Wedding Wednesday – The many husbands of Agnes Mattson

Agnes Mattson is my husband’s paternal great-grandmother (Shirley Gingg -> Agnes Mattson).

From the stories I have been told, Agnes Mattson is one of those people you wish you had the chance to know.  She was born May 1, 1909 in San Francisco, California to Charles Mattson and Wendla Botmaster.  She was the middle child of five, having two older brothers and two younger brothers.  The eldest son died an early death and Agnes never knew him.  She worked in the Talmage State Hospital for many years and also owned 1000 acres in Hopland at one time.

Agnes is a woman who never gave up on love and kept trying her had a marriage.  She has 7 documented marriages and a deathbed confession of an 8th marriage.  We have not located any information about the 8th marriage.

Here is a peek at Agnes’ many husbands:

1.  Charles Frank Gingg.  Agnes and Charles married September 5, 1925 in San Francisco.  Charles was 22 at the time of the marriage.  The marriage certificate indicates that Agnes was 19 but she lied.  She was only 16 when she married the first time.  They had one daughter, Shirley Marie Gingg.  Shirley would be Agnes’ only child.  Charles and Agnes were divorced October 10, 1934.  The reason for the divorce was Charles having been sent to San Quentin Prison for his involvement of a burglary/murder in Santa Rosa, California in 1933.

2.  William Earl Hines.  Agnes married Bill Hines June 15, 1936.  The wedding was witnessed by Edwin and Sylvia Mattson, Agnes’ brother and his wife.  They lived in Napa, California.  Bill died in 1945 of a heart attack.

3.  Andrew A. Hooks.  Agnes married a third time to Andy Hooks on November 3, 1950.  Andrew was in the Air Force and stationed at Travis AFB in Fairfield, California.  There is a family story that this marriage ended in a quickie divorce in Mexico.  I do not know if this is true or not.  But I have no other knowledge of how the marriage ended.

4.  Daniel M. Williams.  Dan and Agnes married March 3, 1953.  Their marriage was annulled in the first two weeks of February 1955.

5. Donald Edward Frazier.  As soon as her previous marriage was annulled, Agnes married Don Frazier on February 14, 1955 in Reno, Nevada.  They lived in Talmage, Mendocino, California.  Don was Agnes’ favorite husband and they are buried next to each other in Colma, California.  He died in May 1958 from lung cancer.

6.  Peter Klick.  Agnes went back to Reno for her next marriage to Pete Klick.  They were married may 18, 1963.  They lived in Hopland, Mendocino, California.  Pete died June 4, 1975 of cancer.

7.  Patrick O’Malley.  Pat O’Malley was Agnes’ last husband.  They were married in Reno, Nevada (do we see a pattern here?) on March 31, 1978.  My mother-in-law remembers being pregnant with my husband as she traveled to Reno to witness the marriage.  Agnes had met Pat in the mobile home park she was living in Cloverdale, California.  The story is that she broke many of the other single women’s hearts when she married Pat, one of the only single men in the neighborhood.  Pat outlived Agnes.  She passed away March 22, 1982 in Cloverdale.

Agnes did have a family bible that she kept written notes about births and deaths in her family.  She wrote information about Don Frazier’s family in the back pages of the bible.  On random pages, she wrote the first names of all of her other husbands in the bottom margins except for Frank Gingg and Dan Williams.  Her many marriages were “hidden” inside of the bible.

Unfortunately, we do not have any information about the name of the mystery 8th husband or the year she may have married him.  I am considering doing some searching in the Reno marriage registers to see if any of her married names show up.  The time frames which Agnes could have married an 8th time are limited as the time periods between marriages were generally only a couple of years apart.

Twice Related

Lawrence Elliott has the special distinction of showing up in two different family lines in my family tree.  Here is how:

Lawrence was born Feb 26, 1892 in Hoyt, Kansas to Lewis Elliott and Melinda Mitchell.  On December 12, 1912 he married Ruby Strickler in Fall River, Greenwood, Kansas.  Ruby Strickler was born May 28, 1894 in Narka, Kansas to Abraham Strickler and Effie Amner Flock.

Ruby was the middle daughter in a family of 1 son and three girls.  The brother died as an infant. Opal was born second on March 1, 1891. Emerald was born last on April 1, 1902.  After Lawrence and Ruby were married, Ruby set her older sister up with her husband’s uncle, Dudley Moses Mitchell.  Dudley Moses is the younger brother of Melinda Mitchell, Lawrence’s mother.

Despite a fifteen year age difference, Opal and Dudley hit it off and were married on December 20, 1916 in Topeka, Kansas.

After the marriage, Lawrence became twice related.  He shows up in both the Strickler family line and the Mitchell family line.  Lawrence was related to Dudley Moses as his nephew and brother-in-law at the same time.  He is my 1st cousin twice removed and the husband of my great great aunt.

Black Sheep Sunday – My Dad lived in San Quentin

About 30 years ago, my mother-in-law took a ferry ride from Marin to San Francisco with her young son, husband, and in-laws, John A and Shirley Pope.  Shirley, my husband’s grandmother, pointed to San Quentin as they passed by and casually remarked “My dad lived there.”

I heard this story for the first time about 3 years ago and was amazed.  It was one of those stories that people knew but don’t talk about much.  I have since researched the story and found out that it is very important to pick your friends wisely.  This is the story of Charles Frank Gingg and his time “living” in San Quentin.

Charles Franklin Gingg taken June 1920 Pacific Heights Grammar School.
Charles Gingg was born Charles Franklin Padgitt on October 5, 1905 to John A Padgitt and Carrie Belle Wells.  His mother divorced his father and remarried William Carl Gingg.  Charles took William’s last name after his mother remarried.  All family stories have Charles using his middle name.

Frank Gingg married Agnes Mattson  September 5, 1925.  On the marriage certificate, Frank is listed as 22 and Agnes as 19.  In reality, Agnes was only 16 at the time.  She had lied to get past the age restrictions for marriage.  They had one daughter, Shirley Marie Gingg on September 16, 1927.  The 1930 census shows the young family living in Santa Rosa, California.  At the beginning of 1933, Agnes left Frank and took their young daughter to live in Santa Rosa.  Frank was living in an apartment in Santa Rosa with Ralph Thatcher.  Apparently, they both worked together as printers in Santa Rosa.

On February  20, 1933, Frank met with Andrew Mareck in San Francisco to discuss driving to Santa Rosa to rob a speakeasy in the back of the Buon Gusto Hotel on Adams Street. Frank, along with Tony Cardinelli, F.B. ‘Slim’ Hoyt, Ralph Thatcher, George Jones and Andrew Mareck drove up to Santa Rosa in several cars on February 25 and 26 and met at the apartment of Ralph Thatcher.  During the early evening of February 27th, the ‘gang’ robbed the 101 Ranch.  Frank was not present for this robbery as he was driving up from San Francisco.  He met the men at Thatcher’s apartment after.

Later in the evening, Andrew Mareck and Frank Gingg went to the speakeasy adjoining the Buon Gusto Hotel for some drinks.  They returned to the apartment once again, where they collected their friends and in two cars drove back to Adams Street.  Frank Gingg and George Jones remained in the cars as the get-away drivers.  Mareck, Cardinelli, and Hoyt entered the speakeasy with guns and declared “stick ’em up.”  They stole approximately $17 dollars from the speakeasy patrons and another $100 dollar from the three slot machines in the room.
There was a nightwatchman, C.R. ‘Bill’ Carrick, who made regular rounds in the neighborhood.  One of the victims of the robbery warned that the nightwatchman would be coming soon.  Slim Hoyt went outside to keep watch and ran straight into Carrick in the alley.  He shot Carrick six times.  Somehow, while being shot, Carrick was able to hit Hoyt once in the arm with his own gun.
Meanwhile, George Jones, who was waiting as a get away driver, was spooked by the gunshots and ran back to Thatcher’s apartment.  By the time he arrived at the apartment, both cars with the rest of the ‘gang’ had already returned.  Thatcher and Mareck, an ‘illegal doctor’ (he was on trial for performing abortions the year prior), tended to Hoyt’s wounds.  Gingg, Cardinelli, and Jones all immediately returned to San Francisco.
The cars used in the robbery/murder were quickly identified to police who within hours found them parked outside of Thatcher’s apartment. Police took Thatcher and Mareck into custody.  Slim Hoyt had escaped and was on the run.  After Mareck was interviewed, the Santa Rosa police had the San Francisco police go to his home.  At the apartment in San Francisco, the police found Thatcher and Gingg.  All men were arrested.  Thatcher and Gingg were not immediately transferred to Santa Rosa because the Sheriff had received threats of mob violence.
In the days after the murder, the police ordered that all speakeasy’s in Santa Rosa be shut down.  Apparently, the was not a drink to be found the following evening.
Agnes Gingg and her mother-in-law, Carrie Belle Gingg, visited Frank in jail.  Agnes told the local paper “I have all the faith in the world in Frank and I’ll do everything in my power to help him.  Frank has never been in any trouble before.  I can’t believe that he would do anything like this.  He told me when I talked to him that he wasn’t there when the shooting occurred and I believe him.  But, I can’t understand how he ever became mixed up with that crowd in the first place.”  Apparently, Frank became friends with the ‘gang’ after Agnes left him.
I have not found out if and when Slim Hoyt was arrested.  I have scanned the papers a month after the robbery/murder and he still had not been captured.
All of the ‘gang’ members were convicted of robbery and first degree murder in May 1933.  All of the men were sentenced to life and 5 years to life CS (My best guess is that notation means concurrent sentences).  Frank was processed at the intake center at San Quentin on June 2, 1933.  Mareck and Jones both tried to appeal their convictions.  Both of the appeals were denied.
Charles Frank Gingg, Prisoner Number 54252
While in prison, Frank received divorce papers from Agnes.  I am still trying to find the date that Frank was released from prison.  It was not included in the San Quentin prison records I received from the State Archives.  When he got out, Frank moved to Alaska.  He  lived in Ketchikan where he worked at the local paper as a printer.  I have been told by my mother-in-law that Shirley only told her sons that their grandfather had been in prison when they started to act up as teenagers.  She wanted to make sure that they knew the consequences if they got in trouble with the law.

The next generation – My Descendants

It occurred to me very recently that not only do I have ancestors, I have descendants.  The event that sparked this moment of clarity was the birth of my second child, Mia Caitlin on May 15th.  You would think that this would have occurred to me when my first daughter, Julia, was born in December 2008 but it didn’t.  It was a cool realization that there is now another generation added to my family tree, this time down in the roots.

Mystery Monday – Who was Mary Bradley’s mother?

Mary Bradley is my second great grandmother on my mother’s paternal side (William Lawbaugh ->Effie Bender->Mary Bradley).

Mary Eugenia Bradley was born 18 December 1867 in LaSalle county, Illinois.  Her parents are listed on her death certificate as Charles Bradley and Kate Bradley.  The informant listed on the death certificate was her daughter, Matilda ‘Tilly’ (Bender) Case.

Both my mother and one of her cousins remember their ‘Grandma Bender’ (Effie May Bender), Mary’s older daughter & Tilly’s older sister, telling the story about how her mother, Mary Bradley, was born illegitimately to a Jewish woman and forced onto her father’s new bride to raise.  They both also remember a story that Grandma Bender remembers a visit to Mary by the supposed biological mother.

Here are some of the ideas I have researched in my attempt to find an answer to this family story:

Birth Records

  • Birth Records were not kept in the state of Illinois until 1916.
  • LaSalle County, Illinois starting keeping birth records in 1877 but have no earlier records.

Census
An analysis of the census records is not clear either:

  • 1870 Federal Census – living with John and Kate
  • 1880 Federal Census – living with John and Kate and 3 brothers
  • about 1883 – John Bradley dies
  • 1885 Kansas Census – living with Kate and 3 brothers
  • 1900 Federal Census – living with husband, William Bender.  Kate is living in Chicago with her 3 sons.  She indicates that she has had 5 children and only 3 are living.
  • 1910 Federal Census – Mary is living in Kansas with her second husband.  Kate is living with her oldest son and his family in Chicago.  She indicates that she has had 3 children and 3 are living.

It is very interesting that after moving to Chicago, Kate (Cary) Bradley has indicated only 3 children are living when Mary is clearly alive in Kansas.

Marriage Records

  • Mary Bradley’s marriage certificate to William Bender dated 17 December 1877 does not mention Mary’s parents.  There is a certificate signed by John Bender (William’s father) attesting to both Mary and William being of age (18 and 19 respectively).
  • The marriage certificate for John Bradley and Catherine Cary is definitely more interesting.  They applied for a marriage license in LaSalle County, Illinois on November 18, 1867.  The copy of the license I received states that license # 1243 was ‘not returned, missing’.
  • I have also received a copy of the St. Columba Church marriage records (Ottawa, LaSalle, Illinois) for Charles and Kate.  The church records indicate that Charles and Catherine were married November 18, 1867.  The marriage was witnessed by William Edding and Mary Noonan.

The marriage date for Charles and Catherine is only 31 days before Mary was born.  I find it very unlikely that a woman in 1867 would wait until she is 8 months pregnant before marrying the father of her child.  Considering the year, I would expect a woman to have gotten married as soon as possible to hide the fact she was pregnant before marriage.

Conclusions
I have not reached any conclusions about who Mary Bradley’s mother is.

I do find the evidence in favor of Kate Bradley being Mary’s mother on the thin side.  The only person who has stated that fact was Mary’s daughter.  She was obviously did not have first hand knowledge of the birth since she was not there.

There is also no proof yet that another woman is Mary Bradley’s mother.

The only clue I have to the mystery Jewish woman is that her last name might have been Udell.  This name was given to my mother’s cousin by Grandma Bender in a conversation.

I am following up on another research idea right now.  I have sent an inquiry to the Catholic Church, St. Columba, in Ottawa, Illinois to see if they have any birth or baptismal records for Mary Bradley.  This is the church that Charles and Kate got married at just a month before Mary’s birth.

I will keep you updated when I receive a response.

Thriller Thursday – Aunt Laura’s house blew up

Last October, I got the chance to take a genealogy research trip to Kansas to look for information about my mother’s family.  The highlights of the trip include visiting with family on both the maternal and paternal sides of the family.  My mom’s uncle, Raymond, was just shy of 90 when we visited.  He told us so many great stories about the Mitchell family.  We spent an afternoon driving around Topeka, Kansas seeing the family sites when Raymond pointed to a street corner and said “That is where Aunt Laura’s house blew up.”

Of course, my mom and I immediately wanted to hear more.  This is a retelling of the story we heard that afternoon from Uncle Raymond with a little of my research added in.

Aunt Laura is Laura P. Mitchell.  She is one of Dudley Moses Mitchell’s older sisters.  She was born about 1868 in Jackson County, Kansas.  At the time of this story she was living in Topeka, Kansas.

One day Laura smelled gas in her house so she called the gas company.  They came out to the house and let her know that they did not smell anything and she was fine.  Later in the day, Laura still smelled gas and called the gas company again.  She apologized for being any trouble but let them know about the continuing gas smell.  The gas company again sent a man out to her house.  Laura went into the basement with the gas man.  When he turned on his flashlight, the gas in the room ignited.  The house split into two the explosion was so large.  They both somehow miraculously survived with little injuries.  Uncle Raymond continued that if Aunt Laura had been lying in her cot as usual, she would have gone through the roof becaues that is exactly what happened to the cot!  Laura received a settlement from the gas company.  She moved to Downey, California sometime after the explosion happened.  She lived in California the rest of her life.

Those Places Thursday – North Star Brewery, San Francisco, California

It turns out to be no surprise that my husband loves to brew his own beer.  His second great grandfather, John Pope, was the owner of North Star Brewery in San Francisco, California.  The brewery was open from 1897-1920.

1902 – Portraits from the Pacific Art Company’s book, Men of California. Photo accessed 6 April 2011 on the Anchor Brewing website (www.anchorbrewing.com/san_francisco/menofcalifornia.htm)

The brewery was located at 3312 Army Street in the Mission.  The photo below was taken from a brochure for a restaurant, The Old Clam House, that occupied the same space later in the 20th century.  The original is held by John A. Pope, Hopland, CA.

1915 Sanborn Insurance Map.  Accessed at burritojustice.com on 6 April 2011.

Matrilenial Monday – 5 Living Generations Twice in Her Life

This article ran in my local paper yesterday.  The genealogy bug in me was fascinated by the story.  If you get a change to visit the paper’s website, there are photos of both sets of 5 generations.
Marin Independent Journal
San Rafael, California
Sunday, May 8, 2011
Page A1, column 2
Also available at www.marinij.com with photos

Terra Linda matriarch has five living generations in her family — again

Loretta Castillo still has the photograph that ran in Ohio’s Toledo Blade newspaper 71 years ago, showing her at age 19 with her infant daughter and her mother, grandmother and great-grandmother.
Nearly three years ago, Castillo’s great-granddaughter, Melissa McSweeney, gave birth to a baby girl — giving the 90-year-old Terra Linda resident the opportunity to boast for a second time that she’s part of a family with five living generations of women. The case is so rare that one geneticist estimated there may be at most two or three other examples in the United States.
“At first you don’t think anything about it,” said Darlene Belluomini, the daughter who appeared with Castillo in the Toledo photograph in 1940. “It’s kind of crazy.”
Now 71, Belluomini lives with her husband in Novato and has hung a placard outside her home with the slogan, “Family is Everything.”
She talks to Castillo on the phone every night and takes care of her 2-year-old great-granddaughter, Abby McSweeney, on Fridays while the toddler’s mother works. Several times a week, Belluomini’s 50-year-old daughter, Susan Belluomini — who lives in Petaluma with her 25-year-old daughter, Melissa, and granddaughter Abby — has lunch at her mom’s house while on break from her preschool job in Novato.
Castillo moved to California from Ohio in 1948 with her two children after a divorce; she had married at age 18. She went on to marry Fred Castillo, who has been her husband for 62 years, and have two more children.
Her daughter, Darlene, married young too, at age 19, and gave birth to Susan 10 months later, making Castillo a grandmother at 39. At the time, Castillo had a 1-year-old daughter and would take care of both children together.
Susan married at 20, and at age 25 gave birth to Melissa, who at age 23 gave birth to Abby.
“I have 12 grandchildren, nine great- and one great-great,” said Castillo, who worked as a waitress at the House of Prime Rib in San Francisco for 35 years. “In my family room, I got pictures galore. I can’t even use the fireplace.”
On Mother’s Day, about 30 family members will gather to visit and eat together at Susan’s house in Petaluma. The family is close and always gets together for holidays, Castillo said.
There is roughly a 1 in 10,000 probability of a family having five living generations in the United States, with most likely about a couple hundred examples nationwide, said Shripad Tuljapurkar, a Stanford University professor of population studies and biology.
But the probability that the phenomenon would occur twice in the same family is extraordinarily low, approximately 1 in 100 million, Tuljapurkar guessed, noting that he’s never heard of another such case.
“That’s really striking,” Tuljapurkar said. “I would be astounded to find even one (case) with this happening twice. This deserves to be known by more demographers.”
Kenneth Wachter, a professor of demographics and statistics at the University of California at Berkeley, also called the case “rare and extraordinary.”
“Back in that generation, people dying at 70 was relatively common,” Wachter said. “To get five generations back then (in 1940) seems very rare. … That’s strong enough to suggest that there could be favorable alleles of genes in that family.”
While many mothers give birth to their first child at roughly the same age as their mothers, a large number of women also rebel and take the opposite route, Wachter said.
“There’s a general tendency for these things, by which I mean early initiation of childbearing … to run in families, but it’s not as strong as you might think because of the rebels,” Wachter said. “To have that general tendency (for early childbearing) expressed so clearly in one family is rare.”
In the United States, the average age of first birth is about 25 for women, said Stewart Tolnay, a sociology professor at the University of Washington’s Seattle campus. To have even one instance of five living generations in a family, four generations of women needed to be fertile, have children young and survive to child-bearing age — and in the great- and great-great-grandmothers’ cases, live to advanced ages, he said. “Lots of stars need to line up for this to happen.”
The Castillo-Belluomini-McSweeney women agree that they’re fortunate.
“We’re lucky,” Melissa McSweeney said. “Most of my friends don’t even have their grandparents.”
“When I tell people I have grandparents still at my age, they’re in awe,” Susan Belluomini added. “We’re very lucky to have each other. … Life is tough. We’ve all had our little stepping stones. We always know that through the good times and all the bad, we’re all going to be there for each other.”
Castillo said she still remembers the day she posed for the newspaper photograph with her relatives in 1940. Her great-grandmother, a “full-blooded French” woman, was 88 that day and lived to be 92.
“I remember the words she said to me after we took the picture — she said, ‘Good luck with your bebe,” Castillo recalled, adding that’s she’s happy a picture of the new five generations will appear in the newspaper.
“I know my mother in heaven is going to be very pleased,” she said.

A Tribute to Great Mothers

Happy Mother’s Day!

I want to take a moment today to recognize some wonderful mother’s in my family.  All of these women have helped shape me into the mother that I am today.  I cannot thank them enough for loving me, supporting me, and teaching me.  I love you!

My Mom 

My Maternal Grandmother

My Paternal Grandmother

My Mother-in-Law