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Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Morgan H. Clarke's Well-Written Obituary

There's nothing like a well-written obituary; a death notice that contains the names of people and places connected to the deceased. Yesterday I received a copy of such an obituary from Joseph Berger at the Washington County Free Library in Maryland.

For some time I have been trying to clarify the relationship between my grandfather and a gentleman who might be his great-grandfather. I located a likely candidate, but it was hard to decide if it was the real deal or just a maze of interesting coincindences.

Harold Clarke Mueller's grandparents Ella and William Penrod Clarke lived with his family in the 1920 Chicago census. William and both his parents had been born in Maryland. As a young man, William traveled to Springfield Ohio where his daughter (Harold's mother) Ellen Gertrude was born.

Norman Clarke also lived in Springfield. There was reason to believe he and William were brothers, but not enough evidence to prove or disprove this theory. While William relocated to Chicago, Norman and his wife Hester moved to Dayton Ohio. Hester died and Norman later remarried in Chicago. Another coincidence, or proof of a relationship between these two men?

William and Ella moved to Michigan in late 1910. According to the 1920 and 1930 censuses, they farmed in Van Buren County. Harold visited his grandparents often. He liked Michigan and moved there after retiring from his trucking job.

In the meantime, Elmer Eugene Clarke appeared in Chicago. He and his parents had been born in Maryland. His children had names similar to those listed with my likely candidate in an earlier census. Not names like John or Mary, mind you, but names like Lyman, Zora, Morgan, Hester, and Stella. But how to prove these three men were brothers?

Enter that well-written obituary. According to the August 30, 1910 issue of the Daily Mail (a newspaper in Hagerstown Maryland), 80 year old Morgan H. Clark died at the home of his daughter Mrs. John Highbarger (Zora). He was survived by (among others) the following children; William Clark, Michigan; Norman, Dayton, O; and Elmer, Clarence, and Harry in Chicago. Bingo!

Of course there are other ways to confirm the connection between these men and I'm hot on the trail of several. But Morgan's obituary confirmed that I am barking up the right family tree.

1 comment:

Becky Higgins said...

Obituaries like that are wonderful; so much better than the ones that only name names of survivors and not locations.
Congrats on the great find!

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