Saturday, November 14, 2009

My MERTENA Conundrum: Part II - The Sources: Merlen Paris MERTENA

The next few posts about my MERTENA conundrum will focus on the sources I've consulted so far in my research. I'll be the first to admit that I haven't consulted all sources out there. I've mainly consulted the easiest to access sources.

This first post will be about the sources I've found on my great-grandfather, Merlen Paris MERTENA.

Source #1: Oklahoma State Health Department, delayed birth certificate no. 3019 (issued 1944), Merlen Paris Mertena, Division of Vital Statistics, Oklahoma City.

Full Name of Child: Merlen Paris Mertena
Date of Birth: 09 Sep 1910
Race: White
Sex: Male
Place of Birth: Logan County, Oklahoma
Father: John Henry Mertena
Birthdate of Father: 11 Mar 1884
Birthplace of Father: Franklin County, Illinois
Mother: Blanche Welden
Birthdate of Mother: 31 Aug 1883
Birthplace of Mother: Coffeyville, Missouri
Signed Merlen Paris Mertena of 105 E. Fresno, Ponca City, Oklahoma
Date Signed: 04 Feb 1944
Signed Blanche Mertena of Mulhall, Oklahoma
Date Signed: 23 Dec 1943
Abstract of Supporting Evidence: Family Bible (made at birth) and Oklahoma Driver's License (made in 1938)
This gives the birthplace of John Henry MERTENA as Franklin County, Illinois, and his birth date as 11 Mar 1884. Franklin County is in southern Illinois. It was formed in 1818, and it's county seat is Benton. It is surrounded by Jefferson County to the north, Williamson County to the south, Jackson County to the southwest, Saline County to the southeast, Perry County to the west, and Hamilton County to the east. John Henry was still alive at the time this delayed birth record for his son was created, though his wife, Blanche WELDEN, his son, Merlen Paris MERTENA, and the family Bible are listed as the sources of the information. This information is probably based on what John Henry's mother, Carrie ORTH, told him about his birth, which he presumably relayed to his wife and/or son. At best, this is a secondary source.

Source #2: Logan County, Oklahoma, Marriage Records, 25:47, Mertena-Proffit (1931); County Clerk's Office, Guthrie; FHL microfilm 378,328.

Name of groom: Merlin Mertena
Age: 21
Race: W
Place of birth: Okla.
Residence: Mulhall, Okla.
Name of bride: Hassie Proffitt
Age: 22
Race: W
Place of birth: Okla.
Residence: Crescent, Okla.
Date of license: 14 Feb 1931
Person performing ceremony: J.E. Burt, Minister, Methodist Epsicopal [Church] at Mulhall, Logan, Oklahoma
Date of marriage: 14 Feb 1931
Witnesses: Mrs. Blanche Mertena of Mulhall & Mr. Wm. S. Burt of Guthrie
Filed 17 Feb 1931
This record does not seem to provide any information about John Henry MERTENA.

Source #3: "Friends Honor Mertenas," undated clipping from unidentified newspaper, owned 2009 by Merlene (MERTENA) TRAHAN, Vinton, Louisiana. Merlene is the daughter of Merlen Paris MERTENA and Hassie Cora PROFFITT.

Friends to the number of about twenty gathered at the home of Mr. and Mrs. J.H. Mertena, west of Mulhall, Saturday evening to honor Mr. and Mrs. Merlen Mertena, whose marriage was an event of February 14. The bride, formerly Miss Hassie Proffitt, is teaching school near Crescent. The couple were married at the Methodist parsonage at Mulhall by Rev. J.E. Burt. Mrs. Mertena is a daughter of Rev. and Mrs. W.H. Proffitt, of Hollister, Okla., and the groom is the son of Mr. and Mrs. J.H. Mertena. The bride will complete her school term. A special time was enjoyed by all at the event Saturday evening. Cigars and candy were passed to the group.
Again, this newspaper clipping, while valuable in its own right, does not provide any information about John Henry MERTENA, except that he was living west of Mulhall, Oklahoma, at the time of his son's marriage in Feb 1931.

Source #4: Louisiana Office of Public Health, death certificate [no number given], Merlen Paris Mertena (1989); Vital Records Registry, New Orleans.

Full Name of Deceased: Merlen Paris Mertena
Date of Death: 07 May 1989
Hour of Death: 9:45 PM
Sex: Male
Race: White
Marital Status: Widowed
Date of Birth: 09 Sep 1910
Age: 78
Birthplace: Logan County, Oklahoma
Occupation: Operator
Industry: Refinery
Of Hispanic Origin: No
Ever in US Armed Forces: No
Social Security Number: 440-14-2613
Place of Death: Nursing Home
Name of Facility: Holly Hill Rest Home
Location of Facility: Sulphur, Calcasieu, Louisana
Usual Residence: 224 Self St, Sulphur, Calcasieu, Louisiana 70663
Father: John H. Mertena
Birthplace: Franklin County, Illinois
Mother: Blanche Welden
Birthplace: Coffeyville, Missouri
Informant: Joe H. Mertena, 104 East End, Sulphur, LA 70663
Cause of death: Cardiac duress
Disposition: Burial at Mimosa Pines Cemetery in Sulphur, Louisiana
Funeral Home: Hixson Funeral Home, Sulphur, Louisiana
Again, his son's death record gives John Henry's birthplace as Franklin County, Illinois. The informant for the death record was my great-uncle, Joseph Henry "Tony" MERTENA, son of Merlen Paris MERTENA. I'm not quite sure if the birthplace of John Henry MERTENA was passed down orally to Tony, or if he had a copy of the delayed birth record of Merlen Paris MERTENA. Tony was 14 when his grandfather, John Henry MERTENA, passed away in 1956, so it's possible his birth information was relayed to Tony by John Henry MERTENA himself. It's also possible that Tony consulted with my grandmother, his sister, who was six years older than him and close to their grandfather, before giving the information. Either way, this information is again secondary at best.

Source #5: "Merlen P. Mertena," obituary, Lake Charles (Louisiana) American Press, 10 May 1989, page 2, column 2.

Sulphur -- Funeral services for Merlen P. Mertena, 70, of 224 Self St., will be at 2:30 p.m. today, May 10, in Hixson-Guardian Chapel. The Rev. Howard Childs will officiate. Burial will be in Mimosa Pines Cemetery. Mr. Mertena died at 9:45 p.m. Sunday in a local rest home. A native of Logan County, Okla., he had lived in Sulphur most of his life. He was a retired operator for Conoco, and had been a member of Maplewood United Methodist Church since 1953. Survivors are two sons, William John Mertena of Olympia, Wash., and Joe H. Mertena of Sulphur; two daughters, Mrs. Merlene Trahan of Vinton and Mrs. Jill Ellender of Lake Charles; 10 grandchildren and six great-grandchildren.
While this does provide great information about my great-grandfather's life and his children, it does not mention his parents at all.

So, what can we conclude? We can conclude that John Henry MERTENA was possibly born on 11 Mar 1884 in Franklin County, Illinois.

What to do next? Southern Illinois University, an Illinois Regional Archives Depository, has birth records and an index to birth records for Franklin County from 1877 to 1916. I need to write them to see if they can look up John Henry's birth record. I know from past experience that they will look up one to two names at a time, and all it costs is $1.00 per page copied if they find anything. Though in the end I probably will want to order the birth records in full from the FHL. They have Franklin County birth records from 1861 to 1915 and the index from 1877 to 1916. This will allow me to look for other MERTENA births in Franklin County.

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