Tuesday, September 29, 2009

I Discovered the Actress from Hale!

My photo excursion through Hale Cemetery helped to refine some information on John Rosevelt's descendants and in the process helped me to find the actress from Hale. John’s eldest daughter Margaret married Henry C. Clemm in February, 1881 in Carroll County, Missouri. She and Henry had two children. The first child, Jene, was born in October, 1881 and had a gravestone in Hale Cemetery. I couldn't find a burial record for their younger daughter, Aileen, born in 1901.
I found Henry, Margaret, and Aileen in the 1925 census of Kansas. Aileen Poe Clem was listed as an actress who was born in 1901 in Missouri. In first tries I couldn't find any of them in the 1900, 1910, or 1920 census.
The Clemm's were very difficult to locate in the U.S. censuses, too. I did find a record for Margaret Rosevelt Clemm in the 1930 census in Hale, Carroll County, Missouri.
After little success with censuses, one of my first thoughts was to search for death certificates. That meant using Missouri's great vital record site. http://www.sos.mo.gov/archives/resources/deathcertificates/ Missouri has indexed and added images of the certificates from 1910-1958. After trying several variations of the names I was still unable to locate a death certificate for any of them. The gravestone showed Henry had died in 1925, the same year that found them in Kansas, so that wasn't too surprising. I was very much hoping that I would find the death certificate for Margaret Rosevelt Clemm who according the gravestone died in 1934.
I did a Google search and found a very interesting article about Aileen and her mother in Kansas City in 1908. http://www.vintagekansascity.com/100yearsago/labels/vaudeville.html Aileen was noted as being fourteen years old. A woman claimed she had sent her husband compromising notes, and she was out to get Aileen. They all ended up in court, where the judge wasn't happy with Aileen and her mother.
From the clue noting her as working vaudeville I put more effort into searching for something about her as an actress. Ancestry's newspaper collection was helpful. The Chillicothe newspaper had articles mentioning Aileen and in one told about her and a friend on their way to Hollywood. After more Google searching, it became apparent that Aileen was using the stage name Aileen Poe (her middle name), which brought to mind Edgar Allan Poe, whose wife was his cousin Virginia Clemm. That could be an interesting search for a Clemm researcher.
The New York Times had an obituary for Aileen Poe with a place of death and reference to her death date. I retried the Social Security Death Index, but there was nothing for her as Poe or Clemm. I then tried her first name and death date. That brought up Aileen Egelston. Later research showed Aileen had married Charles Egelston. That helped to find her on a few ship manifests and gave her birthplace as Hale, Missouri.
Aileen and her mother still eluded me in the 1920 census. I tried many different searches and finally hit pay dirt with Ail*, no surname, born Missouri, mother born Iowa. Aileen was shown as being married to Reginald Grant and living in Manhattan, NY. Her mother was also in the household as Margaret Clenin. Interestingly, Aileen was noted as single in the 1925 census of Kansas.
Aileen was fairly successful as an actress. Her earliest recorded Broadway performance was in 1916 in Fast and Grow Fat. A play bill from around 1920 shows her as the attractive femme fatale, a role that she often played in other plays from that time period. Fade In - Fade Out was her last big performance on Broadway in 1966 with Carol Burnett.
There still wasn’t a death record for Margaret Rosevelt Clemm. That required some new thinking. Margaret’s close relationship with her daughter suggested checking the death record index for New York City. A couple of great volunteer groups have worked to add vital records from all of the boroughs of New York City. A search of their index showed Margaret Clemm died August 2, 1934.
So there it is, I discovered, Aileen Poe Clemm, the actress from Hale.

1 comment:

  1. Bravo for such a thoroughly researched article.
    Isn't it amazing how much information we can find on the internet - like your finding of the article on Aileen.
    I do that kind of "sleuthing" more and more now - especially as regards the postcards that I publish on my site. It;s led me down some very interesting paths!
    Evelyn in Montreal