My Great-Aunt Jewell Rebecca Brown Welpe was born in 1897 in North Carolina and died in 1992. Until a few weeks ago all I knew of her was from a handwritten note my mother had after a conversation she had many years ago with Great-Grandma Elizabeth Brown Whitfield six years younger born in 1903.
“Grandma’s Sister: Rebecca Brown married Mr. Welpe”. I’d always wondered more about my Great-Aunt and thought if I could learn more about her perhaps I’d learn more of my own Great-Grandmother. And from that little 4×4 square note spawned years of wonder over the question: “Who was Mr. Welpe?”
Records I found on Ancestry.com opened many new doors for my search. I started with my Great-Aunt’s name as I knew it -”Rebecca Welpe”-looking for some kind of death record or census record. There was a hit – the North Carolina Death Collection – stating she had passed away in Raleigh, Wake County, NC. Which placed her in the right region for the family, and it revealed a new name, Jewell. Armed with this new gem of information — there was already a second suggested record – from the SSDI (Social Security Death Index). This one had somewhat conflicting information — but I knew it was another clue – “Last Residence: 10520 Croton on Hudson, Westchester, NY”.
I quickly flipped over to Familysearch.org and found their expanded entries of data – all more valuable clues — Burial Place: Fayetteville, NC; Place of Birth: Randolph County, NC; Occupation: Public Health Nurse; Marital Status: widowed. So we know our Mr. Welpe passes on before 1992. A second microfilm death collection there has much of the same information but lists the name of the crematory – Rogers and Breece Crematory in Fayetteville and also lists an residence address on Crutchfield Rd.– the very same address I had as a known address for my own Great-Grandmother. Perhaps her health began to fail so she traveled south to be with her sister Elizabeth back home in Raleigh soon before she passed to have the conflicting last known residences.
On the same search at the bottom of the page — “the following results don’t strongly match what you searched for but may be of interest” and yes they were… perhaps these Welpe’s were relatives of –or the “Mr. Welpe” himself. Unfortunately, none seemed to be a match for him – but all had some kind of New York connection. So into the database they go as possibles. For some odd, gut-reason I especially like the possible Fredrick Welpe – born approx. 1894 to German immigrant parents and living in Brooklyn Ward 27, Kings, NY. (1910 Census). But even he seems to be a miss.
Simultaneously — I wonder where is Jewell in that year – so back to Ancestry – to build her timeline:
- 1910 United States Census: 12 year old Jewell Brown is residing in the Oxford Orphan Asylum in Oxford, Granville, North Carolina. Listed right under her name on the next line is Lola Brown listed as the same age.
- 1920 United States Census: 22 year old Jewell is now in Henrico County, Virginia. Richmond Clay Ward, Independent City, Virginia. She’s in a household of Staff nurses who are “visiting nurses.” living on South Cherry Street.
- 1930 United States Census: 32 year old Jewell moves again this time to an apartment house on Sherman Ave. in Manhattan, New York City. She’s her own head of household, still single and working as a nurse in the maternity center. Many other nurses are listed in the same apartment building so perhaps this is near the hospital.
- Albert H. Welpe b. 1878 NYC; father Clements Welpe b. 1846 Austria
- Frank Welpe b. 1883 d. 1978 married Mary Branard /Brainerd – daughter of Grove P. Branard b. 1851 – brother Charles D. Branard
- Frederick Welpe b. 1893 NY married Gertrude
- John Charles Welpe married Lulu Rowland; son Dennis J. Welpe d.2007 who endowed the Welpe Theatre in NJ.
- Lawrence Welpe b. 1884 d.1963 married
- William Welpe a Broadway actor in the 1920s
- 1910 United States Census: Milton M. Welpe — 14 years old – stock boy – natural born – parents German Andrew H. Welpe & Thelka Welpe residing in Manhattan on West 114th Street
- 1917 — WWI Draft card from June 1917 – the 21 year old Welpe is single; a salesman for Charles Russell in Baldwin where he also resides. On his draft card he reports he has grey eyes and brown hair.
- 1920 – possible “first” marriage at age 24 (per 1930 US Census)
- 1930 United States Census: 34 years old – listed as married and age of first marriage 24. No wife is listed in the household though. He is residing with his parents on W. 204th Street which happens to be right around the corner from the Sherman Avenue apartment where Jewell R. Brown resides. He works as a manager of a radio store.
- 1974 – SSDI - Milton Welpe last residence Westchester, New York, zip 10520 (Croton on Hudson)