Tuesday, April 30, 2019

William Joseph Parker (1904-1938): Bigamist Came to a Tragic End

Idella Scott Franklin married William Joseph Parker on 20 April 1928 in Hopewell, Virginia. They separated on 9 February 1931 and Idella was granted an absolute divorce decree on 30 March 1938 by the Richmond City Circuit Court. They had no children. The reason Idella sued for the divorce was desertion and bigamy.

The back of the divorce decree had the following handwritten information:

Idella Scott Franklin Parker and William Joseph Parker divorce decree;
courtesy of Ancestry.com

"This man was indicted in Pennsylvania on complaint from his wife for having married another woman in 1931 in Elkton, Maryland, and is also wanted in Maryland to answer charges there. This marriage took place after the desertion from the first wife."

Twelve days later William was dead. According to his death certificate, hee committed suicide by drinking ink solvent in Berks Prison.

William Joseph Parker obituary as published in
the Richmond Times-Dispatch on 14 April 1938;
courtesy of the Library of Virginia

William's parents were Joseph John Parker and Magnolia "Nolia" Melison Clayton. He was born in Belhaven, North Carolina, on 15 May 1904.

He was also married to Marian Ulshafer, daughter of Ralph Ulshafer and Rose Kirk. She was born on 3 October 1910 in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania. She and William had one son. Was this the marriage that took place in Elkton, Maryland?

I have assumed he was in prison because he had been arrested for bigamy. Was that the reason he committed suicide?

Idella Scott Franklin was my third cousin once removed. We both descend from John W. Jennings, Sr. (1776-1858). John W. Jennings, Sr. >> John William Jennings, Jr. >> John Arias Jennings >> Maude Florence Jennings >> Idella Scott Franklin

Friday, April 26, 2019

Early-Muir Marriages: Andrew Airlie (1877-1944) and Martha Muir (1876-1961)

Three children of my three times great uncle, Robert Orr Muir (1839-1917), married siblings. Andrew Airlie[1] and Martha Muir were the last of the three pairs of siblings to marry.

The Early-Muir marriages; created using Microsoft PowerPoint

Martha Muir was born on 12 April 1876 in Lesmagahow Parish in Lanarkshire, Scotland, to Robert Orr Muir and his second wife, MaryWatson Shaw. The birth occurred at her parent's home on Shoulderigg Road in the Coalburn area of the parish. Her father was a coal minter.

When the 1881 census was enumerated, the family still lived on Shouldrigg Road. The three living children from Robert Orr Muir's first marriage lived with their parents and several children from Robert's second marriage, but Martha was not listed with the family. By 1891 Robert had moved his family to Bathgate Parish, in West Lothian. He continued to work as a coal miner. Martha was 14 years old had finished her schooling and worked as a dress maker. By 1901, Martha worked as a domestic in the home of Robert Rutherford, a wholesale grocer, in Edinburgh.

She married Andrew Airlie on 27 December 1901in Gatashiels, a town in Bathgate Parish. Andrew was the son of Ralph Early and Catherine McNair White. He was a year younger than Martha, worked as a coal miner, and lived in Coalburn -- where Martha was born. They were married according to the forms of the United Free Church of Scotland, a Presbyterian denomination formed in 1900 by the unification of several denominations which had broken away from the national church after the Schism of 1843.

Martha had their first son, Alexander, on 3 August 1903 in Coalburn. Nearly a year later, on 21 May 1904, the family left for Nova Scotia aboard the Allan Line's SS Mongolian. Their destination was Sydney in the Cape Breton area of Nova Scotia. The province was Canada's foremost producer of coal from 1827 until 1945, according to the Nova Scotia Museum of Industry.

Coal pier in Sydney, Nova Scotia, circa 1900; courtesy of Wikipedia

Their second son, Robert Orr Muir Airlie, was born on 8 June 1905 in New Aberdeen, Nova Scotia. The neighborhood developed in the latter part of the 19th century to house workers at the Number 20, or Dominion Number 2 coal mine. The mine was owned by the Dominion Steel and Coal Company.

They returned to Scotland by 1906 and rented a house in Bridgend, which was located in Bathgate. Their third child, Andrew Airlie was born on 23 April 1907at that location.  He died on 16 April 1908 of food poisoning.

Their youngest child, Mary Watson Shaw Airlie, was born on 31 August 1910 at Smith's Buildings in Bridgend. The family lived at the same location when the 1911 census was taken. However, in 1915 they had moved to 16 Tinto View Terrace in Coalburn.

By 1920 the family was back in West Lothian and lived at 10 George Terrace in the Blackburn area of Whitburn Parish. They remained at there until they moved to their final address, 36 Redmill, in the same parish by 1930.

Andrew remained a coal miner the rest of his life and died suddenly on 4 July 1944 at his home of a supposed heart attack. His widow, Martha (Muir) Airlie lived another 17 years, dying on 15 April 1961 in Coalburn. She had suffered from a cerebral hemorrhage a month earlier. Her son-in-law, Archibald Naismith, was present at the time of her death and registered it with parish authorities.

  1. Alexander Airlie, born 3 August 1903 in Coalburn, Lesmahagow, Lanarkshire; death date and location unknown; married Jane O'Rorke, daughter of James O'Rorke and Anne Keirnan, on 31 December 1925 in Whitburn, West Lothian
  2. Robert Orr Muir Airlie, born 8 June 1905 in New Aberdeen, Nova Scotia, Canada; died 23 April 1981 in Hollywood, Florida; married 1) his second cousin, Annie Lee Muir, daughter of Robert Muir and Annie Robertson Lee, on 3 October 1930 in Finleyville, Pennsylvania, and 2) Mary Madeline (White) Kenny, on 14 April 1979
  3. Andrew Airlie, born 23 April 1907 in Bathgate, West Lothian; died 16 August 1908 in Bathgate
  4. Mary Watson Shaw Airlie, born 31 August 1910 in Bathgate; died 3 June 1986 in Coalburn, Lanarkshire; married Archibald "Archie" Gray Naismith, a son of George Naismith and Margaret Taylor, on 29 March 1952 in Whitburn, West Lothian. Neither had been married previously
[1] The Airlie surname was spelled in a variety of ways in the records on ScotlandsPeople, including Airley, Earlie, Early, and Earley. Andrew's surname was spelled Early on his birth registration but he changed it to Airlie and all his children followed suit.

Early-Muir Marriages: Ralph Early (1863-1909) and Elizabeth Hamilton Muir (1867-1902)
Early-Muir Marriages: Robert Muir (1863-1927) and Janet Early (1868-1939)
Immigration Redux

Thursday, April 11, 2019

River House: House Plan

"Where we love is home -- home that our feet may leave but not our hearts."
-- Oliver Wendell Holmes, Sr.

Dad was a mechanical engineer by degree who worked at an architecture and engineering firm and then with a manufacturers' representative company, designing commercial heating, air conditioning and ventilation (HVAC) systems and selling the equipment. He and Mom were inveterate remodelers of every house in which they lived. (I got those genes.) They designed their last two houses, which they built; and Dad did most of the construction of their house on Dawson's Creek. Some of my fondest memories of Mom are sitting with her at the kitchen table and looking at house plan books. Building a custom home is a project I anticipate eagerly.

After I retired in 2015, Pete and I decided it was time to move to New Bern. He was commuting by plane every week to Albany, New York, and figured it didn't matter where home was. So I started looking at house plans in earnest...And missing Mom’s opinions. We knew we wanted the house to designed in the Southern vernacular -- wide porches, transom windows, high ceilings, metal roof and board and batten siding.

After looking at several plans seriously, we selected a mash-up of three different house plans by the same company, it will look something like this:

Modern Farmhouse Plan with Front-loading garage; courtesy of Architectural

The three different plans were:
  1. 51754HZ -- this was the plan I saw first. We took the foyer, great room, kitchen/dining area and front porch from this plan
  2. 51758HZ -- this was the smallest variation of the plan and we used it for the guest bedrooms
  3. 51781HZ -- we took the garage/master bedroom wing from this plan
All the plans were created by House Plan Zone in Hattiesburg, Mississippi. I worked with Rachel, a great architect, who was able to turn this mess into a wonderful plan that will be just perfect for us.

The three house plans "mashed-up"; personal collection

Open floor plans are all the rage and there are several benefits, such as improved traffic flow and shared light but they also come with downsides. Two, I knew, would drive me crazy:
  1. Spaces can appear cluttered
  2. Lack of privacy
Reducing Clutter Opportunities

I cannot stand clutter; it makes me uncomfortable. I cook about four nights a week and when I do Pete and I share a bottle of wine. After one or two glasses of wine, I do not feel like hand washing my pots, pans, and cooking utensils. So they sit on the kitchen counter or in the sink until the next morning. I wash them after my morning cup of coffee. In this floor plan, those dirty dishes would be visible from many places in our home. Who wants that? So I extended the pantry two feet and added a sink under the window. The dirty dishes will be hand washed in the pantry sink and will be out of the way until I get to them.

Extending built-in cabinets in the great room to the wall is another tactic in my war against clutter, but the most ingenious tactic is a message center. This is built-in cabinet near the door we use most often that houses a wastebasket, phone chargers, and a place for mail. I'm hopeful this will reduce the amount of paper clutter that seems to trail Pete around the house. The mail center is an idea I discovered in Sarah Susanka's Not So Big House.

Creating Private Space

In open plans people crave space that offers privacy from the socializing and noise of other people. Sarah Susanka calls it an "away room." It's an idea that resonated with both Pete and me as we both like our alone time. We felt we didn't need a formal dining space as it doesn't suit our style of entertaining. So we created our "away room," or den, from the open space that used to be the dining room. We plan to watch television after dinner in this room so we needed storage space for electronic equipment and those pesky DVDs we still own. Again, built-in cabinets solved those storage problems.

Taking Advantage of the View

The plan mash-up also enabled us to have a large screen porch overlooking the river. But some other changes allowed us to take full advantage of this view.

Pete overlooking his new "domain;" personal collection

We flipped the location of the upstairs Bonus Room. In North Carolina these rooms are often called FROGs -- Free, or Flex, Room Over Garage. So we don't have a FROG anymore; we have a FROM! We plan to use this room as an office. Pete will be able to gaze out at the river while he pays bills. This idea was an excellent one and came from our builder during our initial meeting to review the plan and talk about next steps.

Flipping the Bonus Room so it has a
view of the river; created using
Microsoft PowerPoint

The one thing that really bothered me about the house plan was our master bedroom. The view wall was also the only wall on which the bed could be placed, which meant you couldn't see the river from the bed. It took me months to solve that problem. All it took was moving the bathroom door. It certainly wasn't a big change, but it has a major impact! I have no idea why it took me so long to figure it out.

Modifications to Master Bedroom and Bath to accommodate a large bank
of windows so we can see the river from two sides of the house;
created using Microsoft PowerPoint

The last big change was mirroring, or flipping, the house plan to take advantage of the down river view, which is slightly better than up river. You can see the final version of the plan (above right) includes a bank of four windows, which will overlook the river. The triple bank of windows will have this view:

View down the Neuse River toward the Pamlico Sound; photographed by
Ted Jennings

Thanks to my brother, Ted, for stopping by the lot and helping us decide which view we wanted from our bedroom!


River House: The Lot