Isabelle Jane "Belle" Herrington, and older brother, Benjamin Thomas Herrington.
Photo circa 1945.
During the last four or five years of her life, my Aunt Jean was a tremendous source of information about some of the folks in our family tree.
It was when she and I were looking at my copy of the photo above, shared by my Aunt Mary Ann, that Aunt Jean told me about Belle Herrington's first marriage. She said her grandaunt Belle - her mother's paternal aunt - had been married first to a man named Boyd Thomason. She said it was a brief marriage, and then, Aunt Belle married Smith Lochridge.
I dutifully made the notes, and later, set out to find out about Aunt Belle's first, brief marriage.
I never could find a record of that first marriage.
And to complicate things, I found Aunt Belle in the 1920 census in Sparkman, in Dallas County, working as a "servant in a hotel." I thought that was odd, because most of the rest of her family lived in Malvern, in Hot Spring County, with the exception of her oldest brother, Jasper, who lived in Clark County.
Aunt Belle was a widow with two children.
And her last name was Jones. I scoured all the usual places to find the departed Mr. Jones, to no avail.
And concluded that Aunt Belle was married to Mr. Jones no later than age 21, so how could there have been an earlier marriage to anyone named Boyd Thomason?
In the fall of 2013, I published this entry, stating that Aunt Belle had not been married to anyone named Boyd Thomason, and if anyone reading the entry could tell me who Mr. Jones was, to please contact me.
I got that contact last week, by email.
From a descendant of the Thomason family, who knew quite a lot about Aaron Boyd Thomason.
Aaron Boyd Thomason was born on 26 Nov 1878 in Butler Co., KY to Thomas Lindsey Thomason and Mary E Langford. He was nearly ten years older than Aunt Belle.
According to my Thomason correspondent, Boyd (he was called by his middle name) and his brother Vivian, traveled multiple times in the early 1900s to Arkansas, Texas and Oklahoma to work the oil fields and the timber industry. He surmises that it must have been on one of those trips to Arkansas that Boyd met and married Belle. He also said that Boyd owned a hotel and some stores in Arkansas and Oklahoma.
And he sent photos of the family that span a period roughly between 1910 (shortly after their daughter Ethel's birth) to about 1913, shortly after their son Thomas Boyd Thomason's birth.
Boyd, Ethel and Belle Thomason, photo circa 1910-1911
Boyd and Ethel
Thomas Boyd Thomason, born 16 Feb 1912
So then, I wondered...what happened to the marriage?
By 1920, Belle was calling herself a widow. That was a very common occurrence for women who were divorced, a shameful marital status in those days.
Both the children were born in Kentucky, Boyd's family home. I found a birth record for Thomas, and he was born in Paducah, McCracken Co., KY.
And I wondered about that. Why would Belle have been in Kentucky? Could her bridegroom have wanted to get her away from her own family? Was Belle's family disapproving of her choice in a mate?
But even more curious - why did Belle change her last name?
The Thomason descendant who emailed me had other information that caused me to think of some possible reasons why Belle Herrington was not simply content to be Belle Thomason.
In 1926, Boyd Thomason returned to Kentucky. To Logan County, where he robbed the Auburn bank. Although the bank robbery took place long after Belle and Boyd split (I keep remembering Aunt Jean saying it was a brief first marriage), what if Belle had become aware of some shady business dealings? Or some outright crimes?
I think it is possible that Belle and Boyd split up before he registered for the draft during World War I, in 1918. He did not list a wife as his nearest living relative.
What if Belle did not want to be connected in any way, shape or form to Boyd Thomason - and didn't want her kids connected to him either?
Or what if it was dangerous to be known as the ex-wife of Boyd Thomason?
Belle changed her surname and that of her children at a time when people could do that with no legal messiness. You just started using your new name, and that was that.
Her children retained Jones as their legal surnames - Ethel until her marriage to Orvel James Jones, and Thomas Boyd for the rest of his life, which included a stint in the United States Navy during World War II.
Belle remarried, to Smith Lochridge in 1927. They were living with Belle's daughter and son-in-law in the 1940 census, in Weleetka, Okfuskee Co., OK. Smith Lochridge died in 1941, and Belle spent her later years living in Weleetka, close to her daughter. Belle died in 1973 and is buried in Hillcrest Cemetery in Weleetka.
But Boyd Thomason lost the care and comfort of his family.
The 1930 census found Boyd doing time in the Kentucky Branch Penitentiary in Eddyville, KY.
I couldn't find him in the 1940 census. But I found him on 28 Apr 1943, in Terre Haute IN when he had to register for the old men's draft for World War II.
He was 64 years old, homeless, unemployed, and no one would know how to get in touch with him.
From my Thomason email correspondent:
His family here in Kentucky didn't want anything to do with him because he almost took them down with him. After the bank robbery, my grandfather rode him across the river in his wagon (not knowing he was on the run) and he hid the money under a fence post on my great-grandfather's farm (his brother). They were both mentioned in the newspaper articles and just barely avoided arrest. Nobody trusted him after that. I've heard a great aunt of mine who remembered him say he abandoned his family out west.
Aaron Boyd Thomason died on 24 Nov 1945 in Mount Vernon, Jefferson Co., IL. He was buried three days later in Oakwood Cemetery in Mount Vernon.
I understand he had cousins there.
Aaron Boyd Thomason
If any of the descendants of Ethel Jones (nee Thomason) Jones or Thomas Boyd Jones (nee Thomason) find this entry, you are welcome to right click and save on any of these photos.