Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Questions Answered Lead to Others Asked

We’ve just spent three weeks taking a long detour through the history of Maud Woodworth Bean’s paternal line upon the occasion of her father’s passing in late May, 1928. At the time we had last discussed this, I had wondered whether Maud and her husband Sam would be able to attend William C. Woodworth’s funeral. The young couple lived in northern California, while Maud’s home town was quite a distance away in southern California.

Besides, with unexpected bits of news mentioning her arrival home from places as distant as Texas, there was no telling where she and Sam might have been at the time of her father’s passing.

Of course, another complication arose during that point in this blog’s timeline. Not only could I not find any further mention of Maud in newspapers, northern or southern, but I couldn’t even locate any mention of her own last days.

What had become of Maud? Had she faded into oblivion in some distant, unnamed state?

There is a handy term used among stage musicians from an older era (something I learned from my own father, who used to play such popular New York City spots as the Roxy). The phrase was, “Vamp ’til ready.”

While I worked my way through what has become an online patchwork quilt of historic newspaper resources, trying to find more on Maud, I decided to do just that: Vamp ’til ready. Not finding any further mention of Maud in the resources at hand at that point, I decided to run with what I had: a trail of resources covering Maud’s paternal line—all the way back, as we subsequently found, to her patriot second great grandfather, Jabez Woodworth, Senior.

At the same time, behind the scenes, I was tap dancing like crazy, desperately searching for some cue to prompt me on what became of Maud. To my great relief, I found a few missing pieces of the quest to discover more about Sam and Maud. Not enough, granted, but a sufficient set of documents to get me back on track with Sam and Maud’s story.

So, first, to answer my question from that post a couple weeks ago: Did Maud get to attend her father’s funeral?

In a brief article on the sixth page of the Covina Argus on June 1, 1928, entitled “Last Rites Held for W. C. Woodworth,” we see from the long listing that Maud was not among those present at her father’s funeral. While that is a sad thought to ponder, it invokes other questions, like “So, where was she?”

And, since genealogy questions are like birds—those of a “feather” do tend to “flock together”—this listing of those relatives present at the funeral only provides me another set of questions to be answered. With the exception of Maud’s Uncle Harvey and his wife Eva, plus the obvious misspelling of Maud’s sister Nieva’s name and the barely legible newsprint at the point of a few other names I’ve marked, I have no clue—yet!—who these other people are.
            Friends attending the funeral service for W. C. Woodworth filled the large auditorium of the Methodist church. The services were conducted by Rev. George Steed, with special songs by Mrs. Baker of Los Angeles, a blind singer. There was also present in the audience Rev. Burns of Los Angeles, also blind, and an intimate friend of deceased.
            Beautiful floral offerings covered the casket and banked the rostrum, including a set piece from the Lions club.
            The pallbearers were Messr.s Harry Gordon, James Kendig, F. W. Paddock, Jerome Reynolds, H. A. Miller, and A. E. Harnish.
            Relatives attending from out of town were a daughter, Mrs. Eva Searcy, and three children from Fresno, Mr. and Mrs. A. E. Mattison, Mrs. Gladys Allee [?], Mr. and Mrs. J. W. Gethem [?] from Los Angeles, Mrs. And Miss Cook of Hollywood, Mr. and Mrs. H. P. Woodworth, Pomona, and Mrs. McKenzie and daughter, Mrs. McGrath, Long Beach.

Monday, April 29, 2013

Lafayette’s Family Portrait

Maud Bean wife of Samuel W Bean of Alameda CANow that you know more than you ever hoped to know about the Lafayette D. Woodworth family—well, unless you are a distant Woodworth cousin—let’s stretch this line out just a tad more, then reel it back in to return to a less-remote segment of the past, so we can continue examining our original subjects, Maud Woodworth and her blind and deaf husband, Samuel W. Bean of Alameda, California.

Let’s not retract that long line of generations quite so fast, though. After all, working our way so far back in time, of course, dangled before our eyes that tempting possibility of eligibility for Daughters of the American Revolution. Thanks to one of the biographical sketches we found, we learned not only Lafayette’s 1824 date of birth (or 1823, depending on which of the two publications you choose to believe), but his father’s name, also. From that father’s vantage point on the American history timeline, with a little mental math, it was not difficult to negotiate our way to speculation that perhaps a grandfather might have been a patriot.

And indeed, that appears to be the case. For anyone connected to Lafayette’s father—Jabez Woodworth—you’d be interested to see that his father, Jabez Senior, served in the war with fellow colonial residents of Connecticut, as is listed in the D.A.R. database.

That, however, is a quest for other researchers to pursue. For now, let’s retrace our steps back toward the present—back through the generations leading from Lafayette to William to Maud, the young woman who, leaving her blind father in southern California to enroll in school up north in Berkeley, hoped to train as a teacher of the blind. While there, as we’ve already mentioned, she met and married a blind (and deaf) man, soon finding herself the mother of two rambunctious boys—as well as touring companion for her husband’s nationwide business endeavors.

There is more—just a little bit more—on her own story that we’ll need to attend to tomorrow.

Sunday, April 28, 2013

His Own Untiring Efforts

There is no disputing it: farming is hard work. It was even harder when Lafayette D. Woodworth was tending his crops in the mid to late 1800s.

We’ve been looking over two biographical reports of the man’s accomplishments: one from 1879, published in Chicago, and one from 1901, published in Los Angeles. We’ve already read the report of L. D.’s earlier days in Wisconsin—interrupted, of course, by a healthy dose of wanderlust and gold-panning adventure in California—from the Los Angeles version. Let’s compare that with what the good folks back home in Wisconsin noticed about his farming ventures in those earlier days.

            Lafayette D. Woodworth, farmer, Sec. 4; P. O. Kenosha; born May 13, 1823, in Chittenden, Essex Co., Vt.[this should be reversed: it was the town of Essex in Chittenden County that was his birthplace]; went to Hartland, Niagara Co., N. Y., for eighteen months; in his 20th year, gave his father $60 for his time, and in 1844 came to Bristol Township, Kenosha Co., Wis., and worked for Harmon & Marsh for eighteen months, then bought a farm of sixty acres, which he gradually increased to 184 acres. During the years 1851-52, Mr. W. was in California, successfully gold mining; was in Beloit, Wis., from 1868 to 1870; bought ten acres of land and a house and lot, which he afterward sold; went back to Bristol Township in 1872, and stayed till 1875, when he sold his property, moved to Pleasant Prairie and bought his farm of 305 acres, upon which he raises all kinds of grain and stock.
It is interesting to see how the California version of the account focused so much more on the detail of Lafayette’s brief excursion to northern California in the early 1850s, whereas the Chicago edition detailed each farm purchase in the state of Wisconsin, with barely a sentence devoted to the journey westward. Yet, within seven years of that book’s publication, Lafayette, his wife and two of his children had left the state and moved to California for good.

It’s all in one’s perspective how the story will be told.

Contrariwise, when it came to reporting civic involvement, the California narrative gave a brief overview of Lafayette’s lifetime involvement in political affairs, while the Chicago publication gave a more detailed accounting of his offices held.

The 1879 volume noted:
He was Roadmaster for several years, both in Bristol and Pleasant Prairie Townships, and School Clerk for both townships. He and his family are members of the Free Methodist Church.
            As to the politics of the administration Mr. Woodworth entertains unusually liberal views, although he usually votes the Republican ticket.
           During his residence in Wisconsin he gained considerable prominence in a political way and held most of the offices within the gift of the people of Bristol and Pleasant Prairie townships, Kenosha county. His rise in life is due to his own untiring efforts. He has surmounted many obstacles in a courageous manner and has won the confidence of his friends and associates.
Perhaps it was just a formality, or a nineteenth-century style of being nice that figured in these concluding notes—but wouldn’t you just love to know exactly what the writer had in mind when he referred to how Lafayette “surmounted many obstacles in a courageous manner”?

Saturday, April 27, 2013

Comparing Family Notes

I mentioned, the other day, the serendipity of finding Lafayette D. Woodworth in not one, but two volumes of local history—one for the southern California region in which he settled after immigration, one from the place in Wisconsin where he first settled as an adult.

After sharing the excerpt of his travels from the 1901 publication, it would be helpful to jump back in time to compare records with the previously published volume. That earlier book, The History of Racine and Kenosha Counties, Wisconsin, was printed by the Western Historical Company in 1879. Like the more recent California rendition, this book was thick (L. D. Woodworth’s entry appears on page 708), and contained biographical sketches of several of the better known local residents of that era. Thankfully, farmer Lafayette Woodworth was among those considered prominent enough to include in its pages.

The point at which we left off, in the 1901 narrative, was when the editors took up with a listing of Lafayette’s several children. If you’ve been following this Woodworth series, you will remember that listing has already been shared by reader Intense Guy in one of his comments.

Let’s revisit that listing, though, because I want to juxtapose it with a similar list in the 1879 volume. Keep in mind the considerable editorial task it must have been to include the names and birth dates (yes, incredibly, this resource actually provides details down to the kind of miniscule degree only appreciated by genealogists!) of multiple children of enough local residents to fill nearly one thousand pages of text. The caveat: surely there must have been some typos mixed into this tedious task.

Here, just for reference, is the listing of Lafayette and Eliza Smith Woodworth’s children from the 1901 version:
            While living in Wisconsin Mr. Woodworth married Miss Eliza Smith, who was born in Madison county, N, Y., but at the time of her marriage made her home in Kenosha county. Of this union there are eight children living, three of whom reside in California. The names of the children are as follows: Mrs. Frances Patterson, of Sioux City, Iowa; Mrs. Mary Vincent, of California; Joel. N. Woodworth, of Sioux City, Iowa; Mrs. Emma Larrabee, of Kenosha county, Wis.; Harvey P.; William C; Mrs. Lillie Hoskins, of Detroit, Mich.; and Lafayette D. Woodworth, Jr.
Jumping back in time, now, let’s see how that list compares with the previous one, published back east, just outside Wisconsin in Chicago, twenty two years earlier:
Married Miss Eliza Smith, of Kenosha Co., Nov. 31, 1846 [um…that’s a problem], and have eight children—Francis A., born Oct. 9, 1847; Mary, July 12, 1850; Joel N., March 11, 1852; Emily, Sept. 27, 1852; Harvey P., April 26, 1861; Lilly May, Oct. 17, 1864; William, Oct. 7, 1867; Lafayette D., May 31, 1872.
With the exception of a bogus date for the parents’ wedding, and the transposition of children’s names for William and Lillie/Lilly, all seem adequately represented—with, of course, that wonderful addition of the dates of birth.

Those, however, are part of the very tedium I was referring to when I wondered about the possibility of typos. At least, they provide a working record to use as guide until further documentation is uncovered.

Friday, April 26, 2013

Hanging Around in Hangtown

As we’ve traced the family line of Sam Bean’s wife, Maud Woodworth, we’ve worked our way to her grandfather, Lafayette Woodworth. He was the immigrant to California, born in Vermont, but settled originally in Wisconsin. Finding a narrative sketch of his life in a 1901 history volume opens up the story on his life in a way gleaning census records can’t equal.

While the introduction to his brief biographical sketch, as we found out yesterday, doesn’t seem to indicate anything out of the ordinary for farm boys of that era, what follows in his early adulthood was the stuff of young men’s dreams.

Quite a lot of living was packed into the next paragraph in that book—I’ll share it with you below—but even with all the details, it leads to a lot of further questions.

Take the dates of his departure from Wisconsin, for instance: if the lure of the gold rush was what impelled him to head west, why 1852? Why not 1849?

On top of that, such a journey might be the kind of trip a single young man might envision—not a married man with two young daughters and a son who had either just been born or was set to arrive at any minute. I wonder what his wife thought about that!

Granted, if everything remained just the same as it was for the 1850 census, Lafayette’s wife and children lived in the same household as his parents—Jabez and Mahitabel Woodworth—his younger, single brother, Daniel Shaw Woodworth, and his married sister Delilah and her husband Edward Burell Fay. If it “takes a village” to raise a child, Lafayette at least had a good start with all the helping hands in his extended family.

That set up, however, only gave him a brief window of time to pack in a lot of adventure. His brother Daniel was soon to be married—after moving off to a distant Wisconsin county (where, thankfully, another such tome of local history would pick up his own biographical details). His parents would join Daniel in that move in July, 1854.

Not to mention, the indication of Lafayette's arrival back in Wisconsin was implied through the birth of the Woodworths’ next son, Sumner, in 1855.

To accomplish all that was listed in that biographical sketch—traveling from Wisconsin to “Hangtown” in northern California, then to Oakland, then back northeast to Coloma in El Dorado County, then back to the coast, sailing south to Nicaragua, crossing the isthmus, then up to New York and then back home to Wisconsin—in three short years during that era of slower modes of travel is indeed considerable.
            When about twenty-two years of age Mr. Woodworth started out in the world for himself. Believing he could accomplish more in the middle states than in the east, he settled in Kenosha county, Wis., where for some years he engaged in general farming and stock-raising. Not content, however, with the prospects of a permanent residence in Wisconsin, in 1852 he set out, in a wagon, across the plains, with California as his destination. For a time he tried his luck at mining in the neighborhood of Hangtown. He was also employed in Oakland as head-sawyer in the redwood mill owned by James Henry Howe. During his gold-mining experience he was for a short time employed in the old world-famed Sutter mill, where California gold was first discovered. Returning, via Nicaragua and New York to Wisconsin, he resumed farming, in which he continued for many years, meeting with success. However, his old love for the Pacific coast continued and in 1887 he returned to California and took up his permanent residence on his present ranch, two and one-half miles west of Covina.

Photograph: Sutter's Mill, Coloma, California. Carpenter James W. Marshall, who discovered gold on the property, stands in the foreground. Reproduction of the original daguerreotype taken by R. H. Vance in 1850. Courtesy Wikipedia; in the public domain.

Thursday, April 25, 2013

Lafayette’s Roots

I’m thankful for the time, just over one hundred years ago, when it seemed to be a popular endeavor for publishers to edit collections of local biographical sketches, assembled under the theme of a city or regional history. When I researched my mother-in-law’s line in Perry County, Ohio, I found such a volume indispensible. Likewise, as I’ve studied family lines in both cities the size of Chicago and of lesser population such as Fort Wayne, I’ve learned to look for such history books from that era.

In the case of the Woodworth family, moving from Wisconsin to California during that time period, it turns out that I’ve hit the jackpot with not one but two biographical sketches—the one of the earlier years in Bristol, Wisconsin, and the later edition from this family’s establishment in the greater Los Angeles area.

In the face of that serendipity, though, I’ve not been able to locate that final biographical sketch that gets written on behalf of all those who have gone before—the obituary—so an entry in Find A Grave leaves a solitary note of finality to the life of Lafayette D. Woodworth.

Let’s start with the most recent biographical entry we can find—this one located thanks to the perseverance of reader Intense Guy and the preservation efforts of the Library of Congress.

The source for this study is a thick volume written by J. M. Guinn. At the time the book was published—in 1901, only three years before L. D. Woodworth’s passing—the author was concurrently serving on the board of the Historical Society of Southern California. Lafayette Woodworth’s entry was tucked away on page 735 of Historical and Biographical Record of Los Angeles and Vicinity: Containing a history of the City from its earliest settlement as a Spanish Pueblo to the closing year of the Nineteenth Century. (With a title that long, is it any surprise the book that bore this name was that lengthy?!)

The value of this entry—of course, provided the reporting is proven to be correct in all its detail—is that it yields yet another generation of names, plus a sense of where L. D. Woodworth’s family originated. While the narrative continues past that point with no further remarkable observations in the first paragraph—like every other farm boy, evidently Lafayette divided his time between book work and hands-on practical application—what we’ll see in the next couple days will help piece together more of this family’s story.
            LAFAYETTE D. WOODWORTH is one of the old settlers and successful horticulturists of lower Azusa, in the San Gabriel valley, and owns in his home ranch sixteen and one-half acres, mostly under orange culture. He was born in Chittenden county, Vt., May 13, 1824, being a son of Jabez and Mehitable (Shaw) Woodworth, both natives of New England, the former of Scotch extraction, and the latter of English lineage. When a small boy Lafayette Woodworth accompanied his parents from Chittenden county to Franklin county, Vt., where he passed his childhood days in a manner similar to other farmer boys, learning every department of farm work and going to the district schools during the winter time.

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Clues From Volumes of the Past

In pursuing all the siblings—alive or dead—listed in William C. Woodworth’s 1928 obituary, we were able to create a brief outline of the family grouping of their parents, the senior Lafayette D. and Eliza Smith Woodworth.

In the process of piecing together the story of family members as remote from William’s final resting place as his sisters Lillian Woodworth Hoskins in Michigan and Emma Woodworth Larabee in Wisconsin, a few interesting discoveries popped up about their father’s travels, too. Some of these discoveries give a clearer picture of how and why William and a few of his siblings ended up as residents of California. Thankfully, some provide a clear listing of not only the siblings mentioned in William’s obituary, but another sister, too.

You may have noticed in the comments to yesterday’s post that one reader—“Iggy,” otherwise known as the blogger “Intense Guy”—unearthed an informative text file from amidst the myriad records at the Library of Congress International Global Gateway. That link provided a confirmation of the names of the children of Lafayette D. Woodworth.

If you remember, William’s father was considered to be among the pioneer settlers of the San Gabriel Valley, so this new-found biographical sketch contained much more than just the names in this family. We’ll take a look at what that entry had to say about the family’s history over the next few days, and compare that 1901 publication with the information from a much earlier version, published in Wisconsin in 1879. Due to the length of the articles, though, I’ll share them in shorter segments over the next few days, along with a few observations. Almost without fail, though, such publications include discrepancies, which we will also review.

Thanks to the perseverance of authors and historians of a time removed from us by over one hundred years, we can—once we find such “outdated” resources—return to those pages and glean the information we crave in our quest to recreate our family history narratives. And thanks to the skilled efforts of fellow researchers and readers, we help each other along on our path to tell our own ancestors’ stories.

Photograph of Lafayette D. Woodworth, Senior, above right, and signature below, from the 1901 volume, Historical and Biographical Record of Los Angeles and Vicinity, written by J. M. Guinn, then Secretary of the Historical Society of Southern California; courtesy Library of Congress

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Sometimes, You Just Have to Call it Quits

He is the third member of his family to pass over the great divide in the past year, L. D. Woodworth, a brother, having answered the call last November, and a sister, Mrs. A. L. Patterson, dying in Sioux City, Iowa, four weeks ago.

So carefully—okay, I’ll admit it, so tediously—I’ve been tracing the Woodworth line back into the late 1800s, trying to discover who each of the siblings featured in William C. Woodworth’s obituary might have been.

I’ve been able to conquer (mostly) the difficulty of navigating the records gap during immigration time between Kenosha County, Wisconsin, and Covina in the sprawling county of Los Angeles, California. I’ve located additional information on each of William’s three remaining siblings—Harvey P. Woodworth nearby in California, Emma Woodworth Larabee back home in Wisconsin, and Lillian Woodworth Hoskins even farther away in Michigan. And of those of his siblings mentioned in the obituary as having passed “over the great divide” before him, I’m managed to piece together some records on William’s brother, Lafayette D. Woodworth.

When it comes to the recently-deceased sister, “Mrs. A. L. Patterson,” not only do I meet with no success, but with an indescribable urge to run in the opposite direction, screaming. Where did this woman hide her documents?!

My suspicions are that Mrs. A. L. Patterson was actually the former Mrs. Charles Larabee of Beloit, Wisconsin, about sixty miles west of the Woodworth farm in Kenosha County. There, in the 1870 census, twenty three year old Frances Larabee resided with her husband and two year old son, Theron. Back in Bristol in Kenosha County for the 1880 census, the family is joined by daughter Rosa and son Sumner.

And then?

Somehow, the family moves west—though not quite so far as the California move of Frances’ siblings—to Sioux City, Iowa. Yet, only two of them show up in the 1895 Iowa State Census: Frances, and her seventeen year old son Charles, whom the family often called Sumner.

Life may not have gone well for the Larabee family by that point. But then, I really can’t tell. Neither good nor bad is mentioned about them in the Sioux City newspapers—with one small exception: a funeral notice.

The notice is not for Frances' husband Charles, who by this point was not showing on census records, but for oldest son Theron. Published the day after his passing in the Sioux City Journal on Monday, February 6, 1899, the brief entry provides no additional information on the family:
LARABEE—In Sioux City, Io., Sunday, February 5, 1899, Theron Larabee, 621 West Third street, aged 31 years, of chronic intestinal ulceration. The funeral will be held at 2 p.m. from the Whitfield M. E. church, Rev. H. G. Pittenger officiating. Interment will be in Floyd cemetery.
Other than that mention of the one Larabee child, I can find nothing on Francis’ passing—nor on that of her husband. One must presume that he did pass away, though, not only for the reference in William’s own obit of Frances as Mrs. A. L. Patterson, but for the 1900 Census record for the couple in Sioux City.

But wait! Is that the same couple? Frances is there, admittedly, but her husband’s initials are listed as A. W., not A. L. Newspaper error again? Or census taker’s mistake?

Or is this just the case of a totally different couple, coincidently including her correct month of birth—albeit with the year overwritten into illegibility—and accurate tally of children?

The 1910 census shows the household of A. W. Patterson again. This time, we learn that this was the second marriage for each of them. We also see that another of Frances’ children has died—most likely her daughter Rosa.

The 1920 census adds the detail of Frances’ husband’s first name: Arthur.

And yet, no newspaper reports to provide the passing of Frances, her first husband Charles Larabee, or her daughter Rosa. No online documentation of her marriage to either Charles or her second husband, Arthur W. Patterson—or, for that matter, to disprove either of these two associations. Not even any record of her own passing. Other than that brief mention in her brother William’s obituary in a town two thousand miles away from Sioux City, Iowa, there is nothing to capture the simplest snapshot of this woman’s life.

As maddening as it seems to me, sometimes it is just better to set aside such loose ends for another time. Someday, the records I’m seeking will be digitized and added to the massive collections online, and then, with a press of a button, the verification I’m seeking will be staring back at me from my computer screen.

And I can stop screaming. That will be better for everyone's health and well-being.

Monday, April 22, 2013

“Suddenly Stricken With His Heart”

Though of course there is no way to know now—if Harvey Woodworth was stricken with Marfan syndrome—what might have caused his seemingly instantaneous death could have been a tearing of his aorta, perhaps even damaging his aortic valve. Inside the dark recesses of that chest cavity, where friends and family on that sunny beach could not possibly have seen, Harvey could literally have been tearing apart, causing a quick internal hemorrhage.

That, of course, is my guess, knowing now that Marfan syndrome ran in this Woodworth line. For the distraught family back then, such an explanation certainly wouldn’t have offered any consolation.

What the family did know was that this twenty three year old man had quite abruptly come to the end of his life. Though his parents—particularly his father, whose own death seemed to be hastened by this tragic episode—bore this loss heavily along with his two sisters and brother, there was no wife nor children to mourn his loss or perpetuate his memory.

Official documents recorded the event with the cold sterility of governmental oversight, providing those of us separated from the family by so many generations with proof of his date of death and place of occurrence. A tiny line on column number 11920 of the California Death Index, on the segment dated 1920-1929, records Harvey P. Woodworth’s last moment as June 26, 1927. The place—as shown by the chart translating the county codes—was in Orange County. No longer seen by this family as a refreshing respite from the summer heat, Seal Beach would never seem the same.

Making preparations for their final goodbye, his parents requested their former pastor and good friend, the Reverend W. W. Catherwood, to return to Covina and take charge of the ceremony. As had so many others in the extended Woodworth family, Harvey was to be buried at Oakdale Memorial Park in nearby Glendora, California. There, he would join his young cousins Hattie and Helen—and wait for what, in due time, would transpire for the rest of the older Woodworth generation—and, perhaps, others of his own generation who harbored this secret internal symptom of a deadly disease.

Sunday, April 21, 2013

Knowing That Routine All Too Well

Though it was a sudden passing so far removed from our time as 1927 may be, I feel drawn to know more about whatever ailment caused young Harvey Woodworth to slip from his family’s grasp with such finality.

At age twenty three, Harvey would have been in the midst of what some consider the prime of life. However, a newspaper report indicating that he had been “frail from childhood” makes me wonder. Are there any telltale signs I can glean, just from this brief description of his health issues?

More than just making me wonder, the scenario has a déjà vu aura about it. You see, I’ve been through that scene before, myself. Just like Harvey’s mother, reaching out to catch the slumping figure of her son, I’ve been standing next to a family member struck in quite the same fashion.

I can remember being in my office on the afternoon it happened for me—a desk next to an inner courtyard inside a locked mental facility—looking up to see a minister from my church standing in the doorway, needing to tell me some urgent message. The shock from wondering how someone could access so many locked passageways to arrive at this location quickly gave way to the shock of hearing the news of how a loved one’s life now depended upon the quick action of a heart surgery team at a hospital which, only one year prior, had no such capabilities at all. Added to that was the incredulity of knowing that loved one had just dropped me off, back at my office, after a lunch meeting with him.

How quickly these life challenges can arise.

I remember another time, pulling into my driveway—I the passenger, a healthy driver at the wheel—getting out, then turning to speak to my companion, only to realize he was slumped over, still in the driver’s seat, appearing now just as lifeless as he, only minutes before, had been so animated by life.

These things can happen.

If you remember the reason I started this series of posts here on the Bean and Woodworth family, you may realize that it wasn’t so much a person whose genealogical identity I was pursuing, as it was a health proclivity I sought. When I told you I was beginning this story at “The End,” I was telling you about a man who also could have had this Harvey’s story as his final report.

Thankfully, he didn’t. From the time he first “slumped” from a “childhood heart ailment” until the point at which his health problem accosted him with finality, God spared him a gracious thirteen years. Like Harvey, his first episode occurred close to that same age—in his case, twenty four—but unlike Harvey, medical technology had advanced to such a degree that a viable treatment could counteract his dilemma.

Not that I can say for sure what ailed young Harvey Woodworth. I don’t even know what was entered as cause of death on Harvey’s death certificate. But the scenario seems so similar to those I’ve known, that I wonder if Harvey’s demise was owing to the same Marfan syndrome that has smitten so many other descendants in this Woodworth line.

A thought like that makes me want to go back and re-examine the other untimely deaths in this line, too. They may be telltale hints on the trail of tracking a deadly inherited trait.

Saturday, April 20, 2013

The Cord of Life

In the grand opening of the season, a summer cottage near the ocean’s edge seems hardly the right setting for a tragedy-in-progress, and yet, on June 26, 1927, that is exactly what happened.

Lafayette D. Woodworth—in case you’ve lost track by this point, that would be Maud Woodworth Bean’s uncle—had recently been able to take a break from the demands of the life of a farmer in the midst of the growing season. He, his wife Olive, and their family had been invited to enjoy the refreshing ocean breezes at Seal Beach—and, no doubt, the associated seaside activities—as the weekend guests of fellow Covina residents, Mr. and Mrs. John Wolf.

The Wolf cottage was located about thirty five miles from the Woodworth farm, and offered proximity to such favored attractions of the time as the Seal Beach Amusement Park, as well as more traditional shoreline pastimes.

In the midst of the lulling repetition of crashing waves, accentuated by the laughter of children playing nearby, came a different sound. Perhaps it was a scream, or a shout. Maybe it was followed by the dull thud of feet pounding on the sand in a vain attempt at running to provide aid. Maybe later, a siren added its call.

Or maybe it was just the faint swishing sound of a body passing abruptly from an upright, standing position, to a crumpled mass on the ground.

The Covina Argus mentioned, in retrospect, that young Harvey Woodworth had been “frail from childhood.” Replaying the scene in its July 1, 1927, front page report, the Argus noted that
the young man was suddenly stricken with his heart while enjoying the beach. Mrs. Woodworth caught her son as he fell, but the cord of life had snapped, death coming immediately.
The Argus continued the article with the usual information one would expect in obituaries: who remained in the family, where the funeral and burial were to take place. Of course, thanks once again to journalism’s difficulty with exacting detail, the paper left out any mention of that mystery sister whose name is causing me particular struggles. But that is not what I’m concerned with at this point.

What I do question is the cause for twenty three year old Harvey’s untimely passing. Don’t let yourself write it off as an unfortunate case of early-season heat exhaustion or dehydration. It was that phrase, “suddenly stricken with his heart” that grabs my attention and causes me to wonder….

Photograph above: a 1920 view of the Seal Beach Amusement Park, on the Orange County, California, coastline; courtesy Wikipedia; in the public domain.

Friday, April 19, 2013

As Was Expected…

L. D. Woodworth is at the Covina hospital
for treatment and observation.
Mr. Woodworth has been failing in health for several months.

After reading a report in the Covina Argus like the one above that appeared in the community newspaper on October 7, 1927, it was probably no surprise to learn that Lafayette Woodworth, junior, would be mentioned again soon after.

It wasn’t in the obituary section of the paper, however, in which his name appeared. For a local newspaper in a town the size of Covina, California, in the late 1920s, one of their pioneer residents’ passing merited a mention on the front page.

A discreet five days after the younger Lafayette Woodworth’s passing, the Covina Argus headlined the occurrence simply, “L. D. Woodworth Passes Away at Home on Sunday.”

That Sunday was October 30, 1927. Home was most likely in Covina, as it had been for the family’s entry in the most recent census record. Though he had lived elsewhere, over the years, with his wife and children, his first home after arriving from his native Wisconsin had been Covina—leading the newspaper to note that his death “marks another thinning of the ranks of the pioneers of the San Gabriel valley.”

In listing those surviving Lafayette’s passing, the newspaper article provides some answers—well, in that roundabout way that doesn’t totally insure journalistic perfection—as to names and spellings we’ve struggled with. Lafayette’s wife, Olive, was indeed a Hostetler—not a Hostetter as previously reported, nor a Hosletter, as I observed in yet another mistaken record.

And the mystery daughter Verdana and/or LaFay? She took her place in her father’s obituary notice as “Mrs. La Fey Shettle of Rosemead.”

In addition, the newspaper confirmed the Woodworths’ son, Carroll L. Woodworth, as currently living in Lompoc, plus
Miss Margery, who resides at home, and two little grandsons, Carol Jr. and John Woodworth. There also remains of his family two brothers, W. C. Woodworth of Covina and H. P. Woodworth of Pomona, and three sisters in the east.
As is often the case with obituaries and eulogies, Lafayette was duly endowed with praises at his passing:
Mr. Woodworth was a man of sterling integrity, and possessed a strong affection for his family and his friends.
Despite all those customary accolades and traditional reports, it was for one poignant note that I was sent back to the online search engines in a quest to find the explanation for yet another story.
Mr. Woodworth had been failing in health for several months, and especially since the death of a son, Harvey, which occurred four months ago.

Thursday, April 18, 2013

William’s Kid Brother

When we read the obituary for Maud Woodworth Bean’s father, William Woodworth, last week, it mentioned the closeness of the passing of two brothers. Speaking of William, the Covina Argus observed,
He is the third member of his family to pass over the great divide in the past year, L. D. Woodworth, a brother, having answered the call last November....
That L. D. Woodworth who “answered the call” was William’s younger brother by nearly five years. Named for their father, L. D. was actually Lafayette Woodworth, junior. Like all his siblings, L. D. was born in Wisconsin—in his case, the date was May 31, 1872. Unlike most of the older ones, he—along with his brother William—moved from Wisconsin with their parents to settle in southern California in 1886.

By the time L. D. was twenty one, he had met and married his bride, neighbor Olive Hostetler—or Hostetter, depending on which transcription you choose to believe. The wonder of online records is instant access to multitudes of documents of interest to genealogists; the horror of online records is how easily errors can be disseminated through one inadvertently placed typo. I’m voting for the FamilySearch.org entry with the later marriage date—by a mere four days—because the earlier one (thankfully) includes an image which reveals that the first date is not for the wedding, but for the affidavit’s filing date. At any rate, that image seems to confirm the spelling as Hostetler. A picture may not need to be worth a thousand words—when all it needs to give me is one solitary letter.

By September 17, 1893, that squabble over the letter “t” versus “l” became a moot point, as life began as “Mr. and Mrs. L. D. Woodworth.”

Struggles with transcribed records, whether the newlyweds were aware of this or not, were not to be over for the Woodworths. Evidently, several census records contributed to misrepresentation of various members of the family for years to come. For example, the 1900 U. S. Census, under the surname, "Wordworth," listed their second born, a daughter, with a name that appears to read, “Verdera.” However, the 1910 census showed this second daughter to be named LaFay—only you can’t really be sure about that, because the “F” overwrites another letter. In 1920, unfortunately, that daughter—whether “Verdera” or “LaFay”—was nowhere to be seen. One can only assume she left this household to marry and start a home of her own. Or—who knows?—perhaps to assume another identity of her own.

All told, the L. D. Woodworth family consisted of two sons and two daughters: Carroll and Harvey, and Margery and Verdera/LaFay. From their start as a couple in 1893, to the point at which they bought a barley field in 1897 and converted it into their family home, and onward through those years with their four children, Lafayette and Olive most likely had many of the same ups and downs of family life as many of us have had.

There were, of course, some exceptions to this average-life litany. There is one of them, in particular, I’d like to take a closer look at—but that is a task I’ll save for another day.

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Could Always Use Some More Help

When I mentioned yesterday the odd discovery of a fourteen year old girl buried two thousand miles away from her parents' home, I couldn’t help but wonder what the story behind that puzzle might be.

Evidently, I wasn’t the only one wondering. Thankfully, reader Intense Guy (“Iggy”) applied his search talent in finding more clues. Thanks, also, to Google™ Books, an old county history book is revived and brought to new research life in time to provide part of the answer.

The parents of that fourteen year old girl, Gilbert and Emma Woodworth Larabee, were lifetime residents of Kenosha County in Wisconsin. Remaining in Pleasant Prairie when her parents and brothers left town—first for Iowa, then for California in 1886—Emma was married to a man who was married to his land. Gilbert Larabee, like his pioneer father before him, was a farmer. Inheriting the responsibility for his father’s family farm, Gilbert was not likely to consider joining the emigrating Woodworth family, no matter how cold the Wisconsin winters might become in comparison to the beckoning sunshine of California’s golden opportunities.

And yet, evidently, the Larabees’ oldest daughter found her way from Wisconsin to California—and at a young age in an era in which it was unlikely that she would have traveled alone.

A biographical sketch in the 1916 edition The City of Kenosha and Kenosha County, Wisconsin; a Record of Settlement,Organization, Progress and Achievement provides a clue. Evidently, Gilbert and his family did move to California.
            Gilbert E. Larabee, the youngest of the family, pursued his education in the common schools of Pleasant Prairie until he reached the age of eighteen years, after which his entire attention was concentrated upon the work of the home farm until the death of his father. He then began farming on his own account and for six years cultivated a tract of rented land of twenty-five acres. At the end of that period he purchased twenty-five acres but later sold his property and removed to California, where he spent one year.
The trick is, of course, to figure out which year it was that Gilbert and his family made the move westward. Using the timeline in the biographical sketch, unfortunately, doesn’t add up to any logical explanation for how Hattie died in California.

The timeline starts with the death of Gilbert’s father. The book provides further details:
He [Gilbert] was born in Pleasant Prairie, April 7, 1858, a son of Eleazer and Elizabeth (Morehouse) Larabee, who were natives of the state of New York and were among the first settlers to arrive in Kenosha county, establishing their home in Pleasant Prairie township, where for several years the father engaged in the manufacture of brick. He [the father] afterward purchased forty acres of land, upon which he resided to the time of his death, which occurred on the 4th of May, 1890.
If Gilbert’s father died in 1890, and then Gilbert “began farming on his own account” on rented land for six years, plus an undisclosed additional time period devoted to working the land he subsequently purchased for himself, it would be well past 1896 when he “removed to California.”

Hattie died there in 1892.

While it helps to have the explanation that the family did, after all, try life in sunny California, it doesn’t explain the circumstances behind their daughter’s death there in that earlier year.

We still have to stand on some presumptions. Either Gilbert made the move after his father died, but before purchasing his own tract of land, and the book’s report contains errors—which can be quite possible—or he and his family traveled west for a visit well before the time in which they attempted moving to the state. That, of course, would put the family in the position of trying to move to California—the very place that would remind them of the loss of their daughter—well after that loss had occurred.

Then again, there is always the possibility that the Hattie Larabee buried in Oakdale Memorial Park in Los Angeles County isn’t our Hattie…except for one detail: the inscription on her headstone:
Daughter of G. E. and E. L. Larabee.

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Stayed Behind

When Maud Woodworth Bean’s father William emigrated with his parents from the cold north in Wisconsin to more hospitable climes in sunny California, some of his siblings joined him. Not so for his older sister Emma.

When William made the move to Covina, California, it was 1886—at least, according to his own obituary almost forty years later. By the time of that momentous journey, he had been nearing twenty years of age, himself.

Also making the move were his parents, Lafayette D. and Eliza Smith Woodworth. Since William was the next-to-youngest son in the family, it would make sense that he and his younger brother, Lafayette junior, would accompany their parents.

On the other hand, of his many siblings, the ones closest in age were two sisters, Lillian and Emma, and a brother, Harvey.

At the time of the move west, Harvey—now married to Eva Victoria Williams, who had just given birth to their son, Milton—was not in any position to accompany his family, although he apparently did, much later in life.

Both sisters, too, were also married. As we’ve already seen, Lillian had married Fernando Cortez Hoskins in 1881, and had made a move in a different direction: east, to Ludington in Mason County, Michigan. By the time her parents removed to California, she was the mother of two children, herself.

Emma, also, had begun a life of her own. Marrying on April 7, 1877, in Pleasant Prairie, Wisconsin, she became the bride of Gilbert E. Larabee. Apparently, Emma and her fledgling family remained in Pleasant Prairie for the next twenty eight years—up through at least the 1905 Wisconsin State Census. Even by the time of the 1910 Federal Census, Emma and Gilbert were still living in Wisconsin—although at this point, they had moved seven miles from the bucolic-sounding Pleasant Prairie to the nearby town of Bristol. Yet Gilbert was still listed as a farm owner in the census.

Some time before her brother William’s passing, evidently Emma lost her own husband. Though he was included in the 1920 census in Bristol, for the 1930 census, Emma was listed as widowed in the household of her son Leon (known as “Lee”). A quick search through Find A Grave yields a photograph of Gilbert’s grave marker.

Though Emma’s parents and brothers had moved two thousand miles away when she was in her twenties, she continued life in the very same place where she was born. She and her husband were both buried in the same county in which they were married.

And yet, I wonder whether they had always stayed in Kenosha County, Wisconsin. A little string of clues piqued my curiosity. The 1880 census shows the young family—a threesome with the addition of their toddler daughter, Hattie. While the unfortunate loss of the 1890 census has left us in the dark, the 1895 Wisconsin State Census showed another arrival in the Larabee household—although with just a listing of head counts of both males and females, nothing further, the picture was still a bit fuzzy. The 1900 census cleared up one part—providing the names of one of those other two children of Gilbert and Emma—but demonstrating by that very listing that Hattie was no longer with them.

Beside Emma’s name was a count of her children: three born to the family, though only two still living. With daughter Florence arriving in 1886, and son Leon soon following in 1889, there was no mention of Hattie.

Not finding Hattie through any records in Ancestry.com, I took a look at Find A Grave. Not that I’m usually successful in such an approach, but it was worth the try. At least one Hattie Larabee showed up in the search results. Oddly, she was not buried alongside her stay-close-to-home parents in Bristol, Wisconsin, but far, far away in a distant state: California.

Not only that, but she was buried in the same cemetery in which her grandparents and some of Emma’s brothers were buried: Oakdale Memorial Park in Glendora, California.

Taking a look through some historic newspaper indexes, I find no obituary or news clipping to explain her passing, or even why this Wisconsin girl had died so young—and so far from home. I’ll have to keep looking, of course. A mystery like this can’t quietly be set aside. Yet it may conceal an answer I might never find, as to why a daughter of parents who remained all their life in the same county, would herself wander so far from home.

Monday, April 15, 2013

Being Family, Doing Family

In the far corner of my kitchen counter stands a gallon jug of stage blood. I realize that is not a customary addition to the accoutrements of most household countertops. And it isn’t generally a part of ours, either.


For the most part—from the last cheer at graduation to the murky middle of the next January—my kitchen counter looks pretty much like anyone else’s.

By the time local high schools are putting in time planning for spring breaks, proms and graduation festivities, though, a new order of “Reel Blood” shows up on the far corner of the counter. Another season of “moulage” makeup arts revs up for the beginning of the Every 15 Minutes program. And my daughter sets herself to the task of making teenagers look like their parents hope they never will.

I endure the sight of something as unappetizing as a plastic jug of dark red liquid, first of all, because there is really nowhere else we can store it. A tile countertop is the easiest to clean when transfers from gallon storage container to more-easily-controlled squeeze-top tubes get messy.

I also put up with it because I can see the level of the stuff decrease visibly each week, event by event, reminding me that the last drop will soon be poured out. I know that once it is gone, the plastic container can be sent to the recycling bin for another year, and my kitchen can go back to being just a kitchen.

The main reason I acquiesce to such an un-culinary corner is that I know what that stuff can accomplish. As phony as it is, when applied to the use for which it was intended, it lends just the right air of somber reality to get teenagers to step out of the realm of invincibleness and into the realization of “This Could Be You.”

My daughter has learned from emergency room nurses how to craft realistic-looking wounds—the horrible kind that only emergency responders would know on an all-too-regular basis. She works, as part of our family’s business, alongside a team of professionals to re-enact scenes of fatal car crashes for the benefit of students whose high schools participate in the national program known as Every 15 Minutes.

Her work helps set the stage for the opening scene of that two day event. Then, alongside first responders from local fire, ambulance, highway patrol, police and sheriff’s coroner personnel, her father adds his efforts as trainer and motivational speaker to help change the hearts of students and redirect them toward choices that may very well keep them and some of their friends alive past prom night or grad parties.

In many ways, that gallon jug on my kitchen counter represents family. Right now, it demonstrates how family can work together in productive ways—community-building ways—through two members of a family-owned business working side by side, each contributing their best from their different but complementary skill sets.

It also represents family from the past, tying together our family history with our family destiny. Those of you who have joined with me on my blogging journey of documenting what happened in this family—from the story of Frank Stevens’ turn from happy-go-lucky high school student to early recruit during World War II to never-the-same-again man, husband and father of four, to the story of his son Kelly who followed in his tragic footsteps—may remember that it is this story that our family shares during the Every 15 Minutes program.

Today, I don’t want to include any photographs with this post. Though our family has so many from participating in more than ten years of this event—after all, anything that would fit with this subject would be quite gory—it doesn’t take much searching during the months of March, April and May to find many online resources that would provide examples. A simple search online will yield photos and videos of such events across the country. Newspapers in the cities whose school districts sponsor the program often run stories with photo montages. It is not hard to get the idea of what a graphic scene is re-enacted every week in high school after high school.

That story is shared with the hope that it will make a difference in the lives of other young people—a difference that brings about a better outcome.

We take a family working together to weave a family’s history into a greater compelling story, with an overall message to both students and their parents to turn their hearts and their loyalties back home to family. Somehow, in telling the tale, in demonstrating the tragedy, it all seems to come back to those ties of family.

There is no accident in the fact that we think of the family we come from in terms like “roots.” Family is what nurtures us, what gives us support and direction.

When I think of it all in those terms, I can endure a jug of stage blood on my kitchen counter. All I have to do is remember the difference it makes in multiplied lives and families over these few short months of Spring.

Disclaimer: national regulations require writers to be "transparent" in revealing any "conflict of interest" regarding financial matters referred to in their writing--so writing this post leaves me in a position in which I must make a declaration that, should you click on the family business link that further explains this family's involvement in speaking at the Every 15 Minutes programs, and should you subsequently be persuaded to choose to do business with the principals of that website, you may simultaneously be affecting me in a positive financial manner. However, you can be pretty sure that the things I said here were not influenced by financial considerations--believe me, living this stuff is not easy!--though they were influenced in a much more intangible way by my personal involvement with the subjects of these stories. There! Said it!

Sunday, April 14, 2013

Taking a Photo Break

Hard at work…

unlabeled photo from the collection of Bill Bean

...or hardly working?

from the collection of Bill Bean unidentified man resting while plowing field with team of  horses

A man—obviously at home with his land and his horses—works the field in possibly the same way that Maud Woodworth Bean’s father William might have done, once he settled in what was then a very rural section of Los Angeles County, California.

While you are contemplating how very different life must have been in that crazy region of southern California almost one hundred years ago, my family and I are hurtling southward, at a speed unattainable back in that age. We’re headed to a coastal town not far from there (well, in a cosmic sense) to visit a potential college choice for our daughter: University of California at Santa Barbara.

Said daughter—whom I’ve taken to calling “She Whose Name Must Not Virtually Be Mentioned” in my infrequent online trespasses—has plans to double major in anthropology and archaeology, and to pursue higher education internationally to focus on her intended specialization in Ireland.

The toss-up, right now, is between UC Santa Barbara and my own alma mater, University of the Pacific, which institution we visited last weekend. A third acceptance has yet to be received, or we’d be adding another destination to our college-touring itinerary.

In the meantime, as we spend time surrounded by landscapes not much different than those pictured here, I fervently wish the indecision were already over and we had some definite answers.

Answers to questions like “who is this guy?” wouldn’t hurt, either.

Saturday, April 13, 2013

Another One Heads for California

“…a brother, H. D. Woodworth of Pomona…”

In the litany of relatives that Maud Woodworth Bean endured losing during the late 1920s, thankfully there were a few still remaining for family support. Among the siblings listed in Maud’s father’s obituary was William’s brother, Harvey.

Inadvertently (I’m sure) listed by the newspaper as “H. D. Woodworth,” the man was actually named Harvey Payne Woodworth—the use of initials evidently being the fashion of the day, and the letter “D” appearing not much different than the letter “P.”

We see him listed as “Harvey P.” in the 1880 census, where as a young man of nineteen, he is still residing in his parents’ household in Pleasant Prairie in Kenosha County, Wisconsin.

Only a few years later—on January 10, 1883—we see a Kenosha County record that Harvey P. Woodworth has taken to himself a bride.

By the time of the 1900 census, we realize that the former Eva V. Williams has given Harvey a son, whom they named Milton. That same census also reveals a glimpse into one particular sadness this family has already endured: Eva is listed as mother of two children, of whom only one is still surviving.

We also learn there that Milton’s bride was actually eight years older than he was. If the data on the 1900 census can be trusted—after all, sometimes respondents don’t answer correctly, or the census taker transcribes in error—Eva turned thirty years of age just three months after the wedding. In that era, a pregnancy after the age of thirty could be considered more of a risk than it is currently.

Milton most likely was not the first baby for Harvey and Eva, seeing his arrival on January 11, 1886, was three years after their wedding. Perhaps the lost child was the first one—if not, a birth after Milton's arrival might have meant difficulty both for the child and a mother nearing thirty five years of age.

One brief gift from an online resource for Milton’s birth information was the listing of complete names. It turns out the mother was actually listed as Eva Victoria, and the son—perhaps even more elaborately—was christened Milton Francis PayneWoodworth.

Life for the small Woodworth family seemed to continue without much variance through the years. Though I could not locate their record for the 1910 census until—thankfully!—someone entered a correction on the Ancestry.com index of their record as “Worth Harvey Wood,” their 1920 census showed them still living in Kenosha County, Wisconsin.

After that, though, things changed. Whether Harvey had decided to head west to be with his ailing brother William in his last months, or whether Harvey’s family coincidentally decided to make the move more permanent, by the year 1928, they were listed in the city directory for Pomona, California—not far from William’s ranch in Covina.

Unlike most of those “young men” going west, by that time, Harvey was sixty seven. I’ll let you do the math yourself for his wife; after all, it isn’t proper to publicly reveal a lady’s age.

Pomona must not have been a permanent housing situation for the H. P. Woodworth family. The 1930 census records them living in the same county—the soon-to-become-enormous Los Angeles County—but they now resided in the town of Glendora. A number of city directories for various towns in the region carry their information throughout the decade of the 1930s—until one change about 1938. From that point, confirmed further in the 1940 census, Harvey is not listed with his lifelong companion, Eva, but with a wife called Fannie. Evidently, that eight year lead caught up with them. Though I have yet to find any confirmation of Eva’s passing—which means…groan…back to the unindexed California Death Index at FamilySearch.org—I presume at this late date in the process, surely it wouldn’t have been divorce which yielded such a name change.

But…only with appropriate documentation can I say that for sure.

three unidentified men resting from riding their horses on a rocky hillside

Photograph above: Brothers? Friends? Coworkers? Three men in work clothes stand on a hillside while their horses take a break. If you look closely, you can see a fourth man seated behind the other three. From the collection of Bill Bean, none of the men are labeled in this undated picture.
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