Tuesday, January 27, 2015

52 Ancestors #4: Man Crazy

Ancestor Name: Theodora (MORACK) Knapp VanDusen Barr (1914-2006)

Theodora was born on 9 July (my birthday) 1914 in Helena, Montana. She was the second of the five known children of Michael "Mike" and Anna Maria Marovich. At various times in her life she went by Theo and Dora. Her father was a miner, who immigrated from Russia in 1909 at the age of 30. I do not know if he had been married before.

Theodora's parents' marriage was not a happy one and the divorce seemed more than a bit acrimonious. Anna Maria accused Mike of cruelty and he accused her of infidelity. They were finally granted a divorce in 1920. He went on to marry at least two more times. Anna Maria remarried as well but her second marriage was more stable.

As published in the Anaconda Standard on 4 July 1918

As published in the Anaconda Standard on 2 July 1920

Theodora's younger sister, Elizabeth, known as Betty, was the wife of my third cousin twice removed. She was 14 years old when they married; the couple divorced in less than a year. She went on to marry at least four more times. The Morack family seemed to be marriage happy!

At the age of 17, Theodora married Beryl Leroy Knapp in Fort Benton, Montana in 1932. Beryl worked as a carman for the railroad and the newlyweds lived in Great Falls, Montana. Between 1933 and 1940 they had five children: Beryl Lucille (1933-1997), Bernard Leroy (1934-2011), Dollie (1937-2001), Nancy Ann (1938-2011) and Alice Holbrook (about 1940-before 2011).

Theodora was in her mid 30s when her youngest child was born. Married with children must not have suited her. Some time after 1949 (the last Great Falls city directory I can find) she left Beryl to raise their five children alone, possibly for another man or just to escape. This was confirmed by a niece, who did not think Aunt Dora was a very nice person. Thankfully, those children had one responsible parent.

I do not know if Beryl ever remarried, but did find this interesting photograph of him on page 1 of the 7 April 1976 Independent Record.

Beryl Knapp shoveling snow; photograph published on 7 Apr 1976
in the Independent Record

In 1959 Dora married Henry "Harry" Earl VanDusen in Los Angeles County, California. He was 26 years old and Dora was 45. Harry died in 1998 and is buried at the Tacoma National Cemetery in Kent, Washington.

Younger men apparently didn't suit Dora either as her marriage to Harry lasted less than ten years. In 1969 she married Charles M Barr in Orange County, California. Charles was ten years older than Dora. Records for Charles have proved to be elusive. I do not know if the couple remained married or when Charles died. I do know that Theodora (Morack) Knapp VanDusen Barr was living in Coeur d'Alene, Idaho in 1985. She died on 2 December 2006 in Teton County, Montana, and her surname was listed as Barr.

Perhaps in Charles Barr she found the husband for which she was always searching?

This is my entry for Amy Johnson Crow's 52 ancestors in 52 weeks challenge optional theme Closest to Your Birthday.

It appears 9 July was a great day for birthing babies in my family tree. No fewer than 23 people share my birthday. It should be noted my tree is large and sprawling. I maintain one public tree and it includes my One Place studies as well as research I've done for my in-laws.

Marriage Happy!

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