Wordless Wednesday – true love

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.

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Wordless Wednesday

The home my grandparents built in 1904 at 12 Mattson Ave, Worcester, Massachusetts
The home still stands, is now split into apartments

On her gravestone is written “My baby doll”

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

Let us always remember him as he was, and what he stood for.

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

Dear Dad

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

Al

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.

NPE = Non Paternity Event

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.

Me in the middle, my sister to my right, my mom and dad to my left and my 3 nephews. Taken Easter 1964

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.

Top row: Biological father, Bob, 2nd from right, next to father I grew up with, Dexter, 2nd from left
Bottom middle is my mom

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!!!!

Brothers and sister!

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.