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?