Thursday, December 6, 2012

James Wesley Blacketer's Story Continues...

"He used to walk around in his underwear."

"Excuse me?"

"He used to walk around in his underwear in their house. Didn't matter who was around either. Boo never liked it at all. But he thought he was 'something'."

I'd imagine that my great grandmother, affectionately known and called 'Boo', thought it was highly improper and scandalous for her son-in-law {my grandfather}, James Wesley Blacketer, to walk around in his underwear. 

And I'd overheard when I was a child that my grandfather was a 'jerk' and I knew from my mom that he'd divorced the family -my Gran and all 8 children- because he really had been in love with my Gran, but wasn't too keen on being a father, or at least that was what my mom told me how she felt about it. And him.

James Wesley Blacketer's Tombstone via Family Stories
Fort Sam Houston, San Antonio, Texas. © Copyright 2012 Caroline M. Pointer
And I also knew he'd been married before because I have a copy of his marriage certificate and his World War I draft registration card that shows he'd been married before. Couple that with the carefully guarded but often whispered rumors in the family about another family of his, and, well, the whole I-like-to-prance-around-in-my-underwear-while-at-home-but-not-alone tidbit about my grandfather, while not surprising, was, um, definitely shocking.

And, really, at the time I spoke with my aunt I was kind of in awe because I'd never met this aunt, or don't remember meeting her because there'd been a family feud in my mom's family when I was younger. So, while I knew her name and knew {by name only} which brother of my mom's she had married, I'd never really known her. And thanks to Facebook and a first cousin who found me there {son of a different aunt and uncle who'd been on the other side of the feud}, I met him in person and my aunt by telephone. And they were all too willing and extremely generous with their family stories, remembrances, rumors, and pictures of the family. {And I cannot thank them enough.}

That's right. Family pictures. Ones that included my grandfather...with his clothes on. {Thank goodness.}

"So, how did you learn about him walking around in his underwear?" {Not that  I doubted her. I mean, who can make this kinda stuff up? And who would want to?!?}

"I used to do Boo's hair at my house later on in her life and she used to tell me things. She never liked your grandfather." {Not hard to guess why.}

"...and your grandfather's niece got a hold of Gran many years ago. She had done the family's genealogy and tracked Gran down. And that's when Gran found out he had had another family."

{Whoa! Right?} My aunt went on to explain how this niece told my grandmother that while my grandfather, James Wesley, had been away from home in Missouri during World War I, he just never came back. They assumed he had died. And by 'they' I mean his mother, father, siblings, his first wife, and their 2 children. Of course, they never received confirmation of his death, but they never knew what had had happened to him. With some searching, where I originally found the record of his marriage to his first wife, I had already known that his first wife went on to remarry. {So, that wasn't new news to me, but the niece contacting my Gran was.}

And my grandfather met my grandmother and married by 1919 in San Antonio. {I hope there's some kind of divorce to his first wife on record because otherwise, I can say buh-bye to my DAR - Daughters of the American Revolution - application with this bit of info. Although, the UEL - United Empire Loyalists - may still take me.} Anywho, lots of detailed offline researching is in order for my DAR and UEL membership quest.

And, like I mentioned previously, my cousin {who found me on Facebook} shared his family history notebook that he'd compiled with photos and documentation from my Gran's niece {obtained through my aunt} as well as from his own personal collection of photos of his side of the family taken over the years.

James Wesley Blacketer ca 1920
James Wesley Blacketer ca. 1920 probably taken in San Antonio, Texas.

James Wesley Blacketer ca 1920
James Wesley Blacketer probably taken in San Antonio, Texas.

James Wesley and Mary Alice Velda (Truitt) Blacketer
My Gran {Mary Alice Velda Truitt} and my grandfather {James Wesley Blacketer}.

Now, remember, I never met my grandfather because he committed suicide in 1951. And the only image I've seen of him is a black and white photocopy of him from the backside of his passport application that I found on

So, to say that I was thankful and fascinated by my grandfather's images shared with me by my cousin is an understatement. {I mean, I actually had tears in my eyes in the middle of a crowded Starbucks where my cousin and I met and swapped stories and family information. That's right. My cousin lives nearby.}

My cousin later emailed me more photos that he had of the family that hadn't yet made his notebook including color images of my grandfather's passport with the original passport photo of which I'd only seen the photocopy version. {My grandfather needed said passport when he worked and lived in Tampico, Mexico right after he married my grandmother.}

James Wesley Blacketer's Passport

James Wesley Blacketer's Passport

And when I gaze at my grandfather's photos - after the emotion over the enormity of the situation lessens -  all I can think is, "He used to walk around the house in his underwear in front of everyone."

Well, that and the fact that I just found out that my grandfather appears on an arson investigation list in San Antonio less than a year before he committed suicide and those records are located in the City of San Antonio Archives which is open to the public. And that according to a recently found obituary of my grandfather's {different from the one that I had originally found}, there had been an inquest after his death to prove suicide and he'd been unable to work for the past 3 years due to his illness. {And I'll need to find out where those records are located.}

{And, whoa!?! What illness?!?}

And you know what all that means? Another fact-finding mission to San Antonio to investigate - this time - my other jerk of a grandfather who walked around in his underwear all the time and shocked and irritated his mother-in-law. {And I thought my Dad's dad, Big Paw Paw, was naughty. *snort*}

James Wesley, my grandfather, had been a deeply troubled man.

And he keeps me on my genealogy-family-history-storytellin' toes.

{Sources available upon request.}
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  1. Wow! Such a fascinating family history you've got Caroline! And it does sound like your grandfather was a deeply troubled man. You have to wonder what caused him to make the life decisions he did.

    So, please excuse my ingorance since I haven't applied for the DAR, but why would a lack of a divorce from said first wife cause a problem for your DAR application?

  2. Oh my goodness - he certainly gives Big Paw-Paw a run for his money in terms of, um, INTERESTING stories!! And I have the same question as Jana....are only legitimate descendants allowed in the DAR?

    1. Diana, he does, doesn't he? Makes me wish I had met them both face-to-face instead of through documents and family lore.

      And my understanding is that they have to be legitimate. I personally know one person, according to her, who says that's why one of her lines was rejected. I need to verify this, though. {Off to Twitter and FB to ask...LOL.}


    2. LOL - I'll be "watching" to see what the answer is!

  3. Jana,

    He does make for a fascinating family story, and he definitely has me chasing down some paperwork.

    And as far as the DAR application goes {and I could be wrong about this}, but if he never divorced his first wife, then that would make his second marriage to my grandfather null and void, which would make their children's births out of wedlock. And according to another DAR member one of her lines was rejected due to an out of wedlock birth. I'll need to follow up on everything, of course, with documentation.

    Doesn't change my family tree though. And? Makes it all the more interesting if you ask me. I'm not hung up on the DAR thing at all. Just have an active local chapter that has quite a few folks from my local GenSoc in it, and I really like being around them. So, it's more about the fellowship and the uncovering of stories for me.


    1. And that should read "...his second marriage to my grandmother..."

      Another interesting point is that it looks like my grandparents had their civil marriage blessed by the Catholic church a couple of month's later after their civil marriage.

      And I'm waiting for those documents as well as my Gran's baptismal records - same church. So, we will see what we will see.

      Was their civil marriage valid?

      I'm searching for information concerning his first wife's marriage and how she went about getting married again. Did she have him declared dead? How did my grandfather's niece find my Gran back in the day before the Internet? Probably through an obituary. But how would she have known to look in San Antonio. Could she have had access to his military records after his death and being his niece?

      I just don't know.

    2. Hmm, thanks for the info. I'm a descendant of my great-grandfather's second family. And through his mom's line I could be a DAR. We didn't know about his first wife and their two children before. And, I hope he divorced his first wife before leaving the U.S.A. to marry his second wife (my great-grandmother). Oh boy! Well, it does make things interesting doesn't it? And I'm not hung up on the DAR thing either. :)

  4. OK, so this is the husband of the Gran who painted the shell pink! Your grandfather James Wesley Blaketer sounds like what we used to call "a real rapscallion," or alternatively, as you say, a deeply troubled man . . . especially with the information that he committed suicide, possibly over the arson charge, or the illness (?). With this description, I can imagine that I see a kind of smirk on his face--especially in the second photo--as if he were intent on fooling the rest of the world.

    I can relate to your feelings in that one of my great uncles allegedly had two complete families who did not find out about each other until a very late reunion when he was in his 80s. My family would tell this story with a kind of hilarious pride. I guess a person doesn't know whether to laugh or cry. Or snort. Your Gran may have chosen the right response.

    Some amazing discoveries, thanks to FB and cousin connections. Sometime the material just lands in your lap, which is wonderful!

  5. If I was livin' in the Texas heat I'd probably walk around in my underwear too.

  6. I know of a current DAR member in my chapter who was born before her parents wedding. Now, I know this is not exactly the same situation, but a marriage taking place after the baby is born would make that child illegitimate, right? Oh, and the DAR knows about this because this member had to send an affidavit explaining why her birthdate was prior to her parents marriage.

    Also, the new applications no longer have the disclosure statement that was common in previous decades. DAR still demands that the descent be lineal, but the legitimacy issue seems to be not a deal breaker.

    You can email the DAR at to verify.

    1. Thanks, Tonya. I talked to my chapter's Regent at our GenSoc's Christmas Party, and this isn't going to be a problem. Yay!


  7. He sounds like quite a "character" - a rather colourful one!

  8. Love it! (But, I don't know if anyone can "entertain" us more than Big Paw-Paw!


    1. Well, we'll have to see, Renate. It seems they have a competition going on...who could be the naughtiest ancestor! LOL.

      Thanks for stopping by and reading! =)



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