Through knowledge of history, you can understand your family history better.
|I love to do genealogy. In order to understand the lives of the families I discover, there is a lot of research that goes into the history surrounding them. This blog is a series of essays of the more in-depth research I have done into different topics.|
|It is amazing sometimes, how death can bring forward shocking secrets to the living. When a family friend recently passed away, a letter was found in her belongings hinting at three other marriages besides the two we had known about. Some divorced and some we were not too sure about. Upon further research, I found one other. Who knows how many there are under fake names, or weren't even legitimate, so not recorded?
I love the lady still, she was a wonderful mother grandmother, and great-grandmother and will be greatly missed. Upon researching her past, I found a subculture of Los Angeles County and Las Vegas, Nevada that I never knew about. Since she recently passed away, I will only use first names as I dive into what I could discover about her relationships and what surrounded them.
Elnora was born in 1935 in Riverside, California, but grew up in Long Beach, even so far as becoming a beauty queen in High School. Before even leaving high school, she became engaged to Donald, who even lived with her and her parents for a time before they got married. They married in September 1954 in Los Angeles, California. They moved to Houston, Texas, sometime after the birth of their son in 1955 and 1959. By 1960, she had moved back to her parents in Long Beach and divorced Don. Don went on to remarry a couple of years later in Las Vegas, remaining married to Patricia for the rest of his life in Texas.
After her divorce, Elnora enters her wild days. There is a blurb in a Reno, Nevada newspaper of her living under her first husband's name, in Reno and applying for a marriage license with Almon, who also lived there. However, they didn't get married until November 1962. Whether that means the first marriage wasn't legit, or they never actually went through with the first marriage license, is a mystery for now. Out of curiosity, I began to research just who Almon really was. Born in Texas, my first connection to Elnora comes from the fact that he was also living in Long Beach in 1950. Elnora was young, Almon was actually nine years older than her. At the time he was married to Mabel and they had a one-year-old daughter. But this told me, that there was definitely the possibility of them knowing each other after she returned from Texas. Another hint to the fact that they knew each other, was that Almon worked in the same industry in 1950 as her first husband, driving an oil truck. Looking into him further, I discovered his birth certificate, knowing his birthdate from the marriage certificate with Elnora.
In April 1945, he was married to Gertrude in Norfolk, Virginia, where he was stationed with the U.S. Navy. I then discovered from a newspaper article, that Almon was living in Las Vegas and applied for another marriage license with Lavina, who was living in Lomita, California a month after he married Elnora. What??????? Talk about a short-lived marriage. A quick Google search tells me that Lomita is just down Highway 1 from Long Beach. I doubt this is a coincidence. By looking at marriage and divorce indexes, I found six other marriages and divorces, although two of them could have been the same person married twice. I did look into each wife, but it is hard to trace women. I would have to get the marriage certificates to go any further. I believe that most of them are alive, however, and do not wish to delve further into their lives.
I now turned to the next marriage for Elnora. A month after marrying Almon, she married Frank. In fact, she and Almon remarried in the same city, just a day apart! I could not find a divorce record for their marriage the month before, but not all records are indexed and online. I would have to fly to Nevada and do some digging in the archives. Looking into Frank, I have a feeling he led a very similar life to Almon. I found 22 marriages in Nevada with a combination of his name. I believe these marriages are from about three different Franks. Without ordering every certificate, however, I can not get a more accurate compilation of data.
So, I turned to the next of Elnora's known marriages: Barry. The letter in her belongings did state that she was married to one other before this marriage, but with only a last name, I was not able to find it. Luckily, the marriage certificate for Barry's marriage had his date of birth on it. Certificates usually do. Barry was a fireman and seems to have only been married two other times from what I can tell. Even being a more sensible marriage, Elnora doesn't stay with him long as I can find no other record of them being together.
Elnora only married one other man. Don was the big of her life, but even their marriage had some interesting twists. They were married in 1971 but then divorced a year later. They remarried in 1979 and stayed together until he died. Family lore also states that they married in Mexico at some point, but I have found no evidence of this.
All these marriages make me wonder about the culture of the time. Was this a part of the hippie lifestyle here on the west coast? Unfortunately, we didn't find out about these other marriages until after her death and can no longer ask her. Some further research will definitely not go amiss!
This post has information that is not for the faint of heart and is definitely not for those under the age of 18. I am making it public as it is a part of history that is rarely talked about and is important to understanding the German people and attitudes they still bear today.
On the 12th of January 1945, the Russians began their offensive against the German front lines in southern Poland. Their momentum carried and they started a spree of terror that rivaled that of the one that Germans perpetrated against them when they invaded Russia in 1941. As they pushed through Poland toward Germany, they committed unfathomable acts in the name of revenge. According to historians, they did the same to Germans as the German military did to them. They shot any German in a uniform point blank. They looted houses of valuables and food. German women were raped up to 30 times a day by multiple men. It didn’t matter what they looked like or how old they were. Reports have been made of girls as young as 8 being violated and women as old as 83 as well. Most of the women ended up with venereal diseases and many pregnant, that is, if they survived.
As they continued westward, Germans fled in droves. They fled taking what goods they could into one of the coldest winters on record. So many died either from the snow, starvation, or the Russians. The Russians didn't just kill them with pistols, they used tanks, bombs and flew over ahead of the refugees with machine guns. Some refugees tried to take their cattle with them, but they were too slow and so they slaughtered them so that the Russians wouldn't be able to get to them.
It was especially brutal in northern Poland. The Refugees tried to escape over the ice that had formed on Koenigsberg Bay on the Baltic Sea. Their wagons would break through where the ice wasn't thick enough to support them. Women were the leaders of the treck as the men either were old and feeble or wounded from war. They went ahead of their families looking for the safest places to cross. Women were seen throwing their children into the sea (most likely because they were already dead), others hung themselves. Those starving would cut open dead horses and roast the flesh over fires and women would give birth in the back of the wagons. All in all, about 1 million people died in this huge migration of refugees.
By March 1945, there were millions of refugees on the roads between the Oder River, just east of Berlin and the Elbe, just East of Hamburg. I am sure the Brauers, my great-great-grandparents, had many such refugees traipsing through their farm on their way west. As they fled west, the tale of the horrors the Russians were unleashing spread far and wide. It is unknown when the family fled the oncoming army, but what is known is that they were scared. Helene and Heinrich, pack up Trude and Christel and start the journey west to Schleswig-Holstein. Now a days, the drive on modern roads and driving at reasonable speeds, the journey would take about 4 hours.
Helene must have been heavily pregnant. I estimate between eight and nine months along. We don’t know how far they got before she went into labor, but judging by what followed, I don’t think it was too far. They must have still been in east Germany on the east side of the Elbe river. We do know that Heinrich dropped her off at a hospital and continued with the girls. There, Helene gave birth to a little girl. My grandmother, Annegrete, says her name was Annemarie, but her sisters, Trude and Christel, say it was Rosemarie. Due to her inability to breastfeed, the baby died of starvation. The story goes that she is buried on the side of the road somewhere, most likely in a very shallow grave as Oma Brauer wouldn’t have had a means of digging a grave.
The story has been lost what happened next, but we do know that Helene decided to turn around and go back to the farm in Dahmen. I believe that this all occurred in the beginning of April or even earlier in March. If the Russians were already swarming the countryside, I don’t think the hospital would have accepted her or that she would have turned back to run right into them. What we do know from family lore is that Helene was hidden from the Russians by the Polish workers they had left behind on the farm. The Russians advanced on Berlin on the 20th of April and then continued westward shorty after. A contingent of Russians swept northward from Warren and headed to Rostock, which passed by Dahmen, and surely just passed their farm. They would have definitely ransacked the place continuing what they began in Poland.
The war officially ended on the 7th of May 1945, but the Russian reign had only just begun.
|When working on the book I am writing, I came across a mystery lady. I was writing up the lives of the children of Lydia Ann Lee (1852-1899); the last child she had was the only one with her second husband, John C. Metzger (1838-1919): Julia Metzger. I knew two things about her: From her dad's obituary I knew she was married to Henry C. Tanner by 1919. From her sister, Jennie Berry Metzger's, obituary, I knew that she had married a man named Rambo and they were living in Fairport, New York in 1955. I also knew from a birth index, that she was born on the 4th of August, 1890 in Adams Township, Ohio. That was all I could find on her back when I first looked at her a couple of years ago. Today I was determined to find out who she was and what she had done with her life.
The first thing I found was a social security claim in the index for a Julia Rambo born on the 4th of August 1890 and died on the 4th of November 1964. Unfortunately it didn't list her parents or where she was born and died. However, I was sure that this was her and set out to find more. I looked in the newspapers searching for her obituary, but had no luck. So I decided to add what I had found to the LDS database at www.familysearch.org. I discovered a possible merger for her dad and I clicked on it to see if it was truly the same person. Interestingly it was, but it listed another daughter, Marion L. Metzger. I was intrigued.
On both John and Lydia Metger's obituaries it states that they only had one daughter together: Julia. So who is this Marion? Opening up the sources, I discovered a marriage record for Marion L. Metzger and Charles H. Tanner. Her age matched Julia's and so did her parent's names. She listed her birthplace as New York, which wasn't possible, as Julia had been born in Ohio. So I looked at the birth index for Ohio and found other child listed for John and Lydia Metzger, nor did I find a Marion L. Metzger born in Ohio. To cover my bases, I looked in New York for a birth for her and found none. So, I came to the conclusion that Julia had changed her name to Marion when she went to Michigan, I would love to know why! While trying to find out what happened between them, I discovered that Charles remarried in October 1912 and looking through newspapers, I discovered Julia and Charles divorced the prior August.
I don't know what happened to her for the next couple of years, but we find Julia in Marion County, Indiana getting married to Jay Rambo (1893-1974) on the 22nd of September, 1914. They then moved to Perry, New York by 1920 and moved once again to Fairport, New York in 1920. They remained in Fairport the rest of their lives. Now, I knew they were in Fairport from Jennie Berry Metzger's obituary in 1955. So I started looking through the newspaper, Democratic Chronicle, based out of Rochester. The first thing I found was Jay's obituary which stated his wife, Julia (Janet) was still alive. This gave me two important bits of information. First, she had changed her name, again! This is confirmed by the marriage index record which is under the name Janet Metzger. The other important news, was that the social security claim I had found earlier was for the wrong person, who was consequently born on the same day. This is why it is always good to verify your sources and have at least two of them for every bit of information when possible. Armed with the news that she was still alive in 1974, I expanded my search for her in the newspaper and found a death notice for her in November 1982. She had died on the 9th.
From there, it was filling in the details, such as finding census records and city directories to discover their occupations. For example, when she married Charles, she had been a waitress at a hotel. Charles had been a baker for a biscuit company, while Jay had been a barber with his own shop. They never had any children that I could discover, but she and Jay had a foster son, Carl J. Suhr (1906-1969) who lived with them in 1930. We know their relationship due to Carl's obituary.
I had a lot of fun researching Julia, aka Marion, aka Janet. I love mysteries and playing detective. There is still so much to learn about her, but that is for another time.
|With the emergence of a pandemic in my lifetime, I as a genealogist wondered how the previous pandemic, the Spanish flu, influenced the ancestors in all my research. I began by doing a search of my database, which contained the lines of my husband as well as my sister-in-law and had a total of 13, 567 people, and drew up a list of those who had died between 1918 and 1920, the length of time the Spanish flue raged. I came up with a list of 16 people.
Next was to eliminate all those who died before the outbreak in September of 1918. Many of them I only had dates off of their tombstones, so I had a lot of fun looking for records of their death and verifying that it was indeed them! Amazingly enough, the four who died in 1918 all died in either January or February long before the flu first appeared and far away from Kansas where it first originated as they were all in Ohio. This left me with 12 ancestors to look at.
My next step was to continue to get exact death dates for each person. I looked through Ancestry.com first, and then turned to familysearch.org to find death certificates where possible.
When I couldn't find death certificates, I went to the newspapers to try to find an obituary and discover the cause of their deaths. In 1919, they were not yet publishing obituaries regularly. There are three websites I looked at to achieve this, www.newspapers.com, www.newspaperarchive.con and www.genealogybank.com. I tend to have more luck with the first and second. This time, however, I only found 2 obituaries from the 12 people I researched and only one alluded to a cause of death.
For those whose cause of death alluded me, I then turned to the history of the area they lived in to find how the Spanish Flu impacted their region. One of the areas I looked at was Ohio. Although the main deaths occurred in Camp Sherman, Chillicothe and Dayton, deaths continued into January of 1919 (https://ohiohistorycentral.org/w/Influenza_Epidemic_of_1918). In fact, according to local newspapers to the area I research, Seneca and Sandusky Counties, their were cases into late 1919 and a run of the regular flu in early 1920. Another factor to assessing to probability of the flu being the cause of death, is that the Spanish flu mainly attacked young, healthy people, about 20 to 40 years old.
Of the 16 people who died in 1919 and 1920, only one says absolutely that she died of Pneumonia caused by influenza. Another two died of pneumonia but had chronic conditions prior so it is possible that they were more susceptible to the flu. Another woman was found dead by the physician and the cause of death is unknown. She seems to have lived on her own so there was no one to confirm if she ailed of the flu before her death. Another further four women I ruled out either because of their cause of death or the fact that they are beyond the age range that was typically struck by the flu. The remaining four people I could not find any hint of their deaths, however three of them were about the right age to have contracted it. Interestingly enough, all of those who died in these two years were women except for one. I think that my family got off very lucky when it came to the loss they suffered. I believe the cause for this is that my family were mainly rural farmers, so likely didn't have a lot of contact with those infected by the flu. While the flu affected every part of the globe, the highest death rates were among the cities and larger congregations of people, such as the military and labor camps.
|I have little doubt that you have never heard of Watts, California. I hadn't until I began research into this family. Now, it is a little neighborhood in southern Los Angeles. But in the 1880s to the early 1900s it was a big ranch owned by the Watts Family. According to family lore, my sister - in - law's family, who descended from the Watts, founded the city of Watts. The Watts neighborhood is
most notably known for the Watts riots in the 1960s when there was predominantly an African American neighborhood. The Watts family had long since left by then, most off them going to Riverside, California.
When I started my research, I began with looking up what I could on Watts itself. Watts wasn't developed as a city until until after Charles H. Watts built a railroad station in 1904. Watts township was consequently after him. In 1907, Watts was incorporated as a city and in 1926, it was annexed to Los Angeles.
Herein lay the crux of the problem. I did not have a Charles Watts in my database. So, started to do some more in depth research into the Watts Family to find him. The first watts of the family to come to Los Angeles was Rufus William Watts. With him he brought six of his seven children. They came from Davidson county, South Dakota where they had moved to in 1881 from Canada. I am not sure when Rufus came to California, but he is listed in the Pasadena city directory in 1888.
Trying to find more information, I packed my 1 year old son into the car and we made the 3 hour treck to Los Angeles, the Southern California Genealogical Society, to see what they had. I couldn't find Rufus in the 1890 city directory for Los Angeles, but I did find Charles H. Watts, the same one who built the Watts Railroad Station. The directory lists Charles as having been born in 1849 in Ohio and living in San Antonio township. Despite being a Watts, there are a few problems with Charles belonging to our family. Although he is the correct age for being a son, he was born before Rufus' marriage to his wife Julia. I have been able to trace Rufus back to 1861 in Canada through censuses and a Charles is never mentioned. Also, Rufus and his family have never been to Ohio, that I can tell. They left Canada for South Dakota, and from there made their way to California.
Having established that this is a different family, I looked some more into Watts. According to an article written by Eric Brightwell (https://www.amoeba.com/blog/2014/02/eric-s-blog/california-fool-s-gold-exploring...), Charles came from Pasadena and purchased 220 acres of land on which he put the Railroad Station. This leaves little room for Rufus to have bought his own land, unless he helped pay for it.
My next step is going to be another trip to Los Angeles to look through land records, but until then, I must come to the conclusion that our Watts family didn't found the city of Watts. However, I find it very plausible that they could have come to Watts after the railroad station was built. This is when may came to the town and how the town was built up. I find a great argument for that as Rufus' children were all in and around Watts, though not in the town itself according to census records in the 1900-1910s. After this they all, except for one daughter, migrated over to Riverside. Supposedly, Rufus died in Watts, but I have not yet been able to find death or burial records for him.
And the hunt continues!
|During the Great Depression, the Hoover Dam Project provided work for a great many men who were in desperate need of it. Despite it being a very dangerous proposition, men flocked to Nevada in hopes of employment. Some 10,000 to 20,000 hopefuls made their way but only a little over 5,000 men were hired at any time between its construction between 1931 and 1936, with somewhere over 100 people meeting their death during their work. Seeing as so many people were there at the time, many of them being transient, it is understandable why records are hard to find on those who worked there.
The last time I saw my sister-in-law's grandmother, she told me that her father and uncles all worked on the Hoover Dam. That sent me on a crusade to find proof, which proved to be a daunting task. So first I scoured the internet trying to find a comprehensive index of all the workers. It took a while, but I finally found a CD made by Judith Sattler Irons called Hoover Dam Construction Workers and Pioneer Families of Boulder City, Nevada. This CD complies a list of all names, occupations, etc that she could find connected to the Hoover dam in over 15 years of research. Looking through the CD, however, I couldn't find any Snowballs. This isn't surprising, as she also says that she has not found any reference to her great grandfather, either. The only vague reference to Snowball that I found on the CD, was a nickname for a man named Mr. Roberts who was mentioned in the social column of the Los Vegas Review Journal. I have many doubts that this is the correct man.
Not having any luck here, I went to the censuses, and started taking note in both that of 1930 and 1940. The 1940 census is interesting in that it asks whether you had your own work or that with the government and how many weeks you worked that year. Now there were five Snowball brothers that were alive in 1930, so I started with the eldest. Allen was working as a miner in dam construction in Asuza, California, which lays in Los Angeles County. This was very promising for working on the Hoover Dam. At the time, he was the only brother living in California, the rest were still in Utah. Garr was truck farmer working for himself in 1930 in Clinton, Utah, and the other three brothers, Peart, Milton and Morrell, were living with their parents in Fairmount, Peart being the eldest at 18 and Morrell the youngest at 10; none of the three were working at the time.
In 1940, we find all five brothers, including the parents, in Riverside, California. Allen was a miner at a cement mine and had been working all year; Garr was a machinist at an airplane plant, Peart was a building carpenter, Milton was a grocery store clerk and Morrell was a Landscape Gardner. Except for Milton, all of them had been working all year, and Morrell only for the last 13 weeks. They all found this work on their own. Only their father was working off of Government assistance; he had been working as a plumber's helper and had only been working 26 months of the past year.
In order to pinpoint whether or not these brothers worked on Hoover Dam, I had to wander away from the census and branch out further into the internet. Since Allen had dam building experience in 1930, I started by looking into Asuza, California which lies on the northern edge of Los Angeles, just east of Pasadena. Interestingly enough, there were three dams built in the 1930's not even 10 miles north of Asuza: the Morris Dan, San Gabriel Dam 1 and San Gabriel Dam 2. Morris Dam was started in April of 1932 and finished by May 1934, while the two San Gabriel Dams were built from 1932 to 1939.
Looking into the other four brothers, it is very possible that they worked at least part of the time on these dams. I have been unable to find a precise date as to when they came to Riverside, California. According to Milton's obituary, they came to Riverside in 1927, but this doesn't coincide with the 1930 census and I believe it is an estimation on his part. He does state that they moved to Riverside before either he or his brother Peart went on their individual missions. Peart left for his mission, according to his daughter, Roberta, in 1932. He spent part of his mission in the Los Angeles Temple before transferring to Santa Barbara. I was not able to determine when he returned. Milton, on the other hand, left for 28 months from 1934 to 1936 to the Texas-Louisiana Temple for his mission. He was definitely back before 1940, because he tells in his memoirs of a huge flood that severely damaged his parents home, and how he went into the house to check it out. Doing some research, there was what is called The Great Los Angeles Flood of 1938. During this flood, the Los Angeles, San Gabriel and Santa Ana rivers all busted their banks. Los Angeles, Orange, Riverside, San Bernardino and Ventura Counties were all affected.
In conclusion, I find it safe to say that instead of the Hoover Dam, Allen Snowball, my sister-in-law's great-grandfather, worked on the three dams north of Asuza. I am not sure what Dam he worked on in 1930, as I could find no others in the area that line up time wise. It is possible that some preliminary work was being done in 1930, but I have found no evidence of this. It is unknown when Garr came to California, as he was not living with his parents and had his own farm in 1930. However, I believe that it is possible that he worked on the dams with Allen at some point. We find him working as a machinist in 1940, which is a skill he very well could have picked up during dam construction. It is also possible that Peart worked on the dam when he returned from his mission. How long he would have is unknown. As he was a building carpenter in 1940, I am reserving judgment until I find more evidence. I doubt that Milton worked on the dam. If he did, it would have been sporadic, as he left for his mission for 23 months during the peak times of construction. It is possible, though. Likewise, Morrell would have worked on them during the later years, as he would have been too young in the early 30's, only hitting 20 years of age in 1940.
I am not giving up my research, however. These are just my preliminary findings, and I need to do some more research: Road Trip!!!
|The Great Depression had a great impact on most of the United States, not easing up until the start of the second World War. In this little expo, I will be focusing on my ancestors in Seneca County, Ohio and how they bound together to weather the storm.
While I could not find how this time period affected Seneca County itself, Ohio's farmer's were affected like any other state's. The prices for their crops had already been dropping so that they were struggling, but by 1930, they had dropped so low, that farmers wouldn't produce enough to make enough money to pay their debts, thus leading to the foreclosures. In the Midwest, the Dust Bowl only made it worse in that their crops were devastated and they didn't have anything to sell at all. To ease their burden, the government passed the Agricultural Adjustment Acct of 1933. It limited how many crops and herds farmers could produced and gave a subsidy to the farmers that agreed.
I do not know if The Millers signed up for this program, but considering most of them got through the Depression with their homes intact, I assume so. Daniel Miller was the head of a small, but thriving family in Adams Township, Ohio. As there have been no stories passed down that I know of, about this era, the information I have, I derived from combing census records and newspapers. Daniel and four of his sons, got through the 1930s without losing their farms, although his son, Roscoe, did add a trucking business to his farm in order make ends meet. He is also listed as a farmer and trucker on his World War II Draft Card. The only son which had problems was Alton Roy, my ancestor.
In 1930, Alton and his family were in Detroit Michigan, having left home sometime after 1922 to run an Apartment house in the State of his wife's birth. Detroit was hit hard during the great depression, demonstrations were already hitting the streets in 1930 as car production dropped almost immediately after the stock market crash. Unemployment nose dived after that and I imagine it was hard to make a living if their tenants could not make the rent. I have not been able to pinpoint a precise time they moved back to Ohio, but I estimate it to be by 1932 as they were attending the family social events with the rest of the Millers. By 1935, they were living in Tiffin and he was working as a carpenter, stating that he was working a 40 hour work week by the 1940 census.
This brings us to the phenomenon of family socialization during these tough times. Looking through newpapers, you will find that social gatherings were recorded, especially celebrations for marriages, birthdays and anniversaries. The family would take turns hosting the gatherings, with lots of Sunday dinners. Daniel, as the patriarch, attended many of them, but his sons and their familes would also attend them without him. In 1931, I was able to find two articles, one in July with only the children of Daniel Miller, but in November a Sunday was spent at his grandson's. The most recordings occur in 1932 and 1933, mostly Sunday dinners but also birthdays. In 1934 they had a huge Reunion of the Robenalt family, which is Daniel's late wife's family. About 75 people attended.
As was the norm, the bigger gatherings were potlucks so that the burden did not fall on only one family's shoulders. It is a shame that this tradition of get togethers has fallen aside. Of course, it is possible that this was a normal occurrence for the family even before the Depression and that the newspapers only decided to record them to emphasize happiness and take away from the dreary realities of their lives.
Today, families live too far apart and their lives are so busy, that it is difficult to get together, once a year if you are lucky. On one hand, seeing your family so seldom makes you relish the time you do spend together and look forward to the next. During the Great Depression, the meals were for socialization, but I imagine they were also a way to share food and necessities to those less fortunate in their families without it being a big production and everyone pitching in. Today, no matter how bad it gets, we will always have a roof over our head and food in our mouths. For that, I thank God from my whole heart.
|For my first week of the 52 Ancestors in 52 weeks challenge, I am going to highlight one of my more intriguing ancestors, a Mr. John Morgan Sage. The mystery all started out when I was looking for him in the 1910 census. To give a background, I started out with the information that he was married to Clara Kovert in 1913 and together they had six children, of whom one we are descended from. I also knew that Clara's mothers name was Dena.
Now John was born in 1870, so I knew that he had to have been married before, hence why I was searching through the census records. I found him a town over as a widower with two children. To my surprise, I also discovered his future wife, Clara with him as a sixteen year old, her sister with her as well. To add to that, they were both his step-daughters. To find out more on her mother, I went back to the 1900 census and discovered that He was living with a Dena M. Sage, on daughter, Clara and her sister.
I did some more research over the years, eventually finding Dena's name through her marriage to Benjamin Kovert through her obituary. So with her death certificate I started to do some math. Dates and ages just weren't lining up with Clara, John and their first daughter, Oma. Clara was born in 1894, her father dying in 1897. Her mother, Dena, married John on the 16th of November, 1898, when Clara was only four. In 1905, Dena died.
So here is where it gets interesting for me. When Dena died, there were four children alive in the house, Dena and John's two sons and Clara and her sister, Clara being the oldest at nine years of age. John raised Clara as his daughter until 1913, when he married her at the age of 17. These are all facts that have been backed up with marriage, birth and death certificates. None of these dates are at all in dispute. Just the thought of marrying the man you called father makes for interesting gossip fodder, but here is the real kicker.
Their first daughter, Oma, was born in 1912. On her birth certificate, her father is listed as "Jae (sir name unknown), who is supposed to be in Tennessee". There is an entire year in between her birth and her parent's marriage. Given the information on the certificate and the listing of the father supposedly being from Tennessee, I suppose it is possible that another man is the father, and I would like to think that that is a much better option to the alternative.
These revelations came as a shock to those who knew the children of John Morgan Sage. The strange relationships between John, Dena and Clara were never spoken of. If I had a time machine, I would go back to this time and want to meet John and Clara about the time of Oma's birth to find out what their relationship was.