Sunday, March 18, 2012

Black Sheep Sunday: My Grandmother in an Orphanage

I recently returned from a visit with my 83-year-old parents. Mom has been into genealogy for years and has created notebooks with photos and documents pertaining to hers and my father's lines. I was aware of the document at left, but learned something else about my great-grandmother Addilee Tennessee Shelton Wolfe Harris (1890-1977) that I did not know.

The document at left shows that my grandmother, Sara Melzina Wolfe (1908-1997; she would have been 104 today), and her three siblings, the four of them then ranging in age from 3 to 9, were placed in the DePelchin Faith Home (now the DePelchin Children's Center, and in a different location) for about a year and a half, from mid-April, 1916, to late September, 1917.

The "Mrs. Annie Wolfe" who placed them there was their aunt, the wife of the brother, James Shannon Wolfe (1870-1949), of their father, Louis Henry Wolfe (1872-1929).  The children's home address given, 1409 Alston, may just be an error in transcription from Shannon and Annie's address of 1405 Alston.  This is also Louis' address from the 1917 Houston city directory through his January, 1921, passport application - including the 1920 US census, when the children are living with him - and Addilee is conspicuously absent.

Mom told me that Addilee volunteered to roll bandages for the Red Cross, met a military man, and had abandoned her family to run off with him. The children were put in an orphanage temporarily because of Louis' work as a bricklayer, which had him moving around. (He died in an automobile accident in 1929 near Devers in Liberty County, Texas, in transit with a job; and the passport application was to work with a bricklaying company in Tampico, Mexico.)

The 1920 US Census shows 30-year old "Addie Lee," born in Louisiana of parents born in Louisiana, as the wife of Hughes Odem, age 30, a Texan with a South Carolinian father and Texan mother, living in Fort Worth.  I did some searches in, and I believe this is Hughes Calhoun Odom (1894-1962).
One of the photos my mother had in the files was the one at left.  A distant cousin said this was my great-grandmother, but Mom said the man in the picture was not her first husband, Louis Wolfe, nor her last husband, Charles Burroughs Harris (1887-1959).  The face has been partly torn, but I think this man could be Hughes Calhoun Odom, at least comparing it with the picture I found of him (above) on

When Addilee married Charles Harris on January 7, 1922, she gave her name as Addie Odom (, Texas Marriages, 1837-1973).  I haven't been able to find a record of a marriage to (or a divorce from) Hughes Odom; nor, for that matter, a divorce from Louis Wolfe.

The picture at right is of Addilee Tennessee Shelton Wolfe Odom Harris in 1922, the year she married Charlie Harris, when she was 32 years old. Her first marriage, to my great-grandfather, Louis Wolfe, occurred in 1905 when she was 15 and he was 33, and she had her first of four children at age 16. Apparently Charlie Harris was the love of her life, as shortly before her death, she insisted on moving back to Louisiana so she could be buried near him.

© Amanda Pape - 2012 - click here to e-mail me.

1 comment:

  1. Wonderful research!!! Every time I read your blog it makes me want to get into mine! It is really funny because we have so many surnames and locations in common! the denton greenville area fro my dad's side, any "harris" is my Mom's family!!