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Friday, October 5, 2012

Extra! Extra! Read All About It!

For some unknown reason, Diana and I always feared we'd end up a New York Post Headline when we were younger.  You know the shock and horror type of proclamation like the classic "Headless Body Found in a Topless Bar."  But it does seem our family may have some genetic disposition to making the papers and not in a positive way.

I'm currently researching our Sharp side of the family and am pleased to see they worked their drama out in very public ways--and not necessarily by their choosing.  Based on how many of their marriage break-ups ended up in the paper, I'm thinking there must have been a wannabe reporter reading the court dockets for the most lurid or funny spins on heartache and therefore fed his family off the backs of mine.

William and Sarah Sharp immigrated to Syracuse from Kent, England in 1871 and, like their contemporaries the Sharkeys, got right down to the business of making babies.  They had eight in all starting in 1872 and ending in 1890,  five boys and three girls.  The middle daughter was our great-grandmother Mary.

Here we go:

Joseph m. Millicent and had no children.  Millicent died dreadfully after collapsing in a drug store at the age of 47.  Yes, that made the papers.

Anna m. Charles and had no children of their own.  However, they raised Anna's youngest sister Sarah's surviving child George.  The one who made the papers in this scenario is Charles who was beaten up over a radio in the lung sanitarium at the age of 62.

James m. Nellie who left him while pretending to visit her father.  At first, their 2 surviving children were put in the care of the orphanage but before too long James moved to Ohio with the boys and remarried.  Oddly, Nellie lived with her old in-laws for a time, never remarried and lived to 97.  They made the paper at least two times.  Once in reference to how James was left and the next was when he won the decree of divorce over Nellie while in Ohio.  Nellie said James deserted her but James claims to have dropped her off at her father's only to come home to find her clothes and all their valuables gone and the children unattended.  Maybe losing their eldest child, daughter Cora upset their lives too much to reconcile.

Mary m. James Sharkey and I always thought the scandal here was that he died young and unexpectedly.  I could never figure out why it seemed the Sharkey family shunned Mary.  After all, she had converted for James, they were in their mid-20s when they married...what could be the problem?  Well it seems that our friendly reporter made it very public that Mrs. Mary Sharkey was looking to separate, divorce or annul her marriage to James because his "addiction to drink made living with him impossible".  So there you go, no wonder she and James aren't even buried in the same cemetery.  Mary humiliated the Sharkey Clan which is quite likely why Gram didn't really know any of them.  This story was printed two months before James died.   So much could have been avoided if he had only imploded before Mary felt compelled to take legal action.

William m. Maud and had no children to my knowledge.  In fact, no scandal here except Maude disappears after the 1930 census.  In 1940, William is still married but living alone.  Did Maude ditch him?  No major newspaper revelations on them.

George m. Florence and did not have any children.  In 1910 they were sharing a house with George's younger sister Sarah and her then husband Ralph Sidman and both marriages break up.  Florence and George fight in the papers with Florence revealing that the credit George has denied being extended to her at the local shops is a joke anyway because he has no credit to withhold.  Florence goes on to say that George doesn't support her at all and that she earns her money doing washing and looking after George's nephews.  Ouch.  George remarries but I'm uncertain to whom.  They may have a daughter but I'm still working on that.  Sadly, George died in 1918 from pneumonia which was written up in the papers in a huge article that describes how the US Army rejected him for WWI because he had been crippled in the Spanish American War at age 17.  He enlisted in Canada and promptly became ill and died.  It has a real "Appointment in Samarra" feel to me.

Harry m. Mary and then, Edna.  This has been covered in a previous entry regarding Edna's brother "Who Are You and What Are You Doing Here?"  Mary dies or disappears but she is gone by the 1920 census and, it turns out, her four children with George are in the Orphanage with their cousins.  Woot woot, it's a party.  Harry and Edna last though and the kids turn out just fine.

Sarah m. Ralph Sidman and had two children.  Their daughter died in childhood and their son was raised by big sister Anna.  Ralph deserted Sarah and remarried a woman named Florence.  Now, as I said, Florence who was married to George and Sarah and Ralph were all living together before their marriages fell apart.  I don't know if this Florence is the same one who ran off with Ralph but it seems very likely.  Sarah remarried but never had any more children.


Mary Sharp Sharkey

I guess we all end up in print at some point or another but here's to keeping out of the papers as long as we can--at least for the wrong reasons.  ;-)

Addendum October 2013:  It seems not just Anna's husband made the papers.  I have come to find that Anna had a heart attack that soon proved fatal on the train down to Maryland.  It seems she had to be removed in NYC where she later died thus making the papers for her dramatic exit. 

1 comment:

  1. I am so very proud of your research. You make divorce and betrayal, sudden death in public places and orphanages sound FUN!