Sunday, March 24, 2013

Black Sheep Sunday: The Four Sons of Charles Anderson

Sometimes it’s hard to know what to believe.  I love a good skeleton in the closet as much as the next genealogist—a black sheep in the family—but this stretches the bounds of credibility.

My maternal grandmother, Clara Anderson Erickson (1892-1967), had four brothers—George, Charles, Howard, and Lester.  Grandma Erickson was a farmer’s wife—but if you scratched deeper, she was a schoolmarm, and a tough one.  Once you fell from her good graces, there was no going back, and her four brothers had taken that fall.  When Grandma died in 1967, none of her brothers were notified, because she hadn’t seen nor heard from any of them in years.  But—could all four of her brothers have been the bums she said they were?   

Clara’s father was Charles Anderson (1859-1916), whom I’ve written about before, and he was a bona fide Black Sheep.  But what about his boys?  Here is what my mother told me about her four uncles many years ago—probably repeating what her mother Clara had told her—and it is not pretty (nor is it substantiated in any way):

“I have no idea where George is. For some reason, he changed his name from Anderson to Adams—no one knows why...  Charles was married three times. The first time he married really young. After they got a divorce, neither parent wanted the two boys, so they were adopted out…  Howard left his wife and little child and never came back. His wife hid his Mason ring, and he got so mad that he left her…  Lester never married, and never worked. He lived at a shelter or mission in Joliet. He seemed to be kind of odd. Once in a while, as I was growing up, he’d walk out to see us.”

Whoa, there!  Mom didn’t paint a very flattering picture of the Anderson boys.  Could all of this possibly be true?  I’d really like to know!  If anyone out there knows anything about the four sons of Charles Anderson and Emma Hanson Anderson—good or bad—I’d love to hear about it.  Here is what I do know about them, from my own research (census records and WWI draft cards, mainly):
·       George Francis Anderson (1889-??).  Born in Lemont, Illinois, as were his brothers.  House cleaning contractor (self-employed) in 1917. 
·       Charles Grover Anderson (1893-1972).  Spouse Ruby Roberta Parker.  Chauffeur in 1917 and 1920.
·       Howard Louis Anderson (1897-??).  Stoneworker in 1917 and metal polisher in 1920.
·       Lester Michael Anderson (1900-??).  Laundry worker in 1917.

Can anyone out there set the record straight and save the reputation of this family? 


  1. Welcome to Geneabloggers! May you have many happy posts ahead.

  2. I saw your feature on GeneaBloggers and wanted to say hello!

  3. I also saw your feature on Geneabloggers and decided to "stop by". You have a beautiful blog and I look forward to reading more!

  4. Thank you, Colleen, Betty, Michelle! I do looooove tellin' the stories...

    Michelle, I worked many hours on the looks of the blog (it took a lot of time since I did not know what I was doing!), so thanks for the kind words.

  5. Nice to meet you on Geneabloggers.

    Regards, Grant


  6. Susan, I was so glad to see you featured in Gini Webb's column at GeneaBloggers. I've been sold on your philosophy on telling the stories since I first found you mentioned as a new blog on GeneaBloggers a while back. Best wishes as you continue telling those stories!

    1. Thanks, Grant and Jacqi. As far as the stories, at first I was afraid I'd run out. But for every one I post, I recall (or discover) two more. Truth really is stranger than fiction!