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Changeling -- Finding Christine Collins

November 10, 2008 |  6:55 am
Christine_collins

Christine Collins' residences, as shown on Google Earth.

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Christine Collins' addresses in Google maps
Dick Morris, a regular Daily Mirror reader, is a skilled researcher and passed along some material on Christine I. Collins. It fills in a few details of her life but still leaves many other questions. Except for her two earliest known addresses, which were in Venice, Christine lived within a fairly restricted part of Lincoln Heights, east of downtown Los Angeles.   

Dick found her in the 1920 census, living with her husband, Conrad J., a streetcar motorman, and 1-year-old Walter at 1110 2nd Ave., Venice.

Locating this address is problematic with Google maps, which defaults to Santa Monica. And my oldest map, a 1946 Thomas Bros. Guide, is no help. Second Avenue was close to the streetcar tracks, so that location makes sense if Conrad was a motorman.

Update: This appears to be the general vicinity of the Collins home.

Christine was born about 1891 in California, according to census records, and married when she was about 25. Christine was a first-generation American; her father was born in Ireland and her mother was born in England.

Voter registration for 1920 shows Christine and Conrad living at 112 Thornton Place, Venice.

In an updated e-mail, Dick points out a Sept. 24, 1928, United Press story in the San Mateo Times saying that Christine gave a 10th birthday party for her missing son, Walter, on Sept. 23. We can infer that he was born Sept. 23, 1918.

Dick didn't find any birth record, but I'm not surprised. In searching The Times for C.J. Collins, I found an early listing of someone by that name visiting from Salt Lake City. (In the late 19th and early 20th century, newspapers published the names of people who were visiting Los Angeles and gave the names of the hotels where they were staying.)  Of course, it's unclear if this is the right C.J. Collins.

According to census records, Christine's husband, Conrad, was born in Nebraska about 1890 and his parents were born in Iowa. He appears only in the 1920 census, Dick says.

He also says he didn't find a death record on Walter, but I somewhat expected that. Because the victims' remains weren't found, they weren't formally declared dead until sometime later.

In 1928, the time period of "Changeling," Christine was living at 219 N. Ave. 23, and working as a supervisor at the phone company.

The 1930 census lists her as a roomer in the home of James C. Barton, 2614 N. Griffin Ave., still working for the phone company. (The 1929 city directory lists a James C. Barton as a chauffeur living at 1802 E. Vernon, but it's unclear if this is the same man.)

Update: Dick clarifies this is James C. Borton, who was a salesman at a furniture store. The Times published a paid obituary on a man named James C. Borton on May 1, 1938, but he's not necessarily the same person. 

In 1934, she was living at 2121 Workman St., a multi-family home built in 1907.
In 1936, she was living at 152 N. Ave. 24 and listed as a housewife.
In 1938, she was living at 551 S. Lorena.
From 1942 to 1944, she was living at 2451 Daly St.
In 1946, she was living at 2603 Griffin Ave. Clarifies earlier error.
From 1948 to 1950, she was living at 2919 N. Broadway, Apt. D.
From 1952 to 1954, she was living at 2330 Johnston St., Apt. D

There is nothing to be found of her after 1954, Dick writes.

And thanks from the Daily Mirror!

 

1920 Census, Venice, Los Angles California. 1110 Second Ave.
Name: Christine I Collins
Home in 1920: Venice, Los Angeles, California
Age: 29 years
Estimated Birth Year: abt 1891
Birthplace: California
Relation to Head of House: Wife
Spouse's Name: Conrad J
Father's Birth Place: Ireland
Mother's Birth Place: England
Marital Status: Married
Race: White
Sex: Female
Able to read: Yes
Able to Write: Yes
Occupation: None
Neighbors: View others on page
Household Members: Name Age
Conrad J Collins 30
Christine J Collins 29
Walter C Collins 1 3/12  (Husbands Occupation, Motorman, Electric Rail Road)

1930 Census, Los Angeles, Los Angeles. 2614 N. Griffin Ave. House
owned by James C Barton.
Name: Christine I Collins
Home in 1930: Los Angeles, Los Angeles, California
Age: 37
Estimated Birth Year: abt 1893
Birthplace: California
Father Born: Irish Free State
Mother Born: England
Relation to Head of House: Roomer
Race: White
Occupation: Supervisor, Telephone Co.
Marital Status: M
Age at first marriage: 25

California Voter Registrations, Los Angeles County, Venice City
Precinct No. 8, 1920 (this is the only voter registration that has
her husband living with her.)
Collins, Mrs Christine, hswf, 112 Thornton Pl, R
Collins, Conrad J, mtrmn, 112 Thornton pl, R

California Voter Registrations, Los Angeles County, Los Angeles City
Precinct No. 1370, 1928
Collins, Mrs Christine, 219 N Ave 23, telep spvsr, R

California Voter Registrations, Los Angeles County, Los Angeles City
Precinct No. 1819 1930
Collins, Mrs Christine, 2614 N Griffin av, sprvsr R

California Voter Registrations, Los Angeles County, Los Angeles City
Precinct No. 1496 1934
Collins, Mrs Christine I, 2121 Workman st, D

California Voter Registrations, Los Angeles County, Los Angeles City
Precinct No. 2324 1936
Collins, Mrs Christine I, 152 N Ave 24, housewife, D

California Voter Registrations, Los Angeles County, Los Angeles City
Precinct No. 862 1938
Collins, Mrs Christine I, 551 S Lorena st, housewife, T

California Voter Registrations, Los Angeles County, Los Angeles City
Precinct No. 2324 1942
Collins, Mrs Christine I, 2451 Daly st, housewife, D

California Voter Registrations, Los Angeles County, Los Angeles City
Precinct No. 2324 1944
Collins, Mrs Christine I, 2451 Daly st, housewife, D

California Voter Registrations, Los Angeles County, Los Angeles City
Precinct No. 2888 1946
Collins, Mrs Christine I, 22603 Griffin av, housewife, D

California Voter Registrations, Los Angeles County, Los Angeles City
Precinct No. 2953 1948
Collins, Christine I, 2919 N Broadway, D

California Voter Registrations, Los Angeles County, Los Angeles City
Precinct No. 2953 1950
Collins, Christine I, 2919 N Broadway, D

California Voter Registrations, Los Angeles County, Los Angeles City
Precinct No. 2965 1952
Collins, Christine I, 2330 Johnston st, D

California Voter Registrations, Los Angeles County, Los Angeles City
Precinct No. 2965 1954
Collins, Christine I, 2330 Johnston st, D

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