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.


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?


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.


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!

Week number four’s challenge is “Closest to your birthday” and is about an ancestor who shares the same birth month and day.

The first ancestor that comes to mind is my great-grandmother, Frances V. Ogan, who was the mother of my paternal grandmother, Ella Maria House. I have written about Frances before in Mystery Surrounding Frances V. Ogan. She was born exactly 115 years before me. Unfortunately, I don’t have any new information about her that could solve the mystery. She is the only direct ancestor who shares my birthday. Other collateral relatives that I share a birthday with include a close family member; my first cousin on my dad’s side; a second cousin on my dad’s side; and Orlow Barnes – my third cousin once removed on the Johnson side (maternal) of my family.

One direct ancestor died on my birthday – Anna Burnham. She was born abt 1644 and died in 1722. She married Samuel Gaines on May 1, 1668 probably in Massachusetts. Anna and Samuel were my 7th great-grandparents.

There were no marriages reported among my direct ancestors that occurred on my birthday.

In summary, since Frances V. Ogan is the only direct ancestor that shares my birthday, perhaps that is why I feel I must leave no stone unturned in order to figure out her origins.



Mother and Daughter to Be Reunited By Story In Herald

Echoes of twenty years ago were sounded yesterday when a mother and daughter who had been separated for that length of time found each other through the medium of The Anderson Herald. Twenty years ago October 2, 1910 a baby girl was born on an interurban car at Fortville. The child and mother were brought to St. John’s hospital here.

Limited circumstances prompted the mother to give her daughter to a woman at Fortville, who promised to rear the child. Four years ago the foster parent, Mrs. Charles Johnson, died. Shortly before her death Mrs. Johnson told her daughter, Eva Mary, about the adoption.

Several years ago Miss Johnson married John Skinner of Fortville. During the past four years, Mrs. Skinner has made every possible effort to find her real mother. Several days ago a letter was received at the Herald office from a woman in Chicago who saw an advertisement in a magazine carrying the name of Eva Mary Johnson mentioning her adoption when three days old at St. John’s hospital.

The woman, Mrs. Clara Badgly Grennells, 810 Berry Avenue, Chicago, requested The Herald to print her appeal. Mrs. Skinner read the story which appeared Tuesday and is in communication with the Chicago woman. A meeting is to be arranged soon. Mrs. Skinner said she is confident that Mrs. Grennels is her mother as her mother’s maiden name was Clara Badgly.

And with that newspaper article, the search for the missing Clara began. I urge you to go back to a previously written post – Independent From Birth to read about the woman searching for Clara – my grandfather’s foster sister – Eva – before continuing on.

Go ahead – I’ll wait . . .

Now for the inconsistencies that I know of: Eva’s full name was Eva Louise Johnson. The only reason I can think of that she would go by Eva Mary is because Mary was the name of the birth daughter of her foster parents. My grandfather’s baby sister, born in November 1909, died before she was a year old so perhaps my great-grandmother smashed the names together when she spoke to Eva. Maybe she really did grow up as Eva Mary but somewhere along the way became Eva Louise.

The next error is the name of the woman who agreed to take Eva – it is not Mrs. Charles Johnson. It was Mrs. John Johnson. My great-grandmother was married to John Lafayette Johnson. In the 1910 census there are two other married adult “Charles Johnson’s” living in Anderson, Indiana. One is age 63 and married to his second wife, Fannie, age 37 with their fourteen year old son, Stanley. The other Charles Johnson is 23 and his wife, Alta, is two years younger. In the 1920 census there is not any household with a daughter, Eva, aged 9-10, with Charles Johnson as Head of the Household.

The third error is the birth date. Eva’s date of birth has always been given as October 5, 1910 but if there is truth that she was three days old when Great-grandmother Katie took Eva then it would make her birth date October 2 but was given the October 5 birthday instead. Katie died in May 1930 so that would make the article dated in 1934 as it says “four years” since Katie’s death.



Eva as a young married woman and with husband, John Skinner

On the 1930 Census taken a month before Katie died, in April 1930, Eva listed her age as nineteen and reported she had been married at age 18. They also had a son, Charles, who was four months old. The family was living at 1618 Cincinnati Avenue in Anderson, Indiana – a three bedroom, one bath two-story home built in 1900. They were living there with two other families and renting a room. John was a machinist working for an auto parts factory.

1618 Cincinnati Avenue Anderson Indiana

1618 Cincinnati Avenue

Within four years after that census was taken, Eva would begin her journey to find her biological mother.

The newspaper clipping mentions a reunion. There were blatant errors in the first two paragraphs of the article. Could there possibly be more? Would Eva get the reunion she so desperately wanted?


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 “Tough Woman” and could be a woman in the family that is strong and tough or a female ancestor that is tough to research.

I’m writing about someone who is not my ancestor but ties in to my family via my maternal great-grandparents. In October 1910 a young woman gave birth to a baby girl on an interurban car somewhere near Fortville, Indiana. The woman was taken to the St. John’s hospital where she encountered my great-grandmother, Katie (Blazer) Johnson, and asked her to take care of her baby girl. The young woman was unmarried. Katie agreed and began the rest of her life dedicated to being Eva Louise Johnson’s mother.

Editor’s note: right after I wrote the paragraph above, I did more research and realized that there is so much more to this story! So I will finish this by pointing to some earlier blog posts I had written: Independent from Birth and Update on Eva.

More to the story about Eva’s mother will be forthcoming, and it’s really exciting!


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