Friday, July 1, 2016

Myers Family A - Stubborn Henry

Last time, we began looking at the first of two Myers families. Sarah Ferguson, the daughter of Eliza (Callin) Ferguson, married Daniel Myers, and they had four sons. We looked at the descendants of their eldest son, Samuel Ralston Myers, and now we will kick off with his brother:

     II. Henry Tilman Myers (1868–1918) grew up on his father's farm in Perry township, Allen county, Indiana, and he married Frances "Fannie" Thompson (1879–1908) on 12 May 1898. They moved to Union township in neighboring De Kalb county, where Henry worked as a teamster.

Remember, that is a job that was changing drastically during Henry's lifetime. When he started out, he was probably still working with teams of horses pulling wagon loads of timber; by the mid 1910s, it was more likely that he was working with trucks or tractors.

Found on

As you can tell from the obituary linked here, Henry met his end in 1918, after what appears to have been a frustrating day at work. He was only 50 years old, though at this point he would have been driving loads of timber for twenty years; and after making a delivery of heavy timber to the work site, he probably just wanted to stand out of the way and rest. I know that I don't respond well when I'm tired, and people keep yelling at me, so while the newspaper makes it clear that Henry was stubbornly ignoring warnings to get out of the danger zone, I can't help thinking that he was just confused and annoyed.

This article was important to my research, because finding records to tell the story of Henry's life had been difficult, and until I saw this article, I had no idea whether he and Fannie had any children. Even this obituary isn't as helpful as it could be, since it says he was "survived by the widow, five children" but appears to list six children and not name his widow. Which means that after Fannie's death in 1908, Henry re-married, but crucial details like his second wife's name are lacking. Piecing this puzzle together meant working backwards from limited information, complicated by the fact that there was more than one Henry Myers in Indiana at the time.

To the best of my abilities, here is what I think I figured out:

     A. Ruth Mabel Myers (1899–1958) was surprisingly difficult to research, and there are some gaps in the records that raise questions about where she was for long periods of time. In most records, she is referred to as Mabel, though she seems to have preferred to be called Ruth after the 1930s. When her mother died in 1908, Mabel would have been just 9 years old, and three of her younger siblings (Hubert, Ford, and Oleva) were listed in the household of grandparents Daniel and Sarah Myers in 1910, Mabel and her other sister, Marie, were not. Henry moved in with his younger brother, Edward.

Mabel married Harry Paul Clement (1892–1933) on 11 March 1916; their marriage certificate is the only record I found that listed her birth date as 29 March 1897. Most records say 29 March 1899, and the earlier date would be unlikely, since her parents weren't married until May 1898. That means she and Harry wanted to get married when she was only 16, and the couple probably didn't want to have to seek her father's consent.

They had one child, a daughter, when they were together, but they soon divorced, and Mabel remarried to Arnold R. Wolf (b. 1898) in December 1921. They also divorced, some time after 1925, and Mabel (now preferring the name Ruth) was married to Walter James Baker (1894–1971) by 1940. He was a widower with several grown children, and he and Ruth were still together when Ruth died of rectal cancer in 1958.

     1. Kathryn Maxine Clement (1917–1995) seems to have preferred a quieter life than her mother's. She lived for some time with her aunt, Oleva, appearing in the Zimmerman household in 1930. She married Carl E Beam (1909–1990) around 1935, and they stayed together in the Fort Wayne area for the next 55 years. Carl worked as a bottler for the Falstaff brewery for 32 years, retiring in 1967. He died of respiratory failure after suffering from chronic lung disease which developed into pneumonia. Kathryn died of mesothelioma in 1995, leaving behind a son, a daughter, six grandchildren, and four great-grandchildren.

     B. Hubert J Myers (1900–1974) was something of an outlaw. After the 1910 Census, when he appears in his grandparents home, there isn't much in the way of recorded evidence that he was around, except for a few mentions in the Fort Wayne newspapers. In 1922, he was fined $5 for public intoxication, along with several friends. Ten years later, he was sentenced to 180 days "at the state farm" for selling a stolen car. By 1940, he seems to have married and settled down to work as a bartender. His wife's name was Flossie, but other than a 1907 birth date, I don't know much about her. They were together through at least 1945; his death certificate says he was widowed. He died of intestinal cancer in 1974.

Ford R and Edith Myers headstone
Lindenwood Cemetery, Fort Wayne, IN
     C. Ford Ruford Myers (1902–1960) is someone about whom I still know very little for all the records I was able to locate. His father's obituary seems to be the only place his name is recorded as "Rutherford," and he usually appears as "Ford R."

The U.S. City Directories database records for Fort Wayne show a Ford R Myers working as a "wire drawer" or "tinsel operator" for many years. He married Helen Ethel Willson (b. 1901) in October 1925, and they were together through at least 1930, though I have been unable to locate a Census record (which would tell us whether they had any children). He seems to have been married to a Florence (Souder) Bullerman (1906-1989) in 1939, but she appeared in the 1940 Census living in her parents' home (under the name Myers), and Ford's directory listings in the early 1940s show him living with Edith (1906-1968), who is buried next to him in Lindenwood Cemetery in Fort Wayne.

As with his brother, I can't tell whether Ford left behind any progeny.

     D. Minerva Marie Myers (1905–1998) married Edward Lawrence Welch (1903–1944) on 14 August 1922, when she was still 16. Edward and Marie raised two sons together, and Edward worked for the Fort Wayne Drug Co. until his death from a coronary embolism at the age of 41. She remarried to a Mr. Dunn who preceded her in death, as did both of her sons. Marie died of a sudden stroke at the age of 92.

     1. Edward Lawrence Welch Jr (1923–1976) served in the U.S. Army's new Air Corps from 27 November 1942 to 13 January 1946. After the war, I am unable to locate any information about where he went or what he did, though I presume he remained in the Fort Wayne area for the following 30 years, as the U.S. military and Social Security files indicate that's where he died.

     2. Arnold Leroy Welch (1925–1987) enlisted a year after his brother did, serving in the U.S. Army from 17 November 1943 to 20 January 1946. He married on 2 December 1952, and he and his wife raised a daughter in the Fort Wayne area. Arnold died of colon cancer in 1987; his wife survived him and is still living.

     a. Joanna Lee Welch (1953–1990) died very young, leaving behind a new husband and a career as a hotel manager. Her death certificate indicated the cause of death being due to intravenous drug use, but without more details, I wouldn't want to speculate or moralize about that. She was married briefly when she was eighteen, and had just remarried a couple of years before her death, not long after her father died.

     E. Oleva Gertrude Myers (1907–1996) was the most elusive of Henry and Fannie's five children to track down. It would seem that the obituary that named her was confused about her name, but after piecing together a number of records, I'm satisfied that I have the right person. Of course, nothing about this family was easy to figure out, so please bear with me. I think this is what happened:

Oleva married Sherman L Zimmerman (1904–1956) around 1924, and they had three children before 1930; a daughter, and two sons. Oleva and Sherman divorced at some point, and from what I can tell, the two younger children, Donna and Harold, were adopted by Ralph and Elsie Yarde. Sherman remarried and had seven more children (three sons, four daughters) with his second wife, Mary Imogene Likes (1923-1957). Sherman died from a cerebral abscess in 1956, and Mary was killed in a car accident a year later.

Oleva had remarried to Arthur F Everett (1910–1993) by 1940, and Henry Zimmerman lived with them for a time. She outlived her husband by three years, then died at age 90 of a heart attack, leaving behind 10 grandchildren, 14 great-grandchildren and 5 great-great-grandchildren.

     a. Henry Clayton Zimmerman (1925–2002) married Marilyn E Glasgow (1926–1975), probably around 1968, and they had one daughter, who is still living. He did remarry in 1977, after Marilyn's death, and his second wife is also still alive today. Interestingly, that second wife was also married to Henry's brother, Harold.

     b. Donna Louise (Zimmerman) Yarde (1926–1998) married Edgar Dale Grabill (1923–2006) on 29 December 1946, and they raised three daughters and a son, all still living. Edgar and Donna raised their kids in the Goshen area, and moved to La Otto in Noble county later. Donna eventually succumbed to heart disease.

     c. Harold L (Zimmerman) Yarde (1928–1990) married Beverly G Nelson (1930–2010) on 4 June 1949, and they had four children over the following five years; a son and three daughters. In March 1955, Beverly filed for divorce, and in July, so did Harold. In September, the judge awarded custody of one of the children to Beverly, and required Harold to pay child support in the amount of $7 a week.

By December 1955, Harold was remarried; his second wife later married his brother, Henry, in 1977. I don't know how long they were together, but Harold married twice more in 1978 and 1979. His third wife was Gladys O (Smith) Durham (1921–2011), and their marriage did not last long, but Anna Jean "Oma Jean" Vanover (1933–2002) moved with Harold to Nashville, where they were together at his death.

     i. Sheryl Lynn Yarde (1954–2012) was the youngest of Harold's four children. She seems to have suffered from kidney disease, and left behind two grown sons and a grand-daughter.

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When one does this kind of research as a hobby, it's easy to think of every mystery solved as a masterpiece worthy of Sherlock and Batman, even though most of the time the most difficult challenge comes from figuring out how to fish facts out of a new database. This family, though, represented a crazy quilt of half-correct clues, missing records, and logical leaps that left me scratching my head (and not just from the shingles).

I'm not complaining. This is what I do for fun, after all. But each of Henry's children presented a new set of questions to untangle one piece of evidence at a time. Except for Hubert and Oleva, all of them used their middle names, and Oleva's name was rendered as everything from "Olive" to "Alevia" in her records. Their relationships took unexpected, and sometimes bitter, turns; and I had to keep digging for tiny clues that would unlock the next fact until I pieced it all together. For all that, I still have no idea who Henry's widow was!

But now that I've solved most of the mysteries here, I feel the usual hesitation about publicizing what might have represented some difficult childhood experiences for the surviving cousins who might read this. I always hope that for the families involved, nothing I've found in the public record is considered a secret, and that no one is hurt by what I've uncovered.

I know that my grandmother would have been uncomfortable talking about things like divorce and adoptions, and it could be that a distant cousin might be disturbed by something that was hidden or forgotten which they find out about through my blog. That is never my intent, but I have to take the approach that if I can find the evidence on the Internet, then the truth is already "out there" waiting to be discovered. In the case of this post, much of that evidence came from digitized archives of the Garrett Clipper on - which you can see at this link.

Of course, if I simply got things wrong, I'm always happy to make corrections. If you have evidence that helps me correct my records, please contact me and let me know. You can comment below, email me (I'm "callintad" on Gmail), or join the Callin Family History Facebook group and say hello!

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