Blog post by Randi Richardson
Harriett “Hattie” M. Dunihoo was one of the very few children from Monroe County to ever be placed at the state-supported Soldiers’ and Sailors’ Children’s Home in Knightstown, Indiana, about 40 miles west of Indianapolis. The home was established in 1866 for the children of veterans and active members of the military.
Hattie was born December 4, 1892, to William Perry and Margaret (Stout) Dunihoo. Her mother, Margaret, lost her father before the age of twelve and married in April 1888 at the age of 19 to a man certainly old enough to be her father if not her grandfather. Although the marriage may have been a reflection of true love, it seems more likely to have been one of convenience as Margaret gave birth to a son, Hercules, four months after her wedding.
In 1900, Hattie was one of six children living in the Dunihoo household. Joseph, the youngest, was barely a year old. William, the father, was by then 70. He supported his family by farming and did well enough to own his home free of a mortgage in rural Bloomington. At least that’s what was reported by the enumerator in the census record but was not supported by deed research.
Apparently the household wasn’t one characterized by wedded bliss. William, at least according to Margaret, called her vile names and accused her of being intimate with other men. Finally, she said, he left home one day and didn’t come back leaving her and the children with no food, no clothes and no means of support. On July 27, 1902, she filed for divorce. About six months later, just a few days before Christmas and before the divorce action was finalized, William dropped dead.
Days later, Benton J. Hough, a near neighbor of the Dunihoos who also owned a farm, was appointed guardian of the Dunihoo children that now numbered seven including twin boys, Benton and Fritz, who were born in December 1901. He immediately made application to the Soldier’s and Sailor’s Home to have the children placed there. They were eligible, he said, because their father was a veteran of the Civil War and their mother was a person who had no property, no learning, no income, bad health, no desire to care for her children and a total inability to do anything for them.
After Hattie and her siblings were made wards of the state, and Margaret was unburdened by the responsibilities of motherhood, she decided to marry again. Her second husband, Walter Parks, was the son of William and Nancy Parks, also near neighbors of the Dunihoo family in rural Bloomington. The wedding took place in Champaign, Illinois, on February 10, 1902, less than two months since the death of her husband and the loss of her children. The bride was 33 years of age, the groom was 21. Two years later, in 1906, Margaret died of tuberculosis.
Margaret’s obituary was published in the Ellettsville (IN) Farm on June 8 where it was noted that she died at her home “near Dolan” and little else. There was no mention of Hattie or her siblings at the Children’s Home or Margaret’s year-old son fathered by Walter.
By the time her mother died, Hattie was thirteen years old and had been at the Children’s home since she was nine. Little is known about Hattie’s stay at the institution beyond a few dates. On May 1, 1908, at the age of fifteen, she was indentured to Abel Doan/Doane of Westfield, Hamilton County, Indiana. Doan/Doane, a farmer, was the father of seven children ranging in age from thirteen to twenty nine. According to a contractual agreement, Doan/Doane was responsible for educating Hattie through completion of the eighth grade and teaching her Christian values. Upon her eighteenth birthday in 1910 she would be released from the agreement and provided with $50.
About a year later, on August 28, 1909, the Bloomington Evening World announced that 16-year-old Hattie was licensed to marry Clarence C. Herold, a printer living in Knightstown where the Children’s Home was located. Clarence would have just turned twenty. Just how or when Hattie left Doan/Doane’s home is a mystery.
Hattie and Clarence set up housekeeping at Bloomington in a rental home on N. Maple. Clarence worked as a fireman at an electric light plant. In addition to Hattie, his younger sister, Fern, and Hattie’s older brother, Hercules, were also members of the household in 1910.
Sometime between 1910 and 1911, the young couple moved to Indianapolis. That’s where Levada/Laveda was born to them in the fall of 1911. She would later be joined by two siblings, Otto C., about 1914, and Ilene C., about 1919. In 1920 the family of five lived in a rental at 1325 St. Paul St., Indianapolis and Clarence worked as a trucker. Soon afterward, the marriage collapsed.
Both Clarence and Hattie married again in 1922. Clarence married a woman named Anna. His new household consisted of himself, his wife, her three children from a prior marriage, and Clarence’s two youngest children, Otto and Ilene. It appears that Clarence provided a home for Otto and Ilene throughout their childhood.
Hattie married Henry Ulysses Parks, legally her stepbrother as well as the older brother of her late mother’s husband, in Morgan County, Indiana. At the time of the marriage Hattie would have been about 30 and Henry about 45. They probably had known each other as children as both the Parks and the Dunihoos lived on neighboring farm in Bloomington.
A few days after Hattie’s second marriage, she gave birth to a son, Henry Eugene Parks, on May 20, 1922. Henry U. and Hattie would have three more children: Raymond b. c. 1924; William, b. c. 1926; and Mary, b. c. 1929. The couple continued to live in Indianapolis for the remainder of their lives.
Hattie died on February 21, 1959, at the age of 66, and was buried in Washington Park East Cemetery, Indianapolis. She was survived by her husband, Henry, who died the following year on December 12, 1960.
Many similarities exist between the lives of Hattie and her mother Margaret. Both lost their father at a young age, married very young, had multiple husbands, were pregnant before marriage and relinquished their children. Was this due to DNA, learned behavior, or circumstances beyond their control? Additional deep research may hold the answer to that question.
- Otto C. Herold obituary, Indianapolis (IN) Star, August 26, 2004, p. 19.
- Harriett Marie (Dunihoo) Herold Parks Death Record, Marion County (IN) Department of Health, digital image available online at Ancestry.com.
- Henry Eugene Parks Birth Record, Marion County (IN) Department of Health, digital image available online at Ancestry.com. According to this document, the father of Henry Eugene Parks was Henry U. Parks, a native of Monroe County, Indiana.
- Henry U. Parks Death Record, Marion County (IN) Department of Health, digital image available online at Ancestry.com.
- Margaret H. Dunihoo vs. William P. Dunihoo, Divorce. Bloomington (IN) Courier, August 1, 1902, p. 8.
- Dunihoo Admission Application Packet, Indiana Soldiers’ and Sailors’ Children’s Home, Indiana State Archives Commission on Public Records, Indianapolis, Indiana.
- Ruth Dorrel, editor. An Index to Records of the Indiana Soldiers’ and Sailors’ Children’s home in the Indiana State Archives. (Indianapolis IN: Indiana Historical Society, 1999).
The sources noted above represent a small sample of those used to research this blog. If all the sources used were noted they would take up space greater than that of the blog itself. Often multiple sources were required to determine a single elusive or confusing fact. If this is a family you are researching, feel free to contact me through the Monroe County History Center for additional information.