Blanche Netta McFetridge

February 1870 – 1 October 1910

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 December 6, 1891; he was only 47 years old.  When Amanda died six years later April 17, 1898 their three surviving children got less than $21 each from what was left of their mother’s estate.  Blanche had turned 28 in February and had married four years before.


The Indiana Marriage Records show she was married to William Rembe, October 31, 1894 in Gibson County.  William may have been the son of an Army friend of James’.  They served in the same unit at the beginning of the Civil War.  Blanche was 24 when she married Rembe.  The records show her father and mother’s name so we can be sure this was James and Amanda’s daughter.  The marriage did not last long and there is no indication of any children in later records of either Blanche or William Rembe from this period.


The 1900 Census records Blanch (sic) McFetridge living with the Harvey Lucas family in Patoka, Gibson County, Indiana.  She is listed as “Servant” and her age as 28.  She is listed as born in 1872; but this is an error.  She may have lied about her age, or someone else in the house may have answered the question incorrectly.  It is unlikely she did not know her own birth month.  In October 1903 William Rembe remarried.  Her marriage to Rembe therefore ended in divorce before 1900 but I have not found a specific record of this yet.  Obviously, she has reverted to her maiden name after her divorce from William Rembe


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 Nunn, Colorado.  She is listed as a White, Female, Widowed “Sister” to Charles then age 26.  Who was Mr. Dickson?  What happened to him?  Dickson is not a name in the Indiana Census Records for Gibson County or for Arapahoe or Weld Counties in Colorado.  Dad never mentioned an Aunt Blanche who died exactly 10 years to the day before his birth, so his father, Charles David senior, apparently never mentioned her or else Dad forgot about her. 


We now have the death certificate that answers several questions, but poses more.  She died at St Luke Hospital in Denver on 1 October 1910 of “acute gastritis” at the age of 40.  She had been ill for 2 months some days.  A person named R.B. Yeager of 1546 Glevarin, Denver, Colorado, supplied the information on the death certificate.  Blanche was buried in Nunn, Colorado.


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 “Dixon” which is probably because the person providing it did not know the actual spelling, if we assume the census records from earlier that same year has it correctly as “Dickson”.  Her father is listed as George McFetridge, but the mother is Amanda Watkins, both from Indiana, so we surely have the right Blanche McFetridge.  Her occupation is given as “nurse”, when 10 years earlier in the 1900 census in Patoka, Indiana, she is “servant” keeping house in the Lucas household.  Perhaps she was nursing someone in Colorado but it is doubtful she was a trained nurse and there are no records of this.  Finally, she is listed as “married” when the 1910 census lists her as divorced.  Could she have gotten married in the interim?  It seems very unlikely.  Again, RB Yeager must have given incorrect information.  At least we can close the book as to date, location and cause of death.


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 October 10, 1898. It was valued at $ 1016.83. Outstanding claims against the estate were $ 953.95, leaving a balance of $ 62.88.  The living heirs, Blanch, Russell, and Charles received $ 20.96 each. Dr. George Strickland received $ 200.75 for medicine per paid bill dated March 9, 1897. No death certificate was available, so no cause of death or other information is available. She died on Sunday, at 1830 hours. The funeral was held in the home by Reverend Coffin. She was buried with her husband, mother, and father in the Hights Chapel Methodist Cemetery.

Court records show she sued James N. Sturgis (a brother-in-law) April 19, 1898 but lost. George and Margaret McFetridge also sued him in August, 1897.

Probate record, Amanda McFetridge, Gibson County Court House, County Clerk's office, Box 1242, File 8, and box 917, file 7. Record of the litigation against executor, Joseph Hussey, husband of Jemima McFetridge, a sister-in-law of Amanda, by the heirs.

Her obituary is carried in the Princeton (Indiana) Clarion, Thursday, April 21, 1898.

"Mrs. Amanda McFetridge died at her home in Francisco at 6:30 p.m. 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 Watkins, dated May 7, 1868, registered June 2, 1868, Gibson County, Indiana.

Obituary, Princeton Clarion, April 21, 1898, page 4, Column 3.

The above information was contributed by Don McFetridge, Sugar Land, Texas, 15 Mar 2010.