Oh, Bennie!

Benjamin Franklin Appleton was born on the third of November, probably in 1890. The records found give a variety of years. Bennie himself most often gave the date of his birth as 3 November 1892. He was the youngest of seven children, and the only son, of Thomas and Emma Barney Appleton.

When Bennie was 15 years old, he started working in the post office at Christopher, PA. The postmaster was a relative. On the 3rd of October 1906, Bennie was arrested on the charge of “opening registered letters and taking money from them.” The arrest was made by a US Marshall at the insistance of the postal inspector. Bennie was held pending a hearing.

Bennie’s case came to trial in Feb 1907 and the verdict came down on the 28th: “Not Guilty.” Judge Archibald ruled that the woman, who claimed $5 had been taken from a letter addressed to her, could not prove that there had actually been $25 in the envelope, since the only proof of that amount was a statement in the letter made by the person who sent it. Bennie was acquitted.

On 20 July 1909, at age 18, Bennie was married to Matilda Fitcher, but she used the alias “Mabel Jones.” There is no explanation for the alias. Maybe she just preferred to be called Mabel Jones. The 1910 census shows that Bennie and Mabel were living with his parents and his siblings. Pennsylvania law stated that both men and women must be 21 to marry. Bennie and Mabel were both under age, so their parents must have given permission for the marriage. However, it appears that both Bennie and Mabel fudged on their ages. The 1910 Census taken in April, 10 months after their marriage, shows that Bennie, at that time, was 17 and Mabel was 16. Or maybe they were just really bad at math.

The marriage of Bennie and Mabel didn’t last long. On the 3rd of November 1914, the newspaper reported that Benjamin Appleton had gotten a divorce in Delaware from Mabel Jones. The grounds were “desertion.” Poor Bennie.

The following week, however, Bennie, now age 24, married Edna Sorber, 23. One month later, on 10 Dec 1914, Bennie was in big trouble. He was arrested on the charge of forgery. His story was that his mother had died five weeks earlier, and he’d been married just six weeks. Besides that, he was unemployed. He told the court that he had been working for a local undertaker, but was laid off and needed money. He forged four checks, and on each of the checks he signed the name of a prominent businessman. The total amount of the forged checks added up to $70. Adjusted for inflation, it would be the equivalent of about $1656 today.

The next day, 14 Dec 1914, Bennie plead guilty to forgery.

Poor Edna, his bride of six weeks, was hysterical. She asked the Court to be lenient. The judge asked the police to furnish him with Bennie’s record. The police told the judge that all they knew was that he had trouble with his wife and that they had lived together until he got the divorce in Delaware.

On 13 Feb 1915, the day of Bennie’s sentencing, the judge asked Bennie how long he had been in Delaware. Bennie told him four months, which did not meet the residency requirements. Turns out Bennie had not gotten a divorce in Delaware at all. He admitted he had deceived the Court: Forgery and Bigamy!

Judge Strauss threw the book at Bennie. He was sentenced to a term of not less than 2 or more than 5 years in the Eastern State Penitentiary, a state of the art maximum security prison in Philadelphia.

Edna immediately filed for divorce.

Some people just never learn. Bennie was out on parole after serving a two-year sentence. But in Sep 1917, he was back before Magistrate Masterson on three separate charges of forgery. He was on his way back to the Eastern State Penitentiary. He was paroled again in 1919, but by Dec he was wanted again for forgery, the theft of a horse, and various other crimes.

Unfortunately, the newspaper accounts end in 1922. However, that’s not the end of the story.

In 1925, Bennie married wife number 3, Catherine. In 1927, Bennie was working as a janitor in Hartford, Ct. Bennie and Catherine had three children: Margaret, who was born in Pennsylvania, Ben Jr., who was born in Massachusetts, and Doris, who was born in New Jersey. They are all listed in the 1940 census. At that time the family was living in New York City.

They moved around a lot.

By 1942, however, Bennie was no longer with his family. He was living in Hartford, Ct. Bennie registered for the WWII draft, and from that we can get a description of what he looked like: he was white, height 5’4″, weight 125 lbs., blue eyes, and blonde hair.

Two years later, the City Directory shows that Bennie was boarding in the home of a Mrs. Ada Vandling in Hartford while he worked for the NY, New Haven & Hartford Railroad. Later, Ada Vandling would be known as Ada Appleton, apparently married to Bennie. She passed away in 1958.

Bennie spent the rest of his life in Hartford and in retirement he worked as a watchman. After a long and very interesting life, he died on 6 Jan 1979 at the age of 88 years.

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Dear Myrtle’s “3 – 2 – 1 Cite: The ‘Ragu’ Challenge”

When were Lester Rankin and Alameda Klump married?rankin-klumpMarriageApp1928

3 Documents

#1: Application and License for Marriage for rankin-klumpMarriage1928Lester Rankin and Alameda Klump










#2: 1930 Census for Lester Rankin and Alameda Klump Rankin


#3: Catholic Confirmation Record (no image)


2 Paragraphs

No marriage record for my grandparents, Lester Rankin and Alameda Klump, was found in St. Louis, Missouri, where they lived, nor in any other county in Missouri. In 1998 while visiting my grandmother in Sacramento, California, she told me that they had been married in Waterloo, Illinois, a “Gretna Green,” where couples could be married without a waiting period. Copies of the Application and Marriage License from Monroe County, Illinois are in my possession. These records show that Lester Rankin and Alameda Klump were married on 03 December 1928 in Monroe County, Illinois.

Two other documents support the fact that they were married:
1) 1930 Census in the household of Sanford and Effie Rankin, Lester Rankin is described as a “son” and Alamedia [sic] is described as a “daughter-in-law.”

2) In the Catholic Church records of St. Ann’s in St. Louis, Missouri, the Confirmation record for their son states that his father was “Lester” and his mother “Alameda.”

1 Event

1. Monroe County, Illinois, marriage certificate no. 11966 (1928), Rankin-Klump; Illinois State Board of Health. Register 4, Page 100.

2. “Until the passage of the stricter marriage laws in 1937, Waterloo had a wide reputation as the Gretna Green of the St. Louis area.” Best Books on, Federal Writers’ Project, Illinois, A Descriptive and Historical Guide (1939); digital images, Google Books (http://www.Google.com/books : accessed 05 April 2014).

3. 1930 U. S. census, St. Louis City, Missouri, population schedule, St. Louis, pg. 225 (stamped), dwelling n/a, family n/a, Lester and Alamedia [sic] Rankin; digital image, Ancestry.com (http://www.ancestry.com : accessed 5 April 2014); citing NARA microfilm publication T626, roll 1227.

4. 1927-1976 Confirmations & 1st comm., pg. 1, name withheld; digital image, FamilySearch.com (http://www.familysearch.com : accessed January 1994); citing FHL film number:1764559.

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Honoring Stanton Gage, Lieutenant, USAAF

It all started when I posted a link to the video “Isaac’s Storm” on Facebook. “Isaac’s Storm” is the story of Isaac Cline, chief meteorologist at the Galveston, Texas office of the US Weather Bureau. The hurricane that hit the island of Galveston in 1900 is considered to be the deadliest natural disaster in US history.

Years earlier, I saw a comment on someone’s family tree that Martha Richardson McCarroll had died in the Galveston Hurricane of 1900. I made note of it as something to check out in the future. Martha was a relative, younger sister of my 4th great-grandmother, Elizabeth Richardson.

I decided to do a little research to see if there was any truth to the story. It didn’t take long to discover that Martha had not died in Galveston in 1900. She was listed in the Galveston city directories for 1890 & 1891, and in the Houston directory in 1902. She was not on the casualty list compiled by the Rosenburg Library in Galveston. She probably experienced the hurricane in 1900 as Houston is on the Texas coast near Galveston, but she survived.

I figured as long as I was researching Martha, I should see if I could find any new information about her children. She had at least eleven children by her first husband, John McCarroll. Eldest daughter, Amanda, lived in Hills Boro, Hill County, Texas, with her husband Eugene Vinyard. Eugene’s occupation in the 1880 Census was listed as “City Butcher.”

Amanda and Eugene Vinyard had one son and three daughters. Eldest daughter, Julia Lavina married George Franklin Sturgis. Their daughter, Florence, married James William Boyd and had daughter, Grace. Grace Boyd married Carleton Gage and had two children: son Stanton and daughter, Gwen. Then they divorced.

Carleton Gage was a realtor and insurance agent. His ex-wife, who went by the name of “Mrs. Grace Boyd Gage,” was a socialite, appearing frequently in the Society pages. Their son Stanton, had some apparent artistic talent as a youngster.

In 1930 the Dallas Morning News ran an article titled Art Sorority Plans Saturday Luncheon. The sorority was Alpha Rho Tau, of Southern Methodist University. Olive Donaldson, head of the art department of SMU was scheduled to speak on “Creative Art,” and Carol McKenzie would demonstrate with a small group of pupils “the creative possibilities of a child.” One of the children participating in this event was eight-year-old Stanton Gage.

On May 19, 1933, Sanger’s, a Dallas clothing store, sponsored a Talented Kiddies Contest featuring Tommy Bond, “a movie star with the Our Gang Comedies.” Tommy also attended the John S. Bradfield School in Dallas. Talented students from three schools were scheduled to participate in the program and the winner would be awarded a prize of $2.50! The John S. Armstrong School had five entries in the contest. Four of the acts involved singing and dancing, but one other stood out. Eleven-year-old Stanton Gage was to be 4th on the program and he would be demonstrating his free-hand drawing skills.

Stanton Gage was a student at Southern Methodist University but when WWII began he enlisted in the Army Air Force. The Dallas Morning News reported that Stanton Gage had received his wings and commission as a second lieutenant in the Army Air Force at Boise, Idaho. He married his sweetheart before going overseas. An article appeared in the Dallas Morning News on May 4, 1943 “Lunch Planned Thursday Honoring Mrs. Stanton Gage.”

“Mrs Stanton Gage will be honored with a luncheon in the Mural Room Thursday given by Mrs. Grace Boyd Gage. The honoree, before her marriage to the hostess’ son, was Miss Alta Jean Peterson, daughter of Mr. and Mrs. J. P. Peterson of Sioux Falls, SD. The honoree will leave soon for a visit with her parents at their summer cottage on Lake Minnewawa in Minnesota, before joining her husband, who is an aviation cadet at Kelly Field, San Antonio…He is the son of Mrs. Grace Boyd Gage and Carleton Gage.”

August 13, 1944, the Dallas Morning News reported that three Dallas residents had been awarded medals. “Second Lt. Stanton Gage, son of Mrs. Grace Boyd Gage, 2704 Mockingbird Lane, has been awarded the Air Medal for participation in air raids over Germany. He is a bombardier on a Flying Fortress. His wife is Mrs. Alta Jean Gage, also of Dallas.”

Then the unthinkable happened. Another article in Dallas Morning News on November 28, 1944 was titled “Two Dallasites Die in Action.”
“Lt. Stanton Gage, 22, son of Mrs Grace Boyd Gage, 3704 Mockingbird Lane, and Carleton Gage, was killed in aerial combat over Germany, his mother has been advised through the International Red Cross. He has been reported missing in action Sept. 30, while on his twenty-second mission as a bombardier on a Flying Fortress. Lieutenant Gage was graduated from Highland Park High School and attended the Academy of Fine Arts in Chicago and Southern Methodist University. He also is survived by his wife, Mrs. Alta Jean Gage, formerly of Minneapolis, Minn. Lieutenant Gage had been awarded the Air Medal with two Oak Leaf Clusters for gallantry in action.”

How is it possible that this talented young man could have been killed on his 22nd mission? The crew of another Flying Fortress, the Memphis Belle, were retired after 25 missions. What happened?

A search of B-17 plane crashes on September 30, 1944 led to a Find A Grave page for Sgt. Carrel W. Stamps, who was on the same plane.

“On 9/30/1944 while on a group bombing mission Stamps’ plane was struck by a bomb falling from another bomber. The bomb exploded causing his plane to explode as well and crash near Bielefeld, Germany. His plane was SN# 43-38115 and was named the Reluctant Lassie. The Air Force accident report number for this incident is MACR 9429. All crew members died except for one who was captured by the Germans and held for the remainder of the war as a prisoner of war.” 

The names of everyone on the plane were included in the story, and the Stanton Gage was listed as one of the casualties.

MACR stands for “Missing Air Craft Report,” The entire 27 page MACR 9429 report can be found on the Fold3 website. The official military report confirmed the story on Sgt. Stamps’ FindAGrave page. It was an unfortunate case of so-called “friendly fire.”

Lt. Stanton Gage is buried at Arlington National Cemetery, our nation’s most hallowed ground. His name is included in the World War II Memorial at Southern Methodist University dedicated to the alumni who gave their lives for their country. Stanton’s father, Carleton Gage, established the Stanton Gage Art Award Memorial Fund at Highland Park High School in memory of his only son who was killed in World War II.

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