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Martha – Vesta – Mary – Wendy

For this week’s 52 Ancestors post, I decided to focus on the similarities between myself, my mom (Mary), my maternal grandmother (Vesta), and my great-grandmother (Martha).

Becoming a Mother: All of us were 20 years old or younger when we had our first child. Martha Jane Stern and Vesta Christena Wilt both gave birth to their first child – sons – when they were 19 1/2 years old. My mother was a little more than 18 when she had my brother. I had just turned 20 when I had my first child – a girl.

wilt1Martha and Joseph Wilt with sons Clarence, John and Jesse

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Vesta with son Glen Jr.

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 Mary with first child, Jim

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 Wendy and daughter, Shannon

Number of Children: Martha had six children – four boys and two girls. She was also a stepmother to her second husband’s two children (who were also her niece and nephew). Vesta gave birth to four children – one son and three daughters. The youngest, my aunt Lois Evelyn, died at six weeks of age due to being born when my grandmother was only seven months along. My mother had one son and two daughters but she also miscarried a baby boy. I gave birth to three daughters and one son.

Marriage: Martha married for the first time at the age of 18 years and three months. My grandmother married my grandfather when she was 18 years and 7 months. My mom married her first husband at the age of 17 years and 7 months. I married for the first time at 18 years and 24 days. We were all very, very young!

Marriage Duration: Martha and my great-grandfather, Joseph N. Wilt, were married for about 18 years before he left and they were divorced. Her second marriage, to her sister’s widower (W.F. Clawson) lasted a little over 13 years before he died. My grandparents were married for 67 years with a very, very short term rocky part at one point when my grandmother chose to go stay with relatives for a number of months while deciding what to do about her marriage. My mother and her first husband were married a very short time before separating. They eventually divorced just before their two year anniversary. She and my dad were married almost a week shy of 30 years before they were divorced.  I was married seven years before separating and another 10 months before the divorce was final. I have now been married going on 27 years.

Interests: All of us have found hobbies that kept us interested – some of them out of necessity. Sewing, needlework, embroidery were done not only on an as needed basis but as a way to keep hands busy. My mother and I shared a love of theatre – it was only in my mom’s last few years that I learned that she performed in her school’s theatre production just as I had when I was in high school!

Names: As Mary and Martha were fairly common names, Vesta and Wendy weren’t as common. Within my family, there are about three of us with the name of Wendy. I am the oldest. The only other Vesta in my family is on my grandfather’s side – one of his cousins.

Ages at Death: Of course I can’t speak for myself (thank goodness!). Martha was 84 years and 4 months when she passed away from congestive heart failure, arteriosclerosis, and diabetes in 1956. My grandmother was 85 years and 8 months when she died in January 1984 due to heart failure. My mom died on May 1, 2009 of respiratory failure (lung cancer) at the age of 87 years and 7 months. They were all in their 80s when they died.

Residence: We all did not live most of our lives in the same place we were born. Martha was born in Hamilton county, Indiana but spent most of her life living in Leaburg, Oregon. My grandmother was also born in Hamilton county but considered her home the Fairborn and Dayton area of Ohio. My mother was born in Anderson, Indiana but spent most of her life in Greene county, Ohio. I was born in Greene county but have lived most of my life in the Dallas area.

Siblings: None of us were “only” children. We had siblings. Martha was one of eight. My grandmother was one of six. My mom had an older brother and sister – just like me.

wiltsiblings

 Four of six siblings: Clifford, Vesta, Nellie and Clarence

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 Siblings: Genevieve, Glen Jr. and Mary

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 Me and my sister and brother

Becoming a Grandmother: Martha became a grandmother for the first time at the age of almost 46. She was the oldest of us. When my mom gave birth to my brother, my grandmother was almost 42 years old. When my nephew was born, my mom was almost 44 years old. When my first grandson was born, I was 39 years old.

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 Vesta and oldest grandson

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 Mary with her second grandchild

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 The day my first grandson was born

Although there are many ways in which we had very different lives, it means quite a bit to find the similarities.

Amy Johnson Crow, of No Story Too Small continues the challenge to the geneablogging world to write a blog post weekly on one ancestor. This could be a photo, a story, biography, or a post on the weekly theme. To read her challenge please go to Challenge: 52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks – 2015 Edition. Feel free to join in at any time! The theme for this week is “Same” – same name, most like you, etc.

The_Childrens_Museum_of_Indianapolis_-_Interurban_2115_-_detail_1

It all started on an interurban car – at least Eva’s part of the story.  Before I go much further with Eva’s biological parents and ancestors, I want to bring the story up to date and add a few items that have just come to my attention.

After an unknown magazine ran an advertisement that Eva was looking for her biological mother, a woman contacted the Anderson (Indiana) Herald newspaper. This is the article they ran:

eva newspaper clara

Mother Seeks Child She Gave Away Here Twenty Years Ago 

Twenty years ago a mother gave away her three day old baby girl at St. John’s hospital. She could not support the baby and a woman who chanced to visit the hospital offered to adopt the child. Now, twenty years later, fate has been kind to the woman who sacrificed her child that it might be reared in comfortable circumstances and she is now seeking her daughter.

Mrs. Clara Badgly Grennells, 810 Berry avenue, Chicago, the woman who gave her daughter to another, recently read an advertisement in a magazine from a girl who gave her name as Eva Mary Johnson. Miss Johnson said she was adopted when three days old at St. John’s hospital. Mrs. Grennells has asked The Anderson Herald to publish this article in hopes that Miss Johnson will see it and communicate with her. The Chicago woman feels confident that the girl is her long lost daughter.

Now it is clear why Eva believed that Clara Badgly Grennells was her birth mother and the reason why some inconsistencies were present in the news article shared in Part 1 of this series. Unfortunately, it is unknown if Mrs. Grennells ever found her birth daughter. The advertisement placed in a magazine could also be the way that John Hanrahan, Eva’s birth father, was able to find her. Distinguishing between Clara Badger and Clara Badgly and knowing approximate date of birth could have prompted Mr. Hanrahan to figure out that Eva Johnson was his birth daughter.

Now, for a short summary to bring readers up to date. Eva Johnson, biological daughter of Clara Margaret Badger and John Samuel Hanrahan was born on October 5, 1910 on an interurban car outside of Fortville, Indiana. At St. John’s hospital where mother and child were taken following birth, Miss Badger asked Katie J. (Blazer) Johnson to take her daughter and raise her. Eva grew up in the home of John Lafayette and Katie Johnson. She was the foster sister of Glen Roy Johnson (my maternal grandfather) and his older brother, Letis W. Johnson. Eva married John Skinner about 1928 and they had a son, Charles. The couple and their son are found living at 1618 Cincinnati Avenue in Anderson on the 1930 census. In 1940 they are living on Main Street in Vernon, Indiana. By 1951 Eva was living in the Milner Hotel on Main Street in Anderson and working as a cook at the Romany Grill. It is unknown when Eva and John stopped living together or how long after they were divorced. By 1954 Eva had met another man and found herself pregnant. About that time it is reported that Charles and Eva had a falling out that lasted the rest of both of their lives. When Eva’s daughter “L” was born, she placed her for adoption – an ironic twist considering Eva’s desire to find her birth parents two decades previously. By 1955 Eva was living in Apartment 8B of the Tower Apartments in Anderson and working as a cook at a Truck Stop. Two years later the Anderson Directory shows that she is still employed at the Truck Stop but was living at 302 Mainview Apartments. “L” eventually met Eva before she died at the age of almost 81 years old. She met her half-brother, Charles Skinner, and his family and today remains in constant contact with them.

As I’ve been writing this series, I’ve been contacted by descendants of Clara Margaret Badger and Howard William Day. To say that it has been thrilling is an understatement! One – Elizabeth Day Martin – shared other photos of Clara Marie with me including the one below. If you notice, she has a different married name – according to one of her granddaughter’s, Marie married two more times after divorcing Frederick Garringer.

clara marie day reynolds

Eva may not have known that she had three half-siblings: Howard (Harold), Clara Marie and Verle Aaron. However, “L” does know that she has living cousins and perhaps at some point in the future, they will all reach out to each other.

In the next installments, I wlll highlight Eva’s birth father’s family and see if I can shake any cousins for “L” out of that bunch!

(Image of Interurban car courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.)

(Please feel free to start at the beginning of this series if you need to catch up! The link for Part 1 is here.)

verle aaron day 2

Verle Aaron Day
(Originally uploaded to Ancestry by Elizabeth Day Martin –
no copyright infringement intended or implied)

Clara Margaret Badger and her second husband, Howard William Day, had a two year old daughter (Clara Marie Day) and a one year old son (Howard Harold Day) when they welcomed their twin sons into the world on May 25, 1924. The couple named their sons Verle and Earl.

The birth certificate for Verle shows the spelling for his name to be Verle Arron Day. Clara’s birthplace is listed as Ohio and Howard’s as Indiana. The place of birth for Verle is listed as Marion county, Indiana.

As I mentioned in a previous post that it was reported on a Family Group Sheet shared on Ancestry by “sonyabayles1”, Earl died at 6 months presumably because he wasn’t able to absorb nutrition – whether it was because he was bottle-fed instead or because he had a physical issue that caused this – and he died at the age of six months.  Soon after his death, Clara died.

Howard Day had three children all under the age of three that he had to provide for both emotionally and financially. He turned to his surrogate “adopted” mother, Anne Chilian. She took the children in to her home and raised them.  Verle, along with his sister and brother, are listed in her household in the 1930 census in Beech Creek, Indiana. In 1940, Verle is listed under his father’s “new” surname of Daley living in Chicago, Illinois along with his father, step-mother Ella, his brother Harold, and several half-siblings.

One of the public trees on Ancestry has a photo of Verle in a sailor uniform but I do not have the dates or information as to when he joined the service.  In another photo, he is in a dressier uniform and standing next to a Marine enlistment sign.

Verle married in the early 1940s and had five daughters – three are still living. Verle died on February 8, 1993 in Taylor, Michigan where he had moved many years previous.  He is buried in Wolfe Cemetery located in Georgetown, Indiana.

52ancestors-2015

Amy Johnson Crow, of No Story Too Small continues the challenge to the geneablogging world to write a blog post weekly on one ancestor. This could be a photo, a story, biography, or a post on the weekly theme. To read her challenge please go to Challenge: 52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks – 2015 Edition. Feel free to join in at any time! The theme for this week is “Luck of the Irish” and can be about an ancestor who was lucky or an Irish ancestor.

I have not discovered a single Irish ancestor lurking in my family ancestry. So it leads me to wonder – where does the red hair come from? My paternal grandmother had red hair and so does my niece. My sister, my daughters, and I all have auburn in our hair. My grandmother, Ella House Amore, was the daughter of James Emory House and Frances V. Ogan. Yes, that woman – whose parentage is a complete mystery. (See Mystery Surrounding Frances V. Ogan).

So, if she wasn’t dropped on the doorstep by aliens – perhaps her parents were leprechauns. I’m all out of ideas at this point. I suppose it would be too much to ask that maybe Frances and Maureen O’Hara share the same biological ancestors? Nah, probably not.

Which leads me to gush over how I adore Ms. O’Hara! I love her pairing with John Wayne in “The Silent Man” or “McLintock!” or “Big Jake” or “Rio Grande” – she was stubborn, strong-willed, and passionate in her beliefs. Well, now that I think about it . . .

(My note: apparently real life intruded on my blog writing over the last week and a half! My apologies that this is several days late!)

Amy Johnson Crow, of No Story Too Small continues the challenge to the geneablogging world to write a blog post weekly on one ancestor. This could be a photo, a story, biography, or a post on the weekly theme. To read her challenge please go to Challenge: 52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks – 2015 Edition. Feel free to join in at any time! The theme for the week of March 5-11 was “Stormy Weather.”

It seems as if I’ve encountered some members of my family who had bad luck when it came to lightning. My great-great-grandfather, Franklin Blazer, was killed by lightning at the age of 33. I wrote about this recently at What Happened to Franklin Blazer? so feel free to go read it if you haven’t.

Another relative who lost someone due to lightning was my Great-Uncle Herbert I. Amore’s wife, Fannie Coder. I knew Aunt Fannie when I was a girl and saw her every year at the annual Amore-Baker reunion in Coshocton, Ohio.

Fannie Coder Amore

Fannie Kathryn Coder was born to Jacob Coder and Ida May Huff on March 3, 1895. When she was born, her parents were not married and her birth was recorded as Cora Huff (illegitimate). The record was corrected at some later date as Fannie Coder. As yet I still have not located a marriage record for Ida Huff and Jacob Coder. On Christmas Day 1898 Ida married Hiram Thornton in Tuscarawas county, Ohio. Fannie is listed as “Fannie Thornton” living in the Hiram and Ida Thornton household in the 1900 census along with her infant half-brother, Robert Thornton.

On July 15 or 16 in 1901, a severe electrical storm must have caught several members of the family by surprise. Ida Mae, Fannie, baby Robert, along with Ida’s mother, Caroline Smailes Huff, and her 15-year old sister, Myrtle, took shelter under a straw shed. Lightning struck the straw and killed all but Fannie. Twenty-five years later, a small paragraph in The Coshocton Tribune (July 16, 1926; pg. 4) mentioned the tragedy.

Fannie Coder family NEWS-OH-CO_TR.1926_07_16_0004

Ten years after losing her mother, aunt, grandmother, and baby brother, Fannie married my grandfather’s brother, Herbert I. Amore. She needed approval due to her age (16). The Coshocton Morning Tribune reported (since both her parents were deceased) that a guardian was appointed in order for a license to be issued.

When Bert and Fannie celebrated their 35th wedding anniversary, the April 21, 1946 edition of the Coshocton Tribune ran an article about the milestone. Concerning the tragedy that happened, the paper reported:

Mrs. Amore relates that 45 years ago on July 15 she almost lost her life when lightning struck a straw shed in which she, her grandmother,
mother, aunt and brother had taken refuge during an electrical storm, about one mile north of Newcomerstown. The lightning killed all the others. She was reared in the home of her three uncles and their wives.

Fannie lived to the age of 96 years and passed away on April 26, 1991 in Coshocton, Ohio – 9 years after her husband died. The couple are buried at South Lawn Cemetery in Coshocton.

 

franklin blazer grave

(Photo of gravestone by Gaye Dillon taken on 23 July 2009)

A year ago I wrote about my great-great-grandfather Franklin Blazer in Week 1 of the 2014 Edition of 52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks. Up until today, the cause of his death was a mystery. He died on August 25, 1869 so I thought he may have died due to injuries sustained in the Civil War or perhaps he was killed in a farming accident or died of some disease. I was so very wrong.

What could only be termed a tragedy is what befell poor Franklin. He and Malissa Goul had been married at least ten years and possibly upward to 14 years. Their children, two boys and three girls, ranged in age from 2 years to 9 years old. In fact the oldest son, John F., was a month from turning ten – not yet a teenager and definitely not ready to be the “man of the house” at such a young age. Malissa’s son from a previous relationship, James Oakland Goul, was about fourteen.

Thanks to a post on Genea-Musings by fellow geneablogger Randy Seaver, I learned about a new free search tool call Genealogy Gophers. It searches for names in texts of Google books. I plugged in the name of Franklin Blazer and the first result that popped up listed not only Franklin Blazer but Malissa Goul. I knew I had found the correct person. I clicked on the snippet and lo and behold it was an entire book that included tons of information on those with the surname of Blazer and everything within the soundex of B-426 written by John Allison Blazer from Hendersonville, Tennessee. There isn’t a date on it except for the filmed date of 2000.

The information concerning Franklin reports that he was married to Malissa Goul and listed her birth and death dates and they lived in Pendleton, Indiana. It listed their children – four correctly: John, Philip Wesley, Kate and Rachel but listed Martha Ann erroneously as Matthew. Of course when I saw that, I thought perhaps there was another son that I hadn’t heard of but then realized that Martha had been left out. (She is also listed further in the book – still as Matthew – with a child named Chase – so I knew that the name had been mangled). But then I saw something I didn’t know: Franklin died “when struck by lightning in his home.”

I can’t even imagine what the rest of the family went through after that. Did Malissa and any of the children witness this? Did they try to revive their husband and father after he had fallen dead? Was a physician summoned quickly? The weather must have been pretty fierce. It was still tornado season so I wondered if they were also terrified of what else Mother Nature had in store for them.

Franklin had just turned 33 years old. He would never be able to enjoy a life of watching his children grow up and get married. His wife, my second great-grandmother – would never celebrate another wedding anniversary. She remained a widow the rest of her life. Martha, Katie and Rachel all married without their father giving them away. John and Wesley grew into men quickly in order to take on what their father had once done. Twenty-six years after his father’s tragic death, John died of self-inflicted gunshot wound.

As I think about my great-grandmother, Katie, who lost her father when she was almost five years old, I wonder if she had been a “daddy’s girl” and missed him terribly the rest of her life. Or was she so young that she barely remembered him? Did losing Franklin at such a young age change Malissa – her outlook on life, personality, or how she handled sorrow from then on?

His tombstone stands in Grovelawn Cemetery in Pendleton, Indiana. It reads:

FRANKLIN
son of
J & M BLAZER
DIED
AUG 25 1869
AGED
33 Y. 2 M & 23 D.

Amy Johnson Crow, of No Story Too Small continues the challenge to the geneablogging world to write a blog post weekly on one ancestor. This could be a photo, a story, biography, or a post on the weekly theme. To read her challenge please go to Challenge: 52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks – 2015 Edition. Feel free to join in at any time! This week’s theme is “Close to Home.”

I had started this post in a completely different direction but realized it will need to be used for something else as it has been quite time consuming. So in keeping with the prompts that Amy has suggested: “Which ancestor is the closest to where you live? Who has a story that hits ‘close to home’?” – I have decided to write about an ancestor who has lived close to where I live.

After high school, I moved from the area where I was born and raised in Ohio to the Dallas-Fort Worth area of Texas. All of my closest direct ancestors were either Ohio or Indiana born and raised. Very few of them ventured far from there – except my maternal great-grandmother who moved to Oregon. Since I still live in Texas, I will have to go “off-roading” – in other words, find a distant, collateral relative and not a direct ancestor.

e a johnson

Elbridge Arno Johnson and I share the same kinship three times! He is my second cousin twice removed on my maternal grandfather’s Johnson side.  The common ancestor we share would be Jacob Johnson who is Elbridge’s great-grandfather and my 3rd great-grandfather. Elbridge’s grandfather, John J. Johnson, and my 2nd great-grandfather, James W. Johnson, were brothers. Elbridge’s grandmother, Dolly Mullis (John J. Johnson’s wife), and my 2nd great-grandmother, Amanda Mullis (wife of James W. Johnson), were sisters giving us a common ancestor of John Mullis – who would be my 3rd great-grandfather.  Still second cousin twice removed through the Mullis line! And now for the third line – we share the common ancestor of John Blazer who is the grandfather of Elbridge’s mother, Rosa Jane Hawkins, and is the grandfather of my great-grandmother, Katie J Blazer – making John Blazer my 3rd great-grandfather!

E.A. Johnson was born to John Marshall Johnson and Rosa Jane Hawkins on January 15, 1883 in Cicero, Indiana. In 1900 at the age of 17, he is still residing in Indiana with his parents, three brothers, and a sister as located on the census of White River, Hamilton, Indiana. Sometime between that census and February 1, 1905 – perhaps to attend college – Elbridge moved to Houston, Texas. There at 22 years old, he married 25 year old Elpha Rhoda Stewart, daughter of John T Stewart and Anna M Keifer. Elpha was born in Ohio but by the 1900 census, the Stewart family was living in Greencastle, Indiana. She gave birth to their first child – a daughter, Lucille Agnes Johnson, on August 4, 1906 – probably in Houston. A few years later on September 22, 1909, the couple’s second child, a son, was born. He was named Stewart Arno Johnson.

By the 1910 census, the family of four is living in Texas City near Galveston, Texas. Elbridge lists his occupation as a laborer doing “general laboring” while Elpha is listed as a housewife. On April 28, 1915 the couple’s third child and second son arrived. On the boy’s birth certificate, E.A. is listed as a Construction Foreman. A few months later on the Military Registration Card (WWI), his occupation is listed as Foreman at Pierce Oil Corporation. A few years later, it would become the Pierce Petroleum Company. On the 1920 Census the family of five is living in a rented home located on Broadway in LaPorte, Texas. Elbridge is listed as a Superintendant at an oil factory.

Ten years later, the family owns a home worth $6500 in Webb county, Texas and has the same occupation as in 1920. A year later, on October 24, 1931, Lucille married Samuel McInnis Campbell in Vernon, Louisiana. By 1935 the Johnson family returned to Texas City and purchased a home located at 231 11th Avenue valued at $5000. On April 18, 1936 Stewart Arno Johnson (also called Arno Stewart Johnson) married Lorrain Adell Johnson.  Elbridge and Elpha continue to reside on 11th Avenue through the 1940 census.

E.A. Johnson was elected Mayor of Texas City and served until 1946. Before his death, he and Elpha were residing at 1107 10th Street North in Texas City. He died on January 18, 1970 at the Texas City Nursing Home and was buried at Galveston Memorial Park. His death certificate gives the cause of death as acute pulmonary infarction due to acute recurring pancreatitis; generalized arteriosclerosis. Elpha died a day short of the third anniversary of her husband’s death – January 17, 1973. Their daughter, Lucille, died on March 8, 1984 and then on July 29 her husband, Samuel, died – and their daughter, Carolyn, died a few months later on November 24. Stewart Arno Johnson died on June 17, 1988. As far as I can tell, the third son is still living as are the children of Stewart Arno.

These are the closest “shirt tail” relatives I have found living in Texas (this does not include a really, really close relative – my sister!)  It is also interesting to be able to have a distant cousin who I am related to in the same kinship fashion via three different lines!

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