Friday, October 26, 2018
More About Tarance
One of the challenges of returning antique photographs to family members is to correctly trace the lines of descent for the specific individuals identified in the pictures. That involves building a family tree for the subject, then following that family down to the present time.
In the case of the baby Tarance Fuller, whose picture we viewed on Wednesday, attempting to follow his history caused me to stumble upon some unexpected details.
One of the first places I visit, when researching such families, is Find A Grave. The reason for this is simple: anyone showing up in a hundred year old picture is likely no longer with us—even a baby. Find A Grave is a quick way to locate those who are likely to be found in such a condition. The drawback is that it is a volunteer effort by many kind people, some of whom can make mistakes. I am wondering if what I found on some of the Fuller and Purkey records contain such errors.
We've already learned that Tarance was the son of John and Pleasant Purkey Fuller. We met his sister—listed in various records with either the name Theresa or Tressa—in the photograph I shared yesterday. Along with Tarance and Theresa, the Fullers had another son, whom they named Harold.
The first problem I spotted in the Fuller records at Find A Grave was in the memorial for Tarance's mother Pleasant. Someone had provided a statement indicating her parents were Jacob and Helen Fuller. Well, of course that was wrong—we've already discussed her spot in the family of Jacob and Mary Ellen Kincade Purkey. Just that one error reminded me to step carefully in working through this family tree.
But when it came to finding the memorial for Pleasant's son, Tarance Fuller, I noticed that his rather plain grave marker, similar to his mother's, did not appear to be the military marker he likely was entitled to have received. While he was much too old to have been drafted for World War II, Tarance, as I had discovered through an application for headstone made on his behalf, had enlisted in the army shortly before the end of the first World War, and received an honorable discharge as a corporal in January of 1918.
The headstone he was to have received, incidentally, would have been a flat granite marker. If the marker shown in the photograph accompanying Tarance's Find A Grave memorial was indeed granite, however, it was in terrible disrepair. Bad enough to have the volunteer read his rank as private rather than corporal.
A few clues might lead us to understand why the grave site looked so neglected. I noticed, on Tarance's World War II registration, that he listed, for closest relative to contact, his sister "May"—the one whom we now know as Theresa Fuller Hanson of Spooner, Wisconsin, the mother in the photo we saw yesterday. At fifty five years of age, Tarance provided no name of any wife or children to enter in that slot for contact information of closest relative.
And at the point of ordering Tarance's headstone, the relative who signed for the request was someone named Laverna M. Fuller Jaquith. It didn't take too much sleuthing to discover Laverna's identity. Remember Tarance's younger brother Harold? One of his daughters was named Laverna—and she eventually married Harold Kenneth Jaquith. Two days after Tarance's death in 1953, the closest family he had to attend to his affairs was not a wife or a child, but a daughter of his younger brother.
Sometimes, when I find the family to which rightfully belongs a photograph I've rescued, it is a happy reunion of the family memento with descendants—particularly if it is a person who, like the rest of us, cares deeply about family history.
Other times—and I'm afraid this instance of Tarance's photograph will find itself in this situation—there is really no one left to send the photograph to.