The Saga of the Beheler Orphans

Beheler Orphans

On Saturday, September 8, 1894, a few simple lines appeared in the personals of The Daily Journal of Henderson, KY on page 8: "There are seven members of the family of John W. Beheler of Audubon, down with Typhoid fever. His wife died a few days ago of this disease and one of the children was thought to be dying. The Home Relief Association is having the family cared for by two trained nurses."

John Beheler's unnamed wife was Mattie M. Hancock Beheler, daughter of Martha A. (Muster) and James Monroe Hancock of McLean County, KY. She had died on August 30, 1894. The unnamed child was eight year old Mary F. who died the very day that newspaper was published. Surviving were the husband and eight children, James W.-19, Bertha-15, Lulu B.-14, Othy O.-12, Bettie M.-9, Minnie Catherine-6, Jesse Barnie-4, and Georgia May-2 and Mattie's mother, Martha Hudson.

These children were left to be raised by their father, so three years later when his life ended, they were left orphaned. John's will was written on the day he died. One mystery about the will is that his 3rd and 4th children, Othy and Lulu are not named. He named two people as guardians for the four youngest children, Francis Hower of Ohio Co., KY and John Clevison Hancock, the brother of his late wife. For reasons unknown to me, that arrangement did not work out.

At this late date, of course all these people have left this life, but lets take a closer look at what became of them. According to Commitment Papers, Georgia May, Jessie Barnard, and Minnie Catharine, (guardian Ohio Valley Banking & Trust Co.), were committed to Louisville Baptist Orphans' Home on April 6, 1898.

According to the Articles of Apprenticeship, Barnie Beheler was apprenticed to Lewis R. Kearns, of Oddville, Harrison County, Kentucky on April 1, 1902. Apprenticeship No. 471. And Minta Beheler was apprenticed to Frances Goins (or Gains or Goings) of Frankfort, KY (and member of North Benson Baptist Church, Benson, KY), on May 20, 1902. Apprenticeship No. 473. No apprentice papers were received by me from the orphan's home, (now Kentucky Homes for Children), for Georgie May. We found the three youngest children in the 1900 census living at the orphan's home.

Georgie May was married at the age of 17, on March 2, 1909, to 29 year old Charles J. Cox. A year later they became the parents of Thelma Lee. On August 4, of 1910, little Thelma Lee was dead. Then on January 13, 1911, they had a baby boy. Shortly after her 23rd birthday, on December 31, 1914 in Vanderburgh County, IN, Georgie May joined her parents in the Fernwood cemetery at Henderson, KY.

Barnie was married in February 1911 to Edna May Eades in White County, Illinois. Their first son, John N., was born in 1912 in Vanderburgh County, IN. They moved to Kokomo, Howard County, IN where 3 more sons , Donald, Kenneth and Richard, were born. Barnie and Edna divorced. Barnie stayed in Kokomo and died there in 1964 at the age of 74.

Minnie married Ross B. Tate about 1906 in Texas. They lived most of their adult lives in Rome, Floyd County, Georgia. They had 4 boys and 2 girls., Leslie, Joseph, Bertha, Johnie, Hollis and Bonnie. Ross died when the youngest child was 4 years old according to a letter written by Minnie in 1951. Minnie died at the age of 69 in 1957.

Bettie married Orlando Hughes Linton in 1900 at Henderson, KY. They had a daughter, Lottie, in 1907 who was born in Texas. In 1920 they were living in Cleveland County, Oklahoma. The sibling obituaries in my possession all state that she was living in Arkansas (in the 1950's and 60's), but as of this time I have no other proof of that.

Otha is listed in the 1900 Federal census in Henderson Co., KY. She is a boarder of Trease Goodrun and her occupation is that of a Spooler. Her sister, Bertha is listed in the same household. Otha married Alvin M. Waggoner and died in Purcell, Oklahoma in 1952.

Lulu married William Pirtle in 1905. He died in 1928 and is buried in the Beheler family plot in Fernwood cemetery at Henderson, KY. I lost Lulu after that.

Bertha is listed as a Spinner by occupation in the 1900 census. She apparently married William S. Vestal. They had a daughter, Dora, who was born about 1907 in Oklahoma. The family is on the 1920 census in Pottawatomie County, Oklahoma.

James married at least 3 times. In 1897, when his father died, he was newly married to Alice Smith in Ohio Co., KY. Second he married Artie Conder in about 1905, she bore two children. One died in infancy & the other was a son, Ernest. Artie died after an operation for appendicitis at the age of 19 in 1907 in Vanderburgh County, IN. In 1908 James married Denia Marshall. They had a daughter, Viola, in 1909. During the mid 1920's they lived in Kokomo, IN, but most of the time they appear to have lived in Vanderburgh County, IN. They may have been divorced. James died in 1952 & was buried in the family plot at Fernwood Cemetery at Henderson. There is also a Dennis Beheler buried there who may be a son of James.

© 1996 - 2006 Debra L Beheler

email to:Debby Beheler