I would like to preface this post by stating that I’m sure others in my extended family will know more information about Magdalene than I do. This will be only a brief profile of my great-grand aunt, but I would love to hear from other family members who can share more details about her.
Martha Magdalene Barrett was the only sister of my great-grandmother Julia Ellen Barrett. Known as Magdalene, she was born on February 17, 1897 in Granite City, Illinois. She was the second of five children born to Albert Patrick Barrett and Helen “Nellie” O’Hare. After a move to Pennsylvania in 1906 and the death of her father in 1910, Magdalene, her mother and siblings settled in Los Angeles, California.
With her dark hair and sweet smile, Magdalene was the beauty of her family. In 1917, at the age of twenty, she married Lawrence Gilbert Cook. On July 24, 1918, their only child, Lawrence Gilbert Cook, Jr., known as Gil, was born in Los Angeles.
On September 12, 1918, Lawrence Cook enlisted in the military. The United States had entered World War I the previous year. His draft card lists Magdalene as his wife and their address as 3088 Eighth Avenue in Los Angeles.
In 1920, according the US Census, Magdalene was living with her mother, Nellie Barrett, her son Gil, and her three brothers. Her occupation was listed as being a telephone operator at the telephone company. On the census form, Magdalene is noted as being married, although her husband was not living with her. World War I had ended in June of 1919, but Lawrence and Magdalene had not resumed living together after his return from service.
Sometime in the early-to-mid 1920s, Magdalene and Lawrence Cook were divorced. Magdalene, like the rest of her Barrett family, was a Catholic, but the divorce effectively separated her from the church.
Magdalene remarried Robert “Bob” Leslie Rutherfurd. Bob was the half-brother of Magdalene’s brother-in-law, George Roscoe Rutherfurd, husband of her sister Julia. Magdalene and Bob’s daughter, Patricia “Patty” Mary Rutherfurd, was born on May 16, 1928, making her ten years younger than her half-brother, Gil.
The family eventually moved south of Los Angeles. In 1934, Magdalene, Bob and the children were living in San Pedro, and then in 1935 they were living in Wilmington. In 1940, the census shows them in Long Beach.
On February 27, 1941, Magdalene’s son Gil enlisted in the military. The United States entered World War II on December 8, 1941, and Gil served in the 436th Bomber Squadron, stationed in the South Pacific. On October 28, 1943, at the age of 23, his plane went down near Burma and he was killed. Magdalene was informed that her son was missing in action via a telegram, and it took many months before she learned the circumstances of her only son’s death. I will discuss this further in future blog posts.
Magdalene died on March 5, 1970 in Sierra Madre, California. She was the grandmother of eleven children born to her daughter Patty.