Saturday, October 23, 2010

Storytime Saturday - Lena Beilstein's marital adventures

Today's post is all about my great-great-grandmother, Philena Emily Beilstein. She was born 26 Feb 1888 in Chicago, Illinois to Jacob and Amelia (Wachter) Beilstein. She was the younger of the two surviving children of this marriage (she had an older sister named Annie Margaret, or Maggie), and grew up in Illinois and Pennsylvania. She lived in Pennsylvania in 1900 at the time of the census, yet by 1903 she had found her way out to Carbon county, Montana, and was married to David M. Briscoe, a native of New Mexico from a large Mormon family (though it seems he himself never joined the church). Finding this marriage was a bit of a surprise, as the first marriage I knew about for her was in 1908 to Clarence Johnson. I was actually trying to find a record of her marriage to Clarence on the FamilySearch beta site, when I found the marriage to David Briscoe. My mom and grandma new nothing about David, which makes me wonder if my great-grandma Edna (Philena's oldest daughter, who told my grandma a lot about her mom) even knew about him. His mother and siblings were living in Carbon county, Montana at the time of the 1900 census, so how Philena met him and decided to marry him is a total mystery. Also, the fact that David came from a Mormon family is very interesting, given some things I've recently learned about the end of Philena's life (which I'll write about later). As far as I know, this is the earliest contact any of my family lines had with the LDS church (assuming that Philena had some kind of contact with David's family). This is very interesting to me, given that one of Philena's daughters (Elsie), granddaughters (my grandma), and the whole family of a great-granddaughter (my mom and our family) all joined this church. Funny how life keeps going in circles throughout the generations.

A quick but interesting sidenote about David Briscoe - he's one of the rare cases of people listed in the same census twice, the 1900 Montana census in this case. In one entry, he's listed as the servant of Henry Foust, and the other he's listed with his mother and siblings.

Her marriage to David didn't last long, because Philena (or Lena as she was often known) married again in 1908, to Clarence Johnson. I have recently obtained a scanned copy of two postcards Lena wrote to her mother, Amelia, while married to Clarence, one of which gives her address as 214 South H Street in Livingston, Montana. So it seems she stayed in Montana during the time of these two marriages (she ended up leaving Clarence towards the end of 1910). I have been unable to find any record of children born to either of these marriages, so as far as I know Lena walked away from these two marriages with no kids.
That changed when she met her next "husband", Ernest Craddock. I put husband in quotations because as far as we know (we being me, my grandmother, and other researchers of this family) Lena and Ernest were never officially married. But they got together shortly after the 1910 census was taken, as my great-grandmother Edna was born to them in 1911. Edna was followed by three more girls - Hazel, Elsie, and Grace. The family stayed in Montana at least through 1920, and were living in Granite, Montana at the time of the 1920 census.

After the 1920 census, I'm not sure where she went. I know from what my grandma has told me she left Ernest in the mid 1920s and was involved with several different men (aside from the three mentioned so far) over the course of her life, including Art Palmer, Ed Layfield, and Clarence Roper (Clarence Roper being the last one). I'm not sure at this point if she actually married anyone after Ernest, but Grandma says Lena was in Butte when her grandson James Harris Jr. was born in 1931, so that would point to her being in Montana for the 1930 census. But not knowing what name to search for, or what county she might have been in, I haven't been able to find her yet.

I've got more to write about Lena, but that will have to wait for another post. Stay tuned for Part 2 of Lena Beilstein's marital adventures.


Diana Ritchie said...

Wow - great story!! This sounds SO much like my own great-grandmother. I have yet to put all the pieces together but I've found her (I currently believe it's her) with a different man in each census from 1900-1930. I gave new meaning to the notation in my mother's baby book on the "Baby's Ancestry" page which shows this grandmothers name and then "name at the baby's birth" Guess they didn't have any faith that it wouldn't be different again shortly!

Unknown said...

I am Grace's daughter. We lived in Twin Bridges MT. So did my grandfather Ernie..he told
me alot about the family, when Lena let Granite with a traveling salesman, leaving behind 4 daughters the youngest was my mother Grace, The 4 girls were sent to the State Orpanage in Twin Bridges as the State would not allow a man alone to raise 4 girls in a mining camp, my mother was 17 when she got out of the orpanage. My grandfather Ernie was an honorable man I held his hand when he died. I also have the family album of the Craddocks and Murphys

ironhide781 said...

Thanks Diana! I guess that lifestyle was a bit more common that I previously thought. It sure is confusing to try and follow someone that doesn't want to settle down. It is kind of fun though to try and put all the pieces together.

ironhide781 said...

Hi Janice! You must be a cousin of my grandmother Sally Crawford. She's been the source of most of the stories of Lena and the family. She gave me copies of the pictures I posted on here, and several others. Would you like to compare notes on the family?

Carol said...

I am Elsie's daughter Carol (your Grandma Sally's cousin). Sally posted information about your blog on Facebook. I have thoroughly enjoyed reading a lot on your blog -- and of course, especially about Grandma Lena's family history. I had to quit because the old eyes aren't as good as they should be. Hope to see more information another day when there's more time. I scanned the book of my Mother's pictures and birth, marriage and death certificates that my sister put together. Presently I am trying to restore some of the old tattered, torn and faded pictures. It's taking a vast amount of time to even get through some of the pictures. I have some information regarding restoring pictures that I want to look into. These are software programs that are free. Being on such a limited budget those are the only kind I can check into. As soon as I get them finished I plan to send the digital pictures to Sally and to Janice.
Also, want to say I love your statements (remarks) on Obama. I share your strong feelings about that man.

ironhide781 said...

Hi Carol! That's great what you're doing for those old family pictures. I recently completed a big picture project of my own, identifying, scanning, and labeling over 800 pictures from my dad's mom's photo album. It is a monumental undertaking, so kudos to you for doing it. I know Grandma Sally and Janice will greatly appreciate what you're doing.
As for Obama, I really don't like what he's trying to do to the country. I try to keep my political comments to short blurbs on Facebook now, as blogging about it drove me nuts. :)

kbris said...

Amazing to find this story and your blog Brandt. My name is Keith Briscoe. David Marion Briscoe was a son of my great I grandparents Thomas Briscoe and Martha Ann Barney. Lena's story is fascinating.Thank you for sharing.