Sybil Irene Hardesty Misinformation
I would like to correct information about my family that I have seen in several places. Some of the misinformation came from government records, such as the 1910 census, so it is understandable that people would accept it as true. However. I know it to be incorrect,as I lived with these people, and I will now explain about my grandmother, whom I knew as Irene.
My name is Karen Virginia Peterson, and I was born in 1946 in Omaha NE. My mother was born Carolyn Virginia Lea, in Omaha, in 1918. Her mother, Irene Hardesty, was born in Omaha in 1899, and Irene's mother, Calla was born in Omaha in 1881.
My grandmother was very ashamed of the fact that she did not know who her father was. This all came out at a Sunday dinner in about 1962, when we were discussing the family tree, and I innocently said that I had most of it straight, but I couldn't figure out who her father was. She became very upset and could hardly talk to tell the story. I think she spent her life trying to be perfect because she did not know who her father was. Though she was very close to her mother, she held a deep, lifelong grudge about that. She told us about how awful it was when social Security was started, and she had to put down that she didn't have a father. We made light of it, told her it certainly was not her fault, and didn't make her a lesser person, but it obviously made her very ashamed.
So here is all she could tell us.
Her mother,my great grandmother, Caroline Madora Hardesty,(Calla) became pregnant out of wedlock. I don't know if she was smitten by someone, or whether she was raped, or what happened. The only story she ever heard was that he was a farmhand who worked on their farm, and was run off or left or who knows what, after my great grandmother got pregnant at age 17. There is no way to know the truth, because anyone who knew is long dead.
Thereafter, because of the embarrassment, my great-great grandparents, James Franklin Hardesty and Isabelle Fuller Hardesty, claimed her as their child,a perfectly normal thing to do, rather than their grandchild. This shows on the 1910 census. I believe that they loved her as their own child, and she and my mother both told me about her aunts and uncles. In fact I used to go "calling' with her in the 1950's when she would visit twice a year, and therefore I know several of her aunts and uncles. I knew them as Aunt Clara, Aunt Mary, Uncle Bob, Aunt Annie, and so on, which is what she called them. I also met some of their children. We would dress up and I would wear my church clothes, hat and gloves, and we would take a taxi to their homes.
Irene had no siblings, so the siblings listed for her are really the siblings of her mother.
Later on, Caroline, who was called Calla and sometimes Callie, married Thomas Michael Grady. If I recall correctly, it would have been about 1921. They had no children, and he died in 1943, before I was born. My mom and brothers loved him very much, and he was called "Gramps." He is somewhere shown to also be the husband of Mary, one of Calla's sisters. That is incorrect. Mary's only husband was Jim Brady. Mary was born of Isabelle's first marriage to Andrew Jackson Compton. When he died, Isabelle married James Franklin Hardesty and had many more children.
You may want to know why we called her Irene and not any form of Grandma.
Irene wasn't ever much of a homemaker. She couldn't cook, though she was always willing to clean. She was a career woman, an infant's & children's wear buyer for department stores, and became quite well known in those circles. She was the one everyone held up as an example of how to be a buyer. When my mother was about 2, Irene got a job in Kansas City, so Calla and Tom raised my mother, so my mother called her grandmother Mama, for the rest of her life. Therefore, as my siblings and I were born, we all called our maternal grandmother, Irene.
BTW, Irene changed her name from Sybil Irene to Irene Sybil, because the original initials spelled out SIC, and she said she did not want to be sick. She married twice and had only one child, my mother. She married Joseph Lea in 1916, and later Thomas Cavanaugh, so her name became Irene Cavanaugh. I never heard a reason for the divorces, and she never spoke ill of either husband.
Some more about Irene. She had to go to New York twice a year on buying trips, and for a long time, had to travel by train. She had terrible motion sickness on the train, so when passenger flights became available, she was one of the first passengers to fly TWA, and I have her certificate and a memorial trinket from that flight. Oddly, flying never made her ill. She always came to Omaha to visit us for a week at Christmas and in May, on the return leg of her buying trips, and we really looked forward to her visits. She lived her life very austerely, and spent most of her income helping my parents with their 7 children, but she also saved and bought stocks. Because of her job, manufacturer's reps would send all the baby & children's clothes my mom ever needed, and clothes for me until I was into my teens. She had a grandma's brag wallet with all our pictures, and they knew all about us. Today all the gifts would not be exactly kosher, but she would not have accepted anything if it hadn't been normal at that time. She was a big believer in duty, and when our family, minus my father, moved to San Antonio, Texas, where she was employed by Wolfe & Marx, she bought a house that we all lived in together. It was a huge change for her, and also a huge drain on her finances, but she never complained or showed that she worried. She just provided, selling off stock as needed, without letting us know. She gave blood faithfully once a month. When we moved into that house, she had only one possession besides her clothes, a figurine of a girl with balloons. She had always lived in furnished rooms, and bought nothing for herself. That makes me so sad. I believe she died from things related to dementia, but in those days, we did not know what that was. She passed away on New Year's Day, 1977. I wish she had had more enjoyment from life.