Maud Heiser: a broken home

Tintype maybe of Maud Heiser-cropped and edited

Maud at 3 or 4 years old

Anna Maud HEISER was born 2 December 1888, the only daughter to Joseph Henry HEISER, Sr. (1861-1945) and Martha ROGERS HEISER (1860-1947). She was born in Frederick County, Maryland. Maud, as she was called, was the sister of my grandfather, Daniel Wilbert HEISER (1882-1974), making her my great-aunt.

The family moved to Damascus, Montgomery County, Maryland some time before 1900. In 1900, Maud was attending school in Damascus, and her father worked at a saw mill. Her five brothers were living with the family still, too.

In 1910, part of the family lived back in Frederick County. Maud’s parents and youngest brother, Bo, lived in Urbana. Another brother labored and resided on a farm. Maud had married to Robert Lee BELL (1885-1953) in 1907 in Frederick. Robert was 22 and Maud was 19. On the 1910 census Maud and Robert have two children: 20-month old George and 3-month old Margaret. Robert was a farm laborer while Maud took care of the home and the children.Rural Ohio Farm

Something changed everything

I don’t know what happened to upset everything in Maud’s life, but it had to be big. In the 1920 census, Maud lived in York, Pennsylvania with her parents and Bo, and she went by her maiden name. Maud worked at a petticoat factory. Robert worked as a farm laborer on someone’s farm in Frederick County, and lived there, too. George was listed with Robert’s parents in Frederick, and Margaret had disappeared without a trace. Maud was 32 years old.

A plethora of possibilities come to mind as to why Maud left her family. Grief over the loss of Margaret? Abusive husband? Didn’t like being a mother? And on and on.Cigars


Life goes on

Maud continued living with her parents and Bo over the next 20 years. In the 1930 and 1940 census, she works at a cigar factory – the Webster Eisenlohr factory where King Edward cigars were made.

The family lived on South Court Alley for most of the years in York according to census records and city directories. Sometimes they lived at 521South Court and sometimes at 506. The area had a lot of row houses as you can see if you click below. This is the intersection of South Court Alley and East Maple Street in York, and I believe these are the same houses that were there when my ancestors lived in that neighborhood.

Over the years, Maud and Robert listed themselves as single, married and divorced. Neither remarried, and from this I conclude there was never a divorce, just a separation.

Maud gets sick

Maud took sick in late December 1944. She died on 4 January 1945 at age 56 from uremia believed to have come from acute glomerulonephritis, an inflammation of the kidneys. Maud is buried at Christ United Methodist Church cemetery in Jacobus, York County, Pennsylvania. My grandfather lived in Jacobus; his and Maud’s parents lived there, too, with him and his family.A. Maud Heiser Tombstonejpg

A curious thing

The informant on Maud’s death certificate is a Patricia Heiser, only I don’t know who that is. There is a distant cousin named Patricia, but I have not found any evidence that shows they were acquainted with each other. I have a suspicion that the informant was someone the family knew, a friend of Bo’s. Why didn’t Bo give the information? I have some suspicions about that, too. I’ll write about Bo later.


Gertrude Waites: An active single

Smith, Gertrude nee WAITES cropped 4x6

Gertrude in 1940

Gertrude Gibson WAITES was the 7th of the 10 children born to William Franklin WAITES (1868-1936) and Mary Frances LYNCH WAITES (1875-1963). Mary’s mother, Harriet THOMAS LYNCH, was a sister of James S. THOMAS, my 2nd great grandfather. This makes Gertrude my 2nd cousin, twice removed.


Her young life in Columbia

Gertrude, a lifelong Columbia, South Carolina resident, was born 16 May 1913. Gertrude’s family belonged to Edgewood Methodist Church and lived in the Edgewood area of Columbia. Gertrude attended Edgewood School and graduated from high school. In her school years, she was active in the school’s minstrel programs.

As an adult, Gertrude remained at Edgewood Methodist. She and her sisters belonged to the Young Women’s Auxiliary at the church. They were named a few times in the paper for community work the young women did.

Although I didn’t find Gertrude in the 1930 census records, I found many city directory listings for her. In the early 1930’s she lived on Two Notch Road in Columbia with her parents and some siblings.Cleaners sign


Gertrude goes to work and gets married

After her father passed in 1936, Gertrude continued living with her mother and other family members including some of her sibling’s spouses and their children. It was the Depression, after all, and many homes were generational. Gertrude worked during the Depression years at H&S Cleaners. She was a seamstress and a checker.

In 1939, Gertrude married Frederick SMITH, a grocery store salesman originally from Kentucky. In the 1940 census, Gertrude and Fred are both 27 and both employed. They were also living with Gertrude’s sister, Arizona, Arizona’s husband and children, her mother and some of her siblings. They were living on Two Notch Road. In 1941, Gertrude and Fred are still married, but that appears to change soon after.

And gets unmarried

In 1942 and beyond, Gertrude is listed in the city directory as Miss Gertrude Waites. I have no idea what happened to Fred, but I suspect there was a divorce since Gertrude went back to her maiden name.Dryer at laundromat

Gertrude continued working in the cleaning business through the 1950’s, going from clerk or checker to claims adjustor at Deluxe Cleaners and finally to the position of manager at the Edgewood Laundrette. When she worked at Edgewood, a few of her sisters-in-law worked for her. Deluxe Cleaners had a bowling team that completed with other community businesses. As social as Gertrude was, I can imagine she bowled on that team.


Life as a single lady

The last city directory entry for her is from 1956 when Gertrude was 43 years old. Through all the years in the directory, Gertrude lived on Two Notch Road. In fact, most of the family did and had addresses within a few house numbers of each other. Those addresses are now occupied by commercial businesses.


Edgewood Methodist split in the 1950’s from what I can tell, and the Waites family was instrumental in the founding of St. James Methodist. Gertrude was a member there. She was also a delegate for the Richland County Democratic Party in the 1950’s.

Link to St James Methodist Church via googlemaps streetview.


The passing of Gertrude and other family members

Gertrude and her mother continued living together as the 1960’s began. I wouldn’t be surprised if other family members lived with them. Gertrude passed on 18 June 1966 at 53 years of age. Her death certificate is not available for me to view until later this summer, so I don’t know the cause. Her obituary says she had been ill for several weeks. She is buried at Elmwood Gardens in Columbia. Many of her family members are buried there as well.

Gertrude G. Waites

Gertrude G. Waites gravestone from Find A Grave page. Click on image to go there.

I am sure the Waites family was saddened by the loss of Gertrude. Throughout the years, this large family stayed in Columbia or close by. Many went to the same church, and they often shared the same abode. When Gertrude passed in 1966, the family had lost the mother (Mary) and a brother (Douglas) in 1963 and 1965, respectively. It reminds me of the 1970’s when my family lost several family members in just a few years’ time.

Green Lee: death by tree

Green Hue LEE was the eighth and last child of Uriah H. LEE Sr (1813-?). and Mary Jane CAMPBELL LEE (1841-?).  One of Green’s older sisters was Elizabeth Patience “Lizzie” LEE MARTIN (1868-1937), my great-grandmother.  This makes Green my 2nd great-uncle.  I wrote about Green and Lizzie’s brother, Tommie, here

Green’s young life

Green was born 15 Jun 1878 in Richland County, South Carolina.  His father was 65 when Green was born.  Green appears in the 1880 census living with his family in Richland County.  His parents were both on that census record, but I do not conclusively know what became of them after 1880. That’s research for another day!Barn and farm equipment

Green marries and farms

I couldn’t find Green in the 1900 census, but I believe he was in Richland County because he was married to Frances Martha BRAZELL LEE in the 1910 census.  BRAZELL was a common family name for that part of Richland County.  In 1910 Green and Martha, as his wife was called, had four children. Green rented land and farmed it on his own account.  Green was about 32 and Martha 25.

In 1918 Green registered for the WW1 draft.  At that time he and his family lived in Edgewold. Edgewold was in the Two Knotch Road area of Columbia in Richland County.  Green was of medium height with a stout build.  His eyes were brown, and his hair was dark.  He was about 40 years old.

Two years later the census shows Green renting and farming on Two Knotch Road.  The census also showed that Green could read and write. Like most farming families, Green and Martha had a lot of children…eight of them at this point.  One more would be born the following year.Sweetgum tree

Green and the sweetgum tree

On the afternoon of 26 Feb 1925, 47-year old Green and his 18-year old son, Archie, went out to fell some trees. According to The State newspaper, ‘Both were sawing on a [sweet]gum tree. When the gum fell it struck a nearby tree and before Mr. Lee could get out of the way a limb from the standing tree broke off and fell on him. Young Lee declared that he shouted to his father to move, but before the man could dodge the limb had struck him.  Death was instantaneous.’   How sad for Archie to witness his father’s death and not be able to stop it.

LEE Green H and Frances M gravestone at Old Macedonia

Photo of gravestone from Find a Grave website. Click on photo to go there.

Green was buried at the Old Macedonia Cemetery on Fort Jackson. In 1959, the cemetery was moved to its current location on Old Percival Road in Columbia, South Carolina. The church, Macedonia Baptist, was rebuilt at this location as well.

Hollie Grant: A wife and then a widow

Bishop Hollie GRANT

Hollie GRANT Bishop

Hollie GRANT was the one of seven children born to John GRANT (1851-before 1900) and Laura GAINEY GRANT 1850-1925). John was a brother of my 2nd great-grandfather, Daniel Baity GRANT, which makes Hollie my first cousin, thrice removed.

Hollie was born 11 Mar 1886 in Chesterfield County, South Carolina. Her youngest sibling was born in 1890 and her mother was a widow in 1900, so we can narrow her father’s passing to sometime in the 1890’s.


Leaving Chesterfield County

In 1900, Laura and the five youngest children were living in nearby Scotland County, North Carolina. All the children, including 15-year old Hollie, worked at a cotton mill. There were at least five cotton mills in Scotland County at that time.Cotton Weaving

1908 was the year Hollie married Robert Edward BISHOP, who went by Edward. They lived in Columbia, Richland County, South Carolina.  Hollie was 22, and Edward was 30.

On the 1910 census, Edward worked at a cotton mill but Hollie didn’t work. Hollie’s mother and the four siblings also lived in Columbia and worked at a cotton mill which makes me think Hollie worked at the mill, too, at some point and probably met Edward there.

Edward and Hollie lived on Lower Street in Columbia. Lower Street appears to be gone, but the next street over on the census was Pall Mall Street. Pall Mall Street has a number of duplex and triplexes which were probably the same type of home that Edward and Hollie had on Lower Street. Here is a link: Pall Mall Street

Hollie’s sister, Sue, married John TIMMS and moved to Hartsville, Darlington County, South Carolina in the mid 1910’s. Hollie is listed with Sue and John on the 1920 census. Perhaps she was visiting when the census taker came.


Heartbreak and moving on

Tragedy struck in 1927 when Hollie was 41 years old. Edward was killed in an accident. He was driving a truck for Broad River Power Company. He hit a hidden tree stump, and the impact threw him into the steering wheel causing an abdominal injury. He died several days later from peritonitis.

Hollie went to her sister Sue’s in Hartsville to get over her loss and start a new life. Hollie and Edward didn’t have any children, so she was on her own. Hollie was a nurse in 1930, renting a place on her own in Hartsville.Nurse bear

Hollie dies at 55

Hollie passed away on 21 Jan 1940 in Hartsville at 55 years of age. She is listed as a domestic which could have meant she was a housekeeper, or a nursemaid to a baby or child, or a few other things.

Hollie died from myocarditis, but it was noted on the death certificate that she had suffered for 20 years with paroxysmal tachycardia, a cardiac arrhythmia which would cause her heart to race at 160-200 beats per minute at times. There was no treatment then, but nowadays this problem would be managed with medication or surgery. An interesting side note: Hollie’s sister, Ella, suffered with this same arrhythmia and also died from a heart ailment.

Hollie was buried at Chapel Hill Cemetery at Chapel Hill Baptist Church in North Hartsville, South Carolina the next day. Hollie is not listed on this cemetery’s FindAGrave page. Perhaps she has no stone. Perhaps she only hasn’t been added yet to the page.

Harry Hyser: Union Soldier, Painter, Family Man

Henry T HYSER, known as Harry, was born August 1849 in Taneytown, Carroll County, Maryland. His parents were Lewis HEISER (1826-1881) and Susan FROCK HEISER (1829-1901). Harry is my first cousin, thrice removed. His father, Lewis, and my 2nd great grandfather, Daniel C. HEISER (1830-1908), were brothers. I wrote about Daniel here.Maryland sign

Harry was the oldest child of Lewis and Susan. Lewis worked as a mason and a farmer according to the 1850 and 1860 census records. No doubt Harry helped on the farm.

On 4 April 1865, Harry enlisted in the Union Army at 18 years of age. He served in Co. G of the 3rd Potomac Home Brigade of Maryland. The 3rd Maryland Home Brigade was assigned to the 1st Brigade, 1st Division, West Virginia.

According to his enlistment papers, Harry had gray eyes, brown hair, and a fair complexion. Also, he was a short 5 feet, 3 ½ inches tall.

Harry was discharged 29 May 1865 at the close of the war. He served a total of 55 days, and earned a $100 bounty for enlisting which was a large sum of money then.

It’s possible Harry was living in Baltimore in 1870 but I am not positive it’s him in that particular record. I do know that in 1880, he was farming in Taneytown with his wife of five years, Susan SHRINER HYSER, who went by Sue.

Harry and Sue had five children: Ira, Laura, Stearn, Eva and Bobby. Between Eva’s birth in 1882 and Bobby’s birth in 1889, the family relocated to Wellington, Sumner County, Kansas. I don’t know why they went to Kansas. Harry was in his late 30’s when they relocated.Paint brush and paint can

Harry worked as a painter by trade according to his obituary in the Wellington Daily News. The obit also said ‘Mr. Hyser was a very generous, kind hearted man who had done many acts of kindness which had endeared to him many people who will mourn his loss.’

During his years in Wellington, Harry belonged to the James Shield Post of the Grand Army of the Republic (G.A.R.), a fraternal organization for those who’d served in the Union Army and Navy. Learn more about the G.A.R. here.

Harry was a successful painter. In the 1900 census, Harry owned his house free and clear. Also, he had a phone installed in his home in 1902. He was 52 then and he and his family lived at 303 E. Lincoln in Wellington. Here is a link to the area. His house appears to be gone, but the remaining houses give an idea of what kind of home he owned.

HYSER Henry T gravestone

Harry’s gravestone photo from his Find A Grave page. Photo added by Donna Fitch. Click on image to visit his Find a Grave page.

A terrible sadness came to Harry and family when the youngest child, Bobby, died in an accident in 1903. I will write about Bobby in a few weeks.


In January of 1905, Harry became ill with dropsy. Dropsy is edema or swelling, often caused by congestive heart failure. He passed away at his home on January 15th of 1905. He was buried three days later at Prairie Lawn Cemetery in Wellington.

Tommie Lee – There and back again

Thomas Robert LEE, called Tommie, was born 16 Sept 1874 in Richland County, South Carolina to Uriah Henry LEE (1813-?) and Jane CAMPBELL LEE (1841-?). Tommie was the younger brother of my great-grandmother, Elizabeth Patience LEE MARTIN, making him my 2nd great uncle.

Tommie’s father, Uriah, died sometime after 1880. I don’t know much about Tommie’s young life otherwise.



There and back again

In 1898 at the age of 24, Tommie enlisted in the Army during the Spanish-American War. He was part of the 1st Volunteers South Carolina Infantry also known as the Richland Volunteers. His Company, I, never left the States. They traveled by rail first to Georgia and then on to Camp Cuba Libre in Jacksonville, Florida. When the war was over, the men returned to Columbia, South Carolina to muster out in November 1898. Tommie served a short 5 months. Click here to learn more about Camp Cuba Libre.

Once home, Tommie married Sally HIGGINS. I couldn’t find Tommie and Sally in the 1900 census, but according to the 1910 census they married in 1899. Their first child of three, Florrie, was born in 1902. Porter was born in 1906 and Estelle in 1909. In 1910 the family was living in Richland County. Tommie was a farm laborer, and they rented a house.Georgia license plate


There again

The 1920 census showed big changes in Tommie’s life. First, he was married to a different wife, Arabelle. I don’t know what happened to Sally. Second, he and his family were living in Briggs in Brooks County, Georgia which borders the Florida state line. Porter and Estelle are with Tommie and Arabelle along with Tommie and Arabelle’s first child, Daniel, who was born in 1918. Tommie was a sawer in a stave mill. He was 46 years old at this time.Barrel

Soon after the family moved to Florida. Tommie and Arabelle’s other two children, James and Woody, were born in Florida in 1921 and 1924 respectively.

In 1930, the family was living in Lawtey, Bradford County, Florida. By 1935, they had moved to Jasper, Hamilton County, Florida, where they remained at least until 1940. Tommie rented houses in both locations.

In 1930 Tommie was a farm laborer. He didn’t own a radio, and it was recorded in the census that he had a 4th grade education. In 1940 at age 66, Tommie was a night watchman at a saw mill. Arabelle was still living, too, and their three sons were living with them.

Back again for the last time

I don’t know what brought Tommie back to South Carolina, but that’s where he and Arabelle were living when he died on 3 July 1953. His home was in Gaston, Lexington County, South Carolina which is across the river from Richland County. I believe all the children stayed in Florida.

The death certificate said Tommie was married, but the informant was not Arabelle. It was a Mrs. Josephine Lee, who I believe was Tommie’s sister-in-law, the widow of Tommie’s older brother, Jesse. Jesse passed away in 1941, but lived in Gaston. Also, Jesse and Tommie had the same RFD address so they weren’t far from one another.

I don’t know why Arabelle wasn’t the informant; perhaps she was ill or senile and unable to provide the info or was too upset by Tommie’s passing.

Tommie is buried at Gaston First Baptist Church in Gaston. Jesse is buried there, too.

Richard Pyles – the other Pyles dentist

Richard Grover PYLES, my 1st cousin thrice removed, was the younger brother of Joseph Thomas PYLES who I wrote about here: Joseph Thomas PYLES

PYLES Richard Grover in Poolesville baseball uniform from FaG page

Grover Pyles in a Poolesville baseball uniform. Poolesville is in Montgomery County.

Richard was the son of Richard Thomas PYLES (1832-1889) and Francis Ellen HAWKINS PYLES (1847-1919). I wrote about Richard Thomas PYLES here: Richard Thomas PYLES

Grover, as he called when growing up, was born in Montgomery County, Maryland on 3 May 1885. He was brought up in an affluent home. His father was a successful merchant who made sure his children were well educated, including college.

College years

PYLES Richard Grover grad from UofM dental school FaG page

Richard when he graduated from dental school

Grover went to dental school at University of Maryland in Baltimore, just as his brother had done. Grover began going by Richard at this time. Richard continued his social activities while in college. He attended parties and balls and ushered at the weddings of some friends from home.

In 1908, at 23 years of age, Richard graduated dental school. At first he was a boarder in a private home in Baltimore, but by 1915 he was living above his dental office in Baltimore at 1132 Charles Street.  Click here to see a googlemaps street view. I believe it is the purple store.

Marries twice and has a kid

On his World War 1 Draft Registration in 1917-1918, Richard is married to a Lillian. They were living at 1132 Charles Street. Richard was tall and slender with brown eyes and dark hair. He was 32 at this time.

In 1920, Richard was again a boarder in a private home in Baltimore and was divorced from Lillian. No details as to what brought about the divorce. Richard had a son with Lillian, also named Richard. I didn’t find much about the son except his name.

In 1927, at 42, Richard married Sadie TAYLOR (1891-?). In 1930, Richard and Sadie show to be living with Sadie’s mother in the census, at 4407 Groveland Avenue in Baltimore.  Here is a link to a googlemap view of the house.

A 20-year old daughter is listed for Richard and Sadie. I suspect she is Sadie’s daughter from a previous marriage. Not much else is known about Richard until his passing in 1935.

Passes on

On 2 May 1935, Richard passed away at his home. This was reported in a Frederick newspaper where it stated that he was the brother of Frederick dentist, Joseph Thomas Pyles. Richard is buried at Monocacy Cemetery in Montgomery County, alongside many members of his family.PYLES Richard Grover gravestone from Monacacy Cemetery from FaG page


Richard doesn’t appear to have been as successful a dentist as his brother. Perhaps it was because he had to pay a lot of alimony and child support to his first wife. Perhaps there was more competition in Baltimore. It could have been that or something else. I will probably never know.

All photographs in today’s blogpost came from the Find A Grave page for Richard.  Here is a link to that page: FindAGrave Richard Pyles

52 Ancestors Week 52 – Virgie Martin: A sweet, sweet person

MARTIN Virgie circa 1910

Virgie Martin, about 16 years old

Virginia Elaine (Virgie) MARTIN was born 28 June 1894 to Adolphus Burdine MARTIN (1867-1917) and Elizabeth Patience LEE MARTIN (1868-1937). She was sixth of their many children including my grandfather, Joel Daniel MARTIN (1886-1955). Virgie was my great aunt.


Virgie was born into a farming family. They lived in Richland County, South Carolina on land that is part of the present Fort Jackson. Virgie attended school through the 8th grade according to census records.

Virgie marries and starts a family

Virgie Martin Peake with dau Lillie Mae and grdau Joyce

Virgie Martin Peake with Lillie Mae and Lillie’s Mae’s daughter Joyce

In 1917, when Virgie was 22, her father passed away. The next year, Virgie married Lee David PEAKE, Sr. (1898-1982). The first of their 11 children, Lillie Mae, was born in 1919.

Lee Peake was a rough man. Family members told me he was mean and he cheated on her a lot. He went to prison, too, for killing a man.

About 1922 when Virgie was pregnant with her 3rd child, a man attempted to break in the house knowing Virgie was alone. Virgie’s dog, Shep, bit the man’s hand while he was trying to get in the door and the man ran away. The man was someone Virgie could identify.

The next day, Lee waited for the man and as the man came by on a wagon Lee confronted him and another man who was with him. The guilty man ran and Lee shot the wrong man and killed him. Lee went to prison leaving Virgie to take care of herself and the children. I don’t know how long Lee was in prison, but it doesn’t seem for long since Virgie had another baby a few years later.

Life continues on and a sad event

In 1930, Lee and Virgie were living the in the Shady Grove school district of Richland County which wasn’t far from where Virgie had been raised. They lived there in 1935 and 1940, also, according to the census.

1946 brought sadness to the entire family. Lee and Virgie’s youngest child, Red, died. You can read about it here: Red Peake  Virgie was 51 at the time of Red’s death.


Virgie was crippled, from polio it is believed. Because of this she often sat close to the fireplace in the winter to stay warm.

Another family tragedy

On 26 Jan 1952, Virgie’s 19-year old son Bobby was building a fire in the open fireplace. According to an article in The State, a can of kerosene exploded. Virgie and at least three other members of the family, including Bobby, were burned, Virgie severely.

Virgie niece, Lydia, was a nurse in Virginia. She told the family there was a new way of treating burns – to let them dry out instead of keeping them wet. But the hospital were Virgie was wouldn’t do that and kept them wet. Virgie died the next week on 2 Feb 1953 from the burns. She was 58 years old.

Despite the sorrows in her life, Virgie was known a sweet, sweet person. She sounds like she was a lot like her sister, Florrie, who you can read about here: Florrie Martin

Virgie is buried at Holly Hill Pentecostal Holiness Church near Pontiac in Richland County, SC.  52ancestors-2015

52 Ancestors Week 51 – Amory Grant: Young Loss

Amory Griffin Grant, son of Arthur and Della Grant

Amory Griffin Grant

Amory Griffin GRANT was the son of Arthur Griffin GRANT (1875-1935) and Della Corina WATKINS GRANT (1875-1948).  Arthur, Amory’s father, was the brother of my great-grandmother, Margaret Ann GRANT THOMAS.

Amory was born 8 May 1905 into a farming family, the third of six children. The family lived in Chesterfield County, SC, having a Cheraw address. Amory attended school according to the 1920 census and could read and write.

On the 1930 census, Amory was living with the family and working on the farm.  He was classified as “unpaid worker, member of family.”  The Depression had begun so everyone was pulling together to keep people fed, etc.Farm-1


On 10 March 1933, Amory started with abdominal pain.  Perhaps it started subtly and was reckoned to be gas or something he ate.  On 13 March, Amory was diagnosed with peritonitis.  Two days later, he had an appendectomy and drainage of his abdomen.  Sadly, it wasn’t enough.  On 17 March, Amory died.


From Amory’s page

The personal information on the death certificate was provided by his older brother, Reverend Daniel Grant.  Even though Amory’s parents were both living, they were probably too distraught to deal with these details.

Amory is buried at Mt. Olivet United Methodist Church in Chesterfield County, the location of many of the Grant family.


52 Ancestors Week 50 – Pearl Lambright: 2nd time’s the charm

Pearl May LAMBRIGHT was the oldest child of James L. LAMBRIGHT (?-1897) and Georgianna M. HEISER (1855-1950). This makes her my first cousin, twice removed on my father’s side. Pearl is also the sister of Lewis LAMBRIGHT who I wrote about here: Lewis Lambright

Pearl was born in January 1884 in Maryland, probably in Frederick. Three siblings were born after her. Pearl’s father, James, died in 1897 when Pearl was about 13. Pearl’s mother, Georgianna, married Harry E. ESTERLY soon after James’ death.Maryland sign






The Perils of Pearl

In 1900, at age 16, Pearl worked as an operator at a hosiery mill. I can’t find her in the 1910 census, but in 1912 she quietly married Elmer HENSEL in Frederick. Did they quietly marry because she was pregnant? Could be. There is no record of her having a child, so that is pure speculation.

Pearl’s life became rather chaotic. In June of 1913, Pearl swallowed carbolic acid, the same poison used by Clarence PRICE to commit suicide. (Read about Clarence Price here: Clarence Price).

Only Pearl didn’t die.

Here’s the story according to The Frederick Post and The News:

At about 1 a.m. on June 13, 1913, Pearl (named as Lambright and not Hensel) drank carbolic acid and was shortly after discovered by her husband, Elmer, who sent for a doctor. Dr. U. G. BOURNE came and attended to her for several hours. She regained consciousness about 7 a.m. and was able to speak coherently by 10. Pearl denied she took the poison herself but that it had been given to her. Her mother and others claimed that she was given the poison, too.

Link to 104 E. Sixth Street, where Pearl and Elmer lived. It’s the smaller part of the blue house.


Drinking Too Much Can Be a Good Thing

Dr. Bourne said that if Pearl survived the poisoning it may be because of the ‘antidotes’ which she drank before the poison – alcoholic beverages and lots of them. The doctor believed the alcohol counteracted the poison.Women drinking poster



A warrant was sworn out for Hayes MEISLING (1881-1944) who was alleged to have been around the night before. Supposedly he’d also been in a fracas with Pearl’s husband who had a swollen jaw and a badly lacerated thumb that was bitten through to the bone.  Also, it was believed that Pearl’s stepfather, Harry, was assaulted in the fracas as well.

There was nothing more in the paper about the incident or the assault charges against Meisling. Pearl survived the poisoning but life still had chaotic moments like in 1916 when she was fined for disorderly conduct. She was named as Pearl Lambright instead of Pearl Hensel in this case, too.Pennsylvania welcome sign


Pearl Leaves Elmer

In 1917, Pearl was living in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania with Hayes Meisling, the man who supposedly assaulted her husband and stepfather. In 1918, Elmer was granted a divorce from Pearl, and in 1919 Pearl and Hayes married. Pearl was 35 years old.

In 1920, Pearl and Hayes moved back to Frederick to live temporarily with her mother and stepfather. Hayes worked as an insurance salesman and soon he and Pearl moved to a home of their own in Frederick at 510 Fairvew Ave.

Hayes continued working as an insurance salesman and life was calm for Pearl and Hayes, at least as far as I can tell. Pearl’s stepfather, Harry, passed away in 1934 and Georgianna came to live with Pearl and Hayes. She appears with them on the 1940 census. In 1940, Pearl was 56.

Hayes Passes Away, Then Pearl

On the evening of 28 Dec 1944, Hayes died suddenly from a heart attack. He was 63. Pearl continued living in Frederick until 1945 when she sustained a fractured femur, the large bone between the hip and the knee. At that point she went to live with her sister, Ada LAMBRIGHT CUDDY, in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania.

Three years later, on 6 May 1948, Pearl passed away at age 64 from chronic myocardial degeneration, pulmonary edema, and chronic nephritis. The autopsy says they were all secondary to an untreated fracture of the femur and bed confinement because of the fracture. I don’t understand why the fracture was left untreated. That part doesn’t make sense.

Pearl’s funeral was held in Frederick, and she was buried at Mount Olivet Cemetery in Frederick. Pearl’s early adult life was a mess, but she seemed to have found stability with Hayes.MEISLING Hayes and LAMBRIGHT Pearl headstone