Will the real Curtis Benjamin Lore please stand up?????
How I wish it were that simple. What his story lacks in simplicity, it more than makes up for in mystery – some of which we’ve never unraveled, and never will.
Curtis Benjamin, known as C.B. Lore, was the dark and dreamy mystery man, the elusive, unavailable, field hardened, working man….the kind of man that attracts women like moths to the flame. C.B. was a survivor, an entrepreneur, successful, adaptable, an expert in his field and respected – so one side of the story goes.
The other side suggests he was a fast talker, the slippery sort, not reliable and not truthful about his past, or present – in essence, a rogue.
One thing is for sure. He survived one way or another on his own, from the time he was a child, for 20 years by the time he met Nora Kirsch, the young woman who would become his wife…well, one of them anyway.
C.B. was very probably a ladies man. And Nora was young, very beautiful and living right there at the Kirsch House. The attraction between them was probably magnetic.
Nora’s heart likely skipped a beat at the end of each day as the men from the oilfields would knock off work and come in to the bar for a beer, some food and in his case, probably a room as well. C.B. probably lived at the Kirsch House while he worked in the area. After discovering Nora, I’m positive that he did. He probably spent evenings in the parlor, or helping out to be with Nora. And when the chill of autumn set in in 1887, he put his arms around Nora to keep her warm.
In 1990, 103 years later, his granddaughter, and great-great-granddaughter stand by that very bar that C.B. Lore frequented in the Kirsch House. Can you see him, there beside them, leaning on the bar, smoking a fine cigar?
C.B. Lore was a manly man, a hearty outdoorsman who worked in the rough oil and gas fields. The census in Indiana says he was born in 1860 or 1861, but the 1860 census in Warren County, Pennsylvania shows us that he was born in 1856.
In 1887 when he came to Indiana from Pennsylvania, he was 31 years old, a roughneck, strong, worldly and extremely handsome. Did I mention that he was handsome???
Nora Kirsch was 21 and had little experience with men. It’s no wonder that he subtracted a few years from his age, reducing the 10 year divide between their ages to a less questionable 5 years. I don’t know whether Nora ever knew the truth or not, but C.B.’s redesigned birth year stayed with him for the duration of his life, in the census and on his tombstone.
What was C.B. Lore, born in Pennsylvania, doing at the Kirsch House in Aurora, Indiana? Well, it’s a long story. Get a cup of coffee or tea and some chocolate, a I’ll tell you the story of our mystery man. Yea, you’re going to need chocolate for this one! In fact, just bring the whole box! That’s what my mother did when she found out…ate chocolate. To quote her, “What else is there to do?” Yep, you’re gonna need lots of chocolate!
Born in Pennsylvania
Curtis Benjamin Lore was born on April 17, 1856 in Blue Eye, Warren County, Pennsylvania to Antoine “Anthony” Lore and Rachel Levina Hill. Anthony and Rachel had moved to this area from New York a decade or so before.
Blue Eye is a remote area, fairly heavily forested and mountainous. There really isn’t a town of Blue Eye, it’s an “area” on or off of Blue Eye Road which intersects with the small town of Spring Creek, PA. Only the locals call it “Blue Eye,” and no one knows how it got its name.
This photo contributed by Betty Rhodes shows Spring Creek in 1903.
The area probably didn’t look a lot different when C. B. Lore lived there.
Looking at the 1870 census, we discover a couple of very interesting items. Two things, actually.
First, much to my surprise, Curtis is hired out as a farm hand. At age 14. Where was his family?
The second surprise is that Curtis is not age 9, born in 1861, as was reflected in his documentation in Indiana, but age 14, born in 1856. So he wasn’t born in 1861 as the family said? Well, maybe. Let’s take a look at the 1860 census and see what we find there.
Sure enough, the 1860 census for Spring Creek Township in Warren County, PA shows Curtis with his parents, age 4. That pretty well cinches the 1856 birth year.
But where is the rest of his family in 1870?
Curtis’s mother is living with the Farnham family. His sister Margaret, age 12, who would have been listed as Marilla in 1860, is living with that family as well, but otherwise, none of the family is to be found in Warren County. Based on Curtis’s father’s application for citizenship, we know that he applied in 1862 and never returned to claim his citizenship in 1868, so he died sometime between those dates.
Maria Lore, Curtis’s oldest sister married Elisha Stephen Farnham in 1862, but she is missing in 1860. Most of the older children had either married, moved away, or died. The 1860s was an utterly brutal decade for this family, aside from the Civil War.
Have a piece of chocolate.
Aunt Eloise’s Stories
Nora Kirsch and C.B. Lore would marry in 1888 and have 4 girls, Edith (1888), Curtis (1891), Mildred (1899) and Eloise (1903). Edith Barbara Lore was my grandmother and she died in 1960 when I was a child.
However, I remember Aunt Eloise well. She was 15 years younger than my grandmother. After my grandmother died, Eloise, who had no children of her own, “took over” the role of grandmother, as best she could. Mother was close to Eloise and even though Eloise lived in Lockport, New York and we lived in Indiana, we visited with her as often as we could. I remember how thrilled Mother would be when letters from Eloise arrived!
Eloise worked for a company that produced plastics and every Christmas we would receive a wonderful “Santa” box filled with gifts and plastic items that were slightly flawed, just enough that they weren’t saleable. That was before the days of outlet stores. For us, it was like winning the lottery. How we looked forward to those boxes and carefully rationed the contents, trying not to use them up too fast. Eloise always included a box of chocolate too.
It would be Eloise who would provide the clues to begin the process of unlocking the secrets of C.B. Lore. According to the other daughters, Eloise was his favorite. She was also the baby of the family. Eloise and her sister Mildred would accompany C.B. in his buggy as he made his rounds, checking on his projects and horses, and the girls would listen to his stories.
Eloise was only 6 years old when C.B. Lore died of tuberculosis, which must have been devastating for both of them. Perhaps because of his illness which incapacitated him, then killed him, he may have talked more and shared more with her and the other girls when he was bedfast than he would otherwise have done.
Eloise provided quite a bit of verbal history.
She told us that C.B. had a brother they called “Uncle Lawn” (my spelling, not hers, she told me verbally) but that she didn’t know his real name. Eloise tells the story about when “Uncle Lawn” visited in Rushville when Edith and Curtis were young. Those two sisters were quite the mischief makers and were best friends.
Eloise said, “Edith and Curtis, always devils, put a pin in the horsehair sofa so he would sit on it.” He did. The mischievous girls of course though this was hilariously funny. “Uncle Lawn” was enraged and told C.B. Lore that his girls were awful and stormed out, never to return. That event had to have happened between about 1895 and 1903, given that Curtis was born in 1891 and Eloise said that event occurred before she was born in 1903. C.B. Lore doted on his daughters and I doubt he cared what “Uncle Lawn” thought.
Eloise said C.B.’s parents’ names were Benjamin (later proved to be Anthony) and Alvira or Alvina (later proved to be Rachel Levina), and that they both had immigrated when they were 5 or 6 and that “the first Kaiser Wilhelm had signed their immigration papers.”
The first Kaiser Wilhelm reigned from 1861-1888 in Germany and Curtis Benjamin Lore was born in Pennsylvania in 1856, so this made no sense, but then, Eloise didn’t feel the need to question what she had been told. Later research proved this to be incorrect, but one has to wonder at the genesis of the story. Was Eloise confused, was this a different family line, or did C.B. make it up to cover some uncomfortable or sinister truth? It seems a very odd and detailed fact to be simply “created.”
Eloise wasn’t as quick to talk about the darker story of C.B.’s father’s death, but eventually she relented. Remember, she didn’t even know C.B.’s father by his correct name.
C.B.’s father, Anthony aka Benjamin, it seems, was an “Indian Trader” on the Allegheny river and drown. After discussing this for a while, Eloise confessed that C.B.’s father was really a “river pirate.” I was quite shocked to have a pirate in the family and questioned the existence of pirates on rivers within the US. Unfortunately, Eloise had or gave no details, but I would find information later to flesh out this story and would discover that yes, there were in fact river pirates on the Allegheny River in that timeframe. Who knew?
Those river pirates weren’t pirates in the traditional sense, but were bootleggers and traders – not really a “profession” one could be proud of, at least not in this context. They flew under the radar, as tavern keepers had to be licensed to sell liquor. So the “traders” provided their illicit wares to rafts and the bored men on those rafts traveling the Allegheny by rowing from the sides of the river, hidden in the alcoves, out to meet the rafts as they drifted downriver. However, it’s possible that Anthony began by being a “voyageur” in Canada, one who traded with the Indians. He may simply have transported his known occupation to a new location and slightly different circumstances.
Have another piece of chocolate.
However, Anthony’s story becomes more sinister, because he drowned and as Eloise talked more, and began speaking in hushed tones, I discovered that Anthony was perhaps murdered. Now, this wasn’t a murder where the family was righteously indignant, but one that seemed to carry some unspoken shame.
I guess engendering sympathy for a pirate’s demise, especially if he was “pirating” at the time of his death, was probably somewhat more difficult than for the local minister’s death.
For me, this new pirate edition was an absolutely enthralling story and I longed desperately to know more. I’ve discovered over the years that how “good” and juicy a story turns out to be is approximately equivalent to the effort someone expends to hide the truth! Even C.B. Lore, with his own rather checkered past didn’t want to tell the truth about his father and even went so far as to mis-state his parents’ names. So, this story must have been a doosey!
Eventually we would find three additional lines of Anthony Lore’s family. All 3 lines would share a “death by drowning” story, but the circumstances were different in each version. One would have him die at sea, one murdered while returning to or from France for his inheritance, another one on the river, but with no mention of being a pirate, and finally, our family line’s pirate version where he was either murdered or drown.
One thing seems certain, he probably did drown. That part is consistent. All stories involved water and travel. Two included murder. Eloise said his body was never found. Perhaps that is where the murder theory arose. Or, perhaps it is true.
When I visited Warren County, Pennsylvania, I fully expected to find this family having lived on or near the Allegheny River, above, the county’s only major water thoroughfare. This was not the case. The Lore family lived in a very remote area of the county near a small stream, Spring Creek. All streams in that area do eventually empty into the Allegheny, so that does not preclude this story, but it certainly casts doubt upon it relative to earning a living on the river. Or, maybe Anthony kept his family safely away from the river and pirates.
Trying to find Benjamin Lore in Warren County was indeed a red herring in this search, because the man did not exist. I surely spent a lot of time looking for Benjamin, based on C.B. Lore’s death certificate and family oral history.
C.B.’s father’s name is Anthony, or actually Antoine in French, but in the US, his name was always Americanized to Anthony.
Did C.B. intentionally disguise his father’s name, changing it to Benjamin? Did Nora believe C.B.’s father’s name was Benjamin, or was she just upset when providing his death certificate information? Death certificate information, provided not by the deceased, but by a distraught family member, is often notoriously incorrect. However, given that C.B.’s daughters said that their grandfather’s name was Benjamin, I suspect that Nora wasn’t confused and the family had been told that his name was Benjamin, not Anthony or Antoine. But why?
Perhaps the river pirate stories were true and C.B. did not wish to divulge the true name of his father. Whatever the reason, his father’s name was incorrectly recorded on his death certificate, and his mother’s name was not recorded at all. That information sent me on a very long and very wild goose chase.
As it would turn out, very little of what the Indiana family thought they knew about C.B. Lore in Pennsylvania was true.
Eloise went on to say that after C.B.’s father’s death, when C.B. was young, that he and the other children “pretty much raised themselves.” There was one sister apparently, and the story says that both the mother and sister died. The impression I had from this story was that they died under very dire circumstances, were desperately poor, living on the doorstep of starvation. This may indeed have been true. Records found later do indicate that Rachel, C.B.’s mother, and youngest sister indeed did have to live with another family after Anthony’s death. There are also no gravestones for any family member, another sign of abject poverty.
When I visited Warren County, PA, I had hoped to find at least a newspaper article telling about Anthony’s death and maybe C.B.’s mother’s death too, but there are no such articles in the papers that remain and have been indexed.
When the search for C.B. Lore’s heritage first began, more than 30 years ago, there was no internet and few compiled resources. What genealogy was to be done had to be done in person, or at the Allen County Public Library which had a superb collection of records.
However, the Lore brick wall would not fall until 3 decades after it reared its ugly head….sadly, after Mother’s passing…..and then with only the happenstance lynchpin of one word…….Blairfindie…..but I’m getting far ahead of myself. Let’s visit Warren County Pennsylvania and see what we find there.
It’s time for another piece of chocolate. A really good one!
Curtis Lore in Blue Eye, Warren County, Pennsylvania
As any good genealogist does, I left a series of bread crumbs years ago hoping that someone someday would find them and the information they have and the information I have would click like puzzle pieces for both of us.
In September of 2003, a very unusual series of events occurred that began with someone reading my internet Rootsweb posting, then attending a class reunion in Warren County, PA, with Denny Lore and thinking to mention it. That comment at the reunion would lead to Denny and I meeting online. I was thrilled to receive Denny’s e-mail, as it was the first solid lead I had had in many years on this family.
We clicked immediately, like long lost family. This seemed too good to be true, and Denny and I felt like we had decades of catching up to do. It was the beginning of a wonderful friendship that endures to this day and some very productive research. At first, in spite of how well we got along, Denny and I weren’t at all sure we were related.
Denny and I had very different information. He had rescued his Uncle Stanley’s genealogy from sure and certain destruction, literally from the curb after his death. I knew immediately when Denny told me that story that I liked him immensely and we were cut from the same cloth.
We didn’t know it at the time, but Uncle Stanley and Denny are both descended from Solomon, the son of Anthony and Rachel Lore. C.B. was Solomon’s brother.
Uncle Stanley documented this family by using existing family records. Stanley was born in 1911 and died in 1998, so his research was completed post 1930, entirely before the days of internet access and when one had to visit a major library to access microfilm census records. Fortunately for me, he knew most of these people and didn’t need to find them in old dusty records, so the information he provided was invaluable and not available elsewhere.
My research had been done almost entirely by remote access methodology, except for trips to the Allen County Public Library and my trip with Mother to Rushville in the 1990s which wasn’t terribly productive aside from finding the graves of C.B. and Nora Kirsch Lore and that red herring death certificate. I was working backwards in time. Stanley was documenting what he knew. The challenge for Denny and I was to connect the dots between the two methodologies and see if these were indeed the same family.
Before we look at Uncle Stanley’s records, let’s see how we determined that Warren County, Pa. was indeed the place to begin.
C.B. Lore’s death certificate lists his birth place as Pennsylvania.
We know he was married in 1888, and the 1890 census was destroyed, so we first find him and his family in the 1900 census in Rushville, Indiana.
In 1900 they were renting a home and C.B. lists himself as a machinist, 4 months unemployed. They were fairly well to do, as they had two live-in servants.
Nora had borne three children and all were living. Curtis’s father’s place of birth is given as France, his mother’s as New York, his as Pennsylvania. As it turns out, this is one third accurate. C.B.’s father was born in Canada and he was Acadian. C.B.’s mother was born in Vermont and C.B. was born in Pennsylvania. Often, wives provided information to the census taker, so this could well have been second hand information and not deemed terribly important. However, this record in combination with his death certificate sent me looking in Pennsylvania for Curtis. Thankfully, that much was right.
By 1910, C.B. was dead, so we have no further census records for him.
Based on the 1870 Warren County, PA census, where Curtis is recorded as being age 14, he should be found in the 1880 census being age 24.
In 1880, C.B. Lore (indexed as Lare at Ancestry) is found in Pennsylvania, but not exactly as we might expect to find him.
The 1880 census shows in Warren Co PA:
- Curtis age 24, a laborer, born PA and father born PA and mother born in England, with his wife, Mary E, 20 and their children:
- Maud, 2, and
- Hebert 2/12th.
This family is living in Enterprise, PA in the far southwest corner of Warren County.
Because my Curtis had never been married, I discounted this record for quite some time as being the “wrong” Curtis, but it turns out to be the “right” Curtis after all. It seems Curtis had been married, with children, something the Indiana family never knew.
I decided it was time to visit Warren County and meet my cousin, Denny.
Research at the local court house in Warren, Pennsylvania would give us a different perspective of Curtis’s life. But first, we had a challenge of a different kind.
Denny and I visited the courthouse in 2004 amidst a massive renovation. Books weren’t where they were normally stored, and staff was not terribly interested in accommodating those pesky genealogists who want access to old records, which in this case, were stored in the furthest and most inconvenient rooms and in the heights of the attic that could only be accessed by several sets of stairs that wound upwards inside a turret. If you were one bit claustrophobic or afraid of heights or leary of a winding circular staircase with no railing snaking up the inside of a turret with increasingly small triangle wedge shaped steps, you were sunk. Never let a little issue like that come between me and genealogy…
Of course, it was August with no air conditioning. I bet those old records are still there deteriorating because no one wanted to carry them back down those dangerous stairs. And there was no organization of course, just crates and boxes of records all stacked together on shelves and on the floor amid layers of dust. It was amazing we found anything at all, and it wasn’t without a battle with the staff.
Ok, just eat the rest of the box of chocolate.
Lunatics, Alcoholics and Divorcees
In one dusty old book that I peered into out of utter frustration and mild curiosity, as I had never seen one before entitled “Lunatics, Alcoholics and Divorcees,” I received the shock of my life. There were Mary Lore and Curtis Lore. Seriously, in the lunatics book? What were they doing in here? Were they crazy? Alcoholics? Divorcees? Were divorcees considered crazy or depraved? Talk about social stigma! OMG!!!!
This is not exactly the book where you want to find your ancestors. But you know, if it’s them, there’s going to be a good story, one way or another. If it’s them. Maybe it’s not them??? Maybe it’s not the right Curtis. Maybe.
Extremely excited, I copied down the numbers, as this was only an index book, and took my results to the staff. The staff was equally as unhappy as I was excited, because the papers I sought were upstairs in the attic, in that turret, and they tried every excuse possible to avoid taking me there. Also in this book was a second Lore divorce, a man who might have been C.B.’s brother, Alonzo, but those records were not able to be found, and the staff later refused to try again to locate them. I’m telling you, those old records were all abandoned in that attic.
I begged. I whined. I made noise about working with local government and FOIA. They finally relented – I’m sure only to shut me up and because to comply with a freedom of information act (FOIA) request, they would have had to haul those books downstairs to copy. It was easier to just take me upstairs to look – which was the exact outcome I was hoping for.
We climbed the stairs, one flight at a time, each flight getting increasingly smaller, and hotter. Each step creaked and complained under our weight. Rivulets of sweat ran down my back under my clothes. I didn’t care. The woman with me did. I told her we would get out of there more quickly if she helped me look. I HAD to see those papers. HAD to.
We found the book, then the box with the docket papers, even though she tried to tell me they no longer existed. I saw the packet, tied with a string. Lore vs Lore. I opened the packet and a century’s worth of dust fell to the floor. The old paper was very fragile. My hands were sweaty and shaking. There were no archival gloves to be had. I opened the packet very carefully and began to read.
Heavy with oppressive heat, the room was entirely silent, except for the sound of us sweating and an occasional rustle of paper as I turned a page, simply not believing what I was seeing. I had to read it again. I wanted to take it downstairs to copy, but according to the woman, I wasn’t taking it anyplace because she wasn’t bringing it back upstairs.
Curtis was married in the 1880 census with 2 children. In 1887, we find that his wife, Mary, has retained an attorney and filed for divorce on Nov. 16th. It was granted April 5th, 1888, 4 months after he had married the pregnant Nora Kirsch in Aurora, Indiana. Damn those pesky details anyway!
Chocolate. More chocolate!
Where Was Curtis Benjamin Lore?
The papers say that Curtis Lore was verbally read the filing the next day, on November 17, 1887, so we know that Curtis was at least in Pennsylvania for some time at that point, specifically on November 17th.
Nov. 17, 1887 – served the within subpoena in divorce on within named Curtis Lore by reading to him the contents of the within writ and also by giving to him a true and attested copy thereof and informing him of its contents.
This was almost exactly the time that Nora was becoming pregnant, judging from Edith’s birth date. In my mind, this cast some significant doubt about whether or not this really was the same Curtis Lore. Was this another red herring? The worse of all bad genealogy jokes?
The truth being, I didn’t want MY Curtis Lore to be a bigamist – to be married to two different women at the same time. I also didn’t want MY Curtis to be the kind of man that abandoned a wife and four children. Or a liar. I wanted my Curtis Lore to be an upstanding gentleman, roughneck knight in shining armor, sweeping Nora off her feet – not a cheating husband. I wanted him to be the renaissance man his daughters believed him to be. He wasn’t.
The copy of the decree states that Mary Lore and Curtis Lore were married in Centerville, Crawford Co, PA on June 17, 1876 and until June 1886 Mary had “cohabited with him as his wife and it was owned and acknowledged as such by him and so deemed and reputed by all their neighbors and acquaintances: and although by the laws of God as well as by their mutual vows and faith plighted to each other they were reciprocally bound to that constancy and uniform regard which ought to be inseparate from the marriage state; yet so it is that Curtis Lore in violation of said laws and his vows aforesaid has willfully and maliciously deserted the libellant and absented himself from her habitation without reasonable cause for more than one year last past.” The “one year last past” comment would support his time spent in Indiana in the oil and gas fields.
Mary signed this compliant. They had been married 10 years when he left. “Happy Anniversary Honey – I’m leaving.” It was either the best anniversary gift Mary ever had, or the worst. Keep this month and year in mind, June 1886, because there is even yet MORE to this story!
Divorces were different in 1870 than they are today. There was no such thing as a “no fault” divorce where people just agree to disagree and go their separate ways. Someone had to be wrong, and worse yet, bad, very bad. If they weren’t bad, they had to be made to look bad. Adultery, physical abuse or abandonment had to be involved. Clearly, Curtis did leave Mary, although we don’t know if it was meant to be just an oil drilling trip that became indefinite, then permanent – or if he meant to leave her permanently. We don’t know if he sent money back home for his family, or not. We just don’t know.
I hoped to find their marriage license, but checking the Crawford Co. genealogy web site they state that marriage licenses were not required until 1885 except for 2 years in the mid-1850s. Darn. What luck. They also said that sometimes there would be a newspaper announcement. The web site states that these newspapers are indexed at the Crawford Co. Historical society. Mary had married Curtis when she was 16 and her parents would have had to consent. I wonder if Mary and Curtis lost their first child.
In June 1876, Curtis would have been age 20 years and 2 months, assuming his birth year was actually 1856.
This is what the courthouse would have looked like in 1877. It was probably in this building where the divorce accusations were “read to” Curtis. He was probably relieved, knowing that he was going back to Aurora – although he clearly did not know that Nora was pregnant. That information probably greeted him on his return.
Further records combined with Uncle Stanley’s information reveals that before their divorce in 1887/1888, Curtis Lore and Mary Bills Lore had 4 children:
- Maud Lore born in 1878, married in 1911 to Victor Hendrickson and had one son, Roger.
- Herbert Judson Lore born Nov 23, 1879 in Enterprise, Warren Co., PA, married in 1900/1901 to Ina Mae Bills, died Aug 5, 1968 in Titusville, Crawford Co. PA. Herbert had 4 children, Ronald, May, Guinevere and Harold.
- John Curtis Lore born January 20, 1881 in Pennsylvania.
- Sid Lore – probably the child listed in the 1900 census with mother Mary Gilliland as Seldon B. Lore, born in June of 1886. I’m guessing that B. might have stood for Benjamin.
Given Seldon’s birth month and year, C.B. Lore left Mary that same month, leaving her either 9 months pregnant or with a newborn child, plus 3 children under 8. So either he was the king of all cads, or he didn’t believe the child was his. However, that’s not mentioned in the divorce proceedings and it would have been very significant. This situation is not looking good for C.B. Lore’s sense of integrity. Mary remarried in 1888 as well, but in the 1900 census Seldon is listed as her husband’s step-son with the Lore last name, so clearly represented as C.B.’s child.
The 1880 census shows Maud and Hebert (Herbert?). Uncle Stanley shows both of them, Maud listed as Maud Lore Henderson Marshall Rainer (or Rasner), the last two names being handwritten later. Uncle Stanley gives no location for where Maud lives, but shows Hebert in Pleasantville, PA. Stanley also shows a J. E. Lore in Jefferson, Ohio and then a Sid with no further info. Sid could possibly be by a second wife, although his name appears above the words “second wife”, but the wife’s name is not indicated nor is any further info about Sid. Maybe Sid died. Or maybe, God forbid, there really is yet another wife and another child named Sid.
MORE FRIGGING CHOCOLATE!!!!!!
In the 1900 census we find that Curtis’s first wife, Mary, remarried in 1888 to Allen Gilliland, and is living in a household in Warren County that includes her Lore children.
In 1904, both a Seldon and a John Lore are living in Oil City, PA as a laborer and an electrician, respectively, according to the city directory.
Mary’s son, John Curtis Lore, was later found residing in Radical, Lee County, Kentucky, a very spartan, remote, mountainous area. John’s WWI draft registration card in 1918 shows he was born in 1881, has blue eyes, brown hair, is tall and of medium build. He lists his occupation as a driller, so he has apparently followed his father into the oil fields. His mother, Mrs. A. W. Gilliland, living in Crewe, VA is given as his nearest relative.
The name Curtis seems to repeat and must surely be a family name of some sort, likely through the Hill family of Vermont. Curtis Benjamin Lore names his daughter Curtis as well.
Apparently, sometime between about 1910, the year after C.B. Lore died, and 1916, the year Nora remarried and left Rushville, John Lore went to find his father, Curtis.
The Illegitimate Son Story
Aunt Eloise told me “the illegitimate son” story, as did Mother. When my grandfather, John Ferverda was courting my grandmother, Edith Lore, or shortly after they were married, and they were in the home of her mother, Nora Kirsch Lore, in Rushville, Indiana, they received an unexpected visitor. I initially had the impression that this was before C.B. died, but it may have been after, based on later conversations. John and Edith were married in November 1908 and Edith’s father, C.B. Lore died a year later on Thanksgiving Day, 1909.
In any event sometime within a couple years of this time, one day, a young man “from Kentucky” came and knocked on the door. Nora answered the door and he told her that he was the son of C.B. Lore and he was looking for him. The family did not know C.B. had been married previously, so it was presumed that this son must have been illegitimate. Unfortunately, the question of “what happened next?” must remain unanswered, because the story ends with just this tantalizing tidbit and the fact that Nora invited the young man inside and told him that he was too late.
We’re assuming here that this son was John, but truthfully, it could have been Herbert, Seldon or Sid, whether those are one or two people, or possibly, yet another son. For some reason, Eloise though this son was from Kentucky, fathered when C. B. Lore was tending to race horses in Kentucky. John was from Kentucky, but clearly fathered in Pennsylvania before C.B. came to Indiana.
Perhaps Nora knew the truth, if not initially, then eventually, that C.B. had been married before and had 4 children from that marriage. Perhaps the visit from C.B.’s son was as enlightening for Nora as for the son. Maybe C.B. never told Nora exactly when he got divorced, but did confess the marriage and the children. Maybe he never told her anything at all. Given the circumstances, perhaps C.B. would have preferred to allow Nora to think he had an illegitimate child rather than for her to know he was already married at the time he married her. That would have been a betrayal of the first degree on many levels – giving a second wife legitimate grounds for divorce.
But I don’t think Nora wanted to divorce C.B. I think he was indeed probably the only man she ever loved. She was buried beside him, so one way or another, they continue to be together, regardless of his indiscretions.
Given that Nora’s father, Jacob Kirsch, had been involved with lynching a man in August 1886, just 17 month before Curtis married Nora in January 1888 – I’m thinking that maybe Curtis decided that a marriage, regardless of the circumstances was preferable to the business end of the shotgun owned by a man with an obvious temper and a willingness to execute on that temper, pardon the pun. Curtis also had to know that Jacob was a crack shot. A decade later, at more than 50 years of age, with a glass eye, Jacob would win a tri-state shooting competition. Jacob Kirsch was a non-trivial force to be reckoned with. C.B. Lore, being a veteran of the rough and tumble oil fields would have recognized that immediately.
There is very little that will get a man riled up quicker than someone getting his daughter pregnant. Well, unless it’s a married man with a family getting his daughter pregnant. Where I grew up, that would have been viewed as an experienced worldly man “taking advantage” of Nora’s innocence and naivety. Clearly, Jacob could not have known about the marriage to Mary and the four children or Curtis would already have been dead – and it would have been considered justifiable homicide.
On January 18th, Jacob Kirsch signed for the marriage of Nora Kirsch and Curtis B. Lore. I’m betting this was not a joyful trip to the courthouse. They were married later that same day! I’d almost wager a bet that Jacob found out earlier that day, or maybe the evening before and was waiting on the courthouse steps when they opened on the 18th. I wonder if he had the shotgun with him. I would have liked to have been a fly on the wall that day.
Someone knew at least a little in advance, because Eloise had a copy of their wedding invitation.
Based on what little we know, Curtis left Pennsylvania in June 1886, the same month his wife Mary gave birth to a son, Seldon. We know for sure he was in Aurora, Indiana in November of 1887 when Nora got pregnant, and we also know he was in Pennsylvania on November 17th, 1887 because his divorce warrant was filed and “read to him” at that time. Maybe he went back to Pennsylvania to “take care of business” so he and Nora could marry, not realizing of course that Nora had just gotten pregnant.
Using a reverse conception calculator, if the resulting daughter, Edith, was born at exactly full term, Nora became pregnant between November 3rd and November 8th. So we know where Curtis was then too.
One thing is for sure, based on this wedding picture, Curtis is one handsome rogue.
Is Edith Curtis’s Child?
So, now the delicate question of paternity raises its head. Not the paternity of Mary’s child, but the paternity of Nora’s child.
Given how close these dates are in terms of where Curtis was in November of 1887, is Edith really Curtis’s daughter? I’m sure when that thought ran through my head, Nora probably rolled over in her grave a couple of times and then wanted to sit up and slap me.
But I couldn’t help wondering. Call it the cynic in me…plus…I really don’t want to do a lot of genealogy work on a line that isn’t mine, especially thinking it is mine.
Thankfully, cousin Denny agreed to test his DNA, initially for the Y chromosome, but then later when autosomal testing was available, for the Family Finder autosomal test as well. Denny, if you remember, descends from the brother of Curtis Benjamin Lore, so if my mother matches Denny appropriately, then the question of paternity for Edith is resolved.
Denny and my mother match on several segments, as shown below.
The chromosome browser information at Family Tree DNA, above, is also available as a match table, below.
Based on this amount of DNA, Denny was estimated to be mother’s 2nd cousin.
Mother and Denny are actually 2nd cousins once removed.
Furthermore, both of them match additional cousins on the Lore side, one additional through Solomon, one through Curtis’s son (by Mary), Herbert, and one through Curtis’s sister Marie.
I was curious how much of Curtis’s DNA I had inherited, and how much of Curtis’s DNA my child had inherited, so I compared Cousin Denny with all three of us.
In the above chromosome painting, I am orange, mother is blue and my child is green. You can clearly see some segments where Mom had DNA that matches Denny, but I don’t. Chromosome 12 has a fairly large segment that I did not inherit. On the other hand, look at chromosomes 1 and 2 where most of the large segments are passed between generations.
Chromosome 16 is another great example where I received almost all of Mother’s, but my child only received about half of that segment.
And yes, some small segments hold up quite well with this type of parental matching, which is called parental phasing because you can clearly see which parental side of your family this DNA came from.
I color coded this spreadsheet with the same colors as the chromosome browser, above. Match groups are in the bracketed red boxes.
Looking at this matching group on chromosome 2, we have a classic example.
On chromosome 2, Denny matches mother on the largest segment, 22.46 cM and 3766 SNPs. I inherited part, but not all of, of that segment from Mom, 19.58 cM and 3482 SNPs, and my child inherited the entire amount of that segment from me. The table below shows all of the matching segments between Denny, mother, me and my child.
You can easily see which of these matches are valid, meaning which survive parental phasing. Identical by chance matches won’t match your parents as well as you.
There are also several segments where Denny matches only Mom, meaning that segment was not passed to me. That too is normal.
I’ve sorted this next spreadsheet by match type so it’s easier to see which of these matches falls into what category.
The IBC or identical by chance are not valid matches because they don’t match through the generations, meaning up through my mother to Denny. The only way I can receive Curtis Lore’s DNA is through my mother, so for Denny’s match to me to be valid, he must also match my mother on that same segment. You can read more about matching and what it means here.
The matches to my mother only may be valid or identical by chance. There is no way to tell for sure without tests from additional people who descend from the Lore line. The larger match at 10cM is the most likely to be valid, but certainly some of the others may be too.
The match groups are comprised of at least me and mother, which means that Denny matches both of us, so the DNA is not matching by chance bouncing between two parents. Match groups that include only me and mother to Denny have the *.
Some match groups include my child as well, so that child has also inherited at least some of Curtis Benjamin Lore’s DNA.
Some of you are going to wonder why I didn’t label these as triangulation groups. They are, technically. The definition of a triangulation group is three (or more) individuals whose DNA matches and who descend from a common ancestor. However, when three are individuals who are very closely related, I tend to count them as “one” group and not 3 people in the triangulation group. Therefore, I’d be most comfortable calling these triangulation groups if we had Denny, plus my family group, plus a third person descended from the Lore line, preferably through yet another child.
But back to the question at hand, yes, Edith was unquestionably Curtis’s child, as proven by DNA matching, and so was Herbert.
Sorry, Nora, for doubting there for a minute! Your virtue is redeemed even if mine isn’t for doubting.
The Blue Lick Well
What brought C.B. Lore to Aurora, Indiana? He was a well driller and came to Indiana to drill for gas wells, but that wasn’t what he discovered.
The Blue Lick Well was discovered in 1888 by Curtis Benjamin Lore, who, along with others in his crew, accidentally discovered the mineral well while drilling for gas.
Here’s Mom leaning on that very well when we visited around 1990. She was thrilled that we could find that location and the well still existed.
At that time it was covered under a shelter behind a building, allowing access to the water.
The above photo shows Mom at the well as it appeared in the 1990s. In 2008, it was being used as a car-port.
Today, the shelter appears to be taped off.
The Blue Lick well is located on 350 north of Exporting on the south bank of Hogan Creek, on the left side of 350/Importing.
In the pictures above and below, the gray balloon marks the location.
The Kirsch House was just over the bridge beside the depot at 2nd and Exporting Streets. At the bottom of the photo, right beside the white box, the Kirsch House is the light grey roof beside the red roof which is the train depot.
Indianapolis and Rushville
We know that shortly after their marriage in January of 1888, Nora and C.B. Lore moved to Rushville, Indiana, but we don’t know what attracted them to that location.
We also didn’t know that they lived in the Indianapolis area for at least a little while, between Aurora and Rushville, until my grandmother accidentaly found her birth certificate in Marion County. Until then, she thought she had been born in Rushville – the year after she was actually born. The discrepancy was explained away by something about an insurance policy. Even the family Bible had been “amended.” Goodness, the webs we weave…
Adding two and two, it appears that Nora and C.B. left Aurora before their first child was born, possibly to disguise the fact that Nora was already pregnant when they were married, moving to Indianapolis where Nora was born. C.B. Lore seemed to be something of a drifter of sorts, following one thing and then another. Maybe an opportunist or entrepreneur would be a more embracing and positive word.
C.B. and Nora lived in Rushville for all of their married life, except for that short stint in Indianapolis. Unfortunately, their married life wouldn’t last all that long, just 21 years.
C.B. Lore and Nora Kirsch Lore had 4 daughters (above):
- Edith Barbara Lore, born August 2, 1888 in Indianapolis, married John Ferverda in 1908 and died in Rochester, Indiana on January 4, 1960. Edith had two children, Barbara Jean and Harold Lore Ferverda. Edith’s best friend was her sister, Curtis.
- Curtis Lore, born in March of 1891, presumably in Rushville, died on February 9, 1912 after contracting tuberculosis taking care of C.B. Lore who died of that disease in 1909. Curtis never married.
- Mildred Elvira Lore, born April 8, 1899 in Rushville, married Claude Martin in 1920 and died in Houston, Texas on May 30, 1987. She had two children, James and Jerry Martin. Mildred’s best friend was her sister, Eloise. I suspect Mildred’s middle name was “in honor of” C.B.’s mother, except her name was Rachel Levina, not Elvira, although the Indiana family clearly thought it was Elvira.
- Eloise Lore, born October 8, 1903, married Warren Cook in 1929 and after his death, married “a younger man,” Al Rutland in the 1970s. Eloise died June 5, 1996 in Leesburg, Florida. She stayed active, playing golf into her 90s until she became blind, which curtailed her activities significantly. Macular degeneration is hereditary and my mother had that disease as well, so I suspect it was inherited from either C.B. or Nora. Eloise never had children.
Nora and C.B. went back and forth visiting Aurora from time to time. The girls, one of whom was my grandmother, Edith, and another being my Aunt Eloise who I knew well, had many wonderful memories of the Kirsch House – a glorious place bigger than life to those children. Mildred said that she and Edith spent the two years that C.B. was so desperately ill living with their grandmother Barbara Drechsel Kirsch at the Kirsch House in Aurora. This may well have saves their lives, because their sister, Curtis, who remained at home contracted TB and died.
This photo of C.B. Lore was taken in Aurora.
C.B. Lore is to the right and Martin Kirsch, Nora’s brother, is on the left. The photo is undated, but it has to be between 1886 and 1909 when C.B. died. He looks to be a younger man, about 30 or so, so my guess would be this was taken in the late 1880s or maybe early 1890s. The modern “safety bicycle” was invented in 1887 and by 1890, everyone was riding the more modern bicycles in what was known as the bicycle craze. So this photo above were probably taken before 1890 and possibly before 1887.
The only other photo we have of C.B. Lore is this family photo taken about 1907 or 1908 based on the fact that the young child is Eloise who was born in 1903 and looks to be about 4 in the photo. The photo was taken before C.B. became desperately ill and died in November 1909.
Left to right, I can identify people as follows:
- Seated left – one of Nora’s Kirsch sisters – possibly Carrie.
- Standing male left behind chair – C. B. Lore – which places this photo before November 1909 when he died
- Seated in chair in front of CB Lore in white dress, his wife – Nora Kirsch Lore
- Male with bow tie standing beside CB Lore – probably Nora’s brother Edward Kirsch
- Male standing beside him with no tie – probably Nora’s brother Martin Kirsch
- Woman standing in rear row – Nora’s Kirsch sister, possibly Lula.
- Standing right rear – Jacob Kirsch, Nora’s father – the man with the shotgun.
- Front adult beside Nora – Nora’s Kirsch sister, possibly Ida.
- Child beside Nora –Eloise born 1903
- Adult woman, seated, with black skirt – Barbara Drechsel Kirsch, Nora’s mother
- Young woman beside Barbara to her left with large white bow – probably Curtis Lore, C. B. and Nora’s daughter
What Did C.B. Lore Do, Exactly?
Let’s just say that I wish I had asked Aunt Eloise a lot more questions, and earlier, when her memory had not yet begun to fade.
We know that C.B. Lore worked the oil fields, which is how and why he came to Indiana.
He was listed in the 1900 census as a machinist.
The family said he had race horses in Kentucky too, and he went to check on them regularly. According to Mildred’s granddaughter, C.B., called Curt by Nora, kept a sulky and horse at the Jones farm. Mr. Jones had a livery stable and race horses.
C.B. also obtained contracts with the city of Rushville to do some sort of contracting or construction work. When he became ill, he apparently was bidding on something, with the hopes of being able to obtain the contract and do the work. Nora, being concerned about being left with a contract and obligations she could not fulfill, went to the “powers that be” quietly and explained that he was much more gravely ill than he wanted to admit, and asked them not to award the contract to C.B.
Another hint we have comes in the way of a death notice published in the Shelbyville Democrat November 27th, 1909 where he was referenced as a contractor..
Thank goodness for small town obituaries.
This obituary gives is the date they moved to Rushville, 1893, so it appears that Curtis who was born in 1891 was likely born elsewhere, perhaps Marion County where Edith was born. Eloise had mentioned that they thought he contracted TB in Kentucky looking after his race horses, and this obituary confirms what she said. Note that Curtis’ children from his first marriage are not mentioned, although we have no idea if Nora knew anything about that first marriage or his children.
Based on these obituaries, Curtis’s last year must have been pretty miserable. I wonder how the family lived.
These obituaries confirm that indeed, Nora did think that Curtis’s father’s name was Benjamin, and that she did believe his birth year was 1861. The past piece of evidence in that vein is this note found by Eloise in Nora’s Bible where Nora was doing some kind of calculations in 1890 and clearly thinks that Curt is 30 years old.
I must admit, this obituary is the first I had ever heard of a “sprinkling wagon,” so I had to research “sprinkling wagon.” A sprinkling wagon sprinkled the streets of a city, likely to keep the dust down, I’m guessing. In the picture below, you can see the water at the rear of the wagon.
In the 1910 census, a year after C. B. Lore died, Nora and the girls were living at 324 W. First Street in Rushville which is, today, the state highway through town.
Nora sold fabric and such, after C. B.’s death, so this would have been a perfect location for her business, being the main drag through town.
I don’t know if Nora lived in this location when C.B. Lore was alive, but I suspect that Nora would not have moved unless she was forced to. Deed records don’t indicate that they ever owned property.
Trying to unravel the lives of Nora Kirsch and C.B. Lore, Mom and I visited Rushville in the late 1980s or 1990.
Mom and I found find the Graham School that the Lore girls would have attended, which was located a couple of blocks from their house, which was on Main Street according to the census. The school was abandoned in the 1990s, but when the girls would have gone to school, it would have been a bustling place full of youthful voices.
I can see the Lore daughters walking up this sidewalk, perhaps holding hands and swinging them back and forth on a lovely, warm spring day.
This is the First Presbyterian Church in Rushville where Nora and C.B. were members. This would also have been the church wee C.B.’s funeral took place on the Sunday afternoon after Thanksgiving in 1909, as well as daughter Curtis’s funeral in 1912.
This is embarrassing, but I can’t recall exactly what Mother and I discovered about the church. I obviously didn’t take adequate notes and deceived myself with “of course, I’ll remember this.” Mom’s gone and I can’t ask her. I can’t recall if they simply attended this church, if C.B. Lore helped to construct this church, or both. Whatever the connection, Mom was very excited to find their church. In Aurora they were Lutheran. Here they were Presbyterian. By the time their daughter Edith would move to Silver Lake, the family would become Methodist. Mom would become Baptist. Our German ancestors would be appalled. I heard a minister once refer to the “church of opportunity” and this seems to be the case. My family was flexible and bloomed in whatever accepting church was planted nearby!
I’m so glad I took some photos that included Mom. I cherish these trips we took together more than ever today.
A final hint relative to C.B.’s social status is this excerpt from the Centennial History of Rush Co. (1921), and it gives us only one tidbit:
The Rushville Social Club, the leading organization of its sort in the city and recognized as one of the most substantial clubs in this section of Indiana, came into being at a meeting called for the evening of March 13, 1896 when a number of the leading men of Rushville got together to talk over the plan of organizing a club which would provide a home where friends could meet in a social manner and where the wives and families of members also might find entertainment. The project was favored and an organization at once effected. Claude Cambern was elected first president of the Social Club and the other initial members were……Curt B. Lore. (List of other individuals omitted.)
Judging from the photos in Mother’s box, her visit with me was not the first time she visited Rushville. She apparently visited with her mother at least twice, once about 1940 and then again after Nora’s death in 1949. She knew the location of the cemetery, but we had a difficult time finding the tombstones.
The photos below were taken by C.B. Lore’s headstone when Mom was probably 28 or 29.
The grave looks fairly new in this photo, and this is Nora’s burial, so I suspect that Mom’s visit was shortly after Nora’s September 1949 death, perhaps in the late fall of 1949 or the spring of 1950.
The Payne family crypt is located in front of the stones, so getting a good photo is difficult. However, it makes a great landmark when trying to find the stones.
The 3 Lore family members in a row. Note no grass on Nora’s grave.
The Lore headstones are to the left in the photo above taken in 1990.
When we visited in the 1990s, we found the three family stones together. Given the short distance between the stones and the Payne building, I wondered how a coffin could fit there. It wasn’t until I saw the photos from the 1940s that I realized they are buried behind the stones.
Daughter Curtis Lore, above and father Curtis Benjamin Lore, below.
C.B. Lore’s Spirit
It’s difficult to discern or understand from a distance why our ancestors might have done what they did, or their intentions. Giving him the benefit of the doubt, Curtis’s marriage with Mary may have unraveled and neither wanted to continue. Maybe he stayed as long as he could or as long as either of them wanted. Maybe Mary wanted out as much or more than he did.
The flip side of the coin would be that Curtis was a scoundrel, cheating on his wife, abandoning his family both physically and financially at the worst time possible – the month Mary had their 4th child which also marked their 10th anniversary.
I don’t know if either end of this spectrum is truth, or if the truth lies someplace in the middle. Or perhaps C.B. made a mistake, or two, in judgment. Who hasn’t. Perhaps he learned from his mistakes.
My mother’s reaction to this was somehow very appropriate. “There’s nothing to be done now. It is what it is. It was a long time ago. We weren’t there and don’t know. He wasn’t all bad. Here, have some chocolate.” What she didn’t say is that without him having made the choices he did, bad or good, neither she nor I would be here today.
One thing is for certain, C.B. Lore took the road less traveled and it brought him to Indiana where he married Nora Kirsch and had my grandmother. None of his daughters through Nora had an unkind word to say about him. He pretty much walked on water, as far as they were concerned. A very different perception than the man I found in the records. It took a lot to convince me that those two men were one and the same person, but they are. I knew it and eventually, DNA proved it.
I do know that C.B.’s family life as a child was ripped apart with his father’s death, leaving the children to literally fend for themselves. Some died. The family came to depend on the charity of others and by the age of 14, C.B. Lore was living on his own and working as a farm laborer. From what Eloise said, he had been on his own since he was someplace between 10 and 12, which would place C.B.’s father’s death at between 1866-1868, within the bracket of 1862 when we know he was alive and 1868 when we know he was dead. I could not help but notice that C.B. Lore did not name one of his 8 known children after his father. Perhaps there is yet more to that story that shaped C.B. in ways we’ll never understand. I ache for that poor boy child, all alone.
C.B. Lore made something of himself. Yes, he may have been a farm laborer when other boys his age were in school learning, a hard-scrabble oil field roughneck type of guy and perhaps a cad as far as his first family was concerned – but he worked his way up and took the opportunities that presented themselves. He started with nothing and wound up a leader in his community. He was an entrepreneur in his day, unafraid of what the future held. The future couldn’t have been any more frightening than facing the world completely alone as a child.
C.B. was a bit of a gambler too, judging from his behavior and his love of race horses. Had he not contracted tuberculosis, that family could well have wound up being quite wealthy. Judging from the fact that they had two servants in 1900, they seemed to be well on their way. But fate is a mean mistress. Curtis died when he was only 52 years old, or 48 years of age if you asked his wife. He had a lot of life left to live – and he was deprived of seeing the daughters he loved so desperately grow up. Karma perhaps?
It would have killed C.B. to know that the disease he had also took the life of his namesake daughter, Curtis, two years and three months after his death. She contracted tuberculosis caring for her father.
I like to think that a bit of the good side of C.B. Lore’s irrepressible spirit came to me via my mother and grandmother. They too were status-quo-challenging rebels in their own way and time.
Edith Lore, C.B.’s daughter, my grandmother, left home, went to live at the Kirsch house and attended business school in Cincinnati. Finally, someone talked some sense into that girl and she settled down and got married, like women were supposed to do, a decision she was never at peace with and always regretted in many ways – not that she didn’t love my grandfather. However, her business school training was the only thing that saved the family during the depression when my grandfather lost his business. She had a job. He didn’t and there were no jobs to be found.
Mother also did many things that women just didn’t do. For example, she moved to Chicago and was a professional ballet and tap dancer – coming out of an extremely conservative and religious region in Indiana with one Brethren parent. She also committed the “sin of divorce” when she caught her husband cheating. Those were both outrageous scandals of magnanimous proportions. Several years later, Mom bought a house as a single woman too – completely confounding the bank in 1960 with the audacity of her mortgage application and her refusal to obtain a co-signer. She got the mortgage too, after a battle, and eventually paid it in full!
Much to my mother’s chagrin, I too followed suit in many ways. I mean, really, what else did she expect? Being well-behaved for the sake of conformance does NOT run in our family. It might be easier and more socially acceptable to be blindly compliant, but that just doesn’t happen.
In high school, when denied a seat in an advanced placement class, for those students on their way to college, because they “weren’t going to waste a seat on a girl who is just going to get married and have babies anyway,” I petitioned the school board, with absolutely no adult support – and yes, I did obtain that seat. I also graduated from college, with multiple degrees, in fields women didn’t enter at that time. And that’s just the tip of the iceberg, believe me. I don’t think you can ever stop being a rebel, when necessary. It’s in the blood. Dare I suggest the genes perhaps? Maybe a combination of old Jacob Kirsch and C.B. Lore?
I like to think that all of this wasn’t just being “arnry,” difficult and unduly rebellious, but that C. B. Lore’s adventurous and resilient spirit was shining through, guiding our way, silently spurring us on to confront and change that what needed changing. Perhaps we are his legacy.
Based on this photo of “well behaved women,” which are C.B. Lore’s wife and three surviving daughters, including my grandmother Edith, on the rear – Mother and I came by this honestly!
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