Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Alwilda, Alwilda

So what do we know about Alwilda (Pop's stepmother)? When I first started on this family research journey, I contacted Patty Scardina Volz. I had been to the Walnut Hills Cemetery and located Charles and Alwilda's graves. She asked me if I spit on Alwilda's grave while I was there. She said that Pop had always told Margaret Ann to spit on Alwilda's grave if she ever went to visit. Margaret Ann apparently repeated this instruction to her children. So is it a fair characterization to say she fit the description of the "wicked stepmother"?

Here's the evidence:

  • As I mentioned in the previous post, here is what Lillian's letter had to say: "His second wife was not a good mother to her children, mother said. . . the children needed Rachel's guidance. Had she lived she would have insisted on a good education for Fred, Leo and Edith."

  • When Charles remarried on December 24, 1898 (a respectful six years after Rachel's death), he married a woman 16 years his junior. She was 32 years old when she married.

  • My mother's notes say that "Pop", my grandfather, swam out into the river and "got a job on a boat as a cabin boy". I recall hearing that he did this when he was about 13. He would have been 14 when his dad remarried.

  • When Alwilda died in 1937 at the age of 71, her Death Notice referred to her husband, brother and sister. No mention was made of her stepchildren. She died of a cardiac embolism with arteriosclerosis and uterine cancer being contributory causes.

  • But by far the best evidence of how "Pop" felt about his stepmother is this picture.

Patty Volz is in possession of the original. We don't have any pictures of Alwilda and for good reason. Pop cut Alwilda out of the picture where she posed with his father. You can clearly see where he made the cut. I think this sums up his feelings. I also find it interesting that no survivor saw fit to pay to have her death date engraved into her grave marker. The poor woman was probably spared a lot of heartache as she died about the time of the '37 flood.

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