Saturday, April 6, 2013

Enter Two Surprises

Using archived newspaper collections to uncover family history details can sometimes lead to unexpected revelations. As I’ve moved from the big picture events—graduation from school, for instance—to those little snippets buried deep within local papers’ middle sections, the process has gone more slowly, but the pay-off may be greater.

In the case of Samuel Bean and his bride, for instance, while Sam’s Oakland Tribune had no longer carried on its breathless coverage of the blind and deaf marvel, Maud’s hometown paper took up the narrative with a wisp of trivia here, a trite blurb there.

Even so, I was surprised to come across two entries in the Covina Argus that reinforced the observation that there is so much more to the story of Sam and Maud during those silent years of the 1920s and 1930s.

Several years after their first son, Sammie junior, was born, I ran across an item dated March 5, 1926:
Mrs. Samuel Bean has arrived from Texas, where she has spent several months, and will spend the summer with her parents, Mr. and Mrs. W. C. Woodworth.
Excuse me? Texas?!

There was clearly something I had missed in this saga.

I can imagine Sam and Maud traveling back to Boston—as we had discovered upon locating Sam’s father’s obituary in a 1928 San Jose newspaper—since there were a number of nationally-recognized schools working with the blind and deaf in and near Massachusetts.

But Texas? What would have brought the Bean family to Texas?

While I am clueless how to track their whereabouts in a state the size of Texas, I can make an educated guess about why Maud, alone, might have returned to her parents’ home.

No, it wasn’t another unfortunate turn of events. Don’t despair over this now-five-year-old marriage.

I am guessing the return trip was owing to the fact that Sammie junior’s younger brother was about to make his appearance. I’ve already known from family records that baby Earle was born in July of that year. Perhaps his dad was still on a traveling sales and speaking circuit, and the pace was getting to Maud during this pregnancy. After all, I sense that Maud was possessed of a delicate constitution.

While patting myself on the back for my astute observation as to her condition, however, another blip in the Covina Argus pulled me up short and told me I didn’t, after all, know everything there was to know about this woman.

From the July 23, 1926, issue:
            Twin sons were born Friday, July 16, to Mr. and Mrs. Samuel W. Bean of Alameda at the Covina hospital. Mrs. Bean is a daughter of Mr. and Mrs. W. C. Woodworth.

question if possible Maud Woodworth Bean and son Sammie circa late 1920s

Photograph: Yet another unidentified subject from among the unlabeled pictures in Bill Bean's collection. A very faint stamp on the reverse indicates, "Hammond's Studio, Porterville, CA." Like the unnamed woman in this photo, Maud Woodworth Bean had dark hair and very thick glasses. Similar to this woman, Maud--and her sons and grandson--had eyes that slanted downward at the outside edges. While this subject's clothing seems to indicate a much more recent time period than Maud's lifetime (she died in 1933), and while Maud and Sam had no connections in Porterville that I am aware of (yet), the similarities are so tempting.


  1. twins..sounds like good news bad news:(

    1. Yeah, I bet that was a shock! It sure was a surprise to me...

  2. Twin sons! That could not have been an easy pregnancy. Sam may not have been able to provide Maud with enough help. Let's see . . . if she returned from Texas to Covina before March 5th, and the sons were born on July 16th . . . she would have been traveling in the 5th month of her pregnancy. I don't know what medical advice was at that time, but today I hear that traveling in the 7th month was not advised. Twins could have aggravated that risk. So maybe Maud returned when she was supposed to return, medically speaking.

    I was moved to look at Google Maps, which tells me that Covina is 180 miles from Porterville . . ?

    Nice picture!

    1. Yes, it was probably the nature of the pregnancy that required Maud to return home. You are generally right about the issues of traveling during those later months. Complicating that, though, is the case that often, mothers of twins do not carry to full term. When the twins were born in July, that may not have been the ninth month, making that travel time seem proportionately later in the term.

      Mariann, good idea on checking the Google maps. Porterville is one of those "you can't get there from here" kinds of places--tucked away in its own corner of the state. While 180 miles may seem much to east coast residents, where that would entail interstate travel, here in California, that is not considered as great a distance. Remember, in comparison, that Maud and Sam traveled down to Covina from Alameda--a factor of hundreds of miles.

      Of course, I have yet to figure out why anyone in this family would have been in Porterville in the first place!

  3. Uh oh. If her twins were a surprise to you, could this mean that one of them didn't make it? Sad news.

    1. Jana, on the one hand, I don't know why it would be a surprise--after all, Sam himself was a twin--but it was, mainly because I had no idea there had been such a situation. You are right in your guess, as I'll soon be explaining.

  4. Goodness. How unexpected. I wonder if they named either of them William Samuel...

    1. You'd think that would have been a strong contender, Iggy. It looks like they took a different approach, though.

      And I guess the "twinning" tendency was a strong factor, too. Makes me wonder what would have happened if either of Sam's siblings had had children--or Sam's grandchildren. No way to tell now, of course, but in Sam's own case, it was definitely one of a twin having twins.


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