Deep Diving with Gertrude Belle-Oudry, part 3 of 5

Oh Census info, oh Census info!
Our thoughts are now of you!
We seek you out for wife and widow,
Oh Census info, give us a clue!

Day 2

Day 1 was a long day, but I made a lot of progress (enough to fill 2 blog posts). Not only did I get the basic outline of Gertrude’s life (and Edouard’s), I found the stories of her marriage and remarriage to Edouard, and even photos of them.

Usually when doing a deep (or not so deep) dive, I start with the census information, since that gives me locations and sometimes occupations at those years. However, this time since I had the Palmquist information, I followed up on that first.

So now for the census info …

I save a FamilySearch person information page for Emma (née Bollman), which has her birth and death dates so I know where to look:

  • b. 12 October 1837
  • d. 5 March 1914

I make a quick detour to to look for an obit for Emma, but no luck. Another quick detour to FindAGrave to look for them, but nothing. [Oops, except for Edward’s father, “Edward Rene Jacques Oudry”: 15 September 1827 – 3 March 1873]. Enough detouring!


When I’m trying to find people in the Census, I go back and forth between FamilySearch and Ancestry’s search engine is a little more flexible than FamilySearch’s, but FamilySearch gives the results in a nicer format for our information files. Both FamilySearch and Ancestry may have suggestions for “similar records” to the one you’re looking at, and very often, but not always, they are for the same person.


I find Gertrude’s entry in 1880 via one of those suggestions on Ancestry. She’s only 5 years old and her parents, Charles H and Grace Davis, call her Gertie. I don’t find Edouard or Emma in 1880, unfortunately.

In the 1900 census, Gertrude and Edouard are already married (for the first time), and living together with Emma. We also learn that he was born in California, but his father was French.

In the 1910 census, Gertrude is listed as photographer. Edward is listed has an Employer with his own studio, while in Gertrude’s entry O.A. is pencilled in, indicating that she was an owner as well. The Census doesn’t tell us whether they are co-owners, but it’s likely. (We have found other married couples with completely unrelated businesses, and in those cases they probably were not co-owners.)

From the 1920 census we find out that Edouard’s first language is French. Très intéressant.

In the 1930 census, Gertrude owns her own home, and it is worth $25,000, which is a good amount back then. (Edward had died in 1923.)

In the 1940 census, Gertrude’s last name is mistranscribed on both Ancestry (Qudry) and FamilySearch (Quary). Thank goodness for approximate searching! She is renting now, and the value of her property is $16. What happened?!?! She is no longer a photographer, but a “filer” in a public school.

To recap: Emma is never listed as photographer in the Census. Gertrude on the other hand is a photographer from 1910-1930 (and we already know that she started at least in 1906), so she’s a photographer for over 20 years. Gertrude may have lost everything during the Great Depression — it certainly looks that way.

With further poking around, I find a 1922 Voter registration for Gertrude: she’s a Republican (she had been a Teddy Roosevelt Progressive back in 1914, and he was a Republican President). I also find records of her two marriages. In the second one, she is listed as G.M. Davis even though she was divorced. Sometimes women were give the “right” to revert to their maiden name (or a previous married name) after a divorce, so this isn’t that surprising. In the 1930 and 1940 censuses, she is Gertrude Belle-Oudry. I also find a FamilySearch info page for Emma which says she got married in 1860, but there is no source given for that.

I go back to to look for Gertrude Davis, hoping to find information about her life before she gets married, and between her marriages. I don’t find too much — a few notices of her performing as a singer, but seemingly never as the principal singer or soloist, despite what her obit suggests.

I also take another look for her as Gertrude Belle Oudry (and variations, like Mrs. Belle Oudry) in general. I find a couple interesting things. I’ll start with the tragic one (though not for her!) and save the positive one to end on (even though it’s not the actual order I found things in — poetic license and all that).

In 1909 Gertrude and Edward are connected to the double suicide of a prominent art collector and an accused murderer. On Monday August 9, the “art connoisseur” Mark Manchester, who had an extensive art collection, including “three of the only original Turner water colors west of the Rock Mountains” (Oakland Tribune, 1909-08-12, p. 1), was arrested on a “serious charge.” While the various newspaper accounts are discreet, Gertrude probably caught Manchester exposing himself to Gertrude and Edward’s 7 year old son. The stories of the immediate aftermath vary wildly, but the gist of it is that Manchester is arrested for a felony, gives a false name, and spends the night in jail before being released the following morning, under his real name, on $500 bail at a reduced charge of a misdemeanor. His cellmate for the night was a man named August Cousins, who was accused of murdering his wife’s alleged lover.

After spending the next 2 days brooding, Manchester commits suicide during the night of Thursday to Friday by turning on the gas oven in the kitchen of his house, where he lived with his two adult children. He left two notes: one for his daughter warning her not to light the stove, since the room would be filled with gas; the other note expressed his regret and shame. Back in the jail, Cousins also commits suicide in the early hours of Friday, though by hanging. While it could be a coincidence, the newspapers talk of a suicide pact between Manchester and Cousins.

That is definitely one of the odder “side stories” that we have come across in researching EWAPs.

Overall, though, there is very little concerning Gertrude in the newspapers, and nothing about her after the second divorce.

Time to face the music [teacher]: on to the directories!

In 1900 Gertrude Davis (the 1900 directory would have been compiled in late 1899) is a music teacher in the people portion of the Oakland directory. The business portion has lots of music teachers, including two listings for G Davis. The people directory has them living at the same address, even though the business directory has two different addresses. There’s probably a mistake somewhere, but crucially for us our Gertrude is a music teacher, not a photographer, when she marries Edward in January 1900.

OK, I’m tired of the directories already, I’m taking a break.


But as I promised, I’ll end on a more positive note. Before I found the Manchester-Cousins story, I found a poem by Gertrude Belle Oudry published in the local paper in 1924:


1924 poem 'Asilomar' by Gertrude Belle-Oudry

Oakland Tribune, 1924-12-14, p. 85. Source:

Asilomar was a gathering place for the YWCA even before they renamed it Asilomar. In 1924, they were in the process of building a new center there, designed by Julia Morgan, an early American woman architect, who is quite a character in her own right. She had already designed the Oakland YWCA and was in the process of designing Hearst Castle. She also later designed the Berkeley Women’s City Club, where Lee and I were luck enough to spend a few nights several years ago, including New Year’s Eve with a view of San Francisco Bay. Wonderful!

Now my original notes when I found this poem were that it was probably by our Gertrude, and not her daughter also named Gertrude, since Getrude Junior (and yes, Senior and Junior used to be used for women and girls, too, not just men and boys) was only 11 years old in 1924. However, in writing this up, I see that the page the poem occurs on is a children’s page, where all the other items are written by children. So I have to think that the poem should be attributed to Gertrude Junior, not to our Gertrude. However, I also have to say that the language of the poem doesn’t seem like the language of an 11 year old. Maybe Gertrude Senior helped Gertrude Junior — parents have been known to help their children. Well, whoever wrote the poem, it is a fun way to end this post.

Next time, I really will tackle the directories…

Posted in EWAP