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Posts Tagged ‘Fairborn’

(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.

LMM146

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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When the 1940 U.S. Census was released in digital form earlier this year, I used the 1930 Enumeration District converter by Steve Morse to begin locating grandparents and my parents. As each state was indexed in entirety, it became much easier to find relatives. Now that Ancestry has the complete 50 state index (and Familysearch is not too far behind), I wanted to see how many of my aunts and uncles I was able to find.

The verdict: all but two out of 8!

My paternal grandparents, Loyd and Ella Amore, are empty-nesters living at 1236 Vine in Tuscarawas Township in Coshocton County, Ohio. (I had previously written about this find at Census Saturday – 1940 Census Finds). Of their seven children, I located my dad and 4 of his siblings. My dad was stationed at Patterson Field (now Wright-Patterson Air Force Base) outside of Dayton, Ohio living in the Enlisted Men Barracks. His oldest sister, Gertrude, and her husband, Walter Shackelford, along with their two children resided at 611 Larzelere in Zanesville, Ohio.

611 Larzelere Ave.
Zanesville, Ohio
Source: Trulia, Neohrex

My dad’s other sister, Marie, and her husband Robert Werkley, are lodgers in a household at Morristown in Morris County, New Jersey. Both are involved in the Salvation Army.  His brother, Paul, is living in Plymouth, Wayne County, Michigan and his other brother, Bervil, is living with his wife and family, in Jackson Township, Coshocton, Ohio.

I am still looking for my dad’s other two brothers – (William) Gail Amore and Norman Edgar Amore.

My maternal grandparents, Glen and Vesta Johnson, as well as my mother, Mary, were enumerated in Fairfield (present day Fairborn), Greene County, Ohio, living at 40 Ohio Street.

40 Ohio St, Fairborn, Ohio (house on right)
Source: Trulia, @2012 Google

Besides my grandparents and mother, occupants also include my uncle – Glen Roy Jr., and my newborn brother, Jim. My grandparents had a family of lodgers living there – the Theodore Fern family.

My mother’s sister, Genevieve, was found as a nursing student at Miami Valley Hospital located at 134 Apple Street in Dayton, Ohio.

Miami Valley Hospital, Dayton, Ohio
Source: Esco Communications

The next people on the 1940 U.S. Census who I want to find are the siblings and their children of both sets of grandparents. I’ve already made a pretty good dent in that list.

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Katie before her accidentBorn on September 20, 1864 in Stoney Creek, a township of Madison County, Indiana, Katie Blazer, would barely remember her father.  Frank Blazer died when she was just five years old leaving her mother to raise three sons and three daughters under the age of 14.  Katie’s grandparents, John and Martha Goul, lived nearby and quite possibly her grandfather was her father-figure as she grew.

 

At the age of 19, on the Fourth of July, 1883, Katie married John Lafayette Johnson.  A wedding photo shows Katie standing next to her husband in the stereotypical picture of the times.  She was tall and thin with her black hair piled on top of her head.  Her dress was dark, probably the one good dress she owned.  Owing to the holiday, there were probably more family members and neighbors able to attend the nuptials.

 

The couple’s first child, Letis, was born almost four years later.  In childhood he developed epilepsy which caused horrific seizures and an “insane” quality to his behavior.  A mother watching her son spiral out of control would have lent a pall over the happiness of the family.  What gossip was spreading throughout the township and nearby towns?  Katie had a very difficult time conceiving another child, and Letis was 11 when his brother, Glen, was born.

 

The younger boy became the object of Letis’ violence.  He tried to cut off the younger boy’s ear and another time through a brick through the chicken coop.  His actions were most likely due to not being able to control the violence of the seizures and feeling as if he was being swept down into a whirlpool of despair.  Katie and John, obviously alone in what they were feeling and dealing with, placed Letis in the Indiana School for Feeble Minded Youth, hoping that their family life would find some normalcy. 

 

Eight years after Glen was born, the couple had the baby girl that Katie had always dreamed of having.  Unfortunately, Katie’s joy was short lived.  Mary lived only 7 months.  Their baby girl was gone – forever.

 

A few moths later a miracle came into their midst in the form of an angel appearing as a young, unwed mother.  The young woman had delivered a baby girl on the Interurban car in Fortville, Indiana.  At St. John’s hospital where she was taken after the birth, this girl saw Katie, who was visiting someone.  She pleaded with the dark-haired mother of two sons, to please raise her daughter.  The Catholic nuns allowed Katie and John to become the infant’s foster parents, although they never could adopt her.  The baby’s name became Eva – the baby girl Katie had waited for was finally hers. 

 

Five years after Eva arrived as their child, their first born son died at the Home of pneumonia.  Not only had they buried an infant daughter but now they had to bury their son.  Did they have immense guilt over his death or relief that he wasn’t suffering from the seizures and violence any longer?

 

Sometime between late 1921 and 1923, after her granddaughter, Mary, was born, Katie was driving a horse and buggy with her grandchild along side her when the buggy overturned.  The baby was fine but Katie broke her back.  Luckily, she wasn’t paralyzed but she had to remain bedridden in a back cast for a long time. 

 

While she was unable to move or get up, “gypsies” came in and cut off all of her long hair.  No one else was at home and able to stop them.  It’s unknown exactly what they wanted to do with it – other than sell it.

 

When Katie was finally able to get out of bed, she had a corset “cast” made that she wore to keep her back straight.  Unfortunately she wasn’t able to walk without the aid of crutches.  The granddaughter who was with her on that fateful buggy ride, remembers that when she and her older siblings got into mischief, Katie would charge after them waving her crutches around and sometimes connecting crutch to child.  Her body may have been injured but her spirit wasn’t.  It is told that she could move as fast as any football running back even on crutches.  She also didn’t let the fact that she was a woman in the early 20th century stop her from doing exactly what she wanted.

 

After being up and around for awhile, she applied for a driver’s license.  Apparently she was through riding in a buggy!  She fought and won the right to be granted her license and then drove from Indiana to Ohio to visit her brother.  She was a woman ahead of her time.

 

Not many years later, in the early spring of 1930, she and her husband moved to the small town of Fairfield, Ohio.  The town subsequently merged with the neighboring town, Osborne, in Greene County, to become the city of Fairborn.  They moved into the home of their son, Glen, and his family.  Possibly Katie knew what no one else did at that time.  That she was dying.  Stomach cancer was going to kill her as that buggy accident couldn’t.

 

As she lay in bed unaware of her surroundings during the last days or weeks of her illness, the story was told that downstairs off the kitchen, the door kept swinging open and shut.  When her son, Glen, or her husband would check to see if someone had come in, they found not a single person.  Locking the door and returning upstairs to the bedroom where Katie lay, it wasn’t long before the door began swinging open and shut again making a banging noise.  It was thought that the spirits of her deceased parents could be coming for her to take her to the world beyond the living.

 

Katie died a couple months after arriving in Ohio – May 20, 1930.  She was laid out in the parlor of the funeral home in Fairfield for the local relatives and friends to pay their respects before she was taken to the place she had called home, Madison County, Indiana.  There she was buried in Maple Wood Cemetery near her oldest son and infant daughter and where her husband would join her in eternal rest nine years and eight days later.

 

Katie lived and died on her terms – not those set down by society or her family.  She will be remembered as a strong and determined woman – a woman that her great-granddaughter wishes she could have met.

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