Ok, I just had to do one more Friday FANS post on Venita Randall. As you'll recall from last week, we found out from living grandmother that Venita was her father's girlfriend. My grandma didn't think too highly of her, of course, but I still wanted to find out more about her. I began my quest at Ancestry.com and tried to get beyond the city directories for Ponca City, Oklahoma, where I originally found Venita listed in the same house as my great-grandfather in 1952. I previously had traced Venita back in the city directories of Ponca City to 1946, when she was listed as Mrs. Venita Collins.
Turns out, even with a unique name like Venita, she was still pretty hard to pin down. In fact, I really don't know if either of the two Venita's I've found in census records are her or not. My theory was that Collins was a married name and Randall was a maiden name that she reverted back to using after a divorce. I have searched the online marriage record index at the Pioneer Genealogical Society's website for Kay County, Oklahoma, and I have not found a Collins bride by the name of Venita. If Randall was a second married name, they did not get married in Kay County. Of course, it is possible that Venita Collins' marriage to a Mr. Randall did occur in Kay County and is indexed under her maiden name, which is unknown at this time. The index is a .pdf document and not easily searchable.
Assuming Randall as the maiden name, the closest match I've found is a woman named Venita Randall living in Iowa, Doniphan, Kansas, in the 1930 census. I did some searching and found that Doniphan County is in northeast Kansas, near the Nebraska/Missouri lines. It's a good 300 miles from Ponca City. Venita was age 20, which suggests a birth date of 1910 (same year as my great-grandfather). She was born in Kansas and did not have a job. She lived with her father, Claude E. Randall, and an uncle, Obadiah Harness. Her father was a mail carrier and her uncle a farm laborer. Is this my Venita? Maybe, maybe not.
In 1940, I found a Venita Collins living in Prairie, Wyandotte, Kansas. She was age 30 and born in Kansas, the same age as the Venita Randall from 1930. Prairie is a suburb of Kansas City and 90 miles southeast of Iowa Township in Doniphan County. Venita lived with her husband, John W. Collins, age 32 and born in Kansas. He was a section hand for the railroad. There were no children. Interestingly, when looking back at the 1930 census, there was a John W. Collins living next door to Venita and her father who was about the same age. He was age 23 and a grocery merchant in 1930. Therefore, I'm pretty sure the Venita from 1930 is the same as the one from 1940. Is it my Venita? Still don't know. I'm assuming they must have moved from Doniphan County to the suburbs of Kansas City because of his job with the railroad. Could that have caused them to move to Ponca City as well? And, they lived in Topeka in 1935, according to the 1940 census, so it seems that they did move quite often. I'm no rail expert, but it looks like the Atchison, Topeka and Santa Fe Railroad ran through Ponca City and had connections in Topeka and Kansas City.
I decided to go back and check the Ponca City directories for a John W. Collins between 1942 and 1948, and I did not find one. Oh, well. For now, I think I'll put Venita Randall to rest. I better do that before my great-grandmother comes back to haunt me.