Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Grandma Mary's nephew: James G. Waggoner, A Busy Life

About 1999, I started corresponding with Jacquie Mitchell, the family genealogist for Grandma Mary’s sister Ida’s branch of the tree. Ida’s family had eventually moved to Washington, too. In a letter from Jacquie dated Sept. 7, 2002, she filled me in on the life of Gordon’s son, James: 

            "James Grady Waggoner son of Gordon Grady married 9 times. I think he married one 3 times & had 2 girls. His Dad died when he was 3 & his mother when he was 11 & then he had a step dad & step mom & lived in Moses Lake Wa. & he left home & worked for various farmers. Got married to a girl called Frankie. He learned to cope with life by just leaving when things didn’t go right. Happy whether he was rich or poor. Good looking & good dancer."[1]

This little paragraph intrigued me. How much of it was true? As I researched James’ parents’ lives, I found that part to be true. But all those marriages? I sent several inquiries to owners of trees on that included James Waggoner.

One reply made my day—it came from Suzanne Hansen, a baby sleep coach and granddaughter of James. In an excited e-mail message, she told me that James, as a very young man on his own, had hired on as a ranch hand on her great-grandfather’s farm in Washington. There he fell in love with the boss’ 17-year-old daughter, Frances “Frankie” Carol Hansen, and the two were married in 1939. James , himself, was only 19 years old. They had two daughters, one born in 1940 and one in 1942. The latter was Suzanne’s mother.
Marriage Certificate, James G. Waggoner and Frances Hansen, 19 July 1939, Grant County, Washington.

Unfortunately, James left Frankie when she was pregnant with her second child, so Frankie moved back home to the big farmhouse with her parents. Soon, she remarried “a man fresh out of the War,” Suzanne writes, “and he adopted the girls and was not very nice to Grandpa Jim and basically said they are my family now since you pretty much abandoned them when they were so little (apparently he had a girlfriend on the side as my grandmother explains it) so he never got to see my mother and aunt grow up.” The girls reunited with their father in the 1970s, Suzanne continues, and they kept in touch the rest of their lives. Once Suzanne’s mother went to Arizona and visited Jim and his wife. Then in his older years, Jim came to Cottage Grove, Oregon, to live with his daughter and her family, and he died in a nursing home near them.[2]

Besides Frankie, the others’ stories are murky, but I was able to verify seven, possibly eight, names and dates. Click on the names to see an image of the marriage certificates. (Image link is on the right.)

Virginia Mary Kelgard, 1 September 1944[3] ; divorce granted April 1947.[4] Although I have not found a record of a second marriage to Virginia, I did find evidence of a second divorce from her in 1954.[5]

Barbara Elizabeth Hill Moyers, 11 Dec. 1949[6]; divorce date unknown. To this marriage, two sons were born: birth date 1951 for James Ellot Waggoner, who died 13 June 1951 when the family lived at Moses Lake, Washington[7]; the other son’s name and birth date are unknown.[8]

Joyce D. Harpel, 5 May 1956[9]; divorce requested 16 November 1959.

Vivian L. Blake, 1 July 1960[10]; divorce date unknown.

Viola M. Johnson, age 27, and James G. Waggoner, age 42, notice of intent to wed in Seattle Times on 30 June 1961[11]; no verification on whether the marriage took place. Divorce date unknown.

Linnea Sjolander, 27 March 1964[12]; divorce granted Oct. 1968.[13]

Leeta Myrtle Hartnett, 29 January 1980[14]; divorce date unknown.

[1] Mitchell, Jacquie, Seattle, Washington, to Zola Noble, letter, 7 September 2002, information on James G. Waggoner’s life; Waggoner, Eli & Rachel binder, Waggoner family; privately held, [ADDRESS FOR PRIVATE USE] Anderson, Indiana.
[2] Hansen, Suzanne, Portland, Oregon,  E-mail to [(E-ADDRESS FOR PRIVATE USE),] Zola Troutman Noble, e-mail, 6 September 2013, “James G. Waggoner,” Ancestry/Suzanne folder; privately held by Noble, [E-ADDRESS & ADDRESS FOR PRIVATE USE], Anderson, Indiana, 2013.
[3] Washington, King County Department of Executive Services, Records and Licensing Division, Marriage Returns, 1891-1947, Marriage Certificates, 1855-1990, Office of the Secretary of State, Washington State Archives, Digital Archives, ( : accessed 16 September 2013), Virginia Kelgard and James G. Wagganer [Waggoner], 1 September 1944.
[4] “Vital Statistics: Interlocutory Divorce Decrees Granted,” Seattle Daily Times, 19 April 1947, p. 12; database ( : accessed 1 September 2013) Virginia Mary from James G. Waggoner.
[5] “Divorces Asked,” Seattle Daily Times, 17 June 1954, p. 52, database ( : accessed 1 September 2013) James G. from Virginia Waggoner.
[6] Washington, Grant County Auditor, Marriage Records, 1909-2003, Washington State Archives, Digital Archives, ( : accessed 17 September 2013), Barbara Elizabeth Moyers and James G. Waggoner, 11 December 1949.
[7] Washington Deaths, 1883-1960, database ( : accessed 16 September 2013) James Ellot Waggoner, 13 July 1951.
[8] Bflorentin1, “Durst Family Tree,” ( : accessed 16 September 2013), citing “private.”
[9] Washington, King County Department of Executive Services, Joyce D. Harpel and James G, Waggoner, 5 May 1956.
[10] Ibid, Vivian L. Blake and James G. Waggoner, 1 July 1960.
[11] “Intent to wed,” Seattle Times, 15 March 1964, p. ??, database ( : accessed 1 September 2013) Viola Johnson and James G. Waggoner.
[12] Washington, King County Department of Executive Services, Linnea Sjolander and James G. Waggoner, 17 March 1964.
[13] "Divorces Granted," Seattle Daily Times, Oct. 10, 1968, p. 65; digital image Genealogy Bank (, accessed 18 Aug. 2013), Linnea from James Waggoner.
[14] Washington, Kitsap County Auditor, Marriage License Application Affidavits, 1905-2005, Office of the Secretary of State, Washington State Archives, Digital Archives, ( : accessed 16 September 2013), Leeta Myrtle Hartnett and James G. Waggoner, 29 January 1980.
(c) 2013 Z. T. Noble

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