I have written about my great-grandmother’s sister Helen before (back in 2011). Since this week was about tragedy, I though I would share her story again, and include some newspapers articles I’ve found since 2011 that shed some light on what happened to her.
Helen was born March 14, 1895 in Plymouth, Michigan to Fred and Mina (Bolt) Moore. She had an older brother and sister, Glenn and Mae, and a younger brother, Earl.
Helen was 2-3 years old when she was photographed with her sister and younger brother, shown above. An article from the Northville Record from Friday, April 28, 1899 says, “The four-year-old daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Fred Moore of Plymouth was seriously burned in that village last week Friday. Her clothes caught from a burning bon-fire near which she was playing.” So that would mean the accident occurred on Friday, April 21, 1899.
Another article from the April 28, 1899 issue of the Yale Expositor also said she was burned when her clothes caught fire from a bonfire. That paper said, however, that “she may live but will be disfigured for life.”
Helen died on May 1, 1899 at about six in the morning in Plymouth, MI. Her death certificate says she suffered a severe burn 10 days before. The disease causing death was listed as a sympathetic fever, which she had been enduring for 48 hours, and the immediate cause of death was listed as a hemorrhage.
I love this picture of my great-great grandmother laughing. It’s fun to imagine who or what she is laughing at and what the occasion was. Maybe a picnic? The picture below shows from left, my great-great grandmother Mina (Bolt) Moore Thompson, Jessie (Johnson) Bodington, the sister-in-law of my great-grandmother, and my great-grandmother Mae (Moore) Johnson. I think this picture was taken sometime in the 1930s, since Jessie came over from England in 1929.
My great-grandmother Mae Moore Johnson and her 3rd husband Alfred Johnson were married in 1925. They used to take the bus to Florida for the winters in the 1950s (not sure exactly how many years they did this). I’m lucky to have the postcards they sent my mother from their trip in the winter of 1959.
First postcard of the trip, postmarked Feb. 25, 1959, Charleston WV
Second postcard, postmarked Feb. 26, 1959, Charlotte, NC
Third postcard, postmarked Feb. 27, 1959, Orlando, FL
Third postcard, postmarked Mar. 6, 1959, Orlando, FL
Fourth postcard, postmarked Mar. 9, 1959, Orlando, FL
Fifth postcard, postmarked Mar. 16, 1959, Miami, FL
Sixth postcard, postmarked Mar. 28, 1959, Miami, FL
Last postcard, postmarked Apr. 13, 1959, Saint Petersburg, FL
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 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.
It’s often surprising in my research when I find that my ancestors had more children than I thought they did. One example is my great-great grandparents Fred and Mina Moore. They were married in September 1885 in Plymouth, Michigan. They had a child I didn’t know about named Hazel, who was born January 5, 1888 and died August 1, 1888 of cholera. She is listed as male in her death registration, but female in her birth registration.
Mina Adell Bolt Moore Thompson, my great-great grandmother, lived for years with Bert Thompson while still married to my great-great grandfather Fred Moore! She and Bert were officially married about three weeks after Fred’s death.
Mina A. Bolt and Fred L. Moore were married on September 10, 1885 in Plymouth, Michigan. They had five children between 1888 and 1897. Two daughters died before 1900. Two sons, Glenn and Earl, and another daughter, Mae, survived into adulthood. In 1900, the family was living in Plymouth and Fred was a railroad freight agent.
I’m not sure what happened to the marriage between 1900 and 1910, but in the 1910 Detroit City Directory, Mina was listed as widowed. In the 1910 Federal Census, she was listed as married and was boarding with her daughter Mae. She was listed as the housekeeper for the head of the household, Alta Fisher.
Sometime between 1910 and 1918, Mina met Bert Thompson. She was listed as his wife on his September 12, 1918 WWI Draft Registration card. And they were living at 370 Maple Ave. in Plymouth. Meanwhile, in 1919, Fred was selling grapes in Benton Harbor, Michigan.
In 1920, Bert and Mina were living as husband and wife on Columbia in Dearborn, while Fred was listed as divorced and living as a roomer with the Dean family in Benton Harbor. By March 1923, Fred was living in the Berrien County Poor Home. He died on November 4, 1924. On his death certificate, he was listed as widowed and his son Glenn was the informant.
This is odd, because Glenn’s mother Mina, was alive and well and married Bert Thompson in Toledo, Ohio on November 22, 1924. She was listed as divorced, but I’m not sure that Fred and Mina were ever legally divorced. Ancestors always keep you guessing!
Andrew Lowell Moore is one of my great-great-great grandfathers. He was born February 13, 1830 to John and Clarissa (Sparks) Moore in Mt. Washington, Massachusetts, which is located in the southwest corner of the state. In the 1850 U.S. Census, the family was living in Batavia, Genesee, New York (about 40 miles east of Buffalo). John was aged 59 and a farmer with $4000 in real estate. His wife Clarissa was 55. There oldest child was also named Clarissa and was 22. Andrew was 20, while George was 17. The youngest daughter was named Sabra Ann and was 12. All were born in Massachusetts, except John who was born in New York. John and Clarissa also had 6 older children, already out of the house, named Abigail, Betsey, Benjamin, Michael, Louisa, and John.
Andrew married Mary J. Lyman in Stafford, Genesee, New York on September 6, 1855. In 1860, Andrew, Mary, and their 11-month-old son Lee were living in Pembroke, Genesee County. Andrew was a farmer.
By 1870, the family had moved to Little Rock, Kendall, Illinois. Andrew was now a druggist with a personal estate of $1500. Lee was 10 years old. They had a son Fred (my great-great grandfather) who was 7 and had been born in Michigan. They also had a daughter Cora Libbie who was 7 months old.
In 1880, Andrew, Mary, and their youngest daughter Mary Frances, 2 years old, were boarders at widow Eliza Haines home in Plymouth, Michigan. Andrew was a general store keeper. Lee was back in Plano, Kendall, Illinois as a store clerk, while Fred was living in Stafford back in New York with his maternal grandmother Sarah. Cora had died in August 1870. I wonder why the family was spread across the country? It is interesting to note that Fred married my great-great grandmother in Plymouth, Michigan in 1885, so somehow he ended up there.
In 1900, Andrew, Mary and Mary “Mae” Frances were living in Sandwich, De Kalb, Illinois along with a boarder named Francis Newton. Andrew was a druggist and Francis was a drug salesman. Mae and Francis eventually married.
Andrew’s wife, Mary, died on March 31, 1904 and was buried in Oak Ridge Cemetery in Sandwich. In 1910, Andrew was living with his daughter Mae and her husband Francis who now was a proprietor of a drug store. He died at the age of 88 on October 3, 1918 and was buried next to his wife.
52 Ancestors #32 – One of 32 3rd Great Grandparents
A challenging ancestor to research has been Fred L. Moore, my great-great grandfather. The challenge came from a combination of misinformation and my own assumptions.
I first discovered his name from my great-grandmother Mae’s birth certificate. Then I found him in her marriage records. From there, I discovered his 1885 marriage certificate and the 1900 census in Plymouth, Michigan. After that came the confusion!
In the 1910 U.S. Federal Census, as mentioned in the previous post, Fred’s wife Mina was boarding with her daughter Mae at a place in Detroit. She was listed as married. In the 1910 Detroit City Directory, Mina was listed as a widow. This made me think that Fred had died in 1909ish. In 1918, she was listed as Bert Thompson’s wife on his WWI Draft Registration. However, I have Mina and Bert’s marriage certificate and it lists their marriage date as November 24, 1924 in Toledo, Ohio. Hmm. 6 years after she is first mentioned as Bert’s wife and in Ohio?
So I went another direction. I researched Mae’s brother, Glenn Bolt Moore. He was also called Fred and worked on the railroad like his father. He lived in New Buffalo, Michigan. Poking around on SeekingMichigan.org, I found Fred Moore’s death certificate with Glenn B. Moore listed as the informant. Fred didn’t die in 1909. In fact, he didn’t die until November 4, 1924. Which explains why his estranged wife didn’t remarry until late November 1924. They were, for lack of a better term, waiting for him to die.
Now that I knew Fred was living in Berrien County, I could narrow my searching. I found a few interesting newspaper articles detailing what he was up to in the 1910s and 1920s.
According to the March 22, 1923 issue of the Benton Harbor News-Palladium, Fred was a resident of the Berrien County Poor Home (also called the Berrien County Infirmary). According to Deanna West, “Through the years the farm became a colony within itself with orchards, vegetable gardens, corn and grain fields, barns, cows, chickens and pigs. Everyone who was physically capable did chores that they could manage. One couple that managed the farm in 1924 and several years after, were Mr. & Mrs. Edward Israel, who became very well known in the area.” On his death certificate, it notes that Fred died at the Berrien County Infirmary at the age of 61 of “chronic paresis” which is defined as “a condition typified by a weakness of voluntary movement” including limbs, eyes, stomach, or vocal cords. To add to the confusion, it says he is widowed, even though Mina didn’t die until 1942.
So I guess the moral of the story is don’t assume someone is dead just because a city directory says his wife is a widow!
“20 Years Ago.” The News-Palladium (Benton Harbor, Michigan). 12 Nov 1940, Tue. Page 2.
Death Certificate for Fred Moore, Berrien County. http://seekingmichigan.contentdm.oclc.org/cdm/ref/collection/
“For Sale – Grapes.” The News-Palladium (Benton Harbor, Michigan). 10 Sep 1919, Wed. Page 3.