[Further Note: This is a long one, so I've split it at what may be an inappropriate point...]
|The only picture I've ever seen of my mother's father|
When I researched the family history, I found that his grandfather Robert (a hatter, and probably quite mad) was married twice and both wives were named Mary Riley. How odd and interesting thought I. The one was about 20 years older than the other, and it appeared that Mary Riley the Elder died about a year before Mary Riley the Younger became Mrs. Robert. But -- and this is where it became interesting -- Mary Riley the Younger had lived in the household since she was a child. I've been in touch with some of "Larry's" other descendants, and the suspicion among them is that Mary Riley the Younger was Mary Riley the Elder's daughter by another man, and she was probably illegitimate. The alternative explanation was that Mary Riley the Younger was a serving girl recently arrived from Ireland who just happened to have the same name as her household mistress.
At any rate, she was the mother of Larry's father, David, and of two other children. There were four children by Mary Riley the Elder. Big families were the norm in those days.
Larry's paternal ancestors were (according to lore) originally French. They were Huguenots driven out during one of the Intolerances, and they wound up in England in the 1670s. About a century later, a branch decamped for America, settling first in Virginia, then in Kentucky, then, finally in Indiana in the 1840s. Descendants still live there. I of course do not and would not. Perhaps it's due to too much history.
Larry was born in 1878 but he claimed to be much younger than he was. His third wife, Marie, claimed he was 32 when he died horribly in 1916. He was actually 38. The likelihood is that he lied to her about his age, just as he used a false name on his marriage license to Marie.
I suspect he used a false name on the license because he was still legally married to my mother's mother, Edna, who had sued him for divorce in 1912, but that divorce may never have been granted. The record isn't clear.
On my mother's birth certificate issued in 1911, Larry lists his age as 31, and my mother's mother is listed as age 22. Neither is correct. Larry was 33 and Edna was 21.
At any rate, Edna claimed to be a widow-woman when she remarried in 1917. And before that, she claimed that Larry was a bigamist when he married Marie and fathered their daughter Helen in 1914.
For years, my mother claimed to have been born in 1914. She knew about Helen and she told me that Helen was only two years old when she, her mother, and Larry's St. Louis wife and daughter attended Larry's funeral in 1916. My mother was herself barely five at the time.
To put it charitably, Larry lived a brief but checkered life. He was the second youngest of six sons born to Caroline E. and David H. in Lebanon, Indiana, where David swanned about as Civil War veteran and newspaper publisher. Which was the more important aspect of his life is not entirely clear, but later, when most of the family moved to Indianapolis, David's veteran status helped him to secure a number of patronage positions with the state and federal governments.
So far as I can tell, the family's status was "solid middle class" -- neither poor nor rich -- and David's government service was the reason why. He seems to have made enough money to take care of his family well if not lavishly.