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Saturday, August 8, 2009

My Grandmother, Nancy Theo Ames

Grandma Nancy,
How I wish I had known her. She passed before I was born. Mom was only 12 years old. Nancy Theo Ames was born in Milton,Wisconsin. She was orphaned at age 10 years old and spent a few years in the Sparta Orphanage as after her mother died her father was unable to care for her or her siblings. I have written about Ira before but in retrospect, I think I may have been too harsh on him.
Nancy died of a brain tumor. Her life was hard and difficult. Her mom Cornelia Palon Ames died of malnutrition and possibly pneumonia one month after bearing the tenth child in 1893. The Janesville Gazette said she froze to death. The family was poor, dirt poor. They lived in a one room shack and Ira eaked out a living fishing. Times were tough. During this time, things were tough in many places. The USA was in a great depression. Prior to fishing, Ira was farming. He moved around from farming in Dane County to Rock County and finally fishing in Jefferson County Wisconsin.
After Nancy was discharged from the orphanage she worked as a domestic servant in Pensaukee, Oconto, Wisconsin working for Lucy Bent. In 1904, she married Ludwig (Lou) Hansen, also an orphan. He was a handsome man. Had a good job and a nice car and may have been a man of means.
The Marriage:
Reading about the marriage and examining pictures, it looked as though Lou had money. Lou described Nancy as a "prepossessing brunette". They lived in a Victorian Queen Ann house in Aurora, Illinois. How do we know Lou was a man of means. Many years later after he died, we found his silk suit, top hat, calling cards, and diamond stick pins amongst his belongings.
Lou and Nancy married in Aurora, Illinois. Pictures of Nancy sitting in a rocker in the house. She looked so sad. Rumors were that Lou beat her and ran around with other women in Chicago (Ladies of the night). (ref: Divorce papers).
Nancy and Lou had one child Blanche born in 16 March 1904.In 1913 Nancy and Lou divorced. About a year later, Lou found some love letters written to Nancy from a Mr. Glass. Lou sued Mr. Glass for alienation of affections and $ 10,000. This was splattered across the midwest papers and made the headlines in the Beacon News of Aurora, Illinois. Included in the newspaper articles were copies of the letters Lou found in a trunk. I can only imagine how embarrassing and humiliating this was for Nancy. Whether this was a two sided affair or one sided we will not know. I surmise that Mr.Glass was infatuated with my grandmother and that my grandmother was in an unhappy marriage and was flattered by the attention. From the letters I have read it appears to be one sided on Mr. Glass' side. (I will post some of the letters at the end of the blog).
Grandma Nancy re married Charles Worthing on 28 September 1915 in Chicago, Illinois. They moved with Blanche to Truro, Iowa. In Iowa in 1917 my mom, Grace was born. I would like to think that Grandma Nancy found some stability and happiness in those 14 years in Iowa away from the negative, humiliating, publicity raising her two daughters. She looks happier in her picture with her daughters. Grandma died in 1928 of a brain tumor.
My mom remembers her as loving and nurturing.Curling up in her lap for stories.

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