Friday, June 21, 2013

Meet Husband #2...

Meet William Huffman, my great-grandmothers second husband and my great-grandfather. They met in Warsaw, Benton County, Missouri and were married there on July 17, 1920, just a few days after Granny's divorce from Robert Senefellow. William was married for the first time when he was 20, and probably had other children as well, though I've yet to identify his previous family.

Family tradition says that William was born in Germany, though the 1930 census shows that he was born in Missouri, as were his parents, Pernell and Mary. He was born on May 7, 1870 and had several siblings, all of which were also born in Missouri.

William’s siblings, according to my Granny, were John, Annie, Eliza Jane, Till (Tillman), Thomas Leroy, and Henry. Henry Huffman was married to a woman named Lillian (again, so Granny said), who lived in Warsaw and was the mother of Robert Senefellow,  my great-grandmother’s first husband. Confused yet? In any case, Lillie Huffman was the mother of Robert Senefellow.

At the time of Granny's divorce from Robert she was several months pregnant with Roberts daughter, Alma Lorene, who was born August 21, 1920, barely one month after her marriage to William. How Robert felt about this, Granny never said. Alma Lorene died on October 15, 1920 of whooping cough.  Her death certificate simply says "Unknown Huffman." I don't know why her name is not on the certificate, and there is no one to ask.

Granny talked a lot about William, revealing snippets of their lives together, especially about how difficult it was during the depression.  She told me he had been "a butcher by trade," though he worked for many years as a laborer at the Marble Head lime kiln near Springfield, Missouri. They had five children together, all of them still quite young when he died. 

William Huffman died on September 28, 1935 of mitral insufficiency, and the death certificate lists his spouse (and the informant) as Mary Huffman. He was a 65 year old laborer, born on May 7, 1870.  His parents are listed as Purn, with place of birth unknown. It also states that his mothers name was unknown, which seems strange since the informant, my great-grandmother, always told me that his mothers name was Mary. William is buried in an unmarked grave in Hazelwood Cemetery, in what Granny always called "potter's field."

This memorial day, we went to Hazelwood Cemetery in search of my Huffman's. I was unable to find a headstone for Williams father, Pern. Thankfully, I did find one for his mother, Mary.

                                                      Mary Huffman February 14, 1844-August 16, 1903

William has always been somewhat unreal to me, as is the child with him in the photo. He died so long before I was born that he has taken on a bit of a mythical quality in my mind. His eyes captivate me, and they remind me of my grandmother, Roberta, who looked the most like him out of all their children. It was sometime last year, I believe, when I found my great-grandparents marriage record online.  With that one image, even more so than with the photograph, he became real to me and I finally felt as if our family didn't spring from nothingness after all. A silly thought, I know. But it was because I had always wondered...what came before us?  Hopefully, I'm now on the right path to answering this question.