A marital mystery

I have a little mystery I look forward to solving (somehow). My paternal great grandparents (my father’s father’s parents) were married in 1893, when my great grandmother, Hattie, was 18 (a month shy of 19) and my great grandfather, Elmer, was 21. They were living together in the 1900, 1910, and 1920 censuses. (I noticed on the 1910 census that Hattie had had six children, but only four survived.)

In the 1930 census, however, I found Hattie, but she wasn’t living with Elmer. Instead, she’s listed as a landlady of a boarding house in Olympia, Washington, the state capital. And she’s still at the same home (with 9 boarders) in 1940. But she is listed as married.

Where’s Elmer? My father says they split (though apparently they didn’t divorce…Hattie is listed as having another source of income in 1940…was Elmer supporting her?). My dad said it really wasn’t discussed much, though my father was in his 13 when Elmer died and in his 20s when Hattie died.

So I want to find Elmer on the 1930 and 1940 censuses. And when I’m visiting her in August, perhaps I’ll pump my aunt (my father’s sister) for information on her grandparents. Maybe it was discussed more around her. So far, I’m hitting a wall.