Sunday, November 27, 2011

BlackSheep Sunday - What Ever Happened To Arthur?

As genealogists, what would we do without our Black Sheep ancestors? They often provide us with immense challenges and great entertainment, which translates sometimes into fits and starts during eons of research hours that ultimately end in a rather large brick wall. In the spirit of the "hunt", I prefer to celebrate these less than model citizens. It also helps to remind myself that it was their conduct or situation that branded them as Black Sheep to begin with, and that I had nothing to do with it, and thus, am free from guilt. 

One such infamous character of mine is one Arthur B. Alexander. I know so little about him that he barely qualifies as a Black Sheep, but as many of us have uttered, "something must've happened and it must've been very bad." 

Arthur was the grandson of John A. Alexander, a Civil War veteran from Illinois. Arthur's father, Charles, married Lucy Zook in Morgan County, Illinois, on 25 January 1883. Arthur was born near LaBelle, Missouri, on 21 October 1898. At some point between 1900 and July 1907, Arthur's mother, Lucy, disappears from the genealogical picture (at least for now, as I am unable to locate her in any fashion anywhere after 1900, but am told she had died). In July 1907, Arthur's father is in Roosevelt, Oklahoma Territory and marries one Hattie Harris Adams. 

Arthur is living with his father and stepmother on the 1910 census, and in 1920, we find him living with his married sister, Naomi Alexander Diehl and her husband. His next appearance is on a marriage license in Hobart, Kiowa County, Oklahoma, on 6 April 1920, where he marries Beulah Slater. Two daughters were born of this union - my grandmother and my great-aunt. 

That is the last we find of Arthur B. Alexander.

In a divorce petition filed in Illinois by Beulah Slater Alexander, it is claimed that Arthur left his wife and two children on or about 21 December 1927. Despite public notices of the filing, no response was ever received by Arthur to the court, and the divorce was granted in 1934. Both my great-aunt and my grandmother passed away never knowing for sure whatever happened to their father, although the subject was "touchy" for some reason. 

Being the inheritor of their genealogical notes, I set out to find out what happened to Arthur. Collaterals are always a great way to look around brick walls, so I found tons of information on Naomi, his sister, including locating living descendants of hers in Oklahoma. Eureka, I thought. Maybe they know something. 

They knew something alright. They knew enough to the degree that I was asked not to contact them on the subject ever again. 

It seems that Naomi, Arthur's sister, would not allow any mention or discussion of her brother because of some actions on his part that were less than admirable. One relative said he may have embezzled some money and left the country, but they really weren't sure, and out of respect for Mrs. Diehl (who passed away in 1978) they weren't going to discuss it with me any further. The daughter of this relative contacted me and asked that I not contact their family ever again on the subject, and of course, I have obliged. 

I may never know what happened to Arthur. At this point, it doesn't really matter, except that it leaves a blank where a date of death should be, and leaves a hole where a story might be passed on. I still look online occasionally as new records are digitized, and one day must research local newspapers from Oklahoma to see if I might uncover something scandalous and public there. That newspaper search is likely my last hope in knowing something of the story that so shocked one family and tore another apart. 

Arthur, one day I may just uncover your secret. 

1 comment:

  1. Kellie,

    What a very interesting story! I find it funny that the family still holds onto these feelings about it. I wish you luck in your search for the real story about Arthur.

    Thanks for sharing,

    Kelly Gallagher -