Monday, April 21, 2014

52 Ancestors: # 16 Christina Belle Snyder Buntz (1911-1942)

Climbing My Family Tree: Phyllis Snyder Frye & Christina Snyder Buntz
Photo used with permission
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This is my 16th post for the “52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks” challenge initiated by Amy Johnson Crow of the “No Story Too Small” blog. For more information about the challenge and links to the other blogs participating in the challenge, please click on the badge in the right margin.

Christina (sometimes spelled Christine) Belle Snyder Buntz, my grand-aunt, was born on November 27, 1911, in Findlay, Ohio, to Philip Aaron Snyder (1882-1967) and Pearl Pauline Bailey Snyder (1891-1978). She was their second child.  Her father was a timber buyer in Findlay, Ohio, at the time.  During the time she lived at home, her father became a lumber dealer and became a real estate agent. Christina had three brothers and one sister: my grandfather, Clarence Weldon Snyder (1910-1984), Phyllis Ardyeth Snyder Frye (1914-2005), Paul Alexander Snyder (1916-1975) and Donald B Snyder (1918-2012). The family was very active in the Assembly of God church.

I’m not sure where Christina met Warren Buntz (variously spelled Buntz & Bunts). He was a laborer, son of Mr. Warren J. & Mrs. Alta Orena (Snyder) Buntz, Sr., who owned and operated a traveling carnival show. He had grown up traveling with the show  to places like Camden, SC and Citrus County, Florida.  But his mother was born and had grown up in Arcadia, a town near Findlay (I haven't yet found a connection to my Snyder branch although since they were from the same county it might well be there), and the traveling show came to Findlay on occasion. But Christina and Warren did meet, and fell in love.

On February 16, 1929, Christina married Warren J. Buntz, jr. were married at 7:30 p.m. at the residence of the Rev. T.K. Leonard of the Assembly of God Church. Besides the parents of the bride and bridegroom, there were three witnesses: Naomi Leonard, Russell Simpson, and Phyllis Snyder (Christina’s sister). The bride and groom were 17 years old.

Climbing my Family Tree: Warren Buntz, jr. & Clarence Snyder
Photo used with permission
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Christina and Warren began their married life at the start of the Great Depression, when it was difficult for anyone to find work. In the 1930 Census, we find Christina and Warren (18), and their one month old daughter* living with his parents, and his younger siblings, at 1028 Adams Avenue, in Findlay, Ohio.  Warren, jr. was described as a day laborer (if he was like many day laborers at the time, his days of work were scarce). There were nine people living in the home. But Warren’s father owned the house so it was probably a more stable situation than for many who lost their homes in that time, and it might have been easier at the outset to have experienced help with the baby. According to the 1931 City Directory, Christina and Warren  jr.(20), were still living with his parents, and Warren was working as a showman in his family’s carnival, which must have been struggling as people really didn't have much money to spend on frivolous things during the Depression.

By 1933, Warren and Christina had moved to a new address, down the street from her parents (Christina and Warren lived at 427 Eben Avenue and her parents lived at 524 Eben Avenue, in Findlay), and Warren had obtained a job as a “platform man” with the Findlay Ice and Fuel Company. That year their second daughter*was born. 

In all, Christina and Warren, jr. had four children,  three girls and one boy, born in approximately 1930, 1933, 1936 and 1938. *I’m not going to name the children because I promised at the outset of the blog not to name living people, and to my (admittedly limited) knowledge, most of the children are alive.*
Over the next decade or so, Warren continued to work for the same company, next working as a laborer for them and finally progressing to driver. He was a driver for the company from at least 1937 through 1941 (and perhaps longer but I lost him after 1942). In 1941, they moved back into the home that had belonged to Warren’s parents. I haven’t been able to tell yet whether his parents still owned it or whether Warren jr bought it.  (Warren's parents  had been living in Camden, SC according to the census, although that might have been the winter home of the Carnival as Camden had become a vacation-land haven for rich horse people.) By September 1942 Warren and Christine lived at 1028 Putnam Street, Findlay.

As far as I have been able to tell, Christina did not work outside the home, so Warren’s career with the Findlay Ice and Fuel Company was sufficient to support their growing family.  Christina had plenty to do as a homemaker and  Mom of four. She also remained active in her church, the Assembly of God. I found several  entries in the newspaper saying that Phyllis Snyder /Frye (depending on where it was before or after her own marriage) and Mrs. Warren J. Buntz jr performed a trumpet and vocal duets for church programs at Thanksgiving,  Christmas, and Easter  at a variety of churches in the area. As her children started going to school, she also became an active member of the Parent-Teachers Association, also performing in the PTA Christmas program and plays. My parents have told me several times that she also performed with an All Woman Brass Band, but I’ve not been able to document that yet.

Then, on Wednesday, September 9, 1942, tragedy struck at 3:30 a.m. on the Dixie Highway near Bluffton Ohio. Warren, jr., Christina, and Helen Hoffman were returning to Findlay, driving the Dixie Highway.  There was more traffic on the road than I would have suspected in 1942 in Ohio at that hour. Three vehicles were traveling toward Findlay, Ohio.  A car being driven by a man from Detroit had gone into the ditch at the side of the road, and two men in a truck stopped to help him.  The car directly in front of the Buntz car managed to swing wide and went around the truck. Warren evidently didn’t see the truck in time to go around it. He swerved left, but the right side of the car hit the left rear corner of the truck. Christine was in the seat to the right of Warren. She received a broken neck, jaw, and leg and other injuries, and was killed instantly. Her husband received head and chest injuries, and their passenger, Helen Hoffman, suffered a dislocated right knee and bruises; both were taken to Bluffton Hospital where Warren was listed in critical condition and their friend in good condition. No one else was injured.

Funeral services were held two days later on September 11, 1942, at the Coldren Funeral Home and burial followed in Maple Grove Cemetery in Findlay, Ohio. I’m not certain that Warren was able to attend. One newspaper article made it sound like he was still in the hospital.

Climbing My Family Tree: Maple Grove Cemetery, Findlay OH

The children were 12, 9, 5, and 4 years of age. Their mother was dead and their father was too injured to care for them. Initially there were divided among various relatives across the state. Later on October 3, 1942, all four children were sent to Crystal River, Florida to stay with Warren, jr’s parents for awhile. I can tell by newspaper articles for Camp Fire girls, etc, that at least two of the girls were returned to Findlay by the next year.

I lost Warren, jr after that (no censuses released after 1940 yet), until he died on May 18, 1987, in Crystal River, Florida.
I’d like to be able to find:
Documentary evidence of the All-Women Band my parents spoke of -- was that why were they out at 3:30 a.m. on a weeknight?
More of what  happened to the children after (I have some…a little - One daughter found me through the blog/Facebook, and has given me wonderful old pictures of family.)
And what happen to Christina’s husband, Warren, jr, in the missing 44 years ?
[Resources: Federal Census for 1920, 1930, and 1940. Findlay City directories for 1927, 1931, 1933, 1935, 1937, 1939, and 1941; The Findlay Republican Courier, various dates]


  1. Thanks for posting this! Christina was my great grandmother


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