Sunday, April 8, 2018

52 Ancestors: Maiden Aunt

I don’t have a biological aunt – my mother was an only child and my father had one brother.  In fact, my paternal grandfather had three brothers and my paternal grandmother only had a brother so I didn’t even have a biological great aunt on my dad’s side.  So that just leaves my maternal grandparents – my maternal grandmother had one sister and one brother but I’m not sure I ever met her sister, although I’ve connected a bit with some of her descendants.  And since my mother was not close with her father and his siblings, while I know about them now I didn’t before I started this journey.  So the only aunts or great aunts I might have had were those who were married to my ancestor so not a maiden, or spinster as I’d always heard these women referred as.

But I always remember the next door neighbors of my grandparents, the Stubblefield sisters.  I have very few memories of them and until I started researching, I didn’t even know their first names.  The only ‘detail’ I had was that one (or maybe both) was my dad’s teacher at one time.  And I remembered that neither of them had ever married.

Ethel Lacy Stubblefield was born 31 October, 1897 in New York; Gertrude Scott Stubblefield was born 2 November, 1903 in Oklahoma.  They were the children of James and Mattie (Lacy) Stubblefield, who were married 11 September 1895 in Cuyahoga, Ohio.  Another child, Frank, was born in February, 1999 but, sadly, only lived until 1 October, 1900.  And the sadness continued when Mattie died in 1909. 

I’ve done some research to try to validate the memories I have of them and found them in Fresno where they seemed to move around a bit.  Ethel was, in fact, a teacher at Fresno High School at the time my dad was there (early 1940’s) so that is probably the sister who was my dad’s teacher.  Although I thought I remembered she was his teacher in grammar school.  But my memories are fading so I could have that wrong.  In her later years she was a Consultant at the Board of Education.

Ethel Stubblefield 1946
Ethel Stubblefield, 1946 Owl (Fresno High School Yearbook)

Gertrude seemed to spend the majority of her teaching years at Theodore Roosevelt High School and Fresno City/Junior College.  Since my dad never attended of those schools, the connection must have been Ethel.

Gertrude Stubblefield 1959
Fresno City College Yearbook, 1959

I’ve tracked these two sisters from 1340 Linden Avenue to 727 Terrace Avenue to 4640 Wilson and finally to 1561 Echo Avenue, next door to my grandparents.

If I hadn’t pulled up these photos (I even have the 1946 Owl in my collection since my mom graduated from Fresno High School in 1946), I might have zero memory of what they looked like.  I have come across a few photos of my grandmother with some friends and I’ve wondered if they were the sisters. 

What do you think?

Loraine w Stubblefields circle

That’s Loraine in the middle (with her mink, of course) and my mom directly behind her.  The other ladies standing are my dad’s two cousins (Hermina and Gilda) with Gilda’s husband standing behind them.  And I think Gilda’s two daughters in the front.  Not sure about the other older woman.

And another.

My beautiful picture

Are these the Stubblefield sisters?  I would so love to get in contact with a descendant but since they had no children and no nieces or nephews, I’m not sure there is anyone out there looking for them. 

Ethel and Gertrude are interred together at Los Gatos Memorial Park, coincidentally not far from the home I grew up in.

You are not forgotten, Ethel and Gertrude Stubblefield.


  1. I would say yes, those are the sisters. Look at the way Ethel held her mouth in the young picture and compare to the seated woman in the circled picture. The expression is similar in the last photo too. If no one is looking for these 2 lovely ladies, I am glad you have written this story for them.

    1. I noticed the hair, as well. Coincidentally, I have some Stubblefields in my tree but I'm 99.99% sure they are not related.

  2. I love how you shared about these two sisters. Growing up, there was an older couple that I loved that went to our church. I think I'd like to do some research on them and write about them, too. Thanks for giving me the idea!

    1. I hope you are able to learn their story. Thanks, Dana!

  3. Don't you find both 'maiden aunt" and "spinster" such demeaning terms? I mean we don't have a similar term for an unmarried man---except bachelor, which we tend to associate with someone who is enjoying single life. But spinster and maiden aunt conjure up images of women who never knew love, never had fun. I hope that Ethel and Gertrude had more fun in their lives than one might think!

    1. I agree. Although I don't hear those terms used in this day and age. I'm happy that at least they had each other throughout their lives.