Stories From The Grave
George, Marion & Evelyn May Albers
Final Resting Place Row 5 Plot 145
The headstones of the Albers were quite unremarkable but, for some reason, they called to me.
In beginning the research for George, I found immediately that he was a miner and figured the story would be short and possibly tragic, but never expected to find the complicated tale that was to follow.
George was born on 15 July 1878 in Calaveras, California. His father was an immigrant from Belgium. George’s WW1 draft registration describes him as 5’11’ tall, slender build, blue eyes and blond hair and stating that he had “lost” the 2nd and 3rd fingers of his right hand.
According the census reports, George went to work for Glencoe mines -formerly called Mosquito Gulch-which was a mining town located 10 miles northeast of Mokelumne Hill. He married a woman about 20 years his junior, by the name of Addie Cunningham. Addie gave birth to 3 boys, Clarence, Walter and Gilroy. For reasons unknown, Addie left George with the children and he eventually filed for divorce on charges of “willful abandonment”. The 1910 census lists the children as living with their paternal grandparents. George was officially divorced in 1914 and In 1916, George married again. HIs wife was Ida Marie Legner (Leguer) an immigrant from Germany. Ida gave birth to 3 daughters (Florence E., Evelyn M., Marion M,) and a son, Ernest Arthur. One of these children was the Evelyn (Evilyn) that is buried next to George. She died at the age of 17 and finding her cause of death became an obsession with me. It was on the journey of discovery to find what happened to Evelyn, that the tale of George’s life became so complicated for me.
In the 1930 census, Ida is listed as a patient at Weimar Sanatorium in Placer. This was an institution that housed patients with tuberculosis. I was lucky enough to find an index of the Weimar Sanatorium at the Tuolumne County Genealogical Society’s site. The index listed Ida as admitted in July of 1929 and discharged in Oct of 1930. However, I was surprised to find that George had preceded her at this institution, as he was admitted in April of 1927 and discharged in May of 1927. Such a short stay was puzzling to me, since George succumbed to Pulmonary TB one year later, in April of 1928. This same census lists Florence and Ernest as living with an Uncle by the surname of Hager. Evelyn was listed as a “lodger” with a Gottlieb Schmidt. Clarence and Marion were not to be found in that census. Sadly, the separation of the children was necessary because of their parent’s inability to care for the little ones. Also, during this time, George’s son Walter, started showing some problem behavior and in 1926 was arrested with 2 cohorts, for attempted burglary of a dry goods store. The article states that “the youths were well-known in the county.” As those of us who have been parents know, this particular time in George’s life must have been tumultuous. He was ill, working and trying to provide for his family, had a son in trouble and a wife who was also ill and was in an institution away from home, leaving little ones that needed supervision and care and was unable to fulfill her duties of caring for the home front.
As if this isn’t enough of a burden, just months before his death from TB, George’s troubled son Walter was shot and killed by his employer. From the Modesto News Herald account, Walter and his boss, Charles A. Ralph, got into an argument, and later in the evening Ralph came into the bedroom and shot Walter in the chest. He died of the wounds a short time later. Ralph was found guilty of manslaughter and was extremely remorseful and confused as to why this had occurred.
As I was doing this research, I happened upon another article from the Modesto News Herald that talked about George’s widow Ida. Apparently, Ida’s sister, Mrs. Covey, was jealous of the relationship Ida had with her husband, Mr. Covey. They had been to Stockton earlier in the day, and had returned to Valley Home when the incident occurred. Mrs. Covey stabbed her husband, quite violently, with a knife to the abdomen, causing his death. It just seemed the trouble never ended for this family.
I felt I had learned much about George, but Evelyn’s death was a puzzle I had to solve. I found an article in a local paper that said as a child, she had been bitten in the face by a dog, but no other mention was made of her. The local death records did not have her death listed and I remembered seeing a short notice that mentioned an Evelyn Albers that had died in Marin. Although I didn't see any connection, I went to the Tuolumne County Genealogical Society to see if they could help. They had my answer minutes after I mentioned the Marin County notice. They checked the Burial Transfer records and found that poor little Evelyn had indeed died in Novato, Marin County, as the result of an” accidental overturning of car “that fractured her skull. She was brought home to be laid to rest by her papa and now as I tend to their graves, I feel a connection that wasn't there before. I only hope that they have found peace at last.
Written By Pat Dambacher