Thursday, April 5, 2012

My Paternal Grandmother in 1940

My second find in the 1940 census was my paternal grandmother, Merlene Golda MERTENA. Like my paternal grandfather, she was exactly where I thought she would be. I didn't know, though, whether her family would be in the town of Mulhall or Mulhall Township in Logan County, Oklahoma. At first when I talked to her, she thought they would be in Ponca City, which is about 60 miles northeast of Mulhall. This is where the family moved after leaving Mulhall. Then I reminded her that Uncle Tony (her little brother) was born in Guthrie (just south of Mulhall and the closest city with a hospital) in 1941. Then she agreed that they would still be in Mulhall in 1940. I just didn't think to ask her whether it was the town or the township. However, since neither of the locations is very large, I was able to find them pretty quickly. They were on the third page of Mulhall Township, which is kind of what I figured, since I knew her grandfather had a farm.

1940 U.S. census, Logan County, Oklahoma, population schedule, Mulhall Township, enumeration district (ED) 26, sheet 2A, family 33, Merlen Mertena household; digital images, 1940 Census ( : accessed 2 April 2012); citing NARA microfilm publication T627, roll 3307.
Next door to my grandmother and her parents were her paternal grandparents, John Henry and Blanche (Welden) Mertena. John Henry owned his home, which was valued at $1,000. As my grandmother has always said, it was listed as a farm. He was age 56 and was born in Illinois, which is corroborated by most sources we have for him. Most sources state he was born 11 Mar 1884 in Franklin County, Illinois (some say East St. Louis, Illinois). He and Blanche both had an 8th grade education and lived in the same house in 1935. Naturally, he was a farmer. Blanche was also age 56 and was born in Missouri, which matches the info I have from a family Bible and her actual birth register entry (entry #7) at She was born 31 Aug 1883 in Salem Township, Daviess, Missouri.

My great-grandparents are listed next with my grandmother and great-uncle. This is the first census they appear in as a married couple, as they did not marry until 14 Feb 1931. My great-uncle shown here was born later that year. They rented their house, and the monthly rent was given as $500. I find that hard to believe. I believe the census taker wrote the value of the home rather than the rental amount, as the instructions stated. My great-grandfather, Merlen Paris Mertena, was listed as age 28, which is about a year off. He should have been 29, as he was born 09 Sep 1910 in Mulhall. His birthplace was given as Oklahoma, and he graduated from high school. I knew this to be true, as my grandma still has his senior autograph book and his high school graduation program. He was also a farmer, but his farm was a rented farm. My great-grandmother, Hassie (Proffitt) Mertena, was age 32 and also born in Oklahoma. This info is corroborated by other sources. She was born 26 Feb 1908 in Crescent, Logan, Oklahoma. She had two years of college, which I also knew to be true because my grandmother still has some of her report cards. She studied to be a teacher and worked as one for about three years or so before she got married. My great-uncle Bill is listed as Billy J. Mertena (they called him Billy John; his real name was William John Mertena) and was age 8. My grandmother was age 4. Both of their ages appear to be correct.

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