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Do you go by Susan or Susie? Susan Walter | Sat, Sep 25 2010 12:00 PM

This tale needs two prefacing sentences:

1. Susan Walter is not an uncommon name.

2. I recently researched the history of Oak Hill Memorial Park in Escondido.

You know that saying about someone stepping over your grave? At Oak Hill, to my great surprise and a literal shudder of delight, I spotted a marker for Susie E. Walter. Of course, this discovery required some research! This is what I found:

Susie's maiden name was Hess. She had been born in Ohio in 1867 and married Robley Dunglison Walter in 1888. They had two sons, Francis E. born in 1894, and Robley Donald born 1896. The family resided in Northampton, Easton City, Pennsylvania. They employed a "child's nurse" and a house servant. The Walters were affluent; Robley senior was a physician.

In 1917 Robley Jr., living in Pennsylvania, registered and claimed exemption from the draft "as a dental student." The next year he re-registered. Then living in San Diego, that city employed him as a "physical director." He wrote his mother "partly" was dependent upon him for support.

In 1920, Susie was not listed as residing with her husband, though husband Robley Sr. was still enumerated as married and living at the same place.

Where was Susie? Perhaps right here. In the directories, Susie, now described as widowed, and her son, who now went by his middle name Donald, resided at 248 Third Ave. at least as early as 1921. And why was Susie here? I'm not sure yet; but I do know her husband didn't die until 1929.

And now a surprising coincidence; oddly - to me at least - it turned out that Susie E. Walter had lived for several years very close to Susan D. Walter's current home here in Chula Vista. In fact, if I could jump from my home due west over what originally was only one block, I would nearly land on Susie E.'s home at 248 Third!

In Chula Vista, Susie and son Don lived at different addresses - but always in the 200 block of Third Avenue -until as late as 1932. But there was an exception: In 1930 Susie was residing on Church Street and was renting 161A from William and Ruth Drew, who lived at 161 Church. The Drews were well off; William was a chemist at a chemical company. Meanwhile Don lived in Solana Beach as a lodger at a "private estate" which he managed. He was living with two Mexicans who worked there as laborers.

A connection to Escondido was Don's employment with a feed and grain store that had a branch in Escondido. I've not yet located the Walters up there. Technically this is important, because the only way to be buried at Oak Hill is to reside within the cemetery district or be a blood relative of someone buried there. At Oak Hill, Susie (who died in 1937) was buried near her son R. Donald Walter (died 1941), and a descendant, Harriett L. Walter Bowman, nearby.

And Susie is not known or believed to be related to Susan. Yet.

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