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.
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).
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.
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.
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.
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.
Less than 2 years after Helen’s death, Clyde’s brother Fred died of heart disease.
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.
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.
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.
Today would have been my grandmother’s 93rd birthday so what a better day than today to share the life of Alberta Lou Fleming with you all!
My grandmother was born on 2 October 1929, a preemie, to Mildred Laura Dunbar. The name listed on her birth certificate for her father was Albert Nank, her namesake, as he and my great-grandmother had gotten married just 3 days before on 29 September 1929 (I have since determined her biological father was actually my great-grandmother’s first husband, Paul Geer, whom she filed for divorce in January 1929 and it was finalized on 5 September 1929). The story goes that my great-grandmother was sent home with her little girl and a hot water bottle, and that if she somehow made it through the night to feed her the next day. Lucky for me, she survived. No one alive now seems to know how premature she was as I have asked.
The marriage to Albert Nank was over by 1933 as that is when Mildred got her second divorce and married her third and final husband, Howard Fleming. He was the man who raised my grandmother along with the two boys that he and my great-grandmother had. (Don’t feel sad at all for Albert, he chose not to see my grandmother growing up, and when my grandfather made my grandmother visit him as an adult, he didn’t say a word the entire visit. I think he knew that she was not his daughter but never said anything. And in other documents I’ve found, be it when he joined the military or when he died, it always said “no kids”).
Initially times were tough, Howard, Mildred, and Alberta lived with Mildred’s mother Mazie at her home on Carpenter Street. Howard, a carpenter, would go out every day with his tools doing odd jobs to make a living to support his bride and daughter. Alberta’s childhood was during the time of the Depression, where food was rationed and grease and aluminum foil were saved for the war effort. Eventually Howard Fleming provided a good home as he was hired as a carpenter at BF Goodrich, one of the 3-big rubber companies in Akron, Ohio. In 1936 Alberta’s brother, Herschel was born and in 1943 the youngest son, James, was born.
Alberta and her brothers grew up in Cuyahoga Falls, Ohio. It is where their kids grew up, where myself and my cousins grew up, and where my own children go to school now. Cuyahoga Falls is a suburb of Akron, Ohio and is the Indian word meaning “crooked”, referring to the river that runs from Lake Erie and the “falls” were notable, as they had a drop off longer than Niagara Falls. While reading up on what Native American nation that coined the word Cuyahoga – it’s a cross between the Mohawk, Wyandot, and Iroquois that all seemed to have left their mark in this area.
Meeting Harold Fairhurst
At the age of 17, Alberta Lou Fleming met Harold Fairhurst. He was 7 years older than she was and had been previously married. On 29 June 1947 they got married, with my great-grandmother, Mildred, signing off on the marriage license and giving her approval.
A few months later on 22 December 1947 my mother, Cynthia Anne Fairhurst, was born. A total of 5 children were born of this marriage. Their life wasn’t easy as Harold was not a very nice man.
While Harold was a golf pro and also worked in construction, Alberta took care of the children by day and bowled in the evenings. She was an excellent bowler, often being invited into leagues where you had to have a very high average to be a part of the group.
Harold and Alberta were divorced on 14 November 1968. Less than a year later she married Bernard Szemplenski on 2 September 1969. This marriage didn’t last very long as according to my uncle he was an “old school man of the house”. She divorced him on 16 March 1973 and married James Edward Metzger on 31 March 1973 (Grandpa Jim often eluded to how he paid for that divorce).
Her Life with Jim
I know Alberta as Grandma Metzger, as she married Jim about a month after I was born. Jim was the complete opposite of Harold Fairhurst, he would talk in a funny voice to get a laugh and was a much happier guy than the grumpy, silent man that I knew Harold to be.
Their (Alberta’s and Jim’s) time together seemed like it was filled with joy, they managed apartments and condominiums together, she worked in the office while he was the handy man for the complexes. It suited them. When I was about 3 or 4 they moved to Florida to do their thing in the Sarasota area.
My family and I visited them when I was 6 over Spring Break from school. I remember going to the Ringling Museum and stopping to see my Aunt and her family as they lived in Tennessee on our way down. We went down with my Great-Grandma Fleming (Mildred Laura Dunbar) and it was a fun time.
My sister and I went and visited my grandparents after she graduated from high school in 1986. We spent 6 weeks in Florida, helped them move, went to Disney and Busch Gardens Tampa and got reacquainted with my Aunt Teri and her youngest son. Strangely enough my Grandpa Fairhurst was living with Aunt Teri at the time, so he was there too. There was a Sunday when everyone came over where they lived at the condo where you walked about 100 steps out the front door and you were at the pool, a 100 steps out the back door and you were at the Gulf of Mexico. This was my favorite of the two places she worked while we were there. It was on Turtle Beach as part of the Siesta Keys and was just a great place.
It was this trip to Florida that I really got to know my Grandma and her wonderful sense of humor which included an extremely quick wit. I wish I had her comebacks because she was the absolute best. I forget what was going on when but out of the blue she exclaimed “Shit! Fire! and save matches!” and I had never heard that expression before but I giggled so much from it.
It was this same trip that I learned how abusive my Grandfather, Harold Fairhurst, was to her and her kids. It was something that my mom eluded too but I didn’t really know how bad it seemed to be.
In 1988 Alberta was diagnosed with throat cancer. I remember the year from when I was driving up with my sister to visit her at University Hospital in Cleveland. Her and Grandpa Jim had moved up to Ohio the year before and began managing apartments in Bedford (a suburb of Cleveland). The radiation treatments and chemotherapy got rid of the cancer, but they destroyed her salivary glands, and she had a difficult time eating after that. My sister just commented the other day about how Grandma could make an amazing sandwich and she was unable to do so after cancer.
But the big C didn’t get my Grandma down for long. She still had her Christmas Eve party each year and normally had a celebration on the 4th of July for her oldest son’s birthday. I enjoyed the get togethers as it was the one time of the year when the whole family would get together and I’d get to see my cousins.
Her 65th Birthday
I’m going to guess it is her 65th birthday that Grandpa Jim had a surprise party for her. Below are some photos from the special day. From left to right is James Metzger, then a photo of me (my back is turned), my cousin Tommy Weekley (his back is also turned), and my other grandma, Anna Maria Morgart, then a photo of Alberta Lou Fleming heading up a line of well-wishers, and the large photo at the bottom is me again (still my back is turned), Alberta Lou Metzger, Cynthia Anne Fairhurst (my mom, she is profiled), and then on the far right you can see the face of my cousin, Jaclyn Dawn Fairhurst (with the white baseball cap on).
Eventually my grandparents moved to Columbus in the mid-1990’s and finally settled at a trailer park in Groveport. There were a few family get togethers the weekend before or after Christmas, but never the same as Bedford (not everyone had the time to drive a few hours to and fro).
Her Last Few Years
After Jim passed away in 2001 her children moved Alberta back up to Cuyahoga Falls for her to live near them. She still had her own apartment but for the last 3 months of her life she lived with my aunt as she had both dementia and COPD (Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease). My aunt said they “played Scrabble every day and the last day she went in to feed her on her feeding tube and she said, ‘You ready to eat, and she (Alberta) said no but if it makes you feel better go ahead’ and she died a few hours later”. If memory serves my cousin Tracy and my mom (Cynthia) where with her when she passed. She died on 24 July 2006.
At the very last minute this morning I had the idea to contact my aunt, uncles, and cousins about their favorite memories of Alberta, and here are the responses I got in order of receiving them back.
My cousin Amanda said… “Well one of my favorite things to do at Grandma Metzger’s was to play with her seashells and shark’s teeth. I used to love going over there on my Dad’s birthday to watch fireworks in her side yard when she lived in Bedford. Staying with her when I had chicken pox… Watching “Wheel of Fortune” and “Jeopardy” when she would cook, and every time I see a cardinal, I am reminded of her. I also miss her fish kisses”.
My cousin Stacy wrote… “My favorite memory was when I was pregnant with my daughter and Jim was very unsupportive and told me that I should get an abortion and Grandma looked at him and said “If i did that every time I was pregnant at not the right time in life there wouldn’t be anyone in this room”. Subject was done after that. Also, I will never forget the tinsel tree at Christmas. Her hugs were hugs you felt into your soul. Her smile was infectious. I did not get a lot of time with my family on dad’s side but when I did, she showed me so much love. My mom and I were just talking about her and how when Eddie and I were little she would ride the bus over to help mom get Eddie out of bed and helped with me, put Eddie back to nap and she would get on the bus and go to work. My mom said she was a great mother-in-law and loved her very much”.
Kellie, my sister, remembers… “How much fun her Christmas parties were… and a very specific one. I was living with them in Columbus, and I was wearing a particular dress, she says ‘Kellie, I don’t want to hurt your feelings, but that dress makes you look fat’. I looked back and said, ‘Grandma, it’s not the dress, I am fat’. She spit out her water and laughed until she cried. I also used to love to hear her sing”. My sister later remembered that our mom (Cynthia Anne Fairhurst) often said she “gave her a son-in-law for her birthday” as today would have been my parents 51st wedding anniversary.
My cousin Tracy responded with… “Christmas time is a favorite … all her orange cats … I did spend a day gathering data and writing a paper for a Women in History class I had and that was cool to learn about too. I wish I knew where it was because I know I kept it. We had to pick someone born in the 20s. and she fell into that range”.
Her youngest son, Stephen wrote… “I have a memory of my mom and I sitting around listening to 1940’s music. Mostly Glenn Miller, but other swing bands also”. Another memory was… “When I was in High School and we were living on Loomis. Mom had just married Jim. Mom and I had plenty of evenings where we would get time to ourselves. Maybe I had just gotten home from working at the bowling alley. We would put on some of her music., mostly Glenn Millers Greatest Hits. Sometimes a compilation of 40’s swing artists. We’d talk about what was going on in life. Mostly about me (parents find out so much that way). Got a lot of history that way. She knew a lot about the depression, WWII, and the way Cuyahoga Falls was back in the day. How much public transportation was used. Not many had cars and very few families had 2. Stories of the collectors coming around during WWII to collect aluminum foil and used grease. How her dad, Howard Fleming, would walk to the Silver Lake area to do woodworking and housebuilding jobs before he got on at the Goodrich. Which is how they spoke of it. The Goodrich like it was its own little entity. Also, when I learned that unlike most of her friends, she liked Bing Crosby and the crooners more than Frank Sinatra and those type of singers. It wasn’t a long period of time that we did this, but the nights are still etched in my mind. They all kind of blur into one long night of sitting around and learning about each other”.
One of my favorite memories was when my sister graduated from high school and my grandparents took everyone out to dinner at my favorite restaurant (though this occasion was my first time going there), the Triple Crown. I had my very first Shirley Temple and everyone was there in my family…. or at least many of us living in the area of Cuyahoga Falls… and it was just a happy occasion. I held onto the red drink mixer thing for all these years (and that I just went to the basement and retrieved it from a plastic bin I think has my hubby a little weirded out).
My cousin Emily commented…. “My love of ginger cats (orange) came from Grandma Metzger and Muffin. I always loved going to her house to see her and Muffin. When I was about 10 years old, we went down to see her and Grandpa in Columbus and she had this tiny ginger kitten that had walked up to her out of the woods. She had taken him in, and I fell in love with him. She knew I wasn’t leaving her house without that kitten, and she was right. Arthur came home with me and growing up with him I always felt like Grandma and Muffin were always there with us because the connection of how Arthur became to be my cat”.
Alberta’s oldest son remembers “when Mom and Dad would start arguing over something stupid like the definition of a word they would go back and forth and back and forth until she said ‘I’ll bet you’ then Dad shut up”.
Her youngest daughter, Debbie, recalls… “I’ll never forget the day I was about I don’t know, seven or eight, and she had to explain to me what a douchebag was because I kept calling Terry a douchebag”. She went on to further comment about how good her mom was at Scrabble “I’ll tell you what, she would have a fit about “Words with Friends” and some of the words they allow, she was all about following the rules when it came to Scrabble, and it was hard to beat her. She would win at Jeopardy every night, we told her she should go on the show, but she never would”.
My cousin Todd remembers…. “My favorite memory of grandma was when she took me in when things were stressed in Florida. But I would fish during the day and in the evening me and her would work on puzzles together. We would talk and build those it was my warmest best memory of her and Florida”.
My cousin Tim added… “Ah, Grandma Metzger, funny that Kim, Patrick, Timmy and I went bowling last night- A small venue (24 lanes- I remember Falls Rec as having 20 but I could be mistaken). I guess we were channeling Grandma. I will say that no Fairhurst or Fleming would claim us if they saw the sorry scores we put up. My memory of Grandma Metzger was that of an unflappable family matriarch. She helped each of us through some good times, some bad times, and some in between times. You would never know which of the three you were in because Grandma was the same – unfiltered and funny, caring and graceful”.
Many could have given me more but it’s so nice to know that Alberta has such a wonderful legacy. We all should be so lucky.
For September’s prompt in Amy Johnson Crow’s 12 Ancestors in 12 Months, I’m opting to go back and explore more documents in an effort to figure out who is the mother of Oliver Charles Warner.
For those who aren’t familiar with Oliver Charles Warner, he is my 4th great grandfather who was born in Massachusetts in approximately 1809, which should make him a child of Joel Warner and his wife, Thankful Chapin. Thankful died on 3 April 1812 and Joel remarried Rebecca Phelps Ackerly 2 months later on 10 June 1812.
I just need to find definitive proof of when Oliver Charles Warner was born so I can establish who was his mother, Thankful or Rebecca.
But an interesting occurrence happened when I went to FamilySearch to double check the sources that were on file for Joel Warner – and listed as a child was suddenly “Oliver Chapin Warner”.
My first thought was “I like that”. Thankful’s maiden name as Oliver’s middle name. Not to mention Thankful had a brother named Oliver which was one of the reason’s I rationalized in my head that Oliver was Thankful’s son. So I went and contacted the person who made the middle name change to Oliver and contacted them to see how they came across Chapin as a middle name. And when she got back in touch with me late Wednesday evening, she had attached a document she found on Ancestry, probate records from the minor children of Thankful and their choice of a guardian and it lists all her minor children: Climena, and Charlotte (above the ages of 14) and Oliver Chapin and Horace (below the age of 14).
You can only imagine the happy dance I have done since finding this most wonderful document. And my 10th cousin on FamilySearch who responded to me and linked the information on Thankful’s page is now my new best friend! Well, at least my genealogical hero as she is most deserving.
So now Oliver Chapin Warner has his rightful name and his parents. It’s wins such as this, from a relative I don’t even know where they live, that makes this hobby so wonderful.
I didn’t get to do as much “exploration” but I’m glad I opted to begin this again where I have now gotten a chance to end my constant wondering – now my brick wall can go back to being exclusively Andrew and Susanna.
Three years ago, I learned the identity of my great-grandfather, Paul Harrison Geer (or at least who I am pretty sure is my great-grandfather). Today I am going to do the best I can to outline his life as I never got the chance to meet him in the 11 years that our lives overlapped.
Paul Harrison Geer
Paul Harrison Geer was born on 21 September 1905 in Akron, Summit, Ohio. He was born at home to Clyde Ellsworth Geer and Gertrude Van Buskirk.
Paul was only 3 years old when his mother died on 26 October 1908 of acute pneumonia. From there he was raised by his maternal grandparents, George Van Buskirk and Lydia Cunningham. Though Paul was not listed in the 1910 census in his grandparents’ home, he is not listed with his dad, Clyde, either. (It appears Clyde lived with his brother, Fred, and his family after Gertrude passed away). Paul’s older brother, George Ellsworth Geer, and his younger sister, Ruth Cloe Geer, were both accounted for on the 1910 census, my guess is that Paul may have just been missed. At this time the Van Buskirk’s lived in Akron at 745 Elma Street (this house no longer stands).
Being an adolescent between 1910 and 1920 there is not a paper trail of documents to be found for Paul. In the 1920 census, he is listed as living with his grandparents still. They have moved to Lake Township in Stark County, Ohio, and live on Akron Canton Road.
By the 1925 Akron City Directory, Paul and his siblings began living with his dad, Clyde, and his second wife, Helen (they got married on 23 April 1921) at 71 Rosalind Court in Akron. He was a driver at this time, an occupation he would have later in life as well.
Paul Meets Mildred
But by living at 71 Rosalind Court I know Paul has now met my great-grandmother, Mildred Laura Dunbar as my 2nd-great-grandmother, Mazie Lorenia Warner, and her second husband, Samuel Randol, had lived at 75 Rosalind Court since moving to Akron in 1916.
I am not certain how long Paul and Mildred knew each other as it may have been prior to 1924 when Clyde and Helen are known to have moved into 71 Rosalind Court. I believe that Clyde Geer worked at Swinehart Rubber Company for an overlapping year with Samuel Randol, Mildred’s stepfather. I think the two men may have become friends, which may explain Clyde moving next door to the Randol/Dunbar household.
But even if it was by just sheer coincidence, Paul and Mildred became neighbors in 1924, and with my great-grandmother being sweet sixteen, I imagine that Paul was her first love. Fast forward a few years to 17 September 1927 and the happy couple gets married by Reverend Orris W. Haulman (a popular local minister) at the Grace Reformed Church when it was still located at 207 North Portage Path.
After they married the Geers settled at the Randol’s former residence of 75 Rosalind Court (with Mazie and Samuel moving to 622 Carpenter Street, not far away). Their happiness was short-lived as Mildred filed for divorce on 15 January 1929.
Before I took my DNA test which is how I learned Paul was most likely my biological great-grandfather, I thought him to be this horrible person, that my great-grandmother was lucky to be rid of him. Now I hope my great-grandmother exaggerated as she just didn’t want to be married to him anymore. On the chance that what she stated was true, well, I like to think that Paul changed for the better over the years, and maybe he was just young and stupid.
Mildred’s reasons for her divorce are as follows (the below is quoted directly from the records I received from the Summit County Probate Court):
He “has been grossly neglectful of his marital duties towards her in that ever since March 1, 1928, he has wholly failed and refused to provide her with food or clothing or the other necessities of life and that she has been compelled to rely upon her own resources and her parents for sustenance and clothing” and “that the defendant has willfully wasted the real and personal property which they possessed at the inception of their married life and that he worked for a short interval at any one place and that he wasted his earnings in gamboling houses and other places of ill repute”.
The divorce record stated no children, and I don’t believe there was one in January when she filed as my grandmother, Alberta Lou Fleming was born prematurely on 2 October 1929. The story goes that Mildred was sent home from the hospital with my grandma and a hot water bottle and if she (Alberta) survived by morning for her (Mildred) to feed her. Lucky for me she lived.
Anyhow, I digress, I do not know how much of a preemie my grandma was, but I’m guessing Paul and Mildred had one more amicable night together before the divorce was final. That my great-grandmother married Albert Nank on 30 September 1929 and listed him as the father of Alberta on her birth certificate must just show how much she wanted Paul out of her life.
Paul Meets Juanita
I have been unable to find Paul in the 1930 census. He is single as the divorce from Mildred was final on 5 September 1929. He does pop up in the 1934 Akron City Directory working at Goodyear and living at 209 West Center. In 1937 he is still working at Goodyear but moved to 166 West Center. Then he marries Juanita Dodd on 30 December 1939, in a joint ceremony with his father, Clyde Geer, who was marrying Juanita’s mom, Stella Long, at the First United Methodist Church. (As a side note, it has always pleased me that Paul took an entire decade to re-marry. If he truly was guilty of all the things my great-grandmother accused him of in her filing for divorce, I like to think he learned his lesson).
By the time the 1940 census came about, Paul and Juanita had moved to Detroit, Wayne, Michigan where Paul was working as an assembler in an auto factory, but by 1943 they have returned to Akron, living at 207 Carroll Street, #4 (no place of business is identified). By 1946 he and Juanita have a daughter and he is once again working for Goodyear, living at 571 North Summit. By the early 1950’s they have settled in Akron, living at 230 West South Street, and Paul has begun a career as a truck driver for Dixie-Ohio.
I don’t find a whole lot of other information about Paul and his family. On 24 November 1960, he won tickets to see a movie at the Strand Theater, I wonder what movie did he see?
Two years later in December 1962, Paul’s father Clyde died of an acute myocardial infarction at the age of 82. Clyde had been living with Paul and his family for at least 6 years (the things you can learn using City Directories).
Twelve years later his brother, George, died in 1974, and then his sister, Ruth, in 1975. Paul lived to age 78, passing away on 27 February 1984.
The photo in his obituary, and one other in that of his wife’s obituary, are the only 2 photos I have of Paul. You can read about my adventure in discovering through DNA how I figured out Paul was my great-grandfather here. After 3 years of composing a letter, I did reach out to Paul’s daughter to see if she could share with me what he was like as I’m quite curious. I mailed the letter out in early to mid-July and have not heard anything. To say I’m bummed is an understatement, but I understand. It took me 3 years to summon the courage to mail that letter to her simply because I was afraid of rocking her world. But to my knowledge, I don’t think Paul had any idea he had a child with Mildred. But it doesn’t lessen my curiosity at all.
But going back to that photo above, his cheekbones. My grandmother had those cheekbones. My cousin does as well, then again, she really looks like my grandma.
I’m still hopeful I’ll hear from Paul’s daughter, my half-grand-aunt. Not only did I ask what Paul was like, but Clyde, George, and Ruth as well. I want to know about all of them, I wish I could get answers about his mother, Gertrude, but that is pretty much a lost cause unless I come across another family historian who talked to people years ago.
I am gathering up names to do another genealogical visit to the Summit County Health Department to gather birth and death certificates, and Paul is on my list to discover what his cause of death was.
To finish this up properly my hubby and I went out to Greenlawn Memorial Park where Paul and his wife, Juanita are buried. It took us about 50 minutes to find his grave as the layout of section Y was a bit challenging, but for me worth it. You always get that feeling of closeness when you are near your departed relative, even if you never met them in person.
I’m glad I took the time to do this timeline about Paul Harrison Geer. From the comments on his wife Juanita’s obituary, they seemed like a very nice couple, which led to my coming around about him not being as bad as the divorce document states. In the end, isn’t being a good person what you want to learn about your ancestors?
I have to laugh even now that I have completed half of the local cemeteries that I need to visit. I laugh because it was 3 years ago this week I packed up my husband and a few belongings and we headed 4 hours away to Pennsylvania to do a cemetery hop, some research at the Bedford County Historical Society, and went to the Courthouse to view probate records and deeds of the ancestors on my paternal side.
What is comical is that I haven’t accomplished any of those things for my ancestors who lived here in Akron, Ohio. So, this past Saturday I began by visiting 2 of 5 local cemeteries where my ancestors are buried. I flew solo this time as my husband was assisting with parking for the Bridgestone Seniors Golf Tournament at Firestone Country Club. I can admit I truly missed the second set of eyes. It began getting a little toasty so I stopped, knowing that I can finish up at a later time because that’s what happens when you are visiting cemeteries close to home. The urgency is not there because who knows when you will return (which has been the case for me and Pennsylvania during this time of Covid).
Chestnut Hill Memorial Park
My first stop of the day was Chestnut Hill Memorial Park where my maternal granduncles were both buried. Edwin Fairhurst was killed in Saigon during World War II while his older brother, Wilfred, died in 1956. Wilfred also fought in World War II for the Marines and was in Saigon when his brother, who was in the Army, was killed.
Oakwood Cemetery was literally the cemetery about 5 minutes (driving) from where I grew up. I passed it every day on my drive to Cuyahoga Falls High School as Oakwood Drive was the street both my dad and neighbor took to take me to school for all 4 years. The interesting part was that my great-grandparents, James Fairhurst and Phoebe Boone Fairhurst were buried not far from the fence that I drove next to every day. They were who I searched for first as I entered the larger than it seems cemetery in the middle of the suburban city of Cuyahoga Falls.
It was interesting. I wasn’t sure how to react to their gravestone. As I felt so sad for the death of their sons (Wilfred and Edwin were their children), it was more complicated for them. My grandfather, their youngest son, was never a very nice person. He was physically abusive to his wives and children. As I’ve picked up stories about James and Phoebe, all those stories aren’t very promising either. Maybe I’m mistaken to blame his cruelty on them, but sometimes things just start and never end. I believe this is why I’ve never been big on trying to find out more about this branch of my family. Granted, it takes me to England right away as both James and Phoebe came here in the early 20th century, but it’s hard to get excited for people who you hear of just not being nice.
The next stop in my cemetery adventure was looking for the headstone of Andrew Dailey and Maria Munson Dailey, who I am pretty sure are my 4th-great-grandparents on my maternal grandmother’s side of the family.
I haven’t really learned a whole lot about Andrew Dailey and Maria Munson. This is one of those things I plan on delving into as I settle back down into focusing on my research. I know Andrew was born in this area back in 1814 so he has been a settler here in this area for a very long time. Researching here in Ohio will be a change of pace, as I am so use to Pennsylvania.
The gravestone was very worn and if there were words are the other sides they were completely washed away. Andrew passed away in 1886, Maria in 1898.
I opted to include Albert William Nank as I knew he was buried in Oakwood Cemetery. Albert is the man named on my maternal grandmother’s birth certificate as her father, but to my knowledge I have not discovered any DNA evidence from when I took my test 3 years ago to support that. That’s why I have the Dailey’s above, they are branched off of who I think is really her father’s family.
But I began looking for my 7th-grade-teacher’s final resting place and I remembered that Albert was not buried far from him. He was still my great-grandmother’s second husband so I guess he deserves to be memorialized as well, even if he wasn’t very nice either. I think he knew he wasn’t her dad but must have thought it wasn’t his place to say so.
I know I’m probably not suppose too, but I do wish I could take a weed whacker to his headstone so you can see it in its entirety again.
This last one is not a relative of mine, but rather my favorite teacher. I had Mr. Muster for a combination of geography and Ohio History in 7th grade at Roberts Middle School. He was a teacher that you either loved or hated, there was seldom an in-between. My sister did not have Mr. Muster but her good friend did. Heidi told horror stories about how mean Mr. Muster was. She was heavy-set and apparently he gave her a hard time about that. I found this odd as he himself was heavy-set. And he smoked a pipe. We had B lunch so our class went a half hour, we had lunch, and then we had another half hour, and I always remember the smell of his pipe when we returned to class.
I don’t remember much about the geography portions of class except the Africa test. It was a map test and you went up and pulled a slip of paper from a hat and you selected which test you would take. You then went up in front of the entire class and had to point out where things were. I lucked out and pulled the easiest one – so I had to point out the Nile River, Egypt, South Africa, and Zaire… all the really big and easy things to find. My friend Pam ended up selecting the most difficult test…. I don’t even remember what was on it but I was prepared and wish I could have helped her.
Ohio History was the fun part of class. I love history. And there was a cannon that was famous in Ohio named Old Betsy (gosh, I can’t remember why?) and Mr. Muster had a cannon that he claimed was a replica and he began shooting it in class with caps (like what was used in cap guns). I had a similar cannon at my grandma’s so I brought it in one day and fired back. He asked me if my cannon had a name, I said yes, Victory. So he then went on to inspect his own cannon, all we could find was “Made in Taiwan”.
Mr. Muster’s son was also in the same grade as my sister, so I hunted him down at graduation that night to discover how I did on my final exam. I’d missed 2. But that I found him was quite a feat as the Richfield Colosseum was huge (it no longer exists) and my sister had a very large class (but not as big as my mom’s).
I went back and visited Mr. Muster often as I went to high school. It’s amazing how teacher’s really have that impact on you. I had a few in high school and my favorite English teacher is someone I am friends with on Facebook (he taught my all-time favorite class – Enriched World Literature – it’s where I began my love of classical music).
I just Googled “Old Betsy Cannon” and it was used at Fort Stephenson during the War of 1812. It was the only cannon the fort had so Major George Croghan decided to move it around the fort to make it appear that they had more fire power than they did. In the end 150 British and Native Americans were killed and the United States only lost 1 soldier. You can learn more here.
Ever since the clock struck midnight on Friday, April 1 the genealogical world has gone crazy trying to find their ancestors in the newly released 1950 census. Were you prepared to know where you had to search for your loved ones? I was a last-minute person, looking up the enumeration district for my mom and giving my dad a call to find out what state he was living in when 1950 rolled around. You see this was the first census my parents are in so I will admit I was a little excited.
I contemplated staying up until midnight when it was released to the world, but I was so tired I knew I wouldn’t have been able to stay awake that long. So, I made sure I got up at my usual 6:11am (the time I normally get up to get ready when my kids are going to school, they happened to be on Spring Break last week, so I was able to sleep in an extra hour), got ready, ate early and made sure I had a good solid hour before having to head out the door to focus on the 1950 census.
Of my parents, finding my mom was a little easier. I thought initially she and her parents were already living on North Main Street in Akron, Ohio but I was wrong. I am glad I took the time to look up their information in the City Directory to find them living in Cuyahoga Falls, which is where I myself was born and raised (and it’s literally a 2-minute drive in either direction from where I live presently). It made it even easier for me to find except I selected the wrong enumeration district. Where they lived on Second Street there were multiple choices. It was odd though, I never had paid attention that they lived there before and here I drove by where their house was every day when I took my kids to school, or when I was a member of the Natatorium a few years back. (It appears that it’s a vacant lot where the building once stood).
On my mom’s side of the family, I found her parents, Harold Fairhurst, Alberta Lou Fairhurst, herself, Cynthia Anne Fairhurst, and her younger sister, Terry (Teri) Mildred Fairhurst.
My dad was a little trickier. I had called him the night before to ask if he knew if they were in Ohio yet, or if they (he and his parents) were still living in Indiana. My dad would have been 7 in 1950 and apparently all of his schooling was here in Ohio, so that narrowed it down. However, when they first moved to Ohio, they didn’t live in Akron, they lived in the Village of Lakemore, which was near Akron. This is one of those places that I have heard of, but I am not sure if I have ever been there.
I threw “Lakemore” into the enumeration district page to see if anything came up, but it wasn’t helpful. Luckily Google exists. I searched Lakemore, Ohio and luckily it came up and I was able to discover the zip code for it.
I then went to the Ancestry.com and they had a tool you could throw in your zip code and such and it would provide the enumeration districts for the area. So, I put in 44250 and I was able to narrow my search to 77-114, 115, 116, or 117, which translates to about 100 total pages to scan.
I lucked out, they were halfway through 115, and not only did I find my dad and grandparents, but my grandfather’s brother was living right next door with two of their kids as well! So, the total family I found for my dad was his dad, Leroy Blair, his mom, Anna Maria Morgart, his uncle, Donald Blair, his aunt, Anna Smzrlich, and two of their children.
I’ll admit I have hundreds of people I am sure I need to look up and find in the 1950 census. My great-grandparents on all sides of my family would have all been alive and kicking still, but I’m more than happy to wait until I can search by name and save it that way. I figure if I come across someone else that I just need to find, I will, but I have time (and not fully understanding the layout of Pennsylvania towns, who knows how long it would take me to find them).
Did you enjoy the fun of finding your ancestors in the 1950 census? How many people did you find? Share in the comments below!
One of the most important tools you should use when doing your family history is completing a research log. I will admit, I am horrible at getting one out and using one but I am also a very scattered researcher. I flit from one side of the family to another and don’t think anything of it, and I also duplicate my efforts because as good as my old noggin’ is for remembering things, I can’t remember everything.
And that is where a research log comes into play. Not only do they allow you to visually look at what you have discovered in a specific source (be it a census, book, magazine, newspaper, etc.) it allows you to see where you didn’t find information, and that can be just as valuable.
Where Can I Find a Research Log?
Research logs come in many different formats and can be found pre-made for you to download. I know the one I tend to use can be printed from my Legacy Family Tree software. I can imagine most of the other brands of genealogy software have research logs ready-made for you as well. In the screenshot of my program below, I have boxed in red the “research log” tab where you can print one off lickety-split.
Here is what the research log looks like that Legacy offers. I’ll also show an example I downloaded from FamilySearch.
If you prefer to have an “online” research log, you can always create a document in either Excel, Google Spreadsheets, or even creating a table in Word or Google Docs. Thomas MacEntee has this handy dandy sheet available by just Googling “genealogy research log in excel”, it was the first item that came up, I clicked and it led straight to the directions on creating your own spreadsheet.
Every Good Research Log Should Ask a Question
Like my subtitle above states, a research log should always ask a question, and you should use 1 research log for 1 question on 1 individual. If you have another question about the same individual, you begin a new research log. And the question should be very specific in reference to your person.
I do not have any concrete evidence of who the parents of Oliver Charles Warner, my fourth great-grandfather on my maternal side of the family, are. I sadly must have done the biggest of no-no’s and just gone off the one big tree for who his parents are, so here I am, doing my due diligence to prove his parents are Joel Warner and Thankful Chapin (as Thankful would have been Joel’s wife in 1809, but now that I think about it, many don’t even have Oliver listed as their child, many only have Sharon Burke Warner, their oldest daughter).
Who are the parents of Oliver Charles Warner, born approximately 1809 in Franklin County, Massachusetts?
You are best to be as specific as possible for your question, to make sure you are not confusing the person you are researching with another potential candidate. I’d like to think that my Oliver Charles Warner was the only one born in 1809 in Franklin County, Massachusetts. But we shall see.
When I make a log for the documents that I do have on Oliver Charles Warner, not one mentions who his parents are. He is married in all the census records I can find, and his death record, which I should be able to open at a Family History Affiliate, came up empty when I went to the library (a FamilySearch affiliate). One day a Saturday will be free for me to visit the Family History Center nearby to see if I have luck there.
With Oliver Charles Warner being born in approximately 1809, this is the world of tick marks on the census. My goal is to first find a census that will show Oliver being born on the census with Joel and Thankful in 1810. Please note this will not give me concrete proof of any means, it’s just a start to see if Oliver is in the household with Joel in 1810.
When I go to consult my files, I find it strangely ironic that the only census I am missing for Joel Warner is the 1810 Census. Ideally, this census should show Joel Warner as the head of household, and other dependents including his wife, Thankful, his daughter, Sharon Burke Warner, and two sons, Anson, approximately 5, and Oliver, approximately 1 (possibly less).
When I found the 1810 Census using Ancestry.com, it had not yet been indexed so that could explain why the 1810 Census had been missing in my files and on my profile of Joel Warner on Ancestry (however, the 1810 census is now saved in my computerized files).
The perplexing challenge I face with the 1810 Census is that it states that “J Warner” and his spouse (at this time I do not know for certain if this is Thankful) are raising 1-boy under 10; 2-girls under 10; 1-girl 10-16; and both the man and the woman in the house are between the ages of 26-45. Why this is perplexing is that many records have Joel having another son, Anson, born in 1805, with Oliver Charles supposedly being born in 1809, which leaves him with 2-sons under 10. I am also unaware of any daughters under 10 and this lists 2.
This census also lists Joel’s siblings, Pliny and Roswell, which is why I’m confident my “J Warner” is Joel. Both of his brothers are listed as having sons under the age of 10 as well (or at least boys in their homes). Pliny has 4, while Roswell has 3, more possibilities on who Oliver’s parents might be. (Joel also has one other younger brother, Seth, who could also be a parental possibility, and Seth, like Joel, moved to Potter County, Pennsylvania).
Now while looking through some of the birth records from Bernardston, Hampshire, Massachusetts, it’s quite odd that on 15 November 1804 Alson Warner was born to Pliny and Jerusha Warner. I now wonder if the mysterious “Anson” could be “Alson” (the Anson I have found was born in 1805 and I’ve never seen any other record relating him to my Warner’s, I have a hunch I have found information on an Anson that doesn’t belong to my family as there are many Connecticut ties). But does that mean that Oliver Charles Warner is the “boy under 10” on the 1810 Census for Joel?
Also, Oliver was supposedly born in Franklin County in 1809. And though Franklin and Hampshire are next to one another, was Oliver born in Franklin County or in Hampshire? It’s entirely possible they moved, as Thankful died in Franklin County as well in 1812. In fact, it appears that Bernardston has changed what county it is in (or at least I have it down as two different counties, maybe Franklin was formed from Hampshire). A simple Google search provides me the answer, Franklin county was formed in 1811 “from the northern third of Hampshire county”.
So now my latest deduction is if Oliver Charles Warner was born in Franklin County, how accurate is his 1809 birth year since Franklin was formed in 1811? Oliver is not listed in any birth records for Bernardston, only Sarah Burke Warner, the oldest child of Joel and Thankful, is listed as being born in the vital records of Bernardston, Massachusetts. None of the other children that are represented on the 1810 Census are listed either. So, my next task is to look through other city’s vital records in Franklin County to see if Joel Warner is listed with offspring. This also includes me creating a new research log with the question:
Where in Massachusetts was Oliver Charles Warner born in 1809?
I’ll keep the year the same because as I look through the documents listed I’m sure if he was born a few years later I should still find him. It’s possible as I find the vital records about Oliver that maybe I will find information about the girls under 10 that are also listed in the 1810 Census under Joel Warner.
Other research logs I could work on were extending my research to the collateral members of the Warner family, finding out the name of the children of Pliny, Roswell, and Seth Warner as well, to make sure my Oliver Charles didn’t belong to them. It’s always possible that the girls listed with Joel could have been nieces of his, nothing is guaranteed that the girls are his daughters.
Research Logs Keep You Focus
If nothing else research logs keep you focused. You may end up working on multiple research logs simultaneously but it’s worth it to keep yourself from duplicating work. Not to mention we all know how easy it is to go down the rabbit hole when you get distracted by bright, shiny objects, I’m not saying you won’t still do that, but hopefully, you will have a new research log for each hole you go down, and then some.
As for me and Oliver Charles Warner… I am still in the throes of trying to find towns in the vicinity and going through the online records. Many of these vital records have been digitized but you have to go through each record page by page. Where Bernardston’s records are all alphabetical and are just beautiful, not every town is Bernardston. It is just taking me longer than I anticipated to narrow down areas and figure out where to look. Part of me thinks I should do more of the collateral search first to discover all the children of Joel’s brothers to verify the names of all of their children to aid in my search, and that finding those records may assist me in narrowing things down. But I am determined to find what I need, hoping beyond hope that Joel and Thankful are Oliver’s parents.
All my life my favorite holiday has been Christmas. My mom always preferred Thanksgiving because family would get together for simpler things: family and food, she felt with Christmas and Easter the gifts and candy were the reasons people got together. But it wasn’t just gifts that have made me love Christmas, it was the tree and all the decorations, baking cookies and that little bit of magic that all the very special ornaments and lights can bring.
As I have gone through the photographs that once belonged to my Grandma Blair (aka Anna Maria Morgart) and her mother, Margaret Dora Wise, I saw photographs of Christmases past. This delighted me to no end, as it made me feel that my love of Christmas was something that is in my soul, and that I have inherited from those who came before me.
But not on just my dad’s side of the family, oh no, my maternal grandmother, Alberta Lou Fleming, loved Christmas as well. I have so many photos between Christmas day and her yearly Christmas Eve parties when she returned from living in Florida.
Though Christmas is my favorite, to me the holidays more or less begin on Thanksgiving and don’t really end until New Year’s Day. So many wonderful memories throughout the years and sometimes they all just flow together. If no other time family gets together, it’s a holiday. We get together with my husband’s family on Memorial Day and Labor Day each year. We changed it up and have gone to my cousin’s on the 4th of July (which is nice as it’s our shared uncle’s birthday, too).
All in all, holidays are just very special days, no matter how you celebrate them. It’s just extra special to share them with those you love.
It doesn’t take long for our ancestral lines to quickly multiply within our family trees. By the time I arrive at my great-great-grandparents I already have 16. I have a total of 61 surnames on my family tree, and I am sure there are just as many, if not more, unknown to me.
Sadly, there are some I know more than others. I tend to be more familiar with my paternal side than my maternal side as I didn’t do much research on my mom’s side as she always seemed to be upset with whatever information I found. Odd part was I didn’t even work on her dad’s side of the family because I know she wasn’t fond of him. But when I came home with information about my great-grandmother, I think that made her even more unhappy (as I’ve stated in past posts, like my Grandma Blair was to me, my mom was very fond of her maternal grandmother, Mildred Laura Dunbar, and to be clear, I loved her very much as well).
My goal in the coming year is to get to flesh out some of my family more. I’ll admit working on 52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks does get me writing, but I’m a full-time working girl, it doesn’t give me a lot of time to actually research. I miss that. So, I’ve signed up, but I do not anticipate writing every week (but I’m happy that even though I didn’t get it published on the week it was due, I will have gotten all 52 prompts done this year).
Below is word art of my 61 surnames (or I hope I got them all), or my known ancestral lines. So much to learn. Always learning.
The theme for week 46 of 52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks is Birthdays. And I am not sure what day of the year for sure has the most birthdays, but I know off the top of my head that April 2 is high on the list for my ancestors.
I have a total of 9 birthdays that appear on 2 April, the oldest being born in 1725 (my 7th-Great-Grandmother, Martha Shattuck) and the youngest being born in 1949, my Aunt Teri (which would be the 6th-Great-Granddaughter of Martha).
Here is my list of names, how they are related to me, and how old they would have been in 2021.
Martha Shattuck – 7th-Great-Grandmother – 296
Elizabeth Naill – Wife of 4th-Great-Granduncle – 222
Eliza Horton – 3rd-Great-Grandmother – 208
William Harrison Geer – 3rd-Great-Grandfather – 181
Arabelle Morgart – 2nd-Great-Grandaunt – 165
James Stevenson – 1st Cousin Twice Removed – 112
Anna Maria Morgart – Grandmother – 107
Willis Mellott – 3rd Cousin Once Removed – 84
Terry (Teri) Fairhurst – Aunt – 72
My software program that I used to track my genealogy has a calendar maker and in the beginning of this year I contemplated printing one out to honor my relatives. I was astounded when I saw I had so many events on 2 April that my Grandma wasn’t even listed in the primary box. At the time she was the second youngest to my aunt (I’ve since added Willis Mellott).
So funny how some dates have so many whereas I am the only person on my birthday so far (which makes me feel special).