A while ago, I wrote about my husband’s great-grandfather’s story about being sold at the Ohio State Fair and how he changed his name from Clark to Moore. A Clark relative reached out to us recently on Ancestry to find out more information because we had so many matching names in our trees. She was a grand-daughter to Cecil Benjamin Clark, brother to my husband’s great-grandfather, Charles Lloyd Moore. I sent her a packet of papers and pictures along with giving her links to this blog. However, in giving her links to here, I realized that I hadn’t updated my blog with the discoveries I’d make in the Clark/Moore line. So here we are with an update to tell their tale…
William Harrison Clark married Bertha May Wheatley in January 1900 in Piqua, OH. They had six children but only Frances Ethel (1903), Cecil Benjamin (1905), Logan Wayne (1907), & Charles Lloyd (1910) outlived their father. William Harrison Clark moved his family to Mena, Arkansas, in 1911 and there he died 12 June 1914. After his death, Bertha moved back home into Piqua, Ohio, and in June 1916, her children were removed from the mother’s home because she was “unable to properly care for them” and placed into the Knoop Children’s home. There has been a story in the family that one of the sisters of Bertha was a particularly nasty and hateful woman who had a hand in the children’s removal though I’ve never been able to find any reference to this rumor.
I found the children listed in an online index for the Miami County, OH Children’s Home. Clicking each link for the children brought up the date they were admitted to the home and then discharged. Francis was indentured out to a family in Urbana, OH, in 1916 and was re-admitted to the home in April 1918 and then given back to the mother, who had remarried to a Leonard Cruikshank. The following month, May 1918, she reclaimed Logan. However, the two other children, Cecil Benjamin and Charles Lloyd, had different fates. In September of 1916, Charles was given to the Children’s Home Society of Ohio in Columbus for “placement.” In October 1916, Cecil Benjamin was given to the Children’s Home Society for placement as well. I had looked for their records there with the children’s home in Columbus, but I had read there was a fire that was set by the adopted daughter of the man who ran the home there and nothing was left of those records.
The story that Charles Lloyd told the family was that he and his brother were sold at the Ohio State Fair. And while that sounds incredulous to believe, it is somewhat true that the children were routinely subject to “on the spot” adoptions. (You can read more about that here and my email with C. LaVon Shook, the Ohio State Fair historian who confirmed this really happened.) He said that a man took them down south near Kentucky and they lived on his farm. On Charles’ marriage license, Charles’ lists a “Ranzo Moore” as his father. Further research proved his name was actually Lorenzo and he did have a farm in Pomeroy, OH, which is in Meigs County, not too far from Kentucky. In the 1920 census, Charles Lloyd appears in the home of Lorenzo’s sister listed as her nephew but I found no entry for Cecil Benjamin at all. In 1930, Charles Lloyd vanishes from the census but his future wife, Effie May Hinds, is found living next door to Lorenzo Moore on her father’s farm. I believe I found Cecil Benjamin living in Indiana working as a farm laborer which is perhaps the beginning of his migration to Illinois. In 1940, Cecil Benjamin appears in DeWitt, Illinois, married and with two children, which is where he lived the rest of his life. By 1940, Charles had married Effie May Hinds and was living in Dayton, Ohio, with two children. At this point in my research, I don’t know if Cecil Benjamin actually lived with the Moores in Meigs County at all. I want to believe that two little boys would have been a great comfort to each other having been removed from their mother’s home and shuffled through Depression Era children’s homes.
As an adult, Charles Lloyd kept the Moore last name. He had such an apparent regard and fondness for Ranzo Moore, even going so far as to publish an obituary in the paper in Zanesville, Ohio, where he was living, far from where Ranzo actually died. This obituary calls Ranzo his father. I have found no formal adoption papers for Charles nor have I found a name change court order to make his conversion from Clark to Moore. I think he just assumed this name and used it throughout his life, despite his birth certificate said, Clark. Charles reconciled somewhat with his mother and step-father, the Cruikshanks, and appears in several newspaper articles with them at family gatherings and parties, all using the surname Moore. Whatever happened between them or whatever hard feelings they may have had about their years apart, the family appeared to accept and acknowledge that Moore was his chosen name now. Charles and Effie had five children and lots of grandchildren and great-grandchildren. He died in October 1987 in Newark, Ohio, where the many of the (Clark) Moores still reside to this day.
For Cecil Benjamin’s part, I can’t say much because I’ve only tracked him on paper but the relative that reached out to us had said that he was never very forthcoming about his childhood and even gave them an alternative father’s name. I had found an article from August 1957 that says his children had launched a last-ditch effort to find his long-lost family. They traveled to Ohio from Illinois and found the Clark family living in Piqua, Ohio, still. Two of the siblings, Logan and Frances, came back to Illinois to reunite with their missing brother, Cecil Benjamin, after 42 years. I’m not sure if they kept in touch after that, however. Charles Lloyd’s son, Charles Robert, only really remembers meeting Frances and Logan while growing up. But
I had begun researching the Clarks and Moore for my husband’s grandfather, Charles Robert Moore because he’s 81 and I wanted him to know the truth of his father’s tale and to know once and for all if they were really Clarks or Moores. They had kind of blown the story off as far-fetched… and it seemed so at first glance… until you dug further into the details. I’ve exchanged address for Charles Robert’s address and the Illinois Clarks and I sincerely hope that they reach out to each other. It’s never too late to reach out and re-build family bridges… such is the wonderful nature of genealogy!