A few months ago I wrote about my great-grandfather’s first marriage. When we last left Walter Bell, he had just eloped with Anna Hertel in January 1907. Walter and Anna divorced in January 1910 and she succumbed to tuberculosis in 1921.
What did Walter do after the divorce?
In 1910 Federal Census, taken in April, we find Walter living in a rooming house in East Orange, New Jersey. His occupation is a manager for an oil company. Living with him, and marked as his wife, is a 19-year-old woman named “Genieve.” This is noted as their first marriage and they have supposedly been married for two years. Genieve has never had children and doesn’t work. She was born in Kansas to parents from Michigan.
The mysterious Genieve never appears in a city directory associated with Walter, nor any other record that I have been able to find. If they were married for two years, Walter would have had to marry her prior to his divorce from Anna. Whether they were ever really married is unclear. Where did he meet and marry his second wife? What is her maiden name? Where did she go after they parted ways? All unanswered questions.
Whenever Walter and Genieve split, it must have been before Walter married his third wife in Binghampton, New York on the 8th of May 1911. Wife number 3 was Leda Pitkin Curtis, daughter of Egbert Curtis and Emma Whittemore. On his marriage license application he lists this as only his second marriage and he is divorced. At the time of their union, Walter resided in Manhattan, near Columbia University. In 1911 his residence is on 123rd Street and by 1912 he has moved a few blocks away to 138th Street.
In 1912, Walter and Leda moved to Chicago. Their son, Walter Curtis Bell, was born there in November 1912. The family disappears for a couple years, with no appearance in the Chicago city directory from 1914-1917. After that they are back in Chicago, with Walter continuing to change jobs every 2-3 years, until he got a job with the Gerkin Oil Company in Dayton, Ohio in 1921. The family moved there but within a year the couple had split. Leda returned to Chicago with their son and married a manager at a railroad company.
And what did Walter do next? I will save that for another post!