Wednesday, March 7, 2018

Keeping Secrets

Every family has secrets. In my journey through family history, I have found plenty of secrets. The secrets come from family members and from documents. At some point in time, secrets get revealed. So, let me reveal two family secrets.

My adoptive parents, Frank George Newhouse (1906-1972) and Florence Marie Swinburne Newhouse (1907-1997), were married on June 11, 1938, with the ceremony taking place in a park in Oronoco, Minnesota. My dad could never remember their wedding anniversary, and it seemed I had to remind him every year of that special date.  I never told my mom I was doing this. After he died in 1972, my mother was reminiscing and revealed to me that they had actually eloped (probably to Iowa). The reason:  My dad did not want anyone else dating his girlfriend.  I had to laugh. I now understood why he could never remember his “official” wedding day. 

Another secret involved an uncle on my adoptive dad’s side of the family.  John Leon “Jack” Newhouse (1882-1932) was a barber by trade and operated his own barber shop. As related to me by his niece and my dad’s sister, Elizabeth Newhouse Harman (1917-2006), John lived with another woman, Cora Graden (1879-1964), and her daughter, May Graden. Cora’s husband was Walter Graden (1878-1935):  They were not divorced. I was told this before I found evidence in the 1930 U.S. Federal census for Corvallis, Benton County, Oregon. In the census, John is listed as being single and as being Cora’s brother (which he was not). Cora is listed as being a widow; however, her husband was alive and well in California. Tracing Walter, I found a listing in the Find A Grave website. He and Cora are listed as husband and wife, and the picture of their headstone shows both of their names. Obviously, Cora was never a widow; but is the family secret true? Well, I did look at the 1920 U.S. Federal census, and found Cora operating the Pine Island (Minn.) Hotel; John was one of the boarders in the hotel. It is interesting that they both ended up at the same address in Oregon as brother and sister in the 1930 census. All I can say, based on the 1930 census, is that John and Cora lived together. The family innuendo was that they were passing themselves off as husband and wife, but as to proof – I found none other than they lived together.

Winston Churchill is quoted as saying, “Study history, study history. In history lies all the secrets of statecraft.” This could be changed to say, “Study genealogy, study genealogy. In genealogy lies all the secrets of family.”

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