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52 Ancestors – The Duval Triplets – Three Babies with Four Names

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DUVAL, twins

Two of the Duval Triplets born to Leon Howard Duval & Annabel Freda Yock, 10 August 1932

 

The Birth & Death Story

 

Wednesday, the 10th of August 1932, triplets were born to Leon Howard Duval and Annabel Freda Yock in the new Columbus Hospital in Great Falls, Montana.1  This hospital opened in 19302 and the Duval babies were the first triplets3 to be born in that hospital.  All three babies were boys and were the third, fourth, and fifth sons born to Leon and Annabel.

Prior to the birth of the triplets, Leon and Annabel were living in Playwood, Washington where Leon was a harbor employee4.  Annabel traveled to Great Falls to stay with her mother-in-law, Alice Duval (my 2nd great-grandmother) at 708 3rd Avenue SW for the express purpose of giving birth to her children in Great Falls.5  She had arrived shortly before the children were born.

On that Wednesday morning, the first baby was born at 11:37 am and weighed 2 lbs. 10 1/2 oz.6  Baby number two was born at 12:07 pm and weighed 3 lbs. 1 1/2 oz.7  The last baby was born at 12:10 pm and weighed in at 3 lbs. 6 1/2 oz.8  A newspaper report claims that all three boys had blue eyes and that two of them had dark hair while the other was fair.9

It is interesting – and overwhelming – to note that Leon and Annabel’s other sons were just three and two years old at the time the triplets were born.10  This may explain why Annabel would travel such a great distance to give birth.  Her mother-in-law was not the only Duval family member living in Great Falls at the time.  All of Leon’s living siblings and their spouses were living in Great Falls in both 1931 and 1932 – Vera and Bill Hunter,11 12 Frank and Estelle – my great-grandparents,13 14 Dolores and Fred Cleveland,15 16 and Valmore who was 15 and 16 in 1931 and 1932.

Just two hours and twenty minutes after the final triplet was born, one of them passed away at 2:30 pm on Wednesday, 10 August 1932.17

On Thursday, 11 August 1932, another triplet died.  The final living triplet was reported to be doing well.18

Saturday, 13 August 1932, private funeral services were held for two of the Duval triplets at O’Connor Chapel and then the babies were buried in Highland Cemetery.19

 

Family Records

 

The birth and death of the triplets were recorded by my great-grandmother in numerous hand-typed family records as seen here:

 

francis-duane-duval-book-page-four022

Excerpt from family record created by Estelle Duval.

IMG_0953

Excerpt from family record created by Estelle Duval.

IMG_0951

Excerpt from family record created by Estelle Duval.  note – The last of Leon and Annabel’s children passed away in September 2017.

IMG_0952

Excerpt from family record created by Estelle Duval.  note – The last of Leon and Annabel’s children passed away in September 2017.

 

Grandma Duval was inconsistent in her names for the triplets.  She used four names for three babies – James, Joseph, John, and Stanley John.

When I first began working with her records, there was not an online collection of Montana birth or death records I could use to verify and clarify her notes.  I was stuck with a bit of a mystery.

The two facts she consistently identified were that James died 10 August 1932, and that John died 11 August 1932.  I felt confident about adding dates, but I struggled to identify the correct names for each baby.  I wondered if Leon and Annabel would name one boy John and another Stanley John.  I was leaning toward James and Joseph being the correct names for the two triplets who did not live.

 

Records to the Rescue

 

The Montana Birth Index, 1870-1986 includes three Duval babies born in 1932 in Great Falls.  Two were listed simply as ‘Duval’ without first names, born 10 August 1932.20 21  And the third baby is actually my grandmother, Deane Alice Duval, born 27 June 1932.22

One triplet is missing from the birth index.

The Montana Death Index, 1907-2015 includes two Duval deaths in Cascade County in 1932.  John Duval who died 10 August 1932,23 and Joseph Duval who died 11 August 1932.24

So how does that compare to Grandma Duval’s notes?  She listed:

  • Stanley John Duval, born 10 August 1932 – correct – verified with other records not mentioned in this post.
  • James Duval, born 10 August 1932, died 10 August 1932 – there is no triplet named James, but these dates are correct for the triplet named John.
  • John Duval, born 10 August 1932, died 11 August 1932one of the triplets was named John Duval, but these are the dates for Joseph Duval.
  • Joseph Duval, born and died within 1 1/2 days of birth – correct

All in all, Grandma Duval didn’t do too bad.  She added an extra name in there and listed the wrong death date for John Duval.  But the important thing she did is create a record.  She gave me a starting place from which I could search for records to verify and clarify her record.  This is particularly important because the birth and death records in the indexes DO NOT list parent names.  I would not have stumbled upon them accidentally.  Her records pointed the way for me to correctly add John & Joseph to their family group.

I am still a bit surprised that Leon and Annabel named one triplet John and another Stanley John.  John is not a family name among the Duvals and it is not the name of Annabel’s father.  Because I do not have the birth record for Stanley John I suppose it is possible that his middle name was not given at birth but was added later.

Years ago, my own grandmother shared a story with me, one that I cannot possibly verify, about what led to the triplets’ early birth.  It is not a pleasant story.  I will simply state that based on that story and other tid-bits Grandma shared with me, it appears that Leon and Annabel had a rather tumultuous relationship.  That supposition seems to be backed up by the fact that Leon’s oldest son, who was 13 at the time of his father’s death, took the name of his step-father and went by Leon Revel for the remainder of his life.  Only his youngest sister did the same.

 

Details of an Unusual Photograph

 

Let’s have another look at that photograph from the beginning of this post, shall we?  I’ll make it a touch bigger.

DUVAL, twins

John & Joseph Duval, 13 August 1932, Highland Cemetery, Great Falls, Montana

 

This photograph has always fascinated me.  It’s terribly sad to see two small babies side by side in a casket but there is so much more in this picture.  Let’s break it down.

Two babies in one very small, open casket.  A large headstone when there are several visible graves with only placards.  The open hole that doesn’t look nearly deep enough with the shovel visible under the casket.  The old 2x4s supporting the casket.  The unkempt grounds. The car in the background that is so close to other graves.  The shadow of the head that is definitely a Duval head.  (Definitely may be too strong a word here, but I’m going with it anyway.  Heather, do you see it too?)  Is it Leon?  I think it looks more like my great-grandfather’s shadow.

I have two other photos in my collection of bodies in open caskets.  One is my granduncle Darrell Skeen Peterson, the other is my 2nd great-grandmother, Emma Esther Jerrain.  What makes this photo unique is that it is the only open casket photo in my collection that is at the gravesite.  Not just at the gravesite, but literally on top of the open grave.

 

Last Thoughts

 

My impression of Leon and Annabel colors my view of not only the birth, but also the deaths of John & Joseph.  I feel less sorrow than usual as I write about their early deaths.  I actually feel some relief for them.  That isn’t fair.  My usual tears for a mother who buried her babies did not flow as I typed.  I hope my impressions of Leon and Annabel are unjust and biased.  What I do know for certain is that John & Joseph’s lives were incredibly short, unfairly short.

Stanley went on to live a full life that unfortunately ended in his death in a house fire in 1991.  He was an army veteran who raised four daughters.  I have corresponded with one of those daughters.  I shared photographs with her.  She had never before seen a photo of her grandfather Leon.  She didn’t know anything about Leon.  He was her brick wall.  I helped her with that.  She is a lovely person and I am so glad to call her cousin.

Whatever prejudice I may hold for Leon & Annabel, in the end, they are part of my family.  I love my family.  All of them, warts and all.  I hope I have honored the memory of their triplets today.

 

 

 

Note – There are three interesting tid-bits I need to add.  1 – Annabel spells her name inconsistently as Annabel and Annabelle.  As in her own signature is seen spelled both ways.  2 – John Duval’s grave shows up in FindAGrave, but Joseph’s grave does not.  3 – The certificate numbers for the two ‘Duval’ birth records are G F 10413 and G F 10415.  I wonder if the missing record is G F 10414 and it somehow didn’t make it into the online index?

 

 

 


  1. “Triplets are Born in Falls Hospital,” (Helena, Montana) The Independent Record, 13 August 1932, p. 6, col. 2; digital images, Newspapers.com, (https://www.newspapers.com/clip/18015653/the_independent_record/?xid=637 : accessed 5 Mar 2018). 
  2. LaPorte, Margaret, Columbus Hospital : One Hundred Years, (Seattle, Washington: Providence Archives, 1992), photo p. between pp. 23-24; PDF download, www.providence.org (https://www.providence.org/-/media/files/providence/about/history/columbus-hospital-one-hundred-yearsweb.pdf?la=en : accessed 21 Mar 2018). 
  3. “Triplets Are Born to Mrs. L. H. Duval; One of Them Dies,” Great Falls Tribune, 11 August 1932, p. 9, col. 6; digital images, Newspapers.com, (https://www.newspapers.com/clip/18015792/great_falls_tribune/?xid=637 : accessed 5 Mar 2018). 
  4. “Triplets Are Born to Mrs. L. H. Duval; One of Them Dies,” Great Falls Tribune, 11 August 1932, p. 9, col. 6; digital images, Newspapers.com, (https://www.newspapers.com/clip/18015792/great_falls_tribune/?xid=637 : accessed 5 Mar 2018). 
  5. “Triplets are Born in Falls Hospital,” (Helena, Montana) The Independent Record, 13 August 1932, p. 6, col. 2; digital images, Newspapers.com, (https://www.newspapers.com/clip/18015653/the_independent_record/?xid=637 : accessed 5 Mar 2018). 
  6. “Triplets are Born in Falls Hospital,” (Helena, Montana) The Independent Record, 13 August 1932, p. 6, col. 2; digital images, Newspapers.com, (https://www.newspapers.com/clip/18015653/the_independent_record/?xid=637 : accessed 5 Mar 2018). 
  7. “Triplets are Born in Falls Hospital,” (Helena, Montana) The Independent Record, 13 August 1932, p. 6, col. 2; digital images, Newspapers.com, (https://www.newspapers.com/clip/18015653/the_independent_record/?xid=637 : accessed 5 Mar 2018). 
  8. “Triplets are Born in Falls Hospital,” (Helena, Montana) The Independent Record, 13 August 1932, p. 6, col. 2; digital images, Newspapers.com, (https://www.newspapers.com/clip/18015653/the_independent_record/?xid=637 : accessed 5 Mar 2018). 
  9. “Triplets are Born in Falls Hospital,” (Helena, Montana) The Independent Record, 13 August 1932, p. 6, col. 2; digital images, Newspapers.com, (https://www.newspapers.com/clip/18015653/the_independent_record/?xid=637 : accessed 5 Mar 2018). 
  10. “Triplets are Born in Falls Hospital,” (Helena, Montana) The Independent Record, 13 August 1932, p. 6, col. 2; digital images, Newspapers.com, (https://www.newspapers.com/clip/18015653/the_independent_record/?xid=637 : accessed 5 Mar 2018). 
  11. R. L. Polk, compiler, Great Falls, Montana, City Directory, (Great Falls; R. L. Polk Directory Co., 1931), p. 101, entry for Hunter, Wm A (Alvera); digitized in “U.S. City Directories, 1822-1995,” database, Ancestry (https://www.ancestry.com : accessed 5 March 2018), path Montana > Great Falls > 1931. 
  12. R. L. Polk, compiler, Great Falls, Montana, City Directory, (Great Falls; R. L. Polk Directory Co., 1932), p. 91, entry for Hunter, Wm A (Elvera M); digitized in “U.S. City Directories, 1822-1995,” database, Ancestry (https://www.ancestry.com : accessed 5 March 2018), path Montana > Great Falls > 1932. 
  13. R. L. Polk, compiler, Great Falls, Montana, City Directory, (Great Falls; R. L. Polk Directory Co., 1931), p. 67, entry for Duval, Frank H (Estelle H); digitized in “U.S. City Directories, 1822-1995,” database, Ancestry (https://www.ancestry.com : accessed 5 March 2018), path Montana > Great Falls > 1931. 
  14. R. L. Polk, compiler, Great Falls, Montana, City Directory, (Great Falls; R. L. Polk Directory Co., 1932), p. 60, entry for Duval, Frank H (Estelle H); digitized in “U.S. City Directories, 1822-1995,” database, Ancestry (https://www.ancestry.com : accessed 5 March 2018), path Montana > Great Falls > 1932. 
  15. R. L. Polk, compiler, Great Falls, Montana, City Directory, (Great Falls; R. L. Polk Directory Co., 1931), p. 54, entry for Cleveland, Deleres Mrs.; digitized in “U.S. City Directories, 1822-1995,” database, Ancestry (https://www.ancestry.com : accessed 5 March 2018), path Montana > Great Falls > 1931. 
  16. R. L. Polk, compiler, Great Falls, Montana, City Directory, (Great Falls; R. L. Polk Directory Co., 1932), p. 48, entry for Cleveland, Fred D (Dolores); digitized in “U.S. City Directories, 1822-1995,” database, Ancestry (https://www.ancestry.com : accessed 5 March 2018), path Montana > Great Falls > 1932. 
  17. “Triplets Are Born to Mrs. L. H. Duval; One of Them Dies,” Great Falls Tribune, 11 August 1932, p. 9, col. 6; digital images, Newspapers.com, (https://www.newspapers.com/clip/18015792/great_falls_tribune/?xid=637 : accessed 5 Mar 2018). 
  18. “Second of Triplets Dies at Hospital,” Great Falls Tribune, 12 August 1932, p. 2, col. 2; digital images, Newspapers.com, (https://www.newspapers.com/clip/18016405/great_falls_tribune/?xid=637 : accessed 5 Mar 2018). 
  19. “Private Funeral Services to Be Held for Duval Infants,” Great Falls Tribune, 13 August 1932, p. 7, col. 1; digital images, Newspapers.com, (https://www.newspapers.com/clip/18015465/great_falls_tribune/?xid=637 : accessed 5 Mar 2018). 
  20. “Montana, Birth Index, 1870-1986,” database, Ancestry (https://www.ancestry.com : accessed 5 March 2018), entry for Duval, 10 August 1932, Great Falls, Cascade, Montana, certificate no. G F 10413; citing “Montana, Birth Index, 1920-1986,” Montana Department of Public Health and Human Services, Helena, Montana. 
  21. “Montana, Birth Index, 1870-1986,” database, Ancestry (https://www.ancestry.com : accessed 5 March 2018), entry for Duval, 10 August 1932, Great Falls, Cascade, Montana, certificate no. G F 10415; citing “Montana, Birth Index, 1920-1986,” Montana Department of Public Health and Human Services, Helena, Montana. 
  22. “Montana, Birth Index, 1870-1986,” database, Ancestry (https://www.ancestry.com : accessed 5 March 2018), entry for Deane Alice Duval, 27 June 1932, Great Falls, Cascade, Montana, certificate no. G F 10325; citing “Montana, Birth Index, 1920-1986,” Montana Department of Public Health and Human Services, Helena, Montana. 
  23. “Montana, Death Index, 1907-2015,” database, Ancestry (https://www.ancestry.com : accessed 5 March 2018), entry for John Duval, 10 August 1932, Cascade, Montana; citing “Montana, Death Index, 1868-2015,” Montana Department of Public Health and Human Services, Helena, Montana. 
  24. “Montana, Death Index, 1907-2015,” database, Ancestry (https://www.ancestry.com : accessed 5 March 2018), entry for Joseph Duval, 10 August 1932, Cascade, Montana; citing “Montana, Death Index, 1868-2015,” Montana Department of Public Health and Human Services, Helena, Montana. 

Author: thegenealogygirl

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25 thoughts on “52 Ancestors – The Duval Triplets – Three Babies with Four Names

  1. You can add a memorial for Joseph at findagrave.

  2. I bet John was added to Stanley’s name to honor his brother (perhaps he was Stanley John Joseph??). And you seem to harbor bad feelings for Annabel and Leon. Why Annabel? I read between the lines about Leon, but didn’t see anything about Annabel that would give you pause. Did I miss something? I bet today all three babies would have survived. I wonder how it affected Stanley, being the sole surviving triplet. Very sad.

    • I’ve wondered the same about the middle names. I do have some feelings toward both Leon and Annabel. It’s complicated. I’ll just say that they each made some choices that are upsetting and may have had an impact on the premature birth of the triplets.

      I bet you are right – all three babies would likely have been fine today. I’m not sure about how it impacted Stanley. That information didn’t make it’s way to me and Stanley has been gone since 1991. I have actually wondered if he knew. Times were definitely different then.

      • He might not have known? That’s so strange since your grandmother knew. Given the weights of the babies, I wonder just how premature they were. For triplets, that’s pretty good size for back then, I’d think. I doubt many triplets went full term even without trauma.

        • Yes, I’m not positive. His living descendants that have trees on Ancestry don’t list the other two triplets in their trees. I know that’s not definitive or anything, but it did cause me to wonder if he knew. There was a family rift and my Grandma was not in contact with Stanley over the years.

          I agree, they were good-sized and I wonder how early they actually were.

        • There’s always another story.

        • Yes, there is! 😉

  3. Heartbreaking story.

  4. I think you are probably right that it is Grandpa Duval’s head. Looks like his hair and makes sense he would take a photo. I would think Leon would be too upset to do something like that. It must be the where the babies are buried since the graves are all so close together. Was the third triplet the one called “Tiny”? that Deanne talked about?

  5. Thank you for sharing this story and all of the information from the photo.

  6. Indeed such a moving story.
    Duval Wallace was a wonderful home furnishing store in Great Falls. Any relation?

  7. Pingback: Photograph Showcase: Two Sets of Five Duval Siblings | thegenealogygirl

  8. I was also thinking that Anabelle probably was still in the hospital when they buried the babies. Women usually stayed a week after giving birth back then. So that makes me think Grandpa maybe took the photo for her.

  9. Such a sad story, and a really intriguing photograph. I’ve never seen a headstone ready and in place at the time of a burial. It’s normal here (certainly in my experience) that the burial takes place, and the headstone is placed generally a week or more afterwards as it takes time to make. Unless the burial was delayed for some reason?

  10. A sad story. I have a friend who had triplets but they all lived & are adults now. I am wondering what the cause of Leon’s death was. Did I miss it in my reading? Whatever he was like must not have been good for his children to drop their surnames.

    • Yes, so sad. He died of an infection in his stomach. He was pretty rough around the edges. Of course, I never knew him and anyone who did has since passed away so I can’t say for sure what he was truly like. I hope he is now at peace.

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