Wednesday, February 6, 2013

FHWC: The notorious Maggie Lorraine

Maggie Lorraine Nowell was one of our more infamous family members. I've written about her before in a Wedding Wednesday post. Born October 7, 1906, Maggie Lorraine was closest in age to Grandma than any of her other sisters, so I would imagine they were pretty tight.

Let's return back to the Fall of 1922 in Taylor County, Texas. The Nowell family has probably harvested this year's crop of cotton, or are close to finishing up. Newly-wed Della is expecting, and is likely certain she knows the gender of the child, having used the "magic" pendulum.

And Maggie Lorraine is in love. Or something like that.

Otis and Maggie Lorraine Sanders
Otis R. Sanders
The family of Otis Sanders had been living and farming in Taylor by 1900. Otis was seven years older than Maggie, who was soon to turn sixteen when they married on October 3, 1922. Eight months later, on June 14, 1923, Maggie Lorraine gave birth to her first child, Lorena Sanders.

Eight months? Actually, about 36.3 weeks from the date Maggie and Otis married. Now it could be that Lorena was born a little early. Or it could be that Maggie Lorraine, whether she knew it yet or not, was already pregnant. I can just hear Grandma scoffing out a, "Good Lord."

Either way, there was another new baby in the family to bring a little bit of joy after mourning the loss of their big sister Della.

Another tragic loss
Lorena Sanders 1923-1924
Lorena Sanders didn't live to see her first birthday. I have been unable to find her death certificate so far, but her tombstone provides this information:
ML OR Sanders
June 14 1923
Apr 4 1924

Maggie Lorraine's daughter was buried in Rogers Cemetery in Tuscola, the same cemetery Della was buried in the previous year.

On the move again
I can't be sure what prompted George and Rebecca to make the nearly 300 mile trek to settle down in Henderson County, Tx. George's mother was 80 years old, not in great health, and still living with Sam and Bettie Davis in Henderson County. His brother, Johnny R, was buried in Brownsboro's Rock Hill Cemetery in 1923. And his uncle, Robert Adolphus Nowell, had died there back in 1920.

Perhaps they just wanted to live closer to the remaining Nowell family. Or maybe, despite the fact that overall cotton production was going well in Taylor County, George had reason to think they would fare better in Henderson County. At this point I can only speculate.

Whatever the reason, George, Rebecca, Kit, Zula, Dora, and Tommie moved to Henderson County sometime between Maggie's October 1923 marriage to Otis, and Grandma's September 1924 marriage to Granddaddy. I don't know if Otis and Maggie went with them, or remained in Taylor County.

Elsie Sanders ca. 1925
Elsie Sanders
All I have on little Elsie Sanders is a photograph, and two censuses. She was born about 1925, and was 5 years old at the time she was enumerated on the 1930 U.S. Census for Taylor County on April 11 of that year.

She was living in the household of Otis Sanders with Otis's widowed mother, Maggie Mitchell Sanders, and Otis's wife, Allene.

Where did Maggie Lorraine go?
The thing is, on that 1930 census, Otis has just remarried. His new wife is a seventeen-year-old local girl by the name of Allene A. Hancock. Well, Allene Hancock Sanders, now.

So, what? Does he just have a thing for teenage girls? Nope. Otis was married to Allene for 34 years until he died in 1964. They had kids. Grandkids. Great-grandkids. You can read all about it at Find a Grave.

But wait, there's more...

Otis and Allene are also enumerated on the 1930 census in Henderson County on April 23rd. They were living in the dwelling of Sidney C Leavell (haven't had time to look for a connection to that one), and apparently paying rent to him.

Now, this isn't the first time I've seen someone's name pop up twice in the same census year, but it is the first time I've seen it happen 300 miles away. Granted, there are possible explanations.

According to Allene's bio on Find A Grave, Otis and Allene married in Louisiana in 1930, but I haven't been able to find a specific date or location. Perhaps they are on their way to or back from Louisiana while Otis's mom watches over Elsie, renting a room for a night or two before continuing on. Just a coincidence that he's in the same Justice Precinct of Henderson County as his ex-wife's family?

Or, perhaps Maggie had gone to live with her family in Henderson County, and there was some matter Otis needed to clear up. But Maggie Lorraine isn't living with her parents on the 1930 census. Nor is she living with her brother, John. Or Aunt Bettie. She doesn't appear to be in Taylor County, either. I know she's alive, there's a lot more to her story. Maybe she's remarried, too?

Maybe he was there looking for his ex-wife and couldn't find her? I have no idea. Much more digging to do here.

Ten years after
April 3rd, 1940 Elsie Sanders is living with her grandmother, Maggie Mitchell Sanders. There are no street names or house numbers recorded for this area, just the order of visitation and family numbers. The census taker visited the household of Otis Sanders just before stopping by his mother's place.

Otis, Allene, and their three children are living in a rented house for $5 a month. He had been seeking work, and finally landed a job as a floor manager at a dance hall.

His mother is 67, owns her house, and is receiving an income from some other source than wages or salary. Elsie is 15, and attending school after having completed her second year of high school. I know no more about her.

Aside from an undated photo of a George Gough with "one of Lorraine's husbands" written on it, Grandma's sister Maggie Lorraine Nowell has fallen off my radar until 1948.


Side note: If any descendants or relatives of Elsie Sanders happen across this, please leave a note in the comments (my contact form went screwy and I haven't had a chance to fix it). I'd be happy to pass along the full size original scans of the family photos. I'd also be interested to learn what became of Elsie.


  • Grandma's bible

  • "United States Census, 1900," index and images, FamilySearch ( : accessed 06 Feb 2013), William A Sanders, ED 152 Justice Precincts 3 & 6, Taylor, Texas, United States; citing sheet 8A, family 131, NARA microfilm publication T623, FHL microfilm 1241672.

  • "United States Census, 1930," images, HeritageQuest Online ( : accessed 06 Feb 2013), Otis R. Sanders, 3 J-PCT, Taylor, Texas, United States; Series T626, Roll 2400, Page 25B

  • "United States Census, 1930," images, HeritageQuest Online ( : accessed 06 Feb 2013), Otis R. Sanders, 5 J-PCT (South Part), Henderson, Texas, United States; Series T626, Roll 2355, Page 102A.

  • Lorena Sanders - Find a Grave

  • "Texas, Deaths (New Index, New Images), 1890-1976," index and images, FamilySearch ( : accessed 06 Feb 2013), Otis R Sanders, 1964; citing State Registrar Office, Austin, Texas.

  • Allene B Hancock Sanders - Find a Grave

  • "United States Census, 1930," index and images, FamilySearch ( : accessed 06 Feb 2013), George W Nowell, Precinct 5, Henderson, Texas; citing enumeration district (ED) 0019, sheet 3B, family 60, NARA microfilm publication T626, roll 2355.

  • "United States Census, 1940," index and images, FamilySearch ( : accessed 06 Feb 2013), Elsie Sanders in household of Maggie Sanders, Lawn, Justice Precinct 6, Taylor, Texas, United States; citing enumeration district (ED) 221-32, sheet 2A, family 25, NARA digital publication T627, roll 4144.

  • There's probably a few more, but I'm so tired. If you need to know where I found some bit of information, leave a comment and I'll let you know.

1 comment:

  1. I have Elsie Marie Sanders Ackerman @ -- would like to collaborate; see link @ bottom of that page - tom adkins


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