In dealing with some life-changing stressors, I have picked up a new hobby.


I have been looking for family members from all sides of my family, Somedays I am successful, other days the haystack wins at hiding the needle.

But in looking at various records, I have found naturalization dates, marriage information, remarriages and divorce dates.

It has been a fascinating ride. Some days, it can be easy and I find all of the information I am looking for. Great-Uncle’s arrival date and the ship he came on. Census records that give approximate years on birthdates and marriage occurances.

But the biggest mystery is Ira C. Marshall, my great-grandfather.

Here is what I knew about the man before I started digging. He was from Kentucky, he deserted the Army and lived under an assumed name of Chester Harry Lone. He married my great-grandmother, Sadie Proctor. They had three children together, including my grandmother. Their oldest daughter lived with one of his family members in Missouri. He died months before my grandmother was born.

That’s it, that all we had. It wasn’t much and it was made harder by his alias.

So I went to my local library that offers Ancestry. Through Ancestry, I had found naturalization dates through various documents including census and voter registration. But how do you find a man who is deliberately hiding?

I looked under his real name, I looked under his alias. I found bits and pieces but nothing connected. I found birth certificates for my great-aunt and great-grandmother, Sadie Proctor. I found a marriage certificate for Sadie Proctor and Chester H. Lone. I found military records for Ira C. Marshall listing when he signed up, when he deserted and from where. But I could not connect him to a possible family in Kentucky.

So I shifted through the family stories again. Sadie Mae Lone had been raised by an aunt in Missouri. My grandmother was raised by her aunt, Daisy ‘Frances’ Proctor Davis in Arlington Heights. (My great-grandmother was a cow bird.) I knew about Aunt Frances but who was this other aunt in Missouri.

So I looked up Sadie Mae Lone. I found her as a ten-year=old being raised by an Aunt Mary Reilly in Lafayette, Missouri. Aunt Mary who was born in Kentucky according the 1920 Census form.

I had a start.

With an approximated birth year, I began looking up Mary F. Reilly. I found a marriage record for her in the 1880s to a Cassius Picket. He dies and she receives a widow’s pension. She will remarry a Mr. Reilly in 1915 and lose that pension. And it is recorded in military records. He will be dead by the 1920 census. But then I find her in a census and her parents are R.M. Marshall and Mary Jane Coleman.

Something looks familiar to me. I have seen the name R.M. Marshall before.

On the 1900 census, there was a R.M. Marshall in White Tower, Kentucky, who was the father of an Ira Marshall, aged 14. But Ira’s mother is Katherine Ervin. So I start looking up R.M. Marshall. He was married twice. First to Mary Jane Coleman, who disappears in the early 1870s. Then in 1875, R.M. marries Catherine Ervin. They end up having five children, including John Sherman and Ira C.

My mind is blown, I have found the connection.

Mary F. Reilly is Ira C. Marshall’s older half sister. Mary F. Marshall Pickett Reilly. Mary Reilly raises the daughter Ira has with Sadie Proctor. Later Social Security records list Ira Marshall as Sadie Mae Lone’s father.

My last problem is finding when Ira died. Family lore has him passing away in 1913, which is when his wife reported to the family that he died. He allegedly died a few months before my grandmother was born. So I look in Illinois, I look in Chicago. Nothing. But the Kentucky Ira Marshall dies in 1915 from accidental asphyxiation. He is an insurance agent with an unknown wife.

Insurance agent.

I look back to the records of when Ira joined the army in 1905 listing his current occupation at that time as Agent. And then I notice who was the reporting party – John Sherman Marshall.

Bam! I found him. I have found the man known as Ira C. Marshall, my great grandfather.

I did it by piecing together census records, military records, death records, marriage certificates, and birth certificates. I went over family legends to find clues and backdoor ways in the truth.

This is the story that can can figure out.

Ira was born in May 1885 to R.M. Marshall and his second wife, Katherine, in White Tower, Kentucky. In July 1905, Ira enlists in the Army at Fort Thomas in Kentucky. But by November 1905 he will desert the Army while stationed in Fort Sheridan in Northern Illinois. He marries Miss Sadie Proctor in 1908 as Chester Lone. Sadie Mae (who later goes by Mae) is born in 1909. His son, U.S. Grant is born in 1910/1911. He disappears in the summer of 1913, months before his second daughter, Virginia, is born. At some point in time, Sadie Mae goes to Missouri to live with her aunt. Virginia is left with her grandfather and aunt. Then in 1915, Ira Marshall dies in White Tower from asphyxiation.

Thirty years in this world, three children, desertion from the army, marriage to a woman who was impossible. A part of me wants to know the rest of the story. I want to know what his family thought of him, after all his daughter was taken in by his older sister. And he came home many years after an embarrassing desertion.

In the end, I want to know the good, the bad, and the ugly about this man who is a big mystery to me. Or maybe I don’t. Either way, I am still looking up the rest of the family.