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I’m taking a moment to wander away from the usual posts I put here to make a statement.  As some of you may know, I am the mother of very special and wonderful young man who has a variety of special needs.  In light of the recent and serious budget cuts that seem to be cascading across the country for programs for the disabled, I wanted to post here, the letter that is going off to my representatives.  And ask as well, that those of you that read my blogs or who follow me on twitter or facebook or my wonderful MCHY forum take a moment to read this and if you are so inclined, drop a note to your own representatives regarding the slashing of services for people that have no other voice in the system but ours.   Thank you!

An open letter to my representatives:

I would like to take a few moments of time to introduce you to somebody who lives in your district.    His picture is at the top of this letter.  His name is Robert.  He was born in Cheverly Maryland, has lived in Maryland, New Mexico and in Virginia and now resides here in Hagerstown.  He’s 29 years old, loves his cats, enjoys collecting matchbox cars, and has dark blonde hair and gray eyes.  He is personable and outgoing with a winning smile.  He graduated from Arundel High School and lives with his parents who love him more than you could possibly imagine.   He’s registered for the selective service.  He loves helping around the house, going out, enjoying the company of his family.   He likes watching movies, enjoys a good TV show and likes to draw.   He also has Cerebral Palsy and Fragile X Syndrome and he receives absolutely no services, no assistance, no help what so ever outside of a small monthly SSI payment.  At the rate doctors and dentists are refusing to accept Medicaid, his access to healthcare is dwindling on a daily basis.  He gets no housing assistance, has no access to programs, receives no food stamps, and has no case manager.   There are no support services available to his family.   He is the ultimate forgotten man.  He is my son.

It’s not from lack of trying on our part that he has no services.  For a number of years after he graduated from high school, he was in a great program out at the Provident Center.  We moved to Virginia in 2005 and after nearly three years of struggling to get him even on a waiting list, we gave up and decided to return home to Maryland, where I had been assured that because he has prior history in the system and because he had been without benefits for so long in addition to his multiple handicap there should be no difficulty in getting him back into the system.   I worked through Service Coordination in Frederick where not only did they remember him from our living here before, but these lovely people were extremely helpful in getting pulling his records, getting paperwork to me to fill out and providing me with a list of places that did day service care.  These hardworking people informed me that his records were still in the system and that there should only be a couple of months before he was back in a day program because he would immediately classified as critical need having been without services for so long.   We received a letter notifying us that his DDA waiver status was under review within 30 days of returning to Maryland along with information giving me contact numbers to call so that I could get him hooked up with a case manager.   He and I took a tour of the ARC facility on Florida Avenue here in Hagerstown, they made copies of all his records and IEP’s that I had brought with me and I was hugely relieved.  Finally, he would be back in a program where he could spend the majority of his day, I would not have to worry about him, and he would once again be back feeling like a productive person, proud that he had a job.  We had a meeting with a case manager who continued to make us feel as if we had made the right decision coming back to Maryland and this lovely helpful caring individual visited with us in our home to meet Robb and spend time working on a plan.   We once again outlined our circumstances, that not only is Robb multiply disabled, but that I, his primary caregiver have some health issues of my own including a disability, his grandparents are both nearly 80 and with his only full sibling living over 2,000 miles away, he definitely would be classified as critical need for services.   We should have nothing to worry about and this deserving young man who has been without even the most basic services would be well taken care of.

And then the door slammed in our faces.   Funding has disappeared left and right, and now even what small amount support we did have is gone.    There is no funding available for even a limited day program for him.    It’s all gone, every single funding cut directly affected him and I am sure, countless others just like him, the disabled adults who live at home with their parents or a sibling.    He is finally, on the DDA waiver waiting list, but obviously so far down that he’ll be in a nursing home due to old age before he will ever see any benefit to that and is in danger of probably being removed from that as well.    And in spite of the best efforts of his case manager, all efforts to get him classified as critical need have dried up and blown away.  Awhile back, we were informed by letter that he now no longer even has case manager services.   All he now has is me to be his voice against a system that has forgotten him.

I ask you, what does it take to classify somebody as critical need?  He is 29 years old, he is multiply disabled and he has absolutely no services.   His SSI wouldn’t even support him should anything happen to me and he is so far down on the lists for care, he’ll most likely be warehoused and forgotten in an institution when  I pass away because once again, he’s a forgotten man, with needs not big enough to be noticed by a system drowning in budget cuts.  He has no place to go during the day; nothing to do that makes him feel as if he is a productive person outside of the house.   No people to socialize with outside of his small immediate family.   He cannot take a bus to attend activities because he cannot read to know what stop to get off on and would require an attendant.   For the last year and a half, my husband worked one shift and I worked another so that he was not alone for more than a couple of hours a day.  As my husband’s schedule and work location have now changed, I have quit my job in order to be home with him because abandoning him to sitting alone in the house for 9+ hours a day with no interaction is unthinkable to us and because, as it has always been, I am first and foremost, his mother, totally committed to making his life the best life it can possibly be.   The loss of income will be crippling, yes, but he is my child and without so much as even the most basic benefits available to him, I am doing what I have always done, which is everything in my power to make sure he is cared for in the safest most loving environment I can provide.   I, his primary caregiver am a cancer survivor with disabilities of my own, over 50 with no support from the system at all and it’s highly unlikely I will ever again be able to find full time employment because of my age and disability status.   What is going to happen to him if my cancer returns?   I have no clue where to turn or even who to call to find out what if anything we are entitled to, what can be done to move him up the list, what benefits if any are available to us to help provide him a warm and loving home here with us for as long as I can still physically care for him.   I’ve tried UCP here in Hagerstown; they won’t even return my calls or emails.    That is just a quick snapshot of what our situation is, one that is echoed by countless others in our same situation.  It may not be important enough on its own, but magnify it by the number of other people like myself who are caring for a disabled adult child and it becomes a terrifying image of abandonment by a system that was put in place to help those very individuals it has now turned it’s back on.

There are things that I don’t even know if anybody involved with the massive budget cuts have even considered.   Things like what will happen to my son and the thousands like him when their sole caregiver dies or becomes so critically ill that they are no longer able to care for their adult disabled child?  When that caregiver cannot even get a return phone call or email when they are reaching out for assistance from the very agencies that were set up for just that purpose?  Or when that caregiver needs to chose between making sure there is something to eat or the rent gets paid or the heat doesn’t get turned off because they have had to quit their job in order to make sure their adult child has the care and attention they need because the system that should be there to help either has endured so many budget cuts there is no room for those people like my son or they’ve closed their doors all together leaving no place for any of us to turn.

I know that there are many other families in our situation and but I also know that other families receive additional support to help care for their disabled family members.   I haven’t a clue where to begin to look for these programs because, apparently, as budgets are cut and benefits are dropping left and right, the sources of information are being closed down as well.  Leaving parents like myself without a single place to turn to.   And the few agencies that I know of to call can’t be bothered to return phone calls because they know they can’t handle one more person in the system or worse, because they just don’t even care.

It is people like my son that you hurt the most when benefits for the disabled are cut.   And people like my husband and myself, who struggle daily with the difficult choices only parents like us can understand and making the choices we’ve had to make, such as doing away with the second much needed paycheck our household needs in order to provide the care for this bright faced young man who has been totally abandoned by the system, that silent majority, those without massive medical needs, but needs all the same.    He has the same needs and rights that every other person does– life, liberty and pursuit of happiness.  These are the very basic civil rights that all citizens of the United States are entitled to.  Show me how he can obtain those when you all cut the very programs that are the lifeblood to people like my son.   I find it very difficult to justify all the monies that are sent overseas or that are spent on programs outside of the United States when citizens like my son have nothing.   When I read of yet another call to send billions in aid outside of our country and I know what the people in my identical situation are going through, I get angry.  Angry at a system that has abandoned its own citizens.  Yes, what happened in Haiti and Chile is devastating.  But what is happening here, on our own shores is even more horrible because of the global blind eye being turned to a need at home that is very deep and has been going on for decades without notice.  Citizens of this country are doing without, are having what few avenues they have had for help disappearing, of having no possibility of having what every citizen of this country is guaranteed by our constitution because our tax dollars are going elsewhere, inside and outside of our country.

I ask you to take a look at the picture at the top of this letter again for a moment.   This eager bright faced young man was a credit to the program he was in, his records speak for his abilities to contribute and that program made such a huge difference in his life.   And now that is so far out of his reach, it’s not even funny.  It seems that all of you have turned a blind eye to the need for day time services, the need for additional support for the parents that love their children and are doing everything in their power to provide for them.   There is no assistance for those parents to help them keep their adult disabled children in the home that makes them the happiest because I know I am not the only parent who has made the choice between child and job in this circumstance.  When monies that need to be providing services for our disabled citizens are whisked away and all we read about are the billions of dollars in aid that are going overseas, it’s very hard to not rise up and question why, why have you forgotten this young man and countless others like him along with those of us who sincerely want to do what is best for our children, small or adult, to keep them home with us as long as humanly possible, out of an already overburdened system and who are now doing so alone.

Granted, my son does not pay taxes or vote.  But I do, his step father does, his grandparents, his siblings, aunts, uncles and cousins do.    And then next time yet another funding cut comes up, or another program is on the chopping block, I want you to think back about this letter, remember the face at the top of this letter and give pause for thought.  I know that my letter won’t work miracles.  It won’t provide me with any additional assistance or get my son a slot in a program.  I’ve accepted that and I am not asking for hand-outs.  I will continue to do as I have always done, be my child’s advocate and protector, be his voice in the darkness of this situation and make his life the best life it can possibly be.  What I am hoping, however, is that this letter will put a face and a name to a situation that doesn’t get the attention it deserves and never has.  So that the next time votes come up and more cuts are proposed to care for the very citizens in this country that need the care the most, you’ll take a moment, perhaps remember that face and his name and reconsider where this country’s obligations really belong.  Not outside our shores, but right here at home.  Protecting those citizens who need it the most, enriching their lives and allowing them the dignity and sense of pride in being able to contribute and feel needed and important.

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For me, the guiding passion behind my 20 year dance through the looking glass of my past has been the need to know the stories behind the dates and the names.  I grew up listening to the stories about life up home, on the farm, stories that my great grandmother used to entertain me during the long lazy summer days I spent at my grandmother’s house, stories that my grandmother would tell me on Saturday nights as she patiently guided my hands through learning this embrodery stitch or that one.   And as always, the conversations on those long ago Saturday nights were filled with stories of watching this afgan being knitted or that set of bedsheets and linens being stitched.  A history made up of needlework and creativity, flavoring my images of the women that came before me.

I tend to think of the people on the other side of that looking-glass as stitches in the pattern that makes up who I am, each generation leaving behind their handiwork on the canvas creating corners of the whole pattern to who I am.   Not really an odd analogy when you consider I come from a long line of needle jockeys.  My mother does lovely work, she never travels without her sewing bag.   My maternal grandmother was exceptionally skilled, each one of us has various treasures that Gram created with her needle and thread.  Her mother, my great-grandmother was the head fitter at the Paris salon at Huztlers Downtown Baltimore and did some of the most incredible needle point I have ever encountered.  My paternal great-grandmother knit and crocheted and won 1st place at the state fair back in the 50’s with an afghan that I have a duplicate of.  Stepped back another generation, my maternal great great grandmother, Fanny Lillian Kreglo Houck created some of the most beautiful linen work table cloths and napkins I have ever seen.   I imagine that it was her hands that guided Gram’s through the first beginning stitches as Gram’s guided mine two generations later, giving me a real sense of continuance and connection with these women who make up part of who I am today.   And touching these items gives me another dimension to those names and dates in my past, which is, after all, what makes the journey through the looking glass so much richer than just dry little names and dates on a chart.  Which is, after all, the real meaning of searching for where you came from, isn’t it?

Take for example the story of my 3rd great grand-aunt, Mathlide Root Simpson.   On the surface, there’s not much to tell.  She was born April 5, 1857.    She married December 29, 1856 and less than a year later, she died in childbirth.   Bare bones facts.  No flavor to them at all.  Now, take a look at the image at the top of this post.  It’s a counted cross stitch image of a beautiful bouquet of roses.  Although hard to see, there are delicate shades of color in the threads, giving a rich dimension to the needlework.   I strongly doubt it was done from a pattern, but even if so, it’s a testament to an incredible skill with a needle when you realize that  instead of canvas, it’s actually stitched on perforated paper.  It was carefully and expensively framed, behind glass and paper backed.   And on that paper backing are two lines.  Tillie Root 1854.  And then look back at that simple dry little entry on the tree.  Mathilde Root Simpson 1839-1857 suddenly comes to life.  She literally jumps off the page and becomes three-dimensional.  She was Tillie Root a teenager with an incredible skill with needle and thread as she completed this piece at just 15 years of age.  She was a treasured child/sibling as this work of needle art was expensively framed and preserved with tender loving care for the last 156 years.    Tillie is no longer just a foot note to the family tree, my 3rd great grandmother’s sister who died young, but somebody so real you can almost reach out and touch her.  And that, my friends is what the journey through the looking glass is really all about.

We’ve all been there I know, that ugly ole brick wall must have a billion head dents in it from where we have all hit our heads over and over, trying to push through, burrow under, climb over, whatever it took to get to the next level. Finding that one illusive puzzle piece that will unlock the secrets of the next generation back. The thrill of the chase, the incredible reward of looking at an old record, finding a letter in the back of a forgotten book, having a name leap out at you and take life shouting here I am. For me, when one of my most stubborn brick walls came down, it was a double thrill, in part because the one wall I’d been bashing my head against for nearly 3 years wasn’t even my wall to begin with.

My first forays into research were deceptively easy. My Gram’s father’s family was already well documented. And that was back before we had all this wonderful internet access and information readily available. I was fortunately enough to encounter a fellow who had posted information to one of the FTM Family Tree CD’s that was from the Ohio Branch of the Buckinghams that included a great deal of information about my branch here in Maryland. Coupled with the fact that my Gram’s aunt was still alive and still sharp as a tack at 100, I was able to easily establish the connections and tuck away that line very nicely. The Houcks, Kreglos and Roots took a little more digging, but again, all my little ducks quequed up nicely in their rows. And again, owing to the wealth of family history I had from listening to my great-grandmother’s stories for years and years.

I turned my attention to my father’s family, feeling rather sure of myself. After all, I knew where we had come from originally, what little my grandfather had ever said about his father’s family was that we were French, had come over to New York in the colonial days, that Leonard was a family name and the original middle name had been Geisinger that had been shorted to Guy. That his father had died during a coal strike as a member of the national guard in West Virginia. I knew little more about his mother’s family, but not much. I knew his grandfather on that side had owned a rather successful business in Baltimore with an office in West Virginia. Thinking I had more than enough information to get started, I put my notes together and began to hunt. And got nowhere. Fast. My neat and tidy assumptions got the best of me faster than you could say Census. My maiden name is rather unique. It’s LeVee. Pronouced La Vee as my grandfather was always extremely quick to point out, not Levy, LA Vee. LeVee, it’s French, we came from France.   He always said it pretty much that way, too so I always just assumed that was one of his little quirks. I posted that name on every message board I could possibly find. And again, nothing. We had no family members to talk to. My father is an only child of an only son whose father was also an only child. At the time I was beginning my search for that side of the family, my grandfather had been gone nearly 20 years. My grandmother had had a stroke and was no longer able to even recognize my father. And my father’s one aunt on that side of the family had also passed away. My father grew up in the middle of his mother’s rather large Czech family. The only family he had on his father’s side was his grandmother, her sister, his aunt, her husband and one cousin who was just a few hours older than he was and by the time I was working on the genealogy for that branch of the family, they had all passed away.

In the middle of all of this, my father got a letter from a woman by the name of Kathryn Levy Bush in Florida. A very nicely written letter, telling him that they were second cousins, that his grandfather and her grandfather were brothers. He called me out in New Mexico where I was living at the time and read it to me over the phone. He was skeptical and for that matter, so was I. Nothing in her letter matched anything we knew about our little family. As my father is a total gentleman, he wrote her a nice letter, thanking her for the contact, but that we were not the family she was searching for, he wished her well in her search and considered the matter closed. The next letter arrived with copies of old photostats of some wills and some LDS family sheets and discussing German ancestry. We knew then that this had to be wrong, We were from France. Not only that, my wonderful and loving Czech born Grandmother would have NEVER married anybody with German ancestry. In fact when I started studying German in highschool she was livid, how could I, she asked, after what they had done to her family when Prague fell. Again Daddy and I talked and he said he would send me copies of the papers. Once more, a polite, thank you, but letter went to Kathryn., although he let her know that he had forwarded the information to me as I was the family historian. My brother got involved at this point when Kathryn called him and he simply said, No, ma’am, we’re not related, our family is from France, my great-grandfather was an only child like my father, asked her not to call again and hung up.

I got this packet in the mail a couple of days later and looked it over. And suddenly the France, we came from France mantra that my grandfather had always chanted anytime we asked about our family history began to take on a Dan Ackryod Jane Curtain Conehead flavor. I recognized a name that my grandfather had mentioned once, a long time ago. Geisinger. I knew one other solid piece of information, that the name Leonard Guy was one that had been handed down generation to generation, in fact my father’s birth certificate lists him as Leonard Guy LeVee IV. While Leonard is a fairly common name, Guy is not. Seeing a whole row of Leonard Guy’s got me to thinking and for a long rather puzzling afternoon, I sat and wrote down everything I could remember that my grandfather had ever mentioned about his family. This man with a thirst for history who knew every nuance of the Shriver Family in Westminster MD from his years as that family’s historian had been very closed mouthed about his own family. My list of what I knew was very short. I got to the end of my list and went back over Kathryn’s information and then called my father. He still was not convinced when I told him that she might be on to something. I could hear the backwash of anger in his voice, not at me, but at the ghost of a possibility that he might have been lied to all these years. I decided that the best way to solve this mystery was to see if I could get his records from the West Virginia National Guard. After all, we did know that my father’s grandfather had died during a Coal Strike as a member of the national guard. Surely this very nice lady may have gotten some records mixed up, the man she was looking for died two years before my great-grandfather. It happens to all of us. So I sent away for the records, not really expecting much, maybe a sheet or two because according to what we knew he’d only been in the guard for a year or so. I put Kathryn’s information in a file and went about other things as I waited for records. About two weeks later, I got this enormous packet in the mail from West Virginia. I was rather surprised at the size of it. With heart pounding and sweaty palms, I sat down at the table and opened it. Nothing like knowing a part of who you are is just on the other side of an envelope to kick start excitement. I read through the very nice letter from the records registrar and opened this huge sheaf of papers. My first thought was, she messed up, this is the wrong man, for there in my hands were the records of Leonard Guy Levy, the gentleman that Kathryn had been writing my father about. I turned the first record over and got a cold chill. His signature on the bottom of one of the promotions could have been my father’s. Down to the way he made his L in Leonard. I went through all the records including a death notice, for this man, Leonard Guy Levy had been not only a Captain in the guard but a highly thought of, decorated solider. With a wife named Gertrude, a son named Leonard and a daughter named Frances.   I sat there, stunned.  There was no way that this man could be anybody else but my great grandfather.  There was no way that two men could have belonged to the West Virginia National Guard and be married to women with the same first name and have two children named the same.  I called my father. He’d been mulling over Kathryn’s last letter as well, to the point where he had gone up into the attic just that day and pulled out the box of papers that belonged to his mother. Important papers, such as her citizenship papers, her immigration papers, his grandfather’s declaration of intent. He’d not gone through them, simply put them in the attic after he had had to close out her apartment after she had had her stroke. He was in fact, getting ready to call me and open the box with me on the phone. I sat and waited listening to him sort through papers, making comments here and there and then silence for a moment. Then in a rather hushed voice he read me the death notice I was holding in my hand.  Buried in an envelope was the confirmation proof that the records I held in my hand belonged to my father’s grandfather and in the space of a single heartbeat, not only did that old brick wall come down leaving a wide open door of information behind it, but in the dust that settled, my father and I realized, we were not who we thought we were.

To this day, we are not sure of the hows or the whys. The man that was my great-grandfather died in a snow storm in February in Charleston West Virginia leaving behind a wife and two young children. For reasons unknown she made a complete break with her husband’s family.  Not only was he a decorated solider, but far from being the only child we had always thought him to be, he was the second child of a family of five children, one of whom outlived everybody and was still alive when I was born, but behind that brick wall so we never have the pleasure of knowing him.  I can only surmise what the back story is. He was interred in Charleston with military honors only be be removed and brought up to the Levy family plot and buried with his family at his parents request. In 1910 the family is listed as Levy, but by the 1920 census that found my great-grandmother and her children in Baltimore, they are listed as LeVee. Did she change the name out of anger at her late husband’s family over having his body disinterred and removed to Maryland?  Or was it out of fear of being a widow with young children and a German surname in the hostile environment of WWI in Baltimore.  My grandfather’s insistence that we were of French descent makes the later a more plausible statement, but the fleeting memories I have of his mother don’t jive as I doubt she was ever afraid of anything.  We do know that she never spoke of or had anything to do with her husband’s family for the rest of her life.  To the point where my father never even knew he had family living literally just blocks away.  The name change was very easy to accomplish back then. They simply changed it. And when my grandfather was required to produce a birth certificate to get a radio license, he simply wrote to West Virginia to request one be issued in the name of Leonard Guy LeVee. In 1903 West Virginia did not issue certificates. All that was required to get one was to make an application and have somebody who attended the birth co sign. My great-grandmother attested to the names and place and bingo, we were now LeVees instead of Levys.

Kathryn passed away a few years ago, but at least from the time of our discovery of who we really were until her death, my father had the pleasure of a cousinship from his father’s side of the family and got to know, indirectly at least, who his family had been.

Who was Aunt Sara?

Aunt Sara

Aunt Sara

For years, this picture had haunted my father. Two of the figures he knew quite well, one was his aunt, the sparkling and witty Fanny as a teenager standing next to her mother, his grandmother, but the other two were total strangers. The only clue we had was the phrase written on the back of the picture in his father’s handwriting that simply stated, “Mom and Aunt Sara”. He’d discovered the photos while cleaning out my grandmother’s apartment after she had a stroke, long after his father had passed away. There were no other family members to ask, his aunt had passed away some years earlier, and his only cousin on that side of the family, just 12 hours his senior had also passed away the year before. One night as we were looking over the pictures and talking about family after I had moved back to Maryland, he brought this picture out and handed it to me with a request. “Please find out who Aunt Sara is.” The resemblance between my great-grandmother and the mysterious Aunt Sara is a strong one, so it was obvious to us that this was a blood relative.

Tracing my father’s side of my family has been a challenge from the beginning and is a blog entry unto itself. Of his father’s family, he knew virtually nothing, aside that his grandfather died when his father was in his early teens. Of his grandmother’s side he knew just a little more. That her father had owned a rather prominent framing company in Baltimore at the end of the 19th century, that she had one sister and one brother and had married her father’s West Virginia Lumber Company’s bookkeeper about 1901. He knew she had grown up in Relay, that her daughter had actually been raised by her sister Harriet after the death of her husband and that she had very little love for the ‘foreign woman’ aka my wonderful grandmother, who married her only son when he was 28.

Armed with only a handful of names, the deed to cemetery plot and a couple of letters that went back and forth between my father’s great-grandfather and the War Department over repayment of his possessions lost when the picket boat he was serving on during the Civil War sank, I headed out the most logical places to look, the Census and Baltimore City records. It was literally an ordeal by fire as Baltimore pretty much burned to the ground in 1904, turning most of the city records to ashes. And we all know the pain of loss over the 1890 census.

Finding the Landons turned into quite the hide and seek search. They are an elusive family, appearing in only a a very limited number of censuses. George and his wife appear together in only the 1880 census, even though they were married in 1863. The Landon family plot holds a random assortment of relatives, in-laws and infants, but no siblings. It wasn’t until I went over my grandmother’s handwritten list of who was in this plot that I discovered my first big break, not only was George W. Landon’s father buried there, but his mother in law and aunt in law were also interred there. Armed with the next generation back of names, I returned to the census and to the Baltimore city records. Hours of sitting at the microfilm machine trying to avoid motion sickness was finally rewarded when I found in the 1850 census, one Josiah W, Landon, his wife Alice and their four children. And there was George, along with his brother Joseph W, his sister Amelia and his sister Mary. And while I was thrilled to discover this additional information, I wasn’t any closer to finding Aunt Sara than I had been two years earlier when my father handed me that picture. Finding Joseph’s wife’s name was ridiculously easy, he had been married just a year after his brother and they were both listed in the Baltimore Sun index. But her name was Margaret so once again, I was off on my chase. I turned my attention to Sarah Jennie Lynch Landon’s family. It took another year of research, owing partly to the fact that Sarah’s abrupt disappearance from the public eye after 1880 and the odd weaving of half truths and omissions based on the very sad discovery that Sarah Landon spent the last 24 years of her life at Mount Hope Retreat. Again. No other Sarah but Sarah Lynch Landon.

I put the search aside for a bit, hitting that brick wall can be painful. About a year later, I found myself again at the library in Baltimore and decided it would be nice to go back to the old City Directories and pull the ads for Landon and Kent for my father. It tickled him that the building his great-grandfather had his offices in was still standing and I knew he’d get a kick out of seeing those old ads. I was once again back at the microfilm machines and ran across the entry showing George W. Landon’s home and noticed a name I hadn’t seen before. Emmeline. Listed as Mrs. Emmeline Landon, living at the same address as George W. Landon. Sarah Lynch Landon was not listed and I now know that is because in 1890, she was at Mount Hope. Both my father’s grandmother and his grand aunt Harriet were young girls at the time, so obviously this was a female relative that had come to stay and help him with his young daughters. Figuring it was worth a back track, I took the name Emmeline Landon and started back through the censuses once more, figuring she was an widowed aunt of George’s. I’d already come to see that family was very important to George Landon, his company employed his brother, his nephews, his son and later his son in law. His eldest sister spent the last years of his life living with him and keeping house for him. By this time, I was a member of Ancestry.com so instead of sitting in front of microfilm machines I plugged in this tidbit of information into the Ancestry search and almost immediately, the name Emmeline Landon popped up, listed as the spouse of one Josiah Landon in the 1870 census. I felt kind of sheepish, I had not pursed Josiah Landon after my first discovery of him. Obviously he’s remarried after his wife, George’s mother had died. I clicked on the view image and grabbed my pen so that I could make some notes about this second wife to add to the history I was building for my father, never expecting to find anything more than Josiah and Emmeline listed. After all, this was the 1870 census, Josiah has been born in 1802 and I knew that he died in 1975. In 1870 he was a grandfather several times over. So I was totally unprepared for the list of four names after Emmeline’s. Four little girls, Lydia, Emma, Laura and Sara.   I’d found her.   The mysterious Aunt Sara. One of four half sisters that nobody had ever mentioned.  Part of a family that we’d never known existed and had it not been for that single note on the back of a very old photo, she would have forever remained merely a name on a census page.