Saturday, January 21, 2012

SNGF - Do Some Random Research

Hey genealogy buffs - it's Saturday Night and time for more Genealogy Fun! Play along with us and tell us about it.

Your mission, should you decide to accept it, is to follow Chris Staats' rules (from Freaky Friday: Random Research Reports) for picking a random person's name and then doing some online research about that person. Here are Chris's rules:

1. Go to The Random Name Generator and click the red “Generate Name” button at the top of the screen (more than once if you want). Pick one of the names you see.

2. Go to and enter your generated name in the search box on the main search page. [Randy's add: If you don't have, go to and do it there - it's free.]

3. From the results, your research target will be the first census result for your generated name.

4. Using whatever online resources are at your disposal, see what else you can discover about your random person and write about it. It can be a formal report complete with footnotes, or just a “research story” about what you tried, problems you overcame, or success you had. Maybe you want to create a research plan for practice?

5. Post about it on your own blog, or as a comment here, or a comment on Facebook, Google Plus or Twitter.

I always love these random searches, Randy!

So, I went to the site and got my random name: Denis Hopper

Yeah, that was it! Denis Hopper!

Heading on over to, I went with the first Denis Hopper found on a random census. It was the 1900 Census for Grayson County, Texas.

Here I found [Roll: T623_1640, line 97, p 22B/ ED 103] little Denis. He was listed as being born in Jun 1895 , and was 4 years old at the time. His father was listed as William [a Farmer] and his mother as Ellen. His father is listed as being born in Missouri, with his parents both born in Tennessee. His mother as being born in Tennessee and her father born in Missouri and mother in Tennessee.

The next time I found Denis, he is now listed as Dennis Martin Hopper, he is listed on the WWI Draft Records. This gave us his complete birthdate as 23 Jan 1895, and he is listed as being born in Tom Bean, Grayson County, Texas. He is currently living in Sherman, Grayson, Texas, and is employed as a carpenter; married with 2 children. This does give us somewhat of a physical description: Tall, Slender, Blue Eyes and Blond Hair.

By 1920 he is still in Sherman, Grayson, TX and is found living at 904 Maxey Street. His wife's name is found here, Ruth E. She is listed as 24 years of age [the same as he is listed] and was born in Texas. However in the 1920 Census Denis' parents are listed as being born in Kentucky. And Ruth's father in KY and her mother in MO. By now the couple have a pair twin girls. In this Census they are listed as Florene and Lorene, both 5 years of age and born Texas.

By the 1930 Census, the family is now living at 926 Washington, in Sherman, Grayson, TX. They have graduated from renters to home owners. Denis is now listed as a cabinet maker in the local planing mill. His wife, Ruth is a seamstress. The twins full names are now revealed: Velma Florene and Zelma Lorene. At this time they are 15 years of age. And both Dennis' and Ruth's parents birthplaces are listed simply as US. [Looking over this page, it seems the Census Taker listed anyone not born in TX but in the US simply as being US born, and not by state.]

Remaining on we find that Denis and his family can be tracked as to their residence through the City Directories. From 1914 - 1935 they lived in Sherman. And from 1946 until 1955 in Denison, Grayson, Texas.

In 1942, Denis listed in the WWII Draft Cards found on Family Search. He is listed as 47 years of age and married. He is employed by Joe Smith, also in Sherman.

Heading back over to we note that Denis is listed one last time on the Texas Death Index, 1903-2000. Denis died on 15 October 1963 in Grayson County.

I then checked on FindAGrave  for a record of his burial. But I came up empty on this site [one of my favorites! I've had a ton of success here!] So then I headed to my old standard, Google. Here I typed in Dennis Hopper died 1963 Grayson Co., TX. Needless to say, I had to weed through about twenty Dennis Hopper entries for the movie star [who died just a couple of years ago]. But eventually, I had a positive hit on the TX GENWEB site for Grayson County. I was rewarded with finding out that Denis was layed to rest at the Cedarlawn Memorial Park Cemetery in Grayson County. The short Bio listed on him there reads as follows:

"HOPPER  SR  DENNIS M      Jan 23, 1895    Jun 1963
    Born Tom Bean, Grayson County, Texas. S/O Mr & Mrs. William H. Hopper
    Wed Ruth E. Pennington, Sept 20, 1912  Sherman, Grayson County, Texas"

With this info in hand, I then headed back to FindAGrave and although I did not find Dennis listed here, I did find his wife, Ruth Elizabeth Pennington Hopper, [Find A Grave Memorial# 53620115]. However, it listed her spouse as George A. Hopper.

From the cradle to the grave, Dennis Martin Hopper lived to the ripe old age of 68 years. He was a carpenter/ cabinet maker by trade, and lived his entire life in Grayson County, Texas.

Thanks Randy, for another great challenge!

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