Posts Tagged ‘Indiana’

As a small child, my grandfather cast a very long shadow. He was very tall and stood with an imposing military officer’s posture. He used to point his fingers at whomever he was talking to in order to get a point across. His voice could command a room. Everyone respected him and seemed to know him where ever we went. The few times that I was left in his and my grandmother’s charge, I always felt that I was doing something wrong.

Apparently, I was too young to remember how he would put me on his lap and read to me like in the picture below.

I knew he loved animals because when my mom and her siblings were young, they had dogs. He and my grandmother had a dachshund – Lisa – when I was little – she was the offspring of our mama dachshund, Gretchen and sister of Bridget. After Gretchen passed away, we bought another dachshund – Gretel (Bridget and Gretel in picture below). My Granddad enjoyed putting the dogs on his lap whenever he visited.


Glen Roy Johnson was born on November 21, 1898 in Anderson, Indiana to Katie (Blazer) and John Lafayette Johnson. In fact when his birth certificate didn’t even list his first or middle name. He had to send away years later – along with an affidavit from his cousin – to get an amended birth certificate. He went into Army Signal Corps at the age of 19 years old in 1918 and remained in the military until he retired from the USAF as a Colonel on December 1, 1958 – several years before I was even born. During his military career, he had been to France in WWI, Germany after WWII, and many other countries. He always considered the area of Fairborn and Dayton, Ohio his home as he had lived in that area since 1923 when not stationed somewhere else.

That man – the retired Colonel of the Air Force – that was the man that I knew as a young girl. I don’t remember any jokes or any overly affectionate gestures. I wish I had know the man he really was – the man I met through letters he and my grandmother wrote to one another as teens who were dating and then later when he was so far away from her and their newborn son during WWI. I wish I could have been a party to the pranks and jokes he pulled as a young man. I wish I had looked more closely to see the deep love and affection he had for my grandmother. His letters always began “Dearest” and he signed them “your loving sweetheart” with tons of X’s and O’s for hugs and kisses. Love just seeped off of those pages.


Finding that haul of letters – from their courting days through WWI through all the years they were apart due to his military service or my grandmother’s travels to visit relatives – I learned that the man that I thought I knew as a child was completely different than the man he really was. He loved – deeply. He could be hurt – deeply. He loved life – fully. He was honorable and ethical and funny! I heard stories from my mother about all the jokes and pranks he pulled as a young man.

I wish I could have one day with him again so that I could talk to him as the man I now know that he was.


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 “Different.”



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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.)

verle aaron day 2

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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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:

son of
AUG 25 1869
33 Y. 2 M & 23 D.

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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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clara graphic

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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alice foley 001

This picture was among hundreds of other photos I ended up with many years ago. Most had belonged to my maternal grandparents, Glen and Vesta (Wilt) Johnson. The name on the back (hurray! There was a name on the back!) was Alice Foley. My mother told me she wasn’t related – just a friend of my grandparents. Ten to fifteen years ago, I didn’t have very many resources to figure out just who she was.

Today, I looked on FamilySearch.org for an Alice Foley living in Madison county, Indiana about 1920. Living at 206 E. Fourteenth Street (about 2 1/2 miles away from my grandparents) was 34 year old Alice Foley as a boarder in the Charles and Ina Miller household. Alice was single and born in England as were her parents. She was employed doing housework in a private home.

There is also an Alice Foley living at 1623 Arrow Avenue – a few houses away from my grandmother’s parents. This Alice is age 28 and married to the head of household, Harry Foley. She was also born in England and came to the United States in 1906. Included in their home were children: Mary A. Foley age 5, Philip Foley age 3 years and 2 months, and Anna B. Foley age one year and 3 months.

Between the two choices, I’m more inclined to believe that this is a picture of Sarah Alice Bullock, born in September 1891 in England, and married to Harry Foley in Anderson, Indiana on August 9, 1910. However, the woman in the photo is not wearing a wedding ring which could mean that she did not have one, this photo was taken prior to being married, or I’m wrong about who this is.

However, if someone is reading this who happens to be a descendant of the correct Alice Foley or Sarah Alice Bullock or whomever it is – please let me know so I can solve the mystery!

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