We Were Close In Age, So We Quibbled

Lillie’s tombstone in the New Loraine Cemetery, Loraine, Adams County, Illinois, indicates that she was born on 13 December 1909. That date is consistent with the story told by her younger sister (my grandmother) involving their dates of birth. Grandma said that the reason she and Lillie did not always see eye-to-eye on things is because they were so close in age.

That closeness always seemed a little suspect as Grandma was born in 1910–September of 1910. Great-grandma having Aunt Lillie in December of 1909 and my Grandma in September of 1910 (on September 1 no less) seemed a little snug for a time frame.

But one didn’t really argue with Grandma.

Grandma’s date of birth is clearly documented on 1 September 1910 on her birth certificate and on her 1915 baptismal record. Aunt Lillie was baptized on the same day. Her baptismal entry indicated she was born in 1908.

The census records that have currently been released suggest the 1908 date as well.

Census Enumerations:

  • 1910 Census–Wythe Township, Hancock County, Illinois. Enumerated as Lily Marie Trautvetter aged 1 year 4/12 months in household of George Trautvetter.
  • 1920 Census–Walker Township, Hancock County, Illinois. Enumerated as Lillie M. Trautvetter, aged 11 years in household of George Trautvetter
  • 1930 Census–Houston Township, Adams County, Illinois. Enumerated as Lillian M. Short, aged 21 years in household of Gay Short (her husband).
  • 1940 Census–Loraine Village, Adams County, Illinois. Enumerated as Lillian M. Short, aged 31* years in household of Gay Short (her husband).

Based upon the census date and the enumeration being accurate:

  • 1910 census (15 April 1910): Born approximately December 1908.
  • 1920 census (1 January 1920): Would have turned 11 in 1919, making her born in 1908.
  • 1930 census (1 April 1930): Would have turned 21 between April of 1929 and March of 1930, making her born between April of 1908 and March of 1909.
  • 1940 census (1 April 1940): Would have turned 31* between April of 1939 and March of 1940, making her born between April of 1908 and March of 1909.

Lillie’s census enumerations (1910-1940) are all consistent with a date of birth in December of 1908. Aunt Lillie’s Social Security Death Index entry (at Ancestry.com) indicated a birth date of 1908 as well. That’s the least contemporary of the records I have located (except for the tombstone).

I’m betting (but not certain) that Aunt Lillie’s obituary indicated she was born in 1909 as well. Grandma always insisted she and her younger sister born really close together.

All documents used in this example were transcribed as they were written of as they were inscribed. But my conclusion of when Lillie was born is 1908–based on the relatively contemporary baptismal record and the consistency of the census records.

I’m still searching for the birth record. That’s the most contemporary record of this event and I should document how I have searched for it and that I have not found it. It could easily contain a different date and that might alter my conclusion.

But until then, based upon the records I have, I’m going with a birth date of 13 December 1908.


*–the original post indicated she was 21 in 1930. This was a typographical error and has been corrected.





6 thoughts on “We Were Close In Age, So We Quibbled

  1. Yup. My ex-husband always told people his 2 children were months closer together than they were; I don’t know how many times I counted out the months for him on a calendar. People’s memories get fuzzy (not mine!!) and they stick to their stories and argue with you at reunions that you have their parents’ names/dates/etc. wrong. I have taken your tip to heart and tend to trust the earliest versions of a person’s name and/or birthday.

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