12 Ancestors in 12 Months, Maternal Side, My Family Tree

Month 11: Living With a Shadow – My Geer Family – Clyde Ellsworth Geer

Today I am going to focus on what I call my “new” side of the family. But I guess it’s no longer that new, as it’s been 3 years since I discovered that my maternal Grandmother’s real dad was most likely Paul Harrison Geer, my great-grandmother’s first husband. Since then, I have done some research on the Geer’s, but have yet to really dig in and find out who they were, so for me it’s like they are this big shadow, no photos, no stories, just odds and ends found in the newspapers here and there with documents I have found to create a trail of where they lived, what they did (I thank city directories for providing these details). There aren’t even many pre-existing trees on Ancestry to give me a bigger picture of who this family really is.

I was also hoping to have this posted yesterday, but I also wanted to do it justice, so here I am a day late, but I hope it is worth it.

Birth

Clyde Ellsworth Geer was born on 21 December 1879 in Cuyahoga Falls, Summit County, Ohio to William Henry Harrison Geer, (according to city directories he went by “Harrison”) and Amelia Dailey. From the information I have gathered, Clyde was the youngest of 4 children, with Kate, Mary Luella, and Frederick Gurdon preceding him (though there is a 7-year gap between Fred and Clyde). Harrison was a carpenter working for such companies as the W.B. Doyle Company (a lumber mill that once stood in the heart of downtown Akron), and AA Bartlett & Company (manufacturers of sash, doors, blinds, and mouldings, according to the 1893-1894 Burch Akron City Directory).

Birth Index Card found on Ancestry.com part of the Summit County, Ohio, Birth Records 1866-1908

His oldest sister, Kate, died on 17 May 1882 of a Typho-Malarial Fever. She was just 15 years old. Another article in the Summit County Beacon from 7 June 1882 stated she died of just typhoid fever. Both were characterized by a similar definition, “Typhoid fever and paratyphoid fever cause similar symptoms. People with these diseases usually have a fever that can be as high as 103 to 104°F (39 to 40°C). They also may have weakness, stomach pain, headache, diarrhea or constipation, cough, and loss of appetite. Some people have a rash of flat, rose-colored spots”, (taken from the CDC’s website). Clyde was just 2 years old when Kate died.

Taken from the 24 May 1882 Summit County Beacon newspaper (found on Newspapers.com)

By 1882 the family had moved to Akron living on Glenwood Avenue, “1 house from Howard Street” according to the Burch Akron City Directory 1882-1883. The family owned that home until Amelia died in 1908.

By the time he was a teenager Clyde began working as a driver, first for Strobel Brothers in 1896, then for Unique Laundry in 1897, then he returned to Strobel Brothers which is where he worked when his father died 16 January 1900 when Clyde was just 20 years old. William Henry Harrison Geer died of “convulsions of the brain” according to the Akron Daily Democrat from 17 January 1900.

The death notice of William Henry Harrison Geer written in the Akron Daily Democrat from 17 January 1900 found on Newspapers.com

Marriage with Gertrude

Within two years of his father’s death, Clyde met Gertrude VanBuskirk. on 3 March 1902 they had their first child together, George Ellsworth. Six months later they were married on 6 September 1902. Their second child, son Paul Harrison Geer was born on 21 September 1905, and finally their third and final child, Ruth Cloe Geer was born on 25 July 1907.

Throughout their married life they lived in North Hill, a section of Akron, a majority of the time living at 21 Glenwood Avenue, and he worked at such places as Akron Belting Company and Goodrich Tire Company. But then on 26 October 1908 Gertrude died of acute pneumonia. She was just 32 years old.

The Tuesday 27 October 1908 edition of the Akron Beacon Journal (found using Newspapers.com)

Earlier in the year, on 27 May 1908, Clyde’s mother had also passed away of diabetes. Amelia had been living with Clyde and Gertrude.

After Gertrude died his 3 children went and lived with Gertrude’s parents, George VanBuskirk and Lydia Cunningham. Clyde lived with his brother, Fred, and his wife, Ida.

Marriage to Helen

On 23 April 1914, Clyde married his second wife, Mary Helen Forbes (McCormick) at the home of his brother, Fred. Helen was 12 years older than Clyde.

With his new wife he also worked at Firestone and Swinehart Rubber Company (this is where I believe Clyde met Samuel Randol, my great-grandmother Mildred Laura Dunbar’s stepfather). While married to Helen, Clyde came into a sense of vocational stability working at the Akron Belting Company, a place he was to work for several years to come.

Around 1925 Helen and Clyde moved to 71 Rosalind Court which was next door to my great-great-grandmother’s, Mazie Warner, and her husband, Samuel Randol’s home. This is when Mildred Laura Dunbar most likely met Paul Harrison Geer (assuming they didn’t know each other already).

Sadly, Helen died 6 February 1931 of a cerebral hemorrhage. She was 63 years old.

From the Saturday 7 February 1931 edition of the Akron Beacon Journal (found at Newspapers.com)

Less than 2 years after Helen’s death, Clyde’s brother Fred died of heart disease.

Found at Newspapers.com from the 18 January 1933 edition of the Akron Beacon Journal

In the years following Helen’s death Clyde continued to work at the Akron Belting Company and lived in downtown Akron with his son’s. At this point in time Paul was working for Goodyear and George (though according to the City Directory he was going by Ellsworth) worked as a janitor/painter.

Marriage to Stella

Clyde’s marriage to Stella Myrtle Long has me intrigued the most. Why, may you ask? Because Stella Long was also the mother of Clyde’s son’s Paul’s second wife, Juanita Faye Dodd. And Clyde married Stella the same day Paul married Juanita, so it truly was a family affair (and to make matters more interesting, Clyde’s daughter Ruth married Stella’s son, Shirley Roscoe Dodd as well). I’ve often wondered if Paul met Stella as they both worked at Goodyear Tire & Rubber in the late 1930’s.

Clyde’s marriage to Stella was his only marriage that ended in divorce. It was also his last marriage. They were married on 30 December 1939 at the First Methodist Church. Their marriage ended on 7 February 1947 (unlike their children whose marriage lasted 44 years). The reason was just “gross neglect”. Stella was the plaintiff, Clyde the defendant in the proceedings.

On 22 July 1953 Clyde’s sister, Mary Luella “Lulu” Geer Montz died of pulmonary edema and broncho-pneumonia. She was 89.

In the Thursday, 23 July 1953 edition of the Akron Beacon Journal (found on Newspapers.com)

Later Life

It appears that Clyde retired from Akron Belting in the late 1940’s and worked as a doorman briefly before he stopped working completely. Most of the last decade of his life was spent living with Paul, Juanita, and their daughter before he passed away of acute myocardial infarction and advanced arteriosclerosis with senility being secondary on 14 December 1962. He is buried at Rose Hill Burial Park.

From the 15 December 1962 edition of the Akron Beacon Journal (from Newspapers.com)

I remember when I wrote my letter to Paul’s daughter it wasn’t just Paul I inquired about, but Clyde as well. I wondered if she had stories she could share about them all. I wish I had more than just a paper trail of these people. What did they look like, what were their mannerisms, I know my grandmother (Alberta Lou Fleming) had Paul’s cheekbones, did they get them from Clyde?

I often hope that whom I presume to be my half aunt has held onto my letter and maybe will one day respond to it. She is the key to unlocking the shadows.

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