Great-Great Aunt Winifred Margaret Atwell, aka Margaret Armstrong

Wedded bliss did not last long in the marriage of Arthur Vinton (formerly Arthur Holzel) and Margaret Armstrong (formerly Winifred Margaret Atwell). Later newspaper accounts alluded to Arthur not being very good with money (always a problem when there is a family to support). Perhaps this was Margaret’s incentive to continue to work in theater, for Arthur accused her of refusing “to give up theatricals and make a home for him” and stated that it was difficult for them to find work in the same town.

The Holzels separated in August 1922, with Margaret and Evelyn remaining in Long Island City, NY as Margaret continued acting in New York City. During the separation, Arthur wrote to Margaret that “The way to hold a man is to be his pal. Not to dance and raise hell, but to play the game with him.”

What was Arthur’s game? Margaret soon found out that he was living in Kansas City, Missouri with another woman, Mrs. Marie Pohl, née Marie Eugenia Welch, wife (or ex-wife; I haven’t found out yet) of August Pohl of San Diego, California. Margaret put her foot down during an August 1923 visit from Arthur, confronting him with her findings. Arthur seemed to waffle, asking for time to think things over and decide whether or not he wanted to reconcile or let Margaret pursue a divorce.

Margaret chose to file for divorce and did so in January 1924 (perhaps she gave him until the end of 1923 to make a decision, or perhaps she took the time to get her legal paperwork together). in the filing, she requested $125 per week for alimony toward child support for Evelyn. Meanwhile, Margaret continued her work on stage.

On January 9, 1925, the decree of divorce was granted. Margaret received $200 in legal fees and $40 per week for alimony. By the end of the decade, Arthur married Marie and got his wish for someone “making a home for him” in upstate New York, where he ran a side business of a cattle then a turkey farm. Apparently Arthur got to “play the game” with Marie, as he notoriously had numerous affairs and was often cruel to Marie.

As far as I know, Margaret never re-married. By 1930 she and Evelyn were living in Los Angeles, CA where Margaret launched a movie career as a character actress. Her film career can be found here. It seemed that the financial issues that Margaret experienced with Arthur were far behind her. She was able to provide Evelyn with a college education (Evelyn went to the University of California, Los Angeles) and trips abroad.

Margaret Armstrong in her role as Annie Oakley's mother.  Author's collection.

Margaret Armstrong in her role as Annie Oakley’s mother. Author’s collection.

Eventually Evelyn met and married Clinton A. White sometime before 1950 (I suspect during the late 1940’s). This marriage caused a permanent rift between Evelyn and her father, Arthur, for Clinton was African-American. (Indeed, in some states, such an inter-racial marriage was not even considered legal.) According to my grandmother, Arthur disowned Evelyn; online anecdotes seem to support this. Evelyn was not deterred; the couple raised a family, ran a family business, and spent the rest of their lives together.

Evelyn White in 1961.  Courtesy MyHeritage.com (Brazil, Rio de Janeiro, Immigration Cards).

Evelyn White in 1961. Courtesy MyHeritage.com (Brazil, Rio de Janeiro, Immigration Cards).

Sometime after Margaret’s movie career ended, it seems that she must have moved in with or close to Evelyn and her family, for she passed away in Alameda County, CA on December 15, 1961. I’m not sure where she is buried; with all the names she had taken on, it’s been difficult to find her final resting place.

Clinton White died on April 6, 1988 in Berkeley, Alameda County, CA, so Evelyn went to live closer to her family in Brookings, Curry County, OR. There she died on September 19, 2000.

Because of the very separate lives and physical distance between my great-grandfather and Margaret, I never personally knew that side of the family. It’s my hope that a curious cousin might see this and reach out!

Third Great-Uncle Theodore W. White

Theodore W. White was the youngest child of Job and Elizabeth White, born in 1860 in Yarmouth, Nova Scotia. He, too, immigrated to the United States in 1869. Theodore became a worker in the shoe making industry in Lynn.

According to family legend, as previously written, Theodore became quite sick about 1886 when he and his father Job traveled to Martin County, Florida to see if the warmer weather would improve his health. After his father’s sudden death in Florida, Theodore returned to Lynn around 1889 and his mother Elizabeth continued to live with him.

Theodore White in 1893 Lynn City Directory.  Author's Collection.

Theodore White in 1893 Lynn City Directory. Author’s Collection.

On August 22, 1890, Theodore married Sophronia Bailey. They went on to have three children:

  • Glenn T., born July 1891
  • Gladys May, born May 19, 1895
  • Kenneth Douglas, born January 13, 1898

Sadly, the year Kenneth was born, Theodore passed away on November 9 of cardiac and renal disease, just like his brother Milton. Sophronia and the children moved in with her widowed mother Laura and brother Edwin. Sophronia never remarried and died sometime after 1924.

Glenn married Viola Slaney on Dec. 29, 1912 in Revere, MA. They do not appear to have had children. Glenn died in October 1924 and was buried in Pine Grove Cemetery.

Gladys married Leroy Matthews in 1921; she died on March 17, 1982 and he on September 24, 1974. Both are buried in Waterside Cemetery in Marblehead, MA. Gladys seems to be Theodore’s only child who gave him descendants; on May 1, 1922, she and Leroy had a daughter, Gwenna, who in turn married and had children. Gwenna died on April 11, 2011 and is also buried in Waterside Cemetery.

I show no record of Kenneth marrying. Somehow he made his way out to San Bernardino, CA and died there in February 1975.

* * *

This is the end of the Colomy/White story (until further research turns up something new and cool). Soon we’ll be turning our attention to other branches of my family. Stay tuned!

Third Great-Uncle Milton K. White, aka James M. White

According to his naturalization papers, Milton K. White was born on March 30, 1849 in Yarmouth, Nova Scotia. This is a very crucial fact, as we shall see later. Milton was the fourth son and fifth child of Job R. and Elizabeth Phoebe White.

As far as I can tell, Milton immigrated to the United States with his parents on 1869. Like his father, He worked as a carpenter for many years. By 1876, Milton decided to become a US citizen. He is the only member of his family for whom I’ve found any naturalization paperwork. It was from this paperwork that I learned his birthday. At this time he was living in Chelsea, Massachusetts, not too far from his family in Lynn.

Two years later on August 28, Milton married Amelia Martin by Methodist minister George Sutherland. The Chelsea marriage register notes that this was Amelia’s second marriage, but I cannot tell whether Martin was her maiden or married name. As far as I can tell, Milton and Amelia did not have any children.

City directories show Milton living in Boston and working as a screenmaker then an upholsterer until 1892. For a long time, I thought Milton just dropped off the face of the planet.

Meanwhile, I found an entry in a Boston death register for a married son of Job and Elizabeth White named James M. (or N.) White. This James was a phrenologist living on Boston who died of cardiac and renal disease on January 9, 1900. I had assumed that James was just another son of Job and Elizabeth until I tried matching up tick marks with people under Job White in the 1861 Nova Scotia Census. There seemed to be one too many sons! I assumed that perhaps James may have been John David White, but I didn’t know for sure. I tried doing more research on James, then I carefully examined what I knew about each of Job’s sons.

Extract of James White entry in 1900 Boston Death Register from familysearch.org

Extract of James White entry in 1900 Boston Death Register from familysearch.org

When I looked over the death register once more, I noticed it gave James’ exact age to the day: 50 years, 9 months and 10 days. Calculating backwards, this made James’ birthday March 30, 1849, the same birthday Milton gave on his naturalization paperwork! James was Milton and Milton was James! There was no “extra son”.

I figure that Milton must have changed his name sometime after 1892. It’s a mystery to me why he would do this, and why in the world a former carpenter/upholsterer would become a phrenologist. According to Wikipedia, phrenology is “a process that involves observing and/or feeling the skull to determine an individual’s psychological attributes”. Was this a field that Milton/James was always fascinated with?

Milton/James was laid to rest somewhere in nearby Malden, Massachusetts. So far, I have been unable to find his wife Amelia on the 1900 US Census or in a potential remarriage. Perhaps new records in the future will help me figure out the mystery of Milton.

Third Great-Aunt Frances A. (“Fanny”) White: Getting Younger

Frances A. White, commonly called Fanny (or Fannie), was born, I believe, in 1846 in Yarmouth, Nova Scotia. She was the oldest daughter and fourth child of Job R. and Elizabeth Phoebe White.

Fanny seems to be the first of her family to immigrate to the United States, though I’m not sure of those circumstances. On July 8, 1868 she married Harmon S. Burns in Lynn, Massachusetts at the age of 22. Harmon S. Burns was an older widower who was born in Vermont around 1828. Like so many people in Lynn, he worked in the shoemaking industry. Their marriage being the first record where I find Fanny’s name and age, I have calculated her birth year to be approximately 1846. As time went on, as we shall see, Fanny seemed to shave a few years off her age!

The 1870 Census shows Fanny and Harmon living in Lynn with his adult son Alfred and her sister Jennie, as well as border Lizzie Clark. Fanny had not aged at all in two years, as her age here was 22.

The 1870s proved to be a difficult time for the Burns. Three children were born and later died during this decade:

  • Roseanna Blanche, born July 1, 1871; died August 8, 1878 of scarlet fever
  • Estella Elizabeth, born March 4, 1874; died December 8, 1874 of spinal meningitis
  • Harmon S., Jr., born February 3, 1876; died August 23, 1878 of scarlet fever

Fanny only appears to have aged 10 years by the 1880 Census, where she and Harmon are living along at 27 Cedar Hill Avenue in Lynn. However, they were not alone for long. On May 2, 1882, daughter Lena M. was born (the register of births shows her as unnamed). On May 6, 1884, daughter Elsie F. was born. I’m sure these daughters brought their parents much joy in the aftermath of their siblings’ deaths.

By 1900, the Burns family and lodger Everett Kent were living at 38 Cedar Hill Avenue. (Fanny aged only 15 years since 1880!) They moved there around 1889 and if my calculations are correct, they would have been next door neighbors to Fanny’s sister Jennie and the Colomy family during Bertha’s trouble with Percy St. Clair.

The next few years brought many changes for the family. On March 11, 1901, Harmon died of gangrene. He was buried at Pine Grove Cemetery at Public Lot-4, Section-22. On November 6, 1902, Lena died of tuberculosis. She, too, was buried at Pine Grove at Moss Path, Lot-692. The following year on January 3, Elsie had married James L. McNichol. That marriage did not last, as they were no longer together as of 1910. And on August 29, 1908 at the ripe old age of 44 (losing three years over the past eight), Fanny married 40-year-old divorced Edward H. Ives.

By the 1910 Census, Edward, Fanny and Elsie moved to 30 Dana Street in neighboring Revere (where Fanny did gain the necessary two years to become “46”). Later that year, on October 26, Elsie married William Younie in Boston. They eventually had a daughter (Bernice Elsie) and a son (William, Jr.). Sadly on February 25, 1917, Elsie died of a cerebral hemorrhage and was buried in Pine Grove (location unknown at this time). Once again, Fanny buried one of her children, this being her last. To add insult to injury, Edward died of a cardiac lesion that year on October 7.

I can’t be 100% sure that I have found Fanny in the 1920 Census. There is only one “Fannie A. Burns” in Massachusetts, who was an inmate in the Westborough State Hospital (a mental hospital). She was listed as married and age 61. Her parent information is not correct, but perhaps whoever put Fanny there did not give the hospital that information. In any case, I have to wonder if Fanny may have been committed there in light of all the tragedies she faced in her lifetime.

Fanny herself lived five more years, passing away in April 1925. Although I am not sure of where Edward Ives was buried, I do know that Fanny is buried next to her daughter Lena in Pine Grove Cemetery. According to Find a Grave, her age at death is 66 years old, which does line up with the “Fannie” in the 1920 Census. So how old was she at death, really? I say she was probably 78 years old.

Third Great-Uncle John David White, and a U-Turn to Mary

John David White was born May 1845 in Shelburne, Nova Scotia, the third child of Job R. and Elizabeth Phoebe White.  He was christened on August 22, 1845 at Christ Church (the combined parishes of St. George & St. Patrick),just like his brother Edgar.

Other than being enumerated in Yarmouth on the 1861 Census with his family, I have no further record of John.  I assume that he lived to adulthood, based on the fact that his mother Elizabeth said she had six living children in 1900.   With such a common name, it hasn’t been easy to find definitive records that identify him (a marriage record would be perfect).

My “U-turn” is back to Mary Roberts (White) Goodwin, sixth child and second daughter of Job and Elizabeth White.  I previously wrote that Mary lived for many years with her daughter Augusta.  Just recently, I found out that Mary is buried in Pine Grove at Mayflower Path Section-3, Lot-68, in the same plot as her mother Elizabeth, but not mentioned on Elizabeth’s gravestone.  Find a Grave tells me that Mary died in August 1924.  Augusta is buried in Pine Grove as well, at Plot-K, Lot-750, but with no gravestone.  She passed away in December 1950.  I have to wonder if my grandfather knew her.

Third Great-Uncle William Faulkner White: A Key Connection

William Faulkner White, second child of Job R. and Elizabeth Phoebe White, was born 1843 in Yarmouth, Nova Scotia. He married Maria J. McNiel on February 9, 1866 by Rev. Henry Augette in Yarmouth in the Baptist Church. He lived in and worked as a farmer in Kemptville, Yarmouth County, Nova Scotia between 1867 – 1874. In 1879, William and his family decided to follow in his parents’ footsteps and immigrate to the United States. They lived in Peabody and Salem, which are towns neighboring Lynn, Massachusetts. While there, he worked as a machinist, then by 1900 he was working as a carpenter, perhaps following in his father’s footsteps.

William and Maria’s children were:

  • Gertrude M (born March 8, 1867 in Kemptville)
  • Ervin Havelock (born March 4, 1871 in Kemptville)
  • Herman Douglas (born December 8, 1872 in Kemptville)
  • Gilbert A. (born October 11, 1874 in Rockingham)
  • Ernest William (or Washington) (born December 21, 1877 in Yarmouth)
  • Murray C. (born May 15, 1880 in Peabody, Essex County, MA)
  • Edgar (born May 29, 1882 in Salem, Essex County, MA)
  • Mabel (born May 29, 1882 in Salem, Essex County, MA)

William died in March 1931. Like so many of his family, he was buried in Pine Grove (Campanula Path,Lot-105,Grave-1/a) but with no gravestone. Maria died September 1932 and is also buried at Pine Grove (Plot-L, Lot-200,Grave-1).

For me, this story does not end with William’s death. William’s son Ernest married Faustina C. Mason on December 14, 1896, a month after the birth of their son, Ernest Harmon, in Lynn. Three years later, their daughter Hazel Faustina was born on December 19, 1899. Hazel went on to marry Thomas Howard Hill and have a son of her own, Sherman Granville on October 9, 1919.

Hazel White on left, circa 1919.  Courtesy Deb Thompson Colomy.

Hazel White on left, circa 1919. Courtesy Deb Thompson Colomy.

Making the connection back to William Faulkner White was important to me because I knew Hazel, Sherman, and Sherman’s wife Ginny, and I needed to know just how we were related (turns out she is my second cousin twice removed). When I was a little girl and we would visit her, Hazel would give me some chocolate or a little toy. Ginny and Sherman were always kind and friendly as well. Years later, after my grandfather’s funeral, Hazel sought me out to ask, “Do you remember me?” Oh, yes, I did! I was glad to recount her kindnesses, and she was glad I remembered. I also learned around this time that she had been very close to my great-grandmother Bertha.

Sadly, that was the last time I saw Hazel. She stayed in Lynn, and we were living on the far end of Connecticut. Hazel passed away on January 18, 1992, having outlived not only her husband (who had died in the 1920s), but her son Sherman and daughter-in-law Ginny as well. All are buried at Pine Grove; Ginny and Sherman are in the World War II section (which I still need to visit), and Hazel is buried in the Wren Section, Grave 583. I was able to pay my respects during my pilgrimage to Pine Grove two years ago. Once again, I remembered this cousin and her kindness to me.

Hazel Hill gravestone, Pine Grove Cemetery.  Author's collection.

Hazel Hill gravestone, Pine Grove Cemetery. Author’s collection.

Third Great-Uncle Edgar Douglas White: A World Away

There are others (cousins) who could probably give a more detailed and colorful account of Jennie’s oldest brother Edgar, but this is my own account, based on my own research.

Edgar Douglas White was born to Job R. and Elizabeth White on October 3, 1840 in Shelburne, Nova Scotia. He was christened on January 8, 1842 at Christ Church (the combined parishes of St. George & St. Patrick). (Interestingly, this church was founded in the 1780s by Loyalists and is still an active church to this day.) By 1846, the family lived in Yarmouth, Nova Scotia.

Like his parents, Edgar left Nova Scotia in 1869; but unlike them, he did not go to the United States. Instead, he traveled to Little Akaroa, New Zealand. From there he made his way to the Coromandel area, where gold mining was booming. I don’t know how successful Edgar was in finding gold, but he did manage to find a wife in Thames, New Zealand. In 1872 he wed Frances Organ in the parsonage of St. George’s Church. The two went on to have a very large family:

  • William Edgar (born 1874)
  • Richard James (born September 25, 1875)
  • Frances Elizabeth (born November 1, 1877)
  • Annie Jane (born September 25, 1879)
  • Rose Mary (born 1881)
  • Flora Isobel (born November 23, 1882)
  • Alice Matilda (born 1884)
  • Edgar Douglas (born 1886)
  • Joseph Milton (born March 18, 1889)
  • Rachel Eleanor (born August 15, 1891)
  • twins James & unnamed (born and died March 10, 1895)
  • Gladys May (born January 7, 1898)

As Edgar’s family was growing, misfortune struck. On April 1, 1887, he had to file for bankruptcy. That must have been difficult with so many mouths to feed. From what I can tell, however, Edgar continued to be involved in the mining industry.

Edgar and his descendants did not forget their home folks. Correspondence was kept up with Elizabeth White, her granddaughter Bertha Colomy, and Bertha’s granddaughter Cherie Pleau. I’m sure other members of the family were written to as well. Today, I am blessed to be in contact with one of Edgar’s great-grandsons.