52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks, My Family Tree

Week 8: Power

The word “power” brings so many different ideas into ones head. Merriam-Webster defines power as:

  1. ability to act or produce an effect
  2. possession of control, authority, or influence over others
  3. physical might
  4. powers – an order of angels
  5. the number of times as indicated by an exponent that a number occurs as a factor in a product (oh my gosh, I’d completely forgotten about this)
  6. a source or means of supplying energy
  7. magnification (again – totally didn’t think of this)
  8. scope
  9. the probabilty of rejecting the null hypotheseis in a statistical test when a particular alternative hypothesis happens to be true.

And that is it’s meaning as a noun (it can be a verb and an adjective too).

Though it was the source of supplying energy that popped into my head initially but I don’t really know how quickly my ancestors got electricity into their homes to make their lives easier. And despite being the history buff I don’t think I ever took the time to learn when this became the “norm”.

And since I have not yet found a mathematician in my family – exerting one’s authority over others will be how I approach the theme for week 8 in Amy Johnson Crow’s 52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks.

Harold Fairhurst

The person who comes to mind when I think of someone exerting power over others is my maternal grandfather, Harold Fairhurst.

Harold was born on 11 April 1922 in Amsterdam, Ohio in Jefferson County to James Fairhurst and his wife, the former Phoebe Boone.

Unlike my most my relatives who have me stuck in Pennsylvania, James and Phoebe came to the United States from Leigh, Lancashire, England in late 1913 (James) and early 1915 (Phoebe). In 1920 James had become a naturalized citizen taking the Oath of Allegiance on 14 May 1920.

While James worked as a Coal Miner, Phoebe ran a boarding house. However, by 1930 the Fairhurst’s and their 6 children (Elsie, Wilfred, Edwin, Doris, Harold and Evelyn) moved from Jefferson County to Akron, Ohio where James began working for the rubber companies and then for some of the WPA projects.

From stories I’ve heard life was not easy for the boys. Phoebe pitted brother against brother and most resolutions came with their fists. Phoebe also expected all her children to hand over their paychecks to her to help support the family. From my own experiences with my grandfather, I can easily see his not liking this, and it explains why he was married at the age of 21 in 1943.

Unlike his brothers, my grandfather did not work for the rubber companies, he was a construction worker and became a Mason. He was also a golf pro, but both vocations had him unemployed a few months each year because that is how life is in Northeast Ohio.

As I stated before, Harold got married to his first of 5 wives in 1943. His marriage to Helen Juanita Ferguson did not last, ending in divorce 6 January 1947. Shortly after their divorce was final Harold meets and marries my grandmother, Alberta Lou Fleming on 29 June 1947. They had 5 children, my mother being the oldest.

My grandfather was not a nice man. He was verbally and physically abusive and repeatedly cheated on my grandmother (I was told by my mother that his one girlfriend was Catholic and that is when the older 3 children attended Catholic school).

I don’t really have any happy memories of my grandfather. When I was little he lived about an hour or so away from us (translated – for a little girl it seemed like forever to get there but after Googling the distance between Cuyahoga Falls and Lodi it is apparently only 36 to 45 minutes away – yes, I’m blown away). My grandmother finally divorced my grandfather in 1968 because he was having an affair with the girl next door, who became wife #3. Mary Lynn, was the same age as my mother. I think this was why when she asked me to call her “Grandma Mary” it made me feel uncomfortable. I guess lucky for me we did not visit frequently and soon his wife and three kids moved to Tennessee. The one perk was that these kids were basically my age, so I had playmates. But I was never fond of my grandfather. Ever.

But as I’ve said before, my grandfather was not a nice man. When he was married to my grandmother he would beat her and their children horribly for what I consider dumb reasons (they left a mess in the living room with their toys, basic kids being kids reasons). My grandmother was a terrific bowler, if he didn’t think she bowled good enough he would make her practice over and over and over again when she got home, it didn’t matter that children were sleeping and had school the next day. And if she still didn’t bowl to his expectations, he threw her into the wall.

As time went on my grandfather would break his daughter’s arm. I remember he gave me what is called an Indian Rug Burn on my arm when I was joking with him. He didn’t think it was funny and grabbed my arm, twisting and squeezing it simultaneously. I was in 7th, possibly 8th grade.

I don’t know if my grandfather got his bullying like power from being the youngest boy in his family – constantly being tormented by his older brothers? If he just didn’t live up to the same standards his brothers did to his mother? Rumor has it when Wilfred, the oldest of the 3 Fairhurst boys, but the second to die, leaving just Harold, Phoebe, their mother, told my grandfather that now she had no sons.

Ouch. Who says that to their child?

It just shows how words can hold the same sort of destructive power as fists.

52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks, My Family Tree

“Beginnings”

The Week 1 theme of Amy Johnson Crow’s series “52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks” is “Beginnings” and all my beginnings lead to one place, Akron, Ohio.

Actually, if I wanted to be precise my beginnings would be linked to Falls Rec, the bowling alley where my parents first met. My dad was bowling one night on a league I believe for Ohio Edison and my mother tended bar. According to her, some guys wanted to introduce her to their friend, Bob, and she was excited as Bob was really good looking, but they brought my dad over instead (your laugh here to her funny tale).

I like to think it was a good thing, but then I’m a little biased.

But this meeting would never have happened had my grandparents, Leroy Blair and Anna Maria Morgart, not moved to Akron in the 1950s. The same can be said of my immigrant great-grandparents James Fairhurst and Phoebe Boone, who came to the United States from Leigh, England in 1913 (James) and 1915 (Phoebe). They originally resided in Amsterdam, Ohio but then moved to Akron by 1930. Lastly, if my great-great-grandmother, Mazie Lorenia Warner, hadn’t moved here in 1916 with her second husband, Samuel Randol with her 2 daughters, all of the pieces to my DNA make-up would not have come together.

Why Akron?

Akron, Ohio was the happening place to be in the early 1900’s. “Between 1910 and 1920 the city’s population tripled to more than 200,000” (britannica.com). This was the time when Akron became known as the Rubber Capital of the World because all three big rubber companies had their headquarters here: Firestone, General Tire, and Goodyear (Goodyear still does).

Many of my Fairhurst relatives (my great-grandfather James, and 2 of his sons, Wilfred and Edwin) all worked for the rubber companies at various times. My grandfather, Harold, worked partly in construction and partly as a golf pro.

When Samuel Randol located to Akron with his family, he worked at the Swinehart Tire & Rubber Company. Here he met the last part of my family, my great-great-grandfather, Clyde Geer (and the Geers have been settled in Akron since Summit County was formed on March 3, 1840, with Clyde’s dad, William Harrison Geer being born on April 2, 1840, just 1 month later).

Leroy Blair originally moved from Pennsylvania to Indiana as he had an apprenticeship to learn the sheet metal trade. He moved from Gary, Indiana to Akron, Ohio in the early 1950s.

When I look at how all the pieces of the puzzle at one point lived all over the world, it’s amazing that my parents even met. The son of 2 English immigrants somehow met up with the daughter of an administrative professional/stenographer and a dad who we thought was one person, only to be another (the wonders of DNA) to have 5 kids, with the oldest meeting the only son of a sheet metal worker and his housekeeper wife.

Wow. Just wow. And in a bowling alley of all places.

Falls Rec

Falls Rec was torn down in the mid-1990s and where it stood is now the parking lot of a Sheraton Hotel in downtown Cuyahoga Falls (the suburb of Akron where I was raised). I remember bowling there once when I was little. I believe my sister did join a kids league (I wasn’t much of a bowler).

My grandparents bowled there, my mom worked there, I believe most of her siblings bowled or worked there as well. It held quite the memories for my family.

Photo by Stephen Fairhurst, this was one of about 4 dozen of these glasses that he had. You earned it for bowling above a 620 Series at Falls Rec in Cuyahoga Falls, Ohio.

More About Akron

I’m lucky that Akron had it’s hey day when it did because without it, I most likely wouldn’t be here. Akron isn’t just known for the rubber companies, it has been voted an All-American City four times (1980, 1981, 1995, and 2008) and has a nationally recognized library (the Akron-Summit County Library – which has lots of great genealogy information in their Special Collections department), it’s home to the Akron Art Museum, the Akron Rubberducks (the AA minor league baseball team to the still presently called Cleveland Indians), and the home of Purell (which has been super important during this Covid-19 filled year).

The University of Akron, which is widely known for its polymer research (which goes hand in hand with the rubber companies), and an outstanding Law School. On a related note, for years their football team played in the “Rubber Bowl” which was built as a Works Progress Administration project to put people to work in the late 1930s. The football team moved to their new stadium in Downtown Akron, in the heart of the University at Infocision Stadium in 2008. It was home to more than just football games, as countless concerts took place there as well. Demolition began in 2018, but only part of it has been razed as the other parts could cause structural issues with the roadways surrounding it and Derby Downs.

This photo was in a Twitter feed from the University of Akron from 2018

Which brings me to one of the most famous events in Akron is the annual Soap Box Derby , with motorless go-carts that of specific requirements and has been held yearly since 1933. Youths compete in their hometowns and move along until they come to Akron for the national championship. Competitors and their families come from all over to participate. I remember one year when I took summer courses for my degree while attending the University of Akron, as the dorms were used for their overnight accommodations, and it blew me away when I saw just how many children and teens participated in this event in my hometown.

I remember my mom telling me when she was a teenager going to a Soap Box Derby parade and in 1963 Rock Hudson was a celebrity attending, and she was able to touch his hand as he drove by in a car and that was one of the highlights of her life, as he was one of the few actors my mother thought to be dreamy.

This photo of Rock Hudson at the Soap Box Derby in 1963 was taken from a Pinterest “pin” by Mary Ann Myers

Blimps

Going hand in hand with Akron and Goodyear, I would be remissed if I didn’t discuss the Goodyear Blimp. The blimps were originally created at the blimp hangar in the middle of Akron. I remember my mom telling me that the hanger was so big it actually would rain inside.

Well, it’s been a while since they’ve built blimps at the original hangar, as they now are built at the Wingfoot Lake hangar in Suffield. In 2006, my parents, sister and brother-in-law attended the launch of the Spirit of Innovation in 2006.

A digital scrapbooking layout that was done by my sister, Kellie Blair, of my mother and daughter. I just love the look of wonder in my daughter’s eyes.

Goodyear has always been a huge supporter of a variety of hobbies in our area, the Lighter Than Air Society being one of them. And it’s funny, I’ve grown up with blimps roaming the skies all my life and to this day when I hear that engine I run to see it. Though the new blimps, Wingfoot 1, 2, and 3 are all very quiet so you don’t hear them from within my house anymore.

A photo of one of the Blimps a block from my house as I sat in my car at a red light. No matter how old I get they always make me smile.

Other Popular Places

I’m sure there is a lot of Akron I have missed, but before I forget here are 2 of my favorite places: the Akron Zoo and where I use to work, Stan Hywet Hall & Gardens, which is the 65-room Tudor Revival home that F.A. Seiberling (co-founder of Goodyear with his brother, C.W.) and his wife Gertrude began building in 1912 and moved into in 1915. I think my favorite part of the house is how they had an architect (Charles Schneider) that designed the house and a landscape architect (Warren Manning) that made the gardens be extensions of the rooms. For example the Breakfast Room is designed in the colors of blue and yellow (Goodyear’s colors) and the garden that was around it was made up of blue and yellow flowers. It is now a historic estate that people can tour the house and grounds, along with various special events they have throughout the year.

Stan Hywet Hall & Gardens on 22 Dec 2018 during their Deck the Hall! program.

As for the Akron Zoo, my daughter can not get enough of it, even as a teenager and more often than not we have a membership.

My son and daughter from 2019, he tried to look as miserable as possible in most every picture we took of him that day while my daughter is as happy as can be.

Summit MetroParks

I can’t believe I almost forgot one of my favorite features of where I live – the Summit Metroparks. I’ve been told by many fellow classmates that this is the one feature of our area that is so often overlooked and the most missed once people move onto other areas of the country.

The Summit MetroParks is a non-profit organization that cares for a 16 parks compiled of 14,000 acres with a variety of things to do in them like hiking, ice skating, soccer, baseball, archery, biking, paddling, kayaking, fishing, swimming and more.

For 57 years the MetroParks has hosted the Fall Hiking Spree. It’s funny as I originally tried to complete this when I was in 10th grade. I was in Enriched Biology and the main thing that separated us from the regular class were projects that were due each grading period. The first was easy, participate in the Fall Hiking Spree. 6 Hikes was an A, 5 a B, and so on. I did 6 with my dad. We found group hikes that were led by Naturalists and advertised each week in the Akron Beacon Journal and that’s where we went, so we not only learned about the natural surroundings but any history tidbits that were involved as well. To earn your hiking stick and shield, you complete 8 hikes, and my dad and I had every intention to do them, but it’s Ohio, and the weather turned cold and wet and we never did. Fast forward 24 years and I’m 39 years old and I put earning said shield and stick on my bucket list of things to do before turning 40. I was so happy the day I earned it with my friend, Pam. I’ve continued to do the hiking spree each year since having earned 9 total shields (but there are people who have hiked every year).

The below photo is the 2020 Shield on the left and a photo of my stick from 2019. Normally they have volunteers who will put the shield on for you but with Covid this year, they did not have this service. Bets on how long it takes my husband to get the shield on? It’s already January and it’s not done.

Writing this has been very therapeutic since being a girl who has wanted to move to New York City for over half her life, I realize just how lucky I am to be born and more or less raised in this wonderful area. It is the place where I have to begin my genealogical journey as it’s where I was born, my husband and children were born here, my mom, and her mom (my dad was born in Indiana). From there I spread to Pennsylvania on every front but the Fairhurst’s, which is England.

If you are interested in taking part in Amy Johnson Crow’s 52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks challenge please click here for more information. Come back next week as I tackle week #2!

My Family Tree

What I Learned During Family History Month 2020

Despite cleaning the attic so I can attempt to create homemade Christmas Cards this year (it was something my mom had done the last several years of her life and I, along with my sister, are attempting to carry on this tradition of hers this year), I did take some time this past week to work on my genealogy during Family History Month.

What I Worked On

This past week I found myself drawn to my maternal grandmothers paternal side. I had not really delved in as much once I figured out who her father really was since taking my DNA test. I discovered that a part of my family really was embedded in the area of the world I live in, where I thought most of my relatives are from Pennsylvania (don’t get me wrong – 75% of my family is from Pennsylvania – and one day I’ll find my way out of Pennsylvania), and thinking all had arrived here in Ohio in the late 1800’s or early 1900’s, I found out on my great-grandfather’s dad’s side, they had been settled here for a while.

The Dailey’s and the Geer’s

Amelia Dailey is my 3rd-great-grandmother and she was born on 14 Mar 1844 in Cuyahoga Falls, Ohio. In entering her and her father into my Legacy Family Tree software I found out that he, Andrew Dailey, was a founding family of Summit County, Ohio. Summit County was formed from 3-other counties (Portage, Medina and Stark) in 1840. I found this to be rather exciting because when I joined the Summit County Chapter of the Ohio Genealogical Society, I didn’t think I had any longtime family members in the area, and here I found out I did.

Andrew Dailey’s mother, my 5th-great-grandmother, Margaret Cackler was the daughter of Christian Cackler, a published author and founder of Portage County, Ohio. His book, “Recollections of an Old Settler”, is his interactions as a new settler coming to the area with Native Americans in the region. I was lucky it is a Google book and I was able to download it for free.

Amelia Dailey married William Harrison Geer in 1865. William was also born in Summit County on 2 Apr 1840 (he was born in Akron). He fought in the Civil War being mustered in on 24 Dec 1863, his grandfather, Captain Samuel Geer fought in the War of 1812 and his father, Captain Gurdon Geer fought in the Revolutionary War. So quite the historic branch of service I have on this one direct line of my family tree.

So it wasn’t a ton of time I spent on my family tree but I felt I learned a great deal in the past week on this new branch of my family. I am looking forward to learning more about these fascinating people in the weeks to come. Hopefully you made some exciting discoveries about your own family during this fabulous month dedicated to what I feel is the world’s greatest hobby.

52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks, My Family Tree

Week #10: Strong Woman

For this week’s topic in 52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks by Amy Johnson Crow, it’s “Strong Woman” and from when I first discovered what were to me secret’s of my maternal great-grandmother, Mildred Laura Dunbar, she is the first person who popped into my head for this week’s challenge.

My First Big Discovery

When I began working on my family tree 3.5 years ago, one of the first things I found at the library using Ancestry Library Edition was that my great-grandmother had been married not once, not twice, but three times in six years time.

Now I will confess, this particular great-grandmother passed away when I was 8, almost 9-years-old and so I knew her but never had any chance to ask questions and get to KNOW her (though I do have great memories of her babysitting me often). When my mother would speak of her, it was as if she were a saint and could do no wrong.

So when I came home with my finds to tell my mother about how Mildred had been married 3 times, needless to say it didn’t go over too big.  Since my mother died my father has told me he is fairly positive my mother knew of my grandmother’s 3 marriages (we knew of 2) but because my mother had put her grandmother on such a pedestal, it was something she didn’t really want to speak of, and so we didn’t.

But it all depends on your outlook on things.  My mother was a person who saw things in black and white.  You either saw things her way, or the wrong way.  There were no shades of gray.  And this can be related towards my great-grandmother.  Some could look at her three marriages as very taboo – but to me when you hear the reasons for her divorces, I look at her as a very strong woman.

MildredDunbar

Mildred Laura Dunbar

Mildred Laura Dunbar was born on 15 March 1908 to Arthur James Dunbar (who died in 1912 of polio), and Mazie Lorena Warner in Coudersport, Pennsylvania, the county seat of Potter County.  In 1916, Mazie had remarried and she and her new husband, Samuel Randol, along with 2 of her daughters from her first marriage, moved to Akron, Ohio (her third daughtder, my great-great-aunt Myrtle married in 1914 and lived in Elmira, New York).

The Randol’s and Dunbar’s settled in the North Hill section of Akron (not far from where I live today) when my grandmother was 8 years old.  When Mildred was about 17 (going off the dates of the 1925 Akron City Directories) the Geer family moved onto her street.  Paul Harrison Geer would have been 20 years old when he moved in next door, and the romantic in me likes to think he was her first love (I have no actual proof he was).

My great-grandmother married Paul Geer on 17 September 1927.  The marriage, however, did not last long, with my great-grandmother filing for divorce 15 January 1929 for gross neglect, he apparently liked to gamble and visit houses of ill-repute.  The divorce was final on 5 September 1929.

On 30 September 1929 Mildred married for the 2nd time, to Albert Nank.  Three days later, Alberta Lou Nank was born but in 1933 she (Mildred) was once again filing for divorce from Albert for gross neglect, extreme cruelty and his aversion to do an honest days work (can I just say I love old-time divorce records).  This marriage was final on 27 May 1933.

On 5 August 1933 Mildred married her final time to Howard Fleming.  She had 2-sons with him and was married to him until he passed away at age 63 in 1972.  My great-grandma passed away 10 years later at age 73.

Her Strength

Where my mother may have been ashamed of my great-grandmother’s situation, I myself see a strong woman.  Women didn’t get divorced from men who weren’t treating them well in the 1920’s and 1930’s, let alone twice!  This just wasn’t done, so for her to stand up for herself, in my world, is incredible.

More Reading

If you are interested in learning more about Mildred’s story, I wrote up the results of my DNA test which revolved around Mildred, Albert, and my grandmother.  Click here for my post from last September, I Took a DNA Test & Figured Out a Mystery.

 

52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks

Week #2: My Favorite Photo

My favorite photo from my family history journey?  I have to pick just one?  I have so many that seeing an ancestor seems to have changed my life that picking just one seems so difficult.  Until I realize it isn’t.

The photo I chose is actually (at the present anyhow) a part of my header here on my blog.

BerthaChilders-MargaretWise-AnnaMorgartBlair-LeroyBlair-Skippy#1-1961

I’ve included it just as it was scanned off my dad’s flatbed scanner that he is allowing me to use.  This photo includes 2-great-grandmothers and my paternal grandparents.  It was taken at my grandparent’s house in Akron, Ohio in 1961.  From left to right is Bertha Childers, Margaret “Maggie” Wise, Anna Maria Morgart, and Leroy Blair.  This photo just seems to exemplify the personalities of them all and just looking at it brings a smile to my face.

Bertha Childers

I’ve heard from more than one person that Bertha (aka Mrs. Chappell, the last name of her second husband) was always mad at someone.  So seeing her cross on the end of the sofa makes me wonder which of my other relatives was she upset with? Bertha is the mother of my grandfather, Leroy Blair. I never had the chance to meet Bertha, she passed away in 1963.

Margaret “Maggie” Wise

Next up is Maggie Wise, my Grandma’s mom.  I actually have very fuzzy memories of visiting Gammy (that’s what her grandkids called her) in the nursing home when we went back to Pennsylvania to visit.  I only recall meeting her a few times, and she passed away at the age of 96 in 1987 (I was 14 at the time). She always seemed happy and I remember her playing the “mouth organ” or harmonica.

My Paternal Grandparents

I love seeing my grandparents (Anna Maria Morgart and Leroy Blair) so happy in this picture.  Now it’s hard to make out, even with the original photo in your hand, but from the note on the back of it, they are playing with a bird (not just any bird mind you, Skippy #1.  My Grandma Blair went on to name every bird she had Skippy over the years, so it’s rather cool to see the original). Not having ever met my grandfather, I never knew that much about him, and stories seemed to fall all over the place.  Seeing him having a good time with my Grandma makes me happy.

Anna Maria Morgart

My Grandma Blair was probably the best friend I will ever have.  I could talk to her about anything and she never judged, just listened, and gave me the best advice she thought I needed.  Gosh, I miss her.  She passed away almost 13 years ago but sometimes the pain seems like it was yesterday.

Leroy Blair

My grandfather, affectionately called Pappy, died when I was 2-years-old so I really don’t have any recollections of him.  My mom’s favorite story of him was how every time he came over to our house, I’d be asleep and he would say “I just want to go in a look at her” and somehow I always woke up.  I have heard from other relatives how he just loved little girls and he would have probably spoiled me rotten (not that he wasn’t fond of my dad). I wish I could have had him in my life.  He seems like he was just a good man, and in the end, isn’t that what you want from your relatives?

52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks

If you are interested in doing your own writing journey, 52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks is where you can sign up and see the listing of all the prompts for this year’s challenge.

 

My Family Tree

I Took a DNA Test & Figured Out a Mystery

So for a while now I’ve been on the fence about taking a DNA test.  I became even more curious about 18 months ago when my mother-in-law got my husband one for his birthday.  It took him a while to finally take the test (I came home from an Evening of Genealogy at the library where I saw a mutual friend and Sandy advised he had better do it as it’s possible that it had an expiration date). So he did and though his tree was limited it was fascinating to see his ethnicity estimate and the DNA matches he had.

So ever since then, I’d been on a teeter-totter, half wanting to take a test and half afraid like so many others about big brother finding me (though I’m not sure exactly why). But this past Fourth of July convinced me to take a test when I went and spent the day with my mom’s side of the family at my cousin’s house and my aunt told me offhandedly “You know there is a chance that who you think is mom’s dad isn’t”.  Her reference to mom was my maternal grandmother.

Now, if you are any sort of genealogist you know what I am thinking at this point.  This person, we’ll call him hubby #2, who I have listed as my great-grandfather, because that’s what my grandmother’s birth certificate states, who I’ve spent hours researching, hoping to make sense of why he ignored her, even as an adult… may not be my great-grandfather?

The DNA Test

On this day AncestryDNA was on sale and it was the last day of the sale.  At 11:51pm I purchased my kit and just had to wait.

The following Wednesday the kit arrived in the mail.  I was ready – I came home, spit in the vial and boxed it up and by 8:30am the next day, it was at the post office being mailed.  The following Monday as my husband and I went cemetery hopping, I got the email stating that it had arrived at the testing facility, and by Friday, July 26 I had my results.

  • 84% England, Wales & Northwestern Europe
  • 12% Ireland & Scotland
  • 4% Germanic

Well, if nothing else the ethnicity estimate summed up why my skin coloring is so pasty white (I’m fair – like I was wearing a black dress and black flats the other day and you’d think I had on white tights pale).

But one over the course of the next week and a half that I figured out was missing were matches to any of hubby #2’s surnames.  So I guess what my Great-Great-Aunt Ina stated after my great-grandmother’s funeral was correct – hubby #2 wasn’t my grandmother’s dad.

But who was?

The Search is On

So a week or so passed and one evening I sat in my recliner and decided to just focus on the third cousins who make up my DNA matches and put them in the categories of my ancestors: Blair/Foster’s; Childers/Fesler’s; Ritchey/Cypher’s – you get my point.  But there was a name that kept popping up – so I decided to focus on it.

So I pulled up the 1930 census to see if there were any “V’s” living in the vicinity of my great-grandmother (her name was Mildred) as I knew she lived in the realm as I now live, an area called North Hill.  Sadly by the 1930 census, she is living with her second husband in Cuyahoga Falls (FYI – my grandmother, was born in 1929).

When I didn’t find the information I was looking for in the census, I decided to look up the “V’s” in the 1930 City Directory.  There I found a “V” who was a lawyer with an office at a main intersection in the area.  I had seen his name on a family tree of one of my “matches” and he was in my great-grandmother’s age range, but as odd as it was I saw another “V” who lived just a few blocks from where I live now listed and I decided to further investigate.

I threw this second “V” into Ancestry and found him right away.  He was 89 in 1930 and my Great-Grandmother would have been 22 – I hoped he wasn’t who I was looking for.  I looked to see if he had a son, he did, so I clicked to see some information about him, wondering if he was married or had children because they would probably be Mildred’s age (she was born in 1908 – he passed away in 1906).  When I clicked on the link to Find A Grave, I couldn’t believe my eyes, it was a photo of a tombstone of 89-year-old “V”, his son, wife, and daughter.  But was most surprising was that the daughter’s last name rang bells in my head… it was the same last name as my great-grandmother, Mildred’s, hubby #1!!!

Mildred’s divorce from hubby #1 was final on September 5, 1929. She married hubby #2 on September 29 and my grandmother was born prematurely on October 2. With all the DNA matches to the “V’s” this made total sense.  What further proved my hypothesis was the following photos.  The first is the obituary photo from the February 28, 1994 edition of the Akron Beacon Journal of hubby #1 while the other is a photo of my Grandmother I believe taken in the 1990s.

It’s the same nose and the same high cheekbones.  If hubby #1 isn’t her father, I need to find out who in his family is (but I do have matches to both “V’s and “G’s”, I just have to go up to my 4x great-grandparents on the “G” side).

Sharing the News

I was so excited when I discovered all this.  I quickly got on Facebook and shared what I found with my Aunt who began this whole mystery for me.  I was surprised she was still up at 11pm.

All my research of hubby #2 and his family wasn’t a total loss. In the end, he was still my great-grandmother’s second husband.  I’ve just disconnected him as the father of my grandmother and now have hubby #1 in that place (he was already listed in my program as well).

I’ll admit I was happy to find out her first husband was my grandmother’s dad. I considered my great-grandmother a strong woman for divorcing him in the late 1920s and then hubby #2 in the early 1930s because they weren’t the men she deserved.  But the thought of someone else intermingled didn’t exactly thrill me either.

My great-grandmother had reasons for divorcing hubby #1, he was apparently gambling their money away.

Hubby #1 didn’t get married a second time until 1939, 10 years after his divorce with my great-grandmother was final.  He was married to his second wife until he passed in 1984.  I like to think in those 10 years he grew up.  From the comments on his second wife’s obituary, they were both wonderful people who everyone seemed to love.  This makes me feel good.

Then again, who is going to go onto a website and say how awful someone was?  Well, at least not on an obituary site (I hope not anyhow).

What I am still puzzled about was there was a point in my grandmother’s marriage to my grandfather where he forced her to go meet her dad, hubby #2.  The entire visit he did nothing but ignore her. Not one word was said.  I’ve heard that story from different people and it’s the same.  I can’t believe he would be so mean to my grandmother.  My guess is that he knew she wasn’t his.  He noted on other documents I found that he had no children.  This is fine.  But why not just tell her when she was an adult visiting him?  Why keep quiet?  At this time what was to be gained?

My Aunt commented to me it just goes to show how much Mildred wanted out of her marriage that she didn’t want to risk hubby #1 finding out he had a child.  But it makes me wonder if everyone’s life would have changed had they known?  Maybe he would have straightened up earlier?  

Or maybe he did know?

Ninety years later, we will never know.

* I’ve used the simplistic codenames of hubby #1, hubby #2, and hubby #3 in regard to my great-grandmother’s husbands for the simple fact that hubby #1 was remarried and has a daughter.  At this time I am mulling over whether I should contact her, but since to my knowledge she is unaware I thought I’d respect her privacy, so no names.  I know she could do a search of her dad’s photo and find out, but I’m also DNA matches with her relatives so there is that chance she may find out anyhow (or who knows, maybe she is a match).  One of my matches was actually a girl I went to school with, who is semi-related to my friend’s husband and I believe she has been told (I was excited to share my story with someone interested in genealogy having no clue her hubby was related to them).  Maybe one day I’ll add the picture of the headstone that tied everything together.