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Posts Tagged ‘Anderson’

(I started this blogging prompt late in the month so will try to catch up!)
Lisa Alzo of The Accidental Genealogist has listed blogging prompts for each day of March to celebrate Women’s History Month. The blog prompt for March 12 – Working girl: Did your mother or grandmother work outside the home? What did she do? Describe her occupation.

clawsonstore

W.F. Clawson store in Anderson, Indiana

My maternal grandmother, Vesta Wilt, helped out in the store owned by her step-father, William Frank Clawson, prior to her marriage.  The Clawson’s store was located in Anderson, Indiana. That is about the only job outside of the home she ever had. Vesta was better known for being an excellent homemaker and making so many of her family and friends feel welcome in the homes she shared with her husband, my grandfather, Glen R. Johnson. He always held a position of importance in the military so my grandmother was always prepared to entertain other officers.

My paternal grandmother, Ella (House) Amore, worked in the Coshocton Glove factory. I don’t know if it was before she was married or after she was married with children.

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Mary Amore using her knitting machine

Mom spent more time working outside of the home than she did as a full time homemaker. She worked as a bookkeeper, a seamstress, a grant writer, a secretary, and in accounting.  She didn’t complete her working “life” until 2003 – at the age of 81. With only a high school education, Mom was very fortunate to obtain some of the positions that she had. As a small child, I was lucky that she was a stay at home mom for awhile. When she did re-enter the workforce, it was as a seamstress for a drapery manufacturer. Then a few years later, she went to work for Apple Manufacturing in downtown Dayton. They worked on contracts for the U.S. Army making cargo covers among other items. It was heavy, dirty work and she didn’t get much more than what the law allowed for minimum wage. Very rarely did she have to miss work due to illness because if she had, she would not have gotten paid. She didn’t have much in common with the people she worked with. Yet she was there for almost 10 years before the government contracts stopped and the plant closed its doors. She painstakingly sent out feelers and resumes and stayed employed. Not only was she a professional seamstress out in the workforce, but Mom was a professional home seamstress. She was very good and for awhile when I was in elementary and middle school, she had regular clients who came to our home. She mainly did alterations but ocassionally would sew clothes – even our neighbor’s wedding dress. She had a knitting machine (see picture above) and took classes on how to be an instructor. Dad and I would drive her to other lady’s homes so she could teach others how to use the machine. Now that knitting machine is mine.

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Mom as a Senior Aide & Grant Writer at the Fairborn Senior Center – mid 1990s

(All photos – original and digital owned by Wendy Littrell, Address for Private Use)

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In my previous post from last Thursday, Treasure Chest Thursday – Items from a Box (Part 1), I wrote about a picture I found in one of the many small boxes of photos and ephemera I have. Today, I’m pulling out one of my grandmother’s grade cards!

Vesta Wilt was born on May 7, 1898 in Noblesville, Hamilton County, Indiana. By the time she was in 7th grade in 1911, her parents had divorced. Her mother and her aunt’s widower had married and were living in Anderson in Madison County, Indiana. She attended Anderson Public Schools and the principal was Eva DeBruler. When she started school in September of 1911, she was in “B” Class of grade 7. In the second semester, she was in “A” Class of grade 7 and by the end of the school year, she was promoted to the “B” Class of grade 8. Her mother signed “M. Clawson” for each month of the two terms of the school year except for the last – May.

My grandmother received A’s, B+’s, and B’s  in all of her subjects (Conduct, Reading, Writing, Spelling, Arithmetic, Language, Geography, Sewing, and History). Grammar was crossed out and Sewing was written in. She took one month of Music during her first term, and she only missed one day during the first month of school.

Stay tuned for more Items from a Box!

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I wish I could just add a photo and keep it wordless – unfortunately, I can’t!  This photo was taken on July 30, 1916 at the occasion of William Frank Clawson’s 58th birthday!  “Frank” was my maternal great-grandmother’s 2nd husband.  Standing left to right: John Stern, Frank Clawson, George Fouch. Seated left to right: Mary Stern, Martha Clawson (my great-grandmother), Mollie Fouch.

John Stern was Martha’s older brother who was married to Mary Ann Betts.  Mollie (Mary) Fouch was Frank’s sister who was married to George Fouch.  I am pretty sure this photo was taken in Anderson, Indiana, where the Clawson’s lived.

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The photo above was taken by a friend of my grandparents pre-1920 in Anderson, Madison, Indiana. Glen R. Johnson (my maternal grandfather) is standing in between the two headstones and my grandmother, Vesta C. Wilt, is leaning on George Hefler’s headstone. The gal on the right, leaning on Sarah Boltin’s headstone, is a friend of the couple.

When I checked Find a Grave, I noticed that the current picture of George’s stone is very difficult to read. Time and weather has deteriorated the readability – at least via a photo. At the time of the above photo, Sarah Boltin (George’s second wife), was still living. Currently on Find a Grave, it shows that her tombstone has broken off at the base and is laying on the ground. I have cropped a picture of each stone in the above photo and added them to Find a Grave.

I do not believe that George Hefler nor Sarah Boltin are related in any way to my grandparents – the names have not come up in my research. The cemetery –  Grove Lawn in Pendleton, Madison County, Indiana – is also the final resting place for many of my grandfather’s relatives – Johnson’s, Goul’s, and Blazer’s.

 

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There are a good number of my maternal ancestors and collateral families who moved to, were born in, or resided in Indiana for quite awhile. I have several databases I use in order to gather leads or to find records.

Indiana Room of the Anderson (Madison County) Public Library. This is where I find Cemetery Records for 98 cemeteries within that county. Obituary Record index from the Anderson Daily Bulletin (1921-1967).

The Muncie / Delaware County Digital Resource Library has enabled me to find court records, obituaries, funeral home information and burial information on my ancestors that lived in Delaware County.

Indiana Marriages (1811-1959) from Family Search Record Search has recently been updated and has enabled me to locate several more marriage records.

The General Indiana database listing and the Localities in Indiana database listing on Cyndi’s List has also yielded results.

When I am digging for more information, I first look to see if that county or town has an online genealogical presence, if there is an online genealogy database at the public library in that location, if I can find court records or online obituaries. I use Google as my search engine and while I’m there, I check Google Books for county Histories, Biographies, genealogical quarterlies, and other digitized books or pamphlets that could include the researched ancestor.

Once I’ve found a listing for an obituary or death, I can request a copy from the genealogy society or library at that location – usually for a small fee. If the name is spelled differently than what I have listed, I can do further searching on Find A Grave, Rootsweb, or other genealogy databases.

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An update has been made to Mingling of Families and Murder. Please click on the link to be taken to more of the story!

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Since this post was published, I’ve located more information – see below for the update!

A wealthy man and a postmaster
An argument over a ditch
A revolver came out and several shots fired
Some of them never hit
A shed to hide
A suicide

The story of the attempted murder of John James Johnson by Coleman Hawkins in a nutshell.  Just who were these men?  Were they more than just neighbors?

John James Johnson
John J. Johnson, oldest son and third child of Jacob and Ann (Shields) Johnson, was born on October 8, 1821 in Byrd Township, Brown County, Ohio.  He moved with his parents and siblings to Rush County, Indiana by 1840 and married Dolly Mullis on March 4, 1848 in Union Township of that county.  Dolly was the sister of Amanda Mullis, wife of John’s brother, James Wilson Johnson. 

The couple were enumerated in the 1850 US Census living in Marion Twp in Rush County with their one year old daughter, Ann M. Johnson.  John, 27, listed his occupation as a Farmer.  They aren’t easily found in the 1860 Census but they had moved to Stoney Creek, Madison County, Indiana by 1870.  Two children are living with them – Rosa, age 12, and John, age 7.  Dolly’s siblings, Sophia (age 55) and Thomas (age 42) are also residing in their household.  By 1880 Rosa had married and was widowed.  She and her son, Edward Milburn, age 3, were living with John and Dolly as well as brother, John. 

Elizabeth Blazer
Elizabeth was born to John and Mary Ann (Nelson) Blazer in the mid-1840s.  She was enumerated with her parents on the 1850 Census living in Fall Creek, Madison County, Indiana.  For a long time she was “missing”.  She would have been more than 20 in the 1860 Census and probably married, yet the name of her husband was unknown.  Unbeknownst to me – I had found her in the 1870 and 1880 Censuses – I just didn’t know it yet!

Coleman Hawkins
This man was born about 1832 in Virginia.  I only knew about him through newspaper articles and biographical data from “The History of Madison County”.  He is living in Stoney Creek Twp, Madison County, Ohio in the 1870 Census.  His residence was adjacent to the John James Johnson family.  He had a wife and eight children.  In the 1880 Census, Mr. Hawkins and his family are living in the same spot.  Seven of the older children are still living there along with two that had been born since the 1870 Census.  Coleman Hawkins would not see another census.

The Incident
Historical sketches and reminiscences of Madison county, Indiana (John L. Forkner, Byron H. Dyson; Publisher: Forkner; 1897; pages 965-968) recounts that Coleman Hawkins, a very wealthy man, had been a resident of Stoney Creek township for a number of years and lived close to the postmaster, John J. Johnson.  The Midland Railway – near Johnson’s Crossing, was in the vicinity of their homes.  Hawkins and Johnson had maintained a good relationship for many years until 1888.  At that time a ditch had been constructed that ran through the neighborhood.  On December 5, 1888 Johnson took a mail pouch to the train and saw Mr. Hawkins there.  Once the train had left the station, Hawkins inquired whether his neighbor could stop the construction of the ditch.  Apparently similar conversations had occurred prior for Johnson told him that he’d already answered that question.  Hawkins obviously wasn’t happy with that answer and pulled a revolver on Johnson, who turned and walked away – possibly not believing that the other man would really fire at him.  Yet Coleman Hawkins did just that.  

“. . .  the shot taking effect in the back just left of the spinal column and below the shoulder blade. Johnson ran into the stationhouse and closed the door after him. As he shut the door another pistol shot was fired, the ball just passing the door. Hawkins then rushed to the window, about six feet from the door, broke out a pane of glass, and fired four or five additional shots, two of which took effect in Mr. Johnson’s body, one on the left side of the face and the other in the forearm. One shot passed through the stove pipe in the room and another through the ceiling. Johnson now opened the door and ran out past Hawkins into a field that led to his residence. Hawkins, having emptied the chambers of the revolver, drew a second one and resumed pursuit of his victim. He fired four additional shots, one of which lodged in Johnson’s right shoulder. Four bullet holes were found in his coat in different places where his body had escaped injury. Johnson ran until his strength was fast failing, when he turned upon his pursuer and clinched him, forcing him to the earth.”

At that time Rosa Johnson, John’s daughter, ran toward the two farmers after she had heard the gunshots.  Without thought to her own safety, she wrangled the gun out of the hands of Coleman Hawkins.  Another neighborhood resident had heard the commotion and came to the two men.  Both men agreed to let each other go.

What should have been the end of the violence – was not.  Apparently Hawkins was either still enraged or looking toward the future of being tried for attempted murder, that he entered a barn on his farm and shot himself.  His wife and son, Rufus, had tried to follow him when they saw him go toward the barn but they didn’t reach him in time.

The ditch that seemed to lay at the center of the quarrel had been awarded by the court so that Johnson could drain his land.  He had requested Hawkins give him an outlet for three to four years but had been refused.  So Johnson had turned to the court and the court had forced the construction of the ditch through Hawkins’ land.

It was also discovered that the pistols that Hawkins had used to fire upon Johnson and to commit suicide had been purchased the day prior to the incident at the railway station.

The conclusion of the story read,  “The remains of Coleman Hawkins were interred in the Anderson cemetery, over which was erected a handsome granite shaft that can be plainly seen from the Alexandria road as the traveler turns to the right after passing out of the iron bridge crossing White river.  The widow of Coleman Hawkins yet resides on the old farm, and has earned for herself the reputation of being one of the best farm managers in the county, having carefully preserved the fortune left her by her husband.”

George Hawkins
The son of Coleman Hawkins born about 1860 ended up marrying the niece of John J. and Dolly (Mullis) Johnson on July 30, 1881.  Olive Belle Johnson was born in August 1865 to James Wilson and Amanda (Mullis) Johnson.  The couple had three children – Urmine, Vesta and Lucy.  It is believed that George died between 1884 and 1887 since Olive married again.

John Lafayette Johnson and Katie Blazer
My maternal great-grandparents resided in and married in Madison County, Indiana.  Katie’s father, Franklin Blazer, had died when she was a small girl.  I found her uncles, John and George Blazer but her aunts – Mary Jane and Elizabeth still remained elusive.  Or were they? 

I re-read a letter my grandfather, Glen R. Johnson (son of John and Katie), had sent to my cousin’s mother.

glen_letter

“My uncle on my mother side Uncle Cole Hawkins shot Uncle John Johnson and then killed himself.  My mother was a young girl at the time this happened and she worked for Aunt Lib Hawkins and Uncle Cole.  Uncle John Johnson did not die from being shot but he carried the bullet in his body until he died several years later.”

Somehow Coleman Hawkins and his wife, “Lib” (Elizabeth), were related to my grandfather through his mother.  Could Elizabeth Hawkins be Franklin Blazer’s sister, Elizabeth?  I didn’t have enough documentation to say for sure but I was going on the assumption that she was.  I couldn’t find any other relationship other than through the Johnson side and the marriage of my grandfather’s aunt to the Hawkins’ son, George.

I had spent some time earlier in my research to dig up information on the children of Coleman and Elizabeth in case I could verify any other relationships.

Mary Jane Blazer
Then I ran across a listing in the 1870 US Census for an “MJ Webb” living next door to Franklin’s brother’s family.  “MJ” and her husband, Marion, were enumerated with four children.  The only reason this jumped out at me is because in the George and Amanda Blazer household is “Jas Webb, blacksmith”.  Going back to the Historical sketches and reminiscences of Madison county, Indiana, I located an entry about Jasper Webb as a blacksmith.  The Blazer family obviously had close ties with the Webb family.  Could “MJ” Webb actually be Mary Jane Blazer?  The 1880 Census for the Webb family lists Marion Webb, age 40, living with his wife, Mary J. Webb, age 38, and children, Tena, Rufus, Lydia, Wilson, and Horace.  By the 1900 Census, Mary J. Webb is widowed and lists herself as a mother of 6 children – all living.  Living with her is her son, Horace, and daughter, Maud.  Mary J. Webb is also found in the 1910 Census and living with her is her daughter, Maud, with husband and small daughter.  The last census she is found is the 1920 Census living with her widowed son, Rufus.  The Indiana Room at the Anderson Public Library shows that Mary J. Webb’s obituary was published in the June 7, 1929 edition of the local newspaper.

Tena Stanley
I’ve had a photograph in my possession for quite sometime of Elizabeth Hawkins and Tena Stanley.  Trying to figure out how Tena Stanley fit into my family tree, I’d contacted the Indiana Room for Tena’s obituary.  They emailed me four news accounts.  I went back over each one.  The one published in the Anderson Herald on April 8, 1942 listed her survivors as one brother, Horace Webb, and a sister, Maud Peterson. BINGO! 

tena_stanley

That was more documentation that Tena Stanley had once been Tena Webb.  And with the picture I had of Tena and Elizabeth – that led me to believe that Tena and Elizabeth were related – which it appeared that Elizabeth was Tena’s aunt – sister of Tena’s mother, Mary Jane Blazer Webb.  

tenastanley_elizabethhawkins

So the tangled family tree looks like this:
Katie J. Blazer: My maternal great-grandmother’s uncle by marriage, Coleman Hawkins, who was married to her father’s sister, Elizabeth Blazer, shot her husband’s (John Lafayette Johnson) uncle, John James Johnson.  My great-grandfather’s aunt, Olive Belle Johnson, married Coleman and Elizabeth’s son, George HawkinsTena Webb married for the last time to Nelson Stanley, and was the niece of Elizabeth Blazer Hawkins and Franklin Blazer and first cousin to my great-grandmother, Katie J. Blazer.

So what happened to John James Johnson?  He lived four more years after being shot by Coleman Hawkins, dying from heart disease in an instant. 

UPDATE: Not only did Olive B. Johnson marry into the Hawkins family, but so did her cousin, John Marshall Johnson, son of John James Johnson - the man Coleman Hawkins shot!  Marshall – as he was known – married Hawkins’ daughter, Rosa Jane.  There was probably quite a bit of tension in the Marshall and Rosa Johnson household after the shooting incident – yet the couple, who married on December 17, 1881, remained married until Marshall’s death in 1921.  Their union produced seven children – Walter, Roy, Grover, Alta, James Leroy, Georgia and Arris. 

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Many times when we find an obituary of an ancestor or a member of a collateral family, we skim over the details without really taking it apart.  I will list some obituaries that I have found or that I have copies of and analyze them part by part.

ONE:

Funeral Services for John Lafe Johnson – Full name was John Lafayette Johnson, his nieces and nephews called him Uncle Lafe as there were many in the family named “John”.  The inclusion and shortening of his middle name was to make sure that extended family knew precisely that this was their family member.

age 78 – Age is given so if there is another member of the community with a similar name, this information would be enough to differentiate them.

former resident of Anderson – He had lived in Anderson most of his life and was well known in that town, however he had not lived in that location for about 9 years.  This information shows he still had family ties in that locale.

who died Sunday – Day of the week instead of the actual date.

at the home of a son, Glen Johnson, of Fairfield, O. – where the death took place.  By saying “a” son, this seems to indicate that John had more than one son – which he did – however, the oldest, Letis, had been deceased for many years.  This also gives the name of the son and where he lived.

will be held today at 2 p.m. in the Bob Waltz funeral home with the Rev. James H. Welsh, pastor of the East Lynn Christian Church in charge. – Day, time and location of funeral services.  Provides information on what type of officiant will be handling the service.  By naming a minister of a particular church, this is one way to deduct that the deceased had some affiliation either with the Pastor, that particular church, or that denomination.

Burial will be in Maplewood Cemetery. - Location of burial.  No city is listed indicating that it is in the same city as the newspaper location (Anderson, Indiana).

The body will arrive at the funeral home this morning. – Indicates death took place in another location and the deceased will be transported to the funeral home this same morning.

Questions I have after reading this one include:

  • How many children did John Johnson have?
  • Who were his survivors and how are they related?
  • What was his wife’s name?
  • Was she still alive or had she died?
  • Why was John at his son’s home?
  • Why was that particular minister in charge of the funeral?
  • Was he a member of the Christian Church in Anderson, Indiana?
  • What was the exact date of death?
  • Had John been ill?
  • Was his death sudden?
  • Was he a native of Anderson or had he been born somewhere else?
  • Who were his parents?
  • What occupation(s) had he held in his life?

*   *   *   *   *   *   *   *   *   *

TWO:

This clipping is very similar to ONE except for a four things.  First: It states in bold headlines that “Johnson Funeral To Be Wednesday”.  This suggests that the obituary ran at least a day or two prior to the funeral as opposed to ONE, which suggests the funeral is that same day.  Second: Throughout the clipping, it also states Wednesday as the day of the funeral.  This answers the question – what day of the week the funeral will be held. Third: this obituary states “East Maplewood Cemetery” instead of just Maplewood.  This details the exact cemetery (as there is a West and East).  Fourth: Adding on to the last sentence it states, “to lie in state until the hour of the funeral.”  Now it is learned that the body not only will be transported to the funeral home, but there will be a time when visitors may pay their respects to the deceased and family until time for the funeral.

*  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *

THREE:

I also have the original typewritten copy that my grandfather, Glen R. Johnson, prepared for the obituary.  It reads:

JOHN LAFAYETTE JOHNSON, son of James W. and Amanda Johnson (nee Mullis) was born March 2, 1861 in Rush County, Indiana. His early boyhood was spent in and around Rushville and Kokomo, Indiana. While a very young man he settled in Madison County, near Anderson, Indiana. On July 4, 1883 he was married to Katie J. Blazer. To this union were born two sons, Letus W. and Glen R. In 1910 a foster daughter, Eva, came to bless the home. Letus, the older son, passed away in 1915. Shortly after coming to Anderson, Indiana, in 1889, to make their home they became identified with the Central Christian church and continued as active members until leaving there in March, 1930, due to illness of Mrs. Johnson, to make their home with their son Glen and family at Fairfield, Ohio. On May 20, 1930, Mrs. Johnson passed away and Mr. Johnson continued Living with his son until his death on May 28, 1939. In 1889 he entered the employ of American Steel and Wire Company at Anderson. In 1904 he entered business for himself as a fruit and vegetable peddler. After taking up his residence in Fairfield, he continued to sell fruit and vegetables during the spring and summer month, until the fall of 1938. Since January this year he had been in failing health, but did not become seriously ill until last Friday and died at 10:30 A.M., Sunday, May 28th, at the age of 78 years, 2 months, and 26 days. He leaves to mourn his passing his son Glen R. and daughter Mrs. Eva Skinner of Fortville, Indiana, and 4 grandchildren.

Extra details given include:

  • Parents names, including maiden name of his mother
  • Date and place of birth
  • Locales of his youth
  • Date and to whom he was married
  • Names of his children, including details about one son being deceased and what year and that his daughter was a “foster” daughter and the date she came to live with the family.
  • Year that he settled with his family in the town of Anderson.
  • Church he joined and was affiliated with.
  • Reason he and his wife left Anderson to move to Ohio with their son.
  • Date of his wife’s death.
  • His continuation to live with his son after his wife’s death.
  • Date of his death.
  • Year of his employment, company name, and location.
  • His own business venture and the date.
  • Continuation of his own business after moving to his son’s and the date he retired.
  • How long he had been ill.
  • Exact age at death.
  • Those family members who survive him.

If this obituary had been printed in full, I would also have these questions:

  • Is a funeral to take place?
  • Where?
  • When?
  • Who will be in charge?
  • Where will he be buried?

As a genealogist, I long to find obituaries written in the form that my grandfather typed for his father.  There is a wealth of information.  More than ONE or TWOTHREE records a more accurate timeline of my great-grandfather’s life.  Many questions asked of the first two clippings are answered in the typewritten obituary.

When you discover an obituary, disect it to see if it gives you the answers to pertinent questions.  Sometimes I’ve been lucky to find not one or even two but three different obituaries for the same person.  Then I need to disect each one to retrieve details that are exactly alike and then see what is left.  More often than not, one or two items are conflicting.  Possibly a survivor’s name is listed wrong or in my great-grandfather’s case, the middle name is shortened in the newspaper clippings but his full legal name is used in the typewritten obituary.  There will always be unanswered questions, but being able to pick out each piece of information will give us a better understanding of our ancestors.

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I believe I’ve mentioned my maternal great-grandmother, Martha Jane Stern, in previous posts.  She was the mother of my mother’s mom, Vesta Christena Wilt.  Martha was born on February 9, 1872 in Clarksville, Hamilton County, Indiana to Emanuel Bushong Stern (descendent of the Stern and Bushong families) and Nancy Caylor (descendent of the Kohler/Caylor and Kinsey families).

When Martha was 18, she married 22 year old Joseph Napolean Wilt in Delaware County, Indiana on September 10, 1890.  Between July 1891 and April 1906, the couple had 4 sons and 2 daughters (it is also reported that they had a son who died at birth – but I have yet to find proper documentation).  My grandmother, Vesta, was the oldest daughter and fourth child.

When the youngest, Clifford, was a little more than two years old, the couple had separated.  I’ve written about the bench warrant that was sworn out for Joe Wilt in “An Early Divorce”. Martha’s sister, Margaret Ellen Stern, had married William Franklin (Frank) Clawson in 1882 but Margaret died in April 1908.  On New Years’ Eve 1910, Frank and Martha married and combined their families. 

The family ran a store in Anderson, Madison County, Indiana.  When my great-aunt, Nellie, was diagnosed with asthma, Martha and Frank took her and Clifford to Leaburg, Oregon.  My grandmother had already married and they were living with my grandfather’s parents.  It was many years before my grandmother saw her mother again because people just didn’t cross the country for a “visit”.  She took her grandson, my brother, to visit Grandma Clawson (which is what we all called her), when he was just a few years old.  My mom has always said that my brother met Grandma before she did. 

Frank passed away on May 23, 1923 – not too many years after they arrived in Leaburg.  After John returned from WWI, he moved to Oregon to be close to his mother.  Frank’s son, Ralph, also spent time in the Northwest.  Frank’s daughter, Nancy Clawson Welch, had moved to California and died two years before her father. 

I don’t know if Martha’s sons, Jesse and Clarence, ever saw their mother again.  I’ve not heard or read anything that mentions either one of them taking a trip out to Oregon to visit her and I know she didn’t travel east after she’d moved.

Martha died on November 6, 1956 of congestive heart failure.  She was 84 years old.  Funeral services were held at Buell Chapel and she was buried in Greenwood Cemetery in Leaburg, Oregon.

I wasn’t able to meet my great-grandmother and only know her through the stories my grandmother and my mom have told me.  I also have several letters she wrote to my grandmother.  She was highly respected by her children and loved very much.

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Rummaging through the old photographs at my mom’s house in 2000, I came across one with the name “Chase Noonan and Friends” on the back.  Who is or was he, I wondered. My mom told me he was Aunt Mat’s son.

Martha Blazer, also known as “Aunt Mat”, was the oldest daughter and second child of Franklin Blazer and Malissa Goul.  She was the sister of my great-grandmother, Katie J. Blazer and my elusive great-great-aunt Rachel Blazer Given.

My mother remembers a woman who she called “dirty” – probably because she chewed tobacco.  She said when Aunt Mat would visit they had to get her a “spit” bucket.  My mom thought Aunt Mat had another son besides Chase but I’ve yet to find one.

I came across Martha Hardman in the 1900 Census living in Anderson, Madison County, Indiana on what looks like Central.  She was 39 years old and widowed.  She listed that she had one child who was still alive.  Also in the household was Thomas C. Noonan (born July 1887), age 12.

The Madison County Marriage Index lists that Martha Blazier (sic) married John Noonan on July 4, 1887.  Martha married Peter Hardman on March 19, 1893.  That was about all the information I found for Martha besides her obituary stating that she died on March 10, 1948 in Anderson, Indiana.  It listed her age as 87 and that she was survived by one son, Chase Noonan, of Anderson.

For several years that was all the information I had about Martha and her son.  I did know that Chase had married and had a daughter, Ruth, as I’d come across pictures of “Mrs. Chase Noonan and daughter, Ruth”.  No matter where I looked, I couldn’t seem to find any further mention of Chase, his wife, or Ruth.  That is until I ran across a 1930 Census taken in Bexar County, Texas.  It showed Ruth was living at Ursuline Academy in San Antonio, age 15.  I then looked further into that Census and found Chase, aged 40, widowed, living as a boarder in an unrelated household.

What happened to Chase’s wife?  More importantly what was her name?  And how did the family get from Indiana to San Antonio?

Thanks to my local library, I can access the Census records from Heritage Quest, and found Chase (listed as Charles T.) – age 30, his wife, Agnes – age 28, daughter, Ruth Martha – age 3, and son, William E. (looks like 14 but I believe it’s 4) born in Ohio, in San Antonio in the 1920 Census.  Chase’s occupation was a machinist.  I finally had a name for his wife plus I located a son!

When Familysearch digitized Texas death records, I learned that Agnes Hughes Noonan was born on Oct. 2, 1891 in Mayo, Northern Ireland.  That corresponds to the 1930 Census for Ruth where she lists her mother being born in Northern Ireland.  She was the daughter of John Hughes and Mary (no maiden name listed).  Agnes died on Feb. 23, 1923 at her home at 221 E. Georgia Ave., San Antonio, Texas of what appears to be chronic myocarditia.  On the death certificate Chase is listed as “Chase T. Noonan”.  Agnes was buried at Mission Burial Park in San Antonio.

Then I found William Emmett Noonan at Kelly Field, San Antonio in the 1930 Census.  He lists his birthplace as Ohio (which I found out later is probably correct as it has been claimed that Chase and family lived in northern Ohio for a short time).  William’s age was 26, he was in the Special Services, a soldier in the U.S. Army, and it looks like it reads 44th School Squadron.   I believe I also located a death record for William that shows he passed away on March 15, 1956 in Bexar County, Texas.  Unfortunately, I can’t get into the death record to find out if this is the correct person.

Through some newspaper clippings, I located Ruth’s graduation from Ursuline Convent when she took her vows to become a nun.  She took the name Sister Mary Rebecca in June 1939.  She was teaching at St. Patrick’s Parochial School in Galveston.

When Ancestry had free access to military records a couple months ago, I found a WWII Registration card dated April 27, 1942 for Chase that lists his full name as Chase Thomas Noonan, born July 9, 1888 in Anderson, Indiana.  He was living at the Stillwell Hotel in Anderson, Indiana and his telephone exchange was 5596.  He was also employed by the Stillwell Hotel.  Chase listed that his daughter would always know his address and he listed her as Sister Mary Rebecca, living at the Ursuline Convent in Galveston, Texas.  He stood 5’ 5½” tall and weighed 150 lbs.  Chase had light complexion, brown eyes and black hair. 

When I contacted the Indiana Room at the Anderson Public Library, I was pleasantly surprised to receive via email several news clippings concerning Chase, his father, John Noonan and Aunt Mat.  They detailed that John had been ill and hospitalized and then his subsequent death on Oct. 16, 1921 at St. John’s hospital.  It was also thought that he had never married and had no known heirs (other than his late sister’s widower) to his estate that was estimated over $60,000.  Aunt Mat apparently read that news article and went straight to work.  She put out a search for her son, whom she had not seen since one visit in 1910 after he’d left Anderson.  She revealed to the Anderson newspaper that she and John (Jack) Noonan had married in 1885 and divorced less than two years – although Aunt Mat said Chase was born in 1886 less than a year into her marriage.  She said that her son had been employed by an auto company in Cleveland in 1910.  Jack and Chase had seen each other from time to time and remained on friendly terms throughout his childhood but Mat had not seen or spoken to her ex-husband after Chase left Anderson in 1907.  Mat also appealed to the War Dept. hoping they had a record for her son.  In the same news article, she revealed that she had been married not twice, but three times.  Her second husband, Peter Hardman, she married in 1891 and he died in 1900.  During a trip to the East in 1905 she met and married a man named Matoon.  She left him very soon after that and returned to using her second husband’s name.

An article also emailed to me dated Dec. 5, 1922 claims that Chase had been located and would receive $2,500 from his father’s estate.  The rest had been gifted to friends and in-laws shortly before John Noonan’s death.  When he returned to Anderson, he brought his eight year old daughter, Ruth, with him.

Another newspaper article suggests that Chase had married for a second time to a woman named Pauline Elese (maiden name unknown) as a Divorce Proceeding Listing was located in the San Antonio Light, March 8, 1932 edition.

In that email there was also a death notice for Chase (whom I was unable to locate in the Texas death records).  He had returned to live and work in Anderson (as listed on the April 1942 military registration) and was employed by the Delco Remy plant as an inspector.  He died on Feb. 2, 1949 from a skull fracture after an accidental fall.  His daughter, listed as Miss Ruth Rosaleen Noonan from Chicago, was reported as his survivor.  He was taken back to San Antonio and buried in the family plot at Mission Burial Park.

I think I’ve documented many facts in my research into Aunt Mat and Chase Noonan.  I haven’t been able to locate any further information on either Ruth or William.  It looks unlikely that they had any children which leaves me with a cold trail up to the present and several unanswered questions.

I’ve also discovered that not everything can be found at one time.  It might take several years, the kindness of strangers, and pieces of information that had seemed unlikely at first in order to piece together enough of the puzzle to be able to tell what the full picture probably is.  I believe I’m done chasing Chase.

(Photos from Top – Chase Noonan (L) & Friends; Aunt Mat (Martha Blazer) and son, Chase Noonan; Mrs. Chase Noonan and daughter, Ruth; Agnes Hughes Noonan’s Death Certificate; WWII Registration for Chase Noonan.)

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