Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Uncle Sam's Second Wife

Back in July of 2008 I discovered the FBI file of my great uncle, Samuel Van Every.  (He also, occasionally, went by the name Stanford Van Every.)

The FBI file began with this wonderful letter:
War Department
Information Bureau
Washington, DC

Gentlemen: I was married to S.O Van Every, March 20, 1917 in Jacksonville Fla., my husband gave his age then as 28 but on June 5th of last year he very suddenly grew to be 32 he did not register for the draft ... Mr. Van Every deserted me last December in Little Rock Ark. when he went to Oroville Calif. and Martinez, Calif. and became engaged to another ... Mr. Van Every I learn has been married before he married me but had not a divorce.

I would like to know where I stand...He is a native of Texas, his parents live in Fabens, Texas ... Before the war he was pro-German.

Very Truly
Mrs. SO Van Every
Bigamy, draft evasion, and pro-German sympathies.  I was most interested in the first accusation, and I was angered by the old custom of signatures.  I knew my great uncle's initials, I wanted to know the name of this woman!

The FBI file revealed, when the FBI agent arrived in Fabens, TX, Samuel's mother (my great grandmother) showed him the Family Bible where Samuel's birth date was entered.  Whether or not he had pro-German sympathies is a question that will likely never be uncovered.

A search of Jacksonville, Florida city directories turned up nothing.  Through RAOGK I had someone search the Duval County marriage records from 1914-1919, and they found no Van Every.  And there the mystery sat.


James Tanner at Genealogy's Star mentioned that the records at FamilySearch nearly doubled today.  So I went there to browse around.

One of the new databases I noticed was Florida's marriage records (1837-1974).  I immediately entered the Van Every surname, wondering if my RAOGK angel had missed something somehow.

Groom's Name: Stanford O. Van Every
Groom's Birth Date: 1889
Groom's Birthplace:
Groom's Age: 28
Bride's Name: Amy C. Johnston
Bride's Birth Date: 1898
Bride's Birthplace:
Bride's Age: 19
Marriage Date: 20 Mar 1917
Marriage Place: Duval, Florida
Groom's Father's Name:
Groom's Mother's Name:
Bride's Father's Name:
Bride's Mother's Name:
Groom's Race:
Groom's Marital Status:
Groom's Previous Wife's Name:
Bride's Race:
Bride's Marital Status:
Bride's Previous Husband's Name:
Indexing Project (Batch) Number: I09962-4
System Origin: Florida-EASy
Source Film Number: 963541
Reference Number: p 168
Collection: Florida Marriages, 1837-1974


Unfortunately there isn't an image associated with the record.  There are a few different Amy Johnstons in the 1910 census this could be.  I will need to get the microfilm roll and see if there is any information on the record that didn't get transferred to the database. 

This appears to confirm most of the woman's story.  She was the one who was lied to about my uncle's age; not the government.  Samuel had married someone previously -- Esther Dahlin, who in 1917 was still raising their son, Everett, in Austin, Texas.  Were Samuel and Esther officially divorced?  And did Samuel get engaged to and possibly marry someone else in California?  I don't know.  He's single and living in Oakland in 1920.

Note: This is recent enough, I probably wouldn't be blogging about this if I knew he had any surviving siblings or descendants who might be embarrassed by his escapades.  Of course, as the number of women grow, so do the odds.

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