Unexpected – The Old Man’s Secrets

52 Ancestors

Here’s a little gossip for the family. A little something I didn’t know when I wrote Daniel’s original article. He and Rosetta were married a year later than we thought.

Daniel and Rosetta met through his involvement in the Grand Army of the Republic (GAR). Rosetta’s second husband, George Crum, was a Civil War veteran and was a member of the same GAR post as Daniel. Daniel had been a widower by the death of his second wife for about eight years when George Crum died of typhoid fever on 7 October 1885. Daniel did his best by Rosetta and helped her apply for a widows pension, which was denied. I suspect this was due to the children she had with George, Willie and Maud, who had predeceased their father (they died at 6 months and 3 years old respectively), and her two other children were from her first marriage (James Truman). So, Daniel married Rosetta, merging his 8-year-old son (Clarence) and Rosetta’s 16-year-old son (John) into a blended family. Sarah/Sada had married earlier in the year to her first husband, Frederick Hermsdorfer.

We have their original marriage certificate, the fancy one that you get to keep for your records. I was recently examining this document when I noticed one of the numbers on the year of marriage was written by a different hand and in darker ink than the two other handwriting and ink used. I had previously found their marriage return – an index transcription – that was one year off, and I chalked it up to transcription error. It happens…all…the…time. Since I had THE certificate, I always went with the year written on it, but never noticed this little anomaly.

Familysearch.org and Ancestry.com are constantly updating records and making digital images available online. So I went back to their marriage return. The original is on file at the courthouse, and the image copy was microfilmed and finally uploaded by our friends of the Latter Day Saints and guess what the image showed? C’mon, guess!!! It was a year later than the certificate! Right there in The Matrix. Never in possession of the family, tucked away in a thick binder stacked with other thick binders in a windowless, fireproof room, probably in the basement of the Allen County courthouse.

How unexpected.

I looked at the certificate a little closer. Yup…there it was – a small discolored “whiter” circle beneath that out of place 7. But how was it done? Rubbed the original ink off? The paper is not thinner there (from the front or the back). Paint? Was it correction fluid under the darker number 7. It’s hard to tell. If it is paint or correction fluid, very little was used, not enough to make a bump.

Anyway, instead of being married on 12 August 1887, they were married on 12 August 1888! Why? This was their third marriage (each), they were consenting adults and certainly no virgins. Daniel had children from a previous marriage, as did Rosetta…what was the problem? I looked at their firstborn, Dee Jay. He was born on 21 February 1889, six months after they were married.

The next question is, who fudged the marriage certificate? Rosetta, Daniel…or Dee Jay. The answer? Possibly none of the above. If it was correction fluid, which wasn’t commercially available until 1956, and Dee Jay died in 1951 (outliving his parents), it would have had to be Ken or Eleanor! They were still living in 1956 and had possession of the certificate. Ken died in 1957, and Eleanor died in 1987. Of course, it could be tempera paint, which was available before 1956, but no one in our family was a painter, while one (probably two) was proficient with a type-writer and the use of correction fluid.

Did you know that Michael Nesmith, of the Monkees, is the son of Bette Nesmith Graham, the inventor of correction fluid and founder of Liquid Paper?

But why? Daniel and Rosetta grew up in a different time. When official marriages sometimes occurred after “a union,” occasionally even after a first child is born. The pioneer life was hard, and people lived so far apart. Ministers sometimes had to make circuits through the country to minister to their flocks. Daniel and Rosetta got married after such hardships were common, but had grown up in the mid-west frontier. Their social norm wouldn’t have been that prudish, would it? They probably didn’t make their wedding date and Dee Jay’s birth date any big secrets. However, social norms changed after the Victorian Era, becoming more rigid leading up to prohibition – when Ken and Dee Jay were growing up.

How unexpected.

We’ll never REALLY know who fudged it, or when, unless we do a chemical analysis of the paper. Let’s face it, it’s not important enough to risk damage to the document.

Unexpected, but not surprising. Daniel was a lover, not a fighter. I think he was a bit of a ladies man, a Don Juan of Indiana. Oh, how I would have liked to have met him. He seems like such a character, so I think I would have liked him.

In our treasure trove of goodies is a love letter from Daniel to his second wife, Mary Fellows, dated 17 April 1873. It was addressed to Mollie Miser (sic), so it was before their marriage (she was also a widowed mother of two). At the age of 32, Daniel was smitten with Mary. He was up late and was going to Fort Wayne in the morning, so he wrote her a letter that night and sent it by post to her from Fort Wayne (a mere 10 miles away!) She must have just accepted his proposal of marriage that evening because it is some letter. They were married on 28 April 1873.

Later, before he married Rosetta, he made the newspapers in 1884 (and yes, our Daniel was a 45-year-old widower in 1884) when he was teased for being sweet on an unnamed lady. But George didn’t die until 1885…who was the special young lady? Was there a reason she was unnamed?

Bottom of the image, a blurb about Daniel in Aboite [township] news. Clipped on 30 December 2019 from Newspapers.com; The Daily Gazette, Fort Wayne, Indiana, 28 August 1884, Thu, pg 5.

Even when we think our research can be stamped “complete” on an ancestor, we go back and revisit information for whatever reason (nostalgia, sanity check, refreshing our memories), and we find something unexpected. Something that may not change who they were or when they died, but changes what we know about them. And we love them a little more with each revelation.