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.
It sounds so odd, Non Paternity Event, but in everyday language it means your dad is not who you thought he was. I wrote extensively about finding the truth in my earliest blog posts but I thought I would revisit the story again. I have been on a roller coaster of emotions since late 2014 when I first took my Ancestry-DNA test.
I grew up in the 1950’s and 60’s in an crazy but loving family. Both of my parents were alcoholics but we all put on a brave front for the most part.
I took a DNA test for fun in the fall of 2014, and my world turned upside down. It took me awhile to figure out the details but it boiled down to my biological father was not the happy go lucky daddy I grew up with. My mom had an affair in 1952 with a man on their bowling team.
If you aren’t familiar with how DNA works you might wonder how in the heck I figured this out. It wasn’t easy, especially since I didn’t know a thing when I first started. But reading, asking questions and just plain old perseverance led me to the truth. When I got my results I wasn’t Swedish, I should have been, my dad was 100%. I also had lots of DNA matches that had surnames I didn’t know – and many, many were from the Alabama area. I asked some of my dad’s family to do the DNA test and when the results came back – no relation at all. Then I started building family trees and trying to figure out how my matches were related to each other. I contacted some 3rd cousins and they were so helpful, but I needed a closer match. Finally a 2nd cousin popped up and that enabled me to tie the tree together and find who I thought my biological father was. He was deceased – I expected that. He had children! I found them on Facebook, but was afraid to contact them (I had had a bad experience with the son of a man I THOUGHT might be my biological father) but my adorable 3rd cousin contacted them for me and right away they were thrilled! The youngest one did the DNA test and while we awaited the results I went to Southern California to visit 2 of them. It was such a wonderful visit! On my way home the results came in and sealed it – we were half siblings!!!!
Then my older brother from birth father’s first marriage came down to visit us from Oregon last year.
I also had a half sister, but she passed away in 2013. I so wish I could have met her, she loved genealogy too and I am sure we would have been good friends.
My brother’s have helped me fill in what I never knew about my bio father. I have read up on the ship, USS New Orleans, he served on during WWII and can only imagine the hell he went through. He had his issues, we all do, but I can’t help but wonder if he knew. If my mom knew?? She was married at the time, bio dad wasn’t. She was 37, he was 31. She had 2 grown children, he was divorced with one son.
That is what lingers in my mind. Who knew? did anyone? Some days are better than others for me but I struggle. It has been over 4 years now that I have known the truth. I read every article and book I find that deals with NPE stories and information. I belong to Facebook groups, public and secret, and reading others stories helps. So many people do not have as good an ending as I do. I found 3 loving brothers. I have lost the sister I grew up with, she is angry or hurt by my find, but I can’t help it. Everyone who wants to know the truth, should be able to know the truth. I didn’t start out knowing there was a huge secret, but I am glad to know the truth.
NPE – Non Paternity Event, it sounds so odd.
Imagine you are gay in the early part of the 20th century. How difficult that must have been, but my maternal grandmother was and it doesn’t seem that she was afraid to show it. What knowledge I have is gleaned from what little my mother told me and also from pictures of my Grandmother and her partner in an album that is almost a century old and one of my most treasured possessions. At one point my mother told me that my grandma had a diary and that diary was destroyed by my mother’s uncles’s wife after grandma died in 1933. I would give a kings ransom to have that diary and know how my grandmother really felt at that time.
My grandmother was Elma Etta Fairman, born December 23, 1892 in Providence, Rhode Island and died October 8, 1933 in Los Angeles, California. She was raised in Rhode Island with 2 sisters (one an adopted 1st cousin) and 3 brothers until somewhere around 1910 the entire family picked up and moved to Los Angeles, California. Grandma would have been about 18 years old and done with school. I have found that she started working in the bookbinding business and stayed with that trade until her death. In 1913 she married Leonard Ledger (1892-1918) who she met through work and in 1916 they had my mother Louise, (1916-2004) (her actual first name was Etta but if you called her by that name you would get such a look!) When my mother was only 2, in 1918, my grandfather Leonard died of tuberculosis. From what I can piece together, at first I believe grandma Elma moved in with her mother Helen into the small family home on Morton street in Los Angeles. My great grandfather Charles Fairman (1869-1956) was in the Army at the time and from what I can tell he and great grandmother Helen Harris Fairman (1870-1921) were separated and he was trying to get a divorce. But great grandmother Helen died in 1921 and my grandmother Elma and my mother Louise had to make other arrangements to live and take care of my mother.
In about 1921, at the age of 5, my mother was put into an orphanage in Pasadena where my grandmother paid for her keep.
At around this time I think my grandmother decided to go ahead and live the life she wanted with her girlfriend Amy Irene Hoag. Amy was born in 1893 and lived until 1979. I believe Amy and Elma met through work in the bookbinding business. Amy and Elma were together from at least 1921 until Elma’s death in 1933. When I asked my mother once what happened to Amy after Elma died she said that she only saw her once and she wasn’t kind. My mother had had my brother in 1934 when she was only 18, took him to see Amy and it seems Amy didn’t approve. Times sure have changed, and for the better if you ask me!
My mother lived in the orphanage from about the age of 5 to 12. She would come home some weekends and take trips with her mom Elma and Amy, they went to Catalina, the beach, Exposition park and to visit Amy’s family.
There are many pictures in my beloved photo album of my grandmother Elma with Amy and Louise but none with Elma’s family so I don’t believe they approved.
On her deathbed, in 2004, my mother said to me “Judy, you know my mother was……..” and I said “yes, mom, I know she was gay and that is ok, she was a brave woman.” and mom smiled and nodded her head.