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Family Truthlore

As most family tree researchers and genealogists know, many families are stories passed down generation by generation, and some could be described as fable or folklore.  The stories are usually quite intriguing and entertaining, but some are occasionally disproven when cast in the light of research and documentation, or not supported up by any documentation at all.  This page contains the exact opposite, and summarizes stories from my family tree research which were previously unknown to any family members, and were discovered and uncovered in newspapers or via other documentation.  As the stories are fully documented, and are either extraordinary, bizarre, or interesting, I decided to refer to them as family truthlore to emphasize them being the opposite of folklore.  The photo shown above is a stock photograph, which was selected as a humorous reflection of fable and folklore, which includes magical books and dragons.  This page will be continually updated and expanded over time, as I have much more family truthlore to add!

Family Truthlore of My Paternal Ancestors


Listed below is some documented family truthlore of extraordinary, bizarre, and interesting stories concerning some of my maternal ancestors.   The primary newspaper articles of the stories are transcribed in the gray boxes and include links to the original source.  My summary of each story also includes links to other supporting newspaper articles and additional source material.

They Made Him Sick with Their Pipe Stories, But What About Those Green Pills?

Margaret Jones (née Long) (1853-1918) is my paternal second great grandmother, and her daughter, Emily May Barron (née Jones) (1875-1963) is my paternal great grandmother, and both are mentioned in this outlandish story.  The son of Margaret would have to be Morris Jones, who is my paternal second great uncle, but the age listed is incorrect.  The four year old son of Emily would have to be William Harold Barron, who is my paternal great uncle.

Apparently, trouble had been brewing between the Jones and Reinhardt families for a couple of weeks.  There is a preceding story on Jacob Reinhardt, who was the husband of Amelia, and how was fined $5 by the same Judge King on August 11, 1898.  The article states that several days prior, Reinhardt had beat and kicked Morris Jones "so badly" that "he can scarcely walk straight at present."

For some other necessary background, "pipe stories" was a slang term of the era.  It was used to describe imaginative stories that were induced by opium usage, which was usually smoked from a pipe, such as in an opium house.  It should be noted that there is no conclusive evidence to support anyone was actually using opium, especially given that the title of the article identifies the term as “slang."  Other articles of the era say that the "ability to tell a good pipe story is prized."


At the the same time, it should be noted that the identity and purpose of the missing “green pills” is undetermined.  There are  newspaper articles and advertisements from this era which list various "green pills" being used to treat a variety of ailments, ranging from rheumatism to gonorrhea, but there are also references to green pills being associated with opiates, such as "smokers of green pills."  Whether my second great grandmother was an opium user is open to speculation!  She died of Parkinson's Disease in 1918, and her death record indicates the duration was only one year.


Up to date in slang is Judge King, "They make me sick with their pipe stories," He said. Neighbor's squabbles.  Judge listened to stories of fights until his genial nature gave way. Judge King, after he heard the story of the troubles of Mrs. Maggie Jones of No. 178 Sycamore Street, told in the Police Court this morning, wanted to know if Detective Schmidt had found any green pills among her family effects.

Mrs. Jones' appearance in the Police Court was as complainant against Mrs. Amelia Reinhardt, who lives in the same house.  She charged Mrs. Reinhardt with assault in the third degree as the sequal to a case in which both parties were concerned several days ago.  At that time Jacob Reinhardt, the husband of Amelia, was arrested on a charge of assaulting the 7 year old son of Mrs. Jones.  He was fined $5.  Mrs. Reinhardt paid the amount.  Subsequent events are best related in Mrs. Jones' language this morning.

"After you fined this woman's husband $5 the other day, Judge," said Mrs. Jones, "she went home and threatened to get revenged.  First she tried to chastise my 4 year old son of my daughter, Mrs. Emma Barron.  The child's mother heard its screams and ran down stairs.  Mrs. Reinhardt kicked her in the stomach.  I came down stairs and Mrs. Reinhardt said to me: 'You made my husband pay $5 in the Police Court and I'll make you pay more than that before I get through.'  She struck me on the head with a big wash tub and was raising it to strike me a second them when Andrew Jones, my crippled son, appeared on the scene.  He saved my life.  A few minutes later, while my husband and myself were at dinner, she returned and destroyed the screen door on the rear of Mrs. Barron's house.  Mrs. Barron, my daughter, then swore out a warrant for her arrest and when she heard about it she told the neighbors and my son George was set upon by a crowd and beaten.  Andrew, the cripple, arrived in time to save his brother, but a policeman of the Sycamore Street Station saw the trouble and not understanding the circumstances he arrested my boys on charges of disorderly conduct while the scoundrels escaped.  My boys were let go on suspended sentence this morning."

Neighbors testified that Mrs. Barron renewed the fight by throwing water on the Reinhardt children.  "These families give me more trouble than all the others in the precinct," said Special Schmidt.  "And they make me sick with their pipe stories," said Judge King.  "Mrs. Jones, I ought to find you for making this complaint.  Mrs. Reinhardt, you're discharged."

Buffalo Courier - August 13, 1898

Family Truthlore of My Maternal Ancestors

Listed below is some documented family truthlore of extraordinary, bizarre, and interesting stories concerning some of my maternal ancestors.   The primary newspaper articles of the stories are transcribed in the gray boxes and include links to the original source.  My summary of each story also includes links to other supporting newspaper articles and additional source material.

Where Are the Bodies Buried Rev. Butterfield?

Rev. John Butterfield (1795-1888) is my one of my maternal fourth great grandfathers. John was initially a school master in Saddleworth, England.  He then became a priest for the Church of England, and served in the area of Bradford, West Yorkshire, before eventually migrating to London.

While serving in parish of Bradford, Rev. John Butterfield was publicly chastised and admonished in a newspaper in 1837.  Apparently, he was slow with his paperwork and documentation concerning burials in the parish cemetery, which could result in the present day joke of "where are the bodies buried?"  When faced with the threat of a fine, the Rev. Butterfield took "the hint" and quickly provided the required documentation. 


With all joking aside, and with the specific reference of "so many dead bodies" in the newspaper article, one possible explanation was the cholera pandemic of the early 1830s.  It's possible he got behind due to the number of deaths, or was just careless!


The Rev. J. Butterfield, curate of the Parish Church, Bradford, had refused to furnish to the district registrar any further information of the bodies he had buried without a certificate, than by sending a note stating that so many dead bodies had been interred within such a time.  The Registrar was about to take the opinion of the Magistrates on the subject;  but since the decision of the Leeds Magistrates which adjudged the Rev. Robert Taylor to pay a fine of Five Guineas for a similar offence, Mr. Butterfield has taken the hint, and consented to furnish the Registrar with the facts he will be required to register.

Hertford Mercury and Reformer - September 26, 1837

Family Truthlore of My Paternal Relatives

Listed below is some documented family truthlore of extraordinary, bizarre, and interesting stories concerning some of my paternal relatives.   The primary newspaper articles of the stories are transcribed in the gray boxes and include links to the original source.  My summary of each story also includes links to other supporting newspaper articles and additional source material.

What is Your Husband's Occupation?  Burglar

Elwyn Barron (1899-1985) is one of my paternal great uncles.  My late father once shared a particular story about meeting one of his seven paternal uncles, but could not recall his name.  When my father was in his teens, a man approached him and said "Hello, I'm your uncle, and I just got out."  Without realizing that he meant prison, my naive and youthful father replied "Just got out of where?" After discovering multiple nationwide newspaper articles, I was able to confirm beyond any reasonable doubt that Elwyn Barron was that particular uncle.

Elwyn Barron had a history of criminal activity, which included being convicted of a burglary in 1919.  This was no ordinary burglary, as Elwyn was accused of "paying for his honeymoon with the loot" and was sentenced to prison.  His wife subsequently filed for divorce in 1923, which resulted in a humorous exchange when the judge inquired about Elwyn's occupation and present location.  Elwyn was paroled in 1953, which appears to directly correspond with my father's story, as he would have been 16 years old at that time he met Elwyn.


Elwyn Barron, 4149 West Van Buren street, married two months, was identified yesterday as a burglar who "worked" in Chicago, Grand Rapids, and Detroit.  His bride says "Good-by, Elwyn."

Chicago Daily Tribune - December 16, 1919



"His Occupation?"  "Burglar," Says Wife.  Grand Rapids, Mich., Dec. 29.  Mrs. Esther Barron took the stand in circuit court to tell why she wanted a divorce from Elwyn Barron.  "What is your husband's occupation?" she was asked. "Burglar," came the prompt reply.  "Where is your husband?"  "In the prison at Joliet."  The hearing was completed and submitted for the court's decision.

Fort Worth Record - December 30, 1923

His Step Son Was Also His First Cousin

Franklin Lee Jones (1877-1941) is my paternal third great uncle, and Franklin McClanathan (1842-1907) is my paternal fourth great uncle.  Franklin Lee Jones was the nephew of Franklin McClanathan, and reciprocally Franklin McClanathan was the maternal uncle of Franklin Lee Jones.  Franklin McClanathan married Fransina Deyo (1846-1939) and together they had one son William Franklin McClanathan.  There's nothing unusual about the story, at least until Franklin McClanathan died in 1907.


The following year Franklin Lee Jones married Fransina!  Yes, you read and understood that correctly!  This results in a quadruple whammy of information to digest.  First, Fransina was the widow of his maternal uncle.  Second, there was an age difference of about 31 years.  The age difference is correctly shown on the 1910 and 1920 census records.  Probably to avoid stares and questions, they fibbed about Fransina's age on the marriage record, which lists her as being only 11 years older than Franklin.  Third, they were living with his parents.  The marriage application lists the same address for both of them, which is the address of Franklin's parents.  This implies that after the death of her husband, Fransina moved in as a boarder of his parents, so the relationship began in the home of Franklin's parents.  Fourth and lastly, Fransina had a son William Franklin McClanathan, who was obviously the first cousin of Franklin, and now Franklin became his step father.  Even further mind blowing is that Franklin was 11 years younger than his first cousin, who was already married with children of his own.

Albert F. Bingemer's Bad Luck With Animals

Albert F. Bingemer (born 1853) is the husband of my paternal third great aunt Katherine Long (1852-1935).  Poor Albert sure had a string of bad luck with animals while on the job at work.

Sometime around the time that Albert and Katherine were married, Albert became a mail carrier for the U.S. Post Office in Rochester, Monroe County, New York, with the earliest indication being the 1875 census for the State of New York.  On Halloween evening, October 31, 1879, Albert was severely mauled by a dog while on his postal route.  The dog type is not stated in the newspaper article, but the dog was so ferocious that it literally tore his leg open and pulled out tendons.  The specifics of his recovery and any lasting damage to his leg are unknown, but he is still listed as being a mail carrier in 1880.

Sometime between 1880 and 1881, Albert became a wagon driver for a mill company, and the occupational change might have well been the result of his leg injury, as it was more sitting than walking.  Less than two years after being mauled by the dog, poor Albert was kicked by a horse while on the job with his wagon on July 15, 1881.  The kick was severe enough to cause a compound fracture to his lower leg, which means the bone was exposed.  It can only be speculated whether this was the same leg as the dog attack!


On Friday evening, Albert F. Bingermer, of 18 Hamilton place, a letter carrier connected with the post office, was severly bitten by a savage dog.  He was on the round of his duties in the twelfth ward, and the brute attacked him with exceeding ferocity, not only biting an ugly hole in one of his legs, but literally pulling out some of the principal cords and tendons.  The suffering man is confined to his house as a result of the ugly wounds.

Rochester Democrat and Chronicle - November 2, 1879


Yesterday afternoon, Albert F. Bingemer, driver for George Wilson, of the Model Mills, met with a serious accident.  The lines became entangled in the horse's tail, and Bingemer attempted to loosen them, when he animal kicked out fiercely with his hind feet, shattered the dash board and struck the driver on the leg, inflicting a compound fracture of the tibia or shin bone.  Dr. Buckley attended the injured man and reduced the fracture.

Rochester Evening Express - Saturday, July 16, 1881

Trailed Wife and Companion to Hotel Room

George Jones (1878-1934) is my paternal second great uncle.  He is the son of the previously mentioned Margaret Jones and the "pipe stories" newspaper article.  George married Christina Kress on February 3, 1901 in Niagara Falls, Niagara County, New York, USA.

The specific reasons are not known, but couple separated about eight years later in 1909.  The 1910 census shows them living apart from each other, and they had no children.  On the night of February 3, 1911, which happened to be the day of their tenth wedding anniversary, George had a night planned to go bowling with his brother, who was likely Morris Jones, and a friend.  The trio spotted George's now separated wife with another man on the opposite side of the street.  They tailed the couple to a hotel, and learned the the couple was registered as "Mr. Hastings and wife."

Divorce laws in this era were very different from today.  There was no such thing as a "no fault" divorce, and in fact, New York was the last state to pass such a law in 2010.  George filed and was granted a divorced in early 1911, and Christina did not even attend the court proceeding.  The newspaper mentions that the trio "had to break into the room to get the evidence," but fails to deliver the juicy details on what they might have seen!


Trailed Wife and Companion to Hotel Room.  George Jones Celebrated Tenth Anniversary of His Marriage by Playing Detective.  Divorce Decree Granted by Justice Brown.  According to testimony taken in a divorce action, in Special Term of Supreme court, before Justice Brown, a candy maker by the name of George Jones, celebrated the tenth anniversary of his marriage to his wife, Christina Jones, by starting out for a bowling alley in Washington Street, accompanied by his brother and friends.  Before they reached the bowling alley the three men claimed they saw Mrs. Jones on the opposite side of the street.  At this time husband and wife had been separate about 18 months.

The court was told that the alleged successor to Mrs. Jones' affections came along and joined her.  The bowling game was given up and the trio on the spur of the moment constituted themselves sleuths, Mrs. Jones and her companion were followed to a hotel on the corner of Eagle and Washington streets.  According to the testimony of the husband and his brother, Morris Jones of No. 81 Demond Place, and Charles Klix of No. 108 Goodell Street, who made up the detachment of self-appointed detectives, the found that Mrs. Jones and ‘the other man,’ registered at the hotel as ‘Mr. Hastings and wife.’

The court was told that the Joneses married on February 3, 1901, and that on the same day, ten years later, February 3, 1911, instead of having friends come to their home to celebrate their 'tin' wedding anniversary, Mrs. Jones was found to be guilty of infidelity.  The trio swore they had to break into the room to get the evidence.  No appearance was made by the wife.  Justice Brown decided that a decree of interlocutory divorce be grated to the candy maker.


Buffalo Evening Times - Wednesday, March 8, 1911

Thieves Miss $500 Concealed in Shoes

George Jones (1878-1934) is my paternal second great uncle.  This is same man mentioned above in the newspaper article about his divorce, and he subsequently married again in 1916.

While George and his wife were out for the evening on June 16, 1924, some thieves ransacked their home, and vandalized it.  Some household items were damaged or destroyed, and items were also stolen.  Two teenagers were arrested the following month, and confessed to the robbery and others.  The interested fact is that the article mentioned the thieves overlooked $500 which was hid in shoes.  It's interesting not for the fact that they missed it, but making it public knowledge they had money hidden in the house!  It makes you wonder if other thieves thought about hitting the house at a later date!


Thieves Miss $500 Concealed in Shoes.  Police are mystified at the tactics used by burglars who entered the apartments of George Jones, No. 81 Demond street, late last night while Jones and his wife were away from home.  The burglars forced two rear doors, and thoroughly ransacked the place, breaking mirrors, overturning furniture, and throwing a cake on the floor and stamping upon it.  They also ripped a crucifix from the hall and destroyed it.  The intruders fled with a quantity of clothing, but overlooked a pair of shoes containing $500, according to the police.  Police are of the opinion that the burglary was the work of vandals, or someone holding ill feeling against Mr. Jones.  They are investigating.


Buffalo Enquirer - Tuesday, June 17, 1924

The Tragic Death of Trick Bicycle Rider and Diver 'Teddy Olivio'

Andrew Jones (1880-1901) is my paternal second great uncle, and is the son of the previously mentioned Margaret Jones and brother of George Jones.  There are multiple incidents and newspaper articles about Andrew Jones, but here is a brief summary.  While he was a young boy, he was run over by the a contractor's wagon carrying sand, and his leg was amputated.  The parental supervision that he received is questionable.  He concocted a story about having no father and started begging for money which he claimed to be for an artificial leg, and was also arrested for stealing money.  A few years later, an enterprising lawyer suggested that his father should file suit against the contractor.  Though missing a leg, Andrew became a trick bicycle rider and diver under the moniker 'Teddy Olivio' at the Wild Water Sports show.  He would ride his cycle up on a cliff and jump into the water.  Unfortunately, he missed the tank during a show, and died from the injuries in 1901.


Olivio, Dead.  Trick Rider Who Broke His Back on the Midway Could Not Live.  Andrew Jones, alia Teddy Olivio, the trick rider who broke his back in the Wild Water Sports on the Midway on June 3, died Wednesday morning at the General Hospital.  He jumped from his wheel and dove into a tank, but missed his distance and struck near the edge.  His back was broken below the neck.  He was taken to the hospital, where he lingered until Wednesday.  The dead man lived at 81 Demond street, this city, with his parents.  The remains were given to them for interment.  The funeral was held yesterday.  Coroner Butler will hold an inquest.


International Gazette - Saturday, June 29, 1901

Family Truthlore of My Maternal Relatives

Listed below is some documented family truthlore of extraordinary, bizarre, and interesting stories concerning some of my paternal relatives.   The primary newspaper articles of the stories are transcribed in the gray boxes and include links to the original source.  My summary of each story also includes links to other supporting newspaper articles and additional source material.

The Five Pound Tumor

Susanna Shepley (1768-1840) is my maternal second cousin six times removed.  Susanna never married, and would have been referred to as a "spinster," which was a common term of that era. 

While walking down the street on February 18, 1840, a large Newfoundland dog jumped playfully on Susanna, which caused her to fall backwards.  She was 72 years old at the time, and a Newfoundland dog can weigh as much as 175 pounds.  Susanna died the following morning.  During a post-mortem examination, it was discovered that she had a five pound tumor, which "must have existed for years."  During the inquest, the coroner wished to retain possession of the tumor, but the surgeon explained that it was already "promised as a rare present to a public museum." 

Her father George Shepley was apparently of great wealth, and owned manufacturing mills along the Wandle River in London, England.  Susanna and her brother, who also never married, lived in together in their later years in Devonshire Place in Cavendish Square.  Both are memorialized within All Saints Church in Carshalton in London, England.

Yesterday morning an inquest, adjourned from Saturday last, was held before Mr. Wakley, M.P., at the Devonshire Arms, Devonshire-Street, Portland-place, on the body of Miss Susannah Shepley, aged 72, a lady of independent fortune.  The evidence adduced on both occasions showed that on the afternoon of Tuesday week she entered the shop of Mr. Waugh, chemist, of 117, Regent-street, in a state of extreme tremor, and having somewhat recovered her senses, she informed that gentleman’s assistant that a few minutes previously, in Langham-place, a large Newfoundland dog jumped upon her, and such was the force with which he placed his paws upon the front of her person, that she was thrown violently on her back.


The assistant advised her to take a coach, and forthwith proceed home, and consult her usual medical attendant.  She did so, and told her female servant that no one set the dog at her, but that the animal sprang upon her out of playfulness.  She expired on the morning after the accident.  A post mortem examination was ordered, and yesterday Mr. William Randall Vickers, surgeon, of Baker-street, who had made it, said that the cause of death was the rupture of the ileum, and that he had found a tumour weighing upwards of 5lb. in the abdomen, which must have existed for years.  He supposed that the violence of the pressure of the tumour against the ileum, caused by the fall, produced the fatal rupture of the latter.  The coroner seemed to set great store on the possession of the enormous tumour, but the surgeon told him he could not comply with his wishes to have it, as it had been already promised as a rare present to a public museum.  Verdict: Died in consequence of injuries caused by being thrown down by a dog.

London Evening Standard - February 29, 1840



© Copyright  -  Timothy J. Barron  -  This page was updated March 12, 2023

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