Since I posted all I had found on cousin Ledger I have been contacted by two people who had more information for me. In my world there is nothing better than finding out more about a relative! A very nice lady named Dona solved the mystery of Ledger ever having children. In my research I had found that in his 2nd marriage he had at least 1 son, but when interviewed in 1950 for a lengthy article about him written by Peter Wyden (father of the Oregon senator) in 1950 for the St. Louis Post-Dispatch., he said he had no children. Here is a link to that article https://www.newspapers.com/clip/43619878/ When I was contacted by Dona – she is married to Ledger’s grandson – she explained that Ledger had 2 sons with his 2nd wife, Elsie, and then left them. She remarried and her new husband adopted the sons and they changed their names – no wonder I couldn’t find any information on them. Ledger never had any contact with his children that they know of. I was so thankful that Dona contacted me. The oldest son who was named Ledger Daunt Veazey Jr. at birth even had his first name changed to John – I guess they really wanted to sever ties with Ledger and his choices. Both boys are deceased now and I wonder how much they knew about their father – in fact Dona told me that the family didn’t even know much about Elsie’s marriage to Ledger and only found out the truth when she passed and they found newspaper clippings in her dresser. Donna was able to share a picture of Ledger from 1931, pretty handsome guy!
Then just last week I received a note from Jane, who is the niece of Ledger’s 3rd wife Cleo. Cleo and Ledger married in January of 1950 in Missouri – and she isn’t sure how long they stayed married but in looking at Ledger’s legal troubles and when he married for the 4th time in 1958 – they couldn’t have been married for too long. Jane shared some pictures with me of Ledger and Cleo and I love them as they show him in a much different light than the prison photos I have.
Ledger’s story continues to be told, with many thanks to Dona and Jane.
In my last post I told the story of my 1st cousin twice removed, Ledger Daunt Veazey. He was a white collar criminal, shady, charming, and seemingly irredeemable. I was having trouble finding out when and where he died and where he might be buried.
The last newspaper article I found about him was dated January 22, 1963. It is about how he was sentenced to prison and it stated he was ill and should be in a prison hospital due to his health. I figured he was probably in prison in Oklahoma or a nearby state after his sentencing. I had so hoped that Ledger had cleaned up his act after all his 1940’s and early 1950’s shenanigans but I guess not.
I searched for death records at Ancestry and Family-search but the only Veazey that was a possible death record was a Donald Ledger Veazey in California. I didn’t think this could be him, I mean his name was NOT Donald. And why would he be in California when he was caught passing bad checks in Oklahoma, Tennessee, Louisiana, Georgia and Missouri. But the middle and last name, Ledger Veazey, was so close that I decided to send for this death certificate and find out if this was my Ledger Daunt Veazey. Here is what I received back;
Son of a gun, this was him! He died in San Quentin Prison. For some unknown reason they got his name wrong – I don’t understand how since he was a prisoner- but maybe he decided to go by an alias in prison?? The certificate indicates he was in the business of Refrigeration and was self employed, wow, that is stretching it. He must have given the prison that information and his embellishments on his life are not surprising – he obviously had the gift of gab and lots of hubris. I know this is the right man because of the parents names and date of birth. San Quentin had a prison hospital so I am assuming that is why he was there, he was very ill by looking at his 3 causes of death. He was 62 years old, which isn’t old by today’s standards but in 1966 he was considered old, plus he had smoked and drank his entire life.
I feel bad that I don’t know what happened to him after his death. He was cremated and I do not know if he was interred or if anyone claimed him or not. There are no records of him at the crematory/cemetery location and I have visions of him sitting on a shelf for many years until finally he was disposed of as unclaimed.
You had an interesting, yet sad, life cousin Ledger. Rest in Peace
The first time I saw this picture from a hint on Ancestry.com I was intrigued. My family has always been law abiding from all accounts I had ever heard or read so to see this Folsom Prison mugshot was pretty shocking. His name was interesting to me also. Ledger was actually this man’s mother’s maiden surname, Daunt was his maternal grandmother’s surname and Veazey was his father’s surname. I found it interesting right away that he was named after his family surnames. Ledger would have been my mother’s first cousin, her father’s nephew. I don’t think mom knew him or of him or she would have talked about him I am sure. Ledger was born in Louisiana where my grandfather was born, but my grandfather moved to California when Ledger was just a young boy.
I started researching Ledger to see if I could find out why he was in Folsom Prison, which is near Sacramento, California. What I eventually found is a man who was born in 1906 and seemed to have a very good and law abiding life until 1934 when he was arrested for first degree robbery and sentenced to 20 years at the Missouri state penitentiary .
Ledger served about 4 years of that sentence, was close to his first parole hearing but decided to escape instead. He was a trusted prisoner and had even earned time off his sentence when he helped out in the prison hospital during an outbreak of an illness. He then headed to California and instead of keeping quiet and obeying the law, he got caught passing bad checks. He was arrested in 1940 and sentenced to that stint in Folsom Prison, where he stayed until 1944 when he was returned to Missouri State Pen. I wrote to the Missouri Pen and was able to get his 1934 booking pic and then this one from when he was returned to them in 1944.
It was during this time in his prison life where Ledger came up with an idea to make some money. He filed income tax returns for inmates. Before 1943 when withholding taxes were implemented, taxes were not usually paid by people who had low incomes. So Ledger figured out that if the inmates had worked at least part of the previous year then they were probably entitled to a tax refund and he worked out a deal where he would file the tax return for the inmate and they would split the refund 50/50. He did pretty well for himself with this scheme except that he upset someone who turned him into the IRS and he was investigated for tax evasion as he did not claim his income from the tax return service he provided. I found numerous newspaper articles from all over the country that explained how the IRS was taking him to court over tax evasion. Here is one that made the Syracuse New York Journal on Oct 4, 1950:
I could not find out what happened to his IRS court case but I did find that Ledger never did quite give up his life of dubious choices. He moved around a lot and seemed to make trouble for himself wherever he went. He continued to file income tax returns for the “down and out” and seems to have made a good sum doing it. But he also kept up his penchant for writing bad checks and he was caught for that in Oklahoma in 1963 according to this article that I found:
It seems he just couldn’t keep his nose clean! I haven’t found a death record for him yet. But I did find one for a Donald L. Veazey with the same birth day and month and the same maiden name for his mother – I have sent away for that death certificate, I am going to guess that is him. If so, it means he died in June 1966. I don’t know if he was alone, in a hospital when he died- if the Donald Veazey is him, he died in Marin, California. That is where San Quentin prison is so maybe he lived out his life there.
My biggest find was a newspaper article written by Peter Wyden (father of the Oregon senator) in 1950 for the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. Peter interviewed Ledger when he was living in Columbia, Missouri, shortly after his parole. It’s very good and even has cartoons on it. Mr. Wyden really got into Ledger and seemed to paint a true picture of a man who was not a victim of circumstance, but was his own worst enemy. Here is a link to the article if you would like to read it: https://www.newspapers.com/clip/43619878/
I am not sure if you need a subscription to Newspapers.com or not. If you click on the newspaper I think it opens into a page that you can enlarge to read it.
I am so surprised at how Ledger turned out in his life. He came from a well educated family. He had a college degree and was an accountant at a college in his younger years. Why he decided to take up a shady life and constantly get caught is lost to time. He was my cousin, I never knew him. But I am still glad I got to know him through the records and newspaper accounts, I think I would have liked him.
This is my brother, Dexter Leonard Halldin, and our mom in the Los Angeles Times on June 30, 1936. It seems that they went to the beach and Dexter got a very bad sunburn and had to go to the hospital. Bad mom for not covering him up, but it was the 1930’s and she was only 20 so I guess I get it, big mistake. But the rest of the story is what I heard repeatedly as I was growing up.
It seems that during this time, Hal Roach Studios was filming the Little Rascals or one of those kid serial movies or what they called “shorts”. Someone from the studio (according to my mom it was Hal Roach himself, but I don’t know if that is true) had seen this picture in the newspaper and wanted my brother to try out for the movies! The only problem was that he couldn’t talk yet and they needed a little one that could talk. He was cute as a button but talked late and when he did talk he did have a pronounced stutter.
Our mom used to love to rub it in that he could have been a star and we could have been rich, if only he could talk! He hated that story, and I thought it was not very nice of her to repeat the story every year, usually after a few drinks. But that was how mom rolled.
I had seen the clipping a couple of times when I was a kid, mom had saved it of course. But it got lost over the moves. But when I subscribed to Newspapers.com and plugged in my brothers name, there it was! Brought back memories of how “he coulda been a star!!!”
My grandmother Elma Fairman Ledger on the left and her partner Amy Hoag on the right. This is a picture that was in an album of colorized photos that belonged to my grandmother. Probably taken around 1925 or so. Can you see the joy in their faces, that is love.
I was recently at my half brother’s, getting to know him and listening to some family stories. One story really caught my attention, it was about his aunt and her baby girl that was killed by her father who then in turn killed himself.
Now, I didn’t know that Aunt Glady’s had been married more than once. I knew she married Bart Parker in 1932 and he was her husband when she died in 2001, so I assumed they had been married to each other all those years. My brother and his wife swore that the story they told was true, but they didn’t know any names or dates. My curiosity was peaked and I knew I had to try and find out what happened.
When we got home from our visit, I went right to Ancestry and got to work. I first went to Glady’s Social Security record and saw that she had 2 last names besides Parker. In 1942 she was a Brown and in 1946 she was a Thompson. Dang common names. I searched Newspapers.com with Glady’s name, Genealogy Bank, etc. But nothing was coming up. Then I decided to try the California Birth Index, using Glady’s maiden name, the father’s last name (either Brown or Thompson) and a birth range in the 1940’s. I knew she was probably born in Los Angeles as that is where Glady’s lived most of her life. For Brown, nothing came up. But for Thompson I got a probable match:
Now I had a first, middle and last name so my search continued. Since I was told she had died as a baby I looked at the Death Index:
Right away I was struck by how little Barbara Jean was when she died. 6 months.
Then I found the Findagrave listing for Barbara Jean and it had a picture of her headstone:
When I saw “My Baby Doll” I cried. But the saddest find of all was a newspaper article from the Los Angeles Times on October 2, 1947.
Such a horrible tragedy. By 1949 Glady’s was back together with Bart, her first husband and they stayed together until her death. She never had any more children.
So many questions enter my mind. What caused all of her break ups? Her family tells me she was a very strong willed, bossy and controlling woman. All I know is that she must have had a hole in her heart that couldn’t be repaired and I can certainly understand why.
Rest in Peace Barbara Jean
On November 1, 1944 my cousin Bill Jones who was in the Army Air Corps as a co-pilot on a B-24 stationed in San Pancrazio, Italy, was killed in a landing accident. Bill was only 23. His brother, Al Jones was 21 and in the Navy Sea-bees at that time stationed in the pacific theater. This is the first letter from Al to their father after the news of Bill’s death.
Top left Bill Jones with father Bill Jones 1944. Next is Al Jones with father Bill Jones 1942. Next is Al Jones in Pacific. Bottom left is Bill Jones upon graduating flight school. Bottom right is Bill Jones home on leave for last time in August 1944.
December 12th, 44
Dad- I just don’t know how to write this letter. I only wish that I could of been there with you when the word came. First received the Red Cross radio-gram on December the seventh. But was sort of advised not to write till I received word of Bill from you. So been holding up this letter, praying that it might not been as bad or that it might not of happened at all.
As you said in your letter that was the way Billy wanted it, if it ever had to come, was to go with his ship, as he did. Let us always remember him as he was, and what he stood for. His high principle, kindness and love for everyone. His politeness and his smile and manner and all that he and others like him stood for and died for.
We did have so much planned for the three of us, the three Jone’s. And now dad there is just us two to do it. And dad I’ll promise to do my utmost to fulfill it to when I return to you, for the three of us.
I know how trying it is for you and how much we both need each other at a time like this. But dad, I’m afraid it’s little too impossible. If there’s really important legal matters to be taken up and that there is a good cause for them and there must be otherwise the Red Cross wouldn’t recommend it to their headquarters in Washington. They might let it go through. If it does I’m almost sure my C.O. wouldn’t stop it. And dad I would like to see you and be with you so much.
Will enclose in another envelope Bill’s letters that he sent from overseas to keep and save for me. Also I’m having something done with the picture you just sent to me and would like another one if you have some more prints.
Dad, I hope you will get settled soon in Los Angeles and that you and Harry will work something out and that everything will go for the best.
And as you said dad there must be a reason for all of this and with Gods permission we shall see Bill and mother again and we will be proud I’m sure.
Good-nite and all my love and thoughts.
Love, Your Son
I cry whenever I read this letter. I am fortunate that I inherited all of the letters that both Bill and Al wrote home during WWII. I became quite close to Al (who went by Dick after the war) in his final years. He was a sweetheart of a man.
When I discovered that I was not biologically related to Bill and Al after doing a DNA test I think that hurt me most of all. They will always be my first cousins in my heart though and I honor them this memorial day weekend.