Every Family Needs One or Two Good Mysteries!

Jun 9, 2024 | 0 comments

Helen Richardson at 18 (1896)

Now that we are all spitting in tubes and mailing our bodily fluids off to be analyzed, we are beginning to find out about those skeletons in one another’s closets.  I have at least three friends who’ve discovered half-siblings that nobody in either of the involved families had an inkling about pre-DNA-Testing.   As one friend said, “OMG! Who knew my dad was a player!!”

My own family has had a bit of a mystery — or perhaps more of a drama that led to several unanswered questions over the last century — questions that Cuzzin Ralph is now trying to find answers for, even though he is an Espy Cousin and the questions come from the Richardson side of the family.

Daniel Richardson c 1900, age 50

It’s complicated.  It began in the 1890s when my great-grandparents (Daniel and Annie Medora Richardson) took in a few California College  students as boarders in their East Oakland home.  Their daughter Helen (my grandmother-to-be) was in her early teens when Eva Gaches from La Conner, Washington, came to stay. They became best friends and, when Eva and Daniel (Helen’s father) fell in love, (even as Helen’s mother lay dying of stomach cancer) Helen managed to remain loyal to both parents and to Eva, as well.

Annie Medora Taylor Richardson c. 1890, age 34

Helen’s mother died in 1902, just before Helen and Harry and their first two children moved to Oysterville.  Eva and Daniel were married in 1903 and their son Dan (my grandmother Helen’s half-brother) was born in 1909, the same year as Helen’s fifth child, Edwin.  The families visited when they could and my mother remembered Dan as being “a bit spoiled.”

Helen’s father Daniel died in 1922 and her best friend Eva died in 1948 on the beach in Carmel.  There were whispers of suicide.  Young Dan married in 1932, later divorced and joined the army at the beginning of World War II. When his half-sister (my grandmother Helen) died in 1954, my mother and her siblings tried to get in touch with him through the Department of Defense.  They were not successful.  It wasn’t until 2000 that I was contacted by an Austrian woman named Eva Richardson Legerer and…            TO BE CONTINUED




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