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There_was_no_bridegroom_there_(NYPL_Hades-463957-1255500)

Estella (“Stella”) Blazer was born to George W. Blazer and Amanda (maiden name unknown) in 1864 in Indiana – probably Madison county. The beautiful dark-haired girl left her parents’ Anderson, Indiana home at the age of 18 for the big city of Indianapolis. There she found employment in the home of Judge Foutz as a domestic.

Close to the Union Depot located on South Illinois street, Albert Hercules ran a restaurant on West Louisiana street. From all appearances, he was of good character and very attractive. Stella became enamored of the man who in turn, according to The Cincinnati Enquirer (13 Dec 1883), “on the 20th of August, under the promise of marriage, succeeded in her ruin.” It was quite probable that at the time, Stella did not feel “ruined” since she was to be married, and the couple continued to be together when they could. The news continues on that Albert “continued his attentions till she was in a delicate condition” and then took her back to her parents’ home. He told Stella to begin planning for their Christmas wedding. Four months would be a very long time for Stella to wait to be married – especially when there was a child on the way. The earliest date agreed upon was December 2nd.

Albert Hercules left Anderson and went back to his home in Indianapolis. As the wedding date drew near, he went back to Stella’s hometown and obtained a marriage license. However, she became ill, so he left. She was to send a letter to him when she felt well enough to marry which she did soon after.

Following Albert’s instructions, Stella’s father, George, invited a large number of guests and had a large wedding feast ready on December 12th – the new date for the nuptials. The groom failed to show nor did he miss his train as Stella had feared. He had left Indianapolis but was not coming to be wed. Fearing for her child’s future as well as her own, the young woman went directly to the prosecutor and filed two affidavits. One was for bastardy and the other for criminal seduction. A warrant for Hercules’ arrest was issued. The Chief of Police of Indianapolis was telegraphed to arrest the man and hold him until the Marshal could pick him up. Unfortunately, by all appearances, Albert Hercules had flown the coop. Not only was there to be no wedding but Stella was looking at a future filled with disgrace and hardship.

 

What would happen to Stella? Would Albert Hercules be found and brought to justice? And what about the unborn child?

Stay tuned . . .

(Image courtesy of Wikimedia Commons; image in public domain)

Orphan_Train

In January 2012, I wrote an article about Orphan Train Riders in my family. Over the last month, I have learned that there was more to that story. To summarize, my great-grandmother’s brother, James William Goul, took in two young brothers, Clarence and Matthew Brown, who had ridden the Orphan Train from New York to Kansas.

One year after the last census James W. Goul appeared on (as he died a few years later), the Columbus Weekly Advocate located in Columbus, Kansas, reported on page 5 of the April 27, 1911 edition that a sister of the brothers had searched to find them. Her name was Anna and she lived in Elmire, New York. The boys (reported in the paper as Clarence and John Brown) were not orphans, and they had been”kidnapped from their home.” The newspaper also said that the brothers were inseparable and neither knew that they had an older sister who had been searching for them. I never found a follow up to find out if the brothers met their sister after being separated since before 1893, but if they did, I wonder what happened after that.

Historically, children who were transported on the trains from the east coast to the heartland, were true orphans or those who had been given up so they could have a better life and those children who were children of the street. Families who took in these children either did so because they really did want a child or because they needed labor for their farms. In the news article I referenced above, it is reported that J. W. Goul first picked the youngest of the two boys, Clarence. That leads me to believe that even though the farmer and his wife had a daughter and son, that they did want to provide a home for a new child. It was only after the young boy cried that he didn’t want his brother “taken away” that Mr. Goul took the older boy as well.

For more information about the Orphan Train: Washington Post article; PBS: American Experience; as well as a number of books written on the subject.

 

Orphan Train Image courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

News Article Title

Tell me that if you didn’t see that in a newspaper that you wouldn’t immediately go “ick” and then read it. I was not looking for this article*** but it jumped out at me while I was reading something else about someone who is a collateral ancestor. The article is from The Call-Leader (Elwood, Indiana) printed on Thursday, June 29, 1916 on page 8. I found the newspaper on Newspapers.com https://www.newspapers.com/image/87580544 and saved it as a pdf on February 2, 2016.

The article mentions that 54-year-old, D W Hunt, married Lillian Lyda Young in Charleston, West Virginia. Hunt was a neighbor of the Young family, knew his intended since birth, and vowed that he would marry her some day. Have I said “ick” yet?

Don’t you wonder what was going through the minds of her parents – especially since it was “understood almost since her birth that Hunt was to have her for his bride”? Perhaps they were happy that their young daughter was so well loved (I hope that’s the right word!) and knew she would be well taken care of.

I sought out records to see what transpired after Hunt and his wife were married. First, I found the marriage record – yes, there it was in black and white – on FamilySearch.org (Citation: “West Virginia Marriages, 1780-1970,” database, FamilySearch(https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:NMGL-44T : accessed 3 February 2016), D W Hunt and Lillian Lyda Young, 1916; citing Kanawha, , county clerks, West Virginia; FHL microfilm 521,721.). Clicking to the wvculture.org site, I found the digital image of the record. Sure enough, a D W Hunt married Lillian Lyda Young on May 14, 1916 in Villa, Kanawha, West Virginia with her mother’s consent. (On a side note: I also saw another marriage recorded for a 70-year-old groom and a 30-year-old bride.) It lists Hunt as a widower (so I guess he really didn’t wait, did he?).

In the 1920 US Census records (“United States Census, 1920,” database with images, FamilySearch(https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:MNLQ-WG8 : accessed 3 February 2016), Daniel D Hunt, Aarons Fork, Kanawha, West Virginia, United States; citing sheet 6A, NARA microfilm publication T625 (Washington D.C.: National Archives and Records Administration, n.d.); FHL microfilm 1,821,957.), Daniel D Hunt is 58 years old (birth about 1862 in West Virginia) and Lillian L is 20 years old (birth about 1900 in West Virginia). Included in the household are Daniel’s two sons from his first marriage – Emmit age 16 and David age 14 – as well as the couple’s two children – Ruth age 2 1/2 and Hallie age 3 months.

I went back to the 1900 US Census to see if Lillian had already been born, and there she was living in Malden in Kanawha county at age 9 months. Besides her parents, David and Ellen, there were four other siblings (Pearl, Charles, Nellie and Alfred) all older than Lillian. Ellen died within the next year or so because in the 1910 US Census, Lillian is living with her father and her stepmother, Mary. David and Mary had been married for six years.

Daniel Webster Hunt is found in the 1900 Census with his first wife, Fanny, and four children: Mary, Daniel, Alice, and Jarrett. In the 1910 Census, besides he and his wife are the following children: Jarrett, Emmit, and David. So Daniel had children much older than Lillian – not unheard of – but makes one wonder what his oldest children, Mary, Daniel, Alice and Jarrett, thought when their father married a sixteen year old girl.

In 1930, Daniel and Lillian have added a son to their family – William. He was six years old. By 1940, their daughter Hallie Helen Hunt had married Woodrow Chandler and had a son, Jackie Lee, aged 1 (all living with the couple). Their son, William, was still residing with them. Interesting tidbit: the date of the enumeration was April 29, 1940. On another date – April 9, 1940, Daniel is enumerated at his oldest daughter’s home (Mary Coleman) as widowed. Yes, this is the same person via further research of records. Then the absolute kicker is that looking at Daniel’s headstone on Find a Grave (Memorial #51249810), his death date is April 9, 1940. Head scratching records – those are! And there is Lillian buried next to him – she died in 1962 (Find a Grave Memorial #51258652). In order to make sense of the two 1940 census sheets and the death date, my conclusion is that they really did follow the instructions which was to list who was living in the household on April 1, 1940 (not on the date of enumeration). Lillian is the person who answered the questions as indicated by the X marked next to her name. She listed herself as a widow but crossed it out and changed it to married – because she was married on April 1. In Mary’s household, there isn’t an X to indicate who answered the questions. Since her mother – Daniel’s first wife – was dead, that leaves me to believe that is the reason Daniel was listed as a widower – perhaps a Freudian slip, and they didn’t recognize Lillian as the current Mrs. Hunt?

Daniel’s will was probated on April 22, 1940 in which he named his fifth child, Emmitt Hunt, as executor. Within the contents of the will, Hunt made sure that his wife and their son, William, were well taken care of through land and mineral rights of several tracts of land. His other sons were given surface rights to land and all of the children – except for one – and a grandson were named as beneficiaries for objects, books, etc. His and Lillian’s daughter, Hallie Helen, was given only $1. Makes a person wonder what she did to irritate her father enough to basically cut her out of anything except by giving her the dollar, he knew that it wouldn’t be easy to contest because he didn’t “forget” about her.

On July 1, 1940 the appraisal of Daniel Hunt’s property was recorded in court with real estate at $2260; personal property at $65; totaling $2325.

That is the extent of information that I located on the couple. I didn’t delve into his children’s or their children’s lives. So, even though the newspaper article made everything seem pretty “icky,” it appeared that Daniel Hunt and Lillian Young remained together until his death, and he loved her enough to make sure that she had a comfortable life after he had passed.

 

***Disclaimer: Those mentioned in this blog post are not related to me.

Two years ago, I posted an article about my my great-grandfather’s brother, Jacob Marion Wilt. If you haven’t read it or need a refresher, please go here.

In summary, I have not been able to locate any further information on Jacob nor on his wife, Sena Gibson, for the last two years. I located their son, Russell, and his wife, Ferna Potter (I learned her maiden name!), along with their daughter, Thelma. Or is she (more on that below)?

Yesterday, after checking Find a Grave one more time, lo and behold! There was the headstone for Jacob. Checking in the same cemetery, I located Sena, Russell, and Ferna! Yes, I did a happy dance – not so much of a dance rather than some arm and fist pumps in my chair!

Now, I have a more detailed picture of Jacob’s life and death than I had two years ago. It turns out that Sena Gibson was born Marsena Gibson to Wilson Gibson and Cynthia Ann Maddy about 1856 in Indiana. Sena’s mother, Cynthia, is found at the age of 12, living in the household of Andrew and Marcena Maddy in the 1850 US Census in Henry county, Indiana. Cynthia’s siblings included James, Isaac, Elizabeth, George, Rhoda, Philena, and Sarah Jane.

Cynthia and Wilson married in Henry county about Feb 1855. Besides Marsena, they had two more children – Rhoda and George (which coincidentally, are the names of two of Cynthia’s siblings). The family is found in the 1860 US Census in Jefferson, Henry county, Indiana – along with a girl named Amanda, age 9. Amanda is possibly the daughter of Wilson Gibson from a previous marriage. By the 1870 US Census, Wilson has died (about 1864) and Cynthia has remarried Thomas Ray on March 7, 1866 in Henry county. Son, George, is not in the household giving the impression that he died between 1860-1870. Included in the household is “Sena” Gibson, age 14; Rhoda Gibson, age 12; Sarah Ray, age 4; and James Ray, age 1. In the 1880 US Census, Cynthia and Thomas with children: Sarah, James, Albert, Josie, and Alta are still living in Henry county. Marsena (“Sena”) is found living in the Anderson Sherman household in Henry county as a servant.

The following year on August 5, 1881, Sena Gibson and Jacob Wilt marry in Henry county. About nine years later, their son, Russell Ray Wilt, was born in the same county. Due to the amount of time between their marriage and the birth of Russell, it seems likely that other children may have been born – and died (as a result of stillbirth or miscarriage). However, no records have been found. Sena does report on the 1900 US Census that she is the mother of only one child and that child is living. It wouldn’t have been the first time that a woman did not list stillbirths. It is also possible that couple may have had fertility issues, and Russell was their “miracle” child.

Jacob and Sena are found – still residing in Henry county – in both the 1900 US and 1910 US census records. Jacob does not list an occupation in 1900 but in 1910, he says that he is a “railroad worker.” At that time, the family owned their home “free and clear.” By June 1917, their son, Russell, is a resident of California as shown on his draft registration for WWI and is self-employed. Was that the reason Jacob and Sena moved to California from their native Indiana? To be closer to their only son? Jacob’s father, (my 2nd great-grandfather) Israel Wilt, was still living. Was it difficult for Jacob to move clear across the country from his then 80-90 year old widowed father – knowing that he would probably never see him again? Sena’s mother, Cynthia, had died in August 1911, so she wouldn’t have been leaving her parents.

The couple has been very hard to find in the 1920 US Census. Up until today, I wasn’t sure if they were in Indiana during the enumeration or on their way to California. Jacob Wilt has been found in the 1920 US Census! He is a renter living at 439 King Street in San Bernardino and listed his age as 57 (several years were shaved off his age!), born in Indiana with father born in Virginia (yes) and mother born in Pennsylvania (yes). Jacob is a laborer on the railroad. And for the kicker – his marital status shows he is divorced. What? Divorced? So where is Sena? Has she died?

Yes, Marsena Gibson Wilt died on December 26, 1913 at the age of 57 years in San Bernardino. She is listed as Mrs. J Wilt. So does that imply that prior to Russell moving to California by 1917, the entire family moved? Did Jacob and Sena divorce prior to her death or did Jacob marry someone else between the end of 1913 and the census in 1920? But what happened to Jacob Wilt? In 1930, he is renting 1745 W. King Street in San Bernardino next to the rail yard. He lists his age as 69, working for the railroad “at home” and is widowed. By the 1940 US Census, Jacob had already died. His death record shows that he died at the age of 70 on September 26, 1931 in Los Angeles county.

Jacob and Marsena are buried at Mountain View cemetery in San Bernardino. Thanks to Lynette (Find a Grave member: Gooffson), she not only uploaded the cemetery information to Find a Grave but also photos of their headstones. She has allowed me to use her photos in my family tree.

Jacob Wilt gravestone

Marsena Gibson Wilt headstone

(Headstone photos by Gooffston – AKA Lynette – used with her permission.)

Finding Jacob and Marsena’s headstones and where they are buried enabled me to find even more records and information for my great-grand-uncle and his wife!

Their son, Russell Ray Wilt, had moved – either with is parents or by himself – after 1910. On his WWI draft registration, he lists his birthday as September 6, 1890 and place of birth as Newcastle, Indiana (in Henry county). The address he resided at on June 5, 1917 was 1120 S. Madison in Stockton, California. Russell was a self-employed oilman with a wife who was dependent upon him for support. In 1920, Russell and his wife, Ferna, are roomers in the household of 64 year old Isora M. Oulland in the 7th Ward of Modesto living at 142 Rosemont avenue. Russell’s wife, Ferna, is listed as age 28 born in California with her father born in “English” Canada and her mother born in Illinois. Russell does not have an occupation listed.

In the 1930 San Diego, California City Directory, Russell and Ferna are living at 2351 Boundary street. If that address is still current today, the home is duplex. Russell’s occupation is salesman. By the 1930 US Census enumerated on April 11, 1930, the family is living at 1382 36th street in Oakland, California. They are renting for $30/month. Living with them is their “daughter” Thelma, age 12 born in California. So where was Thelma in the 1920 US census? She wasn’t shown to be living with them in Stockton – unless the landlord, Ms. Oulland, provided the information to the enumerator and failed to mention Thelma. Russell was 22 and Ferna was 21 at the age of their first marriage – putting their marriage as taking place in about 1912. That leaves the impression that Russell was in California by that time. His occupation in 1930 was a specialties salesman.

The 1940 US Census reports that Russell and Ferna were living in Chillum, Washington. By 1940 they are residing in Alderton, Washington. Once again, the couple are roomers in the household of a widow – 69 year old Charlotte Laidlaw, who was born in Canada. Russell lists that his occupation is a self-employed artist and had worked 30 weeks in 1939 and only 6 hours between March 1 and March 30, 1940.

On March 27, 1937 Thelma L. Wilt and James M. Norris were married in Kittitas county, Washington with the approval of Russell Wilt and John Norris Jr (fathers of the intended). Thelma would have been almost 19 years old. James McGovin Norris was born on October 29, 1906 in Roslyn, Washington. The couple are living on the United States Indian Service Government Camp located in Yakima county, Washington in the 1940 US Census – along with their year old son. Thelma reports that she has completed one year of college. Her husband is a surveyor for the government.

By November 30, 1951 Thelma and James had divorced. She then married William Christensen in King county, Washington.

By the time of the 1942 WWII Draft registration – to register older men – Russell and Ferna were back in California, living at 1700 “F” street in San Bernardino. Russell was unemployed at the age of 51 years. He had a scar under his right arm – no mention if it was a large scar or not.

Russell died on August 4, 1954 in Orange county, California. He was buried in Mountain View cemetery – the same as his parents. Ferna followed on August 1, 1963.

Now, back to Thelma and the answer to where she was in the 1920 US Census since she did not appear in Russell and Ferna’s household. I still haven’t located her but I have learned that Thelma was born Thelma Serrano to Lucille Rogers and Arthur Jesse Serrano in March 1918 in Alameda, California. Apparently, the child’s mother took off and left her with Arthur who in turn moved in with his parents. Soon, Thelma’s biological grandparents came down with tuberculosis. Arthur feared for his daughter’s health and put an ad in the paper asking for a couple to take his daughter. It is unknown if an adoption ever took place after Russell and Ferna took young Thelma into their home as their own daughter. Thelma tracked down her biological family in the late 1970s.  She passed away in Washington on February 21, 2000.

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“Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.” George Santaya

True? False? Somewhere in between?

Those of us who were alive and cognizant of the world around us on September 11, 2001 surely do remember that morning, what took place, where we were and what we were doing, and how it made us feel.

For me it is not only a remembering of that September morning but of the loss of my brother less than two weeks before. I also remember how just years prior to 9/11 that my husband had flown on each of those doomed flights during the days that he traveled very frequently – almost weekly – for business.

Here are my previous posts beginning with the first: Remembering Those Lost; My Thoughts on 9/11; Reflections on September 11, 2001; and Anniversary of the Last Day of Normal.

Today, I’ve put the flag up as a way to honor all those who have lost their lives on 9/11, who were first responders, and those who have been lost due to the war on terror.

My husband, grandson, and I began a new adventure recently – selling our home and moving 600+ miles away to another state. The knowledge of the move was known for quite awhile but the logistics and details were filled with stressful moments. How long would our home need to be on the market before it sold? How much would it cost to make sure the home was ready to be sold (cosmetic and other repairs)? Would there be enough “profit” for us after the sale? Move ourselves? Hire a moving company? What to take? What to pitch? What to give away? When to start packing? Where to put the boxes that were packed? And for the love of everything – what is this going to cost? (If you have ever moved, you know what I’m saying!)

uhaul june 2015

U-Haul with some boxes in the over cab

Luckily for us, the selling of the house was almost the easiest part – we closed even before we had to move. Then it became a matter of how quickly can we get everything packed. Once we started packing boxes, it became pretty clear that there wasn’t any place to put them and be able to pack more! So we decided to rent a U-Haul truck in order to start getting things out of the house. 

 

My husband very meticulously figured out the best way to maximize the space inside the truck in order to pack everything in to it. There were some (in retrospect) funny moments such as when my husband and son-in-law was moving our reclining sofa and loveseat from the house into the truck. Our daughter mentioned that hers came apart to make it easier to move but since the company who delivered our furniture years ago brought each piece in as one piece and not apart, no one bothered to check. (It was only after they about killed themselves getting it out of our house, into the truck, off loaded from the truck at our new home and just before figuring out how to get it from an outbuilding on the property to the basement of the house, did my husband realize that yep – they did come apart!)

Time seemed to be our enemy on the day my husband had wanted to get on the road. Without any place to sit or sleep, we ended up staying in a local hotel overnight before braving the last bits of cramming more items into the truck or the vehicle I was going to be driving and being sure to leave enough room for our traveling items (luggage and a couple bags of “important paperwork”).

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Husband and I with our daughter, son-in-law, and two grandsons

With good-byes, hugs, and tears shed, we finally hit the road and left our home north of Dallas in the afternoon of June 11th. We stopped for the night at a nice hotel in a small Oklahoma town and enjoyed a delicious meal at the diner next door. The next morning, we began the last leg of the journey to our new home.

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That picture and the one below is what it’s all about! Big sky, rows and rows of corn, soybeans, and wheat! Gravel roads and country lanes. Barns and tractors. People who wave as they drive by. Neighbors who bring corn, corn, and even more corn! Furry critters and feathered friends to watch and marvel over. Small towns and big hearts.

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Our life is a little more slower paced these days – at least until our grandsons starts high school soon. My deadlines are 7 a.m., 11 a.m. and 5 p.m. (breakfast, lunch and dinner – oh wait, here it’s called breakfast, dinner and supper!). There’s always laundry to be done, weeds to be pulled, flowers to be watered, and new places to discover. It’s not quite retirement but it’s pretty dog gone close!

Stay tuned for more stories of our life in Missouri – and what this means for my genealogy research (hint: I’m really excited!!)!

Mid-Hiatus

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I’m just “sort of” back right now. Isn’t that a beautiful sight? That’s our new view looking down the road.

We’ve moved. To Missouri. To a farm. Up-sized – not down-sized. This is land that has been in my husband’s family for 5 generations.

Many stories to tell. Stay tuned.

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