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“Mamaherg” was raised by foster parents. Her mother died of tuberculosis in 1913. She had some older sisters by her father’s first wife and a baby brother. Apparently one of the older sisters was holding the baby while standing too close to the fire and the blanket caught on fire. This convinced her father, William Melhorn, that he could not work all day in the coal mines and take care of the babies at the same time. Somehow foster parents were found to raise my grandmother, who at that time was known as Lena Bell Melhorn. I do not know whether or not a birth certificate was ever issued for her. For certain, none went with her to her new home. Her birthday was the 5th of July, but what year. Was it 1910 making her two and a half when her mother died, or was she a year older. The best arguments I heard as a kid leaned toward the older date. It was said that after her husband died, leaving her to raise seven children on her own, that she applied for social security. She had always believed that she was born in 1910, but a relative, perhaps one of the older sisters produced a family bible with a different date making her one year older. That was good enough for the Social Security Administration, so it should be good enough for us. However, she remembered being told by her father that she was born in 1910. The other argument was that she remembered helping her mother wash out her brothers diapers. Certainly a two year old could not have remembered that, she must have been three! But I wasn’t satisfied, I wanted the truth, and not influenced by a desire to obtain social security or anything else. I will write more on that next time.

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