Posts Tagged ‘Anderson’


Our last full day in Anderson was filled with emotion and fun. If you have read this blog for awhile, then you might remember my post – Independent From Birth – about my maternal grandfather’s foster sister, Eva – specifically the following paragrah:

She and her husband split up and divorced, and when Eva was in her early 40s, she discovered that she was pregnant.  The specter of what lay ahead of her would surely be weighing on her mind: an older mother, a single mother, a mother of a grown son, a woman who had limited income.  Any number of reasons would have aided her in her decision to give up her daughter – just as she had been given up.  It was only many years later before Eva died, that she would be reunited with her grown daughter.

I have also written a series of articles concerning the Clues to the Mystery of Clara (Eva’s biological mother). All of the research stemmed from a comment I received on my genealogy web site many, many years ago from a woman telling me she was Eva’s biological daughter. Ever since Lynn and I began communicating way back then, she’s given me what little information she was told. I’ve used that and gone on to find documents and news articles to help her find out more about her biological family. When I knew that I was definitely going to be in Anderson, I made sure Lynn knew our schedule in order for us to finally meet face to face. Little did I know that she had a surprise of her own for me!

When Lynn and her husband pulled in to the motel parking lot to pick us up, I could hardly contain my excitement! As soon as we could, we hugged and laughed. It was as if we had known each other forever. Originally, we had planned to get a pizza and go to one of the parks, but the pizza place wasn’t going to be open for awhile. That’s when she told me that Eva’s daughter-in-law and granddaughter were also going to be with us for the day! I had never met them. The granddaughter (Lynn’s niece) had plenty of questions about Eva as well. We met up with them and they followed us to Culvers for an early lunch. Immediately, we all began pouring over the information about Eva and Clara as well as my grandparents (Eva’s foster parents).

That’s when I told my cousin and her mother that they were about to have their mind blown. We did share a family connection via the foster parent to child connection. BUT – further back – one of Clara’s direct ancestors was the brother of my direct ancestor – on my grandmother’s side. There was a blood connection! It was so thrilling to provide this information that it was hard to eat!

Soon, lunch was over, and we drove over to Mounds State Park and grabbed a picnic table to sit and enjoy the cool day. There was plenty of conversation. Lynn recounted to us how she finally found Eva and was able to talk with her. Her niece recounted meeting Lynn and also talked about her dad – Lynn’s older half-brother. While we were engaged in family history talk, Lynn’s husband and my grandson went to explore the Great Mound. The sky was beginning to turn and threaten rain. Lynn’s niece and sister-in-law had to leave. We took some nice photos before we parted ways.


Left to right: Wendy, Lynn (seated), cousin “B” and her mom “J”

Lynn, her husband and I drove through Anderson and happened to pass a cemetery. I saw the sign that said “West Maplewood” and then both my grandson and I exclaimed “There it is!” It was the gravestone that had been so elusive to us the last two days! I didn’t realize that West Maplewood Cemetery was off another road than East Maplewood – no wonder I could never find it. So Lynn’s husband pulled in to the cemetery. We all got out and set about exploring.


The photo above shows the very tall grave marker in the Hawkins family plot. At the upper right is the stone for Coleman Hawkins and below that is for his wife (and my great-great-grandfather’s sister) Elizabeth Blazer Hawkins. For more on their story, please read Mingling of Families and Murder.


This collage above shows the stones in the Hawkins family plot. Then from bottom left across and then up to top right: Ida E Hawkins (b. 1873 d. 1898); Silas Hawkins (b. 1870 d. 1901); Rufus Hawkins (b. 1866 d. 1896); stone hard to read;  and George G Hawkins (b. 1860 d. 1885).


In another section of West Maplewood, I found my great-great-grandfather’s (Frank Blazer) and Elizabeth’s other sister, Mary Jane Blazer Webb. She was next to her husband, Marian Webb, and sons: Rufus V Webb and Wilson S Webb. There were several interesting gravestones we saw as we explored the cemetery. From there we went to Frisch’s to eat. Once again, I had the Swiss Miss! We topped off our day at Shadyside Memorial Park in Anderson. Here is a photo I have of my grandfather, Glen R Johnson, as a young boy with sheep at Shadyside in the early 1900s.


The Terraced Gardens at the park were beautiful. There is also a memorial dedicated to all veterans from Madison county.


Below are photos of the Veterans Memorial.


We had spent quite a bit of time at the park when it started to sprinkle. The day was growing late and Lynn and her husband had another couple of hours on the road to get back to their home. Reluctantly, we piled back in to their vehicle so they could drop my grandson and me off at our motel. We said our good-byes, and they left for home. It was time to start packing up to leave the next morning and finish our journey home.

Next: Finding Lincoln

The previous installments of our genealogy road trip can be found here:  Part One, Part Two, Part Three, Part FourPart Five, Part Six, Part Seven and Part Eight.

If you would like to read more about Lynn’s biological maternal grandmother, please go to: Clara – the News Article, Who Is Clara Badger?, and  Update and Summary.

(All photos copyright Wendy Littrell, address for private use)


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(Links to previous installments at bottom of post.)

Our second day (first full day) in Anderson, Indiana began after breakfast by finding the homes where my great-grandparents (John and Katie Johnson) and my grandmother (Vesta Wilt Johnson) resided. Needless to say, the homes were either gone or it wouldn’t have been a good idea for me to step out of my car and start taking photos of houses so I dispensed with that idea. I did take a photo of the church where the Johnson’s attended and where my grandfather, Glen R Johnson, was baptized. After attending this church on Easter Sunday 1916, he met the woman he would marry – my grandmother, Vesta Wilt.


Central Christian Church, Anderson, Indiana

It was almost time for the library to open so we waited in the parking lot for awhile. My grandson was already grumbling about spending more time in a library. Unlike, the one in Coshocton, the genealogy room was upstairs and open. There was no door that shut behind us as we entered. It was also very large. Since I had promised that we wouldn’t be there more than two hours, I hurriedly began looking through books. I used my Kindle to photograph information. In hindsight, had I known that I would find a wealth of information there, I would have spent more time at the Indiana Public Library and less at the Coshocton Library. Lesson learned!

Once we left the library, we headed toward Pendleton and Falls Park. It was a beautiful day for hiking the trail, seeing the falls, and enjoying nature. We didn’t park in the main lot but at a smaller lot on the opposite side of the park. The first thing that drew my attention was the beautiful Monarch Butterfly garden.


While walking through the woods, we noticed that there were signs indicating our location which helps to not get lost! We crossed some bridges over Prairie Creek and came upon the CSX railroad bridge. The year “1910” was marked on it!


While we explored, we saw groups of people who were walking/jogging the trails and those who were setting up cameras for photos. We came out of the woods in to the main area of the park and saw many people enjoying the day. There was even a bride having photos taken. I saw some geese but couldn’t get a very close picture. The falls were beautiful!


We went back to the car the same way we had come. By then we were hot. We got back on the road and stopped for a sweet treat at Good’s Candy Shop about 2:30. Not only did they have several varieties of popcorn and candy but also hand-dipped ice cream – which is what we both chose. After we finished, we headed back to Maple Grove Cemetery. I was still looking for the graves of my great-great-grandfather’s sister – Elizabeth Blazer – and her husband – Coleman Hawkins (please go back and read “Mingling of Families and Murder” to get an insight about these relationships!) This time, when we entered the cemetery, there was a sign “No Pokemon Game Play Allowed in Cemetery.” Needless to say, there were at least 2-3 golf carts filled with college students driving around and stopping. Two cemetery security vehicles followed them and seemed to run them out of the area. A few times, security followed me until they figured out that I really was looking for gravestones! Our 30+ minutes driving around was fruitless. I decided that I just wasn’t going to find the Hawkins family or any other Blazers that day.


We drove way out in the country to Henry County where my Nash ancestors were buried. Lebanon Baptist Cemetery isn’t very big and the graves were easily found.


The photo above shows the stone of Alexander and Elsie (Minesinger) Nash. They were the parents of Christena Nash who married Israel Wilt. Christena and Israel are the parents my great-grandfather, Joseph N Wilt, and great-great-grandparents of my grandmother, Vesta C (Wilt) Johnson. That makes Alexander and Elsie my three times great-grandparents. Alexander’s inscription is on one side of the stone. To read Elsie’s inscription, I had to move some vines out of the way. A tree has grown up right in front of their stone (where “Nash” is inscribed at bottom) and is dislodging the stone from the ground.


Close to Alexander and Elsie Nash rests the headstone of Christeana Minesinger – mother of Elsie (two photos above left). There is a stone leaning on Christeana’s but I wasn’t able to tell whose it was. The photo (third from left) above indicates how close her stone is to her daughter and son-in-law. The far right photo are graves of Nash children. Unfortunately, they were very hard to read. Before leaving, I told Christeana and Alexander and Elsie that I was very glad that I could visit their final resting place and thanked them for their lives.Without them, I wouldn’t be here. My grandson snapped a photo and labeled it “Nana talks to dead people.” Yes, yes I do!

It was time to head back to Anderson. That evening we ate dinner across the road from our hotel at Steak-n-Shake close to 7 p.m. By the time we were finished eating, it was time to head back to our room and settle in for the night. I was looking forward to a fun-filled and emotional Sunday. I would be meeting a cousin for the very first time!

Next – A Day with Lynn!

To catch up on this series please go to: Part One, Part Two, Part Three, Part Four, Part Five, Part Six, and Part Seven.

(All photos copyright Wendy Littrell, address for private use)

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(Links to previous installments are at the bottom of this article.) The morning of July 15 found us leaving Coshocton before 6 a.m. headed south west. I wanted to get to Anderson, Indiana before the afternoon but planned a stop before leaving Ohio. My four times great-grandparents, Adam Goul and Elizabeth (Lutz) Goul, settled in Champaign county by 1817. They were buried at Treacles Creek Cemetery in Goshen township off of South Parkview Road. By the time we arrived at the cemetery, my grandson had gone back to asleep. The only parking was off the shoulder of the road so I woke him just enough to tell him I was going into the cemetery. Luckily, the photos I have seen of the headstones gave me an indication as to the area I should look.


I found them pretty quickly and took some photos. As I had done in many of the other cemeteries, I talked to them for a few moments before heading back to the car. We drove on toward Anderson, Indiana.

My mom, her older two siblings, and my grandfather had all been born in Anderson. When my mom was just a few years old, the family moved to present day Fairborn, Ohio. Ancestors on my grandmother’s side had lived in Henry county – very close to Madison county so I hoped that I could also visit where they were buried.

When we arrived in Anderson, I realized too late that the hotel sat off the road to the right of the highway, and I was in the left lane. Having lived in the Dallas area for so long, I was used to driving a bit and going around the block to my destination. That is not so in Anderson! I drove a very long way and kept thinking that surely this road will intersect with the highway again – nope, it went right over it without an exit to the highway! Even with that bit of trouble, we arrived at the hotel about 11 a.m. I knew check-in wasn’t until 3 p.m. but I had hoped that they (like the hotel in Coshocton) might let us check in early. Sadly, that wasn’t the case. I was told that it “might” be ready by 2. The first thing we did was find a place to eat – Pizza Hut. Then we drove out to Maplewood Cemetery near the college in Anderson. My grandfather’s parents and siblings are buried there – along with many of my grandfather’s cousins.

With the size of the cemetery, I stopped at the office. I explained to the lady that we were from out of state, and I had hoped to see some of my family member’s graves during the short time I was in town, but I needed to know exactly where they were buried or I would never find them. Her comment: “We really don’t do that.” Before I could pick my jaw up off of the floor, she sighed and asked me “just how many people are we talking about?” Well I knew that anything over 4 was just going to shut her down so I gave my great-grandmother’s name as I knew that some of the others were buried right next to her. The lady made the look up on the computer, retrieved a book from an inner room, and marked down her plot on a map she gave me. I also got the location for my grandfather’s foster sister, Eva’s grave. I thanked her profusely, and then we left the office to follow the map.


Top Left to Right: Letis W Johnson, Mary A Johnson, Eva L (Johnson) Skinner (my great-uncle & great-aunts)
Bottom: John L Johnson and Katie J (Blazer) Johnson – my great-grandparents

As we were driving through the cemetery looking for other graves, we saw a father and his son crisscrossing many of the roads. I stopped to ask if they were playing “Pokemon Go” – sure enough, they were but had also been visiting his parents’ graves. We thought it was humorous because many of the college students were also wandering through campus and nearby streets playing the game. Needless to say, even though one of the gravestones I was looking for was rather large and next to the road, we never found it. We did stop at the Veterans area and take pictures.


Finally, we were able to check in at the hotel. I saw several families staying there – so that always makes me feel better about safety. I had booked this place on the advice of my cousin – who I would finally get to meet in person on July 17.

Realizing just how difficult it was obtaining grave location information at Maplewood, I contacted the other cemetery – Grove Lawn – in Pendleton (a few miles down the road). I reached the Town Hall so I explained the reason for my call and was passed off to another woman. She was very helpful and told me she would call me back and email me a map once she had the graves located. It wasn’t too long when she called to apologize that the area I needed to search was the older section and those records had burned in a fire long ago. She told me to check my email for her advice along with the map.

My grandson and I headed off to Pendleton and passed Fall Creek park. I turned into one of the small lanes of the cemetery and stopped. Based on what the lady at the Town Hall told me, I suggested that my grandson head off to the section on his side of the car to start looking for gravestones. As I stepped a few feet back and looked down, there they were! As I believed on Tuesday in Coshocton, it appeared the ancestors wanted to be found!

Left side – top: Franklin Blazer & bottom: Melissa (Goul) Blazer
Right side: John & Martha Goul (Melissa’s parents)

Over a bit from Franklin and Melissa’s graves were the stones of Franklin’s brother’s family. George and Amanda Blazer are buried near three of their four children: Estella (Blazer) Dilts, John W Blazer, and James Albert Blazer.


Also, close by were two other members of the family – John F Blazer, son of Franklin and Melissa (my great-grandmother Katie’s brother), and Franklin’s father, John Blazer. There is an area without a gravestone next to the elder John Blazer, and I believe my three times great-grandmother, Mary Ann (Nelson) Blazer, is buried there.


Left: John Blazer b 1810 d 1873 / Right: John F Blazer b 1859 d 1897

Further back in the cemetery is where I located Melissa’s parents grave – John and Martha Goul. Then I saw John Goul’s brother’s gravestone. It looks like a carved tree trunk.



Above: Side of headstone for Henry Goul and Bottom: Sarah Shaul Goul

By the time we were finished at Grove Lawn, we headed back to Anderson and the hotel. After a bit of rest and relaxation, the grandson and I went down the street to eat at Cracker Barrel. After supper, the rest of the evening was spent back at the hotel in anticipation of another busy day.

Next: Day Two in Anderson and Vicinity

(Please visit the previous installments for the story up to now! Part One, Part Two, Part Three, Part Four, Part Five, and Part Six.

(All photos copyright Wendy Littrell, address for private use.)

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Pendleton 16 July 2016 Falls Park Monarch Butterfly Garden flowers

Readers may notice that there has been a lull in recent blog posts. This is in part to several things but the most important was a road trip I took in the early part of July. The main purpose for my trip was to fulfill my dad’s wishes to have his ashes interred beside his second wife, Dottie, at Royal Oak Memorial Gardens in Brookville, Ohio – just outside of Dayton.

Once my time in the Dayton area was complete, my 15 year old grandson and I traveled further northeast to my dad’s hometown. I hadn’t visited Coshocton, Ohio since I was a child so it was a joy to be able to see it as an adult especially after extensive genealogical research on the paternal side of my family. After spending a week in Coshocton, I headed west toward home with a three day stop in Anderson, Indiana – my mom’s hometown as well as her dad’s.

Following our twelve day vacation, we began our journey home – stopping in Springfield, Illinois to visit President Lincoln’s home and his tomb.

It was a welcome break for me and even though he wasn’t too thrilled with spending seven hours at the library on one day and two hours another, my grandson enjoyed some perks.

There will be more blog posts to come with details of the what, who, where, why, and how! It was a trip filled with many blessings!

(Digital Photo: Monarch Butterfly Garden at Falls Park, Pendleton, Indiana; 16 July 2016; photographer: Wendy Littrell; copyright 2016. No unauthorized use of photo. Original digital photo in possession of Wendy Littrell – Address for private use.)

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The story picks up at the end of Common Sense Prevails for Estella Blazer to find that following Albert Hercules’ brutal attack on Stella and his indictment for attempted murder, the story goes cold. I presume that I would need to wade through files and records in person at the court house in Anderson, Indiana to sort out the aftermath. I don’t have any idea how long the man was in jail nor if he saw a trial.

What I do know is that Estella Blazer gave birth to a boy on June 8, 1884 in Madison county and named him William . . . Blazer (not Hercules)! I had to wonder why I missed that fact. Scanning through the censuses, I had found a family consisting of George and Amanda along with a grandson, Willie in 1900 – except the record is transcribed as Blayer – not Blazer (those pesky cursive z’s!). I had cast that census aside because even though the names of the adults fit, I couldn’t place Willie into the family. Now I can. In 1990, Willie was recorded as age 15. The family resided at 610 12th Street in Anderson (today, that is an empty yard).

George W Blazer 1900 snip2

In the snippet of the 1900 US Census1, Willie’s parents are both listed as born in Indiana. Amanda reports that she is the mother of 4 children but only one is living. George indicates that both of his parents were born in Virginia.

I had already located Estella – she was lying in repose in Grove Lawn Cemetery in Pendleton. Her headstone reads

Wife of J T Dilts
Oct 9 1886


Her age is obscured by the ground. Her headstone is close to her two brothers who died as small children.

However the situation with Albert Hercules concluded, Stella went on to marry John Thomas Dilts born in November 1847 in Indiana. A marriage record shows that the couple married on Oct 16, 1885 in Anderson, Indiana. They weren’t even married for one year before she died. It is obvious that her parents, George and Amanda, took in their grandson and raised him after their daughter’s death. J T Dilts went on to marry again less than three years later to Martha Cox. He died on Aug 15, 1905 in Summitville, Indiana.

But what about William? Three years after the 1900 census was taken, George died from ingesting carbolic acid (see The Deaths of Blazers”) and three years after that, Amanda died. With tragedy swirling around William from the time of his conception, would he have a “happily ever after”?

Stay tuned . . .

(Image of Baby Shoes: “Classic Baby Shoes” from Wikimedia Commons, JD Hancock, Austin, Texas)

Source: 1.  (1900 U.S. Census, Madison County, Indiana, population schedule, Anderson Township, Anderson City, Ward 3 (pt), enumeration district 87, sheet 22-B, dwelling 480, family 491, Willie Blazer; digital image, Ancestry.com (http://www.ancestry.com/ : accessed 14 March 2016); citing National Archives microfilm publication T623, roll 386.)

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When Inez Franklin’s wedding announcement appeared in the Greenfield Daily Reporter (Greenfield, Indiana) on March 4, 1920, only her mother was listed. It appeared as if Millie Franklin was a widow. Her husband and Inez’s father, William Franklin, had died 13 years before.

Jesse Wilt (my maternal grandmother’s brother) was 24 years old and had already served in the Army during WWI. His parents had divorced almost eleven years prior to his marriage, and his father probably did not even attend the wedding on February 20, 1920.

The couple married in Anderson, Indiana at the home of the minister who performed the wedding, Rev. W.L. Lundy. The newspaper did not list those who attended the ceremony, but I suspect the two mothers and possibly siblings who lived close.

Jesse and his new wife set up housekeeping on “the bride’s farm near Pendleton.” So obviously, Inez owned land as well as a home. However, in the 1930 US Census, Jesse is related to the head of household as son-in-law. Millie Franklin is the property owner so in actuality, it wasn’t Inez’s farm but rather the home in which she’d been living prior to marriage.

They went on to have four children: Frederick Loren Wilt, Lorraina Mae Wilt, William Thompson Wilt, and Evalyn Joan Wilt. Jesse spent time in the VA Hospital in Dayton, Ohio. Inez died on March 31, 1955 at the home of her youngest daughter, Joan (pronounced Jo Ann) Borelli. Jesse died three years later on Valentines Day 1958 in Dayton.

(Image courtesy of WIkimedia Commons)

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jail image

When last we saw Stella at the end of “When He Stood Her Up”, she had charged Albert Hercules with bastardy and criminal seduction. It didn’t take any time at all for the man to be arrested and brought to Madison county, Indiana. Hoping to have the charges dropped, he “importuned Miss Blazer to secure his release by marriage, but this she refused to do unless he would give bonds to support their child after it was born.”1

Obviously, Estella Blazer began thinking with her head instead of her heart after being left at the altar. She was under twenty years old, pregnant and unmarried – not in 2003 or even 1983 but in 1883! Without the bonds she wanted, Stella wouldn’t be able to support her baby. Albert Hercules refused to put up those bonds. He told her that he didn’t have the financial resources but it was widely known that he did. Not only had the man seduced her under the pretense of marriage and gotten her pregnant, but he was also lying to her.

The building that housed the jail was finished in 1882 so it was fairly new by the time Albert Hercules occupied one of the cells. During that first month in jail, it isn’t known what transpired in the minds of those involved. Was Stella just going to wait it out and hope that she would receive some financial compensation for her child? What was her home life like? Did her parents often tell her that she had disgraced not only herself but her family? Was Stella depressed or strengthened in spirit by her plight? Did Hercules have any family members to contact for assistance? Did he have any feelings of love for his unborn child? These are all questions that do not have answers.


Newspaper subtitle

One thing is for sure, on January 15, 1884 – after spending a little over a month in jail and not being free on Christmas, Albert Hercules sent for Estella on the pretense of working out an arrangement with her. For nearly two hours, she visited with him – alone – in his cell – while he pled with her to have him released so they could marry. Stella refused on the grounds that if he was released, instead of marrying her, he would run off.

Unbeknownst to Miss Blazer, Hercules had been hiding a weapon. He had managed to find a one pound iron nut and tied it in a handkerchief. Before she could leave his jail cell, the man struck her repeatedly about the face and head with his weapon knocking her to the floor. Her cries for help brought the guard who rescued her. Her injuries were reported to be “six terrible wounds were inflicted on the head, all cutting to the skull; two on the face to the bone, and two fingers were mashed guarding off the blows.”1

When asked why he had assaulted the woman, Hercules told authorities that being arrested and jailed had ruined him. He also remarked that he intended to “kill the woman”2 but was unable to do so before help had arrived. Stella suffered shock and concussion. At first, her injuries appeared to be fatal but as the day wore on, she rested comfortably and improved. It was a good thing that she didn’t die from her attack because as soon as word spread, the towns people wanted to lynch Hercules.3

Albert Hercules did not show any remorse nor offer an apology for trying to murder the mother of his unborn child; the woman whom he had claimed to love enough to bed and promise to marry. The same evening in which the assault happened, the Fort Wayne Sentinel reported that the man sat “in his cell reading the life of Jesse James, seemingly indifferent to the result of his awful crime.”2

The following day, January 16, Albert Hercules was indicted for attempted murder. The paper reported that “he was hung in effigy by indignant citizens” and “only the counsel of a few cool citizens keeps him from ornamenting a gallows.”2

One has to wonder if Stella’s father, George W. Blazer, was part of the group who wanted Hercules hanged. And what of Stella herself? Did she hope that in time she would receive funds from her child’s father for support? Or did the young woman want to see her ex-fiance’ pay for not only putting her in a position of disgrace but for trying to kill her? And what was her life going to be like now that she was right in the middle of a town scandal? And would Albert Hercules pay for what he did?

Stay tuned . . .



    1. “A Brutal Attack,” Dunkirk Evening Observer (Dunkirk, New York), 17 Jan 1884, p. 1, Estella Blazer; digital images, Newspapers.com (https://www.newspapers.com/image/9196705/  accessed 2 Feb 2016)
    2. “He is a Brute,” The Fort Wayne Sentinel (Fort Wayne, Indiana), 16 Jan 1884, p. 1, Albert Hercules; digital images, Newspapers.com (https://www.newspapers.com/image/29110657/  accessed 2 Feb 2016)
    3. “A Brutal Assault,” The Republic (Columbus, Indiana), 16 Jan 1884, p. 1, Albert Hercules; digital images, Newspapers.com (https://www.newspapers.com/image/128016375/  accessed 2 Feb 2016)

(Image of jail: photo by Eugene J Amore, original slide and digital image in possession of Wendy Littrell – Address for private use.)

(News Clipping image: “He is a Brute,” The Fort Wayne Sentinel (Fort Wayne, Indiana), 16 Jan 1884, p. 1, Albert Hercules; digital images, Newspapers.com (https://www.newspapers.com/image/29110657/  accessed 2 Feb 2016))

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