On the search . . . .

For many years now I've been searching my past in an endeavor to unfold the tales of my family. I've traveled (via the internet) to England, Denmark, Norway, Ohio, Nebraska, New Jersey, Philadelphia and Pennsylvania. I've spent time personally visiting historic Boston and their wonderful cemeteries and, or course, visited my ancestors right here in California. My ancestors have touched the world in many places... and I hope to enjoy some of their experiences. I want you to join me as I travel through my past... and uncover their stories..

Monday, July 9, 2012

Mystery Monday ~ A Killing, An Orphange and the Disappearance of Martin Moe

     My Grandmother, Bertha Rasmussen (nee Moe) never knew what really happened to her family. She had no memories of her parents and was raised by Nuns in a Catholic orphanage, "Home of the Guardian Angels" in Los Angeles, with her brother Harold Theodore Moe. 
     Beginning in the 1970's I wrote to the orphanage, where she and her brother were raised, in order to obtain any type of family information. I wrote repeatedly for several years and each time I wrote I would get a tidbit of information and would be mailed a document or two.  Each revealing a clue but never the entire story of why she and her brother were brought there.       
Application for Admission
     The orphanage's "Application for Admission" states the Father's name was "Martin Moe" (other documents indicate father born in Norway). Their Mother "not known".  It stated "Moe Harold - 6 yrs 9 months" and "Moe Bertha - 4 years 11 months" were born in Mexico.  It also states parents were married in Mexico. They were admitted into the orphanage August 27, 1908.
      My Grandmother remembers being told by the Nun's her mother was killed by the "Indians".  They told my Grandmother that she was shot in the head. (My grandmother did have a small scar).
The Killing of my Great Grandmother and two of her children
      Finally, after years of exhaustive searching my cousin found this article!  It coincides with the story she was told. Unfortunately, this article does not have their mother's name, just "Mrs. Moe".  The article states Mrs. Moe, her father, and two children were killed.  We know Martin Moe, Bertha and Harold Theodore Moe survived, so the children killed were probably their siblings. The date of the article is in 1905, therefore my Grandmother, Bertha Moe, was 1 yr old and her brother, Harold Theodore Moe, was 3 yrs old when this occurred.
Letter indicating Martin Moe's death
Once the children were left at the orphanage, their father Martin Moe, was not heard from until this letter was received from his employer "G.B.C.Co".  It indicates he died on August 20, 1908. We assume he was buried there in Sonora Mexico.
Bertha Moe my grandmother  (1903 - 2000) had an opportunity to be adopted a few times but rejected the family's and chose to remain an orphan in the convent.  She left the orphanage at 16 yrs, married, became a wonderful wife, mother, grandmother, and great grandmother and lived to be 87 years. She is found in census records in the orphange as a "servant" and after her marriage.
Harold Theodore Moe (1901 - 1947) left the orphanage at 14 yrs, worked various jobs such as barber and hospital aide.  He got in trouble with the law, stole a patient's radio and spent a year in San Quentin prison for it. My mother once told me she thought he had a child with an unmarried woman. My mother said she never saw that child. Unfortunately, he died as a result of alcoholism at the age of 46. He is found in census records in the orphanage as a "servant". Once he was no longer in the orphanage he can not be found in census records - although he should be in California as my mother saw him on occasion in Los Angeles area.
Father - Martin Moe - one document indicates he was born in Norway.  We read of him in that article of the killing of their mother. Then not again until the letter indicating his death in Culiacan, Sonora, Mexico.  I can not find him in any census records at all.  It is believed he spent most of his  life working mines in Mexico.
Mother of Bertha and Theodore - documents state mother and father were married in Mexico and the children were born in Mexico. Therefore she should be in census records from Mexico. I have no knowledge of her name. I have no records on her.

Block Wall!  I'm stuck at Martin Moe and his unnamed wife. Since documents indicate they married and had children in Mexico I would expect to find them there, anywhere between 1850 - 1908.  If anyone has any tips on how to locate them I would appreciate it.

Warm Regards,


  1. Culiacan is in Sinaloa. Have you tried to contact someone at the Museum of Mines in Sinaloa, to see if they can tell you which mines G.B.C. Co. was operating at the time, and perhaps the full name of the business? See if this helps: http://www.inah.gob.mx/index.php/especiales/164-cosala-sinaloa

    The museum or INAH in Mexico may have some leads for you.


  2. Hi Patrick ~
    Thanks for the link to that site. I did check it out but I don't read spanish :( Over the years I have tried various avenues to find out information on G.B.C.Co. with no luck. I will continue to investigate it. From what I had learned years ago I believe it was Copper Mines that Martin Moe worked in.

    Warm regards,