March 28, 2007

My New Identity Crisis: Part 2 -- Ruth's Proposal

In the last post, I detailed how after a number of years of on and off searching, I finally got a clue about some of the story of Marion Hess Sr., the father of my adoptive father, Vernon. The clue came from a woman named Ruth who had posted some information on line, and when I contacted her, she was kind enough to tell me why she had an interest in Marion.

Ruth explained that she was indirectly related to Vernon's mother Norma, Marion's wife, who died in her early 3os. Norma was the product of a third marriage. Her mother, Lulu, had been married twice before, and had a number of children in those marriages. Ruth's family was an offshoot of Lulu's second marriage. Ruth herself is an amateur genealogist, and when she understood that I was looking for more information on Marion, she tackled the problem with fervor.

We traded a number of e-mails back and forth. I sent her the little information I had, including the social security application, and she used census records, enlistment records and the like to gather more information. Without belaboring the process, she discovered the following facts. First, Marion was from Northwest Ohio and had a sister. His father Andrew worked on a railroad line. Andrew also had a farm, where he raised horses for harness racing. This fit with what little I knew already. Vernon had told me that his father had raced "silkies."

Second, and this was the shocker, Marion had been married in Ohio, and had a son named Julian. At some point, Marion left Ohio never to return, abandoning his wife and son who continued to live with Marion's father and mother. Julian remained in Ohio, and eventually died in 1990 in Columbus. Marion, in the meanwhile, resurfaced in California, met Norma, possibly in the Santa Cruz area, married her and moved to Fort Bragg where they had five boys. Marion became a barber, was a piano player with a music group, and eventually became postmaster in his older age. I do not know if he ever legally ended his first marriage, and I'm not sure that his sons knew that they had an older half-brother in Ohio. I have not been able yet to question his sole surviving son, Robert, about this. However, I was able to send Robert all the information I obtained from Ruth.

Ruth was able to increase my knowledge of Marion by at least 1000% in that month that she went to work, and it was a treasure trove to me. My regret was that I did not get it in time to share with Vernon or his brother Marion, or even their youngest brother Jack who had done some looking on his own before he died in the early 70s.

However, it turns out that the search for Marion was only a step in a greater journey for me. For, in one of the e-mails that I sent to Ruth during this period, I happened to mention that I was adopted. Up to this point, Ruth and I were engaged in a common cause -- we both were interested in finding out information that benefited each other's knowledge of our own families. After I sent that e-mail, Ruth sent a proposal back to me. It seemed that she had helped an acquaintance who had been adopted find his birth family. This man had discovered family he never knew he had and it had been a resounding success. Would searching for yours be of interest to you, she asked me?

Coming in Part 3: My answer to Ruth

Question to readers: What would your answer to Ruth be and why?

Photo: (Holding baby) Lulu Ann Beswick Amaya Pacheco, Norma Pacheco Hess' mother and grandmother of my adoptive father, Vernon Hess

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Blogger Mary B. said... never did tell what happened with Ruth when you were first faced with this decision. You left us with a cliffhanger and soon (hopefully) we'll hear *does best Paul Harvey imitation* the rest of the story.

6:56 AM  
Blogger Pauline said...

I hope that I was supportive enough when you were making these decisions. You know me... I tend to run a tad on the self absorbed side.
If it had been me? I would have totally gone for it... I think. What I am saying... it's a crazy situation and one would have to be in the situation to answer it.
Though, I am enjoying being able to take this ride with you... just imagine me in the sidecar.

1:31 PM  

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