In Climbing My Family Tree I share stories of my ancestors as I discover them, so the posts are sporadic. My family history is a work in progress, and I might have to backtrack occasionally if (when) I make mistakes, so if we share a branch or two I encourage you to double check the research sources rather than accepting mine wholesale. I hope you enjoy reading my posts and will visit often to find new posts. I enjoy sharing them with you!
This is my latest post for the “52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks” challenge initiated by Amy Johnson Crow of the No Story Too Small blog. For more information about the challenge and links to the other blogs participating in the challenge, please click on the badge in the right margin.
Fannie Hartman was my great-grandmother on my mom’s mom’s side, i.e. not the one who wrote out the family history notes. From talking to the people who remember her, she was not a particularly pleasant person to be around. Mom and at least one aunt are each convinced she hated them. Other aunts remember visiting her and being afraid to touch anything in the apartment. I always wondered if she started out difficult or did life turn her that way? But then other people have gone through rough times and not turned brittle. Anyway, I’ll never know that; I can only tell you what I’ve found in my research.
Fannie Hartman was born the third daughter and fourth child of Samuel Myers Hartman and Julia Ann Zimmerman in December 1844 in Findlay, Ohio. She had ten brothers and sisters: Charles Oliver (1868-1943), Etta Genora Hartman Archer (1869-1942), Della Sylvia Hartman Spitler (1871-1892), Zoe Amelia Hartman Rader (1874-1954), Samuel Thomas (1876-1877), Jesse Ephraim (1877-1945), Wellie Z. (1879-1960), Henry Barnhill (1884-1968), and Cleo Zerelda Hartman Duffield (1869-1966). The sister closest to her in age (Della) died at 21 [Fannie would have been 20] and one brother died in infancy. Her father was a successful farmer in Hancock County Ohio, having moved there from Wayne County Ohio just before she was born.
Cleo, Fannie, Zoe & Etta - The Hartman Girls
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She married Orley Calvin Hart on December 10, 1893, in Hancock County, Ohio, when she was 21 years old. He was born in Hancock County too. By the time of the 1900 census, they had moved to Clay County, Illinois, living and farming with Orley's parents. Family paperwork (compiled by my Mom's cousin) says that they lived in Van Buren, Ohio until they joined other Hart families in Clay County, Illinois in 1899 and that they bought 40 acres and together with the other families farmed a total of 280 acres. Fannie and Orley had five children: Lester Dene (1894-1981, Gladys (1896-1902), Reed C (1898-1954), Verne Allen (1900-1954), and Julia Ann (1903-1978). According to the same family papers, her daughter, Gladys, died at age 5 of “sugar diabetes”. Unfortunately, Orley died just two years later on January 28, 1905, also of diabetes, and Fannie was left grieving and alone to raise her four children. I would hope and expect that his family helped, at least with the farm.
The family of my great-grandfather, Vernon Erwin, had lived in Clay county, IL since before it was formed in 1824, but I doubt that Fannie had met him until after Orley died as he was away from the county for several years (his profile will be #18, tune in next week to see where he was). She married Vernon Erwin in 1909, in Louisville IL (the main city in Clay County). The 1910 census shows Vernon (spelled Verna), Fannie (listed as Frances), and her four children, living together; Vernon is not working, but 15 year old Dene is shown as “farm labor”. Vernon and Fannie had two children of their own: my grandmother, Mabel LeRe Erwin Snyder (1910-1990) and her sister, Dale Hart Erwin Crawford Shapiro Spicer Ludwig [actually I’m not exactly sure where Ludwig goes on that list] (1912-????).
Dale & Mabel Erwin
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My great-grandfather left my great-grandmother before 1920; I have a note from my mom’s cousin that says he left in 1915. I don’t know whether he paid child support; but even if he did, Fannie was again left with the major responsibility of raising and caring for their daughters, alone. If it’s true that he left in 1915, my grandmother was 5 when he left and her sister Dale was 3. By 1920, the census shows that Fannie (46) had returned to Hancock County Ohio, and that she and her two youngest daughters, Mabel (9) and Dale (8), lived in Pleasant, Ohio in the household of a father and son, Henry and George Borough, where Fannie was employed as their housekeeper. The census says George (47) was a farmer and Henry (79) did not work. From that point on Fannie always told the census taker that she was a widow, even though my great-grandfather still lived (and I have pictures showing that he later visited his grandkids – my mom & her sisters and brother). I guess that either being a widow was less embarrassing than admitting she had been left by her husband, or she was trying to erase all memory of that disastrous short marriage from her life (to the extent possible given two children of the union). I also expect she still loved Orley since she gave Vernon’s younger daughter, Dale Hart Erwin, Orley’s last name as a middle name; and she was Orley’s widow so it wasn’t entirely a lie.
The Findlay city directories for the next decade occasionally listed “Verne A Erwin” as her spouse, and sometimes listed her as Verne’s widow, and sometimes didn’t mention him at all. By 1929, she had obtained an apartment in Findlay with her two youngest daughters, and the directory indicated that she was a seamstress. The 1930 census shows that Fannie (it says age 55, but she’s 58) is a seamstress for a clothing store, Mabel (20) is a bookkeeper for a garage, and Dale (18) is a saleslady at a clothing store. The 1931 city directory is a bit more detailed, showing Fannie as a seamstress for Kessel’s Fashion Shop, Mabel a bookkeeper for the Davison-Harrington Chevrolet Company, and Dale as a saleswoman for C.B. Dabney. All three live at 425 Hardin Street.
In the next few years both daughters would marry in quiet simple ceremonies and move away. In 1935 Fannie moved to Massillon in Stark County, Ohio and was still living there at the time of the 1940 census. Fannie was 68 in 1940, and the census indicates that she had a lodger by the name of Alexander Holderbaum, who was 81. She may have been hired as his caretaker, as Mom's cousin's notes indicate that she at one point cared for" a lady in Gomer, Ohio”; Gomer is in Allen County, Ohio. She may have had a series of housekeeper/caretaker jobs.
By 1943, she was back in Findlay, living in the downtown apartment my mother and aunts remember visiting her at (218 ½ S. Main street -- across from the Courthouse), with her daughter Julia, who works as a clerk at Dall’s Drapery Shop . They would live together at that apartment for the rest of Fannie’s life. According to Mom's cousin Fannie suffered an incapacitating stroke in March 1954 and was bedridden thereafter. The Findlay Republican Courier reported that she was admitted to Blanchard Valley Hospital on March 9, 1954, and was taken to the hospital again, from her home, on March 17, 1954. She died July 13, 1954. Her son Reed died a month later; I think I’m glad she did not know that.
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Mom's cousin’s notes say that Fannie “enjoyed crafts and needlework. After visits to [her daughter] Dale in Florida, she made many objects from shells. She did a lot of sewing and made most of the granddaughters’ clothes. She loved to read, put jigsaw puzzles together, and take walks in the fields and woods.” She and Julia pieced and sewed the quilt top pictured HERE , in my 3rd - ever post (my mom turned it into a hand-tied quilt, as the drapery fabrics used were too heavy to quilt in the usual manner).
U.S Census: 1880, 1900; 1910; 1920; 1930, 1940; "Illinois, County Marriages, 1810-1934," index,FamilySearch(https://familysearch.org/pal:/MM9.1.1/X2G1-WJ6 : accessed 14 Apr 2014), Verna Erwin and Francis Hart, 1909; citing Clay, Illinois, United States; FHL microfilm 1008796; Ancestry.com.U.S. City Directories, 1821-1989[database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., 2011., Findlay Ohio City Directories for 1927, 1929, 1931, 1933, 1935, 1943, 1946, 1948, 1950, 1952; Findlay Republican Courier, January 18, 1935, p. 6; Findlay Republican Courier, March 9, 1954, p. 16; Findlay Republican Courier, March 17, 1954, p. 12.
I need to look at the land records for Clay County to see when Fannie and Orley purchased land there.
I’d like to find marriage records (& not just indexes) and a death certificate and obituary for Fannie.