It would seem that what I initially thought could have been semi-scandalous and involved star-crossed lovers running away together, was probably more likely that her father was at his sister’s deathbed and sent the brother Jacob in his stead to sign her marriage application.
I have written before about the tragic trail of suicides in the Stewart side of my family HERE and again HERE. I wasn’t prepared for the surprise I found on Ancestry this past month regarding a sister & brother of my third great grandfather William H. Stewart, who was the one who killed his wife and then shot himself in the out kitchen/ice storage of the Columbia Hotel in Caldwell, Ohio in 1914.
I was tying up a few loose leaves on my tree and stumbled upon yet another suicide – this time, the sister of William H. Stewart, named Anna May Barnes. Anna was born in 1876 in Muskingum County, Ohio near Hopewell.
Awhile ago I wrote about the story in my husband’s family about their one great grandfather being “sold” at the Ohio State Fair to a farmer down near the southern Ohio border. Turns out, that this very thing, however unbelievable and far fetched, is absolutely, 100% true.
I reached out on a whim to the Ohio State Fair administration office and they answered within 24 hours. The Ohio State Fair has a historian named C. LaVon Shook and he wrote a book entitled A History of the Ohio State Fair in which he documents the Children’s Home Society offering “on the spot” adoptions of children. There was even an article in the Columbus Dispatch! (see below!)
If you read my very first post here talking about Uncovering Dark Secrets in Your Family Tree, I ended it with “to be continued” and I finally received the paperwork I was waiting for to finish my sorrowful tale of my great-great grandmother Esther (Archer) Stewart and her family.
Esther’s son, Dale Walton Stewart, had been a near ghost on my tree for some time. I couldn’t find hardly anything on him at all. I only had 2 census records, an Ohio birth index listing and a listing from the Ohio Boy’s Industrial School where he was placed after his parent’s murder/suicide in 1914. No phone numbers, no addresses, no military listings that I could positively identify as “him”….just a phantom floating through my tree.
Sometimes there are dark things in your family tree that aren’t talked about – things that when you stumble upon them positively blow you away. Such a thing happened to me about a month ago when I was meandering down the Archer branch of my tree. The deeper I dig, the more enthralled I become.
As a child, I knew “something bad” had happened to my great-grandfather, Glenn Archer Stewart. My great-grandma Rosa May Stewart had lived with a man named Leonard Hochmuth for eons and while he loved me as a grandchild, I never called him grandpa as I just knew he wasn’t my “real” grandpa but I usually never gave it much thought. When I was in my teens, I heard a relative talking about how my real great-grandfather killed himself. It’s stuck with me all these years but I knew better than to ask further. Naturally, when I began researching my tree, he was one of the very first I searched after. I found him mentioned a record from the Ohio Boy’s Industrial School along with the name of his mother, Esther Iona Stewart. I promptly sent away for a copy of his record and when it came, the details were scant at best but I saw a notation that he was “homeless”. I saw his younger brother was also placed in the Boy’s Industrial School at the same time. So I began digging into why they were homeless….