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Charles T. Askew – Looking Ahead and Looking Back

Bringing the Charles Thompson Askew family into the present day requires more research than I am prepared to do. Because of privacy concerns, the information available online for people presumed to be still living is somewhat limited. And rightly so! Here is what I know of the rest of this story.

We know from her obituary, that Charles’ daughter Bertie (from his first marriage to Leila Skinner) and her husband Daniel Henderson had a daughter named Ruth, who was attending Swarthmore College at the time of Bertie’s death in 1935. Ruth’s engagement to H. Woodward McDowell, two years after her mother’s death, was announced in the New York Times:

New York Times; published May 2, 1937.

 

Although I have some clues about Ruth and H. Woodward McDowell from news articles which suggest they had two daughters named Nancy and Ann, I cannot prove it at this time.

We know from Charles’ obituary that he married a woman whose first name was Edith and that they had a son named Charles. The 1920 federal census record for Sierra Madre, Los Angeles county, California, shows Charles T. Askew, head-of-household, age 61, born in North Carolina; Edith M. Askew, his wife, age 48, born in England; Charles E. Askew, his son, age 19, born in New York. Given all the evidence I have already presented about Charles T. Askew, I have concluded that this record must pertain to him and his family. The last record I have for Charles Thompson Askew is the obituary, published just 3 years after this census was taken. His wife’s maiden name may have been Matthews. The California Death Index lists Edith Matthews Askew, born November 12, 1870 in “other country” and died February 19, 1957 in Los Angeles.

His son, Charles E. Askew, can be found in numerous records. The 1930 federal census record for Sierra Madre, Los Angeles county, California shows Charles E. Askew, head-of-household, age 30, born in New York, father born in North Carolina, mother born in England; Freeda I. Askew, his wife, age 24, born in California; Helen E. Askew, his daughter, age 4, born in California; Betty J. Askew, his daughter, age 6 months, born in California. This census also asked for “age at first marriage.” In this case, it gives us some very important information. For Charles, his age at first marriage is reported to be 21 – approximately 9 years earlier. For Freeda, however, her age at first marriage is reported to be 23 – just one year earlier, and too soon to be the mother of Helen who is 4 years old. I suspect that Freeda is his second wife. Can I prove it?

The California Birth Index, which I found on Ancestry.com, lists Helen Edith Askew, born in Los Angeles county on July 25, 1925. Her mother’s maiden name is recorded as Vanblack. The California Death Index, also found on Ancestry.com, lists Helen Edith, born July 25, 1925 in California and died May 7, 1996 in Los Angeles county. It records her mother’s maiden name as Vanvleck, her father’s surname as Askew, and her full name as Helen Edith Pennington. Despite the different spellings of her mother’s maiden name, which could easily be due to a transcription error, these records appear to match each other and are consistent with the 1930 census record. Could Vanblack (or Vanvleck) be the maiden name of Charles E. Askew’s first wife?

After much searching, I hit pay dirt! In a family history published on Ancestry.com (the complete source for this record is listed at the end of this post) here is what I found:

Child of Frank Abram and Eliza B. (Stanbery) Van Vleck: Helen Janette Van Vleck (adopted), born Feb 2, 1904; died at the birth of her only daughter; married in Sierra Madre CA April, 1922, Charles Askew. Child Helen.

It appears that Charles E. was married first to Helen Van Vleck and second to Freeda (last name unknown.) Helen apparently died in childbirth. So sad . . .

In census records I found Frank Abram, Eliza and Helen. That information together with the Van Vleck family history led me to the book The History of Cerro Gordo County, IA, 1910, which has quite a bit of information about the Stanbery/Stanbury family. It reports that Frank Van Vleck and Eliza Belle Stanbury are living in Minot, ND and that she is the daughter of Dr. and Mrs. William C. Stanbery. The Iowa connection led me to an article published in the Mason City Globe Gazette on October 17, 1957 about a lawsuit that the local power company was bringing against many people who had an interest in land located in the Stanbury Addition, Mason City, Cerro Gordo county. The defendants included Charles E. Askew and Irene Askew, husband and wife, and Helen Edith Askew Pennington!

One detail that I have yet to prove is the maiden name of Charles E. Askew’s second wife. The census records list her name as Freeda or Freida I. Askew. Given that the name listed in the news article is “Irene,” I think that may be her middle name.

Old high school and college yearbooks are increasingly available online. Here is a photo I found in the 1945 Pasadena Jr. College Yearbook for Helen Edith Askew.

What else do I know? From his military registration card, I know that Charles E. Askew’s middle name is Emerson (keep that in mind, it is a name you will see again) and that he had blue eyes and brown hair, and that his birthday was August 18, 1900. He may have served in the US Air Force as a pilot and may have been a volunteer fireman in Sierra Madre, according to various records I have found but that I can’t prove pertain to him. I have not found a death record for him. The California Death Index lists Freida I. Askew, born October 17, 1905 in California, died September 10, 1975 in Los Angeles. I haven’t been able to find any records for their daughter, Betty.

Next, we will return to the east coast at the end of the 19th century and follow one of Charles T. Askew’s brothers.

There is always “more to the story!”

 

Source:

Ancestry.com. Ancestry and descendants of Tielman Van Vleeck of Niew Amsterdam : with some descendants of Benjamin Van Vleck and Marinus Roel [database on-line]. Provo, UT: The Generations Network, Inc., 2005. (Original data: Van Vleck, Jane,. Ancestry and descendants of Tielman Van Vleeck of Niew Amsterdam : with some descendants of Benjamin Van Vleck and Marinus Roelofse van Vleckeren or Van Vlack. New York: unknown, 1955.)

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Posted by on October 19, 2012 in Askew, Family Photos, Uncategorized

 

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2 Wives – 2 Lives

Mounting evidence supports the theory that Charles Thompson Askew married twice. Although his obituary mentions a wife, Edith, and a son, Charles, I have found additional information proving an earlier marriage to Leila Dodson and the birth of a daughter, Bertie. Besides the marriage announcement mentioned in my first post about Charles, new information sheds light on his first wife and daughter.

Married in December of 1882, Charles and Leila were no longer living together by the time the 1900 census was taken. The 1890 census would be helpful, but it was almost completely destroyed by fire and by bureaucratic ineptitude. Fortunately, more and more newspapers are being digitized and made available online, either through subscription services or through library websites for free.

A newspaper article from the Baltimore Sun, February 27, 1895 lists Charles T. Askew, Mrs. Charles T. Askew and Miss Askew, of Brooklyn, New York, attending the Drew-Hodson wedding in Baltimore. This is consistent with what we know of his employment history, which places him in New York around this time. It means Charles, Leila and daughter moved to New York together. We can only speculate about why their lives soon changed.

Here is a clipping from the 1900 census for Baltimore, Maryland. It shows (reading the columns from left to right) Leila Askew, head of household, White, Female, born October 1858, age 41, Widowed, mother of one child, one child still living, born in Maryland, her father born in Maryland, her mother born in Maryland. On the next line is Bertie Askew, daughter, born July 1883.

That Leila is listed as widowed could mean several things: she could be widowed, she could be divorced, or she could be abandoned. First, we don’t know who gave this information to the census taker. Second, divorced women often preferred to be known as widows in an era when divorce carried such a stigma. Third, a divorce was difficult to obtain.

I cannot find Charles in the 1900 census. It’s possible he wasn’t counted because he was traveling as a paper salesman at that time.

The 1910 census shows Leila Askew, mother-in-law, living with Daniel M. Henderson and Bertie C. Henderson. It also shows that Bertie and Daniel have been married for 5 years, and that Daniel’s parents were born in Scotland. Interestingly, Leila is listed as having been married 2 times, with the present marriage of 27 years duration, and as having had 2 children, with one still living (Bertie, of course.) Census data can never be presumed to be fact without further proof, however it raises the possibility that she may have been abandoned and never divorced. She may have been married to someone else before Charles. Perhaps Bertie had a brother or sister who did not survive.

In 1920 Leila is again listed in the census as a widow, and Daniel and Bertie have a 5-year-old daughter named Ruth. They are living in Orange, New Jersey. I have no further information about Leila. More proof is needed to confirm the link between Daniel and Bertie Henderson, Leila Askew and Charles T. Askew (son of William F. Askew of Raleigh.) What we have so far relies on census data and needs to be corroborated with additional evidence.

I believe I have found the evidence that proves this relationship, and this is what led me to it-

Here is an obituary for Bertie, published in the New York Times on December 29, 1935:

To become a member of the United Daughters of the Confederacy, you have to prove that an ancestor fought in the War Between the States (AKA Civil War) or supported the Confederate war effort. You can obtain a copy of a member’s application by contacting the UDC library. I am awaiting the copy of Bertie’s application that I requested last week, but here is the reply I received to my email inquiry:

Dear Ms. Sanders,

Bertie Corinne Askew Henderson joined the Baltimore Chapter #8 in Baltimore, MD on November 6, 1906.  She transferred to the Robert E. Lee #1773 in East Orange, NJ in 1922, and then transferred to the Stonewall Jackson #2058 in Glenridge, NJ in 1931.  The transfers state that she was the Founder of the Robert E. Lee Chapter and a Charter Member of the Stonewall Jackson Chapter.  I’ll be happy to make a copy of the application for you; our charge for a copy of an application is $16.00. Her Confederate Ancestor was Col. William F. Askew, her Grandfather.

Thank you,

Betty Luck

Research Librarian

United Daughters of the Confederacy

328 North Boulevard

Richmond, Virginia 23220

Is this enough proof to consider the case closed? I could pursue additional records, but I am satisfied that the question of whether or not Charles T. Askew was married to Leila Dodson has been answered. New York, New Jersey and California are locations that appear frequently in our family history. Coincidence, or something more?

Here is a question for YOU to answer: In Bertie’s obituary, Daniel M. Henderson is mentioned as an author and New York magazine official. What did he write and how famous (or infamous) was he? When you find out, leave your answer in a comment on this post!

 
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Posted by on May 16, 2012 in Askew, Genealogy Lessons, Uncategorized

 

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