Brick wall – ISO Bernice (1920-?) or Betty Mendel (1921-?) #usa


I have been searching off and on for about 30 years for my cousins, sisters Bernice and Betty MENDEL.  I am trying to locate Bernice and Betty, and their mother Lillian, in the 1950 census, and/or locate marriage records for Bernice and Betty.

Here’s what I know: My second cousin, two generations removed, was Sydney Claude Mendel, born about 1885 in Kentucky, and died June 22, 1934, in Indianapolis, Indiana.

On March 22, 1919, in Indianapolis, Sydney Mendel married Lillian Cowen, who was  born on January 7, 1901, in New York state.  Sydney and Lillian had two daughters:

Bernice Edith Mendel – born January 25, 1920, in Indianapolis, Indiana

Betty June Mendel – born June 26, 1921, in Indianapolis, Indiana

At some point prior to the 1930 census, Sydney and Lillian divorced.  Lillian and her daughters were recorded twice in the 1930 census, in two different places. 

On April 8, 1930, Lillian and her daughters were recorded as living in Los Angeles, California.  Lillian was listed as the head of household, with her marital status as divorced.

On June 18, 1930, they were listed as living in Long Beach, Nassau County, New York.  Lillian was listed as the step-daughter of household head William Cowen, who was married to Anna Cowen, believed to be Lillian’s mother.  Lillian’s marital status was listed as married, likely a mistake.

In the 1940 census, Lillian was listed as being married to a Charles E. Patten, who was born in New York state in 1895 or 1896.  Lillian Patten, her husband, and daughters all appeared to be living in some sort of guest or rooming house on the Upper West Side of Manhattan (West 77th Street).  The relationship of all four members of the household to the head of the household, was “Guest.”  Lillian’s daughters were listed below her, with their surname misspelled as Mandel. 
In 1950, Charles E. Patten had a different wife in the census, so it’s not clear for how long Lillian was married to him.
What I have already tried:
I have searched the 1950 census for individuals named Bernice or Betty, who were born in Indiana.

I have searched the SSDI for people named Bernice or Betty with their respective dates of birth.  This turned up a number of people for both names, the majority of which I have eliminated as possibilities.

I believe that their mother Lillian died in August 1976, likely in New York.  A Lillian Patten was listed in the SSDI, who was born on January 7, 1901, and died in August 1976, with a last residence of New York, New York.

I welcome suggestions and assistance on this enigma.

Thank you very much,
Ethan Starr
Washington, DC

Barbara Zimmer

If you look at the top of the page for the census in 1940, you will see that the family is living in a hotel.   The hotel name is on the top of several previous pages as well.   

Barbara Zimmer 



Rod MacNeil

Hi Ethan:  Following up on the information you provided, Lillian Patten is buried at Ferncliff Cemetery and Mausoleum in Hartsdale, Westchester County, NY.  FindaGrave has a record for her burial information--on tat record, it shows a photo of Sydney's gravestone in Louisville and also a link to her daughter June's burial at Ferncliff (1961).

Good luck in your search,

Rod MacNeil
Philadelphia, PA USA