Two posts ago, I wrote about Charles TROUTMAN, my great-grandfather. I have found more about a Charles Troutman in Cleveland, Ohio. I think this may be him.
I am an emotional person – a romantic. They say I have empathy. I will cry for what to most people would seem like no apparent reason. I get goosebumps when I feel something strongly, I sometimes feel anxious, and I have that kicked in the gut feeling from things that probably ought to be benign. I use more than enough adjectives and adverbs. Moderation is foreign to me. Perhaps it all makes for better story-telling, but it also makes me easily distracted. And it makes my life a whirlwind.
There are so many questions to which I have had no answers. Regarding my paternal line, what made my father, grandfather, and great-grandfather do what they did? How will I find out now that there is nobody left to tell me? Would my dad have known about his father and grandfather’s lives?
For an unrelated reason tonight, I subscribed to another on-line service. You never know what you’re going to get, and I knew I could (and probably would) be disappointed, but I’m made of money (no, I’m really not), so why not?
Even though I was looking for someone else, on a whim, I did a search for their names – Charles Troutman, Carrie VIRKLER, Carrie Troutman, Trautman, etc. As I watched the Olympic Bobsledding and the Ice Dancing, saw Davis and White get the Gold (it was BEAUTIFUL!), I was processing what I had discovered tonight about these ancestors. With anxiety. With goosebumps. With that kicked in the gut feeling. And with tears.
In archives of the Cleveland Leader (Ohio) newspaper, there, staring right up at me, was the notice of the action of divorce between Carrie D. Troutman and Charles Troutman on September 30, 1895. There is a case number and everything. I have been trying to find out what happened to them. I owe a phone call to the archives clerk in Cleveland (was supposed to call her back on Thursday) who was seeking this information for me. All I could tell her was that there may have been a divorce or he may have died, and that if they had divorced, it would have been between 1893 and 1901. Now, I can call her back with the details and perhaps get the full record.
From another search, I found that Carrie had a whole other marriage that I didn’t even know about. In the October 16, 1900, issue of the Plain Dealer of Cleveland, Ohio, here was this paragraph, and the answer to the question of why I can’t find her in the 1900 census.
Gross neglect and cruelty are alleged by Carrie Dill in her petition for divorce from George A. Dill. They were married in December, 1896. She wants to be restored to her maiden name of Carrie Virkler.
Jackpot!! Well, Mrs. Carrie DILL and Mr. George A. DILL (who may or may not have been living together in 1900), it’s time to see if I can find you.
Got their marriage record (remind me to look for spellings of Trautman/Troutman as Trottman – I should know better):
Yeah, I have no idea why her first name is spelled “Clara.” Her mother kept getting younger as she got older, too. Things like that seem to run in the family.
And then there is Charles Troutman. From what I have found so far, and as I shared two posts ago, there were two Charles Troutmans of about the same age in Cleveland at about the same time. The first, Charles William TROUTMAN, was born in Pennsylvania and it appears he did not go to Cleveland until after he was discharged from the Army in 1899 from the Spanish-American War. I haven’t investigated why that Charles went to Cleveland instead of back to Dauphin County, Pennsylvania, where he was born and enlisted, but it does appear he stayed there until he died in 1939. At one time, I thought that he was my Charles, but the dates and locations (and signatures) have led me to believe that he is whom I will consider Cleveland’s Late 19th-Century Charles Troutman #2. At least one who was on the books.
Charles Troutman, my great-grandfather, was born in Germany according to the birth record of his son, my grandfather. That record was dated 17 April 1893, and his age is given as 21.
The marriage record was in February of the same year, and the groom was required to be 21 and bride 18 unless parental consent is obtained. I’ve seen more than one marriage record where the ages are fudged. Anyway, he is whom I will consider Cleveland’s Late 19th-Century Charles Troutman #1, and my great grandfather.
I found some telling tales of a young Charles Troutman in Cleveland. I have only begun gathering evidence after seeing these newspaper clippings, and from what I’ve seen, I have a hunch that he is my ancestor.
Reading the tiny newspaper tales and thinking about the life behind them made me cry. Of course they did. Even if this boy and subsequent young man was not my ancestor, I will share these stories here.
In the May 20, 1890, issue of the Plain Dealer (Cleveland, OH), a police court case is described as follows:
Charles Troutman, a boy of 16 years of age, who has been engaged in driving a package delivery wagon for S. H. Cole, was charged with misappropriating $19.50 belonging to his employer. He will be tried Wednesday.
In the Police Court section of the same day, the embezzlement charge was continued to May 21st, and on May 22nd it was reported thus:
Charles Troutman of No. 38 Sherman street, the boy arrested at the Union depot as he was on the point of leaving town and charged with embezzling $19.50 from H. S. Cole, his employer, had effected a settlement of his case and it was dismissed on his paying the costs.
The paper reported that he was sixteen in May, 1890, and if accurate, this Charles Troutman was born in 1873 or 1874.
Imagine a Charles Troutman, born in Germany, in Cleveland, Ohio, living at 38 Sherman Street, and illegally obtaining money to then skip town. Did he steal the money so he could skip town? Was he running away from home? Was his intent to go somewhere else in the U.S. or back to Germany? Was he leaving Cleveland because he stole the money? What was at 38 Sherman Street where he lived? Was it a house, a boarding house? Did he live with family?
In 1893, his son, my grandfather Earl Lawrence TRAUTMAN, was born at 73 Stanton. Today’s Google Maps satellite shows an abandoned and uninhabited Stanton Avenue parallel with what looks like an abandoned Sherman Avenue, and both are next to railroad tracks and what looks like an abandoned railroad depot. Are these nearbys a coincidence? That I doubt. They are one block from each other.
The closeness of the newspaper Charles’ residence in 1890 and the birth record Charles’ residence in 1893, plus the troubles of this Charles Troutman, all make me have the strong hunch that this Charles Troutman in the newspaper was my great-grandfather.
Let me continue with two other police incidents from the newspapers, one in 1894 and the other in 1899. Remember that the divorce action filed by my great-grandmother Carrie D. Troutman against my great-grandfather Charles Troutman was in a notice in the paper on September 30, 1895, so one police incident was prior to the divorce, and one was after.
Incident two was reported in the Plain Dealer on January 6, 1894. The article was entitled “Peculating Funds – Warrants Out for Two Drivers of the Michell [sic] Grocery Co.” It talks about how the Mitchell Grocery Co. on Ontario Street in Cleveland, Ohio, is losing money because of employee theft. After a description of one type of action by a dishonest clerk who was caught by a detective, it was later found that two former drivers were also dishonest.
One of the drivers, Charles Troutman, was arrested last night, on a warrant charging him with taking $71.20.
I did not see an article subsequent to this showing further court action, but this gave me enough information for me to believe that we are speaking of the same Charles who was caught stealing funds as a boy of 16. If this is my great-grandfather, and I think it is, he now has a wife and 9 month old infant. Was he in debt? Did he drink and gamble? What other trouble with the law is not in the newspaper?
Finally, the third incident, occurring about four years after Carrie filed for divorce. From the Cleveland Leader, Friday, August 4, 1899, an article reports on two Big Consolidated street railway conductors having been caught in a raid of a “house” on Central Avenue. The men had concealed guns. Each was fined $20, $10 for carrying a concealed weapon and $10 for visiting a “disorderly house.”
They are Harry Tanner and Charles Trautman, who are living in the Holmden avenue barns.
What are the Holmden Avenue barns? They were streetcar storage barns in Cleveland.
My first thought was that Charles is homeless, drinking, and gambling, and “living” in the barns. I have watched enough television, seen enough movies, and read enough books to be able to envision what a turn of the century “disorderly house” would contain, in addition to your typical prostitution.
He obviously had a legitimate day job, but his nights, or at least that night of August 3, 1899, he spent on the wild. I did a Google search for “Holmden Avenue barns” and found that there was a night of significant rioting in July of that same year where 25 people were arrested and many were hurt, as well as a streetcar destroyed. Even more digging produced more articles that showed me that these were streetcar workers who were on strike and who were rioting against the streetcar company.
So Charles probably participated in the rioting. He was living in the streetcar barns. He was a conductor for the streetcar company. Near the end of July, the mayor had called in over 1,200 troops from Columbus to help stop the rioting. The mobs exceeded 5,000 sympathizers, sometimes reaching 8,000. This thing was significant. It was making national news.
There is a summation at the Encyclopedia of Cleveland History site here.
Wow. I mean WOW. History making. Union building. Wow. And my great-grandfather, maybe not a leader, maybe not the best decision maker, but he was a laborer before there was a union, and for this he gets credit.
I can see two obvious reasons that I have not been able to find him in the 1900 census. One: he was still living in the streetcar barns. Two: he was dead.
There is so much more to be revealed.
What caused a little baby born in Germany in about 1874 to end up in Cleveland, Ohio, as a teenager stealing from his employers? Was he hungry? Orphaned? Abandoned or abused? Was he alcoholic or a gambler? Was he a genius underachiever like my father? What attracted my great-grandmother to him? Was it a one night stand, considering that they married only a couple of months before my grandfather’s birth?
When I research cousins and make finds, especially major ones, I get excited. When I research my ancestors and make finds, I feel everything on the spectrum of emotion. Doing this helps me to discover not fully who I am, because a lot of that is decided by me, but of whom I am a conglomeration. When I find their stories, I find mine. What was a few hours ago the enigma of my great-grandfather Charles Troutman is now a story of a boy, a young man, and perhaps a troubled individual. Or it could be the story of a mean man. A bad man. I don’t know. I lead toward the former rather than the latter. I ache for the child he was, and I must be careful what I ask for, because what I find could hurt.
I may never know. How I fill in the gaps will understandably reflect who I want him to be. And until I find reasons to think otherwise, it is the first story that I will tell.
- “Ohio, County Marriages, 1789-1994,” index and images, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/pal:/MM9.1.1/X85P-RMR : accessed 18 Feb 2014), George A. Dill and Clara Trottman, 21 Dec 1896; citing Cuyahoga, Ohio, United States, reference cn13225; FHL microfilm 877931.
- “Ohio, County Births, 1841-2003,” index and images, FamilySearch ( https://familysearch.org/pal:/MM9.1.1/X6KL-QLP : accessed 02 Feb 2014), Charles Trotman Or Troutman in entry for Trotman Or Troutman, 1893.
- “Ohio, County Marriages, 1789-1994,” index and images, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/pal:/MM9.1.1/X8XC-TMX : accessed 18 Feb 2014), Charles Troutman and Carrie Virkler, 03 Feb 1893; citing Cuyahoga, Ohio, United States, reference P 143; FHL microfilm 877928.
- GenealogyBank.com. Cleveland Leader (Cleveland, OH). Date: Monday, September 30, 1895. Page 10. NewsBank and/or the American Antiquarian Society. 2004. Indexed image on-line. Accessed 17 February 2014.
- GenealogyBank.com. Plain Dealer (Cleveland, OH). Date: Tuesday, October 16, 1900. Page 7. NewsBank and/or the American Antiquarian Society. 2004. Indexed image on-line. Accessed 17 February 2014.
- GenealogyBank.com. Plain Dealer (Cleveland, OH). Date: Tuesday, May 20, 1890. Page 2. NewsBank and/or the American Antiquarian Society. 2004. Indexed image on-line. Accessed 17 February 2014.
- GenealogyBank.com. Plain Dealer (Cleveland, OH). Date: Thursday, May 22, 1890. Page 6. NewsBank and/or the American Antiquarian Society. 2004. Indexed image on-line. Accessed 17 February 2014.
- GenealogyBank.com. Plain Dealer (Cleveland, OH). Date: Saturday, January 6, 1894. Page 2. NewsBank and/or the American Antiquarian Society. 2004. Indexed image on-line. Accessed 17 February 2014.
- GenealogyBank.com. Cleveland Leader (Cleveland, OH). Date: Friday, August 4, 1899. Page 10. NewsBank and/or the American Antiquarian Society. 2004. Indexed image on-line. Accessed 17 February 2014.
- Case Western Reserve University. “STREETS – The Encyclopedia of Cleveland History”, http://ech.case.edu/cgi/article.pl?id=S23. Accessed 18 February 2014.