Tuesday, July 15, 2014

The Veil Of Mystery Revisted

In November of 2013 I was so proud of myself for having "figured out" the truth of Agnes' maternal grandfather.  Well, you know what they say, "Don't count your chickens before they're hatched!"  Now I get to correct my mistake.  So, take the post, "The Veil Of Mystery Revisited" and chuck it right out the window.  This time I'm double positive, mostly because I quadruple checked this stuff, in hope that I don't have to eat my words again.

I had made this statement in a bit of my blog written a couple of years before "The Veil Of Mystery Revisited" about the alleged death of Agnes' maternal grandfather:
 6. Death of Teddy McCauley
Agnes was no doubt close to her maternal grandfather.  But the idea that she was small child when he died is truly misinformation.  Teddy McCauley along with his wife Margaret moved to Canton Ohio to be close to Molly and her girls.  Teddy died after 1913.  This makes Agnes a teenager when she discovered her grandfather had died in his sleep.  I'm positive that it scarred her for life but she wasn't a small child as some biographers hint.
"Agnes was also close to her maternal grandfather.  He was a religious man and used to speak to Agnes about God and the gospel.  One Sunday afternoon it appeared he was asleep in the big comfortable easy chair he often sat in when telling Agnes stories from the bible.  Agnes went up, as she sometimes did when he fell asleep in his chair, and tapped him on the shoulder.  However, this time he didn't wake up. Agnes would recall that she cried for days."

It is a fine piece of fiction and really not much more.  A huge piece of fiction.  In fact, the only truth to any of it is that Agnes' maternal grandfather died.  The story of her grandfather's death is untrue and often repeated in various ways by various writers.  I am absolutely sure Agnes did cry for days when her maternal grandfather died, though, as he died in a very tragic accident.

Who Was He
Agnes' grandfather was born Terrence McCauley  on May 26, 1865.  He was the son of Thomas and Anne Phillips McCauley and first entered this world in Manchester, England.  His parents were weavers in that city but originally were born in Ireland in 1833.  Terrence was given the nickname "Teddy." It is more than likely his middle name was Edward. He may have gone by that name in Ohio and definitely went by that name in Pennsylvania.  He had two living siblings, Mary Jane and Katherine or Kitty.  He emigrated with his sisters to America around 1874.  He eventually married Margaret Doyle and subsequently settled in Pennsylvania.  Teddy/Terrence/Edward earned his living working as a roller and a heater in sheet mills in Pennsylvania and Ohio.  

The First Odd Bit
The first odd bit is found on the 1900 census.  Edward/Teddy/Terrence McCauley is listed as a roomer in a home in Pittsburgh. He is a roller in the sheet mill.  What I find odd is that I can find no record of his wife or children in Pennsylvania.  What makes this even stranger is that another roomer in the house is William E Spang.  William Spang eventually married the McCauley's eldest daughter Cecelia Agnes McCauley.  I find it strange that he isn't living with his family and they don't appear to be in the state.  I've searched everywhere and read through so many pages it felt like my eyes were going to bleed.  They just aren't there.  How do you marry someone you can't date or do you really marry them at all?  I'm referencing William Spang because if information is to be believed his son Doyle Spang, who changed his last name to Scott apparently when his mother remarried but I can't find the second husband and this is giving me a head, was born June 15, 1899.  That is 10 days short of being a full year before the 1900 census which identifies William E. Spang as single, not divorced, single.  In fact I can find no record of a marriage between Cecelia McCauley and William E Spang.  She ends up in Massachusetts where her son attends school as Doyle Henry Scott and she is identified as Cecelia Agnes Scott.  I know this from Doyle's registration for the draft in WWI in 1918.  He lists his mother as C. Agnes Scott and Agnes Scott, widow, reported Margaret McCauley's death in 1953.  So no family and an unmarried son in law in 1900...hmmm odd, very odd.

The Second Odd Bit
I can actually on account for  Edward/Terrence/Teddy residing in the same house as his wife in Canton in 1910 and 1913.  It's anybodies guess where they lived before or after.  I'm still trying to locate them on the 1920 census, unsuccessfully. I did find Cecelia Agnes Scott in Canton in 1920.  She is living with her son.  His age is listed as twenty and hers as 37.  This is actually closer to the truth than I expected.  It would mean that Cecelia was about 16 or 17 when Doyle was born.  A 1906 article detailing a visit that Cecelia paid Molly refers to her as Mrs. William Spang and makes no reference to a son but lists her home as being in Scottdale, Pennsylvania..  Meanwhile, I have no idea who is living where with whom except for John Moorehead, Molly and their children.  The rest is just, well, a mystery...or something.

The Third Odd Bit
Now we return to the creative bit of fiction involving the death of Edward McCauley.  For years it's been reported that Edward died in his sleep on a Sunday and that Agnes thought he was sleeping.  She tried to wake him and found that he was dead.  It is also widely accepted that Agnes was a child when this happened.  Like I said before the truth in any of this lies in two things:
1. Terrence/Teddy/Edward McCauley died.
2. It was highly distressing for Agnes.
The rest is a fantasy.   Terrence McCauley died July 30, 1927.  He died of a fractured skull.  He died at 12:20Pm on a Saturday at work after being struck in the head by a crane at Trumbull Steel in Ohio.  He was buried in the Oakwood Cemetery in Warren Ohio.  He was neither asleep nor reading the bible and Agnes was not at the steel mill.  I honestly don't know who came up with the story of his death.  It was quite likely Agnes and if I'm not mistaken there is an article in a magazine somewhere that talks about Agnes hearing the voice of her dead grandfather.  She attended a party when she first went to AADA because she was lonely.  This party was typical, or so it is told, of most of the "wild" parties of the 1920's.  People making out, drinking, smoking and immorality of every kind all around her.  She hears her grandfather's voice tell her she's better than this, that she should get up and leave.  It does fit the timeline of her grandfather's passing as Agnes was enrolled at AADA.  It also fits her flair for the dramatic yarn that came to represent most of her life.  

The Fourth Odd Bit 
On to the fourth odd bit.  You'll notice above I mentioned Trumbull Steel?  It was steel company in Warren Ohio and Warren is, by today's method of transport, an hour and ten minutes from Canton.  At the time of his death Edward/Terrence/Teddy was not living in the same home as his wife.  His residence is listed as 305 Buckeye and the death certificate says he had been a resident there for 12 years.  It would mean that he had lived there since 1915.  Margaret is clearly identified as his wife but her address is given as 1156 Walnut, Canton, Ohio.  So, out of their 45 year marriage I can identify these two people living in the same place for about 3 years.  Divorce was not the kind of thing done before 1900 but post 1900 it happened all the time.  Perhaps since Margaret's parents were both Catholic divorce was out of the question or maybe they didn't want to be divorced.  It is something we can only guess about.

One thing is certain Agnes' family was 50 percent "normal" and 50 percent "unusual."  John Mooehead's family was a bastion of stability compared to Molly's.  The only blemish, if you will, in John's family was Aunt Cam's divorce and that happened post 1920 but before 1930.  It almost appears to me that both Molly and her sister did their best to get out from under their, I am going to say parents but actually I mean mother, parents thumbs by marrying or, in the case of Cecelia potentially having a child out of wedlock, quite young. It also appears as though Molly's father did his best to stay out of the house as much as possible by living separately from his wife at least.  I say at least because it's obvious that Cecelia met William Spang at some point.  I get the sense that Molly's life prior to marrying John was a roller coaster driven by a very domineering mother and that Molly herself was capable of dominating her children.  Molly was a sweet woman but more than one person describes her as driven and opinionated.  It is ironic that these two qualities would be the ones that would lift her eldest daughter up and put her in a very public spotlight.  It is these qualities that made Agnes who she was and led to her being one of the most recognizable faces of the golden ages of radio, Hollywood and television.  Without that 50 percent "unusual" Agnes may well have remained a school teacher.  Instead she embraced it and used it.  We should all be very grateful for that.


lilli said...

I'm glad you're back. I've missed you! Leonessa30 ( Liliana)

Tamela Thornes said...

Thanks Liliana! Missed all of you too!

Maelohna said...

Yup, I said in another comment at ohdarkhundred this morning, you look like her when she was younger. Now I see it even more, with your pic there and Ms. Moorehead's right THERE... ;-)

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