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.
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.
Joseph Ralph Smiechowski was my great-grandmother’s (Mae Moore Oakes) second husband. They were married in 1916 in Detroit, Michigan. I have found his last name spelled a few different ways, including Smiechowsky and Smilchowski.
Joseph was born 6 September 1893 in Detroit to Wladyslaw (Walter) Smiechowski and Eva Wolff. He had one brother Edward (born 1895) and two sisters, Amelia (born 1898) and Anna (born 1900). In the 1900 census, the family was living on St. Joseph St. in Detroit. In the 1910 census, they were living on Theodore Street. Joseph was 16 and employed as a shipping clerk at a tannery. On 19 June 1916, Joseph and my great-grandmother, Mae, were married in Detroit. One of the witnesses was her brother, Earl Moore. Mae had a daughter, Helen, who turned four years old on their wedding day. On his World War I draft registration card, dated 1 June 1917, Joseph is described as medium height, stout, with blue eyes and light hair. He lists his dependents as a “wife and child 5 yrs old.” In various documents, his occupation is listed as decorator or painter.
In the 1920 census, the little family was living on Sheridan Street in Detroit. My grandmother Helen was listed as Helen Smiechowski, instead of Helen Oakes and as Joseph’s daughter instead of step-daughter.
Mae filed for divorce on 17 December 1924 and the divorce was granted on 11 May 1925. Causes listed were extreme cruelty and non-support. Mae went on to marry her third husband Alfred Johnson in July 1925.
In the 1930 census, Joseph was living with his parents on Pressler Street in Detroit.
I recently found his death certificate on the SeekingMichigan.org site. Joseph died 21 Sept 1936. His place of death is listed as Motor Boat Lane, Detroit, Michigan. This road appears to be next to a marina or an inlet of the Detroit River near the Manoogian Mansion. His cause of death was “asphyxiation by suffocation drowning.” His father Walter is listed as the informant. His address was 6629 Burns, and I assume Joseph was living there at the time of his death, but the certificate lists his address as unknown. Burns Street was only about 5 or 6 blocks over from Motor Boat Lane. I had no idea when I started looking for his death date, that Mr. Smiechowski had come to such a tragic end.
“Michigan Marriages, 1868-1925,” database with images, FamilySearch(https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:N3TS-CLW : accessed 5 January 2016), Joseph R. Smiechowski and Mae D Moore Oakes, 19 Jun 1916; citing Detroit, Wayne, Michigan, v 6 p 443 rn 131966, Department of Vital Records, Lansing; FHL microfilm 2,342,718.
“United States World War I Draft Registration Cards, 1917-1918,” database with images,FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:K6XQ-4NM : accessed 5 January 2016), Joseph Ralph Smiechowski, 1917-1918; citing Detroit City, Michigan, United States, NARA microfilm publication M1509 (Washington D.C.: National Archives and Records Administration, n.d.); FHL microfilm 1,675,371.
“United States Census, 1920,” database with images, FamilySearch(https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:MZW1-7LF : accessed 5 January 2016), Joseph Smilchowski, Detroit Ward 17, Wayne, Michigan, United States; citing sheet 20A, NARA microfilm publication T625 (Washington D.C.: National Archives and Records Administration, n.d.); FHL microfilm 1,820,816.
My great-grandmother was married three times, which surprised my mother who always thought she was the sweetest lady and how could she have married three men? Third times a charm, I think, because she was married to her third husband, Alfred Johnson, for 46 years until her death.
Mae Dillon Moore was born in Plymouth, Michigan on May 18, 1892 to Fred and Mina (Bolt) Moore. She had two brothers, Glenn and Earl and a sister Helen. On December 23, 1908 at the age of 16, she married William E. Oakes. In the 1910 U.S. Census, she and her mother, Mina, are living as lodgers in the home of Alta Fisher on W. Elizabeth St. in Detroit. I haven’t found her husband William yet in the 1910 census, but obviously they were living apart. However, my grandmother, Helen Dorothy Oakes, was born on June 19, 1912, so we know it wasn’t a permanent separation! Mae filed for divorce from William on August 31, 1914 for cruelty and non-support. The divorce was final on July 13, 1915. William died in 1928.
Mae married Joseph R. Smiechowski on June 19, 1916, her daughter Helen’s fourth birthday. Mae’s brother Earl was one of the witnesses. In the 1920 U.S. census, Joseph, Mae, and Helen are living at 1521 Sheridan Avenue in Detroit. My grandmother was listed as Helen Smiechowski. Joseph was a painter whose father was from Poland. Mae filed for divorce from Joseph on December 17, 1924 for extreme cruelty and non-support. The divorce was final on May 11, 1925. Joseph died in 1936.
Coincidentally (or not), Mae’s third husband Alfred was married to Cecelia Martin and their divorce was finalized on December 8, 1924, just days before Mae filed for divorce from her second husband. Hmm. Mae and Alfred were married July 3, 1925 (less than two months after her divorce). They lived at 14810 Parkgrove in Detroit for over forty years. They had no children. Mae died on June 6, 1971 of colon cancer and Alfred died January 27, 1975 of spinal cancer. They are buried in Forest Lawn Cemetery in Detroit.