Sunday, March 6, 2016

Make your own story

Sometimes, I think that’s just what other people have done.  Just write anything!  Fill in the blanks however you want….and someone, somewhere is going to believe you!

Not me!!!  I either want facts….or I will leave it blank and let you write your own story!

Family history books are just that…..books that someone writes about their family history.  It is their story.  And I use them as hints and leads….but not as facts.

Moshe Shaltiel-Gracian published such a book in 2005 about the Shaltiel/Saltiel family.  It’s not a bad book, in fact - quite interesting.  He wrote this about Emanuel Saltiel’s wife:

Soon after her arrival in Cotopaxi, Elizabeth, 36-years-old and the mother of three small children aged two, four, and six, fell in love with Frank W. Woods, an employee, in his early twenties, at the Cotopaxi Post Office, which Emanuel owned.

Let’s stop there for a moment.  Census records and other documents, including birth certificates show us that the children were:

John Tammany Saltiel, born 1871, age 9 in 1880 (I have his actual birth certificate)
Henry Clarence Saltiel, born 1873, age 7 in 1880
Adelaide Rachel (Lucy) Saltiel, born 1877, age 3 in 1880

Elizabeth Wolfe Saltiel, born 1845, age 35 in 1880

Continuing on with Moshe’s writing:

While Emanuel was crisscrossing the country, negotiating deals to build expensive furnaces and a new railroad depot, the two began an affair, and exchanged rather simple-minded letters……The lovers did not consider that, since Emanuel owned the post office, it was inevitable that one of these letters would find its way to him. 
Elizabeth was quickly shipped back east; the children remained with Emanuel…..on the same day that she wrote her aunt (5/1/1881), she was hand-delivered, at her residence at 40 East 126th Street in New York City, a summons to divorce court.  The divorce did not take effect, for legal reasons, for a year…..Elizabeth remained in New York and made her living teaching music.

Later on in the book, Moshe writes:

A year after his divorce, on Valentine’s Day, 1883, in Pueblo, Colorado, he married a second time, to Fannie Shelveson, who managed his real estate……unfortunately, seven years later, in December 1890, Fannie followed in Elizabeth’s footsteps, and began an affair with Jerry B. McLene, who lived in the Broadway, a Denver hotel owned by Emanuel.  Once more, Emanuel filed for divorce and, like Elizabeth, Fannie did not appear in court.  Unlike Elizabeth, however, Fannie married her lover on 14 July 1891, three weeks after the divorce was granted.

We find Emanuel and Fannie living on Watsoon St in Denver in the 1885 census.  No children in the household.

Let’s look at this marriage/divorce timeline in relationship to the children’s ages.  

1880 moved to Cotopaxi 1882 parents divorce 1883 father remarries Fannie Shelveson 1885 father moves to Denver 1891 father divorces Fannie

So even if Elizabeth left the children with Emanuel in 1881 when she left, they were not living with him in Denver in 1885.  I have not been able to locate Elizabeth in the 1885 census in NYC.

There is an Elizabeth M.  Saltiel living at 343 E 117th St in the 1886 New York City directory - doing “washing”.  She was not in the 1885 directory.  Directories do not list children.

Elizabeth and her son, Henry, were in the 1895 New Jersey Census.  Newark NJ.  This makes sense as her daughter, Adelaide, married Francis Henry Lovekin in 1895 in Newark NJ.

Did the court give custody to Emanuel in the divorce?  I don’t know as I haven’t located the divorce records.  But it is obvious that 3 short years later, they are not living with him.

I cannot locate Fannie in any city directory in Pueblo.  What brought her there?  

So why not put this perspective into a timeline looking at Saltiel and the arrival of the Colonists at Cotopaxi…..makes it even more interesting!

  • 1879 - the earliest I can find Saltiel in Fremont County
  • 1880 - his family arrives, a house has already been built
  • 1881 - his wife has an affair and he sends her off to NYC.  One writer says the children (I believe they were ages 4, 8, & 10) stay in Cotopaxi
  • 1881 - I have a document that shows Saltiel sold his house to Hart.  Where did he (and the children - if they were there) reside?
  • 1882 - February, Saltiel gets a divorce
  • 1882 - May, the Jewish colonists arrive
  • 1883 - February, Saltiel remarries (when did he have time to court this woman?)
  • 1883 - some of the colonists relocate away from Cotopaxi
  • 1883 - lawsuits against Saltiel for not paying miners who worked for him
  • 1884 - May, the colony disbands 
  • 1884 - 1887 Saltiel involved in multiple lawsuits against his mining claims.  He lost all of his property in Fremount county as a result of these lawsuits
  • 1884 - May 31, Gold Tom shot and killed
  • 1885 - June, Saltiel and wife are in Denver in the 1885 census, children are not with them

Questions - 
  1. did Fannie ever live in Cotopaxi?  I can find no evidence of that.
  2. when did Emanuel move to Denver?  If he sold his residence in 1881, where did he stay when he was in Cotopaxi?
  3. where were the 3 children after their mother was sent to NYC?
  4. if the children were in Cotopaxi, where did they live and who cared for them?

Saltiel was a very busy man!  One of these days I will create a month-by-month timeline of Saltiel’s activities…..but in the meantime, I can tell you, he was so tied up in Arapahoe County courts, in Denver, in NYC, and now we find out how busy he was with his own personal life….I do not see him as a custodial parent and it would explain his often lengthy absences from the Colonists at Cotopaxi.  

No wonder it has been written that the colonists said they got no answers or support from him and they turned to the Denver Jewish community.

I do understand why many writers “fill in the blanks” with what they think happened.  I think my “job” is to ask the questions about the blanks.  As more and more records become digitized and/or available for public research, hopefully we may find more answers.  

In the meantime, be careful what you read about Cotopaxi.  Is it just someone’s conjecture?  Is it even probable?  Is it just a “story” that someone made up?  Makes you wonder!!!

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