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Tuesday, June 5, 2018

Lindsay P. & Bertha Ann (Littrell) Thurman:

On the 23rd of September, 1938, Lindsay (Boydie) Thurman of Anniston, age 21 and Bertha Ann Littrell of Charleston* (see footnote), age 19 obtained a marriage license(application) in Charleston, Missouri.


Two years later we find Boydie and Bertha, now married, living in Anniston. On the 1940 census (below, lines 74 &75) they are renting and paying $6 a month rent. None of their neighbors are listed as living on farmland so it is probably a safe assumption (proven below) that they are living in town. Boydie’s employment is listed as a grocery store clerk working 60 hours a week in previous weeks. He says he was employed and working 52 weeks in the previous year earning $420.

Both Boydie and Bertha are listed as being 21 years old* and having finished one year of high school. (col 11 & 14)

bordiethurman (1crpd)

Living next door to Boydie and Bertha is the family of Ben Merrick (lines 70-73).


Four months after the census Boydie would register for the draft (WW II). Boydie would list Ben Merrick as his employer.

On the 1940 census, Ben was listed as an engineer for Missouri Power (industry or company name?). Ben list his income as $940 for 1939 and no additional income.

Did Boydie leave his job and go to work for Ben in the months between the census and registering for the draft? Did Ben own the grocery store that Boydie worked at but didn’t report the additional income? On the census, Ben owned his residence and listed its value at $700. Were Bertha and Boydie renting a room from Ben?

From the two news articles below, we can deduce that Ben Merrick was at least their landlord and owned an apartment building that at least had a café on the ground floor at the time of the articles. The articles also shed a little more light on the family story concerning the family’s business’ in Anniston.


Sikeston Herald Archives
Jun 5, 1952, p. 9


A fire which threatened the entire community for a short time, completely destroyed two buildings at Anniston Thursday.

The Del Hatton family, which occupied an

apartment in one of the buildings barely escaped from the burning structure.

According to witnesses, the fire started in the second floor apartment of the Hatton's in the Ben Merrick building. They said a Kerosene stove exploded as Mrs. Hatton was preparing breakfast

The blaze apparently spread the metal covered building in a short time since occupants were unable to save any fixtures from it.

A café operated by Lee Bird was located on one side of the building on the ground floor. An apartment occupied by Mr. and Mrs. Taylor was located on the other side.

The fire spread to the Phil Tatum home next door to the Merrick building. The home was completely destroyed. Mr. and Mrs. Tatum were only able to save a small amount of furniture.

Four other nearby homes were afire at the height of the blaze but firetrucks and crews from Cairo, Charleston, and East Prairie were able to save the houses.

Cairo sent two trucks, Charleston one, and East Prairie one. An attempt was made to call Sikeston but the message was not received here,”

Sikeston Herald Archives, Jun 5, 1952, p. 9


"Mr and Mrs, Boydie Thurman moved again last week from Mr. and Mrs. Henry Coffer Property to the Ben Merrick apartments where they formerly lived and operated the café. Mrs. Thurman's brother, Leslie Littrell has taken over the café again which he recently sold to the Arnolds. Mrs. Thurman will help her brother in the café while Mr. Thurman is employed at the Home oil Station in Charleston."

Sikeston Daily Standard Archives, Nov 15, 1951, p. 6


*It is not uncommon for there to be omissions and errors on marriage, death, birth certificates, and census records. Even the most diligent county clerk or census taker has a bad day, or over time becomes a little less methodical. Sometimes the information is being given third hand or being entered at a later date from handwritten notes. Sometimes everyone isn't present when the forms are being filled out and those present guess at answers such as age, birthplace etc. And last but not least there is sometimes minor deceptions, little white lies, at play to expedite the process.
Any of these can be in play here in regards to Bertha's place of residence on her marriage license where it states she is a resident of Charleston, or maybe she was living there with a sibling. In the case of the two year age difference between Boydie and Bertha on the Marriage License and the no age difference on the census. This should not be of concern. If only one of the two were home when the census taker arrived misstating ages would be an innocent mistake.
Additionally, sometimes the obvious need to connect the dots from one document to another needs to be tempered with undocumented information. Such as the case of her statement on the census says she was living in 'same place' in 1935 as she lives in 1940. We know that in 1935 she was a minor and living with her parents who had not yet moved to East Prairie. By 'same place' the census was saying 'same town', Anniston, not same place meaning apartment or building.

Boydie would eventually serve in the Army Air Corp

Questions, comments, or answers? Use the comment link below, or comment on the facebook group page, or email me at indianaglenn@gmail.com

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