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Anna and Joe Dansbury

William Dansbury’s first wife died in 1938, leaving him with three small children. By 1942 he married his first wife’s cousin, my grandmother, Anna Steffes, and had another baby boy. I’m not exactly sure how quickly he remarried but 1940 is a critical year. Were they married yet? Or was my grandmother still working as a teacher?  By some standards she was a bit of an old maid. Anna was born in 1907 so by 1938 she was already 31 years old. I know almost nothing about her life before she was married. She was the oldest of ten children. She considered joining a convent at one point. Anna was deeply religious and went to church every day until she was in her late eighties. 

The 1940 census will tell me about how William was managing his young family. Did his mother Ellen move in to help him? How long was he single?

William died in 1946 leaving Anna a widow with three step-children and three young children of her own.  I’ll never know how she managed it!  I’m not sure when he bought the house my father grew up in but the family remained in the same neighborhood for 60 years.  I can read about William in the local newspaper because he was a policeman. Someone who worked for the local paper must have lived nearby because the boys are mentioned in the paper frequently.  

But Anna isn’t mentioned at all. I think she was too busy working to go to parties or school events. I’d like to find out if Anna was still living with her parents in 1940 and helping with the younger children, or if she is a new bride living with William and his three children. 

Laura Dansbury, Ancestry.com Director, Product Management