Parallel Lives

52ancestors-2015Love is an apropos theme for week 7 of the 2015 installment of 51 ancestors … the week of Valentine’s Day. Of course, the theme draws me toward ancestors who fell madly in love with their spouse and lived happily ever after. Well … that would be too predictable.

On Saturday, February 12, 1910, two sisters in Sturges, Sorth Dakota married1)South Dakota, Marriages, 1905-2013. My great grandmother, Marion Veronica Essler (Verna), married Charley Jones. My great grand aunt, Florance Isabell Essler, married Guy Wilson. Both men enlisted in the Army on June 17, 1908 at Jefferson Barracks in Missouri2)U.S. Army, Register of Enlistments, 1798-1914 and were stationed at Fort Meade. 

On November 1, 1910, both sisters gave birth to sons they named after brothers … Walter Edward Jones3)Minnesota, Death Index, 1908-2002 and Leonard Edward Wilson4)U.S., Social Security Death Index, 1935-2014.  

Each sister suffered from their union. 

Baby Walter didn’t live through the year. There would be three additional children born to Charley and Verna. My grandmother, Mildred, born in 1912; Donald, born in 1915; and Douglas, born in 1919. 

Essler Jones Genealogy

Charley and Verna with son Walter

Guy Wilson, already once divorced, severed his relationship with his new family. For what reason, I am unsure. Florance remarried twice. First to Wait Peters5)1920 United States Census, then to Archie Drager6)1940 US Census. Leonard apparently maintained a relationship with his father because he moved to Los Angeles at least a year before his father’s death. Leonard made a life for himself and his family in Los Angeles. He died on August 1, 1983. 

Essler Wilson Genealogy

Florance with son, Leonard, and sister, Dolly

I don’t know much about Florance beyond what I find in my great grandmothers boxes of photos and notes. She was married at age 17 to a 28 year old divorced soldier. I’ve often wondered if she … and Verna … were pregnant when they married. The births of their sons came within a time frame that makes me question that. In 1910, an unmarried pregnant woman would have preferred marriage to the stigma of having a child out of wedlock. Of course, there is a chance that pregnancy came after marriage … albeit very quickly! 

The parallel lives that these women led for a few short years is intriguing. They arrived in South Dakota with their mother, stepfather and siblings. They met, fell in love, then married on the same day. They gave birth to sons on the same day, only to suffer loss thereafter. 

Love and marriage doesn’t always lead to happily ever after.  Verna and Florance … and their other sisters and mother … were as close as any women could be. In the end, maybe that is all we have that remains constant … family.


References   [ + ]

1. South Dakota, Marriages, 1905-2013
2. U.S. Army, Register of Enlistments, 1798-1914
3. Minnesota, Death Index, 1908-2002
4. U.S., Social Security Death Index, 1935-2014
5. 1920 United States Census
6. 1940 US Census

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