lost: (past and past part. lose) become unable to to find1
found: (past and past part. find) discover by change or effort2

Herman Elsholtz (1863-?) and his wife, Delilah Elizabeth (Merville) (1867-?) and Richard Earnest Merville (1877-?) cannot be found. By their birthdates their physical beings are surely lost to us forever. Alonzo Brink Merville (1875-1953), Delilah and Richard's brother was also lost but found a long way from his Pennsylvania birthplace in New Mexico - his final resting place under a city-provided, plain cement, broken headstone inscribed only with his name and date of death which is probably incorrect.3 In the beginning my interest focused solely upon how many lost souls I could find to populate a family tree. Not any more. Genealogy is more than names and vital statistics.

In addition to research, citations, analysis and correlation, conflict resolution, and report writing (all components of the Genealogical Proof Standard), I relish developing the context of the life and times of lost individuals.4 Finding them is the "icing on the cake". Yes, it was rewarding to record Alonzo's death. However, it paled in comparison to the story I was able to tell a living granddaughter and great grandaughter whose lives were ultimately affected when Alonzo deserted his wife and four children to begin a new life in the Texas Panhandle with a woman he met at an oil field at Alberta, Canada thus leaving a family to fend for itself never to see Alonzo again.

Some family tree "leaves" are more interesting than others - the lost ones seem to be more so. Consider constructing a timeline of their life events to the last known event and then speculate upon possible scenarios to investigate. Herman and Delilah (or Lyel as she called herself) were last documented at their marriage in 1901 at Sistersville, West Virgina nine months after Herman was released from Allegheny County jail having served one year of a two year sentence for larceny (his fourth incarceration in seventeen years). According to the 1930 US Census, Richard was a boarder living at 527 South Union Avenue, Los Angeles - a ten minute walk from MacArthur Park.5 Herman's life as a watch-maker, photographer and habitual criminal may be a clue - Richard's long time profession as an oil driller possibly another.

How will you find your lost ones?

1 "lost," The Concise Oxford Dictionary , 9th ed., "loss".
2 "find," The Concise Oxford Dictionary , 9th ed., "find".
3 Alonzo B. Merville's headstone photograph; digital image 2015, privately held by Leslie Karr, Belgium. Photograph taken by and received from Debra M. French under cover of e-mail August 2015. Also New Mexico Bureau of Vital Records and Health Statistics, death certificate no. 3281, Alonzo B. Merville; Department of Health, Santa Fe.
4 Board for Certification of Genealogists®, "Genealogical Proof Standard (GPS)," (http://bcgcertification.org : accessed 5 December 2017), Home > Ethics & Standards.
5 "West Virginia Research Records," digital images, West Virginia Archives & History (http://wvculture.org/history/archivesindex.aspx : accessed 23 August 2009), entry for Herman C. Elsholtz and Lyel Merville, West Virginia Division of Culture and History. Also "Jury Still Out in Link Case," Pittsburgh Daily Post, 3 January 1900, p. 7, cols. 1-2; image copy, Newspapers.com (http://newspaper.com : 8 February 2017). Also 1930 U.S. census, Los Angeles County, California, population schedule, Los Angeles City, block 321, enumeration district (ED) 19-433, sheet 18 (penned) A (stamped), dwelling 263, family 485, Richard E. Mirville [Merville]; accessed via "United States Census, 1930," images, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org : 6 December 2017), California > Los Angeles > Los Angeles (Districts 0251-0500) > ED 433 > image 35 of 48; citing NARA microfilm publication T626 (Washington D.C.: National Archives and Administration, 2002).

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