Who is Mrs Elmer Hile? – Michigan – 1927

Don’t you just hate it when the newspaper item has the woman’s name as Mrs., and not her given name?

I ran into that problem while working on a Sep 1927 news story on the Ludingtion, Michigan newspaper.

Here is the story I saw.

The News Item:

Notice that here we have the full item and also the cropped item, created to make the news print fit into the profile box on Ancestry dot com.

Two Women Drown - Sep 1927 - Muskegon MichTwo Women Drown - Sep 1927 - Muskegon Mich - cropped

I wanted to find family trees of the two women, so that their families will have the news story telling them what really happened on the day they died.

I know from experience that the death certificate will not have the full story of the persons death and so providing a newspaper story helps with the family history.

Text File of newspaper info:

In order to easily find a family tree for a person, I create a tree on Ancestry dot com for the person or event.

When a tree is created, Ancestry will show hints (hints are possible matches) on the persons icon on the tree, and many times those hints contain family trees. I can review the family trees and if I confirm a match to the person in the news item, I will send the information to the tree owner.

To help in the creation of the tree, I created a text file of the information contained in the news story.

Two Women Drowned

Mrs Elmer Hile

Miss Nellie Kroeger

drown in Muskegon river

Fred L Herrick
age 24
is being held by police

because he was driving the sedan that collided
on a narrow bridge with a car driven by Dr. W. L. Griffin of Shelby

Fred’s car crashed through bridge railing and plunged into the river.

Fred is a real-estate dealer was on probation for violating liquor law

both women were married but separated from husbands.

Nellie Kroeger
is daughter of Mrs C R Andrews who lives on E M Briggs farm
southwest of Scottville

Mr Andres is Mrs Kroeger’s step-father.
Ludington, Mason, Michigan
Ludington Daily News – Sep 29, 1927

29 Sep 1927

Screen print of news item is
on Tree: https://www.ancestry.com/family-tree/person/tree/170500929/person/172213855566/facts

I include the link, to the created tree, at the end of the text file ; once I start the tree creation process,  to allow the contacted family tree owners, to go to the tree and copy any screen prints or records I have put on the tree.

Creation of the Tree:

I started creating the tree with Nellie because I had her name, a date when she died, and a location. Once I had typed in her name and her death date on the tree, I started getting hints for her and I was able to find records that had her parents names on them and more importantly a death record that had the cause of death on it. The death certificate also had a description of the accident. Below is a screen print showing red boxes on certain areas that will help you the reader follow along with this blog post.

Nellie - death cert

Notice the SAVE on the top right corner; I SAVED a copy of the death certificate to my computer and put it in the folder I created to hold all the items for the news item “Two Women Drown in Muskegon River”.

Nellie - death cert full

Once I added her parents names to her profile page I had no problem finding a family tree for Nellie Kroger and I sent the owners the text file mentioned above that contains the link to the newspaper story and the link to the tree.

The Problem:

The problem as I mentioned above came when I had to find a family tree for Mrs Elmer Hile. “Who is Mrs. Elmer Hile?”

The name Hile itself was a problem because some records confused Hile for Hill and the hints that came in when I typed in “Elmer Hile” were for either Elmer Hill or Elmer Hile.

None of the “record hints” could be verified, so I did a family tree search for “Hile” and I came across a tree by owner Sharon Kay Horvath that had an Elmer Hile on her tree:

Profile page Elmer E Hile - Sharon Kay Horvath

On Elmer’s profile page, he has a wife “Amanda” and they have a daughter named Norma.
Is Amanda the Mrs Elmer Hile?

Amanda was born in 1902 so she fits the age range.
The daughter Norma also fits the dates, born in 1918 so this could be the family I seek.

Profile page Elmer E Hile - Sharon Kay Horvath - 2

However, I noticed the problem:
There is a 1940 Marriage for Amanda McClain and Elmer has a marriage cert dated 1940 on his profile page; it is a marriage between Elmer and Amanda.

marriage - Elmer and Amanda

So Amanda can not be our Mrs Elmer Hile who died in 1927 nor can she be the mother of Norma since Norma was born in 1918, since she didn’t marry Elmer until 1940.

On Sharon’s tree, Elmer’s profile page also contains a 1930 census which would be three years after Mrs Elmer Hile’s death and on this 1930 census Elmer is listed as single and Norma is listed as granddaughter.

1930 - Elmer Hile age 35

So what is going on?

I sent a message to Sharon explaining that I was not part of the family or tree but was doing some research on a news story.
I sent her the news story text that I had prepared (as shown above) which contained a link to the newspaper story and the tree. I also told her about my suspicions:

Jul 24, 2020

Hi, I am not part of the family or tree; I just found a news item and I am trying to sort it out.
On your tree: (link to her tree) — She can not be the daughter of Amada because Amada and Elmer’s marriage is 1940 and her birth is 1918.

The news item I found is this:
Two Women Drowned

Mrs Elmer Hile

Miss Nellie Kroeger (brother Francis I Raymond drowned himself on May 14 1930)

drown in Muskegon river
(I shortened it for blog: long version can be seen above on this blog post)
Ludington, Mason, Michigan
Ludington Daily News – Sep 29, 1927

29 Sep 1927

Screen print of news item is
on Tree: https://www.ancestry.com/family-tree/person/tree/170500929/person/172213855566/facts

I think the Mrs Elmer Hile that drowned might be Norma’s mother.
I have no proof but it fits except for the 1930 census that says Elmer is single. Why is Norma living with her grandparents?
Mrs Elmer Hile died in 1927 and was at that time separated from her husband.

Anyway, if you have any information such as family history then it would help me solve the mystery “Who is Mrs Elmer Hile”…

Don’t you just hate it when they don’t put the woman’s name on things…

I then went to Norma’s profile page on Sharon’s tree and there looked at the 1920 census which shows Norma Hill at age 1, Elmer Hill at age 26 and a June Hill at age 18.

1920 - Norma Hill age 1

I thought “at last” I found his wife… but when I brought up her census page

1920 - June Hill age 18

it shows her husband as Hazen Hill not Elmer Hill.

Again what is going on?

Is June our Mrs Elmer Hile or not?

I wrote to Sharon:

Jul 24, 2020

Hi again,
On Norma’s page (link to tree) — you have a 1920 census. It shows a June next to Elmer and Norma is right below.
Could this June be the Mrs Elmer Hile who drowned in 1927?
If so then June is Norma’s mother.

Oh, if it were only this simple.

Jose from Clarkston, Michigan

I then went back to Norma’s profile page on my tree to see if I could find more records that might give her parents names.
I did a search and a 1987 FindAGrave page came up which had June as her mother and Elmer as her father, but I do not trust FindAGrave because it is filled out by a person and I’ve come across many that have the wrong information listed.

Norma - Find A Grave

I notice on the right side of the FindAGrave index text file that there was a Social Sec App for Norma so I looked at that.

Norma - SS 1987

Here was the first official record that says Norma’s parents are Elmer and June.

So if Elmer and June are her parents then there must be a marriage certificate for them.

Mystery Solved:

I used the Category tool on Ancestry that helps narrow the search parameters.

Elmer - Catagory 01

Elmer - Catagory 02

Elmer - Catagory 03

So that is why Sharon didn’t have this marriage certificate it is for a Elmer Hill not Elmer Hile…

marriage - Elmer and June

I noticed that the parents listed on the marriage cert. have the same names as the parents listed on the 1930 census.

I wanted to confirm this information; that June was the Mrs Elmer Hile, we were looking for, so I went back to the news article and to Nellie’s records.

Mystery Solved Confirmation:

As you recall I told you I had no problem finding a family tree for Nellie and I had created a tree to hold all the records and screen prints that I would generate in this project.

Now, I thought that if I looked at Nellie’s records there might be some clue as to what Mrs Elmer Hile given name was, which might confirm that is it June.

I looked at Nellie’s death certificate once again

Nellie - death cert


I read once again the accident description given on the certificate. I ended my reading right next to the “right arrow” and something told to check the other death cert just in case both bodies were processed by the same coroner.
I clicked on that right arrow and got this

right arrow death cert


This certificate was NOT for Mrs Elmer Hile.
Then I thought maybe it was the cert before Nellies’ and so I clicked back to Nellie and clicked on the left arrow.

June - death cert

There it wasJune Hileaccidental drowning

I wrote Sharon and told her we had found the answer to the mystery. I said we because without her tree and the records it contained; Norma etc. I would not have found things as easy.

Having Sharon’s tree helped me narrow my searches.

In conclusion:

I was able to put June Wilder on the tree I created to hold the news item and any other related documents.
By creating the tree for the incident I was able to keep all the people together and did not have to be jumping from on tree to another while doing my searches for information and my searches for family tree with owners who might like the newspaper information.

I put the four parties on the tree

the finish tree

and in each box is a link to their individual profiles and branches.

Profile page Mrs Elmer Hile

In this way I can get to her profile page

Profile page June Wilder

and her family tree

TREE June Wilder

I did not pursue the other two Fred L Herrick and Dr. W. L. Griffin because there is really not much to include in a search other than their names.

With Nellie and June I had the death date as an anchor from which I could use in the searches.

I did look at other days issues of the same newspaper to see if they reported any more about the accident but did not find any mention of it in any of the papers all the way to Oct 15 of 1927.

Having found families for the two who died in the story, I was satisfied with my work and thus closes the tree, the file and the folder.

I hope this short (cough cough), adventure has giving you some clues you can use in your own genealogy mystery tour.

Thank You

Jose from Clarkston, Michigan

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