Saturday, January 8, 2011

Searching for Sina - Timeline of Her Life

Those of you who follow may be aware that learning more about my maternal grandmother, Sina Bellinger Kelly, is my primary research goal for 2011. My first step was to create a timeline of events in her life, based upon what I already know.

3 April 1889
Sina’s birth
Location: Greenwood, Nebraska or Fremont, Nebraska

13 June 1900
1900 Census
Living in Greenwood, Nebraska
Living on Elm Street
John Bellinger, age 46, farmer
Emma Bellinger, age 37, farmer
Harry Bellinger, age 19, farmer
Sina Bellinger, age 11, student
Clifford Bellinger, age 9, student

Death of grandmother, Ann Jane McVoy Landon
Greenwood, Nebraska
Sina, age 15

21 Nov 1906
Brother Harry Bellinger married Alvena Johansen
Loup City, Nebraska
Sina, age 18

21 April 1910
1910 Census
Living in Lincoln, Nebraska
1311 N. 26th Street
John Bellinger, Carpenter, House
Emma Bellinger
Sina Bellinger, 21, Bookkeeper, grocery store
Clifford Bellinger, 19, shipping clerk, wholesale grocery

8 Oct 1913
Marriage to William L. Kelly
Lancaster County marriage records Book 38, Page 275
Sina, age 24

6 Aug 1914
Birth of Maxine Dorothy Kelly
Greenwood, Nebraska
Sina, age 25

15 Sep 1915
Death of Maxine Dorothy Kelly
Greenwood, Nebraska
Sina, age 26

31 Dec 1915 or
1 Jan 1916
Death of mother, Emma Harriet Landon Bellinger
Lincoln, Nebraska
Sina, age 26

26 Jan 1916
Birth of Margaret Janice Kelly
Greenwood, Nebraska
Sina, age 26

4 Aug 1918
Birth of Helen Marcella Kelly
Greenwood, Nebraska
Sina, age 29

1 Sept 1919
Brother Clifford Bellinger married Sophia Koch
Sina, age 30

16 Aug 1921
Birth of William Leroy Kelly, Jr.
Greenwood, Nebraska
Sina, age 32

8 Feb 1927
Birth of Patricia Landon Kelly
Greenwood, Nebraska
Sina, age 37

6 Feb 1932
Death of brother, Harry Miller Bellinger
Omaha, Nebraska
Sina, age 43

29 Apr 1936
Death (suicide) of brother, Clifford Bellinger
Omaha, Nebraska
Sina, age 47

10 Aug 1936
Death of father, John William Bellinger
Greenwood, Nebraska
Sina, age 47

Nov 1955
Sina’s death
Greenwood, Nebraska
Age 66
Burial: Greenwood Cemetery, Greenwood, Nebraska

What I learned from this exercise

By creating a timeline, not only about Sina's personal history, such as census records, I've added the life events from other family members to put some additional context to Sina's life.

In 1900, the family of John and Emma Bellinger were living on Elm Street in Greenwood, Nebraska. This census record confirmed that the family was living in the house that I featured in my post, It's a Dog's Life, in November, 2010. This gave me additional information that three generations of women in my family lived in the same house as young girls: me, my mother and my grandmother. For me, this is a fascinating piece of family history - each of us was about the same age when we lived there!

Sina was about 15 years old when her grandmother Landon died and about 18 when her older brother, Harry, got married. Harry was married in Loup City, Nebraska, so that provides me with a lead to locate a newspaper article about his wedding. Loup City is about 160 miles from Greenwood. Was Sina at the wedding?

In 1910, the Bellingers were living in Lincoln, Nebraska. Sina's father, John Bellinger, was working as a carpenter. Sina was working as a bookkeeper at a grocery store and her younger brother, Clifford, was a shipping clerk at a grocery store. The same grocery store? Quite likely. This gives me something else to follow-up on. The Bellingers were no longer living in the house on Elm Street in Greenwood. Did they retain ownership of the home during the time they lived in Lincoln? Land and real estate records must be discovered. By doing a search on the Lincoln-Lancaster county government web site, I discovered a photograph of the house where the Bellingers lived in 1910. It's only a few miles away, so a drive-by is now on my To Do list.

In October 1913, Sina married William L. (Bill) Kelly and I have the source of their marriage record thanks to the database maintained online by the Lincoln-Lancaster County Genealogical Society. I believe that the microfilmed records are available at the Nebraska State Historical Society archives, so obtaining a copy is added to my To Do list. While there, I can also search the microfilm records from both the Greenwood and Lincoln newspapers for an article about their wedding.

Bill and Sina's first child, Maxine Dorothy, was born in August 1914. Little Maxine, my aunt, lived only 13 months and I shared a photograph of this happy little baby and her tombstone on my other blog, Nothing But Tombstones, back in October.

What I learned from the timeline is that Sina's mother, Emma Landon Bellinger, died just three months after the death of Sina's first and only child at the time.  I cannot even begin to imagine the grief that Sina must have experienced through the losses. Sina was pregnant with her second child during this time.

Less than a month after the death of Sina's mother, her next child, Margaret, was born, followed by Helen, two years later.

Sina's brother, Clifford, was married in September 1919. I've discovered that the record of Clifford's marriage is on microfilm at the W. Dale Clark library in Omaha. Sina was about 30 years old when her younger brother married. I plan to look through the microfilms of the Omaha and Greenwood newspapers for an article on his wedding. I have a photograph of Clifford and his bride, Sophia Koch.

The 1920 census shows Sina and Bill Kelly living in Greenwood, Nebraska with their two oldest daughters, Margaret and Helen. Their next two children were born in the following decade.

The 1930 census shows the Kellys and all four children (all of whom lived to adulthood) living in Greenwood and they were enumerated right after Bill's parents, Dan and Minnie Kelly. Both Kelly families were farming at this time.

The decade of the 1930s brought the death of Sina's older brother, Harry Bellinger, in 1932 and the suicide of her younger brother, Clifford, in 1936. His death was well documented in the newspapers. He shot himself in the tavern he owned in Omaha, following an argument with his wife.

Four months after Clifford's death, Sina's father, John William Bellinger, died.

Even though the timeline does not show a lot of the events of the 1930s and 1940s, during this time frame Sina and Bill raised their four children, lived through the Depression and saw their only son go off to World War II. All four of their children were married and three were divorced before the mid 1940s. Two of the children remarried. Four grandchildren were born. We are all living.

When I started on my Search for Sina, I stated that I didn't know much about my grandmother. But once I began working on the timeline, I discovered that I knew a lot more about her life than I ever realized before. My To Do list is growing and I'm certain there is even more for me to learn about Sina.


  1. Finally catching up with some back reading. This is great, Susan. I need to do this with a couple of my brick wall projects.

  2. Susan - I hope that doing a timeline helps you break down those brick walls. Even as I re-read this post today, I discovered another insight regarding the time frame of events in Sina's life.