Friday, August 9, 2013

Continuing a Tradition: Forgetting My Blogoversary

Almost.  If it hadn't been for Grant Davis of The Stephen Sherwood Letters, who was kind enough to leave a congratulatory comment on this blog, I would have forgotten my blogoversary.

My relative lack of blogging activity notwithstanding, I have not abandoned genealogy and it has not abandoned me.  As you can see from my previous post, I recently broke through a brick wall.  I am taking this as a sign not to let my research go dormant, and to keep plugging away, even if it is just a bit every night.

My husband and I have reserved hotel rooms in Richmond for NGS 2014.

We have a trip planned next month to my favorite ancestral stomping ground, the Greenville-Anderson area of South Carolina.  We are even discussing possible future research trips to Dallas, Texas and Greene County, Illinois.

And even when I am not doing much of anything, this blog (as well as my website, Greta's Genealogy) continue to work for me.  So while I miss the regular interaction with readers that accompanies regular posting, the blog is still doing what it was created to do.

Many thanks to those of you who have "stayed tuned."  There are a few posts in the planning....

Thursday, August 1, 2013

Gen Zen

The best results often happen when you aren’t even trying....

There is no other way to describe it. It’s the Zen of genealogy. 

But I should back up and explain. During my one year plus of self-imposed exile from active genealogy research, I have become pathetic. My research has become pathetic, not to mention almost nonexistent. 

My research muscles are flabby. And I have come to passively accept the existence of my many brick walls. Not brick walls many generations back, but early brick walls, many at the great-great-grandparent level and even one at the great-grandparent level.

 But still, I flit around aimlessly some evenings. I check out blogs on Feedly. A couple of nights ago I checked my genealogy mail, found a Family Search newsletter that links to new databases on family Search. I saw some databases for Vermont, and thought about checking out the Floyds in these records. Hey, look at all the hits I got.

But I needed to have a better idea of specific locations in Vermont to search. I decided to get that list of the names of the siblings of my great-great grandfather George Floyd, one of those brick walls that I just accept as a permanent part of my family history landscape. I thought I’d try to find a sibling who stayed in Vermont, and start with those locations.

So I looked around in Ancestry, starting with George Floyd’s two sisters. No luck with Harriet - she ended up in Wisconsin. But for Rachel, who married a Wilkins, I had better luck. Searching under both Rachel Floyd and Rachel Wilkins, I turned up a bunch of documents in the Vermont Vital Records database: a record of Rachel’s marriage to Nehemiah Wilkins, death records for a couple of young children, and ... a death record for Rachel.

 Bingo.

I was not looking for this. But I found it, or more accurately, I found them: Rachel’s parents. My great-great grandfather George’s parents: William Floyd and Betsey Wilson. And even a place of birth for Rachel: Monkton (there’s the location!).

 A brick wall came tumbling down, and I wasn’t even trying.

 [One of my favorite Geneabloggers, Cynthia Shenette, has a blog named Heritage Zen. Wise lady.]

[I must also give a huge amount of credit in this endeavor to two very generous Floyd researchers, Rich and Randy, who a couple of years ago got in touch with me and provided some wonderful old Floyd family letters, including that list of George Floyd’s siblings. Those materials and specifically that list made this discovery possible.]

Sunday, May 19, 2013

Checking In


Long time, no write.  Thank you to readers and followers who have stuck with me during an online absence that has lasted longer than I thought - my last post was in 2012!

I’m still doing genealogy (just not as much) and still following other blogs.

My research:  Still plugging away on the last family in my “all descendants” research for all of my known great-great grandparents.  Still entering information, one person at a time, in my family trees on Ancestry.  This approach has turned up some interesting information that I hope to write about eventually.  Doing a little bit of transcribing of documents from my 2010 Greenville research trip and hope to write about that as well. Still trying to tabulate and analyze my DNA results from FamilyTree DNA, 23andMe, and Ancestry DNA (see whine #1, below).  

I attended the Fairfax Genealogical Society’s Spring Conference and had a great time.  Continued my “winning streak”:  this time a free book from Arphax Publishers.  Judy Russell, and Dear Myrtle and daughter Carrie were some of the speakers - wonderful presentations!

We are starting to plan a fall vacation in Greenville, South Carolina.  I will do some more research in Greenville and also plan to go over to Anderson County for research.  Not that I have absorbed all of the research I did last time, but I just needed an excuse to get back to the Greenville area.  I also plan to attend the NGS conference in Richmond in 2014.

Some disappointments:

1.  “Tweaking” done by the various DNA companies that results in ... results dropping out, as in, “Oh, this person matched me on the Smith line, but now the Company (Ancestry/FamilyTreeDNA/23andMe) has rejiggered the results and they have disappeared from my list of matches.”  Perhaps the intention really is to fine-tune the matches, but it is pretty difficult to map, calculate, and do statistical studies/spreadsheet comparisons, etc. when the results keep changing.

2.  The disappearance of Google Reader.   I’m sure that plenty of whining has been done on this subject, so I won’t add anything.  Thanks to all who forged ahead, found alternatives and wrote about them.  I have already migrated to Feedly.

I have noticed that I am not alone in my “involuntary” exile, and hope that my fellow bloggers who have also been smacked up side the head by the demands of real life will also be able to return to the blogosphere.

Friday, December 28, 2012

Why I’m Creating a Junk Tree on Ancestry


No, it’s not revenge for all of the poorly documented trees I’ve had to wade through on Ancestry.

Nor is it a psychological experiment to see just what kind of ridiculous garbage people will copy into their own trees (grandmothers born after their grandchildren, etc.).

Nor is it a post-modern statement on the futility of associating ourselves with long-dead people.

It’s not even a decision to go over to The Dark Side of Sloppy Research because I’m just too darned busy and tired to bother with the Genealogical Proof Standard.

It has to do with DNA.

Specifically, the sets of DNA matches that I have been able to (tentatively) tie to specific lines.

Because some of my DNA matches appear to be in those “fuzzy” parts of my ancestral lines.

And some of the matches I am getting are interesting - no, make that very interesting.  And some of those tentative matches appear to be supported by other matches, some of which go even farther back along the same lines.    

So, here’s the deal.  I am not including any information that I know to be false.  I am, however, going back a generation or two farther than the documentary evidence with which I am familiar would cover, i.e., some of these are “reputed” parents (or parents of parents) that are commonly encountered in online trees or claimed in a family history, online post, etc., without citation of sufficiently thorough supporting evidence.   

I do not do this with my other, “main” Ancestry trees; additions are only made to these trees when I can document the connection.  However, for several reasons, these trees have not been useful to me with Ancestry DNA connections.  For one thing, I have three personal trees, divided up into my father’s ancestors, my maternal grandmother’s ancestors, and my maternal grandfather’s ancestors. So if I connected any single tree, it would leave out large chunks of my ancestors. If I elected not to choose a particular tree to connect, Ancestry would give a person viewing my DNA connection the option to choose among my trees - but I am fairly certain when some people saw my name in the list with “No family tree” indicated, they would think that I had no tree to connect and would not even click on my name.  Or, they might click on my trees and see my husband’s trees listed as well, which might be confusing.  Better to have something which covers all of my lines, if not necessarily in extensive, documented detail.

So, I created a pedigree tree.  During my first couple of years of research, I looked into what kind of research had been done previously on various lines, took notes, and could reconstruct a pedigree based on this research and some original discoveries of my own.  There were roughly four different categories of research in terms of quality of the material that was online:

  1. Some connections were obviously bogus and I rejected them outright.  
  2. In other cases, there was well documented research online, sometimes including extensive databases that were regularly updated and even discussions among different researchers who hammered out various arguments for and against making specific connections. Many of the supporting documents had been put online. I did not deem it necessary to duplicate these efforts and instead focused on family lines that had not really been researched to a significant extent. 
  3. For other lines, the material that was online was not comprehensive or conclusive, but did seem to point in a particular direction.  
  4. And in the last category, the connections were plausible enough, but I could not find compelling arguments or evidence to nail down the connection.

So now it is true confession time:  my pedigree tree on Ancestry includes some connections from these last two categories.  Before I connected this tree to my DNA results, for the most part I had to search out connections on my own, trying to remember in my head established and tentative family connections.  

[Side note on why I am focusing on Ancestry DNA:  right now it is the major source of my DNA “matches”; I also participate in Family Tree DNA, but so far only have three matches (out of a total of 437 so far) where I can definitely identify a connection, though I hope this will increase as I contact more people. I just received my kit from 23 and Me, but from what I have heard it also has a low rate of responses to inquiries.  From Ancestry, however, I already have a list of 43 connections of interest (for 39 of which I can directly connect family lines) plus a few additional “maybes,” and of course Ancestry is just getting into the game - so far it appears that new matches are added every week, compared to something like twice a month for Family Tree DNA.  Ancestry itself will show the connection if it can, but it’s often possible to figure it out yourself.]

There is, of course, a major fly in the ointment:  at this point Ancestry is not including the actual genetic information, i.e., the precise chromosomal location of the matches.  And this eliminates the main tool for verifying and correlating matches.  My message to Ancestry:  Ancestry, your autosomal matching would be the most useful in the field if you included this information.

The other people I would send a message to would be Ancestry subscribers who are participating in the DNA testing:  if you do not have a tree on Ancestry, create one.  If your tree is private, either make it public or create a separate pedigree tree as I have for connection to match results. If there is “sketchy” information in your connected tree, by all means make that clear when you correspond with your matches.

Below are some of the findings I have from Ancestry DNA (for readers not related to me, you can skip straight to the end past these specifics, but just a glance will tell you that there is some substantial evidence here).  What is interesting (and persuasive) are the consistency of many of the matches:  I can already see trends - multiple matches along certain lines - which confirms the fact that we do not inherit genetic material equally from all ancestors, and may not share genetic material, or at least significant genetic material, with many of our distant ancestors.  Obviously, it is easier to make connections for well-researched lines than for those that are not as well researched, and this makes me wonder about the family lines where I have significant brick walls:  if I could correlate the family lines of my matches, would I turn up some major, multiple overlaps that would give me a hint as to where some of my connections actually are?  (Another idea for Ancestry:  Could you make such a tool available for Ancestry DNA participants?  Just a thought.)

1.  Norman-Monk:  One connection through my great-great grandparents Joseph Madison Carroll Norman and Rebecca Monk.  This is exciting because JMC Norman had three wives, and I am mostly in touch with descendants of his other two wives, so to get an actual connection to one of Rebecca’s descendants is wonderful.  Furthermore, both the Norman and Monk lines get confirmation:

Norman-Read:  This is a 6g-level connection and is significant to me because it goes beyond the 5g-level where, for me at least, the documentary trail seemed a little bit lacking - the will of 5g-grandfather James Norman mentions son Joseph Norman, but I was not sure how he was identified as Joseph Madison Carroll Norman (the older - my 4g-grandfather, the grandfather of my 2g-grandfather with the same name).

Norman-Courtney:  This, at the level of my 7g-grandparents, is a big payoff, and I not only have three connections at this level (plus another possible, but not established connection), I have an independent connection at the next level up for Courtneys (Courtney-Jenkins, the parents of my 7g-grandmother, Frances Courtney).

Monk-unknown:  There are two purely Monk connections, because I do not know or am not sure of the maternal side in each case:  one for my 3g-grandfather Silas Monk, whose wife may have been a Nancy Dunn, and one for my 6g-grandfather Willis Monk, whose wife is not known.  

And from there it gets more interesting and goes into some of those uncharted (for me) waters:

Monk-Hodges:  This one goes to the 7g level.

(Monk-Pool-)Bullock-Hood:  This is an independent connection to my 6g-grandparents, David Bullock and Elizabeth Hood (my Bullock connection comes through a Monk-Pool connection, but the match has no Monk connection), and there is another possible separate Bullock connection.

2.  Brinlee-McKinney:  Two connections at the 2g-level (my great-great-grandparents Hiram Brinlee Senior and Elizabeth Ann McKinney).

McKinney-McClure:  An independent McKinney connection at the 3g level (Daniel McKinney and Margaret McClure) and one at the 4g-level (McKinney-Blatchley) (I also have a McKinney connection at this same level through Family Tree DNA), plus an independent Blatchley connection (at the 8g level - definitely some of that “iffy” territory for me).

3.  Poole-Manning:  one connection at the 4g level (I also have a match at this level on FTDNA).  Next along this line:

(Poole-Manning-)Mabry-Bradley:  One connection (and another possible) at the 6g level. 

4.  Johnson-Moorman and Johnson-Massie:  These would be at the 6g and 7g level.  There are a number of connections here, plus other possibles.  Not surprising that this line, while distant, has a strong showing - these families, plus the Clarks (for whom I have a 7g and possibly an 8g connection) intermarried with incredible (and confusing) frequency.  I always know when I see a man named Moorman Johnson (or Clark Johnson or a family full of Micajahs and Bollings) that there is a family connection.  One of my contacts has a Benjamin Johnson who married a Margery Massie; this Benjamin Johnson was originally posited as a relative of my Johnsons (I think he may be a brother of my 6g-grandfather) and subsequent DNA testing has shown that this is so, plus his Massie wife is almost certain to be related to my Massies.  One of my matches has so many Clarks, Johnsons, Massies, and Clarks in his line that I cannot even figure out all of our connections.

5.  Hamilton line:  One connection at the 6g (Hamilton-Kincaid) level and two at the 7g level (Hamilton-Adams).

6.  The Tarrant line:  I am almost 100% certain that my great-great grandmother Emily Tarrant came from the Tarrants of Greenville, South Carolina, all of whom were descended from a Leonard Tarrant (and one of my matches is descended from this Leonard Tarrant), but I do not know precisely who her parents were.  However, I have been pulling up matches (three so far) with people who have connections to the Dalton families that married into these Tarrants - specifically, Leonard Tarrant’s son Benjamin married a Mary Dalton, and their sons Robert and Wyatt also married a pair of Dalton sisters (apparently cousins).  There is also a Tankersley connection (which may not the actual point of connection with this particular DNA match, as it points to a different son of Leonard Tarrant) and one or two tentative Terry connections (which might point to Emily’s father being one of the two sons of Benjamin Tarrant who married Dalton girls, since their father, Solomon Dalton, married a Terry - yes, I know, this is making my head hurt, too.)   

Obviously, the absence of information on the chromosomal location of my matches, as well as the big gaps in my family lines left by some major brickwalls (two great-grandparents are missing and 16 great-great-great grandparents are missing) means that I may be misidentifying connections.  However, I believe that the information above indicates some real trends, and will be checking all my new connections as well as contacting matches without Ancestry trees (or with private trees) to try to support these findings.

I will be amending and extending this pedigree tree as I turn up genetic and documentary evidence for and against the various connections that it indicates, and I hope that one day it will rise above the level of a “junk” tree, but in the meantime, I am definitely finding that it is a useful (not to say absolutely reliable) tool.

Monday, November 12, 2012

What’s Been Happening, Part 1 (or: Fun with DNA)


“Regular” life is same-old, same-old = too much work, but in my exhausted stupor in the evenings, I’ve managed to make a little bit of progress over the past year.

There have only been two “active” areas for me this year:  putting my existing genealogy database information in my Ancestry Public Member Trees (I do this in a labor-intensive, ancestor-by-ancestor way, but I think the attention to detail makes up for the amount of time that it consumes) and DNA testing with Family Tree DNA and Ancestry.

To address the last one first:  Interesting experience.  I would say that it is definitely worthwhile to do the DNA testing, although you have to sift through a lot of dross to hit paydirt.  And, of course, new information is always being added, so that can always change the significance of the information that is already there.  I tested with Family Tree DNA first, and now have something like 42 pages of matches.  Of those, I can only positively identify the connection for three matches.  One of these was for a family line that I felt of lot of confidence in, but it was still exciting to see the connection confirmed:  the McKinneys of Texas (think Collin County and the city of McKinney).  Not because this is a “minor celebrity” branch, but because it was one of the earliest genealogical references I ever heard my relatives make (one that I dismissed at the time) and one of the clues that I pursued when I first started family research.

I contacted the person in question, but did not receive a response.  Then how did I know that these were “my” McKinneys?  After all, McKinney is not an uncommon name.  The person did at least have family names listed, and there were two that caught my eye:  Blatchley and Coffey.  That clinched it for me, and even pretty much pinned down where the connection is.

The second connection was through the Pool/Poole (I actually have two lines for this name, one on my father’s side and one on my mother’s side) and Manning families (Adam Poole m. Esther Manning).  This was exciting because it confirmed the connection from the Lewis line; I believe I was the first Lewis researcher to identify Elisha Berry Lewis’ wife as Martha Poole, daughter of Manning Poole (and previous work done by other researchers has established his connection to Adam and Esther).  I have since found a second connection on this line (through a different sibling of Manning) on Ancestry DNA.

The third connection goes to my Hamilton-Calhoun line:  my first Hamilton is my 4g-grandmother Elizabeth Hamilton, wife of Henry Skiles III, and the Calhoun connection is several generations up from that.  I know that due to migration patterns, etc., there are often multiple family connections, so that this might not be the actual shared DNA, but still ... the possibility that this is where the match lies is intriguing, and I will be keeping an eye on future matches through this segment to see if the connection is confirmed.

Ancestry DNA, though it has a shorter list of matches, has more identifiable connections - 11 at last count.  Two Brinlee matches - no surprise, though I am enjoying corresponding with one of these matches, who is a relatively new researcher.  There are two McKinney matches, and one has an interesting McKinney connection:  due to a first cousin marriage, he is descended both from my ggg-grandfather Daniel McKinney and from Daniel’s brother Collin McKinney.  

There are two Norman matches:  one is descended from the full sister of my great-grandfather (he also had many half-siblings), and one is descended from from my Norman-surnamed 6g-grandfather.  This latter connection is also welcome news, as it confirms the connection between my 5g-grandfather (whose affiliation with my line I am confident of) and the alleged progenitor of the family in this country (my 7g-grandfather Isaac Norman).  I knew that some pretty sound research had been done on this line, but had not seen enough documentation for these generations.  To make a nice set with the Norman connections,  there is a match through my Monk line - the sibling of Rebecca Monk, my great-great grandmother and first wife of Joseph Madison Carroll Norman.  

The remaining matches are on my mother’s side:  another Poole confirmation as well as  two other matches that confirmed some of my original research - the Lewis connection to the Dalrymple family and a Tarrant connection, which provides support for the sole documentary evidence I have (so far) that my great-great grandmother Emily Moore, wife of Spencer Moore, was a Tarrant, and specifically one of the Greenville Tarrants.

So why am I able to ascertain the connections for more of my Ancestry matches?  I imagine the answer to that is that most of them have family trees on Ancestry.  There are a number of my matches on FTDNA who post their pedigrees, and many more who post the family names they are researching - but perhaps not enough.  While I was able to figure out one of the matches without a pedigree, for the most part it is the context in the trees that helps me out.

And none of my FTDNA matches has responded to my messages to them.  To be fair, after testing with FTDNA, I was quickly contacted by several matches, but none of us has been able to pinpoint our connection.  I have had more responses on Ancestry, but only a couple of them seem to be actively researching the lines in question.  One contact for whom I provided the maiden name for a female ancestor who was not very far back in his family tree was polite, but did not seem to be interested in finding out more about the new family connection.

So what is behind the indifference of all of the people who went to the trouble and paid their money to get their DNA tested, but have provided little or no family information, do not bother to respond, do not want to pursue the information further?  I am aware that I need to be patient - some of the people may not check their results or e-mail regularly or may have had to put their research on hold - heck, I’ve been in that situation myself for most of the past year.  Even then, even in my most comatose state of tiredness, a contact from a new cousin could always get me going.  

And why do so many people provide little or no family information?  I have heard that there are a number of people who test with Family Tree or 23 and Me who are adopted, so they have no information to post, but other than that situation, how do people expect to get results?  Even I figured out how to post my pedigree on FTDNA - if I can do it, anyone can.  I even submitted it to Gedmatch (though there seem to be a number of glitches/problems/bugs with this site), and I’m going to switch the only one of my Ancestry trees that is private to public so that that information will be accessible as well.  

It occurs to me that the same people who start research but then get discouraged after the first few “finds” when they learn that they are going to have to do some real digging are the ones who take the DNA test and then do not pursue it when they see that it takes some real work to find out what their connections are with various people.  Correlating DNA evidence, like correlating documentary evidence, is not simple or easy.

Here is what I am doing to pursue the DNA evidence:

Writing to all people shown as my DNA matches for whom:  (a) there is a strong match or (b)  I can pinpoint the connection; if they do not have an Ancestry tree, or it is a private tree, or if they are on FTDNA and have not posted either a pedigree or a detailed name list, I am offering to exchange pedigrees.

Continue to fill out my Ancestry trees, and also direct people to my website and blog, so that they can have more complete information to calculate our connections.

Use Gedmatch, Excel/Numbers, and FTDNA’s Chromosome Browser to correlate information:  sort out people by chromosome and then chromosome segment, and then see who lines up with my known connections; keep spreadsheets of some names that pop up with a lot of my matches; and whatever else I can think of.

If anyone reading this has any other suggestions for how to use DNA matches to find more information, I’d love to hear them!

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Four Years Old


My fourth blogoversary comes at the end of my “quietest” year in blogging.  Real life, mainly my job, claimed a lot of the time I would have preferred to spend on research and blogging.  I have been gratified to see that my readers and fellow genealogy bloggers are a loyal lot and have not forgotten this blog.  While my schedule does not look as though it will return to a completely normal state, I do hope to have at least a bit of weekend time for my avocations.  

I continue to read genealogy blogs and follow the research, observations, and views discussed in those blogs with interest.  To those of you who live, breathe, read and write genealogy:  You all exemplify one of the least heralded benefits of “networking”:  pure enjoyment.

Sunday, August 5, 2012

The Meaning of "Finished"


“It is finished.”
The indexing of the 1940 census, that is.
Sort of.
And my laggard state, Texas, is finally fully indexed.  I think of the state as being the slow one, not the indexers.  Texas seems to have had a lot of people with bad handwriting, and I’m sure that was a challenge.  Not to mention some of those loopy Southern nicknames, the type that took root among my ancestors and elbowed out their given names.
When I saw the announcement of the completion of indexing on Ancestry, and to celebrate my semi-freedom (= not working this weekend), I decided to see whom I could find on the 1940 census.  Earlier I had found my mother’s parents and younger siblings in Baylor County, Texas using Morse and Weintraub’s Universal 1940 Census Image Viewer.
Could I find my mother?  Yes.  But I wasn’t so sure that I would be able to at first.  When I clicked on “Search the 1940 Census,”  the only choices that appeared under the state of residence were All, Delaware, District of Columbia, Maine, Nevada, and New York. 
Then I tried going to Search, Census and Voter Lists, 1940 United States Federal Census, and there the choices for state of residence were All, Delaware, and Nevada.
“All” it was, then.  When necessary, I could still use the state of birth to limit the number of results.  And on the third page of results, there she was - Madeline Roberts - living with her first husband, Howard C. Roberts (entered as Harry C. Roberts) and her brother Harrison Moore in Visalia, Tulare, California.  I had not expected them to be living there; I remembered her talking about what an awful place Visalia was, and had mistakenly thought that she, my father (her second husband), and I had lived there when I was too young to remember.  Apparently not.  
I then found my father with his parents and all of his siblings who were living in 1940, including his sister, divorced from her first husband, and her daughter.  Other Brinlees were a little harder to find, because the name proved to be a spelling challenge.  Using Soundex brought up my father’s uncle Austin Brinlee (“Brenlee”), and there was my brickwall great-grandmother, Susan Brinlee.  The column for “Other income” was marked “Yes” - that must have referred to her Confederate Widow’s pension.  And her age was shown as 84.  
How interesting.  Well, her age had been shown as 73 in the 1930 census.  But on the 1920 census it was 50, and on the 1910 census it was 41; moreover, the December 1891 marriage license for her and Hiram Brinlee gave her age as 23.  In a letter appended to her Confederate Widow’s pension application, written on 10 September 1929, she admits “I have lost my age I am some where in 60 I am not 75.”  While most researchers stick to the 1868-1869 time frame, some quote a family Bible for the date of 4 April 1856 for her birthday.  I suspect that date was entered in the Bible some time between 1930 and 1940, and that by 1940 it was taken as an accepted fact.  However, no one bothered to do the mental math that would have made her 52 when her last child, Cecil Odell Brinlee, was born on 23 September 1908 (possible but not likely).
Then there is the problem of my Great Uncle Obadiah “Oby” Norman.  I have found Uncle Oby (born 31 March 1895) on the 1900 census.  That’s it.  I have not been able to find his parents, William Henry “Jack” Norman and Sarah Jane Sisson Norman, on the 1910 or 1920 censuses.  Oby was married to Edith Watson by 1920, but I do not find them on that census.  I find Edith living alone as a boarder on the 1930 census, and Oby was not with her.  I find her on passenger lists going to Honolulu Hawaii on 29 March 1930 and returning to Wilmington, California on 6 April 1930 and still Oby is not with her.  
And the 1940 census is more of the same.  I find an Edith Norman of the right age (40; “my” Edith Watson Norman was born on 2 July 1899), born in Texas, and living alone; she is listed as married, with the “M” lightly crossed out and the 7 added to indicate that no spouse was living with her in the household at the time of the census.  I have tried some variations for Uncle Oby, but with no success so far.
Where was Uncle Oby?  There was a time when I thought that Uncle Oby’s absence in 1930 might have meant that the couple had experienced some strains in their marriage following the death of their only child in 1928 and were separated.  However, my Uncle Bill reported that Uncle Oby was an itinerant preacher (probably Primitive Baptist) and that he was shattered by Aunt Edith’s death in 1956.  So the chances are that Oby was just off somewhere preaching....  But why the heck can’t I find him on any census after 1900?!!!
So, even without being able to fine-tune searches by state of residence, my searches on the 1940 census are turning up some information.  But some mysteries still remain.