Monday, November 2, 2020

Looking for Livana

I had known my husband's paternal uncle, Albert Paul Dagutis (1920-1987), had briefly been married to a woman named Livana B. (Russell) Mueller. A decade ago, I found their 1949 marriage record and several city directories that showed them living in Lincoln Park, Michigan, throughout the 1950s. But I could never find out more about Livana until I really studied their marriage record.

Albert P. DaGutis and Livana B. Mueller Marriage License;
courtesy of

They were married in Sandusky County, Ohio, on 26 February 1949. The index of the marriage license said Livana was born in 1928 and was 21 years old. It also provided her parents names. When I looked closely at the scanned image, I realized Livana said she was 31 years old, not 21. Armed with a better birth year, I searched the Michigan divorce records again for her divorce from her previous husband, Mr. Mueller. Finding that record, led me to believe Livana had not been completely honest on her 1949 marriage license. She was 41, not 31, and she had been married twice previously, not once. And so, more of her life became known.


Estella "Stella" B. Russell was born 6 March 1907 in Elk Rapids, Michigan to George William Russell and Mary Boursaw. Mary's father was three-quarters Chippewa and spelled his surname a variety of ways. When the 1910 census was enumerated, Mary lived with several of her children on what was referred to as the Indian Town Reservation. They lived in "civilized" (as opposed to aboriginal) housing on property owned by the iron company. Mary listed her marital status as divorced. However the divorce decree for desertion was not granted until 1919. Estella's mother then married Carl Martinsen, a Norwegian, with whom she'd lived with for almost a decade.  Estella was enumerated as Carl's step-daughter in the 1920 census.

On 4 June 1923 Estella married Melvin Artlip in Muskegon County, Michigan. Both the bride and groom lived in Muskegon. Melvin worked as a chauffeur and Estella as a waitress. The couple had three children:

  • Cassius "Cash" Melvin Artlip, born 22 February 1924 in Muskegon, died 22 June 2001 in Muskegon. He served in the U.S. Navy during World War II and married 1) Marcella Ruth Lane about 1947 and 2) Juanita Ellen (Worden) McEntaffer on 9 December 1966. He had two children with his first wife.
  • George Stanley Artlip, born 16 August 1925 in Muskegon Heights, died 10 September 1996 in Polk County, Florida. He served in the U.S. Marine Corps during World War II and married 1) Delores May Seitz on 20 July 1946 in Detroit; and 2) Gloria Rita Anderson on 7 July 1991 in Palm Beach County, Florida. He had three children with his first wife.
  • Pearl Delores Artlip, born and died on 10 January 1927 in Muskegon Heights.
On 15 April 1927 Estelle L. Artlip filed a petition in the Muskegon County courts for a divorce. An absolute divorce decree for extreme cruelty was granted on 13 June 1928. On 1 November 1928, Estella married John Mueller in Bellaire, Michigan. Her mother and half-sister were witnesses. John was born on 1 June 1900 in Zurich, Switzerland, and had immigrated to Canada in 1924 to become a farmer. He entered the U.S. 28 July 1925 on his way to Minneapolis to begin working at Toro Manufacturing. He lived in Detroit at the time of their marriage.

In 1930, John and Estella lived at the Seneca Hotel in Detroit. He worked as a laborer at a dairy. Estella's ex-husband and eldest son, Cassius, lived in Muskegon Heights with Melvin's sister and brother-in-law. I have not been able to find Estella's youngest son, George Stanley Artlip, in the 1930 census.

On 20 October 1931, Estella had Norene L. Mueller in Detroit. When the 1940 census was enumerated John Mueller rented a home at 3755 Van Dyke Street and he continued to work at a dairy. Living in the home with him were his wife, Estella (enumerated as L. Estelle); their daughter, Norene; and Estella's son, George (enumerated as S. George Mueller). John registered for the World War II draft on 16 February 1942. He and Estella continued to live at the house on Van Dyke Street and he worked for U.S. Rubber Company. He listed his wife as the person who would always know his address, but listed her as Betty Mueller. Was this the explanation for the initial "B.," which appeared frequently on other records for Estella?

On 24 February 1949, Estelle B. L. Mueller and John W. Mueller were divorced in Wayne County, Michigan. She married Albert Paul Dagutis in Sandusky County, Ohio, two days later. Albert was a steelworker, who lived in Detroit, and was my husband's paternal uncle. Estella was listed on the marriage license as Livana B. Mueller, a music teacher who also lived in Detroit. This is the first record on which her given name is listed as Livana.

Throughout the 1950s Albert and Livana lived at 2219 Hartwick Avenue in Lincoln Park, Michigan. Her given name was listed as Livana in the city directories. They divorced some time after 1960. Albert never married again.

Estella, aka Livana, died in Kearny, Michigan on 13 July 1988 and was interred at the Maple Grove Cemetery in Elk Rapids. Her headstone says Livana B. Mueller, 1907-1988. Her second husband also died in Kearny on 7 October 1991. He is interred in the same cemetery with matching headstones. Did John Mueller and Estella get back together?

Her first husband, Melvin Artlip, died on 11 August 1964 in Muskegon Heights, the same day his second wife died. They are interred together at Sunrise Memorial Gardens in Muskegon. Albert Paul Dagutis died on 16 February 1987 in Traverse City, Michigan.


  1. Fascinating story...and yes, one does wonder if John and Livana reunited. Also, a very good example of why NOT to believe every detail on even a primary record.

    1. Ususally I transcribe every record but I found the marriage record very early in my genealogy research and hadn't yet developed many good habits.

  2. My 2x great-grandparents were also buried next to each other, although they were divorced and never reconciled. (Interestingly, they were also from Northern Michigan and buried about 30 miles from Estella/Livana!) Maybe something to do with the burial plots already being purchased and the children deciding to have their parents buried next to each other?

    1. I was also thinking about burial plots that had already been purchased.