I was one of those that counted down the days to the release of the 1940 census. One of the first couples I looked for was my Grandpa and Grandma Gotcher. I was curious to see where they lived and to fill in some of the details of their early married life. About a year before the release I had ordered and received their marriage license and there were a couple of curious things there. They were married across the border from York, Nebraska in Belleville, Kansas on September 30, 1938. There were two interesting things on their marriage license. First, Grandpa Leo listed his residence as Turebound, Oregon (which would prove useful information when searching for them on the census). Second, Grandma Mabel listed her age as 24 when I know she was born in 1904 and was therefore 34 and Leo listed his age as 22 when I know he was born in 1917 and was actually 20 almost 21. There was a 13 year age difference, her being the elder, that they seemed to want to hide when they were younger.
Moving on to the census. I started searching before the census had been indexed and started looking in York, Nebraska as that is where the family had been for many years. When I couldn’t find the newlyweds there and I knew that they had lived in Oregon for awhile I remembered the marriage license and started searching for Turebound which turned out to be Terrebonne, Oregon. There they were. Here he is listed as being 22 and she is 20. – Actually he is 22 but she is 36. They both list their residence in 1935 as being on a farm in York, Nebraska. She is listed as being a teacher and he is a potato grader. This was a new bit of information for him because we had all heard that he was a lumber worker in Oregon not a potato grader. But later I found them in the 1940 Terrebonne City Directory and there he is listed as being a millworker for a lumber company – so he must have only been a potato grader for a short amount of time. The other interesting thing on the census was that my grandpa only had a 5th grade education – not that rare at that time but interesting since grandma was a school teacher. I have heard stories that she tutored him at some point.
So how long did they live in Oregon? The story I had heard, and that these three documents seem to substantiate, is that after Grandpa and Grandma met, Leo went to Oregon to work for awhile. They probably corresponded during this time. In 1938 he came back to Nebraska and proposed to Grandma. They got married across the border because at that time it was breach of contract for a teacher to get married. After the wedding she went back to teach the rest of the semester and he went back to work in Oregon. They wrote letters which my cousin has and at Christmas Grandma got on a train and went out to Oregon to be with him. They lived there until Grandma was pregnant with my Aunt Mary, since she was born in April of 1942 they probably moved back in late 1941. The story I heard was that she had had several miscarriages and wanted to go home to better doctors when she became pregnant again. It was fun finding them in the 1940 census and seeing how they answered the census questions. In my mind, their time in Oregon always seemed like a honeymoon time for them.