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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Apr 2009

    CA - Mary Alice Oswald, 23, Long Beach, 1944

    Found this (posted 2004) and started digging

    Hi- I am looking for a Mary Oswald. Her sister & family lived in Clifton, AZ in the 1940-50's. She was reported missing by the Long Beach, CA. police in the 1940's. She was about 20 at the time of the report. She was last seen in Clifton, where her sister was married to the manager of the Phelps-Dodge merchantile. Any information about her would be wonderful

    Here is what I've been able to find.

    She was born Mary Alice Bower on September 30, 1920 in Los Angeles County, CA to Charles Bower and Mary (Shaw) Bower. She is the only child I could find born to these parents in California.

    In the 1930 census, she appears with her parents and brother John in the San Pedro area of Los Angeles. Both Mary and John are listed as being born in California, but Mary's parents are listed as being born in Kansas (Father) and Maryland (mother), while John Bower's parents are both listed as born in Canada.

    In 1938, Mary appears in the San Pedro High School Yearbook. The first photo is her regular school photo, the next two are the cast from a play she was in. I'm pretty sure I know which one is her, but am not 100% since I haven't seen them side by side yet. Perhaps someone can confirm? (She should only be in one of the group photos).

    On 4/17/1939, Mary Bower marries Harry A Oswald in Los Angeles County.

    On 1940 census, Mary Oswald is listed with Harry in Los Angeles. He is listed as an accountant, she is listed as a department store clerk. The name of the department store may be above it, I can't quite make out what that says.

    In February 1941, Mary gives birth to a son in Los Angeles County, Harry is the father.

    In June 1943, Mary gives birth to a son in Los Angeles County, Harry is the father.

    On the 1942-1944 voter registrations, Mary is listed with Harry in Santa Maria (Santa Barbara County), CA. He is listed as an accountant, and she is listed as a housewife. They live at 828 W El Camino. I don't know why 1942-1944 are all together in one index, it is usually a separate index per year.

    In April 1945, Harry enlists in the military. He states on the registration form that he is a widower with dependents. He gives a home address of Orange County, CA and enlists at San Pedro, CA.

    In 1948, Harry remarries someone else.

    What I CAN'T find is any indication that Mary had a sister, or any info on who the manager of Phelps Dodge Mercantile in Clifton Arizona might have been. I have hit a complete dead end on that part of it. Any ideas?

    I did just send an email to Long Beach PD to see if they still have this file anywhere, but not too hopeful. Maybe we will somehow be able to get her entered.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Apr 2009
    I just went back to the 1920 census (prior to Mary's birth) and did a search for her parents. There was a daughter on the 1920 census, her name was Bernice M. She is the only daughter there, there are a few boys also. Bernice was 13 in 1920, so born about 1907. She is listed as single, but her parents have a grandson named Charles Hanlin who was 5 years old in 1920. Not likely to be the son of Bernice since she would have only been 8 when he was born. Mary's parents were older, they had an 18 year old son in 1920 so it's possible there was another older daughter also who could have been the mother of Charles Hanlin.

    Just looked on the 1910 census and there was a daughter Elizabeth F born 1896-ish. According to 1910 census she was born in Kansas but was living in Los Angeles in 1910 with her parents at age 14. I think either Elizabeth or Bernice would have to be the sister that was in Arizona when Mary went missing in the 1940's.
    Last edited by Odyssey; 09-03-2016 at 04:42 PM.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Dec 2014
    Surrey, UK
    There is a record on Ancestry (from the California Death Index 1940 - 1997) of the death of a Mary Alice Oswald (born 13 Sept 1920 in California, died 17 July 1944 in Los Angeles). The record gives her fathers name as Bowers and mothers maiden name as Shaw, so this is definitely our subject. It seems conclusive that she died in 1944, explaining her husband listing as a widower in 1945. The mystery is why she was thought to be missing and reported to the police.

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