An alter-ego’s tale

Groucho Marx:”Effectively, whaddya say ladies? Are all of us gonna get married?”

Girl: “All of us? However that’s bigamy!”

Groucho: “Sure, and it’s big-a-me, too.

Researching the collateral family of my great-great-grandfather John Henry O. Report has introduced a bunch of difficult characters. From “liars, whores, and thieves”[1] and murdering wives,[2] to throat-slashing cousins[3] and snake oil salesmen[4] alongside legal professionals for the KKK,[5] to the accompanying tragedies of kidnapping and allegations of rape,[6] it’s no marvel that a few of them ran off to affix a touring theater,[7] or, oddly sufficient (and opposite to all different indications), the police drive.[8] Sure, my of us from Maryland’s Jap Shore and the Del Marva peninsula have been a colourful bunch to say the least.

As I’ve ‘traveled’ about their lives I needed to maintain an eye fixed out for one thing or somebody just a little extra … regular? Now, I wasn’t on the lookout for a boring character; that’s not a lot enjoyable. However in the case of household historical past, it’s necessary to maintain the story fascinating for these whose eyes glaze over on the very point out of, say, census data. As I used to be getting shell-shocked by the gut-wrenching tales of all of the homicide and mayhem from the lives of my not-so-distant Jap Shore kin I spotted I needed to seek out somebody a bit extra, say “mellow(?)” It was about then that I found the curious story of my cousin Clements James “Ricords.”[9]

Clements James Data was the son of John Henry Data[10] and Augusta “Gussie” (Gravenor) Data.[11] Clements’ father John was seemingly named for his uncle John Henry O. Report,[12] my great-great-grandfather. The hero of our story, “Clements,” was born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania on 18 October 1907. On this regard, Clements’ story began out usually sufficient. His dad and mom have been pretty standard-issue working-class early-twentieth-century “Philadelphians,” little doubt having escaped a few of that Jap Shore homicide and mayhem alongside the way in which.

Monitoring Clements was straightforward sufficient to do at this level. He’s dwelling together with his dad and mom and his sisters in Philadelphia in 1920, and the announcement of his marriage to the stunning and proficient Martha Strobel[13] is listed within the Philadelphia Inquirer on 8 September 1929. Clements and Martha are then enumerated at Philadelphia in 1930 dwelling with Martha’s dad and mom. Quickly sufficient, and by January of 1932, Clements and Martha welcomed their new little woman, Myra Joan Data, into the world.[14]

After which it stops.

Household bushes for Clements are a bit peculiar from this level on. Monitoring his daughter Myra Joan Data together with her three husbands and 4 youngsters was straightforward sufficient to do. However virtually instantly after beginning Myra “rapidly” grew to become often called “Myra Joan Fast,” as she evidently shed her “Data” surname by way of her mom Martha’s obvious divorce from Clements and remarriage to Louis S. Fast, circa 1940. No, Myra Joan’s story is an fascinating one, however hers isn’t the story to be instructed right here. Whereas I can put the items collectively for Myra’s life and for Myra’s mom Martha (“Mrs. Fast”), I can’t say that a lot for her father Clements. You see, the dashing Clements Data is nowhere to be discovered.


It’s fairly evident if you examine the household bushes for Clements that Myra by no means did know what occurred to her father. Sadly, Myra Joan Data handed away in 2019, and there’s been little in the way in which of adjustments to these bushes. The details about Clements James Data simply hangs on the market in limbo. Household bushes solely replicate the paradox of what grew to become of him. These bushes don’t trace at any “dwelling” individual (he could be 113 years previous), nor do they replicate any date or place for his demise. In truth, the date of demise for “Clements James Data” is normally listed as “about 1935” or “earlier than 1955.” The reality, nevertheless, is that the person often called Clements Data simply disappeared.

Now, I’d prefer to let you know that I’m an incredible genealogical sleuth, however the fact is I simply adopted the prompts from an algorithm provided by some mega-computer in Utah. It was curious to me that whereas I used to be researching the ‘data’ pertaining to Clements, I used to be redirected to a World Conflict II draft registration card for some man with the identical beginning date, that of 18 October 1907. This man’s title was “James Charles Richards.” Now, I do know what you’re pondering: It’s tremendous frequent for folks to share the identical birthday. What can I say? One thing simply felt fishy to me. About that point, I used to be prompted by stated super-computer to take a look at a 1945 Virginia marriage license for that very same Mr. Richards. The names of Mr. Richards’ dad and mom look surprisingly acquainted. Whereas not excellent, the names of his dad and mom seemed loads like Clements’…

Whereas this doc solely listed “an age on the time of marriage” for “James Charles Richards” (age 38), it was in line with a 1907 beginning 12 months. What was curious, although, was the names of Mr. Richards’ dad and mom are listed as “John Richards” and “Gussie Kelley.” These names have been method too near Clements’ dad and mom’ precise names, plus I’ve additionally seen my “Report” surname tackle many kinds. I knew, too, that Clements’ mom Augusta additionally glided by “Gussie.” Nonetheless, Augusta Data’ maiden title wasn’t “Kelly.” So how might I ensure? A fast examine revealed that Augusta “Gussie” Data’ mom’s maiden title had been Belle Kelley. Hmmm … I’m beginning to see somebody protecting his tracks right here.

Now, simply in case I haven’t stated so, I’m not right here to go judgment on Clements. Nonetheless, as info got here in from assorted data reflecting a date and fatherland for “Mr. Richards” as 18 October 1907 in Philadelphia, and with dad and mom named “John and Gussie Richards,” it was changing into fairly evident that “Clements James Data” had traded his id in and turn into “James Charles Richards” as a substitute. Clements, you canine! As evidenced by the “fabrications” in his 1945 marriage file to Hazel Emma Reilly, it seems to be like he was struggling to recollect what lies he instructed, and attempting to maintain them straight. Altering one’s id is rarely a simple job, although I daresay it was loads simpler in 1940.

Altering one’s id is rarely a simple job, although I daresay it was loads simpler in 1940.

Okay, so we’ve established that Clements was a little bit of a flim-flam man who we assume left his spouse and daughter Myra and adjusted his title. On the floor, that is no huge deal. (Actually, Jeff??) Maybe you could possibly say that Clements didn’t need his ex-wife’s new “Fast” household monitoring him down for little one assist? However then take a look at that marriage file the place each “James Charles Richards” and “Hazel Emma Reilly”[15] are requested: “Variety of instances beforehand married?”  They each have the identical reply: “none.”

In Clements’ case, you could possibly virtually say he was telling the reality. In spite of everything, he had a brand new “unbeknownst-to-anyone-else” faux title, so sure, “James Charles Richards” might say he was by no means married earlier than. However what in regards to the beautiful Hazel Reilly? Effectively, she fibbed, too. You see, Hazel Reilly had really been married twice earlier than her “marriage” to “James Charles Richards.”[16] Oh, the tangled webs we weave.

I don’t know that you could possibly say that Hazel was a bigamist herself. It’s presumed that she was divorced from her second husband Waldo Rutter, nevertheless it’s fairly clear that, like “James Charles Richards,” she lied on the wedding license. Not that this was such an unusual incidence. I’m certain it occurred on a regular basis. What’s totally different about these “misstatements” is that James Charles Richards could have nonetheless been married beneath “Clements Data” to the previous Martha Strobel. If Clements and Martha have been legally divorced, except for little one assist, it begs the query as to why Clements James Data wanted to alter his id in any respect? It additionally makes one marvel if Emma Reilly Rutter knew what was occurring. Did she notice that the person she was marrying was, at greatest, utilizing a pseudonym? Did she know that he had a daughter Myra again in Philadelphia?

No matter occurred right here, Clements James Data did his greatest to have his alter ego James Charles Richards cowl his tracks. (Clements had even gone as far as to register for the draft and combat throughout World Conflict II utilizing his “new” title.) In his 1950 software for veteran advantages, he as soon as once more said his beginning date and place as 18 October 1907, in Philadelphia. Nonetheless, he states in his software that each of his dad and mom are useless and that he has no dwelling youngsters. Whereas this may need been true for his alter ego James Charles Richards, it definitely wasn’t true for Clements. Clements’ mom was deceased, however his father John Henry Data was very a lot alive and nicely – to not even point out his daughter Myra.

The one factor I can say is that individuals are difficult. It’s apparent that Clements Data walked away from his previous life – all of it – from his dad and mom to his spouse and little one, and all to imagine his new id as James Charles Richards. For no matter motive, he wanted to flee, however in doing so he doesn’t appear to have on condition that household any closure. His father John Henry Data obituary doesn’t even point out his son Clements as both dwelling or deceased. It’s as if he’d been useless to the household for years – though he was on the time of his father’s demise nonetheless very a lot alive.

There’s no straightforward option to finish this story of the alter ego. I do need to let you know that Clements James Data, beneath his guise as James Charles Richards,[17] was married to Hazel Reilly till his demise in 1975. They by no means divorced, and Hazel by no means remarried. I assume they have been capable of hold the key of his alter ego to themselves. They definitely stored it from his daughter Myra, as he took his happiness elsewhere, and his new id with him to the grave. In the long run, there could be no option to actually discern which man had led the lifetime of an alter-ego.


[1] An previous household expression of unknown origins. Is it presumably based mostly within the fact?

[2] Geneva Peart Stanley (1896-1982), granddaughter of Leah Ricketts, on trial for murdering her husband. See The Raleigh Register, 26 June 1932, p. 1.

[3] Daniel A. Stevens (1888-1948), grandson of Margaret Rickards, convicted of murdering his uncle in an argument over a canine. See The Baltimore Solar, 29 August 1911, p. 11.

[4] George Washington Peart (1867-1918), son of Leah Ricketts, jailed for training medication with out a license.

[5] See Observe 2. Ernest Stanley (1891-1931), a lawyer for the KKK, was murdered by his spouse Geneva.

[6] Edna Mary Willin (1912-1999), granddaughter of Thomas James Data, allegedly raped at age ten. See The Day by day Banner, Cambridge, Maryland, 11 October 1922, p. 3.

[7] Lettie Peart (1898-1914?), granddaughter of Leah Ricketts, ran away to affix a touring theater group and was by no means heard from once more. See The Night Solar, Baltimore, 18 February 1914, p. 5.

[8] Robert Lee Peart Milligan (1873-1961), son of Leah Ricketts, grew to become a police officer in Wilmington, Del.

[9] Clements James Ricords, aka James Charles Richards (1907-1975).

[10] John Henry Data (1887-1959).

[11] Augusta “Gussie” (Gravenor) Data (1876-1959).

[12] John Henry O. Report (1840-1915).

[13] Martha (Strobel) (Data) (Fast) Dean (1912-1988).

[14] Myra Joan (Data) (Czarnecki) (Jett) Malpas (1932-2019).

[15] Hazel Emma (Reilly) (Spinnenweber) (Rutter) Richards (1902-1988).

[16] The Edwardsville [Ill.] Intelligencer, 28 September 1938, p. 3, broadcasts the marriage of Miss Hazel Reilly to Waldo Rutter; U.S. Index for marriage of Hazel Riley to Edward Spinnenweber at Alton, Illinois, 23 November 1921. That this is similar Hazel Reilly who later married “James Charles Richards” is confirmed in Hazel’s obituary, the place it mentions her granddaughter [sic] Mrs. Melvin Pfeiffer (Cleon Spinnenweber, 1922-2003); see obit for Cleon G. Pfeiffer, by which her father is called as Edward Spinnenweber and her mom as the previous Hazel Reilly.

[17] See St. Louis Publish-Dispatch, 5 September 1975, p. 20, for the obituary of “James Charles Richards.”