Smoky Mountain Family Historian

Thursday, June 27, 2013

A Shocking Discovery

Have you ever made a discovery that really surprised you? I did that yesterday as I was researching one of my grandfather's sisters yesterday. What was the shocking discovery? That her husband had been previously married and divorced. Obviously our family did a good job covering up that bit of information. I honestly don't believe that my Mom ever knew it. She never mentioned it, and she wasn't the type to hold back information. In fact, she would often tell me stuff she knew other people in the family sometimes wanted to cover up. Since Mom is gone, I decided to call my Dad to see what he knew about the situation. I shocked him too. He also believes Mom never knew anything about it.

Emma Lantz was born 10 Feb 1881 in McLean County, Illinois. The family moved to Monroe County, Mississippi in 1896 with an Amish settlement. My great-grandfather Abraham Lantz had left the Amish church and had married a Methodist woman, Laura Lucy Taylor. The attended the Christian Church in their community and continued to worship with the Christian Church after moving to Mississippi. However, it is apparent that he maintained ties with the Amish as he came to Mississippi with the failed settlement in Gibson, Monroe County, Mississippi. His son Abe actually taught in the Amish school. It is frequently referred to as the Lantz School in county histories. Emma married Harry Eugene Hosmer (born 1871 in LaSalle County, Wisconsin) on 23 Aug 1905 in Monroe County, Mississippi.(1) I knew that they had lived in Telfair County, Georgia, and I had at least one of the census records for them before yesterday. It was a systematic review of my data that made me realize that this was not his first marriage.

It was the 1910 census(2) that tipped me off:

Hosmer, Hary E., head, M, W, 38, M2, 4, Wisc., NY, NY, machinist
--, Irma M., wife, F, W, 28, M1, Ill., Pa., Pa.
--, John E., son, M, W, 11, --, MS, MS, MS

That was a bit inconclusive. Why did it say John's father was born in Mississippi while Harry was born in Wisconsin? Emma's name was incorrect, as well as the locations where her parents were born. (Her father was born in Ohio, and her mother was born in Illinois. Her paternal grandparents, however, were both born in Pennsylvania.) Was John perhaps adopted? However, Harry had definitely been married previously according to this census.

I decided to keep following the family through on the census before backing up to find his first marriage. The 1920 census revealed a brother, DeWit C. Hosmer, living with Harry & Emma in Helena, Telfair County, Georgia.(3)

I found Harry and Emma living in Miami, Florida according to the 1925 and 1928 Miami City Directories.(4)(5) He was in the grocery business at the time. Incidentally, there is also a Eugene in the 1925 directory who is a carpenter. [This will be important later.]

By 1930, they are back in Telfair County, Georgia, just outside of Helena, where they are residing with and working for William N. Barrows on his farm.(6) [Their ages are drastically incorrect in this census, but it has to be them.]

It took me awhile to locate them in the 1940 census, but I finally located them at 227 College Avenue in Douglas, Coffee County, Georgia, where Emma is listed as head of household and Harry is "absent."(7) They apparently lived in Eastman, Dodge County, Georgia in 1935.

It was now time to go back and find an earlier marriage for Harry. I found it in Clay County, Mississippi, which is adjacent to Monroe County. In fact, the part of Monroe County in which Emma Lantz, his second wife, lived is almost adjacent to the Clay County line so this was not a surprising place. He married "Essia Coleson" on 20 Feb 1898 there.(8) Her name appears to have actually been Essie, so this was likely a transcription error in the database. One other comment about the database is that I would not be surprised if this is not the date that the certificate was issued rather than the date of the actual marriage. I need to either go to the courthouse in West Point or have my nephew who lives in West Point do that for me to obtain a copy from the marriage books. I have been unable to locate Harry, Essie, and John in the 1900 census.

Since John E. was living with his father and step-mother, I wanted to assume that Harry was a widower when he married Emma, but I know we can never assume anything so I began to search for Essie Coleson's name.

My first piece of information came via the American Genealogical and Biographical Index (AGBI). I found an entry referring to a 1916 family history which I was able to locate full-text online. The entry for Harry Eugene Hosmer reads:

Harry Eugene Hosmer, b. Oct. 28, 1871; resides in Birmingham, Ala. Married at West Point, Miss., Feb. 20, 1898, Essie M. Coleson, b. Jan. 8, 1881. Children, b. at West Point: 1. John Eugene, b. Apr. 12, 1899; 2. Hazel Nellie, b. Mar. 17, 1901.(9)

Let's analyze this. Harry was living in Birmingham, Alabama, at the time the information for the book was collected. This was a location which I did not previously have. The information was presumably collected before August 1905 since Harry married Emma Lantz then, and she would have appeared in the narrative. If the information was collected after August 1905, the submitter did not know about Harry's second marriage. Harry and Essie had a second child that I had not found in censuses with Harry. There is no indication that Essie died in childbirth or that Hazel Nellie is deceased. It's now time to see if I can find Essie and Hazel in other censuses.

I was able to find them in the 1920 census where they are living in a boardinghouse type of establishment in ward 20 of St. Louis, Missouri. The head of the household is Clarence Greenlaw. There is a rather long list of boarders, both male and female, and from a variety of occupations in the household.

Hosmer, Hazel, lodger, F, W, 18, S, MS, WI, IL, waitress, hospital
Hosmer, Essie, lodger, F, W, 39, D, IL, IL, IL, trainer, millinery(10)

Until I discovered this entry, I did not know for sure whether Essie may have died before 1905 or if she and Harry had divorced. I did not know for certain that Hazel had survived childhood.

I began to try to find them in the 1910 census and failed. I decided to try some of the online trees for clues. A few of them provided an undocumented claim that Essie (aka Esther Mills Coleson) married Eugene Hollingsworth on 8 May 1905 in Dallas, Tarrant County, Texas. I continued to try to locate Essie and Hazel with this new surname in the 1910 census, but I have come up empty thus far in my efforts. I have not located an online indexed record to support the marriage date in Dallas, but I have also not looked beyond the basic indexes available at Ancestry.com and FamilySearch, so there may be some others out there. What is interesting is that Essie must have divorced a second time and began using the Hosmer surname again before 1920. It may have been easier for her to use her to bear the same last name as her daughter.

Another interesting thing is that John E. Hosmer seems to transform into Harry E. Hosmer, Jr. In 1920, he is boarding at 1907 Reynolds Street in Brunswick, Glynn County, Georgia with a Peerson family. His occupation is listed as a pipe fitter with the oil refinery.(11)

By 1930, he is married and still living in Glynn County.(12)

Hosmer, Harry E., head, O, 1500, M, W, 30, M, 24, Miss., Wisc., Wisc., carpenter-house
--, Lola C., wife-H, F, W, 27, M, 21, Ga., Ga., Ga., none
--, Constance E., dau, F, W, 5, S, Fla., Miss., Ga., none
--, Harry E., III, son, M, W, 3/12, S, Ga., Miss., Ga., none
Holtzendorff, Betty G. T., mother-in-law, F, W, 70, wd, 18, Ga., Ga., Ga., none

The fact that a daughter was born in Florida around 1924 or 1925 supports him being the Eugene living in Miami, Florida in 1925.

I have not continued to follow Harry E., Jr., except to locate multiple sources to verify his death on 21 Dec 1973 in Glynn County, Georgia(13) and burial in the Palmetto Cemetery in Brunswick in that county.(14)

I would love to know what happened to Harry's first wife Essie and to his daughter Hazel. I'm simply fascinated with the story because it was an untold story in our family, even though it only concerned my mom's uncle by marriage. Divorce was not as common prior to 1905. Knowing our family, I'm surprised that Emma would have married a divorced man. There also appears to be a second divorce for Essie (if I can verify that 1905 marriage in Texas).

I've got additional work to do on this, but it certainly got my attention.



Disclaimer: I do not pretend that these citations all follow Evidence Explained exactly. They are close and were mostly done off the top of my head rather than by checking the manual which I would have done for a more formal report.

Sources:
(1) Monroe County Mississippi Marriages (1821-1921). (s.l.: s.n, n.d.), Vol. 2, p. 341. Note: A copy of the marriage record from the circuit clerk's marriage books is in my possession. I need to dig it out and enter it in my software.

(2) 1910 U.S. Federal Census, Telfair County, Georgia, population schedule, Helena, SD 11, ED 164, p. 269 (stamped), sheet 4B (written), Hary E. Hosmer household, dwelling 72, family 72, lines 95-97; digital image, Ancestry.com (http://www.ancestry.com : 26 Jun 2013); citing NARA microfilm publication T624, roll 212.

(3) 1920 U.S. Federal Census, Telfair County, Georgia, population schedule, Helena, SD 12, ED 114, p. 273 (stamped), sheet 9B (written), Harry E. Hosmer household, dwelling 195, family 213, lines 86-88; digital image, Ancestry.com (http://www.ancestry.com : 26 Jun 2013); citing NARA microfilm publication T625, roll 278.

(4) Miami, Florida City Directory, 1925, p. 616, entry for Harry E. Hosmer, U.S. City Directories, 1821-1989; digital image, Ancestry.com (http://www.ancestry.com : 26 Jun 2013).

(5) Miami, Florida City Directory, 1928, p. 471, entry for Harry E. Hosmer, U.S. City Directories, 1821-1989; digital image, Ancestry.com (http://www.ancestry.com : 26 Jun 2013).

(6) 1930 U.S. Federal Census, Telfair County, Georgia, population schedule, Militia District 1530 outside Helena town, SD 11, ED 17, p. 136 (stamped), sheet 1B (written), William N. Barrows and Harry E. Hosmer households, dwelling 22, families 22 and 23, lines 91-94; digital image, Ancestry.com (http://www.ancestry.com : 26 Jun 2013); citing NARA microfilm publication T626, roll 386.

(7) 1940 U.S. Federal Census, Coffee County, Georgia, population schedule, Douglas, Twp. 148, Ward 3, Block 130, SD 8, ED 34-4, p. 50 (stamped), sheet 1A (written), Emma Hosmer household, visit 11, lines 34-35; digital image, Ancestry.com (http://www.ancestry.com : 26 Jun 2013); citing NARA microfilm publication T627, roll 659.

(8) Mississippi Marriages, 1776-1935, database, Ancestry.com (http://www.ancestry.com : 26 Jun 2013), entry for H. E. Hosmer and Essia Coleson.

(9) Cleveland Abbe and Josephine Genung Nichols, Abbe-Abbey Genealogy in Memory of John Abbe and His Descendants (New Haven, Conn.: Tuttle, Morehouse, and Taylor Co., 1916), p. 262; digital image, Open Library (http://openlibrary.org/books/OL7113056M/Abbe-Abbey_genealogy : 26 Jun 2013).

(10) 1920 U.S. Federal Census, St. Louis (Independent City), Missouri, population schedule, Ward 20, SD 183, ED 391, p. 36 (stamped), sheet 15A (written), entries for Hazel and Essie Hosmer, dwelling 262, family 247, lines 29-30; digital image, Ancestry.com (http://www.ancestry.com : 26 Jun 2013); citing NARA microfilm publication T625, roll 957.


(11) 1920 U.S. Federal Census, Glynn County, Georgia, population schedule, Brunswick, Ward 3, SD 11, ED 92, p. 117 (stamped), sheet 13B (written), entry for Harry E. Hosmer, dwelling 275, family 321, line 71; digital image, Ancestry.com (http://www.ancestry.com : 26 Jun 2013); citing NARA microfilm publication T625, roll 259.

(12) 1930 U.S. Federal Census, Glynn County, Georgia, population schedule, militia district 25, SD 16, ED 2, p. 10 (stamped), sheet 9A (written), Harry E. Hosmer household, dwelling 189, family 197, lines 29-33; digital image, Ancestry.com (http://www.ancestry.com : 26 Jun 2013); citing NARA microfilm publication T626, roll 366.

(13) Find A Grave, database and images (http://findagrave.com : accessed 26 Jun 2013), memorial page for Harry Eugene Hosmer, Jr. (1899-1973), Find a Grave Memorial no. 35558036, citing Palmetto Cemetery, Brunswick, Glynn County, Georgia; created by David Woody, 5 April 2009; also Social Security Death Index, database, Ancestry.com (http://www.ancestry.com : 26 Jun 2013), entry for Harry Hosmer, no. 257-03-6557; also Georgia Deaths, 1919-98, database, Ancestry.com (http://www.ancestry.com : 26 Jun 2013), entry for Harry E. Hosmer, certificate no. 042627; citing State of Georgia, Indexes of Vital Records for Georgia: Deaths, 1919-1998 (Atlanta, Ga.: Georgia Health Dept., Office of Vital Records, 1998).

(14) Find A Grave, database and images (http://findagrave.com : accessed 26 Jun 2013), memorial page for Harry Eugene Hosmer, Jr. (1899-1973), Find a Grave Memorial no. 35558036, citing Palmetto Cemetery, Brunswick, Glynn County, Georgia; created by David Woody, 5 April 2009.

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