I never knew him, for he passed away eight years before I was born. There were times during family dinners when perhaps his name may have been mentioned, and for the majority of my childhood, that’s all he was – merely a name. But families being what they were and are, mine had it’s own state of dysfunction. I didn’t know my own paternal grandfather until I was maybe nine or ten years old, so it wasn’t odd for me to also not know the details of my great grandfather’s life. But who was Homer Alonzo Hulbert?
He was the son of Charles and Florida (Kerr) Hulbert and he was born on November 3, 1887 – some say in Huntington, Cabell County, West Virginia and some believe he was born across the Ohio River in Gallia County, Ohio. That confusion of facts is an ongoing disagreement between my grandmother and I. Perhaps she is just determined to maintain our family’s Buckeye roots for as many generations as possible. All I know is that I have a birth record for both places. Personally? I wonder if the family lived in Ohio, and happened to travel to Huntington (for whatever reason) where Florida gave birth (hence the West Virginia record). Upon returning home, they recorded the addition to the family in their county of residence. But that’s only my opinionated guess.
Tragically, when Homer was just a year old, his mother passed away, as did an older brother at the age of about 8 years old. Whether the two deaths were related is as yet unknown, but the loss of the two left Homer and his (barely) older sister alone with their father who was not yet 30 years old. His father, Charles, remarried in 1890, but the two children seem to have disappeared for a short time, as they are a vivid absence on the 1900 census that only shows their father with his new wife and the six children they had together. I can’t help but wonder, being small children at the time of their mother’s death, if Homer and his sister, Della, weren’t sent to live with a family member while their father attempted to restart his life with a new bride. Wherever they ended up, I have no record of his childhood years.
By 1910, Homer was now 22 years old, a newlywed and a new father as well, his little family of three living in Piatt County, Illinois. He had married Miss Carrie Hill in September of 1909, and their first born son, Charles, was born in January 1910. Three more sons would quickly follow – Wayne in 1911, Donald in 1912, and Homer Jesse in 1914.
In a strange twist of fate, not long after this photo was taken he found himself in the same tragic situation that his father had been through many years before. It was in 1917 – not long after the above photo was taken, that his wife passed away, leaving this young father to raise four boys on his own.
Homer would marry a second time, in January of 1919, a young 16 year old, Helen Allen – the daughter of Herman and Sarah (Rentfrow) Allen. I often wonder what it was like for this young girl to come into this ready-made family with four young boys all under the age of 10 – boys who were certainly missing their own young mother. Although I can certainly understand that times were different, and perhaps it was “normal” for young women (girls) to be considered as replacement mothers for the children of widowers. What was their life like as a married couple when Homer was almost twice her age?
Somehow, they made it work, and Helen raised those boys as if they were her own. In 1925, she and Homer added yet another son to their family. Robert was born in January 1925, but then tragically died in the spring when he suffered from whooping cough and pneumonia at just five months old. He was buried next to Homer’s first wife, Carrie, in an unmarked grave in Cerro Gordo.
The following year, 1926, Homer and Helen once again welcomed another son, my grandfather, to their family. What soon followed was a series of moves across multiple states for this family. The first was away from the state of Illinois and into northwest Ohio in the late 1920’s. The same unknown reasons that led my great-grandfather to Illinois as a young man, are probably what led him to relocate with his wife and five boys 20 years later. Perhaps it was to be close to his sister, Della, for they had made their way to Illinois together, and in 1930, they are both found in Northwest Ohio – he in Bryan, and she is in Defiance County.
In 1934, in a Tucson, Arizona city directory, Homer & Helen and “Homer Jr.” are shown as living in Tucson, Arizona. Whether this was actually his son, Homer, or my grandfather, I’m not certain. My grandfather was living in Tucson, Arizona with his mother and father in 1935 (according to the 1940 U.S. Census). Whoever was living there with Homer and and his wife, Helen, the stay did not last long. By 1940, they had set up housekeeping in Steuben County, Indiana.
As has happened many times in my Hulbert family line, it was a short time later that Homer and Helen would end their marriage. In 1942, Homer was living in Fulton County, Indiana, very possibly with his sons, Don and Warren, both of whom were working in the area at that time.
Sometime in the 1940’s, his son, Wayne, made his way to California for a short time. The story within the family is that on his way back from California, Uncle Wayne decided to stop in Missouri and he purchased a farm there. He asked Homer to join him, and for a short time, both father and son had a farm in the “Show-Me State”. It was approximately 1948-49 when they both returned to Ohio.
Homer soon found and married his 3rd wife, Hannah (Schlosser) Allomong. They were married in Arkansas and returned to Ohio – for a short time returning to Gallia County, where Homer began his life on the banks of the Ohio River, until finally returning to Bryan and Williams County, in 1959.
The last five months of his life were spent as a resident of the Williams County Home where he passed away in 1964.
This great-grandfather of mine seems to have been a bit of a restless soul. Constantly going wherever the wind would take him, packing up the family and moving on to where he could find whatever opportunities were awaiting him around the next bend.