Posts Tagged ‘Pendleton’

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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The photo above was taken by a friend of my grandparents pre-1920 in Anderson, Madison, Indiana. Glen R. Johnson (my maternal grandfather) is standing in between the two headstones and my grandmother, Vesta C. Wilt, is leaning on George Hefler’s headstone. The gal on the right, leaning on Sarah Boltin’s headstone, is a friend of the couple.

When I checked Find a Grave, I noticed that the current picture of George’s stone is very difficult to read. Time and weather has deteriorated the readability – at least via a photo. At the time of the above photo, Sarah Boltin (George’s second wife), was still living. Currently on Find a Grave, it shows that her tombstone has broken off at the base and is laying on the ground. I have cropped a picture of each stone in the above photo and added them to Find a Grave.

I do not believe that George Hefler nor Sarah Boltin are related in any way to my grandparents – the names have not come up in my research. The cemetery –  Grove Lawn in Pendleton, Madison County, Indiana – is also the final resting place for many of my grandfather’s relatives – Johnson’s, Goul’s, and Blazer’s.


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Last fall while I was looking at and for headstone photos and entries on Find A Grave, I decided to put in a request for photos of my great-grandparents’ graves in Pendleton, Indiana. A very kind lady answered my request immediately. Not only did she take photos of the graves of Melissa (Goul) and Frank Blazer but several of Melissa Goul’s family members. She also went to the library and dug up some information to send to me.

A Pendleton newspaper account from October 1873 mentioned that my 2nd g-grandfather, John Blazer (father of the Franklin Blazer from above), died on August 27, 1873 being between 69 and 70 years old. Remarks by family members that were overheard by John’s brother, Samuel Blazer, caused him to approach the coroner, G.W. Maynard, with his suspicions that John was poisoned. The newspaper did not reveal the first name of the Blazer who Samuel accused. That accusation led the coroner to request an exhumation of John’s remains. After which the contents of the stomach were sent away for testing. At some point later, another Pendleton newspaper account mentioned that no poison had been found. The officials did have a problem though – who was going to pay the $350 for the doctor’s bill?

Analysis: The information giving the name of Samuel as the brother of John Blazer was one more piece of corroboration that I had been researching the “correct” Blazer family.

Another Pendleton newspaper article dated September 25, 1903 reported that Franklin’s brother, George Blazer, committed suicide by ingesting poison.  (Note: the article has misspelled the surname as “Blazier” – however, even my maternal grandfather, whose mother’s maiden name was Blazer, often spelled her relatives’ names with an “i”.)  This article gave several pertinent pieces of information:

  • George’s residence: 610 West 12th Street in Pendleton, Indiana.
  • Past occupation: Drayman.
  • Character: he had taken to drinking “hard” and become despondent.
  • He was married and had “several” children.

Apparently, as reported, George had purchased 10 cents’ worth of carbolic acid from a drug store after he had gone to the meat market for steaks.  It was also mentioned that he had threatened suicide a number of times due to his despondency.  On the day of the suicide, he and his son had an argument while his wife went to cook the steaks.  It was during the disagreement that he took out the bottle and “threw the acid down his throat before he could be prevented.”  The dr. was called right away but George could not be saved.

Documented information about George:

  • George is 5 years old, living in his parents’ household (John and Mary Ann Blazer) in the 1850 US Census.  They are residing in Fall Creek, Madison County, Indiana.  The record shows that George attended school within the year.
  • In the 1860 US Census he is found at age 14 living in his parents’ household (John and Mary A. Blazer) in Fall Creek Twp, Madison County, Indiana and had been in school within the past year.
  • The 1870 US Census shows G.W. Blazer living in Anderson Twp, Madison County, Indiana.  He is age 26, a Farmer, lists a value of real estate as $1200 but nothing for personal estate, born in Indiana, and a male citizen age 21 years or over.  Living in the household are wife Amanda, daughters E.J. and M.M., son J.W., and three other people (M. Judd, A.M. Judd, and Jas Webb).
  • Two headstones in Grovelawn Cemetery in Madison County, Indiana list sons of G.W. and Amanda Blazer.  One is for John W. Blazer who died on December 24, 1874 age 4 years, 10 months, 6 days.  The other is for James Albert Blazer who died on June 3, 1876.
  • The family is still residing in Anderson, Madison County, Indiana for the 1880 US Census.  George W. Blazer is 35 and married.  His listed occupation is Teamster.  Also in the household is wife, Amanda, daughters Estella and Margaret, and a boarder, William Caton. 
  • In the 1900 US Census, George Blazer continues to reside in Anderson, Madison County, Indiana.  He is 55 years old and lists his birth as Sep 1844 in Indiana.  He has been married 37 years.  His occupation is Day Laborer but he has been unemployed for 2 months.  His wife Amanda lists her birth as March 1845, age 55, mother of 4 with only one surviving.  Also in their household is their grandson, Willie, age 15 born June 1884 in Indiana.  He is also a day laborer but had been unemployed for 3 months.
  • His headstone is located in Grovelawn Cemetery in Pendleton, Madison County, Indiana.

A Pendleton newspaper (handwritten on the copy was 7-30-97) lists the account of the suicide of John Blazer.  He was the oldest son of Franklin and Melissa, born on September 17, 1859.  He married Sarah Manis on January 2, 1897 in Madison County, Indiana.  The newspaper account states that his wife sent a telegram from Knighstown, Indiana – where they resided – to a family named “Lawson” that “Johnny shot and killed himself” that morning.  The short article concludes with the information that he was “well known.  He was an erratic fellow” and had “considerable trouble in court.”

Documented evidence for John Blazer:

  • He was listed in the 1870 US Census living in his mother’s household (who was a widow by then), in Fall Creek Township, Madison County, Indiana at age 11.  He was listed as born in Indiana.
  • At age 21 he is still living in Melissa’s household in the 1880 US Census in Stony Creek Township, Madison County, Indiana with his birth listed as Indiana.  His occupation is a farmer.
  • The index to the Marriage Record of Madison County for the years 1880-1920 lists the marriage of John F. Blazier (notice the “i” in the surname again) to Sarah E. Manis as January 2, 1897 on page 352 of book 6.
  • His headstone is located in Grovelawn Cemetery in Pendleton, Madison County, Indiana.

Observation: John and Sarah were married not quite 7 months when he committed suicide.  No children were born of this union.

It is very sad that two members of this family chose to end their lives rather than face whatever caused them such turmoil and despair and a third member was thought to have been poisoned by another family member.  I often wonder what circumstances surrounded this branch of the Blazer family that created such suspicions and desperation.

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