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Sunday, November 6, 2011

Few questions answered

The long anticipated transcript of records of the Lytle children arrived yesterday from Children’s Services.  There was not a lot of material, as the records officer had warned me several times in conversation.  Six very short paragraphs (three to six lines each) of information. But interspersing it with what I already know was interesting.

There are interesting tidbits.  Their records indicate that Mr. Lytle left the family in Coalmont, in 1918, and did not appear in court in Pennsylvania.  Interesting.  Children’s Services records indicate that some time after that he was located in Colorado Springs, Colorado and died there of tuberculosis in 1930.  Aunt Laura chronicled the children and their mother were back in Akron in 1915 and her father stopped at the home, probably in 1917 or 1918, asking his wife to be reunited and was turned down.  Perhaps some support action was filed in Pennsylvania, and George stopped in Akron and then kept going west.  Apparently Maime Lytle could keep her family together from 1915 to 1918.

Children’s Services records also show a letter from Peebles County Juvenile Court dated July 19, 1930 noted the passing of Mr. Lytle and indicated letters dated 1924 from his daughters Helen and Ruth were found in his possession.  So, all three daughters wrote to their father.  I cannot locate a Peebles County in Colorado (or even in the United States), so I will see if I can get a copy of that letter.  It would be interesting to know how a Juvenile Court would be involved in the death of a middle aged man.

The transcript says the family came to the attention of the Children’s Home in 1918, as Mrs. Lytle had difficulty in providing for her children alone.  She was not in good health and earned only nine dollars a week when she was able to do housework. She was a diabetic; the disease took her life at age fifty eight. The transcript says there was no documentation for the next several years, and does not say when the children were taken into the home.  Aunt Laura writes she was there at age ten, or 1921.  My newspaper account of Uncle Bill says he went from the Home to Orient at age 12, or 1921, so it seems he was already there, and probably my dad, too.  They could easily have been in and out, being cared for when their mother ran out of funds.   

Then, in March 1924, according to the transcript, the family was involved with Juvenile Court due to hardship and in August, 1924, my dad was placed in Charity Latch School and then readmitted to the Children’s Home several days later.  In September, 1924 he left the Home and joined the United States Army.  That supports the in and out theory, and since dad was 17 on the 28th of August, 1924, I’m sure he was at the recruiting station shortly thereafter.  Charity Latch School!  I can only wonder.

In November, 1924, Laura and Ruth were returned to the care of their mother.  Aunt Laura was 13, then, and Aunt Ruth 11.  Aunt Laura writes that two weeks after her 14th birthday, in January of 1925, she and Aunt Ruth were taken on a “picnic” and turned over to the convent school.  She lived there in Cleveland and graduated a two year vocational course while Aunt Ruth went to Cathedral Latin High School for a year before returning to another relative and then going on to a nursing degree.

From remarks of my mother during my childhood I understood my Grandfather Lytle had been in prison for non support of his family.  It does not seem to have been down to that, but it appears some action was afoot, as he did not “appear in Court in Pennsylvania”.  I do not know how long it takes a person to waste away from tuberculosis, but there was a span of fifteen years when he provided no support for his children.  There seems to have been plenty of blame to go around, Maime for leaving because she did not like moving and George not giving a damn when she left with four little children and one on the way, and she only twenty six years old. 

I’ve exhausted most resources I can imagine in unraveling my father’s childhood, and that of his siblings.  I’m still curious about Peebles County and Charity Latch School, both of which names could come right out of a Dicken’s novel.  If Maime did the best she could (and she probably did), Aunt Ruth was the most charitable in saying “Isn’t it tremendous what kids can live through.”  If George did the best he could, who knows.  He certainly kept the love of his daughters.

Aunt Helen Rita
Age 18

2 comments:

  1. What a sweet young face to have gone through such hard times....she looks right into your eyes and through your soul.

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  2. Wonderful records! What a life for those poor children!

    ReplyDelete