An American Family History

Franklin Merl Bertrand


Red Oak is the county seat of Montgomery County, Iowa.

Frances DeLara
Frances De Lara
photo courtesy of Anna Beetchenow
Lorraine and Richard
Lorraine and Richard Bertrand
photo courtesy of Anna Beetchenow

Lucas County is in south central Iowa. It was founded in 1846 and the county seat is Chariton.

Chariton is the county seat of Lucas County, Iowa and is in Lincoln Township.

Franklin Merl Bertrand was born in Chariton, Lucas County, Iowa on January 19, 1899 or 1900. He was the son of Gilles Joseph Bertrand and Viola Belle Long.

When he was four years old, he was very sick with whooping cough and dysentery.

In 1913 he was living with his sister Emma Smith in Red Oak, Iowa.

He enlisted in 1917 to fight in World War I. He served in the 161st and 163rd Ambulance Companies. He saw fifteen months of service in France and was released from the army of occupation at Coblenz on on March 17th due to his mother's last illness. He is listed in the North Dakota Roster of World War I Vets.

Merle Bertrand is Home From France
Arrived Here One Day Late For the Funeral of His Mother

Merle (sic) Bertrand, a youthful patriot from Braddock who in 1917 enlisted later was transferred to the 163 Amb. in Co. 1 of the second regiment and Co. and has seen over fifteen months service in France was released from the army of occupation at Coblenz on March 17 on account of the serious illness of his mother, the late Mrs. J. F. O'Dea of Bismarck and journeyed as fast as possible toward her bedside. The mother's last wish was to once more see her heroic young son, but she succumbed before he could reach her, having we understand died, the day Merle left Camp Mills, on the last lap of his journey of several thousands of miles, since when he could not be again reached by wire and did not arrive here until the day following the funeral - which had been postponed two days. Deepest regret was heard on every hand not only for the death of Mrs. O'Dea but for Merle in his long race against the grim conqueror Death.

At the time of the 1920 census he was in Des Moines, Polk County, Iowa with his sister Marie Shimp. In 1920 he was a salesman in a retail hat store. 

He married Frances DeLara on July 6, 1922. She was born December 14, 1895 in New Jersey. Her parents were Frank DeLara and Charlotte Manning.

Mr. Franklin Merl Bertrand and Miss Frances De Lara, both of Des Moines were married at the home of his uncle Mr. Henry Bertrand at 711 Ashland Avenue in Chariton on Monday evening July 3 at eight o'clock in the presence of a few close friends. Rev. E. W. Curtis pronouncing the words of the beautiful ring ceremony.

Mr. Bertrand was formerly a Chariton boy, being a son of Mrs. Jos. Bertrand now of Des Moines. He was in the World war fighting under our colors in the Argonne Forest when the war ended. He is now a salesman for the Harris-Emery company.

The bride is a native of New Jersey. She is well fitted for life's duties.

We wish them many happy years of wedlock. Their home will be in Des Moines.

Merl and Frances had a son, Richard Franklin Bertrand, who was born in 1928 an a daughter, Lorraine Frances Bertrand, born in 1933.

Merl and Frances divorced in 1940.

In 1957 at the time of his sister Blanch's death he was living in Omaha, Nebraska.

He died March, 1976 in Omaha, Nebraska and Frances died September 9, 1979 in Cedar Rapids, Iowa.

Dysentery is an infectious disease marked by inflammation and ulceration of the lower part of the bowels, with diarrhea that becomes mucous and hemorrhagic.

Diphtheria is a serious contagious respiratory illness where a membrane attaches to the tonsils, pharynx, or nasal cavity. Diphtheria can lead to loss of motor control and sensation.
Pertussis is also contagious and was known as whooping cough. It starts with a mild respiratory infection and the coughing develops into uncontrollable fits followed by a high-pitched "whoop" sound as the patient struggles to breathe.
Tetanus was also called lockjaw and occurs when wounds are contaminated. As the infection progresses, muscle spasms develop in the jaw as well as other parts of the body.

Children of Joseph Bertrand
and Viola Long
  • Marie Louisa Bertrand Shimp
  • Emma Ethel Bertrand Smith
  • Blanch Pauline Bertrand Higgins
  • Frances M. Bertrand Metela Johnson
  • Lura Bertrand Bechtel Jones
  • Franklin Merl Bertrand
  • Izetta Fern Bertrand
  • World War I was a between the Entente and Central Powers alliances in Europe. On June 28, 1914, Archduke Franz Ferdinand of Austria was assassinated by a Bosnian-Serb and this activated alliances between all major European powers. The United States became involved in 1918 and the war ended on November 11, 1918.

    Frances, Merl, and Richard
    Frances, Merl and Richard
    photo courtesy of Anna Beetchenow
    Emmons County, North Dakota is in the center of the southern border of North Dakota. Braddock was established in 1898. Extreme seasonal variations in temperature made life difficult for settlers.


    Frank and Charlotte
    Frank De Lara and his second wife, Katie.
    photo courtesy of Anna Beetchenow

    In the 1830s settlers began arriving in Iowa from Ohio, Pennsylvania, New York, Indiana, Kentucky, and Virginia. Iowa became a state in 1846.

    More about Frank DeLara

    Anna Beetchenow said that Charlotte and Frank had two children, Frances, born in 1895 and David, born in 1899. Charlotte died February 9, 1905 at age 33. The death certificate says her cause of death was heart disease and her body was found on the couch at home and she had no history of sickness. After her mother's death, Frances ended up in a Foster home.

    According to letters Frank wrote to Frances in response to her letter, he had left when she was 3 or 4 years old and he was not aware that she had a brother. At some time he dropped DeLara and was going by the name Frank Moore. He explained that he left because Charlotte was a slave to whiskey, but he did not want to speak ill of the dead. He wanted to know how she felt about him before admitting that he was her father. 

    His letters started in September, 1918 when Frank was in Tucson, Arizona. He said he was an engineer running a locomotive crane picking up all kinds of material for the Southern Pacific Company. He beame sick and his doctor recommended that he go to California, which he did in July 1919. That's where he met his Katie. In August he went back to Arizona and in a September letter he said he had tuberculosis.  In December, 1919 he was back in California and married. 

    In all his letters, he continually asked Frances to come visit him. Unfortunately, that never happened. A letter from May, 1920 mentioned the picture of him and Katie. There were no letters for awhile, then the last couple are from Katie and talk about his passing. He died January 2, 1923 and was buried at Evergreen Cemetery in Tucson, Arizona. 

    Tuberculosis (TB) is a common and often deadly infectious disease. It was called consumption. It usually attacks the lungs and the symptoms are coughing blood, fever, night sweats, and weight loss.

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    ©Roberta Tuller 2020
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