Monday, July 13, 2009

Monday Madness - driving ME mad!



I've yet to find an ancestor who was thought to be mad. I do have several ancestors that are going to drive ME mad! Joseph A.G. Baudermann, my grandfather, is one of those!

I never met Joseph, he died 4 years before I was born and in addition to that my father only saw his dad one time in his adult life, about 1942. Joseph was born in Newark, NJ, and graduated from New York University in 1908 with a degree in engineering. He was an exceptional athlete on the NYU track team as a distance runner as well as a member of the Irish-American Athletic Club. After his graduation Joseph began working for the New Jersey Transit Authority, he seemed to be set for a successful life.

At some point before 1916 Joseph quit/lost his job and made a trip to California. On the return trip he met and married Una Jerlene Dorothy Evingham. She was born in Illinois, but living in Nebraska at the time. They moved to Newark where they had 3 boys, the youngest being my father. Joseph never maintained a regular job after that, all his education was for naught.

Sometime between 1920 and 1930 Una left Joseph, took the boys and moved to Texas. I found Una and the 3 boys in Wheeler, TX, in the 1930 census, working on a farm. Una had changed her name to Viola Vanderman and the boys were now using that name also. The story Una/Viola told is that Joseph was very mean to them and that is why they left.

I recently found a second cousin on the Baudermann side that had a much different story about Joseph. Una/Viola left with the boys while Joseph was at work. Joseph searched and searched for them but was unable to locate them and was heartbroken. During WW II through the American Red Cross, Joseph finally found his sons and met them about 1942. After that one meeting there was no other contact. My cousin knew Joseph her whole life, loved him and had great memories of spending holidays with him.

I don't know that the true story will ever be known, none of those family members are living, there is no one to ask. How believable is either side of the story? How many women in the 1920's would pack up with three children and move halfway across the country unless they had a very good reason?

This is one of those "why didn't I ask" situations most family historian face.