Monday, November 18, 2013

Robert Emmett Lenahan, A Bio of Sorts, The REALLY Good Stuff Found, Part 3

Copyright 2013, CABS for Reflections From the Fence

OK, even I will admit that Part 2 of this series was a bit dry.  Timelines don't make the most fascinating reading, but they do tell the story.

Here is the fun part.

I have know about Robert for well over 20 years.  He evaded me at every turn for many of those years.  It was recently that some new data bases became available and new avenues of research were revealed.

The most exciting part of this process was receiving the pension application papers from the National Archives.  I had a professional researcher pull the files.  His knowledge of how the system works was worth the small fee I paid him to pull and mail me the file.

The file contained 18 pages.  Three of those pages contain information that took my breath away.

First of all I got signatures.  Four of them.  Robert's of course, and Lorena's (of course, whispered with a giggle, because, I am pretty sure I do not have hers).  I also found that two of her witnesses on her application were her daughter and daughter's husband.

And, Lorena's signature, and that of her daughter Rena and Rena's husband, Robert Nunnally. Since I knew Rena personally, I recognized her handwriting immediately.  How fun!

Robert's application is dated April 22, 1922.

Robert claims that between the 12th of May 1898 and sometime in September 1898 he served as a Civil Engineer for the Cuban Army 3d Regiment 3d Division 3 Army Corp at Santiago Cuba.  He states he lived in Memphis and Norfolk since his service.

Additionally Robert swears that:

1.)  He was born January 1, 1861 in Memphis Tennessee.  (NEW!!)

2.)  His first wife was one Lizzie Snograss, whom he married on September 13, 1896 and divorced in 1904 at Memphis Tennessee.  (Maiden name NEW, divorce data NEW)

3.)  His second wife, my ancestress, is Lorena Lenahan, maiden name Lorena Eley, whom he married on August 20, 1918 in Elizabeth City, North Carolina.  (Place of marriage, VERIFIED!)

This pension application then gives information about Lorena and her prior marriages, and this is when my heart stopped.  I have looked for some of this information for over 20 years.  Looked and looked and looked some more.  Many research hours spinning microfilm.  Sometimes spinning the same film time and time again.  Phone calls, personal visits, volunteers helping me time and time again.  And, despite ALL this effort the dates and places I wanted, evaded me.

1.)  Lorena's first husband was Mills Norsworthy, whom she married at Chuckatuck (Virginia).  Mills died, (be still my heart), July 20, 1886.  (NEW!!!!) (I have yet to locate this death date despite years of looking.)

2.)  Lorena's second husband was W. H. Dews (my direct ancestor) whom she married October 27, 1887 and who died on December 31, 1906.  (NEW!!!!) (My heart took another jump, as I have been looking for the actual date of his death for years.  His burial place is family tradition, the church burned in 1943.)

3.)  Lorena's third husband was James Harlow, whom she married April 5, 1910 at Berkley Virginia and divorced in 1915 at Norfolk.  Sadly, Lorena seems to have reported the marriage date wrong, as I have her marriage certificate from the Commonweath of Virginia, it is dated April 4, 1911.  But, the year of divorce matches the divorce data I received from the City of Norfolk.

Lorena applied for a Widow's pension on March 31, 1931.  From that application we learn:

1.) That Robert Emmitt (sic) Lenahan died January 18, 1930 in New Orleans.  (Full date NEW!)

[She restates that she married Robert August 20, 1918 in  Elizabeth City, North Carolina, her previous husband had been James Harlow whom she had divorced.  That Robert had been previously married to Lizzie, whom he divorced in 1910 (note year conflicts with the data that Robert gave in 1922).]

Two legal sized sheets of paper loaded with information I had been searching for since 1991, give or take.

I have not stopped happy dancing!

As I continue to review and study the pension applications, I may discover some more little tidbits of data.  That said, I am ecstatic with the death dates of Lorena's first two husbands, and that of Robert and the signatures!

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