Marriage, or not, divorce and family secrets

In my family research, I’ve come across quite a few areas where “family history” falls over in the face of facts, as I’m sure most family historians have dealt with.  Two instances make me giggle every time I think about it, and really make me wish there was some way for me to know more about what some of my ancestors were like, you know, as people.

The first is the enigma that is my great grandfather, Harvey William Harlow.  This man, like most really poor people in the early 1900’s has been very illusive.  When I started, all I knew about the man, at all, was that he died when my grandfather was 3, and he was buried in Hindustan, Indiana.  (Yes, there’s good ol’ Hindustan.)

As I was able to dig a little further, with some help from my grandfather (names and such and the story of Harvey’s death, at least as my great grandmother told it to him), I found the marriage info for Harvey and my great grandmother (Ella Hacker Harlow Eller).

It turns out that they were married in April of 1925, my grandfather having been born in January 1925. *giggle* And his brother was two years older than he was.  So, I called my grandfather, because I thought maybe I had his birthyear wrong, but no, and he said that not only was he not surprised, that was the second time they’d gotten married to each other.

Now, while that’s kind of giggly, in that, in 1925, that was a terribly frowny thing, getting married *after* the babies, what’s more interesting to me, is that I have not been able to find *any* evidence whatsoever of them being married and/or divorced before that.  Granted, maybe I just haven’t found the right documents, maybe I’m not searching in the right place, but at this point, I am prone to think that they didn’t get married at all till ’25, and either told people, or Ellie told her kids that they had been.

I think I find it so funny, because I’m having a hard time reconciling this unwed “shacked up” woman with my great grandma Eller, who died when I was in my mid 20’s, who I’d known very well, I thought. *grin*

The other story is about my great great grandparents on the other side.  I knew that my great grandma Godsey’s (Anna Myrtle Zike Godsey) mother (Theodocia Wooden Godsey) had died when grandma Godsey was fairly young, and that her father had eventually married a woman a couple years younger than her (That’d be my great great grandma Grace. That’s what we called her-Grandma Grace.), but looking through postings on the Monroe County mailing list at Rootsweb, I came across the divorce notice, Docie divorcing Samuel Zike, claiming that he’d abandoned her and the children to go live with some other woman.  At the time of divorce, I don’t think Anna was born yet, if she was, she was very small.  It makes me wonder, though, if Samuel fancied himself a ladies man. *grin*

These are the kind of things I look for, clues to what these folks were like as people, rather than just names on a list.  You know, I wonder, as I’m sure others do, if some of our own weirdnesses and eccentricities are genetic.  Who do I get my artistic nature from? (Gramma Harlow (LaVera Maxine Godsey Harlow), but where did *she* get it?) Who do I get my talkative nature from? Who did I get my temper from? You know, questions like that.

It just goes to show that you never know what random piece of information will help paint the picture of the human beings behind that list of names, and it’s one of my favorite parts of research.

~T

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