I’m helping a friend work on her family tree. She has had an accident recently and is going through a long rehabilitation. I would love to be able to present her information on her line to help cheer her up.
She is a descendant of the screenwriter, Jerome “Jerry” Cady (pronounced Kay-Tee). While her mother’s line wielded a tremendous amount of information, her father’s side has revealed next to nothing. I thought I’d throw his story out to the genealogy community to see if someone might be able to provide clues or ideas on how to research this line.
Let’s start with what is known about Jerome Cady. His birth information is sketchy. He is said to have been born in Aug 1903 in West Virginia. His trail takes him to Chicago and New York where he starts writing. There are biographical sketches about his career, yet there really isn’t any information on his early beginnings. You can see from his Wikipedia entry that the pickings are slim.
He was record in the 1940 as Jerry Cady (see 1940 Census, Los Angeles, CA, ED 16, sheet 1A and 1B). Jerome is listed as 37 years old, born in West Virginia, and having 8 years of schooling. He lived in the same place (Los Angeles) in 1935. His occupation is motion picture screen writer.
In the same census is his first wife, Dorothy, who was 33 and born in Pennsylvania. They had two children: Patricia Ann (6 years old) and Dorothy (5 years old). Both were born in California.
He married his second wife in 1941 in Maricopa Co., AZ (have not found proof of marriage yet). Her name was Elna Eugenia “Jean” Peterson. She was born 16 Apr 1905 in Albert Lea, Freeborn Co., MI to Christian “Chris” Peterson and Maria “Mary” Johnson. This family is well documented including numerous newspaper articles about their ability to make butter (they won several competitions!)
It is Jerome’s side that I am having so much trouble with. No documents so far reveal the names of his parents or if he had siblings. His mother’s name might have been Lydia. I don’t think his death records would reveal much since his second wife was the source and she didn’t seem to know much about his early history. She was not upfront about it with her daughter.
Jerome Cady died aboard his yacht in November of 1948. A newspaper articles about his death reveal a few details of his life. Mostly they show that those closest to him knew little about him, too. Friends said he was anywhere from 40 to 48 years old when he died. One article states that he was left an orphan at the age of 13. He started his career as a newspaper copy boy, then a reporter. He went on to be a screenwriter for 20th Century Fox.
And, that seems to be all we know of Jerome Cady. The information that he was an orphan makes me wonder if in the early census records he is living with relatives or another family. There is a Jerome Cady in the 1930 census for Los Angeles who is a reporter. However, that Jerome Cady lists his birth place as Kansas. In 1930, Jerome was supposed to be in either Chicago or New York. I’m not really sure how common the surname is. There could have been hundreds of Jerome Cadys for all I know. My friend does not feel this is the right person, but we’ve all seen people in places they should not have been. I have done some searches in the 1910 and 1920 census, but it’s like finding a needle in a haystack with so few details.
Does anyone have any ideas on how to find out more information on Jerome? How would you go about researching him? Are West Virginia birth records or Arizona marriage records online?
My friend never knew much about Jerome Cady and would really be pleased to finally know his parent’s names and where he was from. If anyone has some suggestions, please let me know.
(I have purposely left off my friend’s name for privacy reasons. She has given me permission to include these details about Jerome Cady.)
Genealogist and writer. Creator of the Portuguese Hawaiian Genealogy and Heritage website, yourislandroutes.com