Middle initials, dates of birth and places of birth seem to be the most unreliable. I use them as clues and corroboration, but never as proof. (There are coincidences: I found 3 couples named William & Dorcas Canfield in 3 different states in the same time frame.) Besides the problems of creative spelling and illegible handwriting, you don't know who the informant was. It might be a 10-year old step-child or maybe even a neighbor. Also, I don't think people from a century ago had the same sense of maps and borders that we have.
I certainly think that is your Gladys in the census records, but until you find a birth certificate, she may have been born in either TN or KY. The death record from California is only as accurate as the informant. She was about 80 when she died and she lived in various places (her SS# was issued in Illinois). Have you tried getting information from Social Security. I know they give family information, but I don't know how to apply.
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