A former Clarksburg resident has been on a quest for more than 50 years to find her sister, and she's afraid time may be running out.
"My sister would be 66 years old at the end of this month, but longevity runs in our family. I can't help but think she is still living and that I have a chance to contact her," said Louise Lauth of Kinsman, Ohio.
Lauth, now 71, is searching for her youngest sister, born Margaret Francis Butcher, on March 30, 1934 in Clarksburg. She has not seen Margaret since losing contact with her in 1939 following her parents' divorce.
Margaret was the youngest of seven children born to Albert and Eva Butcher. When the Butchers divorced, the children were remanded to the state and eventually separated, Lauth said.
Lauth's oldest brother went with her father, but the remaining siblings were put in a children's home in Shinnston and later in foster care. Margaret and a brother, Tom, went to the Sacred Heart Home on Hornor Avenue, Lauth said.
"Margaret went to Sacred Heart because she was so young. I called the Catholic Diocese in Wheeling and they had record of Tom, but not of Margaret. She was probably adopted out at age 6 or 7, but my parents would never talk about it," Lauth said.
Lauth started her search in earnest after moving to Ohio in 1954, but the search has been complicated because Margaret was born before the Social Security Act took effect in 1935. She has found no social security number or any possible married name for her youngest sister.
Lauth said that at the beginning she was somewhat hesitant to pursue her search publicly because of the embarrassment to her mother and father and the fact that the children came from a broken home.
But as time passed, she knew it was something she had to do.
"I waited until Margaret turned 21, and I have been looking for her ever since," she said.
Lauth has visited Clarksburg in the past and talked with a foster parent in Adamston who kept Margaret in her home in the 1940s. She has also searched adoption records in Harrison County and was told Margaret may have been adopted in Monongalia County. But a subsequent search in records in that county turned up nothing, Lauth said.
"My hope is that there is someone out there who can tell us something about our sister and what may have happened to her," she said.
Lauth has been able to stay in contact with her other brothers and sisters over the years, and several still live in the local area. Tom lives in Montana, John is in a nursing home in Grafton, while Alice lives in Good Hope and her twin, Alliedine, lives in Bridgeport. Only the oldest brother, Waitman, has passed away.
Lauth said life was never easy for her brothers and sisters when they were young, but she's proud of the fact that she was able to grow up and raise a family of her own. Her only regret is not yet having found her youngest sister.
"I do feel like I've accomplished something in my life by being a good mother and raising four good children. But I can't help but think that there's still a chance to find my Margaret," she said.
Anyone having information about Margaret Francis Butcher can contact Lauth by writing to her at 9996 Ridge Road, Kinsman, OH, 44428.