Tuesday, February 8, 2011

The Possible Duplicity of Lulu Johnson

Lulu Johnson is the daughter of Rebecca Johnson and sister to my great-grandmother Florence.

Lulu was born in 1895 in New Jersey and died about 1971. Her childhood is rather interesting - she is apparently listed on the 1900 and 1910 Federal Census twice, both with her biological family and an adoptive family.

You may recognize this image from my earlier post about her mother - this is the family in Bradley Beach, NJ in 1900 when Lulu was five. 

At the same time, on Atlantic Avenue in Neptune Township, we find the Landin family:

Lulu Johnson is listed here as George Landin's niece.

Now, in 1910 she is again listed with the family:

And also with the Landins, although here their name is spelled Landis. Now she is listed as an adopted daughter.

I'm not completely sure that this is the same Lulu, particularly because the one with the Landin/Landis family is listed as being black and because they have different birth months in 1900 - the one that I know is my relative is listed as being born in February 1895 while the other says May 1895.

However, there has been talk among my mother's family about Lulu being given away as a child so it seems odd that she would be listed with her parents at all. It's not impossible that her adoptive family didn't know her birthday. And the census taker could have assumed that George Landin's niece/adopted daughter was black because he and his wife were; perhaps he never saw Lulu himself.

I wonder if we'll ever conclusively solve this mystery.