George & Maudena Kernan Family

The child of Owen Francis Kiernan (1836-1901) and Harriet “Hattie” Dunton (1836-1927) that concerns the ancestry of William G. Kernan (LIVING), my paternal grandfather, is their eleventh child, George Edward Kernan (1884-1960). What is presently known about the life and family of George Kernan will be discussed below.

Early Life and Marriage

George Edward Kernan (1884-1960) was, according to most sources, born on the 31 August 1884 in Maryville, Nodaway County, Missouri, where his parents, Owen and Harriet, had been living since about 1880. According to his Missouri Permanent Record of Births entry, George was the eleventh child born to his parents, a fact that is supported by both family records and other historical records. Although this record does not provide any further details about George, it does state that his father, Owen, was of Irish Nationality and born in Canada, as well as being employed as a laborer. It also states that his mother, Hattie, was born in New York and that her maiden name was Dunton.

The Missouri Permanent Record of Birth for George Edward Kernan (1884-1960).
The Missouri Permanent Record of Birth for George Edward Kernan. (Click to Enlarge)

George’s birth in Maryville, Missouri, moreover, occurred just prior to the family’s move back to Minnesota, which they appear to have done in 1884. Although the exact reason for this is unclear, a second record for George’s birth is found on the Minnesota Return of Births. George’s presence on this second record seems likely to be due to the fact that their return to Minnesota was so close to George’s birth. This is clear from the dates for these birth record entries. George’s entry on the Missouri Permanent Record of Births was record on the 1 October 1884, while his entry on the Minnesota Return of Births was recorded on the 10 January 1885. Thus, the family moved from Missouri to Minnesota at some point between 1 October 1884 and 10 January 1885, which was between about one and four months after George’s birth.

The Minnesota Return of Births Entry for George Edward Kernan.
The Minnesota Return of Births Entry for George Edward Kernan. (Click to Enlarge)

George’s entry on the Minnesota Return of Births contains some similar information to his entry on the Missouri Permanent Record of Births. However, there are differences apart from the location of George’s birth. The Minnesota Return of Births shows Owen and Harriet’s birth locations as being Ireland, instead of Canada and New York as found on the Missouri Permanent Record of Births. Additionally, the Minnesota Return of Births only shows the first names of George’s parents, excluding Harriet’s maiden name, unlike the Missouri Permanent Record of Births. Given the fact that George’s entry on the Missouri Permanent Record of Births is more complete than his entry on the Minnesota Return of Births, the facts revealed on the Missouri Permanent Record of Births are supported by other records, and that records show that Owen and Harriet were living in Maryville, Missouri at the time of and prior to George’s birth, the Missouri Permanent Record of Births is maintained here as the more accurate of the two.

Although George’s entries on these two different state birth records is likely the result of the family’s move from Missouri to Minnesota within the same year of George’s birth and the dates of these records make this clear, which of the these two locations of George’s birth is accurate is, on face value, a challenging issue. This is made more challenging by the fact that a few later records also show Minnesota as the state of his birth, such as George’s death certificate, obituary, and funeral card. However, these records were likely based on information provided by George’s daughter, Gloria, who was the informant on George’s death certificate. It is highly likely that the identification of Minnesota as George’s birth location on these records was a reflection of what Gloria believed to be the location of her father’s birth, as she undoubtedly heard of the family having lived in Minnesota prior to moving to Oregon. Given the fact that the family lived briefly in Missouri, it seems unlikely that she was aware of it. Additionally, the majority of historical records and family records show Missouri as George’s birth location. Thus, the identification of Missouri as his birth location can be made with a high degree of certainty despite the existence of two birth records. Table 1 below summarizes George’s birth location according to various records.

Table 1: George Kernan’s Birth Location According to Various Records
Record Year(s) Birth Location
Missouri Permanent Record of Births 1884 Missouri
Minnesota Return of Births 1885 Minnesota
Minnesota Census 1885, 1895 Missouri
U.S. Federal Census 1910, 1920, 1930, 1940 Missouri
WWII Draft Card 1942 Missouri
Oregon Death Certificate 1960 Minnesota
Obituary 1960 Minnesota
Funeral Card 1960 Minnesota
Family Group Sheet (George) Missouri

Following the family’s arrival in Minnesota between 1 October 1884 and 10 January 1885, moreover, they settled in St. Paul in Ramsey County. It is in St. Paul that George is found enumerated on the 1885 Minnesota Census living in the household of his parents, where his father, Owen, was likely employed as a baker. According to entries for his father in the St. Paul City Directory, the family lived at 154 Water Street in St. Paul in 1885 and 1886. These entries also state that George’s father was employed at Berrisfords’ Biscuit & Confectionery Company as a baker.

The 1885 Minnesota Census showing George Kernan living in the household of his parents in St. Paul, Minnesota.
The 1885 Minnesota Census showing George Kernan living in the household of his parents in St. Paul, Minnesota. (Click to Enlarge)

By 1887, the family had moved to 587 Forest Street in St. Paul. It was in 1889 that George’s father, Owen, started working as an elevator operator for Berrisfords’ Biscuit & Confectionery Company. George and his family were still living at 587 Forest Street in St. Paul in 1895, where they are found enumerated on the 1895 Minnesota Census. According to this record, George was ten years old and living in the household of his parents in St. Paul where his father, Owen, was employed as an “elevator man.”

The 1895 Minnesota Census showing George Kernan and his family living in St. Paul, Minnesota.
The 1895 Minnesota Census showing George Kernan living in the household of his parents in St. Paul, Minnesota. (Click to Enlarge)

At some point between 1899 and 1900, moreover, George’s parents moved the family to Portland, Multnomah County, Oregon. Although the family has not been found on the 1900 U.S. Federal Census, George’s father, Owen, is found on the 1900 Portland City Directory. This may indicate that the family made the move to Portland between the dates these two records were complied, which were 1 June and 22 September 1900, respectively. About a year after they arrived in Portland, moreover, tragedy struck the family, as George’s father, Owen, died in 1901 from tuberculosis.

It was also in 1901 that the first record for George in Portland, Oregon is found, as he was recorded in the Portland City Directory of that year along with his father and brothers Charles and Oliver. According to George’s entry, he was living at 1030 Maryland Avenue in Portland with his family. His entry in this directory also states that George was employed as a trunkmaker at E. U. Phillips Trunk Company in Portland.

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Entry for George in the 1901 Portland City Directory, highlighted in yellow. (Click to Enlarge)

Furthermore, it was not long after the family’s arrival that George married and began a life and family of his own in Portland. Although no record has yet been found for his marriage, family records provide some details. According to a family group sheet for George that details information from the Bible of Geroge’s son, Delmar Clair Kernan (1908-1979), George married Maudena Elizabeth “Lizzie” Stearns (1885-1936) on the 01 June 1903 in Portland, Multnomah County, Oregon. Maudena was born on the 15 April 1885 in Portland, Multnomah County, Oregon the daughter of Theodore Frelinghuysen Stearns (1844-1930) and Anna Eliza Backer (1854-1919). (To learn more about the Stearns family, please see “Stearns Family History.”)

The Kernan Family Group Sheet for George and Maudena Kernan.
The Kernan Family Group Sheet for George and Maudena Kernan. (Click to Enlarge)

The Family of George and Maudena Kernan

Following their marriage, George and Maudena had twelve children between 1905 and 1925, five of which died in infancy or young. Although every detail has not been found for each of their children, what is presently known is discussed below.

George and Maudena’s first child was Curtis George Kernan (1905-1918), who was born on the 08 March 1905 in Portland, Multnomah County, Oregon, and died on the 25 October 1918 in Portland, Multnomah County, Oregon. According to Curtis’s death certificate, he likely died from influenza, though the death certificate also states pneumonia as a contributory condition at the time of his death. On the 28 October 1918, Curtis was buried in Mount Calvary Cemetery in Portland, Multnomah County, Oregon.

Earnest William Kernan (1907-1926), George and Maudena’s second child, was born on the 26 February 1907 in Portland, Multnomah County, Oregon, and died on the 04 October 1926 at a Naval Hospital in San Diego County, California. According to family records, Earnest was serving in the U.S. Navy at the time of his death, which he probably enlisted in in about 1925. Although few details of his service are known, he was a Seaman Second Class serving aboard the USS Litchfield. Although Earnest was nineteen when he died, no record has been found indicating he was married. On the 11 October 1926, Earnest was buried in Mount Calvary Cemetery in Portland, Multnomah County, Oregon.

George and Maudena’s third child was Delmar Clair Kernan (1908-1979), who was born on the 03 August 1908 in Portland, Multnomah County, Oregon, and died on the 04 September 1979 in Sherwood, Washington Co., Oregon. In 1929, Delmar married Maxine Elizabeth Davis (1912-1992), the daughter of William Phylitis Davis (1876-1960) and Mary Magdelene Williams (1883-1968), in Portland, Multnomah County, Oregon. Following their marriage, Delmar and Maxine had two children, which were named Deldalyn and William. In about 1948, Delmar and Maxine’s marriage ended in divorce, after which both remarried. In 1950, Delmar married Pauline Katherine (Rains) Rowlands (1913-1997), the daughter of Rex Aden Rains (1885-1973) and Vesta Ferrell Keith (1884-1931) and the widow of Donald Robert Rowlands (ca. 1907-1948), in Portland, Multnomah County, Oregon. Throughout the majority of his working life, Delmar was employed as a salesman of prefab-homes. Delmar and Pauline were buried in Skyline Memorial Gardens in Portland, Multnomah County, Oregon.

Owen Marcel Kernan (1911-1979), George and Maudena’s fourth child, was born on the 04 February 1911 in Cowlitz County, Washington, and died on the 30 March 1979 in Nevis, Hubbard County, Minnesota. In 1929, Owen married Helen Dora Potter (1913-1996), the daughter of John Willis Potter (1879-1963) and Elsie May Street (1888-1941), in Oregon. Following their marriage, Owen and Helen had at least four children between 1935 and 1939, which were named Marceline, Betty, John, and Dolores. At some point after 1940, Owen moved his family to Minnesota, settling in Nevis, Hubbard County, Minnesota. Throughout his working life, Owen was employed as a truck driver. Following Owen’s death, Helen married Herman Arthur Myers (1920-1998).

George and Maudena’s fifth child was Florence Elizabeth Kernan (1913-1915), who was born on the 28 March 1913 in Portland, Multnomah County, Oregon, and died on the 06 June 1915 in Portland, Multnomah County, Oregon. According to her death certificate, Florence died at the age of two from pneumonia with a contributory condition of intestinal toxemia (botulism). On the 08 June 1915, Florence was buried in Mount Calvary Cemetery in Portland, Multnomah County, Oregon.

Walter Ray Kernan (1915-1931), George and Maudena’s sixth child, was born on the 10 February 1915 in Portland, Multnomah County, Oregon, and died on the 19 July 1931 in Coquille, Coos County, Oregon. According to his death certificate, Walter died from an accidental drowning while swimming in the Coquille River. On the 24 July 1931, Walter was buried in Mount Calvary Cemetery in Portland, Multnomah County, Oregon.

George and Maudena’s seventh child was Vernon Woodrow Kiernan (1916-1962), who was born on the 10 December 1916 in Portland, Multnomah County, Oregon, and died on the 29 September 1962 in Portland, Multnomah County, Oregon. Although he was born with the Kernan spelling of the surname, Vernon changed the surname to its original spelling for himself and his descendants. On the 18 May 1937, Vernon married Mildred L. Kirtland (1922-?) in Clark County, Washington. Following their marriage, Vernon and Mildred had at least two children between 1938 and 1941, which were named Shirley and Vernon. At some point after the birth of their second child, Vernon and Mildred’s marriage ended in divorce. On the 29 March 1946, Vernon married Delma May Fromm (1928-2018) in Clark County, Washington. Following their marriage, Vernon and Delma had at least two children, which were named Delmar and Linda. Throughout his working life, Vernon was employed as a truck driver for Oregon-Nevada Freight Lines.

Francis Otis “Fritz” Kernan (1919-1987), George and Maudena’s eighth child, was born on the 14 April 1919 in Portland, Multnomah County, Oregon, and died on the 24 November 1987 in Monitor, Marion County, Oregon. On the 09 March 1939, Francis married June F. Brock (ca. 1923-?) in Clark Co., Washington. June was born in about 1923 in Oregon the daughter of Fred Frances Brock (1896-1955) and Hazelle L. Miller (1901-1984). Following their marriage and before their divorce, Francis and June had three children, which were named Fred, Georgia, and Eddie. On the 25 May 1948, Francis married Laura M. Durkee (1926-2001) in Skamania Co., Washington. Laura was born on 25 November 1926 in Oregon the daughter of Edward W. Durkee (1902-1978) and Essie M. Dunkin (ca. 1907-?) and died on the 18 June 2001 in Portland, Multnomah County, Oregon. Francis and Laura’s marriage ended in divorce by 1950. On the 14 May 1951, Francis married Bernice Evelyn Bollinger (1918-2002) in Skamania Co., Washington. Bernice was born on the 25 July 1918 in Aurora, Marion Co., Oregon, the daughter of Earl C. Bollinger (1896-1967) and Esther P. Welch (ca. 1899-1931).  Following their marriage, Francis adopted Bernice’s son, George, from a previous marriage, and they had three other children together, which were named Steven, David, and Kathy. Throughout his life, Francis worked as a truck driver. In 1940, he was a road construction truck driver for Public Works. Both Francis and Bernice were buried in City View Cemetery in Salem, Marion County, Oregon.

George and Maudena’s ninth child was Earl Leonard Kernan (1920-1979), who was born on the 17 October 1920 in Portland, Multnomah County, Oregon, and died on the 01 June 1979 in Portland, Multnomah County, Oregon. During World War II, Earl enlisted in the U.S. Navy on the 13 December 1941, serving as a Gunner’s Mate (GM3) until the end of his service on the 16 December 1945. On the 26 January 1952, Earl married Mary Joan Wilson (1933-2015) in Oregon. Mary was born on the 26 April 1933 in Oregon and died in 2015 in Oregon. Following their marriage, Earl and Joan had four children, which were named Danny, Darlene, Karen, and Mary. Following his death, Earl was buried in Willamette National Cemetery in Portland, Multnomah Co., Oregon.

Lloyd Edward Kernan (1922-1970), George and Maudena’s tenth child, was born on the 06 May 1922 in Portland, Multnomah County, Oregon, and died on the 07 December 1970 in Clackamas County, Oregon. During World War II, Lloyd enlisted in the U.S. Army on the 10 September 1942, serving as a Sergeant in the 187th Engineer Combat Battalion until the end of his service on the 19 December 1945. On the 11 June 1943, Lloyd married Peggy Elaine Hereford (1923-2011) in Clark County, Washington. Peggy was born in October 1923 in Portland, Multnomah County, Oregon, and died on the 11 September 2011 in Oregon. Following their marriage, Lloyd and Peggy had five children: Dennis, Wayne, Carol, Wayne, and Kathy. Following their deaths, both Lloyd and Peggy were buried in Willamette National Cemetery in Portland, Multnomah County, Oregon.

George and Maudena’s eleventh child was an unnamed male child that was born and died on the 14 June 1923 in Portland, Multnomah County, Oregon. He was buried in Mount Calvary Catholic Cemetery in Portland, Multnomah County, Oregon.

Gloria Lucille Eliza “Gert” Kernan (1925-1995), George and Maudena’s twelfth child, was born on the 29 May 1925 in Portland, Multnomah County, Oregon, and died on the 15 May 1995 in Portland, Multnomah County, Oregon. On the 16 June 1945, Gloria married Robert James Blue (1917-1974) in Clark County, Washington. Robert was born on the 29 May 1917, the son of William and Lucille Blue, in Portland, Multnomah County, Oregon, and died on the 14 November 1974 in Portland, Multnomah County, Oregon. Gloria and Robert’s marriage, however, ended in divorce. On the 6 April 1953, Gloria married Donald G. Bisson (1921-1978) in Skamania County, Washington. Donald was born on the 25 May 1921, the son of Sylvester Orlando Bisson (1876-1953) and Anna Margaretha Eggers (1882-1953), in Minnehaha County, South Dakota, and died on the 31 January 1978 in Pierce County, Washington. Donald served in the U.S. Navy during World War II. Gloria and Donald’s marriage, however, ended in divorce. On the 16 June 1962, Gloria married Paul W. Lee (1926-1976) in Skamania Co., Washington. Paul was born on the 02 December 1926, the son of Pearl Willard Lee (1885-1963) and Edna M. Little, in Multnomah County, Oregon, and died on the 24 June 1976 in Multnomah County, Oregon. Gloria had at least six children, two sons and four daughters. Two of these children, Donna and Steve, were born to Donald Bisson. Another of her children was named Jeff Kernan, who died in 2001. Where Gloria was buried, moreover, is not presently known.

Table 2: The Children of George & Maudena Kernan
# Name Birth Death Marriage
i. Curtis George 08 March 1905 in Portland, Multnomah Co., Oregon 25 October 1918 in Portland, Multnomah Co., Oregon Died young.
ii. Ernest William 26 February 1907 in Portland, Multnomah Co., Oregon 04 October 1926 in Portland, Multnomah Co., Oregon Died young. Unmarried at the time of death.
iii. Delmar Clair 03 August 1908 in Portland, Multnomah Co., Oregon 04 September 1979 in Sherwood, Washington Co., Oregon 1929 to Maxine Elizabeth Davis in Portland, Multnomah Co., Oregon; 1950 to Pauline Katherine (Rains) Rowlands in Portland, Multnomah Co., Oregon
iv. Owen Marcel 04 February 1911 in Cowlitz Co., Washington 03 March 1979 in Nevis, Hubbard Co., Minnesota 1929 to Helen Dora Potter in Portland, Multnomah Co., Oregon
v. Florence Elizabeth 28 March 1913 in Portland, Multnomah Co., Oregon 06 June 1915 in Portland, Multnomah Co., Oregon Died in infancy.
vi. Walter Ray 10 February 1915 in Portland, Multnomah Co., Oregon 19 July 1931 in Coquille, Coos Co., Oregon Died young.
vii. Vernon Woodrow 10 December 1916 in Portland, Multnomah Co., Oregon 29 September 1962 in Portland, Multnomah Co., Oregon 1937 to Mildred L. Kirtland in Clark Co., Washington; 1946 to Delma May Fromm in Oregon
viii. Francis Otis “Fritz” 14 April 1919 in Portland, Multnomah Co., Oregon 24 November 1987 in Monitor, Marion Co., Oregon 1939 to June F. Brock in Clark Co., Washington; 1948 to Laura M. Durkee in Skamania Co., Washington; 1951 to Bernice Bollinger in Skamania Co., Washington
ix. Earl Leonard 17 October 1920 in Portland, Multnomah Co., Oregon 01 June 1979 in Portland, Multnomah Co., Oregon 1952 to Mary Joan Wilson (1933-2015) in Oregon
x.  Lloyd Edward  06 May 1922 in Portland, Multnomah Co., Oregon  07 December 1970 in Clackamas Co., Oregon  1943 to Peggy Elaine Hereford in Clark Co., Washington
xi.  Unnamed Male 14 June 1923 in Portland, Multnomah Co., Oregon 14 June 1923 in Portland, Multnomah Co., Oregon  Died in infancy.
xii.  Gloria Lucille Eliza “Gert”  29 May 1925 in Portland, Multnomah Co., Oregon  15 May 1995 in Portland, Multnomah Co., Oregon  1945 to Robert J. Blue in Clark Co., Washington; 1953 to Donald G. Bisson in Skamania Co., Washington; 1962 to Paul W. Lee in Multnomah Co., Oregon

Life in Oregon & Washington

According to available historical records, George and Maudena spent most of their lives living primarily in Portland, Multnomah County, Oregon, where all but one of their children were born. The earliest available records for the family in Oregon are entries in the Portland City Directory for various years. The first of these is a 1904 entry, which states that the family lived at 146 Beech in Portland, and that George was employed as a laborer at the “O. R. & N. Shops,” which is the Oregon Railroad and Navigation Company. Entries in the 1905 and 1906 Portland City Directory also show George employed Oregon Railroad and Navigation Company, though they had moved to 707 Mississippi Avenue in Portland. However, by 1907 George was no longer working for the Oregon Railroad and Navigation Company. According to entries in the 1907 and 1908 Portland City Directory, George was employed as a machinist for the North Coast Furnace Works, and the family had moved to 65 Mason in Portland. Although George was still employed as a machinist in 1909, he was working for the Oregon Planing Mills, where lumber was finished; and the family had moved to 1418 Boston Avenue in Portland. Table 3 below summarizes George’s entries on the Portland City Directory, images of which can be viewed by clicking the year.

Table 3: Entries for George Kernan in the Portland City Directory, 1904-1909
Year(s) Occupation Employer Residence
1904 Laborer O. R. & N. Shops (Oregon Railroad and Navigation Company) 146 Beech, Portland
1905 Laborer O. R. & N. Shops (Oregon Railroad and Navigation Company) 707 Mississippi Ave., Portland
1906 Laborer O. R. & N. Shops (Oregon Railroad and Navigation Company) 707 Mississippi Ave., Portland
1907 Machinist North Coast Furnace Works 65 Mason, Portland
1908 Machinist North Coast Furnace Works 65 Mason, Portland
1909 Machinist Oregon Planing Mills 1418 Boston Ave., Portland

Despite the fact that George and his family lived primarily in Portland, they did not always. Between his 1909 entry on the Portland City Directory and 1910, George moved his family to Kelso, Cowlitz County, Washington. The reason for the move is unclear, though several members of George’s family were also living in Kelso, including his mother, Harriet, and his sister, Rose, and her family. Regardless of the reason for their move to Kelso, George, Maudena, and three of their children are enumerated as living there on the 1910 U.S. Federal Census. According to this record, they were renting a home on 8th Street in Kelso, where George was employed as a grocery deliveryman.

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The 1910 U.S. Federal Census showing George (shown “G.E. Kern”) and his family living in Kelso, Cowlitz County, Washington. (Click to Enlarge)

Between the birth of their fourth child, Owen, in 1911 and their fifth child, Florence, in 1913, George moved his family back to Portland, Multnomah County, Oregon. The exact reason for their return to Portland is not known, though it was likely better economic opportunities existed in Portland than in Kelso at the time. The first records that have been found for the family following their return are entries for George in the Portland City Directory. The first of these are entries in the 1913 and 1914 Portland City Directory, which show George as employed as a janitor at Kennard & Adams, a department store in Portland; and the family was living at 1020 Kerby in Portland. Between 1915 and 1918, George’s employment and where the family was living changed. According to entries for these years, George had become a driver. Although the 1915, 1916, and 1918 entries do not state what company he worked for, the 1917 states he worked for Kennard & Adams, which he may have been working at during these other years as well. Additionally, these entries state that in 1915 the family was living at 1020 Kerby in Portland, but moved to 1463 Winona in Portland by 1916. In 1917 and 1918, they had moved to 879 Borthwick in Portland. Table 4 below summarizes George’s entries on the Portland City Directory, images of which can be viewed by clicking the year.

Table 4: Entries for George Kernan in the Portland City Directory, 1913-1918
Year(s) Occupation Employer Residence
1913 Janitor Kennard & Adams 1023 Kerby, Portland
1914 Janitor Kennard & Adams 1023 Kerby, Portland
1915 Driver Not Stated 1020 Kerby, Portland
1916 Driver Not Stated 1463 Winona, Portland
1917 Driver Kennard & Adams 879 Borthwick, Portland
1918 Driver Not Stated 879 Borthwick, Portland

It was also in Portland, moreover, that George, on the 12 September 1918, registered for the draft for World War I. Although World War I started in Europe in 1914, the United States did not enter the war until 1917, following which three draft registrations took place. George, who was 34 years old, registered during the third registration, which was done for men between the ages of 18 and 45. According to George’s WWI Draft Registration Card, he was employed as a truck driver for Kennard & Adams, a department store in Portland. The record also provides a physical description of George, which states he was of medium height and build, with blue eyes and brown hair. Despite the fact that George registered for the draft, he did not serve during the war. This fact is confirmed by later records, such as the 1930 U.S. Federal Census, in which it is recorded that George was not a veteran of any branch of the military during any war.

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Front and Back of George Kernan’s WWI Draft Registration Card. (Click to Enlarge)

George and his family were still living in Portland in 1920, being enumerated as living there on the 1920 U.S. Federal Census. According to this record, George, his wife, Maudena, and six of their children were living in a rented home at 879 Borthwick Street in Portland, as they had been since about 1917. The record also states that George was employed as a truck driver for a furniture company.

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The 1920 U.S. Federal Census showing George and his family living in Portland, Oregon. (Click to Enlarge)

Following their enumeration on the 1920 U.S. Federal Census, additional detailes are provided by entries for George in the Portland City Directory. The first of these is George’s entry in the 1920 Portland City Directory, which shows he was employed as a clerk for “M. H. Calef,” which was Calif Bros. Furniture Store. This entry also shows that the family was living at 879 Borthwick Street in Portland. By the following year, George’s entry in the 1921 Portland City Directory shows that the family was still living at 879 Borthwick Street, but George’s occupation had changed. According to this entry, George was employed as a chauffeur. Portland motor vehicle records also show that George had registered as a chauffeur in 1921. Despite the address shown on George’s entry in the 1921 Portland City Directory, it appears that the family had moved in 1921, for this motor vehicle record shows that George’s address was 1471 Greenwich Street in Portland. George also registered as a chauffeur in 1925. However, his entry in the Portland City Directory for this year shows that George was employed as a “stoveman.” Additionally, this entry shows that the family was still living at 1471 Greenwich Street in Portland. By the following year, George’s entry in the Portland City Directory shows that the family was still living at 1471 Greenwich Street, but he was employed as a driver. According to the 1928 Portland City Directory, moreover, George was once again employed as a stoveman; and according to his entry in this directory he was employed at “Upstairs Furn. Store,” which was most likely a furniture store. This entry also shows that the family had moved to Ridgefield Street in Portland. Table 5 below summarizes George’s entries on the Portland City Directory, images of which can be viewed by clicking the year.

Table 5: Entries for George Kernan in the Portland City Directory, 1920-1928
Year(s) Occupation Employer Residence
1920 Clerk M. H. Calef (Calef Bros. Furniture Store) 879 Borthwick, Portland
1921 Chauffeur Not Stated 879 Borthwick, Portland
1925 Stoveman Not Stated 1471 Greenwich, Portland
1926 Driver Not Stated 1471 Greenwich, Portland
1928 Stoveman Upstairs Furn. Store Ridgefield, Portland

The term of “stoveman,” it should be noted, may refer to a number of different occupations. It may indicate that George was employed in the selling, making, or repairing of stoves used in homes. The fact that George was employed at furniture stores, and that “Upstairs Furn. Store” is likely a furniture store, this seems to be the likely meaning of “stoveman.” However, “stoveman” is also used for someone who worked on blast furnaces. According to the Classified Index to Occupations for the 1920 U.S. Federal Census, a “stove man” is classed under “furnace men and smelter men,” and is also called a stove tender, who works with or at a “blast furnace or steel mill.” It appears that this sort of “stove man” attended to stoves in which blast furnace gases would pass through. Usually this involved moving a lever that would divert these gases between the stoves (usually four) of a blast furnace, in addition to allowing air to pass within the stoves to be heated before being diverted to the blast furnace.

By 1930, moreover, George and his family were no longer living in Portland, having moved to West Columbia Precinct, Clark County, Washington, were they are enumerated as living on the 1930 U.S. Federal Census. The reason for their move to West Columbia Precinct is unclear. However this and other parts of Clark County began drawing large populations during World War I, which generally continued through the end of World War II, due to economic opportunities that expanded. This is particularly true in such industries as mills (such as lumber, paper, and linen mills), steal and aluminum manufacturing, and shipbuilding. Regardless of what caused them to move there, George, his wife, Maudena, and six of their children were, according to the 1930 U.S. Federal Census, renting a home for $15 a month (or about $223 today) in West Columbia Precinct, which was not a farm. Although the census asked if a radio set was owned, this part of the census is left blank, possibly indicating they did not own one. The record also states that George was employed as a “barker” for a paper mill. Additionally, the record states that George was not a “veteran of the U.S. military or naval forces” that had been “mobilized for any war or expedition,” thus indicating he had not served in World War I.

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The 1930 U.S. Federal Census showing George and his family living in West Columbia Precinct, Clark County, Washington. (Click to Enlarge)

Although it is unclear how long they lived in West Columbia Precinct, they did not remain there long. By 1934 or earlier, George and his family returned to Portland, Multnomah County, Oregon. The reason for their return is unclear. However, economic conditions were probably better in Portland. Between World War I and World War II economic conditions were difficult in many areas, which was largely due to the Great Depression. Clark County was no exception. Additionally, social order in Portland was also likely better than in Clark County. During the 1930s numerous fires targeting forests, businesses, and public areas were deliberately set. For example a fire in 1934 destroyed the machine shop of the Columbia River Paper Mills in Vancouver, with the mill sustaining heavy losses. Although it is unclear if such events specifically motivated George to move his family back to Portland or if the paper mill he worked at was destroyed or damaged in any fire, the general atmosphere, in addition to economic conditions, in Clark County at the time undoubtedly was a factor on some level.

It was in 1934, moreover, that George is found recorded in the Portland City Directory. According to his entry, George was employed as a laborer. Exactly what kind of laborer he was employed as is unclear as the name of his employer is not stated. This entry also states that George and his family were living at 8205 North Woolsey Avenue in Portland.

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Entry for George on the 1934 Portland City Directory, highlighted in yellow. (Click to Enlarge)

Later Years and Death

Regardless of the exact date and reason for their move back to Portland, it was not long after their arrival that tragedy struck the family. On 13 October 1936, George’s wife, Maudena, died at the age of 51 after thirty-three years of marriage. According to her death certificate, Maudena died from a cerebral hemorrhage that began about a year earlier. Her death certificate adds that she had been under physician care since February 1934.

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The Death Certificate of Maudena Elizabeth Kernan

According to her death certificate, moreover, Maudena was buried on the 16 October 1936 in Mount Calvary Cemetery in Portland, Multnomah County, Oregon. As with her death certificate, Maudena’s headstone, which was placed many years later, shows her name as “Maudena L. Kernan,” as she preferred to go by the name “Lizzie,” a nickname for her given middle name of Elizabeth.

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The Headstone of Maudena Elizabeth Kernan at Mount Calvary Cemetery

Maudena’s obituary appeared in the 14 October 1936 edition of The Oregonian.

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Obituary of Maudena Kernan. (Click to Enlarge)

Following Maudena’s death, George and most of his children remained in Portland. Two entries for George in the Portland City Directory show this. The first of these is his entry in the 1937 Portland City Directory. According to this entry, George was still living at 1235 N. Highland in Portland. However, according to George’s entry in the 1938 Portland City Directory they had moved to a new home, at 244 SE 79th Avenue in Portland. Although George’s entry in the 1937 directory does not state his occupation, his entry in the 1938 directory states that he was employed as a laborer. Table 6 below summarizes George’s entries on the Portland City Directory, images of which can be viewed by clicking the year.

Table 6: Entries for George Kernan in the Portland City Directory, 1937-1938
Year(s) Occupation Employer Residence
1937 Not Stated Not Stated 1235 NE Highland, Portland
1938 Laborer Not Stated 244 SE 79th Avenue, Portland

By 1940, George and some of his family were still living in Portland, being enumerated as living there on the 1940 U.S. Federal Census. According to this record, George and three of his children (Earl, Lloyd, and Gloria) were living at 244 SE 79th Avenue, which they rented for $15 a month (or about $265 today). It is noted on this census that the highest grade of education completed by George and his two sons was the eighth grade, while it was the seventh grade for his daughter Gloria who was still in school. This record also provides a glimpse into Great Depression era employment for the family. It states that George was employed as a gardener, specifically a yard gardener; and had earned $255 in wages in 1939. Both of his sons, Earl and Lloyd, were employed as laborers at the “C. C. Camps” or the Civilian Conservation Corps, which was a relief program established by Congress in 1933 for unmarried and unemployed men between the ages of 18 and 25. The census states that in the previous year Earl had earned $360 and Lloyd had earned $180 in wages probably from their jobs with the Civilian Conservation Corps. To put their income, as well as George’s, into context, the average annual income at the time was $1,368, according to the National Archives. Thus, it is clear the family was struggling financially during the hard economic times of the Great Depression.

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The 1940 U.S. Federal Census showing George and some of his children living in Portland, Multnomah County, Oregon. (Click to enlarge)

Entries for George in the 1940 and 1941 Portland City Directory also show the family living at 244 SE 79th Avenue in Portland. These entries provide no further details, particularly what George was employed as or his employer. The 1940 Portland City Directory does show George’s spouse as “Dena,” which refers to George’s late wife Maudena, who went by the name “Dena,” as well as “Lizzie,” particularly when she was a young girl.  Table 7 below summarizes George’s entries on the Portland City Directory, images of which can be viewed by clicking the year.

Table 7: Entries for George Kernan in the Portland City Directory, 1940-1941
Year(s) Occupation Employer Residence
1940 Not Stated Not Stated 244 SE 79th Avenue, Portland
1941 Not Stated Not Stated 244 SE 79th Avenue, Portland

On the 26 April 1942, while still living at 244 SE 79th Avenue in Portland, George registered for the draft for World War II. During this war, six different draft registrations were conducted by Selective Services. George, who was 57 years old, registered during the fourth draft registration, which is often referred to as the “Old Man’s Draft” as it included men between the ages of 45 and 64. According to George’s WWII Draft Registration Card, he was employed at the Oregon Shipbuilding Corporation. The record also provides a physical description of George, which states he was 5 feet, 2 inches tall, weighed 145 pounds, had blue eyes, was bald, and had a ruddy complexion. The description also states that George had a small scar above his upper lip on the right side of his face and was slightly hard of hearing in his right ear. Despite the fact that George registered for the draft, moreover, he did not serve during the war.

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Front and Back of George’s WWII Draft Registration Card. (Click to Enlarge)

Although he did not serve during World War II, George’s employment at the Oregon Shipbuilding Corporation contributed to the war effort. The Oregon Shipbuilding Corporation was a World War II era shipyard located in Portland that built ships in compliance with the Emergency Shipbuilding Program. Between 1941 and 1945, the Oregon Shipbuilding Corporation built both Liberty and Victory ships, which were two classes of simple cargo ships used for transporting both troops and materials in the war. An entry for George in the 1943 Portland City Directory provides some further details about what George did while employed at the Oregon Shipbuilding Corporation. According to this record, George was employed as a pipefitter. A new employee orientation manual for Northwest Kaiser shipyards describes the pipefitter’s tasks as “[making] pipe installations for ship water supply, feed lines, steam pressure, bilge and ballast.” The pipefitter, the manual adds, “must be able to cut, thread and attach pipes throughout the ship.”

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Entry for George on the 1943 Portland City Directory, highlighted yellow. (Click to Enlarge)

Although it is unclear how long George was employed at the Oregon Shipbuilding Corporation, it closed following the end of the war in 1945. It is also unclear if George continued to work as a pipefitter following the closure. However, it appears that George retired in 1950, at the age of about 66. According to the “U.S., Social Security Applications and Claims Index,” George filed for his Social Security claim on the 15 September 1950. Despite this, it does appear that George was employed in 1956. An entry for George in the 1956 Portland City Directory states that he was employed as a “Sampler” for the State Department of Agriculture. A sampler was responsible for sampling and grading various agricultural products, including vegetables, fruits, grains, or dairy products. This entry for George also shows that he was no longer living at 244 SE 79th Avenue, but 2341 SE 30th Avenue in Portland, along with his son Francis and his family.

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Entry for George on the 1956 Portland City Directory, highlighted yellow. (Click to Enlarge)

At some point following this, George was moved into the Graystone Nursing Home on 19002 SE Yamhill Street in Portland. He passed away there on the 20 October 1960, which was seven days after the 24th anniversary of his wife’s passing. According to his death certificate, George died from a “probable C.V.A.” due to cardiovascular disease, which he had for “years” and had been under physician care since August of 1960. C.V.A. stands for cerebrovascular accident, which is more commonly called a stroke.

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Death Certificate of George Edward Kernan.

George’s funeral service was held on the 24 October 1960 at Zeller Chapel of the Roses, with the Recitation of the Rosary taking place the day before. George was buried on the 27 October 1960 at Mount Calvary Cemetery in Portland, Multnomah County, Oregon. George’s wife, Maudena, had been buried in Mount Calvary 24 years earlier, though in a different part of the cemetery. George’s grave presently has no headstone or marker.

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Funeral Card of George Edward Kernan. (Click to Enlarge)

George’s obituary appeared in the 23 October 1960 edition of The Oregonian.

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Obituary of George Edward Kernan. (Click to Enlarge)

George & Maudena Kernan Family Timeline

The following summarizes the major events in the lives of George and Maudena Kernan.

Table 8: Timeline of George & Maudena Kernan Family
Date Event
Aug 1884 George Kernan was born in Maryville, Nodaway County, Missouri
Oct 1884 – Jan 1885 Moved with parents and siblings to St. Paul, Ramsey County, Minnesota.
Apr 1885 Maudena Elizabeth “Lizzie” Stearns was born in Portland, Multnomah County, Oregon.
1899 – 1900 Moved with parents and siblings to Portland, Multnomah County, Oregon.
1901 George was employed as a trunkmaker for E.U. Phillips Trunk Company in Portland
1903 George Kernan married Maudena Elizabeth “Lizzie” Stearns in Portland, Multnomah County, Oregon.
1904 – 1906 George was employed as a laborer for the Oregon Railroad and Navigation Company in Portland
1905 George and Maudena’s first child, Curtis George Kernan, was born in Portland, Multnomah Co., Oregon
1907 George and Maudena’s second child, Ernest William Kernan, was born in Portland, Multnomah Co., Oregon. George was employed as a machinist for the North Coast Furnace Works
1908 George and Maudena’s third child, Delmar Clair Kernan, was born in Portland, Multnomah Co., Oregon
1909 George was employed as a machinist for the Oregon Planing Mills in Portland
1910 George moved his family to Kelso, Cowlitz County, Washington
1911 George and Maudena’s fourth child, Owen Marcel Kiernan, was born in Kelso, Cowlitz County, Washington
1911 – 1913 George moved his family back to Portland, Multnomah Co., Oregon
1913 – 1918 George was employed as a janitor and then a driver for Kennard & Adams in Portland
1913 George and Maudena’s fifth child, Florence Elizabeth Kernan, was born in Portland, Multnomah Co., Oregon
1915 George and Maudena’s sixth child, Walter Ray Kernan, was born in Portland, Multnomah Co., Oregon
1916 George and Maudena’s seventh child, Vernon Woodrow Kernan, was born in Portland, Multnomah Co., Oregon
1918 George registered for the World War I Draft
1919 George and Maudena’s eighth child, Francis Otis Kernan, was born in Portland, Multnomah Co., Oregon
1920 George and Maudena’s ninth child, Earl Leonard Kernan, was born in Portland, Multnomah Co., Oregon. George was employed at Calef Bros Furniture Store as a clerk and a driver.
1922 George and Maudena’s tenth child, Lloyd Edward Kernan, was born in Portland, Multnomah Co., Oregon
1923 George and Maudena’s eleventh child, an unnamed male, was born and died in Portland, Multnomah Co., Oregon
1925 – 1928 George was employed as a stoveman in Portland
By 1930 George moved his family to West Columbia Precinct, Clark County, Washington, where George was employed as a barker for a paper mill
By 1934 George moved his family back to Portland, Multnomah County, Oregon
1936 Maudena Elizabeth Kernan died in Portland, Multnomah County, Oregon
1940 George was employed as a gardener in Portland
1942 George registered for the World War II Draft
By 1942 George was employed as a pipefitter at the Oregon Shipbuilding Corporation
1950 George filed for his Social Security benefits claim, indicating retirement
1956 George was employed as a Sampler for the State Department of Agriculture in Portland
By 1960 George was living at Graystone Nursing Home in Portland
1960 George Edward Kernan died in Portland, Multnomah County, Oregon

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Published 07/13/2012. Last Updated 04/27/2018.

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