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Posts Tagged ‘Badger’

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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).

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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.

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

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Below are photos of the Veterans Memorial.

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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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It all started on an interurban car – at least Eva’s part of the story.  Before I go much further with Eva’s biological parents and ancestors, I want to bring the story up to date and add a few items that have just come to my attention.

After an unknown magazine ran an advertisement that Eva was looking for her biological mother, a woman contacted the Anderson (Indiana) Herald newspaper. This is the article they ran:

eva newspaper clara

Mother Seeks Child She Gave Away Here Twenty Years Ago 

Twenty years ago a mother gave away her three day old baby girl at St. John’s hospital. She could not support the baby and a woman who chanced to visit the hospital offered to adopt the child. Now, twenty years later, fate has been kind to the woman who sacrificed her child that it might be reared in comfortable circumstances and she is now seeking her daughter.

Mrs. Clara Badgly Grennells, 810 Berry avenue, Chicago, the woman who gave her daughter to another, recently read an advertisement in a magazine from a girl who gave her name as Eva Mary Johnson. Miss Johnson said she was adopted when three days old at St. John’s hospital. Mrs. Grennells has asked The Anderson Herald to publish this article in hopes that Miss Johnson will see it and communicate with her. The Chicago woman feels confident that the girl is her long lost daughter.

Now it is clear why Eva believed that Clara Badgly Grennells was her birth mother and the reason why some inconsistencies were present in the news article shared in Part 1 of this series. Unfortunately, it is unknown if Mrs. Grennells ever found her birth daughter. The advertisement placed in a magazine could also be the way that John Hanrahan, Eva’s birth father, was able to find her. Distinguishing between Clara Badger and Clara Badgly and knowing approximate date of birth could have prompted Mr. Hanrahan to figure out that Eva Johnson was his birth daughter.

Now, for a short summary to bring readers up to date. Eva Johnson, biological daughter of Clara Margaret Badger and John Samuel Hanrahan was born on October 5, 1910 on an interurban car outside of Fortville, Indiana. At St. John’s hospital where mother and child were taken following birth, Miss Badger asked Katie J. (Blazer) Johnson to take her daughter and raise her. Eva grew up in the home of John Lafayette and Katie Johnson. She was the foster sister of Glen Roy Johnson (my maternal grandfather) and his older brother, Letis W. Johnson. Eva married John Skinner about 1928 and they had a son, Charles. The couple and their son are found living at 1618 Cincinnati Avenue in Anderson on the 1930 census. In 1940 they are living on Main Street in Vernon, Indiana. By 1951 Eva was living in the Milner Hotel on Main Street in Anderson and working as a cook at the Romany Grill. It is unknown when Eva and John stopped living together or how long after they were divorced. By 1954 Eva had met another man and found herself pregnant. About that time it is reported that Charles and Eva had a falling out that lasted the rest of both of their lives. When Eva’s daughter “L” was born, she placed her for adoption – an ironic twist considering Eva’s desire to find her birth parents two decades previously. By 1955 Eva was living in Apartment 8B of the Tower Apartments in Anderson and working as a cook at a Truck Stop. Two years later the Anderson Directory shows that she is still employed at the Truck Stop but was living at 302 Mainview Apartments. “L” eventually met Eva before she died at the age of almost 81 years old. She met her half-brother, Charles Skinner, and his family and today remains in constant contact with them.

As I’ve been writing this series, I’ve been contacted by descendants of Clara Margaret Badger and Howard William Day. To say that it has been thrilling is an understatement! One – Elizabeth Day Martin – shared other photos of Clara Marie with me including the one below. If you notice, she has a different married name – according to one of her granddaughter’s, Marie married two more times after divorcing Frederick Garringer.

clara marie day reynolds

Eva may not have known that she had three half-siblings: Howard (Harold), Clara Marie and Verle Aaron. However, “L” does know that she has living cousins and perhaps at some point in the future, they will all reach out to each other.

In the next installments, I wlll highlight Eva’s birth father’s family and see if I can shake any cousins for “L” out of that bunch!

(Image of Interurban car courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.)

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(Please feel free to start at the beginning of this series if you need to catch up! The link for Part 1 is here.)

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Verle Aaron Day
(Originally uploaded to Ancestry by Elizabeth Day Martin –
no copyright infringement intended or implied)

Clara Margaret Badger and her second husband, Howard William Day, had a two year old daughter (Clara Marie Day) and a one year old son (Howard Harold Day) when they welcomed their twin sons into the world on May 25, 1924. The couple named their sons Verle and Earl.

The birth certificate for Verle shows the spelling for his name to be Verle Arron Day. Clara’s birthplace is listed as Ohio and Howard’s as Indiana. The place of birth for Verle is listed as Marion county, Indiana.

As I mentioned in a previous post that it was reported on a Family Group Sheet shared on Ancestry by “sonyabayles1”, Earl died at 6 months presumably because he wasn’t able to absorb nutrition – whether it was because he was bottle-fed instead or because he had a physical issue that caused this – and he died at the age of six months.  Soon after his death, Clara died.

Howard Day had three children all under the age of three that he had to provide for both emotionally and financially. He turned to his surrogate “adopted” mother, Anne Chilian. She took the children in to her home and raised them.  Verle, along with his sister and brother, are listed in her household in the 1930 census in Beech Creek, Indiana. In 1940, Verle is listed under his father’s “new” surname of Daley living in Chicago, Illinois along with his father, step-mother Ella, his brother Harold, and several half-siblings.

One of the public trees on Ancestry has a photo of Verle in a sailor uniform but I do not have the dates or information as to when he joined the service.  In another photo, he is in a dressier uniform and standing next to a Marine enlistment sign.

Verle married in the early 1940s and had five daughters – three are still living. Verle died on February 8, 1993 in Taylor, Michigan where he had moved many years previous.  He is buried in Wolfe Cemetery located in Georgetown, Indiana.

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In the previous installment, I introduced you to Clara Margaret Badger and Howard William Day’s daughter, Clara Marie Day. Clara Marie was the half-sister of Eva Johnson (my grandfather’s foster sister).

The second child born to Clara Badger and Howard Day was Howard Harold Day (predominantly called “Harold”). He arrived when his older sister, Clara Marie, was 21 days shy of her first birthday. After losing their mother at a very young age, he was also sent to live with Anne Chilian “Day” where he and his two siblings were located in the 1930 census in Beech Creek, Indiana.

Locating “Harold” in the 1940 census was a bit tricky. At some point prior to 1940, the father, Howard William Day, changed his surname to Daley – perhaps because on his WWI Registration Card there is a word at the bottom by his signature – “Deserter.” 

howard day deserter ww1 registration

 

Via the name change from Day to Daley is how I was able to locate the oldest son of Clara and Howard. At eighteen years of age, “Harold” was living in the household of his father and step-mother, Ella (Garringer), in Chicago, Illinois. Their address was 920 N. Fairfield. The home is still standing today and Trulia.com explains that it is a multi-family property of two units with 2 baths and over 2800 square feet built in 1909. It has two stories and a basement.

920 N Fairfield Avenue Chicago Illinois

Those living in the household included Howard William (Day) Daley’s son from his first marriage (Clara Badger was his third marriage) – Howard age 26 as well as his youngest son with Clara – Verle age 15.  Also living in the household were Howard and Ella Daley’s two sons, Robert age 8 and Donald age 2. All of the children were listed under the Daley surname. Howard (the Senior), Howard (the younger), and Ella all worked in the laundry and “Harold” (subject of this sketch) was a laborer.

Howard Day Daley 1940 Census Chicago Illinois

 

Within the next year, “Harold” married Audine Adele Pyne, who was born and lived in California. The couple had four children. Daughter, Barbara J. Day, was born on April 28, 1944 in Alameda and died on October 3, 2012. Son, Lyle Howard Day, was born on July 22, 1952 also in Alameda. He died on February 24, 1990. The other children may still be living so no further information is provided.

“Harold” died in Los Angeles on November 28, 1975 and was buried at Rose Hills Memorial Park. His wife, Audine, remarried after Harold’s death. She passed away on February 13, 2000.

 

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In my last post, Who Is Clara Badger?, I mentioned that Clara Badger, birth mother of my grandfather’s foster sister, Eva Johnson, had married Howard William Day and given birth to four children – one daughter, a son, and twin boys. One of the twins, Earl, died at the end of November 1924, at the age of six months, and Clara died a month later. What happened to the other children – Eva’s half sister and brothers?

clara marie day

Clara and Howard’s oldest child, Clara Marie Badger (not to be confused with Clara Margaret Badger, who is the subject of this series), was born on February 5, 1922 probably in Indianapolis. Her birth came just 24 days after her parents, Clara Margaret Badger and Howard William Day were married in Marion county. Little Clara lost her mother when she was not quite 3 years old.  In the 1930 census, she is living in the home of Anne Day in Beech Creek, Greene county, Indiana. (Anne was never a “Day” – she was Howard’s “adoptive” mother and there was no blood relation.) In the same household was Anne’s brother, Henry Chilian, and Clara Marie’s brothers – Harold and Verle. Anne is listed as the children’s grandmother. Their father, Howard Day, is not living in the household. When Clara was just a tad over 16, she married Frederick A. Garringer in Marion county on June 5, 1938. Two years later, the couple is found in the 1940 census living at 2449 Van Buren Street in Chicago. Their residence was one of several in an apartment building. They rented their apartment for $13 a month and was a few blocks from Lake Michigan. She is age 18 and he is listed as age 25. Clara only completed the 8th grade but her husband had finished one year of high school. Both of them worked for a wet wash laundry. He was the night watchman and she was a “shaker.”  In 1940, they are also listed in the directory for Indianapolis living at 2828 Clifton, Apt. 7, and listed Fred’s occupation as a laborer. I don’t know if they moved back to Indy from Chicago or vice versa. Clara Marie (or “Marie” as she was frequently called) and Fred had a son and a daughter.

Marie and Fred’s son, Fred Arnon Garringer Jr. was born on November 14, 1940 in Indianapolis and died on August 27, 2014. He and his wife had five children and twelve grandchildren.

Their daughter, Mary Margaret Garringer was born on October 4, 1942. She married John R. Atkins. Mary died on December 3, 1986 in Martinsville, Indiana.

Clara Marie Day Garringer died on January 18, 1997. Her husband, Fred A. Garringer died 16 years earlier on May 13, 1981. They are both buried at Crown Hill Cemetery in Indianapolis.

(photo of Clara Marie Day Garringer originally shared on Ancestry.com by Elizabeth Day Martin – no infringement intended or implied)

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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?

 

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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!

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