Was Great Grandma Kennedy Having an Affair with Great Grandpa Flanagan?

Ward Surname

My 29th entry in Amy Johnson Crow’s “52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks” family history blogging challenge.

My 29th ancestor is my great grandmother Sarah’s first husband, Frank J. WARD (b. 1895).

I have yet to find a divorce record for my great grandmother Sarah KENNEDY (1898-1930) and her first husband Frank, who were married on 25 June 1913 in Mahoning County, Ohio. Aside from just wanting that record as part of Sarah’s history, I desperately want it because I am hoping it will help clarify if my orphaned grandfather’s older brother Harry is a Ward (from Sarah’s first marriage), a Flanagan (from my great grandfather’s first marriage), or a Ward/Flanagan (from Sarah’s second marriage, to my great grandfather). No one in our family is certain about Harry’s parentage. Harry could be the biological child of my great grandparents, or of just one of my great grandparents.

Sarah married my great grandfather Patrick Thomas FLANAGAN (1897-1928) in 1925, while Sarah was already pregnant with another one of my grandfather’s brothers, Patrick Joseph FLANAGAN (1925-1981). Sarah already had a least three children from her first husband: Catherine Mae WARD (b. 1914), Joseph A. WARD (b. 1916), possibly a  twin Walter WARD (b. 1916), and Leonard L. WARD (b. 1917). Patrick already had at least two children from his first wife, Mary LONG: Charles Edson FLANAGAN (b. 1915) and a living daughter. Since documents tell me that Sarah was already pregnant with Patrick Joseph when she married Patrick Thomas, that leaves Harry. I can’t find a birth record or baptism record for Harry.

Knowing the birth order of all the children, Harry was born after Sarah and Patrick were married to their respective first spouses, yet five years prior to their own marriage.

Well, today I came upon a 1920 city directory record for Sarah and her first husband Frank Ward, living at 3349 Franklin Street in Bellaire, Ohio. The directory lists Frank’s occupation as bricklayer.

US City Directory
Ancestry.com. U.S. City Directories, 1821-1989 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., 2011.

This record indicates that Sarah and her first husband Frank were still living together in 1920, and I would assume, were still married. Yet Harry was born in 1920. So this makes even more of a mess to figure out:

  • Is Harry the biological child of both Sarah and Frank, since they might have still been married and living together in 1920, the year he was born?
  • Was the city directory compiled and published after Sarah and Frank split up, mistakenly listing Sarah still living with Frank?
  • Did Sarah and Frank split up shortly after the city directory was published, with Sarah meeting Patrick soon after?
  • Is Harry the biological child of just Patrick (and his first wife)? Meaning he wasn’t part of the family unit living at this residence in 1920.
  • Or is Harry the biological child of both Patrick and Sarah, which per this city directory would mean that Patrick and Sarah were having an affair while she was still married to Frank. Again, unless the Sarah and Frank had split prior to the directory actually going to publication.

From what I know about my great grandmother Sarah and my great grandpa Patrick, both seemed to have fallen short of the moral standards of their day. My grandpa would have gotten a kick out of knowing this about his parents.

Google Street View of 3349 Franklin Street, Bellaire, Ohio.
Google Street View of 3349 Franklin Street, Bellaire, Ohio.

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