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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.

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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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Martha – Vesta – Mary – Wendy

For this week’s 52 Ancestors post, I decided to focus on the similarities between myself, my mom (Mary), my maternal grandmother (Vesta), and my great-grandmother (Martha).

Becoming a Mother: All of us were 20 years old or younger when we had our first child. Martha Jane Stern and Vesta Christena Wilt both gave birth to their first child – sons – when they were 19 1/2 years old. My mother was a little more than 18 when she had my brother. I had just turned 20 when I had my first child – a girl.

wilt1Martha and Joseph Wilt with sons Clarence, John and Jesse

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Vesta with son Glen Jr.

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 Mary with first child, Jim

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 Wendy and daughter, Shannon

Number of Children: Martha had six children – four boys and two girls. She was also a stepmother to her second husband’s two children (who were also her niece and nephew). Vesta gave birth to four children – one son and three daughters. The youngest, my aunt Lois Evelyn, died at six weeks of age due to being born when my grandmother was only seven months along. My mother had one son and two daughters but she also miscarried a baby boy. I gave birth to three daughters and one son.

Marriage: Martha married for the first time at the age of 18 years and three months. My grandmother married my grandfather when she was 18 years and 7 months. My mom married her first husband at the age of 17 years and 7 months. I married for the first time at 18 years and 24 days. We were all very, very young!

Marriage Duration: Martha and my great-grandfather, Joseph N. Wilt, were married for about 18 years before he left and they were divorced. Her second marriage, to her sister’s widower (W.F. Clawson) lasted a little over 13 years before he died. My grandparents were married for 67 years with a very, very short term rocky part at one point when my grandmother chose to go stay with relatives for a number of months while deciding what to do about her marriage. My mother and her first husband were married a very short time before separating. They eventually divorced just before their two year anniversary. She and my dad were married almost a week shy of 30 years before they were divorced.  I was married seven years before separating and another 10 months before the divorce was final. I have now been married going on 27 years.

Interests: All of us have found hobbies that kept us interested – some of them out of necessity. Sewing, needlework, embroidery were done not only on an as needed basis but as a way to keep hands busy. My mother and I shared a love of theatre – it was only in my mom’s last few years that I learned that she performed in her school’s theatre production just as I had when I was in high school!

Names: As Mary and Martha were fairly common names, Vesta and Wendy weren’t as common. Within my family, there are about three of us with the name of Wendy. I am the oldest. The only other Vesta in my family is on my grandfather’s side – one of his cousins.

Ages at Death: Of course I can’t speak for myself (thank goodness!). Martha was 84 years and 4 months when she passed away from congestive heart failure, arteriosclerosis, and diabetes in 1956. My grandmother was 85 years and 8 months when she died in January 1984 due to heart failure. My mom died on May 1, 2009 of respiratory failure (lung cancer) at the age of 87 years and 7 months. They were all in their 80s when they died.

Residence: We all did not live most of our lives in the same place we were born. Martha was born in Hamilton county, Indiana but spent most of her life living in Leaburg, Oregon. My grandmother was also born in Hamilton county but considered her home the Fairborn and Dayton area of Ohio. My mother was born in Anderson, Indiana but spent most of her life in Greene county, Ohio. I was born in Greene county but have lived most of my life in the Dallas area.

Siblings: None of us were “only” children. We had siblings. Martha was one of eight. My grandmother was one of six. My mom had an older brother and sister – just like me.

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 Four of six siblings: Clifford, Vesta, Nellie and Clarence

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 Siblings: Genevieve, Glen Jr. and Mary

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 Me and my sister and brother

Becoming a Grandmother: Martha became a grandmother for the first time at the age of almost 46. She was the oldest of us. When my mom gave birth to my brother, my grandmother was almost 42 years old. When my nephew was born, my mom was almost 44 years old. When my first grandson was born, I was 39 years old.

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 Vesta and oldest grandson

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 Mary with her second grandchild

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 The day my first grandson was born

Although there are many ways in which we had very different lives, it means quite a bit to find the similarities.

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 “Same” – same name, most like you, etc.

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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.

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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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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 “Close to Home.”

I had started this post in a completely different direction but realized it will need to be used for something else as it has been quite time consuming. So in keeping with the prompts that Amy has suggested: “Which ancestor is the closest to where you live? Who has a story that hits ‘close to home’?” – I have decided to write about an ancestor who has lived close to where I live.

After high school, I moved from the area where I was born and raised in Ohio to the Dallas-Fort Worth area of Texas. All of my closest direct ancestors were either Ohio or Indiana born and raised. Very few of them ventured far from there – except my maternal great-grandmother who moved to Oregon. Since I still live in Texas, I will have to go “off-roading” – in other words, find a distant, collateral relative and not a direct ancestor.

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Elbridge Arno Johnson and I share the same kinship three times! He is my second cousin twice removed on my maternal grandfather’s Johnson side.  The common ancestor we share would be Jacob Johnson who is Elbridge’s great-grandfather and my 3rd great-grandfather. Elbridge’s grandfather, John J. Johnson, and my 2nd great-grandfather, James W. Johnson, were brothers. Elbridge’s grandmother, Dolly Mullis (John J. Johnson’s wife), and my 2nd great-grandmother, Amanda Mullis (wife of James W. Johnson), were sisters giving us a common ancestor of John Mullis – who would be my 3rd great-grandfather.  Still second cousin twice removed through the Mullis line! And now for the third line – we share the common ancestor of John Blazer who is the grandfather of Elbridge’s mother, Rosa Jane Hawkins, and is the grandfather of my great-grandmother, Katie J Blazer – making John Blazer my 3rd great-grandfather!

E.A. Johnson was born to John Marshall Johnson and Rosa Jane Hawkins on January 15, 1883 in Cicero, Indiana. In 1900 at the age of 17, he is still residing in Indiana with his parents, three brothers, and a sister as located on the census of White River, Hamilton, Indiana. Sometime between that census and February 1, 1905 – perhaps to attend college – Elbridge moved to Houston, Texas. There at 22 years old, he married 25 year old Elpha Rhoda Stewart, daughter of John T Stewart and Anna M Keifer. Elpha was born in Ohio but by the 1900 census, the Stewart family was living in Greencastle, Indiana. She gave birth to their first child – a daughter, Lucille Agnes Johnson, on August 4, 1906 – probably in Houston. A few years later on September 22, 1909, the couple’s second child, a son, was born. He was named Stewart Arno Johnson.

By the 1910 census, the family of four is living in Texas City near Galveston, Texas. Elbridge lists his occupation as a laborer doing “general laboring” while Elpha is listed as a housewife. On April 28, 1915 the couple’s third child and second son arrived. On the boy’s birth certificate, E.A. is listed as a Construction Foreman. A few months later on the Military Registration Card (WWI), his occupation is listed as Foreman at Pierce Oil Corporation. A few years later, it would become the Pierce Petroleum Company. On the 1920 Census the family of five is living in a rented home located on Broadway in LaPorte, Texas. Elbridge is listed as a Superintendant at an oil factory.

Ten years later, the family owns a home worth $6500 in Webb county, Texas and has the same occupation as in 1920. A year later, on October 24, 1931, Lucille married Samuel McInnis Campbell in Vernon, Louisiana. By 1935 the Johnson family returned to Texas City and purchased a home located at 231 11th Avenue valued at $5000. On April 18, 1936 Stewart Arno Johnson (also called Arno Stewart Johnson) married Lorrain Adell Johnson.  Elbridge and Elpha continue to reside on 11th Avenue through the 1940 census.

E.A. Johnson was elected Mayor of Texas City and served until 1946. Before his death, he and Elpha were residing at 1107 10th Street North in Texas City. He died on January 18, 1970 at the Texas City Nursing Home and was buried at Galveston Memorial Park. His death certificate gives the cause of death as acute pulmonary infarction due to acute recurring pancreatitis; generalized arteriosclerosis. Elpha died a day short of the third anniversary of her husband’s death – January 17, 1973. Their daughter, Lucille, died on March 8, 1984 and then on July 29 her husband, Samuel, died – and their daughter, Carolyn, died a few months later on November 24. Stewart Arno Johnson died on June 17, 1988. As far as I can tell, the third son is still living as are the children of Stewart Arno.

These are the closest “shirt tail” relatives I have found living in Texas (this does not include a really, really close relative – my sister!)  It is also interesting to be able to have a distant cousin who I am related to in the same kinship fashion via three different lines!

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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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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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stamps

Before delving in to “the” letter, let me back up a bit. When I created my very first genealogy website (still online – just not as updated as I’d like) over ten years ago, I had posted some information about my grandfather’s foster sister, Eva. Imagine my surprise when someone left a comment for me that informed me that Eva was her mother! Say what?! The writer had been put up for adoption similar to how Eva’s life began. Then I saw a picture of the person who had contacted me, and there was no doubt at all that she was Eva’s daughter. She told me her story and how she eventually did get to meet Eva before her death. And just like Eva, she was searching for the elusive Clara as well as the man who would have been Eva’s father. I vaguely remembered that somewhere in my possession I had a letter that Eva had written to my grandparents that mentioned her biological parents. So one day several months ago – on the off chance that I could find the letter – I went into the black hole that is my genealogical filing cabinet. (Okay, disclaimer here – I really didn’t go looking for that letter. I was going through papers to see if there was something I needed to scan or enter in to my family tree database.)

But then – there “it” was. My grandmother – oh, if she were alive – I could have kissed her – she had written on the envelope “Eva’s letter about her father.” OHMYGOODNESS! So I took it out, sat down and read the letter. As with the news article (and everything else I’ve been told about family stories), I took the information with a grain of salt. I needed documentation. But – I needed to tell Eva’s daughter what I had found.

Instead of typing the letter word for word on Facebook private messaging, I gave her a few highlights and then emailed her a scan of the letter so she could read everything in her biological mother’s handwriting. She shared with her half-brother’s daughters. Granddaughters of Eva who had known her – yet it was still a mystery to them. Anything their father, Eva’s son, knew – he didn’t disclose for their relationship was pretty non-existent for several decades.

And now, I present to you, the reader, THE letter.

 

So now you understand my excitement! I had two new names to research! And just what would I find?

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