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PostcardWinchesterINBigFourRailroadDepotCirca1919

The life of William Blazer began in fraud. His biological father, Albert Hercules, allegedly seduced Blazer’s mother, Estella Blazer, with the promise of marriage – a marriage that never happened. (For the previous installments, please read When He Stood Her Up, Common Sense Prevails for Estella Blazer, and A New Blazer) Yet, the child was born, and then had his mother taken from him probably due to illness just a short time after she wed John T Dilts. Willie was only two years old. His grandparents, George W and Amanda Blazer, raised him to adulthood.

When William was just 19, his grandfather drank carbolic acid and died. A local newspaper (unknown) reported that George Blazer had an argument with his son. That person was his grandson, William (as George’s two sons had died as very young children). George died on Sep 24, 1903 and was laid to rest close to his sons and daughter, Estella, in Grovelawn Cemetery in Pendleton, Indiana. William’s grandmother, Amanda, lived another three years before passing away at the age of 61.

On Jan 4, 1910, William married Nellie Spaulding who had already been married and divorced. William raised her son, Samuel Thomas, as his own. The couple went on to have three more sons: William K Blazer, Raymond Blazer, and Rolla Burnsey Blazer. (Editor’s note: on more than one occasion, the surname is spelled Blazier).

By 1922, William was a detective with the Big Four Railroad (Cleveland, Cincinnati, Chicago and St. Louis Railway). On Dec 3, 1922 Blazer tried to arrest two men who were “train riding” – they had hopped aboard without paying for a fare. The confrontation turned deadly as the men stabbed him and threw him from the train as it went through Farmland, Indiana.

William Blazer headline

When he was found, he was taken to a physician in town before an ambulance was called to take him to Home Hospital in Muncie. It was there that 38 year old William Blazer died from his wounds – never regaining consciousness.

detective stabbed

He left a widow, Nellie, and sons: 10 year old William; almost 7 year old Rayond; and 2 year old Rolla.  He was buried at Maplewood Cemetery in Anderson, Indiana. Thirty one years later, Nellie, would join him in eternal rest.

Though born and died in tragedy, William probably had a good life after he was married and became a father. It is unfortunate that he didn’t live long enough to watch his sons grow to manhood.

(Postcard image of Big Four Railroad, Winchester, Indiana: Wikimedia Commons)
(Headlines: Indianapolis New (Indianapolis, Indiana), “Detective is Stabbed and Thrown Off Train,” 5 Sep 1922, pg 19, Newspapers.com, accessed 3 Feb 2016)

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Classic_baby_shoes

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

Estella
Wife of J T Dilts
Died
Oct 9 1886
Age

 

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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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 . . .

 

Sources:

    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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franklin blazer grave

(Photo of gravestone by Gaye Dillon taken on 23 July 2009)

A year ago I wrote about my great-great-grandfather Franklin Blazer in Week 1 of the 2014 Edition of 52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks. Up until today, the cause of his death was a mystery. He died on August 25, 1869 so I thought he may have died due to injuries sustained in the Civil War or perhaps he was killed in a farming accident or died of some disease. I was so very wrong.

What could only be termed a tragedy is what befell poor Franklin. He and Malissa Goul had been married at least ten years and possibly upward to 14 years. Their children, two boys and three girls, ranged in age from 2 years to 9 years old. In fact the oldest son, John F., was a month from turning ten – not yet a teenager and definitely not ready to be the “man of the house” at such a young age. Malissa’s son from a previous relationship, James Oakland Goul, was about fourteen.

Thanks to a post on Genea-Musings by fellow geneablogger Randy Seaver, I learned about a new free search tool call Genealogy Gophers. It searches for names in texts of Google books. I plugged in the name of Franklin Blazer and the first result that popped up listed not only Franklin Blazer but Malissa Goul. I knew I had found the correct person. I clicked on the snippet and lo and behold it was an entire book that included tons of information on those with the surname of Blazer and everything within the soundex of B-426 written by John Allison Blazer from Hendersonville, Tennessee. There isn’t a date on it except for the filmed date of 2000.

The information concerning Franklin reports that he was married to Malissa Goul and listed her birth and death dates and they lived in Pendleton, Indiana. It listed their children – four correctly: John, Philip Wesley, Kate and Rachel but listed Martha Ann erroneously as Matthew. Of course when I saw that, I thought perhaps there was another son that I hadn’t heard of but then realized that Martha had been left out. (She is also listed further in the book – still as Matthew – with a child named Chase – so I knew that the name had been mangled). But then I saw something I didn’t know: Franklin died “when struck by lightning in his home.”

I can’t even imagine what the rest of the family went through after that. Did Malissa and any of the children witness this? Did they try to revive their husband and father after he had fallen dead? Was a physician summoned quickly? The weather must have been pretty fierce. It was still tornado season so I wondered if they were also terrified of what else Mother Nature had in store for them.

Franklin had just turned 33 years old. He would never be able to enjoy a life of watching his children grow up and get married. His wife, my second great-grandmother – would never celebrate another wedding anniversary. She remained a widow the rest of her life. Martha, Katie and Rachel all married without their father giving them away. John and Wesley grew into men quickly in order to take on what their father had once done. Twenty-six years after his father’s tragic death, John died of self-inflicted gunshot wound.

As I think about my great-grandmother, Katie, who lost her father when she was almost five years old, I wonder if she had been a “daddy’s girl” and missed him terribly the rest of her life. Or was she so young that she barely remembered him? Did losing Franklin at such a young age change Malissa – her outlook on life, personality, or how she handled sorrow from then on?

His tombstone stands in Grovelawn Cemetery in Pendleton, Indiana. It reads:

FRANKLIN
son of
J & M BLAZER
DIED
AUG 25 1869
AGED
33 Y. 2 M & 23 D.

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52ancestors-2015

I knew – based on my grandfather’s genealogy notes – that his maternal grandfather was Franklin Blazer. Close to fifteen years ago, a close friend took me to the Dallas Public Library so we could peruse census records on microfilm. She showed me how to check in to the Genealogy area, where to locate index books, and then how to find the correct microfilm. I will be forever grateful to her because I wouldn’t have gone by myself. What I learned that day kept the fire alive to find out more and more information!  That was a very good deed on her part!

Looking in Madison county, Indiana for a Blazer family in the 1850 census, I only located one. Within that household I saw the name of Franklin, age 14, putting his birth about 1836. My second great-grandmother was born in 1832 so Franklin’s birth year seemed probable. He was living with John and Mary Ann Blazer. The other children included Elizabeth, John P., Mary Jane and George. Unfortunately, the census did not give a location for Franklin’s birth.  I noted the ages of all inhabitants and went forward to the 1860 census. I found John and Mary Ann but no Franklin or Frank Blazer living anywhere in Indiana (nor did I find my 2nd great-grandmother, Melissa Goul). Oldest daughter, Elizabeth, was no longer living in the household but John P., Mary Jane, and George were still there. Father, John, was born about 1810 in Ohio and Mary Ann was born about 1813 in Virginia.

In order to determine who John Blazer’s parents were in order to go back one more generation, I had to wait. There were several people researching ancestors with the surname Blazer, but I couldn’t connect my third great-grandfather with any of them. Maybe if he had a very unique first name I might have been able to but with the given name of John, it was like looking for a needle in a haystack!

I ran across a biography of Samuel Blazer printed in The Biographical and Historical Record of Jay County, Indiana published in 1887 by the Lewis Publishing Company in Chicago. Located on page 353 was this little tidbit:

Samuel BLAZER, one of the old and honored pioneers of Greene Township, has been identified with the interests of Jay County since 1838. He was born in Gallia County, Ohio, August 2, 1813, a son of Philip and Elizabeth BLAZER, who were natives of Pennsylvania, and of Dutch descent.

A few lines later, as the article mentioned those children of Philip and Elizabeth Blazer, I saw this:

John, another son, settled in Madison County, Indiana, and died a few years since…

That seemed to confirm for me that my third great-grandfather was the son of Philip and Elizabeth Blazer. I added one more generation and learned the identities of John’s siblings. But it wasn’t until I went to the Bureau of Land Management General Land Office Records that I found John Blazer who purchased 80 acres in Madison county, Indiana north of Pendleton in 1835. Looking at the image of the Patent Record, I was excited to read: “John Blazer of Gallia County, Ohio…” John Blazer also bought 80 acres in August 1838 located west of Pendleton in Madison county.

I found out who my third great-grandfather was by way of a good deed of my friend and consequently was able to identify my fourth great-grandparents, Philip and Elizabeth Blazer!

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 theme is “Good Deeds.”

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john lafayette johnson birthday 001

This is a picture that my mother told me was taken for my great-grandfather’s birthday. When I asked her who everyone was (besides those whom I knew), I don’t remember if she told me or if she just said “relations.” I’ve slept since then and of course – it is NOT WRITTEN on the back of the picture. I dug it out again last week and decided it was time I tried to figure out who was at the birthday celebration.

I knew it was taken in 1939 – two months before my great-grandfather (he’s the older man on the far right), John Lafayette Johnson, passed away from pancreatic cancer. Even if I hadn’t been told that was the year, I could look at the image of my mother – third from the left in the sweater with the “B” on it – and know that she was still in high school. In 1939, she was 17 and played basketball for her high school, Bath Consolidated Schools, located in Bath Township, Greene county, Ohio. My great-grandmother, Katie (Blazer) Johnson, had passed away in 1930 of stomach cancer which explains why she wasn’t in the picture.

I knew the photo was taken in front of the home on Ohio Street in Fairfield (now Fairborn, Ohio) because I have seen other pictures of the same house and in the 1940 census, my grandparents were still residing there. My first thought upon seeing all the other people was that it was Johnson relatives, but when I shared it with some distant cousins hoping they would recognize someone, it was a bust. Anyone that it might have been had already died by 1939. Besides, the Johnson relatives lived in Indiana.

So I turned to my great-grandmother’s family. They lived in Urbana, Ohio – about an hour’s travel today. Her brother, Wesley Blazer, was still living in 1939 but I had never seen a picture of him. His son, Glen O. Blazer, I had known and had pictures that I could compare as well as his wife, son, and sister. Below are the comparisons. The picture on the right was taken in 1976. Looking at the ears, chin, mouth, nose and eyes led me to believe this was Glen. Based on that deduction, all I needed to do was compare photos of his wife, Nina (Cushman) Blazer, and his sister, Ada D. Blazer, as well as place them in that time frame.

glen blazer comparison

Below, the picture on the right of Nina Cushman Blazer (Glen’s wife) was taken at a reunion in 1969 – 30 years after the one on the left.

nina cushman blazer comparison

The comparison collage below of Ada Dell Blazer show how she looked in 1939 (left), around 1918 (top right), and at a reunion in the early 1970s (bottom right).

ada blazer comparison

Based on the photographic evidence, I was able to see the picture more clearly (pun intended!). Since Wesley Blazer was still living and would have been 76 years old, I believe he is the gentleman with the hat sixth from the left. The young man standing just over Nina’s shoulder would be Marion Blazer – son of Glen and Nina. In 1939 he was about 16 years old. The man peaking out from behind Ada’s head would be her second husband, John Black, and their daughter would be in front of her.

Below is the photo after I added the names of those in the picture.

john lafayette johnson birthday

 And just for more comparison – here’s a few photos taken in 1969 and the early 1970s that include my grandparents, Glen & Vesta Johnson, as well as Glen and Nina Blazer, and Ada (Blazer) Black.

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glen_gleno_nina_ada

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52ancestors-2015

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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