|Liz Franklin's email about Norman Elmer Ragsdale
|George M. Koehler Jr.
|Russell Bigelow Mahan
|Mary Cassandra "Mae" Mahan
|Norman Elmer Ragsdale
|Vera Margaret Ann Koehler
|Clarence Stafford Bromell
|George M. Koehler Jr. / Mary Cassandra "Mae" Mahan
|Russell Bigelow Mahan / Evaline Davis
|Clarence Stafford Bromell / Vera Margaret Ann Koehler
Thank you for responding back to me. I’ve spent years trying to correct the incorrect information ‘put out there’ more than 90 years ago regarding my dad and his real father. The documentation revealing my real grandfather and his family is located in the Jackson County Courthouse, Kansas City, Missouri. I was finally given a copy of the full record during July 2000, after my dad’s passing in January of that year. Here is a shortened account of those facts:
My paternal grandmother Vera Margaret Ann Koehler was 18 years old when she became engaged to Clarence Stafford Bromell in 1915. He was from a wealthy family. Clarence’s father, my great-grandfather John Ernest Preston Bromell died several months after the engagement and great-grandmother Emma Neuer Bromell insisted that Vera live with the Bromell family to ‘keep Emma company’.
Sometime during January 1916, Clarence took advantage of Vera and the result was her pregnancy with my dad. Emma didn’t want anyone to know what happened, so she told Clarence to the end the engagement to protect both her son and the Bromell family name. But surprisingly, Clarence at first refused to do so. Emma issued her ultimatum “end the engagement or leave and give up your inheritance”. Sadly, Clarence chose his inheritance over grandma Vera and his expected child.
During October 1916, Vera filed legal action against Emma for ‘alienation of affection’. She was about to win her case, when Emma used her wealth-influence by having a different judge assigned to the case. That man was an old and dear friend of the Bromell family. He immediately tossed out Vera’s lawsuit and denied her any help or support from Clarence and/or the Bromell family. My dad was born 29 November 1916 without benefit of a father or his father’s name.
All the above added to the already disharmony in the home of my great-grandparents George M. Koehler and Mary Cassandra ‘Mae’ Mahan, due to George’s infidelities. Mary filed for a divorce that was granted in 1917. She took her 9 children and my dad from the Kansas City/Independence, Missouri area and down into 1st the Enid, Garfield CO, Oklahoma area where at least two of her siblings and their families were living, along with Mary’s mother, my 2nd great-grandmother Evaline (Davis) Mahan. If you recall, Evaline had been the wife of Russell Bigelow Mahan and they had separated, I believe, during the 1890s due to Russell’s infidelities?
Mary, her children and my dad lived in the Enid area for a couple of years before she finally settled all of them down in Houston, Texas where she had additional Mahan family living. Mary lived out her life in Houston, died and is buried in there in the Rosewood Cemetery, as are grandma Vera and several of Vera’s siblings and their families.
My parents were married in Houston, my sister and I were both born there. When I was a little over 2 years of age my parents moved to Tulsa, Oklahoma where mom was raised, and my maternal grandmother had lived since 1892.
Grandma Vera Margaret Ann Koehler married just one time, to Donald Burrow. They were still married when grandma died 22 April 1945 in Houston. She worked for a short time as a housekeeper for a Ragsdale family in Enid, Oklahoma. They didn’t have a son named Cecil by the way. That is when Vera decided to save her son’s reputation by putting forth the story she had married a man named Cecil Ragsdale, he had adopted her son, and then deserted them while my dad was an infant. She felt it was better to be a deserted married wife, than an unmarried single mother in those days – and she was quite right regarding that matter.
My lineage back to Rev. Jacob Mahan and Martha Bennington is:
Elizabeth Ann (Ragsdale) Franklin
Norman Elmer Ragsdale – Bromell being his birth father’s family surname & Linna Louise Ayers
Vera Margaret Ann Koehler & Clarence Stafford Bromell
Mary Cassandra ‘Mae’ Mahan & George M. Koehler*
Russell Bigelow Mahan & Evaline Davis
Rev. John Bennington Mahan & Mary ‘Polly’ Curtis
Rev. Jacob Mahan & Martha Bennington
*George M. Koehler was born simply George Koehler, like his own father.
During the early 1900s while a baker with the George Rushton Bakery in Kansas City, Kansas, George Koehler realized he was the only male worker without a middle initial or name. He bestowed upon himself the middle initial ‘M’, but never made it legal.
George remarried in 1924 to Frances Matila McCabe who had been widowed just two months earlier. She was a woman with who George had carried on an affair before Frances’ husband died. George and Frances issued one child, a son they named George M. Koehler JR, born 1925.
Great-uncle George M. Koehler JR is still living in Kearney, Clay CO, Missouri and has shared with me many wonderful stories of my 2nd great-grandfather’s (his grandfather) Civil War experiences and photos, and those of George’s time growing up with grandma Vera and her siblings, etc..
I’m only sharing this information with you, because many past and current researchers continue to list my 2nd and 1st great-grandfathers as: George Michael Koehler SR and George Michael or George M. Koehler JR. They are wrong! Their correct names were: George Koehler and George M. Koehler – the latter having bestowed that middle initial to his name in the early 1900s. There is only one legally named George M. Koehler in this family, and that is great-uncle George still living in Kearney, Missouri.
I am attaching a brief history with photos, of my direct line from Clarence Stafford Bromell & Vera Margaret Ann Koehler for your records.
In a 2nd email, I will send what I have for my Bennington family line back to John Moses Bennington, born 1680 in England, the supposed father of Henry Bennington, born 1700 in Baltimore, Maryland.
Thank you Eric,