Long ago, I made a vow to myself to learn the story of what happened to my father’s family and what happened to each of his brothers and sisters. I had no idea it would take me over 50 years and then still not know the complete story. This is a story that centers on Raymond Moore, one of my father’s younger brothers, who was adopted out of the family. Raymond was one of seven children that were living in 1924 when the family was to fracture, sending the children off in all different directions. While I have spent many years tracking down and gathering information about these seven people, Raymond has been one of my greatest mysteries. Raymond was adopted and would, in time, leave his Moore family origins behind. I have discovered that he was adopted by Harry and Emogene Stone. But let’s start the story a few years before in 1920. That is when the following news story appeared in the Potter Enterprise newspaper.
In an interview with a daughter of one of the children described in the above article, she told me that her father described how “the men came in and wrapped the body of his mother in a white sheet and carried her out of the house.” A few years later, in a 1924 news article in the Potter Enterprise shows that things had gone even more terribly wrong. The article reported that “Conditions squalid beyond belief…seven children who range from a wee tot to a daughter about twenty years of age… Five of the children are now being cared for at the county home but will be taken to the Tier Children’s Home in Harrison Valley later…” The Harrison Valley Children’s Home will figure in this story a little later.
However, I believe this story had its’ start in the year 1918.1918 finds Harry and Emogene Stone grieving over the loss of their only son Newton. In the extraordinary for the time period obituary, because of its’ size and the fact it was for a very young child, we learn some interesting facts about the Stone family. We learn that they have a daughter named Leah and no other children.
The fact that the Stone family had no other children is also supported in the 1920 Census with part of a transcript from the Potter County Historical Society, which is shown below. Please note the occupation of Harry Stone is listed as “drill oil wells.” My father always said that Raymond was adopted by a family named Stone and that “he took their name.” This was again backed up when I found my cousin Susan in 2004, living in Shinglehouse, Pennsylvania. Susan is the daughter of another of my father’s brothers. She introduced me to an old family friend who was born in 1927 and lived in Shinglehouse her whole life. She had known Raymond and his family. She stated that Raymond Moore was, in fact, adopted by the Stones. While she could not be sure of Mr. and Mrs. Stone’s first name, she did give a few clues. She said that Mr. Stone was in the oil business and also was a judge.
Now, if you look at the 1930 census below, you will note a few key items. Raymond has made his first appearance in this family. He is listed as 13 years old. That would be old enough to be mentioned in little Newton Stone’s obituary and certainly should have been recorded in the 1920 census. Also, if you look at Harry Stone’s occupation, you will see it listed as; “driller oil lease.”
Even with all of the above, it still was not enough to be able to say positively that Raymond Moore and Raymond Stone were the same person. In all the records I researched when Raymond Stone appeared, Raymond Moore disappeared. I have, over the years, been to and been in contact with the Potter County Historical Society, which is the county that Shinglehouse is found. In a letter from them dated September 18, 2015, which in part says the following. “Enclosed are the materials that I emailed you about…I could not find an adoption record for Raymond or Ainslee in the Potter County Courthouse. It is quite possible that both of those adoptions were recorded in New York. The Hulett family had children quite older than Ainslee, so they must have been forthright in her being adopted and listed her as so on at least one census. The Stone family, however, did not…but I am most sure that Raymond was the son of Frank and Elzada.” Also, at the Potter County Historical Society was an elderly research volunteer that I met in 2004 who stated Raymond stone was, in fact, Raymond Moore. Also, I would like to point out this person was not the letter writer. My big break came while searching online newspaper archives. How I love those sources of information. Below is what I found.
There it was, Harry Stone adopts a boy, and the boy was from the Harrison Valley Orphanage. I have not found another Harry Stone in the area other than the Harry and Emogene Stone family. In 1958 Harry Stone died, and I was able to find his obituary. The information confirms that he was a driller and that he held the office of Justice of the Peace. It also showed that Raymond was now living in Rochester, New York. He was to marry Sephronia McCarthy, and they would have at least three children. He was later to settle in Wellsville, New York, less than 30 miles from Shinglehouse, Pennsylvania. Raymond worked at Burke Steel in Rochester, New York.
I now felt confident that Raymond Stone was, in fact, my Uncle Raymond Moore. But I continued to search for more proof. Once again, old newspapers that have gone online gave me more proof. When I spotted the newspaper article below, any lingering doubts disappeared.
How did this rather short piece of social news cement for me that I had indeed found my father’s missing brother? The answer lies with the conversations I had with my father. My father was a combat veteran of World War Two. I had asked him if he was ever hurt in the war, and he informed me that he never got hurt at all. He did tell me about his brothers who did. He said his brother Raymond broke his leg. Somehow he had known this about his adopted out brother. I suspect most likely he learned this through his older sister Ethel Moore Hunter. She is, in fact, a story that will be told in the future. I must have read that 22-word news article a hundred times. I now had all the proof I needed. I found some other articles regarding Raymond, being transferred to a hospital in Brigham City, Utah, and his being discharged after serving about four months in occupied Japan. Below you will find Raymond’s draft registration card.
Note his date of birth is December 31, 1916. Proof he was alive when Newton Stone died and should have been included in his obituary and the phrase “Newton D Stone, the only son of Mr. and Mrs. Harry D Stone…” should have never been written. It also shows once more his father as Harry D Stone.
Raymond died in 2005 well before I had the chance to meet him. At least I have learned a little part of his story. I have reached out to some of his family, but the people I contacted do not think that Raymond was adopted and do not accept what I believe to be the true story. Raymond had decided to leave the Moore family behind and fully embrace the Stone family. But he had so many answers to questions I have to ask, and now I have no one to ask. I do take some solace that what I believe to be the true story has been discovered and now is known to my branch of the family. I would have liked to have gotten to know his family better, but at least one more family mystery has been solved. The picture below is one of several I have been able to obtain in my research.
Really great detective work!
Congratulations! Your hard work finally paid off and you were able to unravel the hidden life of Raymond Stone. I wonder if the mysterious disease that killed so many members of the family was connected to the terrible flu, which killed millions of people in the entire world.
Yes it was one and the same. It was called the echo of the 1918 flu epidemic I have been told.
Dear Charles, You have written another amazing family story that reads likea great novel– only it is sadly true! Your detective skills and persistence are stellar! Thanks for sharing this heartfelt story.
Helen that you for your comment. I still have one of my father’s sisters to finish researching and still do not know when or where his father died. So the work is still in progress.
I was able to read your entire post and understand all the relationships. Not everyone can write about so many people and such a long time period and make it understandable to non- family members. Although Raymond’s descendants will not connect with you the important thing is that you have closure based on evidence that is in ordet.
I did try to make the story as clear as I could, and did not go into many of the side stories. However I still managed to mix up a few people.
Great story Charles and well researched.
I have a question. You don’t say when the adoption mentioned in the newspaper occurred. Could Raymond have been adopted some years after Newton died?
Yes he was adopted in 1924 which is well after Newtons death. That is why he was not listed in the obit and helps show that he was not part of the family then but adopted later.
Charles, this is fascinating. Great detective work and stick-to-itiveness on your part. This story is yet another reminder of how fortunate we are to have made major advances in medicine and healthcare. Do you suppose a stigma surrounding adoption kept Raymond’s name out of the obituary? You don’t have the answers to all your questions, but it must be gratifying to have found out as much as you have. Well done.
Jim, Raymond was not adopted until 1924 that is why he was not in the obit.However you may have a point about the stigma about adoption being one of the reasons he kept it hidden all his life.
Another wonderful discovery in your ongoing search! Thanks for sharing this. I wonder why the obituary left him out? Was it simply an oversight amidst their grief or something else? My trouble in searching old newspapers is my tendency to get sidetracked with all the other interesting things included in the paper–and then I forget what I was originally looking for!
He was not in the obituary because he was not adopted until 1924. This shows he was not part of the Stone family in 1918 but adopted later. You are so right about newspapers,as I can get lost in them also.
You’re so good at this! And persistent–that’s really important in genealogy, right?
Being persistent does help or not having anything better to do with your time. 🙂
Outstanding research and story telling too.What heartache for Frank Moore and his family/children. Raymond being adopted and seemingly totally replacing the son that the Stones lost, really interesting to consider the implications of all this. Excited to read about Ethel in the future 🙂 Sharon
Thank Sharon this whole story has echoed through the generation in my family. It is so true what we do today can and does affect our family well into the future.
This is a great story. It is so satisfying to find the final details that prove a story you have been working on for a long time!! Good Work!!
You are so right it has been very satisfying and also a bit of a let down as I still have so many unanswered questions.
Great work, Charles. I agree with your conclusions. And I feel for you with the frustrating experiences with Raymond’s family. Throughout the post I was thinking—DNA would solve this one! But if his descendants won’t cooperate, then it’s hard to get their DNA. I am curious how the sister learned of the broken leg if Raymond had cut off contact with his birth siblings or was that before he had? Thanks for sharing your story and your research!
DNA would solve this once and for all, and to be honest I never felt comfortable asking for it. I do understand the family on this as I would find it hard to believe if someone messaged me out of the blue. As for the sister Ethel she was the oldest of the children and kept tabs on everyone. However she would not give out any information. Also from what I have been able to learn the adoption in Shinglehouse, PA. was an open secret shared by many. Also much of the family was still living in the area up to WW2, and had to run into each other at times.To prove it is what took so much time and effort. I will tell part of Ethel’s story later and it is nothing short of heroic. If Raymond’s children did not know of this adoption then is was a secret that Ray wanted to keep from them.
People and families are so interesting, aren’t they? I wonder why he wanted to keep it a secret. He wasn’t a baby when he was adopted so most people had to know he was not their birth child. Maybe there was some stigma attached to being an adopted child that he never could overcome, or maybe he never got over having to be adopted and so it was a way of repressing a heartbreaking past.
Wonderful research, Charles!
I think you are on point when you said “repressing a heartbreaking past.” The Moore family break up was a cruel and hard one. It left many scars some of which my father bore all his life.
I am so sorry, Charles.
Great post – one day one of his descendants might do a DNA test and there might lie the proof they need to convince them. 😉
That will be a great day.
It’s so satisfying to find answers, isn’t it? Congratulations
Very satisfying, thanks.
Thank you, Charles. I always knew Raymond Stone was Dad’s brother. They spoke of him often. It’s good you’ve been able to prove it to all our satisfaction.
Sue you have been a big help also. We have had some fun digging up the cemetery.
Fascinating story! Newspapers are gold mines, aren’t they? You’ve done some amazing research!
I rank newspapers with Census and DNA for genealogy research. I hope sometime in the near future someone from the Stone family sees this post and we work with each other.
What a sad tale but fascinating nonetheless. My grandfather was also called Raymond. From what I understand, he was very rich at times but died destitute. He was clearly a black sheep in the family as some of my cousins thought he was adopted from a reservation. Bravo at tracking down so much information. I wish I had the patience to do something similar.
I just find it fun to do and I want to find my family’s history also. You write so well I am sure a family history done by you would be well received.
Thank you! I have made small attempts but I love to use some literary license…
A great book that tells a true story is “We were the Lucky Ones” by Georgia Hunter. While the story is true it is a work of fiction because she took some literary license. It is a book well worth reading. Perhaps you could do something of the same thing. While your family story may not be on the scale of a WW2 epic (or perhaps it is) as Hunter’s is I bet it would be worth doing.
That’s a great idea. I would love to imagine how I have 5% Mexican Native DNA. Was a delightful maiden or a handsome Mayan Vaquero??
Charles, I just happened to stumble on to your blog and wanted to let you know that I believe we are related as I am a Moore too with deep roots in Potter County. Please contact me. Thank you!
Please leave a email address so I can contact you.