OMG! OMG! OMG! — Whew, walk it off!

Scholefield Family Tree

Ye gads! This is either cool or just plain spooky. I guess I should start at the beginning.

I got sidetracked. (It happens to the best of us.)

As I was looking for Alonzo’s children, I ran across a very short 1912 marriage announcement that named one of his daughters “Mrs. Helen DeGraff Morehouse.” Morehouse? I thought to myself. I found her under the name Ukers — and that is who she is marrying. Morehouse wasn’t mentioned in her obit which clearly gives her middle name as Scholefield (she was apparently named after her father’s sister’s husband). And that contradicted the list of Alonzo’s children from the history. It had named her as Helen M. (for Morehouse?) Being curious, I figured that it wouldn’t take too long to determine what was going on.

I started with a Google search for Helen DeGraff Ukers. I found out more about the Tea and Coffee Trade Journal. I found out that Helen was William Ukers’s secretary. And futhermore a New York Times article revealed he had a first wife and a daughter along with a child support dispute. In an interesting twist, there are two Helens. Helen DeGraff Ukers and Helen Ukers the daughter who was the point of contention between William and his first wife. While I was at the NYT site, I ran a search for Helen Ukers to see if anything interesting came up.

What I found was an article announcing the daughter Helen Ukers’s marriage. Not impressive by itself, it is what follows that shocked me!

Ukers and Wilhelm
I know you don’t share my shock yet. Let me explain…

I had no reason to scroll through the whole list of announcements, but I did look just below the Ukers announcement because a name caught my eye. “Wilhelm.” I recognized the surname as it was my grandmother’s maiden name. I kept reading. Hum, Henry Theodore Wilhelm…I sat up a bit straighter. Phillips Carlin! OMG, I KNOW THIS FAMILY! Henry was my 2nd great-granduncle! He was part owner of several china shops in New York City, one called Wilhelm & Graef on Broadway. Phillips Carlin married my distant cousin and was a radio announcer and television executive! He was the radio announcer for several World Series games, the host of several radio shows, and the President of NBC.

What are the chances that while investigating a family totally unrelated to mine — which began with a couple in Arizona — would lead to the discovery that relatives of this random family and my own were in a New York City newspaper article one above the other!

Once I calmed down, I knew I still had more to answer about Helen DeGraff Ukers. But that was exciting! Back to where I was going in the first place.

I located Helen on the 1910 census living in New York City as Helen Morehouse — a widow (darn, no easy answer to who her husband was). However, I figured that a death of a young husband would be in the papers back home, so back to Fulton History I went. I tried several searches and couldn’t find an article on Helen’s first marriage or the death of her husband. Now it was getting personal because it shouldn’t have been this hard.

The search that finally worked was one for Helen DeGraff. It turned up an article about Helen DeGraff McMillan’s service as a flower girl. At this point, I was willing to try anything — even names of distant members of the family, and up turns an article about Helen Scholefield DeGraff’s marriage to Charles Emmon Morehouse of Connecticut! (Sometimes it it handy when families name their children after other family members!)

Okay! I now know that Helen began life as Helen Scholefield DeGraff and married a man named Morehouse followed by a man named Ukers. Still wanting to finish my sidetrip, I searched for his name — only to find out that he apparently didn’t die! He was getting married to another woman four years after Helen reported that she was a widow!

What I learned from this:

  1. Don’t get sidetracked. It could take you a while to get back on track.
  2. If you do get sidetracked, be prepared for anything!
  3. And remember that widows are sometimes not widows — but divorcees who were living in a time in which that status carried a stigma. Therefore, they commonly reported that their living ex-husbands were dead. And their mothers only requested small notes about their subsequent marriages in the newspaper.

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