Tuesday, April 30, 2019

Matthew Nace Mystery Part II

continuation of Matthew Nace Mystery Part I

After a decade or so of living in Oregon, Matthew Harvey Nace—albeit under his assumed name, James H. Neyce—finally made it to California.

James H. Neyce doesn’t appear in an 1870 census, but he was clearly in California by then. James H. Neyce, a watchmaker, appears in the October 1868 voter registration for Salinas, California. 

James Hempstead Neyce, a watchmaker who was born in Virginia, appears again in the 1871 voter registration for Lakeport, California.

By 1880, he seems to have aged about four years. Page 41 of the 1880 California-Sonoma-Santa Rosa Census, shows 60-year-old James H. Neyes was a “searcher of records” and lived on Cherry Street in Sonoma. The census information indicates both his parents were from Virginia, as was he and his wife Ella B. (age 38—now her husband is over 20 years older than she!). James and Ella now have two daughters—13-year-old Berta Lee (born in Oregon) and 8-year-old May (born in California). Source: Year: 1880;Census Place: Santa Rosa, Sonoma, California;Roll: 84;Page: 110C;Enumeration District: 124


Years later, Mae Ida Neyce’s social security info gives her parents’ names (her mother is Ella B. Christian), birthdate, and birthplace:
In 1882, part of his job as "searcher of records" must have involved researching patents. Here is a patent application that he witnessed:
The 1890 census is unavailable, but James appears to be living alone in the 1900 census. Ella B. must have died and his daughters—now grown—must have left home.
Perhaps it’s best that his family was gone before they were disgraced by James being imprisoned for embezzlement in January 1901 and serving two years in Folson Prison. Title/Description:Identification Cards, (Folsom) 24801-25277 and (San Quentin), 4499-14744 p. 1343-44

Why he was imprisoned is a mystery. Did Matthew Nace’s past finally catch up with him, or did he commit a new crime in California? I couldn’t find any trial records (yet), only that he served nearly two years. His former business partner Israel Coe, who was 60 years old in the 1855 New York census and who took out newspaper ads in 1856 in an attempt to apprehend Matthew H. Nace, would be long dead. Did James H. Neyce’s job as a “searcher of records” provide a temptation to embezzle? 

Despite his imprisonment, he didn’t lose his voting rights. The 1894 Sonoma voter list provided a description of 76-year-old (note age change from prison record—he should be 74, not 76 here) James Hemstead Neycefrom Virginia. He was 5 ft. 8 tall, had a light complexion and blue eyes, gray hair, and was blind in his left eye. (The Nace family in Botetourt County, Virginia, had blue eyes. Matthew’s younger brother John Christian Nace had blue eyes and a light complexion.) James is still listed as a searcher of records and lives in Santa Rosa no. 6 precinct.

But he only lived six years longer. James Hempstead Neyce, whose birthdate is “unknown,” died on March 10, 1910, and was buried in the old county cemetery in Santa Rosa, Sonoma County, California. 
The plaque on the rock near the path reads: 

Unlike his first wife Evaline, whose grave in Richmond’s Hollywood Cemetery was graced by the lavish monument he had erected to her memory, James/Matthew was buried in an unmarked pauper’s grave.

~

Note: Much of the above is speculation based on evidence I discovered at various sites on the Internet, but what I have deduced about Matthew Harvey Nace is certainly plausible. (His marriage record to Ella B. Christian and their daughter May Ida Neyce’s social security record provided the most helpful hints.) We’ll probably never know the full story of his life and exploits, but some public records have given us at least a glimpse of part of it. Pictures of the cemetery are from https://www.findagrave.com/cemetery/2098457/old-county-cemetery.


Saturday, April 27, 2019

Matthew Nace Mystery Part I

In my earlier post about my great-great uncle, Matthew Harvey Nace, it seemed as if he’d vanished after writing a letter (on April 26, 1856) to his business partner, Israel Coe. 

But did he really vanish? Or did he remarry in Indiana, move to Oregon, change his name, climb Mt. St. Helens, move to California, spend some time in Folson Prison, and die in 1910? I can only track him by his given name to Indiana, but numerous clues suggest his other adventures. 

His letter to Israel Coe (posted in full on “Matthew Harvey Nace”) ended:
Three months after he wrote the letter (and two years after his wife Evaline’s death), 32-year-old Matthew remarried—in Vigo, Indiana—to 20-year-old Ella B. Christian. Was she kin to his late wife Evaline, whose maiden name had been Christian? Or to the 20-year-old “L. P. Christian Nace” (his “sister” according to the census) who was living in his house in Brooklyn, New York, in 1855 (and might have been his 20-year-old brother Robert’s wife)? Odd how “Ella B. Christian Nace” sounds like “L.P. Christian Nace.” And both were born in 1835. (Could the 1855 Brooklyn census taker have made a mistake in spelling and really meant Ella B? But that would mean—?)

An Internet search provided records of the marriage. 
This, while unofficial, is from a book of marriages in Vigo County, Indiana:


There can’t be many men named Matthew Harvey Nace. (Our Matthew was named after Matthew Harvey, the owner of Mount Joy Plantation, who employed Matthew’s father, William Nace, as overseer.) After the marriage, Mattthew Nace dropped out of sight. Since this was the last record I could find about him with his legal name, it’s likely he changed his name.

Apparently, at some point, Matthew and Ella appear to have moved from Indiana to Oregon, and Matthew apparently assumed a different, but similar, name: James H. Neyce. In 1868, they had a son who died in infancy. 
Oregon Historical Society; Portland, OR; Index Collection: Biography Index
The child’s middle name is McDowell, almost the same as Matthew’s brother, William MacDowell Nace. (He wasn’t their only child. A daughter, Berta Lee, had been born the previous year.)

How did Matthew and Ella B. get to Oregon. At any rate, James H. and Ella B Neyce were there by 1860. Perhaps they joined a wagon train and traveled the Oregon trail to where it ended in The Dalles area. Why did they choose Oregon as a destination? Was it because they’d be hard to trace? Did Matthew decide to seek his fortune as a gold prospector? An article in which James H. Neyce is mentioned as a climber of Mt. St. Helens gives a hint:
P. 40, Cascade Alpine Guide, Colorado River to Steven's Pass by Fred Beckey
From the above sources, we know that Matthew—er, James—and Ella were in Oregon from 1860 until 1868. Some other info on the Internet suggests James H Neyce was a postmaster in Wasco County, Oregon for a while, but I cannot yet find definite proof. In March 1867, he appears on two Oregon tax lists, on one as a “pedlar 3rd class” and on another as “watch” (which might be the article he was selling).
Sometime between 1868 and 1871, James, Ella, and Berta moved to California.

Friday, July 27, 2018

Matthew Harvey Nace

Nace Monument
photo taken by Mike Ruble on July 28, 2018
I first blogged about Matthew Nace back in 2010 in the “Nace Settlement” post about his father’s estate. What became of Matthew was a mystery. From what I’d learned on the Internet, Matthew had apparently died mysteriously in Kansas, date unknown, and his widow married another man. Or maybe not. From what I’ve learned recently, it’s not. But there’s still a mystery.

Some background: Matthew Harvey Nace was one of four sons of William Nace (6 Feb 1797—May 1863): William M. Nace (19 Sept. 1826-2 Oct 1908), Matthew H. Nace (1824-?), Robert M. Nace (1835-?), and John C. Nace (22 Nov 1828-17 Feb 1928). William Nace worked for Col. Matthew Harvey, so it's logical where Matthew Harvey Nace got his name.

The youngest son, John C. Nace, stayed home (except for his service in the 22nd Virginia infantry during the Civil War). But the older sons all left home.

 William Nace Jr. had worked in Richmond at a wholesale grocery and commission house in Richmond from 1848 until early 1856, when “at the solicitation of Honorable Daniel Woodson, secretary of the Interior, he removed to Kansas.” In Lecompton Kansas, he was successful in a number of ventures.

William Jr. was soon joined by his younger brother Robert, who—as of May 1859—became manager of the saloon at the Rowena Hotel, “the most lavish hotel west of the Missouri River.” But Robert appears on the 1855 New York census, where he was living with his older brother Matthew.

So, for some of the Nace boys, there were connections to Richmond, Kansas, and New York. They'd come a long way from Buchanan, Virginia.

Now for Matthew: According to various Internet sites, as well as ancestry.com, Matthew was married to two women named Evaline—one was Evaline Ann Frances Christian (born act. 1830), daughter of Saluda Baker Fuqua Christian Watson (b. 1805 in Charlotte County, Virginia; d.  November 1886 in Lecompton, Kansas, where Matthew's older brother William lived.) This Evaline, who'd had a daughter (Jenny Frances—called “Fanny”) with Matthew in 1849, supposedly also married Robert William Pate in 1849. But that didn't add up.

Here’s the problem: Matthew, Evaline, and Fanny all appear on the 1850 census for Richmond, Virginia. So, it is likely that the Evaline who married Matthew was actually Evaline Augusta Fuqua Christian (whose mother was Saluda Baker Fuqua Christian Watson—same mother as the other Evaline). Somehow, many Internet sites have confused the wives' names while keeping the name of the mother—and the name of the first-born child—correct. 

1850 Richmond Census: Living next door to Matthew and Evaline is a William Christian
and his wife Fanny, and children William (2) and Fanny (6 months), plus a 9-year-old Martha.
Might William be Evaline Christian Nace's brother?
A record exists that this Evaline and Matthew were married in Lynchburg on November 10, 1847. Apparently they were a happy couple. Within a few years, they had three children: Jenny Frances (“Fanny”) in 1849, William (Willie) in December 1850, and Virginia Harvey (“Jenny”) in 1852. During the early 50s, they lived in Richmond where it appears that Matthew was a successful businessman. Since Matthew's older brother had started his career there before going to Kansas, perhaps William had gotten Matthew a job there. At any rate, neither William nor Matthew ever returned home to Buchanan.

In late 2016, a pdf of an article, “The Nace Monument in Hollywood Cemetery” appeared online. It was about the restoration of a lavish monument erected by Matthew Nace for his widow, Evaline Augusta Fuqua who died May 5, 1854. 


The article provides not only the name of his wife, but also connects them to Richmond and hints at Matthew's wealth.



 Here are some screen-grabs from part of the pdf:
The year after his wife died, Matthew and his three children were living in Brooklyn, New York. The New York census for 1955 also shows an L(?) P Christian Nace (listed as "sister" but probably his sister-in-law) and R. W. Nace (his brother Robert?) living with him in a stone house worth $10,000. His vocation was listed as "tobacco." Also in the household were three servants from Ireland. 


Matthew was apparently co-owner of Nace & Coe Company, which seems to have run into problems in 1856. Matthew is accused of robbing and swindling:

Article in The Daily Dispatch of Richmond, VA, 02 May 1856




Did Matthew make it to California? Or did he choose "self-destruction"? It remains a mystery.

It seems unlikely that he ever claimed his children again, and—if he sent them to his father—they didn't stay with his father long. 

According to the 1860 Kansas census, nine-year-old Willie was in Lecompton, Kansas, with his Uncle William. Willie was still there in 1865. The 1870 Federal census for Lecompton Kansas lists eighteen-year-old Virginia Nace living with her grandmother Saluda Christian Watson, who is now the postmistress. Living with them is eleven-year-old Laura Pate, who is likely another granddaughter of Saluda (Was Laura's mother married to Robert William Pate who had allegedly married Evaline in 1849?). What happened to Matthew's oldest daughter Fanny? What became of her is a mystery.
~

Wednesday, January 24, 2018

The Palatinate

Before I started researching my Nace family genealogy, I didn't know much about the Palatinate. But questions arose: What was this region? and Why did so many leave it? Beside the Naces, their relatives— Zirkles, Fringers, Noffsingers, and others—also left, as did their Ruble in-laws. 
Fortunately, the Internet provides many resources for learning about the Palatinate. This blogpost, "Pennsylvania Palatine Research" at A3Genealogy  is a good starting point.



So is this article from Olive Tree Genealogy:
[This article may be reproduced as long as it is not changed in any way, all identifying URLs and copyright information remain intact (including this permission), and a link is provided back to Olive Tree Genealogy http://olivetreegenealogy.com/]

PALATINE HISTORY

by Lorine McGinnis Schulze
Olive Tree Genealogy http://olivetreegenealogy.com/ 
Copyright © 1996
[This article has been published, with my permission as
Irish Palatine Story on the Internet
in Irish Palatine Association Journal, No. 7 December 1996
]

The Palatinate or German PFALZ, was, in German history, the land of the Count Palatine, a title held by a leading secular prince of the Holy Roman Empire. Geographically, the Palatinate was divided between two small territorial clusters: the Rhenish, or Lower Palatinate, and the Upper Palatinate. The Rhenish Palatinate included lands on both sides of the Middle Rhine River between its Main and Neckar tributaries. Its capital until the 18th century was Heidelberg. The Upper Palatinate was located in northern Bavaria, on both sides of the Naab River as it flows south toward the Danube and extended eastward to the Bohemian Forest. The boundaries of the Palatinate varied with the political and dynastic fortunes of the Counts Palatine.

The Palatinate has a border beginning in the north, on the Moselle River about 35 miles southwest of Coblenz to Bingen and east to Mainz, down the Rhine River to Oppenheim, Guntersblum and Worms, then continuing eastward above the Nieckar River about 25 miles east of Heidelberg then looping back westerly below Heidelberg to Speyer, south down the Rhine River to Alsace, then north-westerly back up to its beginning on the Moselle River.

The first Count Palatine of the Rhine was Hermann I, who received the office in 945. Although not originally hereditary, the title was held mainly by his descendants until his line expired in 1155, and the Bavarian Wittelsbachs took over in 1180. In 1356, the Golden Bull ( a papal bull: an official document, usually commands from the Pope and sealed with the official Papal seal called a Bulla) made the Count Palatine an Elector of the Holy Roman Empire. During the Reformation, the Palatinate accepted Protestantism and became the foremost Calvinist region in Germany.
After Martin Luther published his 95 Theses on the door of the castle church at Wittenberg on 31 October 1517, many of his followers came under considerable religious persecution for their beliefs. Perhaps for reasons of mutual comfort and support, they gathered in what is known as the Palatine. These folk came from many places, Germany, Holland, Switzerland and beyond, but all shared a common view on religion.

The protestant Elector Palatine Frederick V (1596-1632), called the "Winter King" of Bohemia, played a unique role in the struggle between Roman Catholic and Protestant Europe. His election in 1619 as King of Bohemia precipitated the Thirty Years War that lasted from 1619 until 1648. Frederick was driven from Bohemia and in 1623, deposed as Elector Palatine.

During the Thirty Years War, the Palatine country and other parts of Germany suffered from the horrors of fire and sword as well as from pillage and plunder by the French armies. This war was based upon both politics and religious hatreds, as the Roman Catholic armies sought to crush the religious freedom of a politically-divided Protestantism.

Many unpaid armies and bands of mercenaries, both of friends and foe, devoured the substance of the people and by 1633, even the catholic French supported the Elector Palatine for a time for political reasons.

During the War of the Grand Alliance (1689-97), the troops of the French monarch Louis XIV ravaged the Rhenish Palatinate, causing many Germans to emigrate. Many of the early German settlers of America (e.g. the Pennsylvania Dutch) were refugees from the Palatinate. During the French Revolutionary and Napoleonic Wars, the Palatinate's lands on the west bank of the Rhine were incorporated into France, while its eastern lands were divided largely between neighbouring Baden and Hesse.

Nearly the entire 17th century in central Europe was a period of turmoil as Louis XIV of France sought to increase his empire. The War of the Palatinate (as it was called in Germany), aka The War of The League of Augsburg, began in 1688 when Louis claimed the Palatinate. Every large city on the Rhine above Cologne was sacked. The War ended in 1697 with the Treaty of Ryswick. The Palatinate was badly battered but still outside French control. In 1702, the War of the Spanish Succession began in Europe and lasted until 1713, causing a great deal of instability for the Palatines. The Palatinate lay on the western edge of the Holy Roman Empire not far from France's eastern boundary. Louis wanted to push his eastern border to the Rhine, the heart of the Palatinate.

While the land of the Palatinate was good for its inhabitants, many of whom were farmers, vineyard operators etc., its location was unfortunately subject to invasion by the armies of Britain, France, and Germany. Mother Nature also played a role in what happened, for the winter of 1708 was particularly severe and many of the vineyards perished. So, as well as the devastating effects of war, the Palatines were subjected to the winter of 1708-09, the harshest in 100 years.

The scene was set for a mass migration. At the invitation of Queen Anne in the spring of 1709, about 7,000 harassed Palatines sailed down the Rhine to Rotterdam. From there, about 3000 were dispatched to America, either directly or via England, under the auspices of William Penn. The remaining 4,000 were sent via England to Ireland to strengthen the protestant interest.
Although the Palatines were scattered as agricultural settlers over much of Ireland, major accumulations were found in Counties Limerick and Tipperary. As the years progressed and dissatisfactions increased, many of these folk seized opportunities to join their compatriots in Pennsylvania, or to go to newly-opened settlements in Canada.

There were many reasons for the desire of the Palatines to emigrate to the New World: oppressive taxation, religious bickering, hunger for more and better land, the advertising of the English colonies in America and the favourable attitude of the British government toward settlement in the North American colonies. Many of the Palatines believed they were going to Pennsylvania, Carolina or one of the tropical islands.

The passage down the Rhine took from 4 to 6 weeks. Tolls and fees were demanded by authorities of the territories through which they passed. Early in June, the number of Palatines entering Rotterdam reached 1,000 per week. Later that year, the British government issued a Royal proclamation in German that all arriving after October 1709 would be sent back to Germany. The British could not effectively handle the number of Palatines in London and there may have been as many as 32 000 by November 1709. They wintered over in England since there were no adequate arrangements for the transfer of the Palatines to the English colonies.

In 1710, three large groups of Palatines sailed from London. The first went to Ireland, the second to Carolina and the third to New York with the new Governor, Robert Hunter. There were 3,000 Palatines on 10 ships that sailed for NY and approximately 470 died on the voyage or shortly after their arrival.

In NY, the Palatines were expected to work for the British authorities, producing naval stores [tar and pitch] for the navy in return for their passage to NY. They were also expected to act as a buffer between the French and Natives on the northern frontier and the English colonies to the south and east.

After the defeat of Napoleon (1814-15), the Congress of Vienna gave the east-bank lands of the Rhine valley to Bavaria. These lands, together with some surrounding territories, again took the name of Palatinate in 1838.

Permission to reprint is granted provided the following terms are followed: This article may be reproduced as long as it is not changed in any way, all identifying URLs and copyright information remain intact (including this permission), and a link is provided back to Olive Tree Genealogy http://olivetreegenealogy.com/

After learning about the Palatinate, I'm thankful that Matthias Nehs and his family made it to America.
~

Monday, January 22, 2018

Matthias Nehs

The early Naces spelled their last name in various ways: Nehs, Näss, Neass, Noes, etc., which has made researching them difficult. Even first names vary—Matthias, for instance, is sometimes Mathias. Thanks to the Internet, though, I’ve finally been able to trace our Nace line back to the first one of our line in America. Our Nace family comes from the Palatinate.

Matthias Nehs, a blacksmith, was born in 1673 at either Mitschdorf or Preuschdorf, Bas-Rhine, Alsace, France—which is on the German border. He married Mary Barbara Barba, daughter of Joseph Barba and Anna Marie Winterman, in 1699 at Bavarn Pflaz, Germany.

In the fall of 1731, he arrived in Philadelpha aboard the Britannia with his wife, six sons, two daughters-in-law, and four grandchildren. According to the passenger list, this was the family: Men 16 Years & Up: Mathias Nace (58), Johan Nehs (26), Dewald Nehs  (24), Hans George Nehs (21), Matthias Nehs, Jr. (27), Michael Nehs (30), Jacob Nehs (31). Women 16 Years & Up: Maria Barbara Nehs (60), Ana Katherina Nehs (28), Dorothea Neahs  (27). Children Under 16: Magdalena Nehs (7), Hans Jacob Nehs (5), Michael Nehs, Jr. (1), Katherine Nehs (2).

The Britannia, captained by Michael Franklyn, originally sailed from London/Cowes, but it picked up passengers in Rotterdam before sailing to Philadelphia. Soon after the ship landed in Philadelphia on 21 September 1731,  the passengers went to the courthouse to take an oath of allegiance to Great Britain.

By 1727, the influx of these foreigners into Pennsylvania assumed such proportions that the authorities became alarmed and the Provincial Council adopted a resolution requiring that all masters of vessels importing Germans and other foreigners should, before sailing from the European port, make a list of the names of all passengers, particularly the males over sixteen; though often the names and ages of all passengers, including women and children were set down. Then, upon reaching Pennsylvania, the foreigners were obliged to sign a declaration of allegiance and subjection to the King of Great Britain and of fidelity to the Proprietary of Pennsylvania. This oath was first taken in the courthouse at Philadelphia, September 21, 1727, by 109 Palatines. From The Strassburger Family and Allied Families of Pennsylvania, by Ralph Beaver Strassburger, 1922

The family remained in Pennsylvania for a time. Matthias’s first wife must have died not long after their arrival, for he married a second time to Anna Barbara Hoerter at Skippack, Montgomery, Pennsylvania, on 28, November, 1733. They had two sons, John Henry and Johan Owldrick (or Ulrich), before Matthias died on 31 Jan 1741 in Phildelphia, PA. He is buried at Little Zion Lutheran Church Cemetery, Earlington, Montgomery CountyPennsylvania.

Matthias’ son Hans Georg (who had been born in 1710 in either  Mitschdorf, Alsace, France, or Ittlingen, Heilbronn, Baden-Wuertemberg, Germany) married Anna Maria “Mary” Eichelberger on 13 March 1744 at the Lancaster Pennsylvania Moravian church in Lititz. Hans Georg died in 1785; his wife in 1814.

Their son George Nace was born in the 1740s—probably in Hanover, York County, Pennsylvania. He served in the Revolutionary War on the Pennsylvania line and was for a time in Count Pulaski’s regiment. For his service, he received a land grant for a hundred acres in Maryland. His Maryland plantation was called “Nace’s Tavern.”

George and his wife Mary (maiden name unknown) had the following children: George, Mary, William, and John. George died around 1808-1809 in Baltimore. His son William inherited the farm, and his son John (1760-1852), who had married Catherine Filston 1764-1855), received a land grant in 1782 for 170 acres in Botetourt County, Virginia.

This John would have been the first John Christian Nace—the founder of the Botetourt County, Virginia Naces. See “Nace Family Introduction,”  the first post in this blog. 
~

Friday, July 31, 2015

Annie Pearl Update

Annie Pearl Nace
1890-1911

Back in 2010, I posted about Annie Pearl Nace's mysterious death on July 30, 1911. The circumstances surrounding Pearl's death were a big family secret—her sisters apparently didn't want to talk about it, and my mother (Pearl's sister Blanche's daughter) was adamant that no one know. In her old age, Mama was angry that a cousin had asked her about it on more than one occasion.

When I was about eight or nine, I'd asked about what happened to my great aunt. I remember Mama telling me that Pearl's boyfriend "Otha" might have poisoned her. In her 80s, when I asked for more details, Mama denied ever telling me that. But lately, thanks to the Internet and Facebook, I've learned more of Pearl's story.

Otha was actually Otho Wilson Young, born in 1883, so he was seven years older than Pearl. His parents were Samuel and Rebecca Young. His family, like hers, lived in Botetourt County, Virginia.

He must have been serious about Pearl to pose for a picture with her at a Roanoke photographer's studio. I'm guessing the picture was taken prior to 1910, or certainly no later than very early 1910.


He and Pearl must have been sweethearts for a while. Besides the photo of them together, she had a picture of a much younger Otho Young that he had likely given her when they first became interested in each other. 


 I know that after Pearl's sister Blanche married Howard Ruble on June 11, 1909, and moved to Roanoke, Pearl sometimes visited her sister's home on Rorer Avenue. In fact, when the 1910 Roanoke census was taken, 19-year-old Pearl was staying with them:


The census had to have been taken very early in 1910, because Blanche gave birth to her son Howard Lawrence on March 3 of that year. The baby isn't listed on the census. Since Howard was a fireman on the railroad and would often be gone overnight, it must have been a comfort to Blanche to have her sister stay with her. It's uncertain how long Pearl stayed, but when the Buchanan Census 0056 was taken in mid-April, she was listed as living with her parents and her younger sisters Ossie (age 16) and Zora (age 6). Her sister Cora (21), married for three years to T.O. Hunt and the mother of a two-year-old and a newborn, lived in the same neighborhood.

But what about Otho? What was happening in his life in 1910? According to the census, he was living with his widowed mother and younger sister in Buchanan district 0056 (same district as the Naces) and working as a laborer at a sawmill.

So—what happened between Pearl and Otho? Obviously there was a break-up. But who broke up with whom, and why? We'll likely never know for sure, but it didn't take Otho long to find a new love interest. On December 22, 1910, Otho Wilson Young married Annie May Haymaker.

Look back at the picture of Pearl and Otha together. Notice how serious—maybe sad—she looks. Her eyes seem blank.  Her left hand has the fingers curled under—almost like a fist. Otho looks smug. Shouldn't the two of them seem happier if they indeed were a happy couple. Notice the photo of the younger Otho. Someone has made deep scratches across his throat. I used to think that maybe one of her sisters did that, but maybe Pearl did it herself. Was she so angry she wanted to cut his throat? And why did she keep the picture?

When Pearl died on July 30, 1911, Otho's new wife was seven months pregnant with their son Homer Godwin Young. Her three older sisters were all married—they'd been her current age or younger when they married—and they all had children. Did Pearl feel like an old maid? Did she have any marriage prospects or even any beaux?  What happened on the last Saturday of July? Her obituary gives few clues:

 

The "very bright, cheerful girl" who was in excellent health took sick at noon on Saturday, July 29, and was dead by 8 AM Sunday of "cholera morbus," which we'd now call gastroenteritis. From "best of health" to dead in less than 24 hours seems suspicious.

Were the two doctors correct in their diagnosis? Sometimes distinguishing cholera morbus from poisoning could be difficult in the old days. From Robert Amory's old book Poisons:


Cholera morbus, the book points out, is one of the disorders that might be confused with poisoning, but cholera morbus is "seldom fatal" and, if it is, death takes place "several days" later.


Another source notes that cholera morbus occurs in hot weather:
 It especially occurs in extreme hot weather in temperate climates, is usually endemic, but is often epidemic, and is caused by the absorption of toxins elaborated by bacterial activity within the gastrointestinal tract. The ingestion of decomposing food, unripe fruit, raw vegetables and large quantities of ice water and alcoholic beverages in seasons of great heat are predisposing factors.
 It would likely have been hot that July day, and fruit would have been in season. But why had no other family members been taken ill? Surely they ate the same things she did. The source mentions that the prognosis for recovery is good if the disease is "seen in the early stages." Two doctors were summoned less than 24 hours after her symptoms began.

If Pearl had indeed succumbed to cholera morbus, why was discussion of her death so hush-hush through the years? Was Pearl really poisoned? And if so, by whom? If so, why was the crime concealed and not investigated? Why would the family never want it mentioned? We can speculate, but we'll never know for sure. . . .

As for Otho, he and his family eventually left the county, and he worked in Covington at the paper mill, as did one of his sons.  The 1930 census gives details:



According to his death certificate, Otho died in Alleghany Memorial Hospital of granulocytic leukopenia on March 5, 1952. He was buried in Cedar Hill Cemetery in Covington on March 7.

We will likely never know all the details about the real story of Pearl's death. If there is a secret to her death, she has taken it to her grave. But let's remember her as the "very bright, cheerful girl" she must have once been.


Rest in peace, Annie Pearl Nace.
~
Thanks to members of the Facebook Botetourt County Genealogy group for finding the obituary pointing me in the direction of where to look for info.