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Posts Tagged ‘Photographs’

The theme for the 4th Edition of Smile For the Camera hosted by footnotemaven is “My Favorite Photograph”. “Choose a photograph of an ancestor, relative, yourself, or an orphan photograph that is your favorite family photo or that photograph you’ve collected and wouldn’t give up for a King’s ransom.  Is it the only photograph of an ancestor, is it funny, poignant, or very rare? My favorite photograph is the first one I ever collected. What’s yours? Share it with us! Then get back out in the summer sun.  Your submission may include as many or as few words as you feel are necessary to describe your treasured photograph. Those words may be in the form of an expressive comment, a quote, a journal entry, a poem (your own or a favorite), a scrapbook page, or a heartfelt article. The choice is yours!”

Jasia, at Creative Gene, had the same reaction I did – “you’ve got to be kidding!”

I can’t even begin to pick out just one!  With four children and three grandchildren, I have tons of pictures of each of them or a combination that I really love.  I also have several photos of my parents taken early in their marriage that I really like.  However, they divorced over 30 years ago, so it probably isn’t prudent for me to post those.

This photo shows my maternal grandmother, Vesta Wilt, about age 7 and her only sister, Nellie (about age 4).  It’s one of the few photos I have of my grandmother as a child.  As a child, I always wanted my hair to grow really long but having baby fine hair, it never got that long.  I tended to have pretty short hair as a young girl until I got old enough to decide I wanted to let it grow.  My mother always said that I had the same type of hair as my grandmother’s – curly and unmanageable.

The first time I saw this photo, I believe I was a very young teenager.  Many of my grandmother’s friends always told me I looked like her (I still don’t notice that much of a resemblance other than the fly-away hair and blue eyes).  Yet it brought home to me the fact that at one time, my grandmother and great-aunt had been children! 

I often wonder if this studio photograph had been an expense that their parents could hardly afford since they had four other sons to feed as well.  Was this the only photograph taken of my grandmother has a girl?  Had there been others – possibly a family photograph?  Was this taken for a special ocassion?  How long had my great-grandmother spent brushing my grandmother’s hair and getting it fixed just right?

When I look at this photo, I wonder what that young girl was thinking.  Her parents were just a few years away from divorcing; her youngest brother was just a baby; and her mother was pretty religious.  What events were shaping her character and thoughts at that time?  Did she enjoy a carefree childhood or one spent worrying about what the next day would bring?  Was she tasked for “taking care” of her little sister?

One similarity between my grandmother and I, is that I only have one sister too.  However, I’m the younger one and by many more years than these sisters. 

I am also fortunate to have a comparison picture (my grandmother, Vesta, on left).  This pictures shows the two sisters taken over 65 years later.  Even though Nellie spent the latter part of her childhood and teen age years in the West and later went on to marry and raise a family in Washington State and my grandmother (in between traveling with her husband to military posts) resided in the Dayton area, they remained very close all of their lives.  I feel so blessed to have known both of these women pretty well as I grew up and even spent some time with my great-aunt in Washington as a young child.  And I’ve been able to steal glimpses into their relationship through the many letters they wrote to one another. 

So I can’t say that this is my favorite picture out of all the ones I’ve taken, inherited or collected, but it is a photo that I return to time and again in order to see the younger version of my grandmother.  Before life got too difficult.  Before her family split up.  Before she met my grandfather.  Before she became known as a wife, mother, and grandmother.  She was just . . . Vesta.

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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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One of the earliest divorces I found – one that would also impact my life – was that of my great-grandparents.  Joseph Napolean Wilt and Martha Jane Stern were married in Delaware County, Indiana on September 10, 1890.  Six children were born to this family – one son was either stillborn or died shortly thereafter.  My grandmother, Vesta, was the fifth child (the fourth who lived) and first daughter.  By the time she was ten – in 1908 – her parents had separated.  I am unsure when the divorce actually took place but it was before December 1909.  Martha had to send at least one of her sons, to her husband’s sister’s home for awhile as she didn’t have the income or money to support all of her children.  On September 19, 1908 she appeared in Judge J.H. Leffler’s Delaware County Court to appeal for child support from her estranged husband.  The judge granted her support for her three youngest children, Vesta, and her sister, Nellie, and brother, Clifford.  The judge signed a bench warrant for the arrest of Joe Wilt for non-support of children under the age of 14.  Family stories indicate that Joe really never did much to support his children and drifted from one place to another and one job to another.  What is known is that my grandmother and her siblings went for a long time before ever seeing their father again.

Martha married her sister’s widower, William Frank Clawson, on December 31, 1909.  Frank and (Margaret) Ellen Stern had six children – four dying as infants.  Between Frank and Martha, they raised their combined families together.  My grandmother used to call her step-siblings, “double-cousins”, which was a misnomer.  They were first cousins who ended up becoming step-siblings due to Frank and Martha’s marriage. 

Joe went on to marry Anna Park on July 3, 1912 in Clark County, Indiana.  They spent most of their married life in Lexington, Scott County, Indiana as indicated by the 1920 and 1930 censuses.  I have not found either Joe or Martha in any of the 1910 censuses of Indiana.  Joe and Anna had one son, Albert, born in 1917.  My grandmother did meet her half-brother once but he died in 1933 at the age of 16.  Anna died about 1942.  Joe went on to marry one last time to a lady named Susie (as referenced in his obituary). 

When Joe Wilt died in early January 1944 he was alone.  Susie had been staying in Kentucky and it was thought that Joe died from a heart attack.  Even though he hadn’t had contact with his children for quite sometime, Vesta and possibly her brother Clarence (who also lived in Indiana) and other brother, Jesse (living in Ohio), were able to attend the funeral. 

Many years later after my parents divorced, my grandmother was like a kindred spirit as she told me that she had gone through the same thing when her parents split up.  She had experienced many of the same thoughts and emotions that I had.  Witnessing first hand all the triumphs over the stigma of divorce that she had accomplished, I knew that my future would be okay.  Without ever knowing my great-grandparents, their marriage and divorce, and the affect that had on their daughter, made a profound impact on my own life.

Picture 1: Martha and Joe Wilt, sons: John, Jesse (baby), Clarence
Picture 2: Frank and Martha Clawson
Picture 3: Joe and Anna Wilt

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Jasia at Creative Gene has a guest post at Shades of the Departed concerning Digital Scrapbooking for Genealogists. She asks everyone to go check out her post, and she’d like to see our creations too.

Last fall I made two complete digital scrapbook albums – one for my mom on her birthday and one for my mother-in-law on her’s.  They both seemed to enjoy them.  Instead of worrying about plagiarizing someone else’s designs, I make my own digital papers, elements, and more. 

Below are some of the pages I did for them.  Enjoy!

 

 Dearest: The Love Story of Glen Johnson and Vesta Wilt

John & Katie Johnson

Flowers From Childhood

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The 49th Carnival of Genealogy – Swimsuit Addition has now been posted!  I urge everyone to go take a look and read through the stories.  There are wonderful old pictures of people in swim “gear” and some stories to go along with them.  Jasia, the host, even has her pictures put up on a really cool digital scrapbook page.  I spent about an hour this morning reading quite a lot of them and posting comments.  I want to thank everyone who shared their amazing stories, memories and photos with the genealogy world!

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