Monday, January 5, 2015

Sisters Sharing Birthdays: Bertha Marie & Claire Elizabeth Gorrell

On this day[1] two of my husband’s aunts were born: Bertha Marie Gorrell on 4 Jan 1904[2] and Claire Elizabeth Gorrell on 4 Jan 1917.[3] Bertha was the oldest child of Joseph Norman Gorrell and Matilda Pearl Davey.[4] Claire was the youngest.[5]

With sisters having the same birthday, were there any troubles? Did Bertha get special treatment because she was the oldest, or did Claire because she was the youngest?

They were thirteen years apart in age. My guess that because of the age difference, they did not celebrate together very long. Bertha graduated from high school in May 1922 when Claire was only five.[6] Then in the fall, she attended the normal school (teacher’s college) in Pittsburg, Kansas.[7] By the fall of 1924, Bertha was teaching third grade at West Side school in Webb City.[8] She also taught school in Fredonia, Kansas in 1926.[9]

On 29 May 1928, Bertha married Francis Marion Smart in Webb City, Missouri.[10] They lived in Webb City, Okolona, Oklahoma,[11] and Pittsburg, Kansas,[12] raising 3 children.


Claire spent her childhood performing in plays or singing. At age seven, she sang a solo at a parent-teacher association program[13] and as a junior in high school played the part of Miss Burke in “Soap Suds.”[14] As an adult she continue to sing primarily in the First Christian Church choir.[15]  Claire also attended college at the University of Northern Iowa in Cedar Falls.[16] 

She married Warren Steele Ball 3 Apr 1950.[17] He worked as an auditor for the Federal Power Commission.[18] Her obituary stated she worked for “numerous businesses, universities and government agencies, including Cornell Law School, Ithaca, New York; Federal Power Commission, Washington, D.C.; McNally Manufacturing Co., Pittsburg, Kansas; People’s Bank and Trust Co., Waterloo, Iowa; the University of Northern Iowa, Cedar Falls, Iowa; and the University of Texas, U.S. Department of Commerce, Internal Revenue Service, and Dr. J.P. Bordelon, M.D. all of Austin, Texas.[19] Claire and Warren had three children, which she raised alone after Warren’s death in 1959.



[1] Well, this blog post was started on 4 Jan 2015, but will not be finished in time to post on the 4th.
[2] “Bertha G. Smart,” The Morning Sun (Pittsburg, Kansas), Saturday, 14 Mar 1998. 
[3] “Social Security Death Index,” 1999, Claire G. Ball, ancestry.com (http://www.ancestry.com : accessed 27 Jan 2013), citing U.S. Social Security Administration, Death Master File, database (Alexandria, Virginia: National Technical Information Service, ongoing).
[4] Kansas, Sedgwick Co, 1910 U.S. census, Wichita, ED 124, sheet 5a, dwelling 85, family 100, Joseph Gorrell,  digital images, Ancestry.com (http://www.ancestry.com: 10 Apr 2011), citing National Archives and Records Administration, Roll: T624_456.
[5] Missouri, Jasper, 1920 U.S. census, Joplin, ED 70, p 12b, dwelling 291, family 315, Joseph N Gorrell, digital image, Ancestry.com (http://www.ancestry.com : accessed 10 Apr 2011), citing National Archives and Records Administration, T625_922.
[6] “Class Exercises Held at Webb City School,” Joplin Globe, 20 May 1922.
[7] “Webb City Briefs,” Joplin Globe, 15 Sep 1922.
[8] “Teachers Assigned by Webb City Board,” Joplin Globe, 8 Jun 1924;  “Webb City Schools Ready for Opening,” Joplin Globe, 7 Sep 1924.
[9] “Webb City Briefs,” Joplin Globe, 29 Sep 1926.
[10] “Bertha G. Smart,” obituary, The Morning Sun,  14 Mar 1998.
[11] Oklahoma, Clark Co, 1930 U.S. census, population schedule, Okolona, ED 105-5, p 5, Francis Smart, digital image,  Ancestry (http://www.ancestry.com: accessed 6 Jun 2012), citing National Archives and Records Administration T676, roll 67.
[12] Missouri, Jasper County, 1940 U.S. census, population schedule, Webb City, ED 49-38, p 18a, family 440, Francis M Smart,  digital images, Ancestry.com (http://www.ancestry.com : accessed 5 Jan 2015), citing National Archives and Records Administration, T627, roll 2118.
[13] “Webb City Briefs,” Joplin Globe,  8 Dec 1925.
[14] “Webb City Class to Stage Farce Comedy,” Joplin Globe, 26 Feb 1933.
[15] “Webb City Church to Present Pageant,” Joplin Globe,  21 Dec 1941.
[16] “Claire Elizabeth Gorrell Ball,” obituary clipping, newspaper unknown, probably in Austin, Texas, after 1 Apr 1999.
[17] I have the date, but no reference as to where it came from. Most likely from my father-in-law, George J. Gorrell, early in my genealogy research. I have searched online resources without any luck. Hopefully one of the Ball children or grandchildren will find this post and contact me.
[18] “Warren S. Ball,” Joplin Globe,  14 Jan 1959.
[19] “Claire Elizabeth Gorrell Ball,” obituary clipping, newspaper unknown, probably in Austin, Texas, after 1 Apr 1999.

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