Tuesday, February 2, 2016

Allen line: Edward F Allen obituary index: What does it mean?

I located an index for the obituary for Edward F. Allen on Family Search.  I was supposed to be able to view the actual image but the link isn't working, which is a huge disappointment.  However, the index alone makes me ponder some unanswerable questions.

First, a little background:  The family story has always been that my grandfather was more or less kicked out of his home at the age of 13, (1881 or so) because his new step mother had several young children and there was no room for him in their home.  Presumably, young Ed was left to fend for himself, end of story.  Except, bit by bit, I'm finding information that makes me doubt that story.

For instance, it seems that he was with his brother, George R., in Montana for some period of time in the 1890's, before he became a school teacher in Soda Springs, Idaho  He emulated the man in that both became attorneys, and surely big brother had a bit of influence on him.  Secondly, his father's will in 1915 indicates that Ed owed him $200.  If there had been no contact, why did son owe his father that sum of money?

Now, I find the obituary index.  I don't know who provided the information for the obituary, but I suspect that Ed's oldest son Vernon may have written it, simply because he was the newspaperman of the family.  Still, whoever wrote it mentioned Ed's parents, George R. Allen and Nancy McCoy Allen, his widow and four surviving children, and Andrew Allen, brother, Mrs. Fanny Sweeney, sister, and Frank Nance, brother.  Maybe the obituary itself differentiates and lists Mrs. Fanny Sweeney as a half sister and Frank Nance as a step-brother, but maybe the family didn't consider them to be any differently than brother and sister. This sort of destroys the myth that there was no contact after Ed left home.  We just don't know the story.

So, I got curious.  I wanted to know more about Frank Nance, who was one of the children of Peter and Sarah Powell Nance.  He was born in 1876, the same year that his father died, and he must have been a person of drive and ambition.  I found his World War I draft card, when he was in Chelan, Washington, married to Mabel.  He had been there since at least 1909, when he was granted a degree by the state board of education.  His census information indicates that he had finished four years of college, but I'm not sure when or where that occurred.  At any rate, he was in Washington State for a period of at least 7 years.  By 1920, he and Mabel and his mother, Sarah F. Allen, were living in West Palm Beach, Florida.  (Sarah died there in 1923).  Frank was a real estate agent. 

I have so far not been able to determine whether he became wealthy or even well to do there, but a real estate agent and developer in West Palm Beach in those early years would probably not have starved.  It doesn't appear that he and Mabel had children; at least I haven't located a census showing children.  It's possible that children were born and died between the census years, of course.  Frank lived a very long life, dying in 1973 shortly before his 97th birthday.  His wife Mabel had died in 1966. 

With a brief outline of Frank's life, I next turned to Ed's half-sister, "Mrs. Fanny Sweeney."  Her name was Francis, but she was known in the family as Fannie.  She was born in 1883, and married Herbert E Petty in Jamison, Daviess County, Missouri, on September 4,1901.  I haven't yet found either divorce records or death records for Herbert, but Fanny married Willaim A. Sweany on May 5,1907 in Pattonsburg, Daviess County, Missouri, and lived until 1970.  Fanny and William had at least five children, and if the oldest daughter was theirs, that would make six.  Fanny outlived William by 20 years, dying in 1970, having apparently spent her entire live in Daviess County.

Andrew Allen, apparently the only one of Ed's full siblings to outlive him, is proving harder to trace down.  I haven't located anyone in the 1900 census in either Indiana or Missouri that seems a likely match, or for that matter, in the later censuses, either.  I'm still working on him.

So these are the new questions (lots!) and new answers (a few) just from looking at the index to my grandfather's obituary.  It was printed in the Salt Lake City Telegram 5 on July 11,1940.  I sure hope that link gets fixed so I can someday see the actual obituary.  Who knows what else it would tell me, or hint at?   

Also, I am extremely curious to know if my father knew of these relatives.  We don't recall their names every being mentioned in our home growing up, but that may or may not mean anything.  That is one question that will likely not be answered here on earth.  But here are their names, they were part of my grandfather's family, and it is worthwhile to know a little of their history.  

The line of descent is:

Edward F Allen-Edith Knott
Richard Allen-Gladys Holbrook
Their descendants