|Image from Globotreks.com. Applause for me..I added this picture using the prong of a fork!|
Today we're going to have some fun. I'm going to tell the story of one of Edmund and Elizabeth Rich's daughters, Addie, and later, after the sun comes up and I'm sure most people have eaten their breakfast, I'll make a phone call to see how the story really went. Or better yet, you tell me what you think happened.
You see, I have been researching Addie and her husband Thomas for a while. I got up at 4am today, and now it's 7. And I'm stumped. I have a ton of facts and one huge gaping hole.
Come into the hole with me. Let's go 'splorin'!
Addie Rich was born down the road from me in Truro, Massachusetts, Cape Cod, in 1865. She was the third girl of three, sandwiched between Lizzie and Mertie. In her mid-teens she left the Cape with her family and moved to Somerville, and in 1883 married Thomas T. Belyea.
I know very little about Thomas except that he was born in Nova Scotia to Charles and Mary Belyea and became a citizen in 1896.
I also know that in 1900 he took his wife and kids to farm land either with Addie's brother-in-law George Washington Johnson, or next door to him, because they are neighbors on the 1900 census.
Here's where I take out my flashlight and try my darndest to make sense of what I have found and the bulb goes out.
I found Addie with three of her children ( Ethel moved out) in the 1910 census, still married, with "none" crossed out for the line where you get to see what someone did for a living, and added over the top of that was "own income". None of the children worked even though they're in their late teens. But I can't find Thomas. Well I can, but the facts have holes. Big ones.
He's in Maine with Mary Macgillivary in 1910. And I know it's him because the facts match. But there's no marriage or divorce records for Thomas and Addie.
Little Helen is in the sitting room playing marbles on the floor when one flies across the room and under the couch. On her belly reaching, the dust bunnies are actively itching her nose and blocking her view.
"Someone answer the door!" bellows Forest from the back of the house.
"I always get it! You get it!" cries Helen. But the knock repeats itself because now it knows someone's there.
Opening the door cautiously, hoping to return to her game, Helen grips the knob nervously as she wedges her dusty body in the small space she has left between herself and the strange man on the stoop.
"Bless you!" the man says wiping his coat and taking half a step back as he looks down to the next to the last question on his clipboard.
"What?" asks Pencil Man census-taker because he, like me at times, doesn't have a filter between his brain and his mouth, and is perplexed even though it's not his job to be.
"Nobody in the house is working?" Helen shrinks a foot and swallows, trying to save face as she wonders what the real question is.
"Wait! Wait! Erase that! My mum doesn't have to work. She has money of her own." Pencil Man's eyeballs look up coldly, stopping midstream.
"Money of her own? What does that mean?" Eyebrows furrow and send 12-yr-old Helen into a panic.
"Tell him it's none of his business!" yells 18-yr-old Forest from the other room.
Helen, sweating and exhausted with keeping secrets, cracks. "Dad sends her money." Unibrow squints as the story unfolds in his mini brain and he softens a bit, rewrites some information, and leaves with the door just skimming his nose.
"Who was that?" Addie-Mom asks as she swishes through the room, breaking the tension.
"Census man." admits Helen with a sigh.
"She told him Dad sends money, "complains Forest.
"Don't worry, Dear," Addie says trying to comfort Helen when 11-yr-old Edwin walks in.
"Worry about what? What's wrong with her? Mom, I'm going to Charlie's," he announces as he pries Helen off the door before he gets an answer.
The remaining three resume life at #7 Avon St. in Somerville. It's Friday. Thank Goodness. The weather has turned mild, even warm, too warm to keep the windows shut. So Addie starts to open them, letting in a refreshing breeze.
Meanwhile, Mary Belyea is answering her door in Maine to find their very own census-taker standing pencil in hand on their stoop, grinning from ear to ear. And Thomas is breaking out in a sweat as he sits in his parlor in front of the open window, hoping and praying that he doesn't have to dig his hole any deeper today...
So what do you think happened? Is Thomas a bigamist? Was the separation mutually agreed upon? Are my facts not facts at all?
To be continued...
Update (Thursday, March 15, 2012, 5:40 pm): I made the call. So far all of my facts up to a certain point are right. But there's no family knowledge of a divorce or a separation. They are making more calls on their end to cousins (old ones!) to see if anyone knows something about Thomas. Addie was buried up in New Hampshire with a lot of other relatives.