Genealogy, My Family Tree

My Warner Family – Mazie

As most of the world is resigned to stay home and be in isolation, I finally have found my genealogy groove. And though I normally try to partake in Amy Johnson Crow’s fabulous challenge 52 Ancestors in 52 weeks, I find myself struggling with the recent week’s prompts.  So I think I’ll focus on a specific surname in my family, and I’ve chosen the Warner’s (I suddenly have the Animaniac’s theme going through my head, if you have never watched this outstanding cartoon brought to us by Steven Spielberg you really should, I discovered it in college and it is one of the greatest animated shows ever, if I do say so myself). I figure this can be the first of many tributes to my Warner clan and could possibly get me to find out more about them.

Mazie Lorenia Warner

The last of my line of Warner’s was my great-great-grandmother Mazie Lorenia Warner.  I know I’ve spoken of Mazie before because she is one of my favorite relatives on my mother’s side of the family.  She was born on 21 July 1877 to Winfield Warner and his wife, Orienta Gustin in Potter County, Pennsylvania. She had 3-sisters: Cymanthia Lencretia, Jeanette, and Catherine “Cassie” Belle.

MazieWarnerSig
Mazie Lorenia Warner – no idea when this was taken (another project!)

Mazie was one of my first successfully solved puzzles.  Just getting her name correct was one of my first obstacles as every document I found seemed to be something different – Mazie, Magie, Daysa (still trying to figure that last one out), but then my mom clarified it all for me (she was going off memory as Mazie passed away 2 years before my mom was born).

Mazie married my great-great-grandfather, Arthur James Dunbar on 2 Jan 1894.  To this marriage came 4-children with the 3-girls surviving: Myrtle Iona, Merle Winfield (he passed away at 8 months), Ina Mae and Mildred Laura (she is my great-grandmother).

On 18 Dec 1912 Arthur died of polio (adult onset).  A few years later Mazie married a second time to Samuel Randol, in 1916 they moved to Ohio and this is how this portion of my family settled in Akron. Oddly enough the area of Akron where they settled is not far at all from where I live with my own family.

Mazie and Samuel had a son, Richard LeHoty, but he passed away when he was 5-months old.

Because my library (Akron Summit County Public Library) has digitized the local city directories, I have been able to follow where Mazie and Samuel lived from 1916 until Mazie passed away in 1945.  Mazie has come across as a loving soul, always taking her daughters in when their marriages failed (or at least that is how I assume her to be as my own great-grandmother returned home more than once and Mazie even let her and her third husband live with them for a bit when they first got married while I assume they saved up for a house – I have nothing to confirm these stories because my mother, grandmother and great-grandmother have all passed).

At one point in time Samuel and Mazie ran a store on Howard Street, and I believe it was called SJ Randol’s according to the 1924 city directory, and back in the 1920’s Howard Street was the place to be.  According to a lady my parents’ were guardian’s of, Clara Mueller, she claimed that you could find things at the shops on Howard Street that you couldn’t find anywhere else.

SJRandol Store
SJ Randol Store, circa 1924

Samuel passed away on 16 Oct 1938 in Decatur, Illinois. He was a truck driver and wasn’t feeling well and passed away after he had been “ill for a week over a complication of diseases” according to the 17 Oct 1938 edition of the Decatur Herald.  This made me sad to learn of Samuel’s death. The 1937 City Directory is the first where my great-grandmother, her husband and my grandmother finally moved into their own home, which gave Mazie and Samuel basically 1-2 years to finally enjoy life together.

Mazie continued to live alone until 1943 where she moved in to her old house which is where her daughter, Ina lived with her second husband, Ralph, and her daughter, Almeda. She passed away there on 19 May 1945.

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Mazie and her nephew, Bob Bergan, and his wife, Thelma Bessie circa 1942.

I drive down Howard Street every day when I go to and from work and I look to the spot where the store stood that Mazie and Samuel ran.  I look to the abandoned lot with just a very slight portion of a brick wall standing that would most likely been the back of their store, and wonder what it would have been like to know her, if she ever looks down on me and is happy to know that I am making sure my family doesn’t forget her and her legacy.

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.