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.
There are so many words I can use to describe my mom, beautiful/vain/loving/selfish/preoccupied/drunk/flirt/man hater/man lover/inappropriate. Oh, there are so many more but I will stop there.
A little background on Etta – by the way, never call her that! She went by Louise, she did not like her first name and didn’t even use it as a middle name. If you wanted to piss her off just say “Hey Etta” needless to say I did that once or twice! She was born March 10, 1916 to my gay grandma Elma Etta Fairman and a tubercular young man named Leonard Ledger that grandma married in 1913. Now, I don’t know if grandma knew she was gay when she married Leonard, but after he died of that horrible disease in 1918 and she began a relationship with her friend Amy Hoag it became pretty obvious. Of course in the 1920’s nobody spoke of being gay, or homosexual.
My grandmother was a bookbinder and Leonard worked in the printing business so I think that is how they met. Of course my mom didn’t remember her father, as he died when she was 2, but she did tell me a couple of things her mother shared with her. 1. He was mean. He pushed her down stairs once and caused her to lose a baby. 2. He was a racist. He was born in Louisiana and came to the Los Angeles area with his family somewhere around 1910 – he had told my grandma that he didn’t like black people and if they were walking on the same side of the street as he was he would cross the street. 3. He got angry that my grandmother had gained weight while pregnant with my mom and didn’t lose it right away. Already I don’t like the guy. It is interesting that when he died in 1918, no one in his family attended his funeral, only my grandma’s family. And no one put a headstone on his grave. He is buried in Hollywood Forever cemetery and I went there once and found where he was buried, no headstone. More about my grandfather in this post here.
So, my mom was now 2 years old in 1918 and my grandmother was widowed and she had to work. From what I can tell from about 1918 to 1921 my grandmother Elma moved in with her mother Elllen Fairman and that is who watched my mom. My great grandmother Ellen was separated and not living with great grandpa Charles (history of his mental illness will be another post) but then great grandma died in Sept. 29, 1921.
So according to my mom, and backed up by pictures and some existing records,on Sept. 4th, 1921 my mother was put in the Boys and Girls Children’s Aid Society in Pasadena.
Grandma paid for my mom’s board there (20% of her $72.00 a month salary) and I am sure my mom went home as much as grandma could arrange – I have many pictures of Elma, my mom Louise, and Amy Hoag on outings during the 1920’s. Mom only told me one orphanage story, I think it was a traumatic time for her as she never spoke of it. One time she and other children got lice in their hair and the staff poured gasoline on the kids heads to get rid of it. I can only imagine how horrible that must have been for a little girl.
By about 1928 when mom was 12 she got to move back in with her mother as grandma Elma felt that mom could take care of herself while grandma worked. This is where my mom would get a bit odd when talking of those days, you see, she lived with her mother Elma and her mother’s girlfriend Amy. I definitely feel that mom was uncomfortable but had no choice. Or maybe just didn’t want me to know. I speak of one incident that occurred during this time in a previous post here. Mom also told me that she would spend some time in the summers with some of her father’s family. She did not speak of them much, and did not stay in contact with them, but did tell me that one of her uncles offered her a quarter if she would let him “touch” her. She told me that story more than once, I know it affected her greatly.
Mom meets my dad in 1932 or 33 while they are still in high school – well, he is my birth certificate father, not biological, but I didn’t know that until 2015. Elma died in late 1933 while my mom was living as a nanny with a family.
Mom got pregnant the same month her mother died. She and dad, Dexter, get married in March 1934 and my brother Dexter was born on July 4th, 1934. Mom was 18 and dad was 19. For years and years my parents pretended that they got married in 1933 just so my brother would not know the circumstances of his birth – when he found out I am told he was PISSED. He was my brother and I loved him but I find it ironic that he was even surprised. They move in with my dad’s parents, Swedish immigrants, in their boarding house on Magnolia Street in Los Angeles. They called it the Big House. It was very big, 3 floors, lots of rooms.
Grandma was not happy with my mother, called her names according to mom and did not want my dad to marry her – but they did – I mean, it was 1934! In 1936 my sister came along and by 1940 my grandmother had enough and told my folks they needed their own house and I am sure she helped them but they also saved. Mom even worked as an elevator operator in the May Company department store downtown. She told me that she had to lie and say she wasn’t married in order to get the job, in those days married women couldn’t work certain jobs – I guess elevator operator was one of them.
In 1941 they built their own home on Westside Drive in East Los Angeles. 3 bedrooms with a garage, right across the street from gigantic electrical towers, and just down the road from railroad tracks. I am sure that my dad chose the lot because it was cheaper because of those drawbacks. My dad was so tight with a buck! I grew up playing in the fields of those power lines, right under them, I could hear them crackle, I could sometimes feel an electrical pulse from them….Hey, it was the 50’s, what did we know???
Here is where we come to a very important part of Louise’s story. I wasn’t born yet, but my sister tells me (and my brother did too) of both my parents drinking, partying, flirting, hangovers, arguments, you get the drift. The whole Halldin family drank, my dad was an alcoholic and so were his 2 brothers, that was no secret, but my mom drank to silence her demons. I didn’t know how bad it was until much later – but all of the drinking makes sense when I look back on it. Also my mother’s need for male approval. She was the lady who flirted with all the men and was very inappropriate around them. Was that because she had no male figure in her life growing up, or at least not a father figure? I don’t know, I am no psychologist. But I know she was an episodic drunk, not drinking every day, but when she did she was in it to win it. She would not stop until she passed out!
I was born in 1953, my sister got married the following month, my brother was in the Marine Corps. According to my sister, my mother had some abortions between her and me, we are 17 years apart. Why did she keep me? I always wondered until I did my DNA test in 2015 and discovered that I was another man’s child – but that is covered in my beginning posts on this blog so if you are interested, you can click here. And I am pretty sure that alcohol payed a big factor in her life decisions.
Mom drank sometimes during the day, sometimes at night, almost always on the weekends. She and dad had friends that would come over or we would go to their houses and they drank, sometimes they played cards and I would be left to my own. Sometimes there were other kids so at least I had someone to play with but sometimes not.
When I was in junior high my mother and father began fighting almost every night. My father was a daily drinker, he would go to work (owned a plating business with partners and they kept it going when he would go on a bender some days). He would go to a bar, he had many he liked, and he would drink after work and mom would call the bars and look for him and tell him to come home. I never understood that logic. He was in the bar because he didn’t want to come home, duh! My mom was drinking quite a bit, I found vodka bottles stashed around the house and would pour them out if I found them, which really pissed her off. I was so unhappy and started acting out at school. The vice principal called me in and asked me why I was behaving so disrespectfully to the teachers, especially my English teacher. I started to tell her that things at home were bad, parents fighting and instead of listening she told me to stop, it wasn’t her business and to go back to class. No sympathetic school counselors in those days! She called my mom into the school, she told her they had to stop fighting in front of me or when I could hear them and that was it. I heard mom telling dad they had to stop fighting because of the school calling her in. He pretty much didn’t care, it was her that started the fights anyway. But she continued to drink for many years – until sometime in the 1970’s she joined AA. She told me she scared herself as she almost fell in the pool or something while drunk. If she said that, then the truth was much worse I am sure!
A bad thing about AA is that mom no longer had alcohol to deaden the demons, to keep them at bay. So after a couple of years of not drinking, she tried to commit suicide. She would be committed, come home and awhile later, tried again. During the late 70’s and late 80’s I can’t tell you how many times she broke down and we would have an emergency with her. Once she started seeing bugs and ran out into a busy street. The cops picked her up and I had to go identify her at the police station, then they hospitalized her…it was rough. After that she pretty much stayed hospitalized. I believe the demons were winning. She did counseling, she did whatever prescription they gave her, but it didn’t seem to help. She lived to be 87, almost 88 and she was in a nursing home for her last 15 years of her life. Her health suffered, she had a colostomy and she refused to walk after that. She developed leukemia and after treating it for so long with blood transfusions it was just time to let her go.
It was so hard to have a mom that was tortured. It made our lives so chaotic. Time marches on no matter what though. She lost my dad while she was in the nursing home in 1995, my brother in 2002. She died in 2004. I moved to Colorado when she died, I just couldn’t take it around my family any more. We were all dysfunctional because of our crazy upbringing. My brother was an alcoholic and died because of it. My sister lived so many lies all through her life, still does. I used sex as my relief, I was afraid of booze and drugs. My sister married 4 times, I married 3 times. But actually I feel like we were lucky compared to some families. Our father was able to keep his business until his partners wanted to sell and he had a good retirement and investments. He never understood that Mom had to stay in the hospital/nursing home or she would hurt herself or maybe even him. He went to visit her almost every day until he died. Years of therapy didn’t help. I feel like my mom ceased to exist in the late 80’s and never really came back. The fact I was another man’s daughter may have been why she kept me, why she let me do as I pleased, why my father was not engaged with me or my life at all. Then again, I don’t even know if they knew for sure. I am the result of an affair mom had with an unmarried younger man. Were they in love? Was it just sex? Hell, who knows.
So after all of this analyzing and going over my mother’s life what are my conclusions? I honestly don’t have any. I do think my grandmother had a screwed up life, which affected my mother and screwed up her life which in turn screwed up my life and I have probably screwed up my kids lives. But in all of this there was one constant: love. Grandma loved my mom, my mom loved me and I love my kids. I try to remember it was different times my ancestors grew up in, and their decisions were affected by the era they lived in. Etta Louise Ledger tried, but her demons were so strong. I hope she was able to lose them wherever she may be.
While doing my family research I occasionally come across stories of my family that I didn’t know and that require more study. In this case I was filling out family tree information for my maternal grandfather’s side of his family. My maternal grandfather was Leonard Ledger and his first cousin was Lawrence John Ledger. Their fathers were brothers. The family had come to Louisiana from French Canada in the 1860’s and grew exponentially while in Louisiana. As I was adding information to Lawrence I started to learn about his tragic life.
Lawrence was born Oct 23, 1885 in New Orleans. He was listed as a motorman on a streetcar in the 1910 census. And in each city directory after that he was listed as a laborer until in 1915 where he is listed as a welder.
He married Annie Bulger in December of 1910 when he was 25. They proceeded to start a family but things didn’t go very well for them. On August 21, 1911 they had a baby boy, Lawrence John Ledger Jr. but he died on August 23. Then on June 9, 1912 they had twin boys, Lawrence Anthony and Clarence Anthony Ledger. Clarence died the same day (or may have been stillborn, I do not know) and Lawrence died on June 15 at 4 days old. How heartbreaking this must have been for Annie and Lawrence. I discovered after much digging that they were finally able to have 2 children before their deaths, the children were only 5 and 2 years old. These children were raised by Lawrence’s parents and grew up to marry and have children of their own. I was very happy to find a descendant of theirs who had a picture of Annie.
In February 1918 Lawrence applied for a passport for a trip to British Honduras, it was a work trip and he is listed as a welder and he was going there to teach welding. Looks like he only stayed a short while.
Then on September 12, 1918 he registered for the draft. WWI was going on and all men had to register.
In October 1918 the flu epidemic had hit New Orleans. It came by ship and wrecked havoc on the city. Between October 1918 and April 1919, the city experienced a staggering 54,089 cases of influenza. Of these, 3,489 died. Only Pittsburgh and Philadelphia – the two cities with the worst epidemics in the nation – had higher death rates.
On October 24 at 12:25 a.m. Lawrence John Ledger, 33 years old, died of Influenza. Approximately 10 and a half hours later Annie Bulger Ledger, 24 years old, died of pneumonia-influenza.
Their funerals were held on October 25, Lawrence’s at 10:30 a.m. and Annie’s at 11 a.m. They are buried together in the Bulger family crypt.
I found their story to be so tragic. A young couple, their babies dying, they finally have 2 children, then they die during the flu epidemic of 1918. I wish I had better pictures of Lawrence and Annie, but I am happy to have what I do.
Lawrence was my 1st cousin twice removed and I hope by telling Lawrence and Annie’s story that I am keeping their memory alive.
I was reading a blog post today that was about family members resembling each other, on a lovely blog I just discovered https://talesofafamily.blog/ I belong to many Facebook genealogy groups and people are always posting pictures asking us to confirm what they think are uncanny resemblances – which for the most part I have trouble seeing. I believe we see what we want to see most of the time and those pictures prove it to me. Not to be a Debbie downer, but it just ain’t there people!
But it reminded me of my sister, Barb. My sister and I don’t look much alike, my sister and brother did. But that makes sense since they both had the same mother and father. I learned that I have the same mother, but different father and that totally explained why I didn’t resemble either one! In our zillions of pictures inherited from our parents are many of our Grandma May. Grandma was dad’s (who will always be my dad because he loved and raised me) mother. A feisty woman, Swedish immigrant, matron of a boarding house for many years, who had a hard life but lived to a nice old age of 88. When I knew her she was married to her second husband, Grandpa Charlie, who treated her as a queen for 13+ years until she passed away in 1963. I didn’t know her well, she died when I was 10 and had suffered from debilitating strokes in the few years prior to her death. There was one great picture of grandma in her 70’s that my sister put up on her wall many years ago. The whole family used to laugh and tell my sister that we didn’t need to wonder what she would look like when she was older, she was that picture! My middle son once was standing near the photo and I asked him if he knew who the lady in the picture was – without much hesitation he said “Auntie Barbie!” and he was pretty surprised when I told him it was our grandmother, not his aunt/my sister.
Tell me what you think!
Nowadays it seems sort of tacky to take pictures at a funeral – not that it isn’t done – but I have noticed that in the past it was a much more common thing to do. I suppose it was a time when families were together and dressed up and seemed like a good time to have a family picture. I am lucky enough to have my grandmother’s photo album. Thank goodness my mom’s uncle rescued it from our garage and returned it years later or it may have gone the way of most things in our house – tossed out. This picture was taken at the funeral of my grandfather Leonard Ledger (Oct. 15, 1892-Aug. 3, 1918) At what was called Hollywood Cemetery but is now Hollywood Forever. There are lots of famous people buried there, movie stars mostly. There are large crypts and fancy headstones but grandpa is in an unmarked grave near the wall behind Paramount Studios. I went to look for him in the 1990’s and the office had to pull out a very old map to show where he was. Why he does not have a headstone is a real mystery. He had family, In this picture is just one member of his family, his sister in law Grace Ledger, the rest are my grandmother’s Fairman family. But he had 5 brothers and one sister, but no one put a headstone.
My grandmother was Elma Etta Fairman (Dec. 23, 1892 – Oct. 8, 1933) and she is sitting in the middle of the picture in the dark ankle high dress. At this point in 1918 Elma had been married to Leonard for 5 years and they had a daughter, my mother. According to my mom, her mom Elma didn’t say too much about Leonard except that he wasn’t a very nice person. He supposedly pushed her down a flight of stairs when she was pregnant with another child. He had grown up in Louisiana and he would cross the street if a black man was walking on his side, a sign of those times but still sad. Leonard died of Tuberculosis. I believe his father had also died of the disease and perhaps one of his sisters.
Since he died way before I was born he has always just been a young man in some old pictures. Here he is with my mother on Mt. Hollywood (where the Hollywood sign is now) in 1918.
He had curly hair (my mom and I inherited that!) a broad flat nose (mom got that too) and he is almost always smiling in pictures. I always have felt so sorry for him because he died so young. My mother was put in an orphanage after he died, while her mother worked. It affected her and her mental health for the rest of her life. My mother’s mother Elma carried on as best she could. I don’t know why family didn’t help my grandma with mom, I believe her mother did but she died in 1921. My grandmother was living a different lifestyle in Los Angeles at the time. She was gay. She had a roommate named Amy and by looking at their pictures together they were very much in love. Things my mom told me confirmed what I had always suspected. I could care less, you go grandma! But mom was always embarrassed – I get it – again, the times they lived in.
So Leonard dying was sad, but it allowed Grandma to live the life she wanted until she died in 1933 at the age of 41. Elma also did not have a headstone until the 1980’s when my mom purchased one for it. But Leonard still rests, unnamed in that fancy cemetery. I have thought that one day I would honor him with one, just so he isn’t completely forgotten.
My mom used to tell me about how her father’s brother, Dewey, died. She said he was robbed in Mexico and killed. I always felt so bad that this could happen to someone in my family, and I wondered why he was in Mexico and the circumstances surrounding his death. I was pretty sure Mom got something mixed up because she had never talked of Dewey except for his death, I knew that she wasn’t close with this uncle as other stories about him were never shared. Mom was 29 when Dewey died so she was old enough to get the facts but her memory was not always the best. I decided a while back to try to investigate what had happened to Dewey. Dewey never married and didn’t have children so I asked a cousin the late 1990’s about Dewey. She told me she thought he died in New Mexico…hmmmmm, that is close to Mexico…so mom couldn’t be too wrong could she? Continue reading