OK Livery Stable Owned by “Midget” Fin Heaston of Daleville, Indiana –
When asked about his family history, one of my grandpa’s favorite topics was his three “midget” cousins – Finnie, Brownie, and Frankie. I’m sure midget is not the term he should have used for them, but my grandpa never did understand using politically correct terms. In the time that he knew his cousins, midget was the term everyone used including the cousins and their mother.
I think the proper term used today is “little people,” so please forgive me if I slip into my grandpa’s terminology from time to time when discussing them. My grandpa was very fond of his cousins. They were obviously a very memorable part of his childhood.
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Throw Back to the Time My Grandpa Tied Cousin Finnie Heaston in the Outhouse
In fact, he was so fond of them that he once tied Finnie up in the outhouse when he was a little boy. I asked if he got in trouble, and he said he didn’t because Finnie thought it was so funny, but he did come charging out of the outhouse shaking his fist and threatening my grandpa.
My grandpa thought Finnie chasing after him was just hysterical because even as a small child, my grandpa was taller than Finnie. I suppose he thought he could hold his own against Finnie, but I bet Finnie could have whooped him, and he likely would have deserved it.
Finnie, Brownie, and Frankie were a great mystery to me for many years. My grandpa would tell stories about these cousins. He insisted they were the children of his Granny Martha’s sister. He told me she had seven children, and three of them were “midgets,” and four of them were not, but he could only remember the names of the little ones.
Were the Little Cousins Just a Figment of My Grandpa’s Imagination?
For a while, I thought they might be some sort of figment of his imagination. Maybe they were mythical imaginary friends he invented in his childhood because he was so much younger than his siblings and had no one to play with when he was small. That theory didn’t last because my grandpa’s sister remembered them too, and she also insisted they were the children of Granny Martha’s sister “Jennie.”
I searched and searched and searched. This was in the days while I was still on dial-up (not that my internet here is all that much faster now), so each search took minutes of watching that little circle go ’round and ’round. There also weren’t nearly as many resources available online then, and I had four small children at home, so my ability to go anywhere to research was limited.
At one point I was toying with the idea that the Great Depression was so traumatic for my grandpa’s family that perhaps both he and his sister had developed this fantasy about the little cousins to somehow cope. Except they had photographic evidence! They could show me pictures of their cousins. They had pictures of this lady they were sure was Granny Martha (Batchelor) Bales’ sister “Jennie.”
No matter where I looked, there was no Jennie Batchelor. I could only find a brother for Granny Martha, and he died without children. I searched to see if “Jennie” might be a sister-in-law who went on to have kids with someone else, and they all just thought of them as cousins. That was a dead end.
Finally, I was able to get access to census records. I discovered Granny Martha’s mother Sarah (Chamness) Batchelor was widowed at a young age. She later married William Britt. William and Sarah Britt had twins Joshua and Amanda Jane (“Jennie”). “Jennie” married Jefferson Heaston (who was her cousin because his mother was Keziah Chamness, sister of her mother).
You can view their household here on the 1880 Census where Jefferson, Jane, and baby Finnie are living in the home with her parents William and Sarah Britt along with Joshua Britt and his wife “Delvina” (actually Dephinia).
The Children of Jefferson and Amanda Jane “Jennie” (Britt) Heaston
Once I found the real “Jennie,” it was easy to piece together the rest of the children through census records:
- Finley “Finnie” – born about 1878
- Estella – born about 1881
- Francis “Frankie” – born about 1885
- Oscar “Brownie” – born about 1886
- Hershel – born about 1889
- Ollie – born about 1890
- Clifford – born about 1892
So my grandpa actually knew what he was talking about all along, and his cousins really did exist after all.
Postcard from Oscar “Brownie” Heaston of Daleville, Indiana to Cousin Ralph Bales of Carlos, Indiana
The following is a postcard “Brownie” Heaston sent to my great-grandpa Ralph Bales. Remember my great-grandpa Ralph from my past mystery posts? (I’m still trying to find the secret lovechild of Ralph Bales, by the way.)
- The Search for the Secret Lovechild of My Great-Grandfather
- Update on the Search for the Secret Uncle
I believe this livery stable was in Daleville, Indiana, but there’s a slight chance it could have been somewhere around Council Bluffs, Iowa because Finley Heaston lived in Iowa for a small portion of his life. I suspect Finley is the man standing in the middle of the picture. If you look closely, you can see a much shorter man is standing in front of the taller man in the middle.
The print on the postcard reads:
Dear Cousin Ralph,
How are you all. I will send you the picture of the barn Fin had before he sold out. Tell your ma to write.
It’s addressed to: Ralph Bales – BloomingSport Carlos, Ind., Care of Oze Bales, R.R.
It’s postmarked from Daleville, Indiana. I think the date is February 1909.
My great-grandpa would have been a small boy of 8 or 9. I’m sure he was excited to get his own mail.
You can also read about the livery stable my great-great-grandpa John Henry Bales operated at Bloomingport, Indiana in Bloomingport Livery Stable and Carlos City to Carlos Mystery Solved.
If you connect to these family lines, please feel free to let me know in the comments. I love to hear from cousins.
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