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clara graphic

Armed with what seemed to be the correct names of Eva Johnson’s biological parents, I decided to see what I could find in online databases of FamilySearch. It wasn’t the primary name of Clara Badger that steered me to the correct person, but instead it was the name of another – “she wanted to marry Fred Blackburn.” As soon as I plugged in the primary name of “Clara Badger” with a spouse of “Blackburn,” I received a hit. In the Indiana Marriages from 1780-1992 index, a record popped up. Fred Blackburn married Clara Badger on May 13, 1911 in Marion county, Indianapolis. Clara’s parents were listed as Edmund Badger and Myra Sprankle. That was just seven months after Clara gave birth to Eva. I had finally found the correct person as well as had the names of Clara’s parents! In another index, her father is listed as Edward Badger. When she married Fred Blackburn, Clara’s age was reported as 19 which would put her birth about 1892. Her place of birth was listed as Covington, Indiana located on the western side of the state in Fountain county. Other items I found include a listing in the May 14, 1911 edition of The Indianapolis Star on page 32 that Fred and Clara received a marriage license.

Armed with that information, I was able to locate the family in the 1900 census living in Indianapolis. Edward, age 38, is listed as the head of house. His month and year of birth is not listed. His place of birth as well as his parents is reported as Indiana and his occupation is a helper at a saw factory – probably at E.C. Atkins & Company located on South Illinois in Indianapolis. The home at 509 Senate Avenue where the family is residing is rented. Today, the address shows up on Google Earth as being in the middle of the street with the Cosmopolitan apartments on one side and a small building of stores on the other. The wife’s name on this census is listed as Miriam, age 26, born in Ohio. Her month and year of birth is also not included. Her father was born in Pennsylvania and her mother in Ohio. She can read but not write. Their children living in the home – all born in Indiana – include Clara, age 8, born December 1891; Albert, age 6, born September 1893; Theodore, age 5, born May 1895; Ethel, age 2, born June 1897; and Jessie, age 9 months, born September 1899. The household also includes Edward’s brother, Albert, age 40, born in Indiana. This census provided names and ages of not only Clara’s siblings but also of an uncle and indicated birth places for both sets of her grandparents.

On Ancestry, I came across a Family Tree (which are not sources in and of themselves but sometimes a good way to glean further information), I entered the name Clara Blackburn and Indiana as the location hoping to locate a census record during her marriage to Fred Blackburn. What I found was her name listed as Clara Margaret Badger Blackburn married to Howard William Day. That made me pause. Another record turned up a story item under Day that read in part:

Howard married again on January 12, 1922 to Clara Margaret Blackburn.  She was married previously to Fred Blackburn.  Their [sic] were no children and the divorce became final January  11, 1922.  Her maiden name was Badger, and her birthday was given as December 28, 1892. (1)

The discrepancy was the year of her birth. According to the 1900 census, it was December 1891; however, I have found more than I care to count the number of times the census year is a year off from the birth year. That really didn’t bother me, but it was something to consider moving forward. If the information above is believed, then Clara married Howard Day one day after she divorced Fred Blackburn. In the November 9, 1920 edition of The Indianapolis Star under News of Courts for Superior Court is an item that reads: “10584. Clara Blackburn vs. Frederick Blackburn. Divorce. Morris A. Silverman.” In The Indianapolis Star on December 23, 1921 reports the same type of case except this time it was Fred Blackburn vs. Clara Blackburn. That would mean she and Fred had been married for almost eleven years without having any children.

The marriage certificate lists their full names as Howard William Day and Clara Margaret Blackburn and shows they applied for a marriage license the same day they were wed by a minister who signed his name as G.E. Dething. The story on a Family Tree in Ancestry continued to report that they had four children: a daughter, Clara Marie born a month after their marriage, a son Howard born a year later, and twin sons, Verle and Earl, born the following year. Now if I was the speculating type (and in genealogy that is a big no-no!), I would presume that there was a good chance that Fred Blackburn had not been able to father children, the couple ceased having marital relations, they found a good form of birth control, or they were living apart most of their marriage which would make sense if Clara and Howard’s first child was born soon after their marriage. The (1) author of the story on Ancestry is not known although the date of the report is September 23, 2003 and uploaded to the family tree by “sonyabayles1.” Continuing, it is reported that one of the twins (Earl) died at six months of age from not being able to get proper nutrition as he was bottle fed(probably not able to absorb nutrients) while the other twin was breast-fed and that Clara died soon after of pneumonia. If the twins were born the end of May and Earl died in November or early December, that could put Clara’s death as toward the end of 1924. Eva’s report in her letter of Clara dying on Christmas of 1928 was incorrect as her birth mother really died four years before.

In the previous post, I had asked the question as to how and from whom Eva had received the information about Clara. Was it from her birth father, John Hanrahan? It seems unlikely that he had first hand knowledge – especially since the years of Clara’s death was off by four years. Had Eva met Clara’s father – her biological grandfather, Edward? And if she had met him, wouldn’t he have given Eva a more accurate date of death as well as to mention that she had three living half-siblings? Could those half-siblings have been re-created in her letter as step-children of John Hanrahan? The children Eva had reported as “jealous” of her?

Moving onward with the search, I came across the 1930 census that showed Clara’s three surviving children were living with a woman who had raised their father, Anne Chillian, in Greene county, Indiana. The children were listed as her grandchildren.

At one point, I had information overload as I realized what all this could mean to “L” and her thirst for information. I kept finding records for Clara’s parents and other family members.  But just how far back could I take this search and what surprising piece of information would I be able to find?

 

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?

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