pearson Colvin, June 2, 1917, Ft. Worth, Texas, “U.S., World War I Draft Registration Cards, 1917-1918,” Collection, http://www.ancestry.com website.

[5] Digitized copy of original, 1930 City Directory, Ft. Worth, Texas, pp 628, “U.S. City Directories, 1822-1995,” Collection, http://www.ancestry.com website.

[6] Digitized copy of original, 1932 City Directory, Ft. Worth, Texas, pp 527, “U.S. City Directories, 1822-1995” Collection, http://www.ancestry.com website.

[7] Digitized original of Robert F. McNemer household, 1940 U.S. Federal Census, Ft. Worth, Tarrant County, Texas, hh 5531, line 30, “1940 United States Federal Census,” Collection, Ancestry.com. Carlene McNemer is listed as his daughter. However, in Carlene’s obituary, published in the August 27, 2000 edition of  the Fort Worth Star-Telegram, her father’s name is given as “Carl Russell.” Likewise, on her grave marker in the Greenwood Memorial Park and Mausoleum, Ft. Worth, her name is given as “Carlene Russell Hendrickson”. Carlene m. Ralph Wise Hendrickson October 5, 1944. She died August 25, 2002.  When Carl Russell married her mother is unknown. No record of their marriage has yet been found. See Carlene Russell Hendrickson memorial image # 165545592, http://www.findagrave.com website.

[8] Corsicana Semi-Weekly Light, “Mrs. R.B. Malloy Named Chairman on Crusade on Relief,” November 9, 1934, pp 8, col. 7, http://www.newspapers.com website, https://www.newspapers.com/image/42946099

[9] Denton Record-Chronicle, “District Relief Office Functioning,” August 5, 1935, pp 1, col. 3, http://www.newspapers.com website, https://www.newspapers.com/image/12090671/?terms=Robert%2BFranklin%2BMcNemer The article mentions the program had been scuttled the previous year due to lack of funds.

[10] Digitized copy of original, Ft. Worth City Directory, 1947, pp 741, “U.S. City Directories, 1822-1995,” Collection, http://www.ancestry.com website.

[11] Digitized copy of original, Edwin Lacy Gunkle Death Certificate, “Texas, Death Certificates, 1903-1982,” Collection, http://www.ancestry.com website.

[12] Edwin Lacy Gunkle – Georgia Colvin, 22 July, 1966, Tarrant County, Texas, Marriage Application Index, 1966, Texas Department of State Health Services website, https://www.dshs.texas.gov/vs/marriagedivorce/mindex.shtm

[13] Digitized copy of original, Ft. Worth City Directory, 1971, pp 416, “U.S. City Directories, 1822-1995” Collection, http://www.ancestry.com website.

[14] Digitized copy of original, Edwin Lacy Gunkle Death Certificate, “Texas, Death Certificates, 1903-1982,” Collection, http://www.ancestry.com website.

[15] Digitized copy of original, Edwin L. Gunkle household, 1930 U.S. Federal Census, Ft. Worth, Tarrant County, Texas, household 2221, line 51, col. 15, “1930 United States Federal Census” Collection, http://www.ancestry.com website.

[16] Georgia Colvin Gunkle memorial # 129861206, findagrave.com website,  http://www.findagrave.com/cgi-bin/fg.cgi?page=gr&GRid=129861206&ref=acom Edits to the vital stats and an image request of the grave marker have been submitted to the memorialist by this researcher. The decedent’s death certificate is also being sought.

[17] Robert Franklin McNemer memorial # 40562305, http://www.findagrave.com website,   http://www.findagrave.com/cgi-bin/fg.cgi?page=gr&GRid=40562305

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About Alex Colvin

Senior, History, minoring in Anthropology, University of Houston. Charter President, Walter Prescott Webb Historical Society, (Webb UH Main 2014-2015) University of Houston. Additional publishing credits can be found at the link:
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