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Who is that valentine Peggy?

There is very little that frustrates a genealogist more than having a burning question … and no-one to ask.

The Legal Genealogist knows that feeling only too well.

And got hit with it again last night.

I was going through my baby box — a small square box in which my mother kept various bits and pieces of documentation of my earliest years — and came across an envelope addressed to my parents’ address and postmarked just a month after I was born.

The return address was Knop, 1904 West 65th Street, Chicago 36, Illinois. And now, having done some intensive research into my German-immigrant-father’s side of the family, that’s a name and an address I recognize.

My grandfather’s sister Hedwig Emma (Hattie) Geisler married Paul Knop in Chicago in November 1906.1 In the 1940 census and before, Hattie and Paul lived at 1902 West 65th Street in Chicago.2

The couple had one child, a son, Irving Leonard Knop, who was born 29 July 1908 and died 11 June 1961.3 He married Leona Westendorf in Chicago in September 1936,4 and in 1940, Irving and Leona were recorded as living at 1904 West 65th Street.5

That’s the return address on the envelope.

So… inside the envelope is a valentine. The printed signature, in pencil, reads simply “Peggy.” And on the reverse side “For Judy.” It certainly appears to have been written by a child.


But who in the world was my valentine Peggy?

As far as I can determine, Irving and Leona had no children. Paul Knop’s death notice in 1945 mentions Irving and Leona, but no grandchildren.6 Irving’s 1961 death notice simply says he was the “beloved son of Hattie and the late Paul Knop” — no mention of survivors.7 He and Leona had apparently split up some years before his death; she remarried in California in 1960, and her 1967 obituary mentions step-children — but not children of her own.8

As far as I know, there weren’t any girls named Peggy in my father’s family. No Margarets or Margarethes or anything else I can come up with that might have been shortened to Peggy. And no children — none — recorded as having been born to Irving and Leona at all.

So… who in the world was my valentine Peggy?

And … alas… there’s even a question as to whether that valentine came in that envelope. It’s in there now, and has been for decades as far as I can tell, but (a) it’s a slightly different size than the envelope itself; and (b) the envelope was mailed in April and Valentine’s Day is in February. Oh, it’s possible that a child wanting to welcome another child born in March would insist on sending a Valentine, but…

There are just so many questions.

Was that card in that envelope?

If not, what was?

And who in the world was my valentine Peggy?

I have no clue.

And — sigh — with both of my parents long gone, there’s no-one to ask.

Cite/link to this post: Judy G. Russell, “When there’s no-one to ask,” The Legal Genealogist ( : posted 7 Dec 2019).


  1. Cook County, Illinois, Marriage License and Return No. 447077, Paul Knop-Hattie Geisler, 28 Nov 1906. She used the Geisler spelling instead of the Geissler spelling my grandfather preferred.
  2. 1940 U.S. census, Cook County, Illinois, Chicago 16th Ward, population schedule, enumeration district (ED) 103-1109, sheet 9B, household 199, Paul and Hattie Knop; digital image, ( : accessed 6 Dec 2019); citing National Archive microfilm publication T627, roll 954.
  3. California Department of Public Health, Irving Knop, Death Certificate No. 61-061045; Los Angeles County Clerk-Recorder.
  4. Irving Leonard Knop and Leona E Westendorf, 5 Sep 1936, “Illinois, Cook County Marriages, 1871-1920,” index database, FamilySearch ( : accessed 6 Dec 2019).
  5. 1940 U.S. census, Cook County, Ill., Chicago 16th Ward, pop. sched., ED 103-1109, sheet 9B, household 201, Irving and Leona Knop.
  6. “Death Notices: Knop, Paul” Chicago Tribune, 11 Nov 1945, p. 14, col. 7; digital images, ( : accessed 6 Dec 2019).
  7. Ibid., “Death Notices: Knop, Irving L.” Chicago Tribune, 15 June 1961, p. 42, col. 7.
  8. Ibid., “Obituaries: Leona E. Houzenga,” Arizona Republic, 25 July 1967, p. 31, col. 1.
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