Sometimes it’s hard to know what to believe. I love a good skeleton in the closet as much as the next genealogist—or a black sheep or two in the family—but this stretches the bounds of credibility.
My maternal grandmother, Clara Anderson Erickson (1892-1967), had four brothers—George, Charles, Howard, and Lester. Grandma Erickson was a farmer’s wife—but if you scratched deeper, she was a schoolmarm, and a tough one. Once you fell from her good graces, there was no going back, and her four brothers had taken that fall. When Grandma died in 1967, none of her brothers were notified, because she hadn’t seen nor heard from any of them in years. But—could all four of her brothers have been the bums she said they were?
Clara’s father was Charles Anderson (1859-1916), whom I’ve written about before, and he was a bona fide Black Sheep. But what about his boys? Here is what my mother told me about her four uncles many years ago—probably repeating what her mother Clara had told her—and it is not pretty (nor is it substantiated in any way):
“I have no idea where George is. For some reason, he changed his name from Anderson to Adams—no one knows why… Charles was married three times. The first time he married really young. After they got a divorce, neither parent wanted the two boys, so they were adopted out… Howard left his wife and little child and never came back. His wife hid his Mason ring, and he got so mad that he left her… Lester never married, and never worked. He lived at a shelter or mission in Joliet. He seemed to be kind of odd. Once in a while, as I was growing up, he’d walk out to see us.”
Whoa, there! Mom didn’t paint a very flattering picture of the Anderson boys, who were her uncles. Could all of this possibly be true? I’d really like to know! If anyone out there knows anything about the four sons of Charles Anderson and Emma Hanson Anderson—good or bad—I’d love to hear about it. Here is what I do know about them, from my own research (census records and WWI draft cards, mainly):
- George Francis Anderson (1889-??). Born in Lemont, Illinois, as were his brothers. House cleaning contractor (self-employed) in 1917.
- Charles Grover Anderson (1893-1972). Spouse Ruby Roberta Parker. Chauffeur in 1917 and 1920.
- Howard Louis Anderson (1897-??). Stoneworker in 1917 and metal polisher in 1920.
- Lester Michael Anderson (1900-??). Laundry worker in 1917.
Can anyone out there set the record straight and save the reputation of this family?