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Thriller Thursday – The Disappearance of Sena Roberg

One of the stories that sparked my early interest in genealogy and family history is that of Sena Roberg. Born June 2, 1884 in Boone County, Nebraska to Anders and Agnette Roberg, she was the younger sister of my great-grandmother Sophie (Roberg) Wilson. My grandma, in relating to me the history of her family, stated simply that Sena had “disappeared” and that no one ever knew what became of her.

She appears in the 1900 census with her parents and brothers, apparently nicknamed “Sadie.”  Three years later she married Charles A. Johnson, born about 1873. On August 9, 1906 their daughter Esther was born. As has been detailed before, in October 1908 Charles traveled to enter a homestead drawing but never returned, having been run over by a train at the Oakdale (Nebraska) Railroad Yards. Sena was apparently expecting another child at this time.

In the 1910 census, Sena is again living with her parents and two daughters: Esther, age 3, and Clara, age 1. Research by cousin David Johnson reveals a history of legal disputes over Sena’s inheritance from her husband, guardianship of her daughters, and compensation demanded as a result of Charles Johnson’s death.

Sena married at least twice more – once to H. E. Fisher around 1911, then to a Mr. Evans (a traveling salesman) before 1915. I have yet to find her in any other census records. According to stories told by her sister Sophie, she later moved to Omaha, came home for a visit, then returned to Omaha to have minor surgery, and was never heard from again, in spite of newspaper advertisements attempting to locate her.

Her daughters on April 6, 1915 had been placed under the guardianship of their grandfather Anders, though they may have continued to live with a family named Bruland. I’m unsure what became of Clara, but Esther would marry John Bowen and remain in touch with her cousin, my grandmother, over the years.  Esther died February 23, 1997 in Nebraska.

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