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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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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.

 

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

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

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

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

 

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

Stay tuned . . .

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Jacob Wilt gravestone

Marsena Gibson Wilt headstone

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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grandadinuniform
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.

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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.

grandad-with-dogs-1971

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.

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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.)

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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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