30 June 2018

Stories From The Research Committee


After I termed out as president of the San Joaquin Genealogical Society, I remained on the board as immediate past president.  I am also head of the research committee, handling requests for research in our county.

Today a request for an obituary led me down a 2 hour rabbit hole.  The obituary was for a woman named Louise Leger who died in San Joaquin County in 1955.  The person requesting the obit was employed by an heir searching company in France.  He wanted the obit to determine if Louise had any children.

 When I didn't find an obit for Louise, I let the patron know there wasn't one and that concluded our business.  But I personally couldn't let the story go.  I decided to locate her death certificate.


After reading the certificate, I understood why there wasn't an obituary.  Louise had died at the Stockton State Hospital for the Insane.  She had been a patient there for over 22 years at the time of her death.  She was cremated by the hospital and her remains were buried on the grounds of the hospital.  This was usually done when no known next of kin could be located.

This poor woman died all alone. I needed to learn more about her.

The death certificate gave her address before she had been committed to the hospital - 128 Leland Avenue, San Francisco.  A check in the San Francisco City directories did not list a Louise Leger. 

The death certificate stated that Louise was born in France.  I decided to look at passenger arrivals.  I found her with two children.


Louise Leger, a widow, age 43 with her daughter Vivian Charlene Leger, age 19,  and son Andre Ernest Leger, age 18 arrived at the Port of New York on 22 February 1913.  They had sailed on the SS La Lorraine from Havre, France.

I did not find any of them in the 1920 census, but hit the jackpot in the 1930 census.  Living in the Bronx, New York I found that both children had married and had families of their own.

Jules Dumont   age 36, age 23 when married, born France, immigrated 1907, naturalized citizen, weaver in a lace mill
Vivian Dumont, age 35, age 22 when married, born France, immigrated 1913, naturalized citizen
Germaine M. Dumont, daughter, age 10, born Rhode Island
Robert Dumont, son, age 8, born Rhode Island
Andrew Dumont, son, age 6, born Rhode Island
Helen Dumont, daughter, age 4yr 6mo, born Rhode Island
Georgette Dumont, daughter, age 3yr 6mo, born Rhode Island
Louise Leger, mother-in-law, age 60, widow, age 23 when married, born France, immigrated 1913, alien

Andre Leger, age 34, age 20 when married, born France, immigrated 1914, naturalized citizen, weaver lace factory
Albertine Leger, wife, age 33, born Canada
Viviane Leger, daughter, age 12, born Rhode Island
Rene Leger, son, age 9, born Rhode Island
Leo Leger, son, age 10, born Rhode Island  
Elise Leger, daughter, age 8, born Rhode Island
Gerard Camil Leger, son, age 8, born Rhode Island  
Charlotte Leger, daughter, age 7, born Rhode Island  
Richard Maurice Leger, son, age 4, born Rhode Island 

In 1940 Vivian Dumont and her family are living in Passaic County, New Jersey and Andre Leger and his family are living in East Providence, Rhode Island. 

Where was Louise living in 1940?  At the Stockton State Hospital for the Insane.

Her children probably never knew what happened to her as evidenced by her death certificate.  Why did Louise move to San Francisco?  What happened after arriving in San Francisco that led to her commitment to the hospital for the mentally ill?

We most likely will never know what happened, but I feel better connecting Louise to her children.



5 comments:

  1. Sheri, I'm so glad you followed up to uncover more of the story behind Louise's sad death. If only we could understand the circumstances behind her move and her long years in the asylum! Now, at least descendants have more information to go on, thanks to your good deed.

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  2. There's just times you get an inkling when you know a story needs to be told. This was one of those times. Good to hear from you Marian - I truly enjoyed our chats at RootsTech last February!

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  3. Have you tried looking in newspapers? Perhaps there's an article about her commitment.

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    1. Lisa - Yes I did look. Up until about 1900 they used to print a list of people whom the courts had committed. But unless it was a high profile court case, after that time they didn't do it anymore. Next time I am up in Sacramento I will check the records at the State Archives. :) :)

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