Mystery Monday: Fred Foster Springer and Ninetta Wiley Eames Payne

Wedding announcement of Ninetta (Wiley) Eames Payne to Fred Foster Springer, 1937. Oakland Tribune.
Wedding announcement of Ninetta (Wiley) Eames Payne to Fred Foster Springer, 1937. Oakland Tribune.


Here’s a ‘cousin-bait’ post. Actually, more a ‘married-in to a married-in’ person post, but that’s close enough to be a cousin in my mind. We’re all related if one goes back far enough.

(Sadly, that philosophy  also lets me wander far afield and late into the night at times, but when one can make connections, it will help genealogists to come. And sometimes, that “FAN Club” finds me a tidbit or two about a direct line that I might not otherwise have found.)

I am searching for information on Fred Foster Springer. I am searching this far afield because Fred was married to Ninetta (Wiley) Eames Payne, who also married Edward B. Payne, a direct ancestor.

Fred F. Springer was born Mar 1865 in Maine, possibly Bradford, Penobscot, Maine, and lived there through 1870. By 1880 he and his parents, Samuel Foster Springer (b. 1832 in New Hampshire-d. 1902 in California) and Helen M. Fuller (b. 1838 in Maine-d. aft 1920 census in California?) had moved to San Francisco, California.

Fred graduated May 1883 from the Boys High School in San Francisco, and in 1886 was living in San Francisco at 1305-1/2 Polk with his father where he was listed as a “Collector” when he registered to vote at age 21. Two years later, in 1888, he was listed as a “Machine Hand” and living at 9 Liberty with his father.

By 1890 Fred was living in Berkeley, Alameda, CA and was an electrician/electrical engineer/engineer with the phone company. He lived at 1810 Louisa with his mother in 1906.

At about age 44 Fred married Margaret Smith c1909, and in the 1910 census they were living at 1815 Bonita with their first child, Inez/Ynez Springer, 8 months old. Other children were Richard F. Springer (1911-1964), Carobel A. Springer (1913-), and Margaret E. Springer (1915-). They also lived at 2207 Eunice, 1715 Jaynes, and 1430 Arch in Berkeley, California.

Fred and Margaret separated and were divorced sometime between the 1927 Oakland Directory listing and the 1930 census. Margaret is listed in a boarding house in the 1930 census, and the 3 daughters were living together in another household with Yzez noted as head of household. Fred was living in a boarding house in Berkeley owned by Ninetta (Wiley) Eames Payne. Sometime in 1930 (per voter’s registration) Fred had moved to 1715 Jaynes St. and living with dau Ynez; in 1932 his son Richard was also living with them. By 1934 Fred and his son Richard were rooming at Ninetta’s home again at 1282 Oxford. (I believe Fred and Margaret’s young family had rented a home from Ninetta in earlier years, and they were all old friends, as Ninetta owned the Arch St. home at one point.)

In Aug of 1937 Fred married Ninetta, possibly in Eureka, California, or Shasta, California. He was 72 and she 84. It was Ninetta’s third marriage- she had been married to Roscoe L. Eames (divorced in 1910), then Edward B. Payne, who died in 1923.

The last record I can find of Fred is 8 Nov 1938 when he appeared on the Alameda Voting Register, which is interesting since the California Death Index states his date of death as 15 Sep 1938. It may have been that the voting rolls were prepared before his death, and his name was just left on the roll for that election.

There is a story that Fred died while hiking Mt. Shasta with Ninetta, but I cannot find any confirmation of that.

I would like to find an obituary for Fred and learn if he and Ninetta divorced or how he passed away. Ninetta was listed as a widow in the 1940 census and had gone back to using Payne as her last name after Fred died.

Any information on Fred F. Springer or his family- even just clues- would be greatly appreciated.


Notes, Sources, and References:

1) “FAN Club” = Friends, Associates, Neighbors. These folks married each other, migrated together, witnessed each other’s legal documents, etc. Along with “Collateral Kin” (children, in-laws, etc. of siblings), one can sometimes find an obituary for a FAN Club member that mentions a direct ancestor, a photo with a group that includes the person of interest, or a story that includes a direct ancestor; it may not be something that is available for the direct line.

2) This is an expansion of a query I posted in 2012 on Ancestry’s San Francisco – Family History & Genealogy Message Board. See Accessed on 04/17/14.  

3) California Death Index for Fred F. Springer: California, Death Index, 1905-1939 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Operations, Inc., 2013. Original data: California Department of Health and Welfare. California Vital Records-Vitalsearch ( The Vitalsearch Company Worldwide, Inc., Pleasanton, California.

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