I had heard from a relative that my great-grandmother Mae’s brother Glenn Bolt Moore, (nicknamed Fred after his father) was once the mayor of New Buffalo, Michigan. I looked it up once in a book about New Buffalo, but couldn’t find him there.
But newspapers had the answer! The Benton Harbor (MI) News-Palladium from March 9, 1937 revealed that “Fred” was elected president of the village of New Buffalo on the Progressive ticket with 259 votes.
As reported in the May 9, 1939 issue of the News-Palladium, Mayor Fred Moore threw out the first pitch at the first high school (?) baseball game of the year.
When Ancestry added “Michigan, Divorce Records, 1897-1952” a couple of years ago, lots of questions were answered in my family tree and also lots of theories were confirmed.
Finally, I was able to see the divorce record of my great-grandparents, Mae (Moore) and William Oakes, my grandmother Helen’s parents. They were married December 23, 1908 in Detroit and had the one child. Mae filed for divorce on August 31, 1914 (when Helen was only 2 years old). It was granted on July 13, 1915 and the cause was cruelty and non-support. William did not contest the divorce.
It was also interesting to be able see divorces that were filed, but never went through. One of these I found was for William Oakes’ parents, Henry and Minnie. They were married April 8, 1877 in Dearborn, Michigan and had 4 children. Minnie filed for divorce on October 16, 1900 and the causes were drunkenness and cruelty. It was still pending at the end of 1900 and apparently never went through because Minnie still received Henry’s Civil War pension after his death. By 1910, Henry was at the Michigan Soldier’s Home in Grand Rapids and died in 1922 at the Soldier’s Home in Milwaukee.
The ancestor that was one of the biggest challenges for me was someone who lived relatively recently and is pretty closely related to me (great-grandfather). William E. Oakes was the first husband of Mae Moore and the father of Helen Dorothy Oakes, my grandmother. Reasons he was a challenge was that Helen was born in 1912 and her parents divorced in 1915. I’m not sure if she ever saw her father again. She never talked about him. Also, he died when he was only 40, in 1928, when my grandmother was only 16.
The document that helped me the most and started unraveling the mystery of William Oakes was his and Mae’s marriage registration. Through that, I discovered their marriage date (Dec. 23, 1908), his age (21 and therefore an estimated birth year of 1887), and his parents names (Henry Oakes and Minnie Schroeder).
This helped me to find the Henry Oakes family in the 1900 census in Nankin Township, Wayne, Michigan. William was listed as “Willie Oak” with a birthdate of July 1888. In the 1910 census, though they were still married, William and Mae were not living with each other. She was a boarder with her mother and worked at a theatre as a ticket clerk. I haven’t found William in 1910 yet. Their daughter Helen was born June 19, 1912. William and Mae were divorced July 13, 1915. William married again on January 1, 1916 to Pearl Sullivan.
Another interesting document that tells a lot about William is his WWI Draft Registration from June 5, 1917. He and Pearl lived at 317 W. Kirby in Detroit, which would have been near the corner of W. Kirby and 3rd Avenue. His birthdate was listed as July 8, 1888. He was a foreman for Ford Motor Company. He claimed exemption from the draft due to poor health.
Sadly, Pearl and William had a stillborn baby boy on April 8, 1918. William died on August 31, 1928 at Receiving Hospital located at St. Antoine and Macomb in Detroit. According to The City of Detroit, Michigan, 1901-1922, volume 2, p. 1185, the Receiving Hospital was:
“Detroit’s municipally-operated hospital located at St. Antoine and Macomb streets…and was opened October 12, 1915.
“It was established by the Poor Commission, now known as the Department of Public Wefare.
“It serves as an emergency hospital and clearing house for accident or injury cases occurring on public thoroughfares or of a public nature, and a psychopathic hospital for the safe and human handling of the mentally disturbed, and is under the control of the Welfare Commission. Other wards of the hospital are devoted to the care of medical and surgical patients unable to pay for treatment in other hospitals.”
According to William’s death certificate, he died of “Acute nephritis superimposed upon a chronic nephritis” with a contributory cause of chronic myocarditis. He was buried in Northview Cemetery in Dearborn.
The 1880 U.S. Federal Census had an additional schedule called the “1880 Schedule of Defective, Dependent, and Delinquent Classes.” This enumerated individuals that had deafness, blindness, or other disabilities, as well as “paupers.”
The individual I’d like to talk about this week is one I haven’t been able to find in this schedule, even though she was deaf. In fact, I haven’t been able to find her at all in 1880. Her maiden name was Delia Mary Grodi, and she was born to Nelson and Margaret (Bushroe) Grodi on August 17, 1875 in Erie, Monroe County, Michigan. She would have been 5 years old in 1880, and while her family was enumerated in Erie, she was not living with them. She may have been at a school for the deaf.
By 1886 though, Delia was a definitely a student at the Michigan School for the Deaf in Flint, Michigan. This school enrolled students aged 9 to 20, so she wasn’t there in 1880 (I checked). She was also listed as a student between 1891 and 1894 in the other reports I could find. I’m assuming she was also a student in the years between 1886 and 1891.
The Michigan School for the Deaf was established in 1848 as the Michigan Asylum for Educating the Deaf and Dumb and the Blind. In 1879, the Legislature separated the school for the blind from the school for the deaf. In December 1885, there was a diptheria epidemic at the school, and five students died.
Delia married Lyman Salisbury on May 18, 1895 in Lucas County, Ohio. In the 1900 census, she, Lyman, and their daughter Ida were living in Toledo. In the “Can speak English” column of this census, she is listed as “no.” Lyman and Delia had a son, also named Lyman, in 1901, but he died in September 1902.
In 1910, the family, now with son Ernest (my husband’s great-grandfather), lived in Erie, Michigan. Delia was listed as “deaf and dumb.” Her husband Lyman died on December 20, 1918 in Erie of Bronchopneumonia and Asthma. In 1920, Delia and her other children were living with Ida and her husband Jacob Conrad in Bedford, Monroe, Michigan.
In 1930, Delia and her children Howard and Hazel were living in Bedford, Michigan and she was employed as an inspector at an awning factory. In 1940, Delia and Hazel were living in Bedford and Delia was an inspector in the textile industry. Delia’s son Howard died in 1944. Delia herself died July 23, 1955.
I couldn’t think of anyone that would fit into the “musical” category (although I did play the clarinet in 6th-8th grades), so I thought I would focus on someone that worked in a Detroit theatre. Or more specifically, focus on that theatre.
In the 1910 U.S. Federal Census (enumerated April 27, 1910), my great-grandmother Mae Oakes was listed as aged 19 (although she was born May 18, 1892 and, if my math is right, that would make her 17 almost 18). Mae had been married in December 1908 to my great-grandfather, but he wasn’t living with her in 1910. Anyway, her occupation was ticket-clerk at “Laf. Theatre.” She and her mother Mina were lodgers of Alta Fisher at 77 W. Elizabeth St.
77 W. Elizabeth St. didn’t exist in the 1921 Old and New House Number for the City of Detroit, but 79’s address was changed to 203. If I look at Google Maps now, 203 is about at the corner of W. Elizabeth and Clifford, smack dab in the middle of parking lots for Comerica Park and Fox Theatre.
The “Laf. Theatre” listed on the 1910 census stood for the Lafayette Theatre. Here’s a little history on the theatre where my great-grandmother worked. The Lafayette Theatre first opened in 1893 as “Campbell’s Empire Theatre.” According to the New York Dramatic Mirror of 12/30/1893, it was built on the former Latimer’s Livery Stable and was located at 17 and 19 Lafayette Avenue, near Griswold.
The Empire Theatre closed in May 1904 and reopened as the Lafayette in August 1904. In Polk’s Detroit Directory of 1907, the Lafayette was located at 15-17 Lafayette Blvd. Here is an ad from Wood’s Official Railway guide from about 1909.
Sometime before 1913, the Lafayette came down and a new theatre, called the Orpheum, went up in its place. It opened in 1914.
In 1925, the interior was completely remodeled and the theatre was eventually named the Schubert-Lafayette. It was demolished in 1964. The spot is now a parking lot for the Dime Building.
Hauser, Michael. “Downtown Detroit’s Magnificent Movie Palaces.” Presentation at the 2013 Michigan in Perspective: The Local History Conference.
I really like this photo of my husband’s great-grandparents Leonard Eklund and Mayme Kivi and it looks like it goes with today’s “road trip” theme. I think it was taken either on their wedding day or soon after. They were married June 23, 1931. Even though Leonard lived in Ironwood, Michigan and Mayme was from Kimball, Wisconsin, they were married in Lake Linden, Gogebic County, Michigan up in the Keweenaw Peninsula.