Minda Wilde and Agnes Bateman of Champaign, Illinois

1950 Postcard, Oakland CA to Champaign, IL

On August 3, 1950, Mrs Wilde mailed a postcard from Oakland, California, to Mrs Agnes Bateman and daughter at 406 East Healey, Champaign, Illinois. The message read:

Dear Folks: Arrived all O.K. Having a nice visit, we are going up in the mountains this coming Friday. It is cold here this morning but nice [With? so?] one to both of you. [Signed] Mrs WildeThe image of the photograph appears in a slide show at the Antique and Vintage Postcards shop at etsy.com and is used with the permission of the shop owner.

Who were these people, how did they know each other, and what can we learn about them?

At first glance, this just looked like a card from one neighbor on vacation to another neighbor. The Wildes and the Batemans both lived on East Healey Avenue in Champaign. But there turned out to be a story behind each side. Let's start with Mrs Wilde.

The Wildes

Minda M (Palmer) Wilde was born January 20, 1890, in Vincent, Washington County, Ohio, the younger of two known daughters of Austin H Palmer and Margaret Breckenridge. Minda had an older sister named Elma, born in 1880. Minda and Fred L Wilde were wed on December 3, 1911, in St Peter's German Evangelical Church in Champaign. They never had children.

The Wildes were at 503 East Healey the year after their marriage and until at least 1960, but Fred's work as a construction engineer for a bridge company took him away from home at times. In 1918, when he registered for the draft he was working on a project for the Cleveland Construction Company at Camp Perry Proving Ground, Port Clinton, Ohio. The 1930 census finds them in Calumet City, Illinois, and in 1935 they were in Hammond, Indiana. But they kept returning to their home on East Healey.

So what was Minda doing in Oakland, California, in August 1950? Well, she had lost her husband earlier that year-Fred died in February 1950 at the age of 64. And Minda's sister Elma, also widowed, had relocated to Oakland by 1940 to be with her daughter and son-in-law, Gladys and Gilbert Hohmann. So it would have been natural for Minda, after suffering such a loss, to take the opportunity to visit her sister and her family.

Minda Wilde once again returned to Champaign, though, and is found in the city directory there in 1957 and 1960. She died March 20, 1970, and was buried with her husband in Woodlawn Cemetery, Urbana, Illinois.

As a side point, I found a tree at ancestry.com that included her father, Austin Palmer, and started clicking, and clicking, and clicking. Most of his ancestors are old New England families and eventually I got back to a Thomas Roberts, born about 1600 in England, who settled in Dover, New Hampshire. I have that man in the notes on my wife's ancestry as well so it seems likely that Minda (Palmer) Wilde was a very distant relative of my wife. Trying to figure out for sure has sidetracked me from this article for the better part of a day and I'm nowhere near proving it.

The Batemans

The Batemans had a different story to tell. Agnes Bateman was born August 15, 1903. She and her brother George were adopted by John W and Mary Lodema (Goodell) Bateman between 1910 and 1920, while the Batemans were still farming in Blue Ridge Township, Platt County, Illinois. John gave up farming in 1924 and moved to Champaign where he worked as a furniture salesman. They lived first on East Armory Avenue, but moved to 406 East Healey in 1936. John died there in 1938 and Mary in 1949. They are both buried in Mansfield Cemetery, Platt County. Like the Wildes, John and Mary Bateman had no children of their own.

The postcard, we'll remember, was addressed to "Mrs Agnes Bateman and daughter." Agnes' daughter, Mary Ann Bateman, was born in 1930 presumably in Champaign, but her obituary (as Mary Ann Speck in 2018) said this about her:

Gallatin to Platt, map

"She was born in a two-room log cabin in Gallatin County, Ill., 87 years ago. She and her brother endured the premature death of their father, and an eventual adoption required by their mother’s diagnoses with Typhoid Fever. Luckily, both she and her brother were adopted by loving parents, John and Mary Bateman."

This looked to me like a family story that became mixed up between generations. Instead of Mary Ann being the adoptee, the account was most likely referring to Mary Ann's mother Agnes and her brother George. Agnes' Social Security application said she had been born in Bowlesville Township. George's stillborn daughter Lucille's death record in 1928 said George was born in Junction and his obituary said he was born in Equality. All these are locations in Gallatin County. So it was likely that Agnes and George's father had died young and their mother fell sick with typhoid.

Could we find their birth parents?

A Dobbs Family of Gallatin County, Illinois

At this point in the article we enter the realm of "maybe." There happens to be a Sarah Dobbs, age 25 but widowed, on the 1910 Census of Equality, Gallatin County, with two young children: Agnes, age 6, and George, age 3. Those ages match what we know about Agnes and George Bateman. And there happens to be a William Dobbs, born in January 1876, who died at his home near Junction, Gallatin County, September 20, 1909, and is buried in Pisgah Cemetery.

Was William Dobbs the husband of the widowed Sarah Dobbs? Were they the parents of Agnes and George? I can't say for sure. And what happened to Sarah Dobbs, did she die of typhoid or recover? Did she remarry? I didn't find any record of her after the 1910 Census.


So we will leave it there. We know a little more now about the Wildes and the Batemans, but we don't know if the Batemans were Dobbses by birth. I am waiting for the Shawneetown (Gallatin Co) Library to respond to a request for more information about the death of William Dobbs, and if I hear anything I will update this post.

Updated December 24, 2021

I have heard from the Shawneetown Library. The only microfilms they had with obituaries for that time period were in The News Gleaner, Shawneetown. They did not find anything on William Dobbs.

Branch River Journal
Most of the information here is about my family or my wife’s, or about families with ties to Cleveland, Ohio, or the area near Rostrevor and Kilkeel in County Down, Ireland. There are also some unrelated families included that I came across. Whatever the case, I hope the material is helpful in your own research.
-- Ed Hamilton