O'Harra

Child of William Frederick

and Dolly (Groom) O’Harra

1.         George, born prior to 1895, son of William Frederick and Dolly (Groom) O’Harra.  Dolly and George re-located to Indiana.  Later in life, George O'Harra came to Findlay to meet his father's second family. I am not certain that this is the same George O'Harra, but it is possible: Indiana Marriages 1845-1920

                                    County: Miami

                                    Name: Laura Cannon

                                    Spouse: George O'Harra

                                    Birth Date/Age: 26 Nov 1894

                                    Marriage Date: 17 Oct 1916

                                    Book: C-21

                                    Original Source Page: 65

Children of William Frederick

and Carrie Catherine (Dempsey) O’Harra

1.         Ethel Lenora, born 17 JAN 1896, Findlay, Hancock County, OH; married Leo Smith, divorced; died 26 JUN 1976.  Ethel became an accomplished seamstress.  In later years, she and daughter Betty Ann lived with daughter Jane and her husband Karl and family.  Both Ethel and Betty willed their remains for medical research following their deaths. Ethel’s daughters:

            1.         Leone Janet “Jane”, born 8 AUG 1917; married 24 JUN 1939 Karl L. Ludi; died 16 JUL 1967. Jane struggled with Hodgkins Disease for many years prior to her final cause of death, bronchial pneumonia.  Both she and her husband Karl are buried in the Maple Lawn Section of Maple  Grove Cemetery, Block 3, lot 114, B.  Karl was born 24 JAN 1914 a  Findlay and died 1 JAN 1977 at Findlay. This writer’s mother, Ellen Jane Bartelle, dearly loved her cousin Jane and Jane's husband Karl.  Ellen moved to Findlay after high school graduation and become good friend  with Jane, Karl, and Bob O'Harra.  Karl and Jane were the parents of:

                        1.         William David, born 10 OCT 1941;

                        2.         Jon Karl, born 23 JUN 1944;

                        3.         Thomas Edward, born 9 JUN 1948;

                        4.         Nancy Jane, born 14 AUG 1950;

                        5.         Rodney Jay, born 13 NOV 1957.

            2.         Betty Ann, born 8 DEC 1921. Betty Ann was born with cerebral palsy.  Betty won several prizes herself for her needlework -- intricate embroidery done with her talented nimble toes. Betty attended the first special education class held in Findlay for handicapped youngsters -- in 1929. Her  ashes are buried next to those of her mother at (A-40) Woodlawn Cemetery, Toledo.  Both women donated their bodies to the Ohio medical school at the time of their deaths.

2.         Frederick D., born 15 AUG 1900 at Findlay, Hancock County, OH; married 7 APR 1924 Nona Gensler; died 1 AUG 1962.  Obituary: F.D. O'Harra: Rail Yard Foreman and Former Deputy. Frederick D. O'Harra, 61, of 3135 Erie St., died    today in his home of a heart attack. Mr. O'Harra was a yard foreman the last 15 years at the Detroit and Toledo Shoreline Railroad Co. and before that was a deputy eight years under Lucas County Sheriff Charles L. Hennessy.

Born in Findlay, Mr. O'Harra lived in Toledo 40 years.  He was active in pistol and rifle matches and was scheduled to take part in the competition this week at Camp Perry, O.  He was a member of the Brotherhood of Railroad Trainmen, Harbor Light Lodge, F&AM, and the National Rifle Association.

He is survived by his wife, Winona; brother, Robert, Sylvania, and sisters, Mrs. Ethel Smith and Mrs. Alma Wagner, both of Findlay. Services will be at 3 p.m. today at Jasin's Funeral Home, 5300 Summit St., Toledo.  Burial will be in Forest  Cemetery, Toledo.

3.         Alma Mary5 (William Frederick4, William Henry3, Hugh2, John and Priscilla1), born 16 JAN 1902 at Findlay, Hancock County, OH; married 24 JUL 1920    Benjamin Claude Bartel, divorced; married second Clarence Wagner; died 5 SEP 1976 at Indio, CA.  Alma is listed in the 1920 census for Toledo, OH, as 19 years old, a "milinery superintendent".  Her young son Robert R. is also in the household. Alma married Benjamin Claude Bartel of Toledo.  She was a month shy of 20 years old when she and Ben had their only child:  Ellen Jane Bartelle, 5 DEC 1921, at Toledo. Ben, Alma, and Ellen lived at 3412 Summit St., Toledo.  Ben was listed as a fireman and Alma as a housewife.

The family eventually re-located to nearby Sylvania, OH, and lived next door to Ben's parents, Charles and Jennie (Queen) Richmond.  The marriage faltered and ended in 1928. 

(The couple was married by a Justice of the Peace 24 July 1920 in Detroit, MI. Ben was 24 and Alma was 18.  Ben spelled his surname "Bartelle" on the marriage license.  Divorce proceedings were started 27 SEP 1928 back in Toledo, Lucas County, OH.  The divorce was final 17 JAN 1929 and custody of daughter Ellen Jane was awarded to her paternal grandmother, Jennie Richmond.  The surname was spelled "Bartel" in the court papers.

Alma moved back with her own mother Carrie O'Harra.  Ellen moved in with her  grandparents next door.  And Ben soon married Mabel Fern Ackley.

The 1930 Federal Census for Toledo, Lucas County, Ohio, lists:

            Carrie O'Harra, 55, head of household;

            Robert R. O'Harra, 11, son;

            Alma M. Bartell, 28, daughter, saleslady in dry goods store;

            Earl J. M. O'Harra, 23, son, checker, steam railroad;

            Jennie E. O'Harra, 23, daughter-in-law;

            Frances d. O'Harra, 5, granddaughter;

            William L. O'Harra, grandson.

Alma was a special woman.  Left at the beginning of the Depression with no skills, little formal education, and obviously no money, Alma went out and made a living, with a little left over to assist her mother and her sister Ethel along the way.

After her divorce, Alma and Harve Baer went into business together. They eventually owned three restaurants, managed the VFW, and started a pinball/ jukebox/cigarette machine business.  Family tradition believes that harrassment by the criminal element in the area was the reason that Alma eventually sold out her portion of the business to Harve.  Later Harve willed one-half of the business to Karl and Lee Ludi and they bought the rest of the interest from his widow. Karl, Alma's nephew-in-law,  operated the company until shortly before his death in 1976.

Eventually, Alma fell in love with a relatively wealthy, but eccentric Marion, OH, animal doctor, much older than she.  Clarence "Doc" Wagner loved race horses and spent weeks living in tack rooms at race tracks. His family, owners of the Marion Skillet Co., did not approve of Alma, especially his maiden sister.  Alma's family didn't think all that much of "Doc" either.

When Alma and Doc married we don't know.  But she was Alma Wagner as early as 1941, at the age of 39, when she was listed in her father's obituary.  She was Alma Wagner until the day she died.

During World War II, Alma went to meteorology school in Chicago and returned to Dayton Air Field in Ohio as a weatherperson for the Army Air Corps weather service.

Alma and Doc were seeing one another as late as 1956 or 1957.  It was at that  time that this writer took the train to Mansfield, OH, to see her grandmother.  Alma was working as a secretary and proofreader for the Mansfield Printing Co.  She, Doc, and her granddaughter did a little sight-seeing, visited a race track, and generally had an enjoyable vacation.

Alma was an incurable hobbiest.  She was interested in everything -- from clouds to handwriting analysis.  She had one of the first Polaroid cameras sold on the public market in 1947.  She also shot home movies and was pointing her 35 mm slide camera at everyone at all times.  The family has a photographic records of more than 35 years thanks to Alma's efforts. Alma was an avid reader, an endless traveller, a painter, a rockhound, a practical nurse and a heart patient.  She loved to knit, sew and play bridge.

In 1968, Alma flew to Alaska to assist her granddaughter Dianne following the birth of her great grandson, Jeff Anderson.  In 1970, at the age of 68, she drove from California, took the Alaska Ferry, and finished the trek on the Alaska Highway, to visit again.

After her so-called retirement to the Palm Desert, CA, area in 1967, Alma continued to work as a practical nurse for ill persons who were older than she.  This was a profession she had begun in about 1961 after her retirement from the Mansfield Printing Co. and re-location to the Chicago area.

She had visited the desert in the early 1950s and decided that that was where she wished to retire.   In the desert, she was a volunteer at various children's homes, especially those for the handicapped.  She helped out with "Meals on Wheels" for the elderly and, being one of those few with an automobile, she was always on  call to give her friends a lift to wherever it was they wanted to go.

Arthritis was taking its toll and she began to walk with a cane.  Her heart was making funny sounds again and she was watching that.  In the summer of 1976, she flew to Chicago to help Ellen look after great grandson Jeff, while her granddaughter attended a convention in Florida. During those weeks, Alma patiently worked with Jeff, nine years old at the time, to help him learn to read.  By the end of the visit, Jeff was reading and anxious to re-tackle elementary school and "catch up." Alma's sister Ethel died in Findlay that month.

Back in Indio that September, Alma was on her way to a friend's home to polish rocks in a rock tumbler.  She collapsed on the sidewalk at 6:10 p.m., 5 SEPT 1976 and died.  Cause of death was listed as a bilateral pulmonary  artery embolism (a blood clot had reached her heart.)

Protestant services were held at the Chapel of the Desert, although Alma had once joined the Catholic church to please Doc Wagner.  Her body was cremated -- as she wished -- with her ashes dispersed over the desert that she loved.  A flash flood hit the desert the day of her funeral and continued for several days.

Alma had not accumulated many material possessions at the time of her death.  She had done so in earlier years, but they had not been important enough to slow her down on her quest for life.  What lives of Alma now are many color slides,  home movies, and snapshots covering the family's growth over 35 years, as well as a dozen oil paintings, and hand-knit scarves, slippers and sweaters. Alma was the mother of:

            1.         Robert Richard (Lefore) O'Harra, born 5 AUG 1919. Name of father, unknown. Bob first appears in the 1920 census for Toledo, Lucas County, OH, in the household of his paternal grandparents Will and Carrie O'Harra as the "step-son" of Aunt Ethel and Uncle Leo Smith.  The entire extended family was living at 3127 Erie St., Toledo:

                                    O'Harra, William F., 51, interior decorator;

                                    Carrie C.,  45;

                                    Fred D., 19, railroad fireman;

                                    Alma M., 18, superintendent, millinery;

                                    Earl M., 13;

                                    Smith, Leo, 24, railroad clerk;

                                    Ethel L., 24;

                                    Lefore, Robert R., 1 and 3/12, step-son.

The census lists Robert's father as French speaking and born in France.  This document was discovered in May 1992 and was the first indication the family had of the paternity of young Bob.  A review of area census records revealed no clue as to who this Lefore person could have been.  The mystery remains a mystery, as Alma would have wanted it.

Bob lived with his parents Will and Carrie through elementary school and his sister Alma through high school.  He served in the military during World War II, and married Miss Nina Howard.  The couple had no  children of their own but helped raise a young girl from Nina's extended family. Uncle Bob and Aunt Nina were also a major part of the lives of  various nieces and nephews.

Bob was employed by the Detroit and Toledo Shoreline railroad from August 1947 through August 1980.  He retired as a yardmaster.  Bob died 25 APR 1986, after a lengthy battle with a rare skin cancer.   His remains were cremated and dispersed at St. Stephen Lutheran Church, Toledo. Bob's birth certificate lists William and Carrie (Dempsey) O'Harra as his  parents.  The certificate was prepared based upon Bob's old school records, following the death of Carrie in the 1950s.

            2.         Ellen Jane Bartelle6 (Alma Mary5, William Frederick4, William Henry3, Hugh2, John and Priscilla1), born 5 DEC 1921 at Sylvania, Lucas County,  OH; daughter of Benjamin Claude and Alma Mary (O’Harra) Bartelle; married 18 OCT 1944 Wayne Jackson Shullaw, divorced; died 16 JAN 1999 at Lansing, Cook County, IL.  Ellen’s story and descendants are included as part of the Benjamin Bartel Family, Book III.

4.         Earl Marion, born 8 AUG 1906 at Findlay, Hancock County, OH; married 17 OCT 1923 Jennie Eva Smith; died 6 FEB 1962.  Obituary: Earl M. O'Harra, 55, of  3010 Hopewell Pl., died yesterday in Mercy Hospital. Mr. O'Harra, born in Findlay, lived in Toledo 30 years.  He was a salesman for Production Steel Co.,  Detroit, for 15 years.

Surviving are his son, W. Larn E. O'Harra, Livonia, MI; daughters, Mrs. Frances O'Leary, Santa Monica, CA, and Mrs. Katy O'Harra Westwood, Toledo, and a grandchild (Larn’s daughter Melanie Kathleen O’Harra). Private services will be at 10:30 a.m. tomorrow in the Bennett Mortuary, Adams Street, with private burial in Forest Cemetery.

As we finish up our story of the O’Harra Family in Ohio, we should recall Margaret Lovina Ward O’Harra, the young widow of William Henry O’Harra. We have to go back a couple of generations to hook back into this old Ohio family.  When the young William Henry O’Harra left Pickaway County in southern Ohio and migrated north to Findlay, Hancock County, he met a young woman with roots in neighboring Wyandot – Margaret, daughter of Jesse Ward.

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