Catherine Johns and her pup Sport

I got this photo from my Instagram friend Chase. There is just too much loveliness in this photo – a sweet child with her sweet pet and it’s identified – everything my genealogist heart desires!

The back of the photo says “My kid sister Catherine and our dog Sport”.

Thanks to my lovely Instagram community, we could make out that the photo was addressed to one:

Anna Johns

734 Bartlett Ave.

Baltimore, Maryland

This is the house as it stands today.

Source GoogleMaps

I looked through all the 1930 and 1940 Census lists of Baltimore, but none of the Johns I found were living in that address.

A huge thank you to @find_my_ancestors who helped me find the decisive clue about the Johns. She found out that one painter named Carl F. Johns was registered in that address according to the 1937 Baltimore City Directory, and that Carl’s wife had been Anna! We had found the Johns!

And then I discovered the reason why I hadn’t found any Johns in the 1940 Census living in that address – because Ancestry had recorded them under the surname “Carl” instead of “Johns”. Oh, a confusing detour, but we found them!

So the little girl in our photo was Catherine Margaret Johns who was born on June 12th, 1926, as the youngest child of parents Carl Flossie Johns and Anna Jane née Young. Catherine’s older siblings were Anna, Carl Jr., Mable and Doris, but about them later. Oh, and let’s not forget one more family member – the furry friend Sport.

The photo with Sport as taken in 1935, so little Catherine was 9 years old. I don’t know exactly when, but Catherine married one Clyde L. Beck sometime after WWII. At 20 years of age, Clyde was drafted to serve in the WWII in 1942. At the time Clyde was not yet married. The couple went on to have three children: Carl John Beck (1950-2000), Ralph D. Beck (1953-1984) and Ray A. (born in 1956?).  In 1955, the family was living at 9518 Ridgely Avenue in Parkville, Maryland. 

Here’s a 1971 Parkville High School yearbook photo of Catherine’s son Ralph. I do see some resemblance to Catherine!

Clyde passed away in 1978. Son ralph in 1984. And Catherine on January 17th, 1990.

Let’s look at her parents and siblings now as there is plenty to find about them.

Catherine’s father Carl Flossie Johns had been born on November 13th, 1896, in Waco, Texas. In the 1930 Census, his profession was listed an electrical engineer. By 1940, it had changed to a painter. There is a fun photo of him, publicly available on Ancestry (This photo is not mine, source HERE), showing him what looks like supporting an election of someone (JFK???).

Looks like Carl had a bit of a rough start into adulthood. He was convicted of a theft of 50$ in March 1917 at just 20 years of age, in Huntsville, Texas. He was to serve 2 years in prison, but was pardoned in November 1918. Carl got his act together after that incident. He served in the US Army as Sergeant between April 1919 and April 1920.

Carl F. Johns passed away in September 1967 and was buried at the Baltimore National Cemetery. His obituary includes some important details regarding his children, especially regarding the married surnames of his daughters. We also know that when this obituary was published in 1967, all the Johns siblings as well as their mother were alive.

Catherine’s mother Anna Jane Johns née Young had been born in July 1897 in Baltimore. There are some fun photos of her published on her family tree page on Ancestry (This photo is not mine, source HERE). She passed away in 1983.

Carl F. and Anna J. Johns

Let’s look at Catherine’s siblings too:

–Ann Swain (1920-2010) married Walter Franklyn Swain and the couple had 2 children.

–Carl F. Johns Jr. (1921-1995) married Ruth Adele née Boehl and the couple had 6 children. You can read their names in Carl Jr.’s obituary below, as I found on Ancestry.

–Mabel Johns (1923-2007) married George R. Fanton Jr. and looks like the couple had 2 children.

–Doris Elaine Johns (1925-1997) married Theodore Francis Bocklage and the couple had 4 children (two of them seem to be alive today).

Catherine’s family is a wonderful example of the melting pot that the United States was and is.

Catherine’s maternal grandfather James D. Young had been born in Scotland in 1865, and her maternal grandmother Catherine née Ferguson, had been born in Cork, Ireland, in January 1865.

Catherine’s paternal grandfather Emil Johns had been born in Germany in about 1870, her paternal grandmother Sophrana Anne’s Jolliff-line were from England and they settled in Norfolk, Virginia, sometime in the 2nd half of the 17th century!

I’m always amazed how much family history one single photo – one tiny snapshot – can reveal!

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