Blanche Netta McFetridge
February 1870 –
The Mysterious Aunt
Blanche McFetridge is a hazy page in the McFetridge family history. We do not know exact date of her birth but we now know when she died and why. We aren’t even sure exactly how she spelled her name. One source has it Blanch. She was the oldest surviving child of James and Amanda (Watkins) McFetridge. Blanche appears from time to time in the fragments of information we have leaving tantalizing clues but then vanishes again into time.
For all this we may have a photograph of her. Found among her youngest brother Charles’ personal effects is a picture of an unidentified women. She is wearing clothes of about the right style and vintage to have been worn by someone Blanche’s age. Of course, this may also be a photo of someone else. Like so much else, we just don’t know.
The little information we do have gives us a picture of a difficult, probably unhappy life.
Blanche was not the first of James’ children. A daughter, probably stillborn, was born and buried 2 March 1869. She is identified only as “Daughter McFetridge” on the family grave marker. After Blanche a boy, Purnell named after Amanda’s father, was born February 2, 1872. He died five and a half years later on August 25, 1877. The fourth and fifth McFetridge children were twin sons named Rufus and Russell born January 16 1881. Rufus lived only two weeks and died February 2, Russell lived until 1946. All of the people mentioned, except Blanche and Russell, are buried together at Hight Chapel Cemetery, Patoka Township, Gibson County, Indiana.
The 1870 census lists Netta McFetridge, daughter of James McFetridge and Amanda Watkins McFetridge. She is 5 months old and her birth month is listed as February. The fact that her parents listed her as Netta, rather than Blanch, adds to the confusion.
Her father James died
The Indiana Marriage Records show she was married to William
The 1900 Census records Blanch (sic) McFetridge
living with the Harvey Lucas family in Patoka,
By 1910 Blanche has been remarried and widowed. The
1910 Census shows her as Blanche M. Dickson, age 39, residing with her younger
brother Charles and his wife, Emma, in
We now have the death certificate that answers several
questions, but poses more. She died at St Luke Hospital in
As with the rest of Blanche’s life, there are
questions. Who is RB Yeager and why did he/she provide the information
instead of her brothers Russell and Charles who were both living nearby.
They would certainly have gotten their own father's name correct. The
birth date is recorded as “unknown”. The spelling of her last name is
gives as “
The physician who signed the death certificate was Eleonor Lawney, presumably one of the few female doctors at that time. Interestingly, Blanche died in the same hospital, St. Luke’s, which her brother Russell died in 38 years later.
There is another Blanche (Budd) McFetridge born around the same time who married a McFetridge. They are easy to confuse.
ADDENDUM-- Amanda (Watkins) McFetridge, mother of Blanche Netta McFetridge.
Amanda's estate was probated
Court records show she sued James N. Sturgis (a
Probate record, Amanda McFetridge, Gibson County
Her obituary is carried in the
"Mrs. Amanda McFetridge died at her home in Francisco at Sunday, after a long illness. She was 47 years of age and a daughter of the late Purnel Watkins. Her husband has been dead about six years. The funeral was held Tuesday at the late residence in Francisco. The services were conducted by Rev. Coffin and the interment followed at Hight’s Chapel."
Sources: US Census 1870, 1880.
Marriage Certificate, James McFetridge and Amanda
Obituary, Princeton Clarion,
The above information was contributed by Don McFetridge,