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.
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.
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!
This week, I’ll be looking at my 4th great-uncle, Seneca W. Everitt, who was born on December 26, 1838 in Portage, Ohio. He was the son of George B. Everitt and Roseann Elrick/Eldridge. He was the brother of my great-great-great grandmother, Mary J. Everitt Bolt (1837-1918). By 1850, the family, including 8 children, were living in Livonia, Michigan. Seneca was 11 years old.
In 1860, Seneca was 22 years old and was a houseman for Henry O. Hanford. Hanford, whose real estate was valued at $7,430 and personal estate was valued at $3,944 at the time, lived in Plymouth with his first wife Margaret, their son James, and his parents Jesse and Eunice. Also living in the household was a housegirl, Henriette Phelps, and two more housemen, William Rhoads and John Pool. According to Silas Farmer, Hanford owned a nearly 300-acre farm, was Township Clerk of Plymouth, Justice of the Peace of Canton, and chairman of the executive committee of the Michigan State Agricultural Society.
In 1870, Seneca was living with his parents and his youngest brother Edward in Livonia. Seneca worked on a farm and had a personal estate value of $600. On January 5, 1874, Seneca married Jennie Adams (Jane Westfall Adams) in Northville. Jennie had been previously married to William J. Adams and had three children. Jennie was also the first cousin of the spouses of two of Seneca’s siblings. His sister Rachel had married Orson Westfall and his brother Isaac had married Orson’s sister Mary Jane Westfall.
In 1880, Seneca and Jennie lived in Plymouth and he was employed as a carpenter. In 1893 and 1905, Seneca’s property can be seen on land ownership maps on Plank Road (now Main Street) in Plymouth, next to the Markham Air Rifle Works.
In 1910, Seneca and Jane were living on South Main Street in Plymouth. In 1920, they were living at 412 Starkweather Street in Plymouth. Seneca died of senility and apoplexy on March 3, 1924 at the age of 85. He was buried in Plymouth’s Riverside Cemetery. Jane died in May 1927 at the age of 91.
Mildred Wade was the wife of my 1st cousin 4x removed, William I. Bolt. She was born July 22, 1856 in Hillsdale, Michigan. Both her parents died by 1870 and she went to live with her grandmother in Geneva, Ohio. In 1877, she married William I. Bolt in Jackson, Michigan. William was my great-great-great grandfather William D. Bolt’s nephew and the son of Isaiah Bolt. William was a plumber and Mildred was a teacher of elocution in Detroit. They lived at 1191 Jefferson Ave. In 1888, she founded the Detroit School of Expression and became its principal.
In what must’ve been the annual back-to-school issue on Wednesday, August 29, 1906, the Detroit Free Press devoted a large section to “Schools and Colleges of the Northwest.” The paragraph describing Mildred’s school is as follows:
Mrs. Mildred A. Bolt, principal of the Detroit School of Expression, is not only a teacher of the highest ability, but she possesses those invaluable qualities of earnestness and enthusiasm which seem to be transmitted to her pupils, inspiring them to greater diligence and higher aims.
Mrs. Bolt studied elocution with Prof. Moses True Brown, of Boston; attended lectures under Prof. S. H. Clarke, at Chicago University and graduated from the Detroit Training School, where she studied under Mrs. Edna Chaffee Noble.
Under her immediate direction is a staff of highly efficient teachers, who assist her in conducting the classes in elocution, English literature, Delsarte, philosophy, Shakespearian study, voice training, dramatic reading, criticism, physical culture, deportment and general literature.
Five new teachers will be added to the faculty this year, making it possible to give an increased amount of personal attention to each student. The Detroit School of Expression is located in one of Detroit’s finest residence sections, 1191-1195 Jefferson avenue, and was established by Mrs. Bolt in 1888.
William died at the age of 50 in 1907. Mildred’s home continued to be at 1191 Jefferson until at least 1920. Mildred was well-known in Detroit society and was involved in the Detroit Shakespeare Club. She died of uterine cancer on July 24, 1922 at 3578 Joseph Campau, which was the home of Dr. and Mrs. Siefert. Louise Siefert was the Secretary-Treasurer of the school. I’m glad Mildred had a friend to go to at the end.
Mildred and William were buried in Detroit’s Woodlawn Cemetery.
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.
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!
Citations: “20 Years Ago.” The News-Palladium (Benton Harbor, Michigan). 12 Nov 1940, Tue. Page 2.