I have been looking for this woman for 20 years, ever since Herb gave me the obit from an Orlando Brock, a man clearly too old, uh, maybe not tooooo old, but unlikely to have fathered Herb’s father, Wesley. But nothing in the paperwork he gave me nor did his memories give Clue One about who was in between Herb’s father and Orlando. Orlando. I can’t picture a toddler answering to Orlando. Isn’t that a city where Mickey Mouse and Goofey live? I digress.
Wednesday I came home early and made sure I had the Zicam. The throat symptoms and light headedness was historically indicative of a literally honkin’ ol’ cold coming on. I took Thursday off and waited, but it fizzled, thank you, God. Honey left Friday morning for Alabama to the trade show (doesn’t everybody in the south go south in the summer?) and throughout the weekend I ate really stupid, as is the custom when no one is looking over my shoulder expecting me to behave as a responsible adult.
Saturday I talked with the son. Rainy day, just hangin’ out; told him about the cool dead people I’d found. “We have a George W in the family??” Little did he or I know the extent of his rainy day after rainy day after rainy day. Water in the basement. Nothing to do but retrieve the stuff you don’t want to get wet which is pretty much everything. It hasn’t been a pleasant two days for them nor does it look like it’s getting much better any time soon. Check out Jules on the sidebar for more details.
I quietly searched the ancestors online at will and at length. I found out really incredible fun details, tracked back to Jerusalem and Rome, toured Prussia, Denmark, and Troy. One of these days I’m going to write the family history, maybe naming it As I imagine It Was, since none of them have voice to challenge the filling in beyond the stats. For instance ……..
I found George and Mary, Herb’s grandparents, through simple census reports and one marriage record. I just about danced. I did whoop a bit. Someday I plan to fill in their story complete with dialog but for now the statistics alone tell just enough to leave the imagination wide open. It’s the imagination that suggests what had to happen to cause a father to ignore his grandchildren after his son died. Did he tell his daughter-in-law he wouldn’t take them in? Did his second or third wife over-ride any compassion he may have had in him? Or did Mary tell her father-in-law she would rather eat goat lint than live in his house after what happened between him and George? What did happen between him and George? Did George paint an unfair picture of a bad relationship from a teenager’s point of view? Was he wounded by harsh words from his father or was he the one to burn the bridge? Something had to happen that was severe enough to prevent a man from forgiving his father, or embitter his father to the point at which 4 young children had to be given away by their mother in order to survive when there was a place to go and stay together.
George Wesley was the second child of Orlando and Louisa’s five children. He was 8 years old when his mama died. The baby, the 5th, was one. The 1860 census reported names and ages. Father Orlando, the woman of the household was Mahala, not Louisa. (I’ve got to find her and know why “Mahala”) Suddenly there’s a 14 year old step sister between the 18 year old brother, Robert and George at 16, the same age as the next brother, Woodson. We see also an additional three half siblings aged 5, 3, and 1. In 1860, the war between the states had begun and the Brock house was a bit crowded with people who could have been a tad disfunctional.
Mary Angelina Haver also lived in the same small town of Etna, Ohio where George was born, not far from Liberty where he was living in 1860. I found her parents’ names on the marriage record and no more. My imagination tells me they were childhood sweethearts or maybe discovered each other as teens at a dance or a fair or church. War broke out, George was not happy at home, he enlisted. One fact in our possession is a photograph of a tin-type showing George and a few combat buddies standing on a boulder on Lookout Mountain, TN after the brutal battle. It’s fuzzy, but we think we can see the family’s prominent nose. He was still in his teens.
George Wesley Brock married Mary Angelina Haver in Nebraska in 1867 just after the war. White lace and promises before a preacher in a church with flowers and friends in attendance? Probably no family in attendance. Why Nebraska and not Ohio? Did she run away with him, disappointing her parents or did she run to him, both actions brazen and improper things to do in 1867, because he didn’t want to be anywhere near the home turf?
Even if the chaplain or a judge married them in a less than romantic setting, I think he looked at her and said Mary Angelina, My Angel. (sigh) I read a lot of romance novels in my youth.
I found no trace of George and Mary in any of the 1870 census records searches. Children were Frank, Clara, Wesley Harmon, and Robert. Approximately the same year, George died of his war wounds, whatever they were. The next census report is in Bluff Creek, Iowa. Clara is 10, Wesley is 8, they’re in the home of the Clavers, Charles, a preacher and his wife Nancy.
Eight years old. Eight year old George’s mama died. Mary kissed their son Wesley goodbye when he was eight. She had to leave her one and only daughter with the Clavers as well, and Robert, number 2, with her to Denver. Frank was 14, a young man old enough to fend for himself. He claimed land in the Oklahoma Run. The 1910 census in Denver reported a household of two, Mary A Brock, 64, and Robert, 31. It’s apparent to me that she never got over losing George. She died in 1918. Further information on Robert is yet to be found.
In my optimism I like to think that when Wesley grew up, the sole reason he took his wife Esther Jane, whom he married in Iowa, to Denver was to be near his family, Mary and Robert. There’s no one left to confirm or deny that they renewed the relationship. I just like to think they did.
Clara? She married George Rybolt and moved to Minnesota, Park Rapids area. I’d like to think she and her mother remained in contact and that Mary was at her wedding and was able to see her and her grandchildren on occasion. I see no reason why not. There just aren’t records or witnesses.
I have a picture of Robert as a young adult. He looks like the era, has a full handlebar stache and a funny expression on his face. I have a picture of Clara and one of Wesley. He looks to be about 18 or 20. Clara sports the bad hair and uncomfortable fashion of the day. None of the photos show the heartaches if there was heartache, or regret, or cynicism. Maybe in the faces of these young adults there is resolve. “Nothing’s going to keep me from my family again.” Maybe they treasured what memories they had and were content and intent on restoration.
Life deals some nasty cards sometimes. Are we bitter or better for it all? God is good all the time and all the time God is good. He isn’t the dealer. He’s the Comforter and Healer.