Mystery Haunts Woman Left on Doorstep as Baby

Here is a challenge for genealogists: Can you help this woman identify her parents? Admittedly, it will be quite a challenge.

Julie Himebaugh was approximately 6 months old when she was left on a doorstep in the city of Ludington in western Michigan on May 7, 1946. The blue-eyed girl was in a bundle of clothes, baby formula and had a note pinned to her blanket.

Julie’s parents always told her she’d been adopted. But it wasn’t until 1999, when she petitioned for adoption records, that she learned she’d been abandoned on a doorstep. By then, her adoptive parents were dead.

Himebaugh turned to DNA testing this spring, hoping to find clues in her blood. However, no close matches were found.

You can read the full story in an article by Kristen Jordan Shamus of the Detroit Free Press, published at http://goo.gl/34jwLV.

Was there a birth record anywhere? If so, how can anyone identify the baby as the girl abandoned on a doorstep?

19 Comments

I hope the woman has availed herself of analysis from all of the different dna testing sites as well as the most definitive tests offered and has uploaded the results everywhere they can be for comparison. I understand this could narrow down at least a maternal linage connection. The more publicity the better. If everyone shares this with others interested in genealogy and dna studies on their FB page it will help get the word out. Though I don’t fully understand the process, I understand there may be a way to narrow down surname searches and compare dna results. Hopefully those who specialize in dna genealogy will help this woman connect with her biological family. Thanks Dick for starting this ball rolling.

Did “Lois” the teenage girl that answered the doorbell only to find the baby at her doorstep have a brother who may have been the father? In the 1940s teenagers wouldn’t want anyone to know they were pregnant nor would a woman who was having an affair with a married man who wasn’t going to leave his wife. I think there is some correlation between the recipient’s family and the birth mother – maybe just that Lois’ mom may have been known as a good and loving person that the birth mom would hope would take care if her baby. This had to be difficult for the birth mom to do this.

There may not be a close DNA match yet, but that is no reason to give up hope. As more people test, more close matches will be found for everyone. I agree testing in as many different pools as possible helps (23andMe, FTDNA’s Family Finder and AncestryDNA).

Jennifer Lilienthal July 8, 2014 at 11:05 am

As Ruthy suggested, there was an older brother. The 1940 census shows a Richard, age 12 in the Yeck household in Ludington. He would be 18 in 1946, so a possibility for the biological dad.

In 1946 ,if the birth was recorded, the local newspaper may have the announcement . Look for area moms with no father listed, then check the mothers of little girls for a possible parent. Old time residents of the area as well as family members may have clues. What about a town directory with local residents listed? perhaps some of her adoptive family could be checked to see if there is a family connection. Advertisements in local ewes papers are another avenue. Good luck.

baby was six months old when found and she had formula and a note so some one knew that the baby was born and was taken care of. it would be different if it was a newborn then it could have been born anywhere and no one knew it if the mother didn’t show that she was pregnant and that does happen as I know of close people that were pregnant and no one knew until they gave birth.. I would get on facebook and every social media and put your story out there; I would also send letters to editors column in all surrounding newspapers within a certain miles away.. you can’t have a six month old baby and no one know it and that all at one it disappears. I’m a genealogist and I have found bio parents for people. one knew nothing about either parent but there is a group who I can’t remember the name now but they help people locate family for medical reasons. this partiulcar person was from colorado but bio parents were from iowa

Newspaper, DNA, all great. I have some suggestions, but it depends on the answers to certain questions. Is the note that was left available. Put it on the front page of the paper and ask if anyone recognizes the handwriting. Church baptism records. Father will probably not be listed. This could really narrow it down. Put an add on the front page of the paper. The paper may run the story for free, the generation that needs to answer this situation still read the paper. The biological mother might still be alive. I also recommend an ethnicity DNA test. This area is symbolic of Native American Women who are abandoned, a possibility.
The newspaper should also show pictures as a child, teenager, etc. Check newspapers of the time for deaths, the parents or parent could have died. The death notice might mention widow and young child. Or, mother died, and Father couldn’t look after child. What type of blanket was she wrapped in? Was it Native American?
I do this for a living, so I hope this works. There are other things, but no need to swamp the girl.

The first thing that came to mind after I read the story, is to see if there were any Catholic Homes for girls in the surrounding areas/counties, and hopefully, they would have kept the records from that time. There might be a girl listed with the same hometown. I also agree that this story should go on Facebook, etc. I hope this woman finds the answers she is looking for. Good luck.

She should also join one of the DNA Adoption Yahoo Groups. There are Search Angles who can help her evaluate her results. Test with all three companies PLUS upload the results to GedMatch for free. There are families being found almost daily. Sometimes it just takes patience and time.

I looked on newspaper archive and there are a few articles about this event. it even has the note in the articles. grieving war widow, ran away to get married on army base without parents permission, found out husband died in the war and mother drove from state to state to try to forget, left baby to be taken care of, don’t put this in newspaper as I don’t want my daughter to know the circumstances, I am going to end it, I love my daughter dearly. this is what the note said according to the newspaper articles

    Joan, I would love to read more but I don’t have a subscription to newspaper archive. Would you mind adding some more info as I find this interesting. Thank you.

SUGGESTION: Matrilineal DNA Test for Julie Himebaugh if trying to find a connection to brothers of Lois Ann (Yerk) Tykoski, Richard or Gordon C. Yerk, Sr.

Olga M. (Johnson) Yerk – (1898-?)
Lois Ann (Yerk) Tykoski – (1930-2012)
Sherry Tykoski – ( ? – ? )

As an aside, Gordon Yeck enlisted in Army 23 February 1944 and his release date was 3 November 1945.

    Lois and Gordon are dead. And i think Richard also. I found a couple more family references but hesitate to go into detail here. I think I would like to contact Julie personally.

    To ‘Glowby’ etal.
    The brother’s Gordon C., Sr. and Richard are both deceased and also sister, Lois Ann. Lois Ann Yerk would have passed her mtdna to her daughter who I mentioned previously (Lois Ann’s mtdna being the same as brother’s, Gordon and Richard.)

    Matrilineal (mtdna) testing for Julie Himebaugh and Lois Ann’s daughter, should and, a BIG SHOULD have similiar results to each other if one was going to make a guess that Gordon or Richard Yerk may have been the father of Julie Himebaugh.

    Is my understanding of Matrilineal (mtdna) correct, Dick Eastman?

    Jean, exactly. But it would be touchy asking wouldn’t it?
    BTW Gordon was in the army before that; he re-enlisted as above.]

    In my opinion, a subtle approach might work, might not? Possibly, an offer to pay for at least 1/2 of testing expense. Perhaps, Julie and her daughter and descendants would like to know such things as medical, and other inheritable diseases and this could be explained in the approach?
    Lois Ann’s Yeck’s obituary lists cause of death as Cancer. Also, I think there may have been two persons named Gordon Yeck, one dying in Ohio and the other dying in Michigan. The Gordon C. Yeck whose military service I listed previously, died in Ohio in 2003.
    Does anyone know how to contact Julie Himebaugh?

kathleen
if you email a public library in ludington michigan and tell them what you are looking for and that it happened 7 may 1946 the librarian may send you the articl.I did a search on the newspaper archive using the words “baby, doorstep”. this is one of a few i found in surrounding area newspapers. you could also ask your own library and see if you can access newspaper archive through your library. I get it free through my library. also if you have a LDS church in your area that has “family history library” they may also have newspaper archive. the families name where the baby was left was louis yeck.
I would like to know how to get in contact with the woman who this happened to. but when I read that the note said the mother had written that she had went from state to state then i thought how can you find the mother or who the father was as now you don’t know the state she was from. my best suggestion is to get it on all social networks, facebook etc. and maybe some one would come up with a woman who ran away to marry her sweetheart and parents and family never seen her again BUT we don’t know if the mother actually ended her life. could look for death records of a woman in michigan who died around 7 may 1946 but again she may have left michigan when/if she took her life

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