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alice foley 001

This picture was among hundreds of other photos I ended up with many years ago. Most had belonged to my maternal grandparents, Glen and Vesta (Wilt) Johnson. The name on the back (hurray! There was a name on the back!) was Alice Foley. My mother told me she wasn’t related – just a friend of my grandparents. Ten to fifteen years ago, I didn’t have very many resources to figure out just who she was.

Today, I looked on FamilySearch.org for an Alice Foley living in Madison county, Indiana about 1920. Living at 206 E. Fourteenth Street (about 2 1/2 miles away from my grandparents) was 34 year old Alice Foley as a boarder in the Charles and Ina Miller household. Alice was single and born in England as were her parents. She was employed doing housework in a private home.

There is also an Alice Foley living at 1623 Arrow Avenue – a few houses away from my grandmother’s parents. This Alice is age 28 and married to the head of household, Harry Foley. She was also born in England and came to the United States in 1906. Included in their home were children: Mary A. Foley age 5, Philip Foley age 3 years and 2 months, and Anna B. Foley age one year and 3 months.

Between the two choices, I’m more inclined to believe that this is a picture of Sarah Alice Bullock, born in September 1891 in England, and married to Harry Foley in Anderson, Indiana on August 9, 1910. However, the woman in the photo is not wearing a wedding ring which could mean that she did not have one, this photo was taken prior to being married, or I’m wrong about who this is.

However, if someone is reading this who happens to be a descendant of the correct Alice Foley or Sarah Alice Bullock or whomever it is – please let me know so I can solve the mystery!

johnson_eva

Eva as a young girl

In The News Article I learned that my grandfather’s foster sister listed her mother as Clara Badgly Grennells. Then in Clara Badgly I sought out this mystery woman through census records – without too much luck. But in the previous installment, The Letter, I finally had more information to work with. In order to decipher the who, what, when, why, where, and how, I need to analyze the letter.

Pendleton, Ind.
July 19, 31.
Dear Folks,
How does the weather suit you? I wish it would rain, our garden is wilting. I have some news for you all.
I undertook to locate my Mother and found my Father. He was here to see me on the 12th and again yesterday afternoon and evening. Lives in Indianapolis. Has a brother that’s an attorney and one a contractor. Name is John Hanrahan.
He is Irish. Vesta my mother would not have nothing to do with him after she learned she was to become a mother and would not tell him the truth nor let him see her. So he did not know until after I was born then he wanted to marry her but she wanted to marry Fred Blackburn. Instead. She told my father I died. My father really loved (Fluffy) that’s what he called her. She was his first sweetheart. Name was Clara Badger instead of Badgly. I guess she was always changing her name. This picture of her was taken when she was 30 yr old. My father said she looks tired and worned in it. Not a bit like she did at 20 yr, said she was beautiful at 20.
When she died on Christmas ’28, Clara’s father states she called for me and cried till they had to give her morphine. She died at 6 pm. That was the Xmas John gave me those pearls, and that day I told Mom that some one wanted me terrible bad. I just felt it. The Doctor said if they could find me she would live. Oh I don’t see why I can’t have her now. They say I’m exactly like her. She named me “Marie”! She some how found out my last name was Johnson. He said she was not bad.
Am enclosing this envelope. Please send it back right away as it is precious to me. He said he would send us some money next Thursday. John is laid off again.
Well I thought I’d let you all know about it. My Father said to thank Mom and Dad for taking good care of me and wants to meet all of you. Has raised or nearly raised 5 children of some one else’s and none of his own. Said he always wanted a child and here he had one and did not know it. His step-children are jealous of me. He 41 awful nice. John likes him.
I like his brother Frank and his wife (illegible) nice too. My father looks like this picture yet.
Well I’ll stop. Send this back right away. I’ll enclose a stamp I want them.
As Ever,
Eva

Initially, I was beyond thrilled to find this letter, read it, and share it with “L” (Eva’s daughter). And she was just as excited to hear about it and read it. However, the more I looked at it, the more unclear it became.

The date the letter was written is July 19, 1931. That is one year and almost two months exactly from the time Eva’s foster mother (my grandmother), Kate J Blazer Johnson, passed away from stomach cancer in Greene county, Ohio while living with my grandfather, Glen R. Johnson. My great-grandfather (Eva’s foster father), John Lafayette Johnson, was still living. Presumably, the “folks” to whom she addressed the letter includes her foster dad, John Johnson, her foster brother, Glen R. Johnson, and his wife (my grandmother), Vesta C. Wilt Johnson; Eva even uses my grandmother’s name at the beginning of the letter. I wonder if Eva had given any thought as to whether or not she would hurt her foster dad by gushing over her birth father or pining away for her birth mother a year after the death of the woman who had raised her from birth?

Eva begins the letter just like any other correspondence between family members by mentioning the weather and her garden but makes it perfectly clear that her reason for writing doesn’t have anything to do with trivial day to day matters but an important event that has happened to her by summing up how she had been searching for her birth mother. Eva doesn’t mention how long she has been searching but putting it together with the news clipping from the Anderson Herald, it would seem as if the search has been ongoing for awhile. Eva drops the proverbial bomb in their lap that she has already met her birth father, and he has visited her twice! She gives her birth parents’ names as Clara Badger (“not Badgly”) and John Hanrahan, who she says “is Irish.” Since she has discovered the error of what she thought Clara’s surname was and what is correct, my assumption is that the news article came first. If that is the case then the information given in the article was incorrect because it specifically states that “four years ago the foster parent…died.” That would have meant the story was printed in 1934. Yet the story said it had only been twenty years earlier that Eva had been born giving the news article the date of 1930 and only a few short months after Katie had died.

Then, perhaps to somehow justify the circumstances of her birth or the reason she was given up to Katie and John, Eva launches in with an explanation that includes how Clara didn’t want anything to do with John Hanrahan even though he wanted to marry her but instead was told by Clara that Eva had died. Eva gave the name of the man Clara had wanted to marry instead as Fred Blackburn. Furthermore, she goes on to talk about the events surrounding the night that Clara died and said it was Christmas 1928. She used the words “Clara’s father states” and “The Doctor said” and “They say” but there aren’t any details to defend those statements. Did John Hanrahan tell her those things? If so, how did he know what Clara’s father or the doctor said? Who are the “they” she says told her she is just like Clara? How did Eva know that Clara named her “Marie” or how she found out her surname was Johnson? No explanations by Eva are ever given for that. She never tells my grandparents that she has met these other people. If John Hanrahan didn’t give her that information, then how did Eva know all of that?

Eva weaves a melodramatic story about how her birth mother was calling for her the night that she died and at the same time – miles away – she was having a premonition that “someone wanted” her “terrible bad.” Later in the letter she gives more information as to the name of one of John Hanrahan’s brothers – Frank – and that she likes him and his wife. That indicates that she has met the Hanrahan side (or some of it) of her birth family. Eva mentions how her biological father bemoans that he never got to raise one of his own children but has helped or has raised five children. She goes on to say that his step-children are jealous of her. Was she able to meet them? Were all of the “five children” John’s step-children or did he have nieces and nephews that he helped raise? Did John tell her they were jealous of her or did she say that to make herself feel better or look better to her dad, brother, and sister-in-law? Perhaps it was her way of saying, “See, there are people who can’t believe I have John Hanrahan for a father and they don’t!”

Finally, in closing the letter, Eva reminds my grandparents and her foster dad that she has enclosed a picture, possibly two, of her parents. It is not clear whether or not it is a picture of her bio parents together of separate ones. What she does make clear is that the picture is very precious to her and they are to send it back to her immediately in the envelope she is also sending along with a stamp. I assume that they did send it back although I haven’t checked to see whether or not they kept it for some reason, and it’s among the other ten-thousand photos I have of people I don’t know (because no one marked who they were on the back of the picture! – but that’s a rant for another time!). Eva also casually mentions that John Hanrahan is going to send them some money because her husband, John Skinner, has been laid off again. Eva makes sure to let them know that her birth father wants to thank her foster parents for taking “good care” of her and also wants to meet all of them.

The details that I picked out of the letter to help me research Eva’s birth parents include their full names: Clara Badger and John Hanrahan. Clara wanted to marry Fred Blackburn. John Hanrahan has two brothers – a contractor and an attorney. He also has a brother, Frank, who is married. I can’t claim that Frank is either the lawyer or the contractor. John Hanrahan was born about 1890 if he is 41 years old in 1931. It isn’t clear if he is married in 1941 but he has or has had step-children – or children that he considers step-children. Clara has passed away by 1931 – supposedly on December 25, 1928. John Hanrahan is Irish or of Irish descent and lives in Indianapolis.

My best guess is that when The Anderson Herald published the news article concerning Eva and her mother, it was printed in the late summer to early fall of 1930 – not that long after Katie died. That is probably how John Hanrahan discovered Eva – even though the birth mother’s name in the article is incorrect – it was close enough for him to figure it out. I believe that Eva embellished some of the details for dramatic flair. Her mom, Katie – the woman who had raised her – had died and her dad – John Johnson – was living in another state. Eva was unclear if she was going to see him again. So her melodrama could have been a way for her to cope with the types of abandonment she had felt in her life – first by her birth mother right after she was born, then by her foster brother, Glen,  and then Katie and John when they moved away, then by Katie’s death, and finally the knowledge that Clara had already died. Eva found her birth father only because she was searching for her birth mother! She wasn’t going to end up with a “mom” following Katie’s death after all.

If nothing else, I had more information to use for research – and what a boat-load of information I found!

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!

Although the prompt for this week’s 52 Ancestors post is “So Far Away” and as Amy Johnson Crowe explains: “Which ancestor is the farthest from you, either in distance or in time/generations? Which ancestor have you had to go the farthest away to research?” – I have a different take on that. Some ancestors have been born in Germany or Great Britain, but I’m going to write about how close of a kinship I have with an ancestor who is by general standards several generations removed.

One of the definitions that Merriam-Webster’s online dictionary gives for generation is: “the average span of time between the birth of parents and that of their offspring.” YourDictionary.com explains the “average time” as a “period of around thirty years”. Taking that span of time in to consideration, if a couple – born in 1900 – has a child between ages 25-30 years old, when that child is 30, the parents will be 55-60 years old. If the pattern continues, that couple’s grandchildren will be born when they are 85-90. That is only 3 generations born from 1900-1990.

However, looking at statistics in my family tree database from the early 19th century forward parents were between 18-26 when their first child was born making the generation from grandparent to grandchild 36-40 years with very little deviance. That is until it came to my paternal side.

This is how the Amore side of my family stacks up: my dad was 40 years old when I was born. So instead of the average of about 20 years between generations, there was two times that. My dad’s oldest sister was 18 when he was born so there was almost a full generation between him (as the baby of his family) and his sister. His father was a little more than 39 years old. That would mean my grandfather (had he still been living) would have been close to 80 years old. That is four times twenty. Taking the average of my family tree database, one more generation could have fit between my grandfather and myself. My dad was old enough to be my grandfather (well, let’s not tell him that!). There is a full generation between my brother and myself. He was 21 years old when I was born. As with me, my father’s oldest niece was five years younger than him. My oldest nephew was born I was not quite four years old!

Lloyd William Amore, my paternal grandfather, was born on March 4, 1882 in Coshocton county, Ohio. He was the fourth child and third son to William Henry Amore (Henry) and Mary Angelina (Annie) Werts. Henry was almost 30 years old when my grandfather was born. By the time his last child was born in November 1893, he was close to 42 years old. Henry’s father, my great-great-grandfather (William Amore), born in February 1828 was just over 24 years old when his second wife gave birth to Henry. William was almost 49 years old when his last child was born (the child didn’t live). The span of years between William’s birth and my birth is almsot 134 years. That is a at least 6 generations on average. SIX! And in my case it was 1) William 2) William Henry 3) Lloyd William 4) my dad 5) me.

My dad’s oldest niece (my first cousin) who is five years younger than my dad, became a grandmother when I was three years old. My dad became a first time grandfather when my nephew was born. So he was a grandfather in his early 40s as well as a parent to a young child!

So in the immortal lyrics of a Frankie Valli song – my 2nd great-grandfather, William Amore, is “so close, so close and yet so far.”

stamps

Before delving in to “the” letter, let me back up a bit. When I created my very first genealogy website (still online – just not as updated as I’d like) over ten years ago, I had posted some information about my grandfather’s foster sister, Eva. Imagine my surprise when someone left a comment for me that informed me that Eva was her mother! Say what?! The writer had been put up for adoption similar to how Eva’s life began. Then I saw a picture of the person who had contacted me, and there was no doubt at all that she was Eva’s daughter. She told me her story and how she eventually did get to meet Eva before her death. And just like Eva, she was searching for the elusive Clara as well as the man who would have been Eva’s father. I vaguely remembered that somewhere in my possession I had a letter that Eva had written to my grandparents that mentioned her biological parents. So one day several months ago – on the off chance that I could find the letter – I went into the black hole that is my genealogical filing cabinet. (Okay, disclaimer here – I really didn’t go looking for that letter. I was going through papers to see if there was something I needed to scan or enter in to my family tree database.)

But then – there “it” was. My grandmother – oh, if she were alive – I could have kissed her – she had written on the envelope “Eva’s letter about her father.” OHMYGOODNESS! So I took it out, sat down and read the letter. As with the news article (and everything else I’ve been told about family stories), I took the information with a grain of salt. I needed documentation. But – I needed to tell Eva’s daughter what I had found.

Instead of typing the letter word for word on Facebook private messaging, I gave her a few highlights and then emailed her a scan of the letter so she could read everything in her biological mother’s handwriting. She shared with her half-brother’s daughters. Granddaughters of Eva who had known her – yet it was still a mystery to them. Anything their father, Eva’s son, knew – he didn’t disclose for their relationship was pretty non-existent for several decades.

And now, I present to you, the reader, THE letter.

 

So now you understand my excitement! I had two new names to research! And just what would I find?

Recently, I received information from Johanne Gervais that said:

I was wondering if you would post something for all your followers of French Canadian descent. The Quebec Family History society presents Roots 2015 – An international conference on family history in Quebec from June 19-21, 2015 at McGill University, Montreal, Quebec. It is the largest English language genealogical conference held in Quebec. For further information you could go to http://www.qfhs.ca/cpage.php?pt=174

I went to the link provided and it appears that this is sponsored by the Quebec Family History Society that will presented on June 19, 20 and 21. Keynote speaker will be Rick Roberts, Founder of Global Genealogy. There will be information on the Canadian version of Ancestry.com; how to find land and probate records in Quebec; DNA testing; the War of 1812 in Quebec, and much more!

I do not have ancestors that have lived in Quebec or any part of Canada (at least, I haven’t come across them!) but if you are a reader of this blog and feel that this conference would be something for you, please go to the link provided above and check it out.

Disclaimer: I did not solicit this information and have no ties to the Quebec Family History Society or any of the companies involved in this conference.

P8120683

I have three pictures of my Johnson ancestors with mules – two of them in particular. I can’t say for certain these two mules were used to plow the fields.  The first photo (above) wasn’t easy to scan – it is in a frame, and I don’t want to take it out in fear of damaging it. The only way I could digitize the picture was to take a digital photo of it. The “bubble” glass isn’t conducive to that (and without the flash the photo wouldn’t have come out at all). This is my maternal great-grandfather, John Lafayette Johnson, born in Howard county, Indiana on March 2, 1861. The first census (1880) I found for him shows him as a 19 year old man working as a laborer on the Isaac Goble farm in Rush county. (I have been unable to locate the 1870 census for him.) In 1900, he is married to Katie J Blazer and living at 1524 Forkner Street in Anderson with their two sons, 13 year old Letis, and 1 year old Glen (my grandfather). His occupation is listed as “rod roler.” Ten years later the family is still living in Anderson but at 434 17th Street. This time Letis (age 23) and Glen (age 11) are joined by baby sister, Mary, age 1, and John’s father, (James) Wilson, age 80.  John’s occupation is listed as huckster – a salesman. In 1920, John and Katie have lost their oldest son and baby girl but have added Glen’s wife, Vesta (my grandmother), and a foster daughter, Eva, to the family along with a grandson (my uncle – age 2 1/2). John’s occupation is Vendor – Retail and my grandfather’s occupation is Expressman.

johnson mules 001My grandfather, Glen R. Johnson, with the mules
johnson mules 002

So about those mules?

The only thing I could come up with is that the family probably did have a garden – more than likely a very large garden. Perhaps they used the mules to plow the garden or maybe they just had mules! Notice that I don’t have pictures of the mules AND a plow. Just mules. Some people have horses – my Johnson ancestors had mules.

I tend to prefer this cute little mule: donkey on farm

Mule and Flower Box on the Littrell family farm in Missouri

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 challenge is “Plowing Through” – do you have an ancestor who had to plow through – fields, snow, a tough time?

question_mark

In the previous post, the Anderson (Indiana) Herald’s article about reuniting mother and daughter gave the name of Eva Louise Johnson’s birth mother as Clara Badgly. So I set out to see if I could locate this mysterious woman. The best place to start is to look at census records for 1910 since Eva was born in October 1910.

In order to get a better group of results, I wanted to find women who would be within child-bearing age in 1910 – someone age 14-50 (taking to the extreme on both ends). Eva was conceived in January so by the census date of April, I would have a pretty good idea of how probable it would be to rule out someone. I want to look at all different spellings: Clara/Clare/Clair/Clarra/Clora and Badgly/Badgley/Badgeley/Badglie.

I can rule out the Clara Badgly born about 1899, age 11, who is living with her parents, Frank and Grace, in Shelbyville, Indiana. I can also rule out Clara Badgley who is a newborn infant living with her parents, Sydney and Grace, in Anderson, Indiana.

There is a Clare Badgley age 43 living in Perry township of Marion county. She is married to Lewis and the household consists of Lewis’ two older children in their 20s, Clare’s six year old daughter from a previous marriage and the couple’s one year old son. The seat of Marion county is Indianapolis. The town of Fortville, where Eva was born on the interurban car, is half-way between Indy and Anderson where Katie and John Johnson lived. So Clare Badgley could be a possible candidate as Eva’s birth mother. The one year old son makes her a strong improbability but it is not an impossibility. In the 1920 census, she is now a 53 year old widow living with her daughter and son-in-law in Indianapolis. The one year old son from the 1910 census is not living with them.

There is also a Clora Badgley living at 1930 Nichol Avenue in Anderson. She was 52 years old and living with her husband, Joseph, and two of her three chidren. It is her second marriage and her husband’s first. In 1910 they had been married 31 years. The youngest child is 16. They lived a little less than a mile and a half away from my great-grandparents. If Clara was Eva’s biological mother, she would have been in pretty close proximity to the girl and quite possibly might have even known John and Katie. Again, I can’t rule out this Clara just because she is over 50 but as with the previous woman, the length of marriage and having children in the household makes this woman improbable.

A Cora Bagley, age 29, is married and the mother of a six year old daughter in the 1910 census. She is living in Duck Creek, a township of Madison county. This woman could also be a good possibility. Ten years later, she and her husband are at the same location and have added another daughter to their household.

All of the women (not the young children) mentioned above are using their married name. According to the news article in the previous post, Badgley was the woman’s maiden name. 

Since the news article mentioned Chicago, I took a look at the 1910 Chicago directory. The Badgley residents: Bert and Edward L., home address 1341 Glenlake Avenue; Edward, Hannah and Joseph,  831 Sedgwick; Fannie, 1712 Park Avenue; Louis, 6242 Wayne Avenue; Rufus, 1941 Hancock; and Timothy, 850 Monticello Avenue. For residents with the surname Bagley, there are quite a few.

There is a 26 year old Clara Biagley residing with her cousin and his family in Chicago. She is single and her birth place is listed as Illinois. Prior to giving birth on the eastern side of Indiana, it is improbable that Eva’s birth mother resided in Illinois. In 1910, that would have been a long way for a pregnant woman to travel – especially so close to the time of giving birth.

Based on the information found in directories and census records, it seems rather unlikely that any of these women were Eva’s biological mother. So the mystery seemed to come completely to a stand still.

Until the letter was found.

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