Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Near Miss and a Coincidence

I was recently contacted by a lovely gentlemen through's message system. His wife's great great grand aunt was the sister of the first wife of my great grandfather. (I descend from his second wife.) Charles Edward Jennings' first wife was also his first cousin once removed, but honestly it's too confusing to figure how else I may be related to my new contact's wife. As we shared information about the common people in our trees, he mentioned he had a book about the Miller and Duff families of Virginia, which included a chapter entitled Jennings connections, as the families had so intermarried.

I have been using the information in that chapter to verify what my father had in his tree, source, and extend it using records available now, which were not at the time he did his research. Along the way, I've met many interesting ancestors. One of which is Arline Vivian Goff.

Arline was born on 6 May 1925 in Lynchburg, Virginia, to William Thomas and Viola (Martin) Goff. In 1940, Viola was living alone with her children and claimed to a widow. However, her husband, William Goff, had married Cora Cash Timmons by 1939, so I suspect he had left or abandoned his first family. William and Cora moved to Norfolk, Virginia, some time after 1940. Cora was given an absolute divorce decree in 1947 due to adultery on William's part. William apparently hung himself with his belt, or was killed by another prisoner, in a police station in Norfolk the next year.

Virginia Death Record for William Goff; image courtesy of

But back to William's daughter, Arline...

In 1944 Arline lived at 310 West 25th Street in Norfolk. This address was listed as her father's usual residence on his death certificate. She and Frank Beasley, an aviation mechanic likely with the Navy, applied for a marriage license on 14 January 1944. He was born in Kentucky, but lived in Los Angeles at the time. He was a World War I veteran and had re-enlisted in 1942. He had also been married previously and had a child, though he claimed never to have been married when he and Arline applied for the license.

Virginia Marriage Record for Frank Beasley and Arline Goff; image courtesy

Something happened to their relationship, however, as a note on their marriage record where the minister certifies the marriage took place said, "Rescinded not executed 22 May 1945." Perhaps she found out about Frank's previous marital history or one of them simply got cold feet.

She was back in her hometown of Lynchburg when she and Lee Hall Beasley married there on 13 February 1948. Lee Hall Beasley was the son of Robert Parker and Willie (McConville) Beasley. He was also my third cousin once removed. Lee had been married previously and had a daughter. He and his first wife were divorced in 1940. At the time Lee and Arline applied for their marriage license neither were working.

Virginia Marriage Record for Lee Beasley and Arline Goff; image courtesy

In 1949 Lee was a trainee at Brown-Morrison, a shoe store or factory, and the following year, he worked there as a salesman. When he died in 1960, he was retired from the U.S. Post Office, where he had sorted mail. Arline died on 30 August 2009 at the age of  84. Lee and Arline were interred Spring Hill Cemetery in Lynchburg.

I have not found any familial relationship between Arline's "almost" husband, Frank Beasley, and her husband, Lee Hall Beasley. But what a coincidence that the two men she considered marrying had the same surname!

I am just loving the new Virginia vital records on Ancestry and the stories they are revealing!


  1. Love a good scandal! The truth always comes out, even if all that involved have passed on. Thanks for sharing!

    1. Thanks! I don't really consider this much of a scandal. One marriage didn't happen, the other did. Both men just happened to have the same name.