A Little About Me
When I was 4 years old my parents seperated. That was back in 1965. My brother, Donald and I were placed as wards of the court through Catholic Charities into the home of our patenal Aunt Dollyann (Bone) Johnson. Dollyann is a very wonderful lady. She is a devout Catholic. At the time she was raising six children of her own. She was married to Gordon William Johnson. A few years after we came to live with her Uncle Gordon became quite ill. He fought heart disease which at that time, open heart surgery had not yet been done. He became one of the first people on the recipient list to qualify for this new experimental procedure. Unfortantely he passed away in 1972 before he could have the surgery. Aunt Dollyann was now left to care for a very large family on her own. She found this nearly impossible. She soon came to the realization she could no longer keep Donald nor I in her care. That is when her eldest daughter, Alice Kay (Johnson) Durbin came forward and I came to live with her. I was adopted soon after.
My biological parents were John "Howard" Stephen Bone and Betty Mae Acton. Howard was a circus performer and traveled the country performing magic and various side show acts. Betty became his assistant in his magic show act. They had married in Aug of 1960 but by 1965 they had seperated. It was one of their tempered arguments which brought about the police and thus the reason for Donald and I being placed as wards of the court. I am sure there was probably more to it than that but I was a very small child and was never told the true reasons they split up and I don't suppose it was ever meant for me to know.
Betty went to live with her parents in Eustis/Deland, FL. Howard continued to travel with the circus. Donald and I were content living with Aunt Dolly and our cousins- Alice, Carolyn, Kathie, Marisue, Henry & Thomas. They treated us as if we were their little brother and sister in the best way they could. We came to accept them as such.
Howard (our Dad) would come to visit on occasion when he came through town. But he never stayed more than a few days at a time. Betty we rarely saw. On the few occasions she came to town our visitation with her was supervised through the Catholic Charities office with a case worker present. As for birthday's and Christmas... we never heard from her. Donald and I used to chat into the night about when and if our mother would come back for us. Then at some point our cousins convinced us that Aunt Dolly and Uncle Gordon were going to adopt us as their own. We kept waiting and waiting but Uncle Gordon become more and more ill.
I remember as a small child wondering what my mother was like. I knew she had another daughter named Susan. I could not understand why Susan was not with us. Betty's parents I knew were from England and that intriqued me. You see living in the midwest it was rare that a person ever met anyone from England more yet knew they were somehow related. I wondered why they had not helped our mother to come back and get Donald and I. Then I heard that Betty's mother had passed away.
I used to ask Aunt Dolly what my mother's parents names were and she would tell me that they are Mr. & Mrs. Acton. Dollyann was very strict about manners and calling people by their appropriate titles. I don't think I ever knew their first names until I took a trip to Florida as a teenager just before my adoption. (Later I would learn the real reason for this trip was so that Alice and her husband Barney could obtain Betty's signature for my adoption). That trip was the first time I can remember ever having spent any time with my mother and sister. Susan was a very sweet girl. Full of spunk but very delightful. She was just as excited to get to spend time with me.
Donald was never adopted. He had a personality conflict with Alice's husband Bareny Wayne Durbin. After one incident where he was reprimanded rather severely for a boyhood prank he told the case worker he wanted to be placed into the foster care system. He was soon being bounced from home to home.
When it came to genealogy - the Bone side of my family I was well educated on. My mother's side though I had no knowledge of. My adoptive parents, Alice and Barney, have always been understanding of the fact that I really needed to know more about my mother and her side of the family.
Unfortately shortly after I visited my mother in Florida, she and Susan and my grandfather went through some financial hardships and the home they had been living in for years they were forced to sell. Per Susan (my sister) the deal did not go as planned. They were left homeless. They turned to Betty's brother in New York to stay, but he soon grew tired of them. Then moved to Betty's sister's home. Betty's sister was unaccepting of Betty as she was not working and soon put her out. Betty's father, Karel, remained there but passed away soon after. Betty and Susan were left homeless again with no place to go.
They traveled as vagabond's about the country. Every few years I would get a letter from one of them but then my letter back to them would get returned and I would not hear from them again.
Then this past year I was astounded to learn a new amazing family secret. I received a call from a lady in AR who stated she was researching the family Acton and particularly an Acton who married a Bone. I listened to the lady explain that she was adopted when she was 3 days old. Her adoptive parents had driven for several hours to pick her up at a hospital in Olean new York. Still nothing made any sense to me as at the time I still did not know that my mother was from New York. When she first told me I dismissed her telling her that I was the oldest of the 3 children. After I got off the phone I started to think about it a little more. My mother I had been told was in her 30's when she had me. (I never knew how old she was). I started thinking that what if my mother had been married before my Dad. I then proceeded to pull out documents I had here from my adoption and Donald's birth certificate. It just struck me when I looked at it that there was a field on it that asked the mother "How many previous births not counting this child?" The field had a 2 in it.
I then called Dollyann and asked her if she had any knowledge of my mother ever having been married or having any children before me. To my shock I learned that she did know my mother had given up a baby daughter when she was in her teens. I promptly called the lady back in AR and advised her of what I had learned. We then started digging. I looked for any information I could find on my mother. I fonud some old letters that had been written about 7 years prior. Grasoing at straws I decided to try to write to her. I had no idea where she was even living by this point. I had an address for her and another for Susan. I tried them each.
Soon I received a response. Susan wrote me back asking why I was suddenly writing. (I did not give the details in the letter as figured that would be to much of a shock). I just wanted a re-aquaintance. Susan did not know where mom was living but last heard she was either in MS or TX. Another week went by and I received a call from my mother. She was beside herself in tears.
As it turned out she had been living in a nursing home in TX until Hurricane Katrina hit. The storms demolished the home she was living in and the Salvation Army had to air lift all the residents out to emergency shelters. She had been taken to the Salvation Army in Louisville, KY. (Just a few hours from my home). She was disoriented and really had no idea where she was really at. It turned out that a family in the area had taken her in (they owned a bed and breakfast) and put her up with them for several months and helped her to get into an apartment on her own in a high rise for the elderly.
I explained to her the reason for my tring to reach her and the mysterious call I had received. She asked me the name of the lady. I advised her the lady's name now is Susan Lantz but that at birth her name was Alice Marie Acton and she was adopted from a hospital in Olean, New York. Her name had been changed to Susan Ruth Cook upon her adoption. Mom started crying out "That is your sister!" she declared. Of course Susan and I were both a little more skeptical. We decided to have a DNA test done and it was soon confirmed that we were indeed blood relatives with 99.9% accuracy.
Shortly after we all met. Susan offered to move mom to AR to be near her and get to know her. Mom was of course estatic. A few months later Susan took a trip to visit her daughter in ID and mom totally lost her mind and went bezerk in route. After tehy arrived a few days later Mom had another attack and threw her walker at Susan's daughter and shoved her small child down. Mom was soon hospitalized. The doctors advised she was unstable to be moved. She remained in the hopital there until she could be stabilized. At which point she was placed in a nursing home in Kimberly, ID. Mom has been having delusions seeing things and saying things that are not there or are not true. She seemed to think she was engaged to Susan's husband and they were going on a honeymoon to the Bahama's.
Things have been stabilized for her and I am sure she is in good hands in the nursing home there but it saddens me that she has nobody nearby that she knows. There is no family there and when she passes away she will more than likely be buried by the state.
It is no wonder it is difficult to find some of our missing relatives when life happens to them. This is one reason I feel so driven to locate our missing relatives and to document each of them. If in 50 years one of my descendants would look at my family tree -- they would have to search the grounds over for all of the leaves that have fallen off and blown away.
In the sadness of all of this I am thankful for I have gained my 2 sisters,(yes both named Susan.) Susan Lantz resides in AR and Susan (Bone)Edwards resides in CA. At age 45 I am finally trying to attain that sisterly relationship that we whould have had growing up.