A case of slander…

3274299875_615a879761_oThe following newspaper clippings tell me the story of a court case that never really came to be. And, if it wasn’t for the local reporting on the matter, I never would have known about it at all. (From what I have seen it appears that Joseph Pinkerton might have been the go-to carpenter in Gillett.)

1878-1-26, Saturday, Oconto County Reporter vol. 7, issue 13, page 3, col. 2:
It is reported that Jos. Pinkerton has instituted proceedings against Wm. Johns of Gillett for slander, laying his damages at $8,000.

1878-11-02 Saturday, Oconto County Reporter vol. 8, issue 1, page 3, col. 2:
The slander libel suit pending between Joseph Pinkerton and F. W. Johns has been amicably settled, and dropped from the court calendar. It would be better if more law suits could be disposed of in the same way.

1878-11-16, Saturday, Oconto County Reporter vol. 8, issue 3; page ? col 2:
Court Proceedings.
The following is a summary of the court business disposed of since our last report:
J. Pinkerton vs F. W. John, Settled

So it appears that hot tempers cooled and better natures prevailed. Good thing for William, otherwise that would have been an expensive bit of slander if he had lost the case.

 

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Lincoln and Hazel (Ward) (Jacobs) John…

Victor Hugo John, the youngest of Frederick William John and Johanna Deadrich’s children, had three children with his wife Gertrude Cain. They were all boys.

Today I want to talk about Lincoln William John (Link), their second son, and apparently the shortest. He must have gotten his height from his mother Gert.

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Here is a great picture of Victor with his three sons in order of birth: Clarence, Link, Vic jr.

Link was born 7 Feb 1901 in Wabeno, Forest County, Wisconsin. He grew up and played in the woods of Wisconsin, but when he hit the age of about 21 he must have developed restless feet because he left the bosom of his family and headed out to the wild west, and other exotic places. He was definitely no longer living in Wisconsin by 1930. (I believe that I found him in the 1930 census as: William John, living in Beckton, Sheridan County, Wyoming, age 23, lodging and working as a farm hand. The age is off, but he is also listed as being born in Wisconsin, so it could be the same Lincoln William of this biography. Then again, if Link was working for the railroad, he might have been missed in this census altogether.)

While I am not 100% that I have found him in the 1930 census, I did find this article in the Forest Republican, a weekly Crandon paper, from April of 1922:

Lincoln John, who has been employed at Casper, Wyoming, is expected to return to Crandon to-day to drive taxi for H. H. Patterson.

And in 1926 he took a trip to Cuba. Holiday?:

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Interestingly, the 1930 census for Hazel is dated April 1 of 1930, and it was only a few weeks later that Link was married in Hot Springs, Fall River County, South Dakota to Hazel (Ward) Jacobs, a 28 year old divorcé with an adopted son, Martin Jacobs. Martin was 5 years of age at the time.

Hazel and Link possibly met through the railroad company, because in 1920, when she was living in Kansas with her parents, Hazel was working as a messenger in a railroad office, and Link was employed as a railroad fireman in the 1940 census.

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Link’s employment in the railroad, no doubt came about because of his father and grand father’s involment with the railroad in Wisconsin. He grew up around trains and the railway. His father Victor, sr. was a station agent for many years before going into banking.

Ten years later, (1940), Link and Hazel were still living in Casper, Wyoming, however Martin is no longer in the household.

The family story was that Martin was ‘given up’ because Hazel and Link went to Panama, where Link was going to be working in the Canal Zone, and they weren’t allowed to take Martin with them. From my research, it appears that Martin went to live with his father in Texas, where he appears in the 1940 census. I don’t know when he went to live with his father, but it was before Link was starting to make trips Panama.

Passenger lists can be found from 1944, ’45, ’47 and ’48 with Link’s name on them. He is traveling to and from the Canal Zone in Panama for work. Hazel appears with him in 1945 and 1947. But I could find only one passenger list showing them leaving the US for Panama, the rest are all arrivals back to the US.

So it appears that a short time after 1940 (about 1944) to about 1948 the Johns had moved to Panama. I imagine that Link’s work with the railroad is what led to his being transferred to the Canal Zone to help with construction or other activities related to railroad work there.

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This is a cool passenger list from 1944, because it is actually from Pan American Airlines. Link is flying in to New Orleans from Panama on his way back to Wyoming. Maybe it had been his first trip to Panama to get things ready for Hazel to  join him.

panama-gulf-of-panama-and-canal-zone-map

Unfortunately, I don’t know much about their experiences in Panama, other than that they were there. It was during part of WWII, and also in a time where there was much unrest in the area, as the majority of the locals really wanted the Americans out of their backyard. (Maybe someone in Hazel’s family has pictures and stories.) We do have one letter that Hazel wrote where she mentions that my mother should enjoy the ‘housegirls’ she had when we lived overseas, in reference to Hazel and Link’s time in Panama:

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This would be one of the types of ships that were traveling through the canals at the time they lived there.

When Link and Hazel retired they did so in Fresno, California. I can recall visiting with them in Fresno in the early 1970s, and being delighted with the train set-up Link had in the house. It was pretty cool, with all the little buildings and landscaping. They also kept a wonderful garden on their lot. Hazel always sent hand crocheted slippers for Christmas. I guess we always sent them cheese.

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This is a doodle drawing that Link made. Hazel makes a reference to Link always drawing train pictures in one of her letters to us.

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This is definitely a picture of Link, but I am not positive of the women beside him, it could be Hazel. Looks like she is working on the car.

Hazel passed away in 1987, Link stuck around a few years longer, passing away in 1992. They had no children of their own to pass on their legacy. I remember them fondly, and we do still have the letters they sent to us.


More on Hazel’s early life:
Hazel Ward was born in Kansas in 1899. Her mother Eva was married more than once. When we find the family in the 1910 census her mother is married to Henry Piper and they had one child together. Hazel had two sisters, Blanche and Gladys, and a brother Robert, also one half sister.
Hazel’s first husband was probably Martin Jacobs, sr. and they most likely married in Kansas, where they were both living in the 1910s. I don’t know when they were married, although the 1920 census indicates that she was already divorced. Martin had a child with another women when they were married, because Martin jr was adopted by Hazel according to the 1930 census.
A Martin Frank Jacobs jr., who appears in the Social Security applications and claims index at Ancestry, has the same year of birth as the Martin Jacobs from the 1930 census, and applied from Casper, Wyoming. He died in Texas in February of 1986. This same Martin, jr. appears in the 1940 census living with Martin, sr. and Lucy Jacobs in Texas. Martin, sr. was probably Hazel’s first husband, who took his son back to live with him sometime between 1930 and 1940.

 

Love at first sight?

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Clarence John and Myrtle Hamm, newlyweds.

My father remembers being told, when he was younger, that his parents had met when Clarence was injured in a train accident and Myrtle was taking care of him at a hospital in Marshfield where she was working as a nurse.

He didn’t have any more details than that. So for the past 15+ years I have waited patiently to find the newspaper article that would mention this accident and give me more details. Thankfully, the Oconto County Historical Society is currently making great efforts to digitize the Oconto County newspapers, and I have found some great articles in the past. A recent check of their progress gave me the answer I have been seeking:

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The Gillett Times, v27n50, Gillett, Wisconsin, Thursday, August 4, 1927, page 1.

The article certainly confirms that Clarence was in a train accident, and he was sent to the Marshfield hospital, where Mrytle would have been working at the time, (she had graduated from nursing school in May of that same year.)

It is believed that Clarence received a pretty hefty settlement from the railroad and this is probably the money he used to start his own business. A bowling alley.

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The Gillett Times, v28n15, Gillett, Wisconsin, Thursday, November 29, 1928, page 1.

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Here is a matchbook saved by the family from the bowling alley.

It is said that because Clarence’s venture started not long before the crash of 1929 and folks no longer had extra money to spend on luxury outings, such as bowling, the business didn’t last very long. But, I have no proof of that yet. I guess I will have to dig a little deeper.

In 1931, a little over 3 years after they met, Clarence and Myrtle ran away to Illinois and were married at the court house. Was it love at first sight? Only they know, and they aren’t talking.

Bet you didn’t see this coming…

HAPPY FATHER’S DAY DAD (just a little early).

Over the years the research on my JOHN side of the family has brought to light our German, Norwegian, Dutch and Irish heritage and has been quite an interesting trip. And now, thanks to recent in-depth research on my great grandmother Gertrude (Cain) John’s ancestors, we can also add English and Welsh to this side of the tree. In fact, thanks to the English ancestry on this side of the tree, we can add another gateway ancestor, AKA a Royal Line (I am still waiting on my tiara). Which also means that I have found a common ancestor for my parents: Henry I.

“What!? How than this be?” You ask. Well I’ll tell you.

Gertrude’s parents were John Cain, our Irish line, and Carrie Rosa. Carrie’s father Abram adds Dutch on the Rosa (originally Roosa) side, however, his mother Clarrisa Cross is where the English pops in. It is believed very likely,  (but not 100% proven, although the evidence is pretty compelling), that Clarissa’s parents were Joseph Cross and Zerviah Warner, both of whom’s ancestors can be traced back to New England, where they can be found mostly in Massachusetts and Connecticut.

Today’s focus, however, is on one of Zerviah Warner’s great great great grandfathers, Rev. William Skepper/Skipper, (the name is seen both ways).

William was baptized in Boston, Lincolnshire, England on the 27th of November in 1597 the son of Edward and Mary (Robinson) Skepper. When he was about 14 years old he attended Sidney College in Cambridge, graduating after 2 years, having acquired a seminary style education. Due to, most likely, family connections he became a Rector of Thorpe by Wainfleete. Ten years later he is found as a curate and/or vicar of the same.

William was married twice, the name of his first wife is not known and they had several children together. His second wife, my ancestress, was Sarah Fisher. They had only one child, a daughter Sarah, who was born about 1640, it is assumed in Lynn, Essex County, Massachusetts.

1639 is believed to be the time period that the Skepper family moved to New England with other folks from Boston. A large contingent from the area at that time was making the exodus from England. William didn’t live long in the new world though as he died before 1650, which we know because a son-in-law was in court in 1650 petitioning that the estate be divided.

William’s grandmother Joan Legard was the 7xg grandchild of King Edward III and Queen Philippa Hainault (see images above). Not only did she have English royal blood, she also had French and Scottish royal blood in the mix. My favorite great grandmother is Eleanor of Aquitaine, who is such an awesome chick, and who I was very disappointed wasn’t one of my grandmothers in Mom’s royal line. (Descent on Mom’s side is through an illegitimate son of Henry I, whereas on Dad’s side it is through a legitimate daughter of Henry I, who marries and proceeds to birth the future Henry II.)

It is easy to think dismisively that this is ridiculous, every genealogist wants to be descended from royalty. (Insert eye-roll here). But actually it is pretty easy to believe, these folks had kids, some lots of kids, not every child was going to be king or queen, so the younger kids married, had kids, and so on, in each successive generation the oldest inheriting the most and the youngest getting less and less, and so on down the line. Until, you have the not so landed gentry ending up down here with us common folk. Personally, I have never done my research with the intent of finding famous ancestors. I have always been surprised if I did and mostly just thought, Cool! And, as a reminder, there are hundreds of thousand of descendants that can claim the same royal ancestry as me.

Still. Cool!

Here we go again:
Pipin the Short=Bertrada of Laon
Emp.Charlemagne=Hildegarde
Emp. Louis I=Judith of Bavaria
Emp. Charles II=Ermentrude of Orleans
Judith=Baldwin I, C. of Flanders
Baldwin II, C. of Flanders=Elfrida of Wessex
Arnulf I, C. of Flanders=Adela of Vermandois
Baldwin III, C. of Flanders=Matilda of Saxony
Arnulf II, C. of Flanders=Rozela of Italy
Baldwin IV, C. of Flanders=Ogive of Luxembourg
Baldwin V, C. of Flanders=Adela of France
Matilda of Flanders=King William I of England
King Henry I of England=Matilda of Scotland <–daughter of King Malcolm III Scotland
Matilda=Geoffrey Plantagenet, C. of Anjou
King Henry II of England=Eleanor of Aquitaine <–MY FAV
King John of England=Isabella of Angouleme
King Henry III of England=Eleanor of Provence
King Edward I of England=Eleanor of Castile-Leon
King Edward II of England=Isabella of France
King Edward III of England=Philippa of Hainault <–daughter of King Philip IV France
Lionel of Antwerp, D. of Clarence=Elizabeth de Burgh
Philippa of Clarence=Edmund de Mortimer, 3rd E. of March
Elizabeth Mortimer=Sir Henry ‘Hotspur’ Percy
Elizabeth Percy=John Clifford, 7th Ld. Clifford
Mary Clifford=Sir Philip Wentworth
Elizabeth Wentworth=Sir Martin de la See
Joan de la See=Sir Peter Hildyard
Isabel Hildyard=Ralph Legard, Esq.
Joan Legard [royal line enters our JOHN tree]=Richard Skepper, Lord of Ingoldmels Manor
Edward Skepper, Lord of Ingoldmels Manor=Mary Robinson
Rev. William Skepper/Skipper=Sarah Fisher
Sarah Skipper=Walter Fairfield
Sarah Fairfield=Thomas Abbe
Tabitha Abbe=John Warner
Daniel Warner
=Ann Pember
Zerviah Warner
=Joseph Cross
Clarissa Cross=Garrett Rosa
Abram Rosa=Jennie/Janett Smith
Carrie Rosa=John Cain
Gertrude Cain=Victor John
Clarence John=Myrtle Hamm
Victor John=Margaret Shepard
ME <– 10 greats to the Rev., 21 to Edward III

 

 

Clarence John. Hero!

We are lucky in our family to have lots of bits and pieces from our John and Hamm families. One of the pretty cool items that was found in this treasure trove is this article:

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I have been unable to track down exactly when this event happened, as it is most likely that the newspaper this article appeared in hasn’t been digitized yet. I am guessing that Clarence was in his late teens to about 2oish, as he is talked about as the son of Mrs. and Mr. V. H. John, which tends to make me think he is still a young man and not on his own yet.

Kelly Lake was, and still is, a hot spot for folks vacationing in Oconto County. The size of the lake makes it a great place to boat, fish, swim, all those summer activities that you think of when you hear someone saying they are ‘going up north.’

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The red pin on the map market the location of Kelly Lake, Gillett and Oconto are on the map so one can see its location in relation to the two cities.

I am glad that my grandfather was there that day to be a hero. As, I am sure, was the lady in distress.

 

Nazis and secret bases in Greenland…

During WWII my grandfather Clarence Fredrick4 (Victor Hugo3, Fredrick William2, Ludwig1) John was too old to join as a soldier, being about 45 years of age. However, his expertise in road building, that he acquired working for the Forestry department in CCC camps in Wisconsin, was put to use in Greenland where he helped build runways for the military.

Clarence left his wife and 3 children for about a year to do his part to assist in the cause. Below is his SS Fairfax passenger list entry, after its arrival back in the US, at Boston at the end of December 1943.

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During his time in and around Greenland he took, and had taken, many pictures to remember his time there. (Because of all the snow it is difficult to see the details in many of the pictures.) He put together an album of all these pictures so that he would have something to show the students in the Crandon Grade School, when he gave a talk to over 400 students with whom he shared his adventures.

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Along with all the wonderful Inuit artifacts that he brought back with him and the stories of all he saw, there is one picture that he took that is important because of its historical military significance:

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Photo taken by Clarence.

 

The mission was boringly named by Germans as the “German Greenland Expedition,” and it wasn’t their first attempt to establish radio stations in Greenland.

The US Navy haunted the coast of Greenland with the purpose of hunting and destroying secret radio and weather bases that were being set-up in various remote locations Greenland by the enemy. And it wasn’t until  many months after this particular event occurred that the US Navy revealed what had happened, for security reasons no doubt.

Early in 1943 this secret base had been discovered, in May it was bombed by Army Air Force planes, and in September it was finally wiped out by a Coast Guard-Army expedition. The Germans occupying the small base had evacuated. But two German soldiers were eventually taken prisoner, one who had been captured and one who stumbled, accidentally, into the hands of the Americans.

The base on an uninhabited small island off the east coast of Greenland, had a small contingent of men from the German Navy. It was discovered by a sledge patrol consisting of Danish hunters who kept an eye on the coast for the US Navy while hunting. The two groups engaged in a battle and two Danes ended up being taken prisoner, another was killed. However, there were survivors who managed to get away and report the discovery to the US soldiers. After the battle the Germans banded together a party and headed north with the intentions of attacking the Danish weather station there. With machine guns under the cover of night, they attacked, but most of the Danes managed to escape.

The German commander attempted to get one of the Danish prisoners to collaborate on a mission up the coast, but at the first opportunity the Dane overpowered the Nazi and after a 40 day trip back, delivered him to the Americans.

Not much was left of the base when the Americans were done bombing it, as can be seen in the pictures. The Germans were pretty persistent and continued making attempts to establish bases, as the Navy encountered several German air patrols and engaged them over the next few months.

Clarence must have been along for the ride when the US soldiers made a trip to the base to make sure it was destroyed. At no time is an exact location given, but it must have been pretty remote for it to take 40 days to get a prisoner back to your allies.

You can read the complete details in the article, which was published in November of 1943. Clarence had a small clipping of the event from another paper in his scrapbook. He didn’t see combat, but he did get to witness an exciting intrigue related to the war. Spies and secret bases oh, my!

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A similar base discovery was filmed in 1944, so one can get a feel of what the Navy was doing when they found the bases and how the ships were getting around the frozen ice in the area at the time. While not the 1943 event, it is close enough for horseshoes.

 

 

 

 

The jitney problem…

A jitney bus about 1924. Image from Wisconsin Historical Society.

One memory that stands out for me from when we lived in Manila, was the jeepney busses (similar to jitneys) that drove around the city, with all the bright colors and decorations, which included fringe and beads hanging from the windows. They were pretty cool to watch, especially when you are a kid.

Who would have thought that my grandfather would have been part of the jitney craze that hit America in the nineteen teens and continued until about 1923.

The jitney business, (according to a 1915 article I found1), is said to have originated in the southwest, due to the recession which broke out just after WWI, and is believed to have started because of a street car service strike. An intrepid businessman seeing folks in need, took the opportunity to make a few extra nickels in a poor economy by charging them for a ride in his automobile. They were called ‘jitneys’ because they cost a nickel to ride, and slang for a nickel at the time was ‘jitney’.

This idea took hold like wildfire, spreading across the country with great enthusiasm. It apparently also caused massive headaches for local city councils who were wholly unprepared for the problems this craze would cause. Problems like congestion and increased street accidents. Local trolley lines and chartered transportation companies began losing money as a very fast clip as fewer folks were using their systems. City officials and public utility commissioners were now tasked with the necessity of regulating the ‘rampant individualism’ that was causing such havoc on their streets.

Fleets of automobiles were appearing unexpectedly on local streets and not conforming to any regulations. Anyone who was unemployed, wanted to change jobs, had an automobile, regardless of skill or experience, was getting into the business. Street accidents became frequent due to congestion, defective automobiles, reckless driving, and competition amongst drivers.

The railroads, trolley lines and taxi companies with franchises to protect, were all solidly against the jitney. In some cities councils, sensitive to the ‘established order’ of their towns attempted to legislate the jitney out of business. One way this would work was to make jitney owners responsible for any accidents they are involved in.

Wisconsin newspaper article talking about one of the reasons jitneys were starting to die out at this time,
they were becoming too expensive to run.
Some of the advantages of the jitney as opposed to the other modes of transportation available to folks were: quicker service, a more comfortable and cleaner ride, cheaper, and not as noisy. Jitneys could provide service to suburban and interurban areas. Transportation strikes would never affect the drivers, they weren’t in a union. They also helped make a city prettier by eliminating the need for trolley poles and lines. The nickels spent for the ride generally stayed local. And, hey, chauffeur!
The jitney definitely made big business sit up and take notice, their strap-hanging public had an alternate mode of transportation and were using it.
I have no idea how long Clarence ran his business or where in Wisconsin this happened. But I am sure hoping that I can find out.

The craze had many a song written about it.
1 The Jitney Bus Problem, by E. S. Koelker, page 87; The Wisconsin Municipality, volume XV, January to December, 1915; Madison, Wisconsin.



What about the ex…

A case of researching the ex-spouse to solve a mystery.

I have known that my paternal Grandfather Clarence John had been married previous to my Grandmother Myrtle for many years. I even knew that they had had a daughter together. But it wasn’t until a few years ago that I was able to find the name of his first wife, which happened while I was going through newspaper articles from Forest County, Wisconsin. In the paper was the announcement that Clarence had married in Illinois to Esther Edwards. (My father had at one time known her name, which he had found out when an uncle of his died and she or her daughter was mentioned as a beneficiary, but over time he had forgotten it.)

For my father, finding out that Clarence had a wife previous to his own mother, Myrtle, was quite a big shock, as was the fact that he had a half-sister he never met! Clarence had done a pretty good job of keeping it a very closely guarded secret from his own children, but everyone else in the family knew her and their daughter, and had even kept in touch with them over the years.
The big questions I wanted to answer were: when did this first marriage end, and where? To do this I first needed to find out more about Esther, because research on Clarence hadn’t helped. During earlier research attempting to pin down when they might have been divorced, I had found her in 1930 living with her father and Marie (the half-sister) in White Lake. The census did indicate she was divorced, but, I still didn’t know where or when. I had tried to find a divorce for them in Forest County, but no luck. I decided to continue the search further ahead in time, so I went to the 1940 census. Bingo! There she was in White Lake, with Marie, only now she is married to an Oscar Christenson and they have two daughters of their own. This was excellent news, because, usually, on these later marriage records there is a question regarding any previous marriages. As my niece lives in Antigo I asked her to drop by the register of deeds office and see if she could find the marriage in question. A few days and a text later, there it was in black and white: previously married to Clarence John, divorced October 28, 1923 in Merrill, Lincoln County, Wisconsin, the answer to both of my questions. Now I could also breath a sigh of relief, because my grandfather had definitely not been married when he met my grandmother.
Marriage certificate for Esther and Oscar.

But of course it didn’t stop there. My first thought was, “Wow, only married a year and a half-ish. What went wrong?” The clerk of courts in Lincoln county informed me that they had divorce records from 1926 and on a little late for me. So I searched ArCat (the Wisconsin Historical Society Archives Catalog) then contacted the UW Stevens Point Area Research Center, (which holds records from Lincoln County) and asked them to sent me the case file for Clarence and Esther John/s from Lincoln County. Four days later it arrived.
The file isn’t big. Probably because Clarence never showed up in court to contest the petition or testify, even though he had been summoned to do so.
Here is the complaint:

Esther E. John vs. Clarence John
1. That she and the defendant were married at Waukegan, Ill., on January 10th, 1922; that she has been a resident of the State of Wisconsin all her life. 

2. That there has been born as the issue of said marriage, one child, a girl, named Gertrude Marie; that said child is now nine months of age. 

3. That beginning shortly after said marriage the defendant began a course of cruel and inhuman treatment towards this plaintiff and that some of his acts are as follows: That three months after said marriage he struck her in the face with his fist and caused her to have a black eye; that he repeatedly struck her [‘and kicked her’ is marked out]; that he has sworn at her frequently and called her indecent names and accused her of infidelity and has slandered her by telling untrue and indecent things about her character.
      That ever since said marriage, the parties hereto made their home with the parents of the plaintiff on an agreement that defendant was to pay one-half of the expenses of running the household and furnish the wood; that he failed to carry out this agreement; that he failed to provide her with sufficient money to support herself and said child and she was obliged to look to her father and mother for sufficient funds wherewith to maintain and clothe herself and said child and was also obliged to use a part of her savings which were on deposit in the bank at White Lake, Wis; that she had an edowment insurance policy made payable to him on which a premium became due shortly after said marriage and he refused to pay the same and she was obliged to pay it out of her savings; that at Christmas time, 1922, he gave her no money wherewith to purchase necessitites for any Christmas remembrances and she was obliged to use her own funds for such purpose; that shortly before March 1st, 1923, he was abusing her and continued the same for a period of about one week, [‘when he left home and she did not know his whereabouts for two or three days’ – lined out] and finally on March 1st, 1923, he left her and they have not lived together as husband and wife since said date; that he is lazy and when he does get work, he cannot hold a job on account thereof; that a part of the time he runs a Jitney line; that after March 1st, about May 1st, she was obliged to enter a hospital in Antigo on account of sickness and previous to that during March and April while she was sick at home he did not call on her or see her or inquire about her condition, so far as plaintiff knows, and saw her only once during all of the time she was in said hospital; that he refused to pay her doctor bill or store bill or hospital bill until compelled to pay the doctor’s bill by law, and she was obliged to pay the store account and nurses’ bill and paid $70.00 hospital bill for the time she was in said hospital at Antigo.

4. That defendant is a strong and able bodied man and has earned at common labor, $3.50 per day and while in his Jitney business earned at least $5.00 per day net; that plaintiff has had some training as a clerk and stenographer and is capable of earning good wages but on account of her recent sickness will not be able to secure a position for a period of about six months; that she has, at all times, kept her marriage vows; that since his desertion of her, on March 1st [1923], she has been obliged to  a part of the time, pay for the care of said child; that she has not sufficient money or means of her own wherewith to carry on this action or support said child.
5. That plaintiff’s maiden name was Esther E. Edwards; that no prior action of divorce has been commenced or is now pending between the parties hereto.
     WHEREFORE, plaintiff demands judgment for a divorce from the bonds of matrimoney existing between her and the defendant; for custody of said child; that defendant be required to pay the attorney’s fees and costs in this action and provide a suitable amount weekly, for the support of said child; to repay her the $70.00 which she paid the Antigo hospital; for the restoration of her maiden name and for such other and further relief as may be just. (here is the whole case file in pdf)

The divorce was granted on October 24th (not 28th as Esther indicated on her marriage certificate, a minor quibble). They weren’t officially divorced until a year after that date though.
Esther and Clarence were married in early January of 1922. Gertrude Marie was born in early August of 1922. Which means that Esther could quite possibly have been pregnant when they married. I do not know if Marie was premature, by about a month, or not. So, if they did marry because she was pregnant, it is quite possible that they married for the usual wrong reasons, and as so often happens in these cases, it didn’t work out for them.
I have a hard time believing that my Grandfather would behave in such a manner. Granted, I never knew him. But nothing I had ever heard about him indicated he would commit these kinds of acts.  However, one has to remember when reading this testimony that before the advent of no-fault divorce in the United States, a divorce could only be obtained by showing one party to be at fault in the marriage. It meant that one spouse had to plead that the other had: committed adultery, abandoned the family, or (one I have seen in many divorce cases in my years at the archives), committed cruel and inhuman acts, which usually included physical, mental and verbal abuse, even if none of this occurred during the marriage. Many American lawyers and judges were advocates of no-fault divorce because they wanted to eliminate the need for perjury in the court by the parties involved in the cases, where they wanted out of a marriage for a variety of other reasons that weren’t deemed acceptable in court. By 1985 all but New York had adopted some form of no-fault divorce, it wasn’t until 2010 that New York finally passed a no-fault divorce bill.
So one does have to take these early divorce testimony records with a grain of salt. He could quite possibly be guilty of some of these charges, including his failure to pay bills. He was the oldest son, so he was probably a bit spoiled, and he was barely in his mid-20s at the time of his marriage, and divorce, so he might have had some growing up to do yet.

For me the mystery is finally over. One case solved, of the many remaining. In fact, comparatively speaking, this one was a piece of cake, once I settled down to solving it. Of course now I want to know all about this Jitney business!

Baseball, hotdogs, apple pie…

We have a couple of pictures in our family of my grandfather, Clarence John, that are a pretty classic American theme:

Clarence John, sometime between 1916-1928 in Wisconsin.

He is clearly wearing a Chicago White Sox uniform. Family rumor had it he played for a farm team for a short while. Unfortunately, I can find no record of Clarence playing for a farm team or for the White Sox. I checked with the Baseball Hall of Fame. It is possible he played for a local team that took on the name of the White Sox. Although I find that idea, passed on to me by an acquaintance, not very likely.

He does look cute in his uniform though.

On the same theme here is a Shepard relative with his baseball team, this one is in West Virginia:

One of the Shepard boys with his ball team, he is front row second from left. It could be my great-grandfather William Shepard, Sr., but I would have to confer with Mother about that.

A little nachtmusik…

Here’s a fun one. I actually found this picture last fall and while cleaning out my iPhoto image library was reminded that I had it.

My dad and his sisters attended the Crandon, Wisconsin school system when they were younger. The county library has been digitizing their yearbooks from the schools. This image popped up during one of my searches:

It is of interest because my Aunt Claire is in this picture. She is in the third row from the bottom about in the middle of the line. I never knew she was musically inclined.