Dark Secrets, Part 2

Dale Walton Stewart's Death Certificate

The elusive Dale Walton Stewart’s long awaited death certificate.

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.

My DAR Meeting

CIRCA 1949 - young womenI met with the local DAR chapter president today and I’m so, so excited.  I have been working on gathering my necessary documents to prove my lineage and she said I have a big chunk of it already!  I’m so happy.  This has been a personal goal of mine for a very long time and I’m so close.

Someone asked me why I wanted to belong to the DAR so badly and today I discussed it with her at lunch – if we don’t remember our ancestors and honor them by telling their life stories, however big or small they may be, then who will?  History books in the schools already leave out so many important facts and details; if we don’t keep perpetuating our ancestor’s histories, they’ll be lost in time to just vague scholastic blurbs in textbooks.  They deserve better than that.

Genealogical Serendipity

This is where my heart lies.

This is where my heart lies.

I was born and raised in central Ohio and for the most part, I enjoyed living there because that’s really all I ever knew aside from multiple trips to Walt Disney World in Florida.  We didn’t really go, well, anywhere.  In my family it seemed like once you were in Ohio, you stayed in Ohio.  Small town life there wasn’t especially exciting but it was “acceptable”. My parents, my in-law, our daughter & my sister’s family all still live in Ohio.

While it’s nice to go back and visit Ohio, I always feel the draw of New York on my heart for my home.  You see, my husband threw a wrench in my life in 2009 by joining the military and we were subsequently stationed at the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, NY.  I wasn’t exploring my family tree then and I knew little about the deep roots that lie waiting for me, quite nearly, right under my very feet.  

Uncovering Dark Secrets in Your Family Trees

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….