One ancestor who has always fascinated me is Oliver Perry Hastings, my great-great-grandfather (my paternal grandmother’s maternal grandfather). My grandmother had a large portrait of him, another of his wife; she also had their marriage certificate. He appeared in the portrait to be a man of rectitude, and this was confirmed by his glowing obituary (a copy of which my grandmother also had). He was active in his community, serving as justice of the peace for Hancock county, Indiana, for several years; his name appears in many records of Hancock county, often as a witness or executor of an estate. He and his wife were also apparently staunch members of the Methodist Church. He and his wife, Elizabeth E. (Whitaker), had four children—two boys who died in infancy, and two girls who lived to adulthood, Mariah (Hastings) Warren Clark and Nettie Belle (Hastings) Likins (my great-grandmother).
And he had one of those proverbial skeletons in his closet! Several years ago I saw a claim on ancestry.com that a man named Perry C. Apple was a son of Oliver Perry Hastings of Hancock county. I contacted the person who had posted this information; she wasn’t very directly related, but gave me enough information that I was able to put together at least the outlines of the story.
In the 1850 census of Marion county, Indiana, Oliver, age 18, was living in the household of his parents, John and Mary Ann (Wheeler) Hastings. Four households away I found the family of Solomon Apple, including his daughter Mary Jane, then age 15. In between was the family of Levi Bolander. All these families had come to Indiana from Clermont co., Ohio, in the 1830s and 40s.
Apparently Oliver and Mary Jane Apple had a relationship and she became pregnant. She was 18, and he was 21. Their child, Perry Commodore Apple, was born 9 Dec. 1854, and he is listed in the household of his Apple grandparents in 1860. Eight months after his birth, Oliver married Elizabeth Whitaker; two years later, Mary Jane married James Badgley.
One wonders why Oliver and Mary Jane did not marry. Was Oliver already engaged to Elizabeth at the time? Were there issues between the families that prevented the marriage? The previous two years had not been kind to the Hastings family; Oliver’s mother, Mary Ann, had died, leaving a large family of children of whom Oliver was the eldest. Mary Ann’s mother, who was living in the family in 1850, had also died. Oliver’s father John moved to Illinois not long after his wife’s death, and Oliver appears to have gone to Illinois as well (they both appear in the 1855 state census of Shelby county), though he was back in Indiana by 1860.
Mary Jane had a child by James Badgley, but her young husband died soon thereafter and she married the much older widower next door, Levi Bolander, by whom she had several more children. When Oliver returned to Indiana, he settled in Hancock county—not far from his out-of-wedlock son’s home, though not next door. The young Perry Apple apparently knew that Oliver was his father. When he married a cousin, Jennetta Apple, in 1876, the name on the marriage license was Perry C. Hasting. When Perry Apple died in 1911, the death certificate lists his father as Oliver Hastings. Oliver’s obituary, however, does not mention this son, and I never heard anything in the “family lore” to suggest that my great-grandmother had a half-brother.