Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Searching for ABW

First and Broadway, Los Angeles, 1906 - USC Digital Archives

Recently [The Man I Love] has been researching his ancestry. I have mixed feelings about this. My mother has been an avid genealogist; painstakingly researched my father's family for many years, tracking down obscure distaff relatives in distant county courthouses across the south. She's gone off it recently, but in years past it wasn't unusual for her to buttonhole you, going on at length about someone whose birth certificate had been recorded as being located Here, but it turned out that it was another relative entirely and the real record was actually discovered There. This kind of immersion in detail is - as I have said before - a family disorder.

So I was a little alarmed when [The Man I Love] got into this. But - so far - it's been fun

Mom was always an Old-School genealogist, working without a computer. [The Man I Love] has been using Ancestry.com. And he's gathered a lot of information about his grandfather, who he did not know well, having never met him.

His grandfather, who I'll call ABW, was born in Iowa in 1873. Working in the newspaper business was in his blood - at the age of five, he began playing with movable type in his father's shop. In the summer of 1887, he started typesetting during summer break, and then his dad bought the paper and he continued working. He traveled around the region, working for local newspapers.

In 1895, at 22, he married an Iowa girl, Oro Cooper, and five years later they set out for Colorado Springs. They stayed there for 12 years, then ABW took a job with the Santa Barbara Independent newspaper in California. By this time, there were two kids - [The Man I Love's] father, and his aunt.

In 1915 he went into the printing business for himself in Los Angeles. But in August 1918, he moved the family to Hilo, Hawaii to work for the Hilo Tribune. He stayed there until 1921, when he returned to Los Angeles.

Near the end of his life, he wrote an essay about his life, and sent it to a genealogist for inclusion in a volume about the W family.

But one thing he doesn't talk about in his essay is the fact that he split with his wife and kids.

When ABW returned to California in 1921, he returned alone. Oro and the kids made their own journey, moving back to Santa Barbara, while ABW moved to Los Angeles - and lived in several locations until he died in 1946 at the age of 73.

Because the family split up, we don't have much personal information about ABW. No pictures. Not many stories. So as we tour of the places he lived in Los Angeles, we can look for our own stories. Come join us.


JCK said...

The whole story sounds intriguing. Searching family history can really be fun.

mo.stoneskin said...

I have an uncle who is currently doing a lot of research into my family tree.

It's nice when someone else finds it all out and you just get to hear the results.

KBeau said...

I think geneology can be really fascinating. Just one more thing to spend time on.

Tristan Robin Blakeman said...

great story! I wish we had some missing people in my family, so I could play around with the family tree thing. Unfortunately, with the exception of my mother's parents, Hitler took care of my entire family, so there's not much to research.

Jenn @ Juggling Life said...

This sounds way more interesting than looking at people's birth certificates.

Beverly said...

Very interesting. My husband and I love genealogy.

I actually got interest in it when my grandmother gave me a Bible when I was eight years old. I just had to complete the family tree enclosure, and my interest grew from there.

When we got married, my husband jumped right in. We love it, but haven't done much other than maintain for quite a while. Maybe one day soon we will have more time.

Tristan's comment is so sad - it just makes me grieve more for such a loss.

Gary Rith Pottery Blog said...

wow, seems like he was compelled to go west and keep going west until he bounced back!

M. Bouffant said...

Good old all-American wanderlust.

Life with Kaishon said...

I am so glad you are doing this. I can't wait to learn more.