Back in December I discovered that my maternal grandparents eloped and were married in Chattanooga Tennessee in July 1925. . It was an extraordinary find that raised the question of how a 19-year-old girl from Louisville, Kentucky came to marry a 23-year-old man from Atlanta, Georgia. Coupled with this is the question of how my mother came to be born in Columbia, South Carolina.
Since then, I have made a huge discovery. Two mysteries were solved, and many questions were answered…
As many times has happened in the past, I stumbled upon this information while looking for something else. I wanted to see if I could find my third great-grandfather Joseph Kollros appearing in the Louisville city directories. Joseph died in 1864 but in U.S. Census of 1860 he is listed as a 68-year-old with the occupation of policeman living in the city of Louisville, Jefferson County, Kentucky.
Yet, it appears that the directories for Louisville do not go back that far. What I found instead were several listings for Joseph’s grandson, my great grandfather, EJ “Jojo” Kollros. Starting at 1905 and continuing into the 1940s, I found my great-grandfather listed for every year except for a few. As I suspected Jojo and my great-grandmother Catherine, whose grandchildren knew as “Beanie”, did not spend their entire lives living in Louisville. And those other places where I found them were exactly where I would expect to have found them.
While not as detailed as census records and not as specific as birth, marriage, and death records, city directories provide just enough detail to fill in the gaps between those other records. Not only was I able to trace my Kollros great-grandparents, but also my Dobbs great-grandparents and my maternal grandparents, James Monroe Dobbs, Jr., and Dorothy Patricia Kollros. Then I was able to track them after they divorced.
In 1905, Erhardt Joseph Kollros was 25 years old. He was a graduate of Xavier University in Cincinnati Ohio, where he obtained a degree in accounting. In the Louisville city directory for that year, he is listed as a timekeeper for the Kentucky Wagon Manufacturing Company and the address of his residence is listed as 2304 West Market St. This company may have been a Kollros family-owned business as his uncle Dominic was listed in the 1860 and 1870 census with the occupation: wagon maker. The 1906 entry gives of the residence as 2305 Rowan St. and his occupation is listed as Travel Agent. In 1907 and 1908, Jojo’s occupation is listed as contractor for the same company.
1906, the year before my grandmother was born, appears to be the year that my great-grandparents were married. I say this because his residence in 1906 was the home address of the Bannon family dating back to the 1870s. Beanie’s father Richard Bannon and her uncle Patrick built two family homes that were joined and that were located at 2305/2307 Rowan Street.
In 1907, Jojo’s residence is listed as 2518 Park Pl., Louisville and in ’08 and in ’09, where his occupation is listed as foreman, his residence is listed as 403 26th St.
In 1910, he had a change in status. Their residence is listed as 1438 South Floyd St and he listed as a secretary for the Southern Wall Plaster Company (another source list his title as Treasurer). This is a company that Jojo and his brother-in-law Arthur (Uncle Artie) Bannon founded.
My great grandmother’s Bannon family came over from Ireland in 1849 and after a brief stay in Cincinnati, they settled in the city of Louisville around 1852. Beanie’s father, Richard, most of her uncles and even her brothers all at one time listed their occupation as Plasterer. One of the first jobs that Richard and his brother Patrick worked on after coming over from Ireland was plastering the interior of St. Peter in Chains Cathedral in Cincinnati. Later Patrick became a very successful terra-cotta manufacturer in Louisville. After returning from Ireland where he stayed during the Civil War, Richard’s occupation is listed as contractor for the Bannon & Campbell Plaster Company. There were other family-owned businesses during the latter part of the 19th century such as the Kentucky Falls Sewer Pipe Company.
According to a Kentucky newspaper, JoJo’s company was incorporated in 1908.
The Southern Wall Plaster Company appears to have been short-lived. I find no entries in the Louisville city directory for EJ Kollros in 1911 and 1912 but in 1913 and 1914 he is listed as president of the company. In 1913 his residence is listed as 1330 South Floyd St. In 1914, their residence is listed as 437 S. 2nd St.
After 1914, I find no mention of the Southern Wall Plaster Company.
In 1915, Jojo’s occupation is listed as salesman and his residence is 223 East Gray St. The entry does not list the company that he works for. In the 1916 entry, he is listed again as salesman and this time he gives an office address of 1841 Sherwood Ave. In 1917, he is shown as a bookkeeper working for his brother-in-law William P Bannon whose office was located at the 2307 Rowan St residence.
In 1918, Jojo’s occupation is listed as travel agent and now a new residence is listed: 223 East Gray St.
In 1919, the residence is the same address, and his occupation is listed as salesman. In 1920, the listing is back to travel agent at the same address.
In 1921, my great-grandparents would move into a house that that would remain their base for the next 40 years; although, as we will see, they did not always live there. The house, located at 1528 S. Third St., is still standing primarily because it is in Louisville’s preservation district.
Today, the house is owned by a fraternity from a nearby university. Although the house is narrow, it is built on a very deep lot. What was once an alley way in the back is now a street, and in the rear of the house, I can see a six-car parking lot.
The 1921 entry shows my great-grandfather’s occupation as bookkeeper for WP Bannon, his brother-in-law.
In 1922 and 1923, his occupation is shown as traveling salesman and they are still living at 1528 S. 3rd St.
The list of search results for “Joseph Kollros” from the city directory database at HeritageQuest.com appeared to be is no discernible order. The years as listed were all over the place. It was not until page 3 of the results listing that I found EJ and Catherine Kollros in 1924. Yet, the listing was not for Louisville; it was a listing for the city directory of Atlanta Georgia.
In 1924, I find EJ Kollros listed as a manager for the American Cemented Plaster Company located at 290 Bedford Pl. in Atlanta Georgia. However, I do not find a listing for him in 1925; the year that his 19-year-old daughter eloped in Chattanooga.
The critical link comes in the following year, 1926, where I find a listing for E. Joseph and Catherine Kollros residing at 70 Inman Cir., Atlanta, GA. He is listed as a manager for the Beaver Product Company. In that same directory, I find J. Monroe Dobbs and wife Dorothy residing at that same address.
Folks, we have winner!
When my other maternal great-grandfather, James M. Dobbs, Sr., retired from the US Foreign Service, he and his family returned to Georgia. According to the 1910 US Census, the family, James, Helen, daughter Emita (17) and son James, jr. (8), lived in the Atlanta suburb of East Point. James’ occupation is own income.
Sometime between 1910 and 1919, the Dobbs family moved to College Park, near Atlanta. They lived first at 214 E. Hawthorne Ave., College Park and then in 1920 they moved to 219 E. Princeton Ave., College Park. The 1920 US Census lists James, Sr.’s occupation as Superintendent of Farms.
In 1921 and 1922, James M Dobbs, Jr is listed as a student living at his parent’s home in College Park. In 1923, he is working as a clerk for the Royal Insurance Co., and lives with his parents.
My great-grandfather, James M Dobbs, Sr., died in December 1922.
It is not clear when Jojo and Beanie went back to Louisville. I did not find listings for anyone in 1927 except for my great-grandmother Helen S. Dobbs who was living at the Princeton Avenue address in College Park.
Then in 1928, the year that my mother was born, I find two entries for James M and Dorothy Dobbs: one listing is in Atlanta and the other is in Columbia South Carolina, the town where my mother was born.
The listing found in the 1928 city directory for Columbia South Carolina shows my grandfather and grandmother residing at 1808 Gervais St and their phone number was 5420. I believe they moved to Columbia in 1927. James was a cashier for the Kimbrell furniture company.
My mother was born in May of ’28 in Columbia. Afterwards, it appears that the family returned to Atlanta where they appear in that city directory for 1928 residing at West Peachtree Northwest apartment A-1. His occupation is listed as salesman.
1929 was the year of the stock market crash and the beginning of the Great Depression. In this year, we find James and Dorothy are living in Dallas Texas. This is where my aunt Joey was born.
I was told by both my grandmother and my mother that after the Crash in 1929, Jojo lost his job and that he and my great-grandmother went to Dallas, where he attempted to run a diner. It is not clear from the records in what year Jojo and Beanie may have gone to Dallas. This remains an unconfirmed story.
In the U.S. Census for 1930, we know that my great-grandparents were back living in Louisville because they are listed at the 1528 3rd St. address in U.S. Census where they are shown living with seven lodgers including Beanie’s brother, Arthur. Uncle Arty and Aunt Bess were separated during this time.
Also, in the census for 1930, we find James M Dobbs, Jr., wife Dorothy, and two young daughters, my mother and aunt Joey, residing in Dallas Texas. The city directory of Dallas for that year shows James M Dobbs and Dorothy P residing at 4448 Cedar Creek Dr. apt #4. His occupation is listed as department manager for the Maytag Southwestern Company.
In 1931, Jimmy and Dorothy are still living in Dallas. His occupation is listed as manager collection department for Maytag Southwestern Co. The family now resides at 2501 Greenville Rd.
In 1932, the only listing I find for anyone is for EJ Kollros. He is listed as a sales manager for the Universal Gypsum and Lime Company, and he is shown as residing at the Cecil Hotel in Atlanta Georgia. Legend has it that JoJo once lost his temper over something that Beanie said and that he was so angry that he threw a card table out of a hotel window in Atlanta. I wonder if it was the Cecil Hotel.
Then in 1933, I find my great-grandparents and my grandparents listed in the city directory for Tampa Florida. Both families are living at the same address: 2305 Glenwood Dr., Tampa, FL. My great-grandparents are listed as living at the same address in 1934. I believe this is the year that my grandparents divorced. Also, it looks like my great-grandparents moved back to Louisville in the latter part of 1934 as there is a listing for EJ Kollros and Catherine in the Louisville city directory living at the Third Street address and his occupation is listed as clerk. Uncle Arty and Aunt Bess also lived in Tampa along with their daughter, Betty Ann, and son, Kelsey.
Using Google Maps Streetview, I was able to locate the house at 2305 Glenwood Dr. in Tampa. According to my mom, there were mango trees in the backyard.
Due to a specific question asked on the census form for the 1940 U.S. Census, I know from that my grandfather and his second wife, Helen, were living in San Antonio Texas in 1935. In that same year, my great-grandparents were living at the Third Street address in Louisville. Jimmy’s mother, Helen Spiegel Dobbs was still living in College Park at the Princeton Avenue address. The question on the 1940 census form was Where did you lived five years ago? It was a question that genealogists and family historians wish had been on every prior census.
In 1935 and 1936, my Kollros great-grandparents are listed as living at the Third Street address. I find no listings for anyone for the years 1937 through 1939.
In the 1940 U.S. Census for Louisville Kentucky, my great-grandfather’s occupation is listed as statistician for WPA project, and they continued to reside at the Third Street address in Louisville.
In that same year, my grandfather, Jimmy, his second wife Helen, and his mother Helen are listed as living in Fort Worth Texas and his occupation is shown as auditor for the US Soil Conservation Service. This is the job he would hold until his death in 1956 at age fifty-six.
The years 1941 through 1944 are a blank for everyone. I know that my grandfather, who at the start of World War II was in his late 30s, did register for the draft but he was never called up. He may have been exempt because he worked for the Department of Agriculture.
Jojo also had to register for the draft in 1942. He was 62 years old.
In 1945 and 1946 James M and Helen Dobbs are listed as living at 1605 Ashland Ave., Fort Worth, TX. It is sometime after this that my grandfather, his second wife and his mother relocated to the Waco/Temple Texas area where his wife Helen was born and raised. My great-grandmother, Helen Spiegel Dobbs died in 1952. My grandfather died in 1956. His second wife, Helen McWheeny, died in 1998 at the age of 101. They are all three buried in a small cemetery in Holland, Texas.
It was a few years after my grandparents divorced in 1934, that my grandmother married John Robert Coarsey. My mother’s half-brother, John Robert Coarsey, Jr. was born in 1938.
The Coarsey family consisting of my grandmother, Bob’s dad, my mother, her sister Joey and her younger brother, Bobby lived in Nashville from the late 30s to late 40s. Yet the first listing I found was for 1940. Bob sr. was a real estate salesman.
Here is the family listed in the 1940 Nashville city directory where they live at 1614 McEwen:
In 1942, Bob, Sr. is listed as vice-president for the Madison Real Estate Company, and the family resided in Montague Tennessee. According to my mother they lived in a house high on a bluff above the Cumberland River, outside of Nashville.
In 1946, the only listing I could find was for Jojo, and it was in the Nashville city directory; he is shown as a bookkeeper for Bob Coarsey’s real estate company.
Finally in 1947, I found a listing in Nashville Tennessee showing Bob and Dorothy living at 4203 Aberdeen Rd. and listed right above that, at the same address, we see that my mother’s first job, at age 19, was as a typist for the Veterans Administration Hospital in Nashville. She is listed as Pattie Coarsey but her actual name was Patricia Dobbs.
Jojo died in April 1947 in Louisville. He was 67 years old. Beanie, who was 73 at the time of Jojo’s passing, remained in the Third Street house until 1961. In that year, Beanie was starting to show signs of senility and according to my grandmother, she had become deeply in debt to bookies at Churchill Downs, where she loved to bet on the horses. She had also stopped collecting rent from the lodgers at the Third Street address. As the situation worsened, grandmother and Uncle Bob drove from Houston up to Louisville and spirited Beanie away from town in the middle of the night.
After completing my research, I have come to appreciate the value of the information that can be mined from city directories. From the 1870s to the 1970s, city directories are vital in filling in the blanks between BMD records and the decennial US Census.
I only wish I could have found this earlier and that I had been able to share this with Mom and Uncle Bob.