Saturday, April 28, 2012

Ruby Bruce... You walked away from your Life... and Your Family...

My Great-Grandmother was a mysterious woman.... mysterious in her life, in her decisions, and in her motives. Sadly, many of her decisions adversely affected members of her family for years and generations to come.

Ruby Julia Bruce was born June 23, 1903 in Monona, Clay County, Iowa; she had a twin sister- Ruth Maude Bruce, and they were the daughters of Owen Rutherford & Sally Estella "Essie" (George) Bruce. The family did not live in Monona long, they were from Central City, Linn County, Iowa and that is where they primarily lived. Ruby had an older brother Maynard (known as Marshall) and a younger brother Erwin, as well as a younger half-sister Myrtle who was born from her Mother's second marriage. Further half-siblings Gloria and Leo from her Father's later marriage were never even known to exist to Ruby. The Bruce siblings grew up in the Central City area, attending school there, their father Owen, an alcoholic who had many run ins with the law was a regular provider and was frequently absent. Her mother Essie relied on her own Father and Grandmother for support and help in raising her young family. After Owen's 1916 prison sentence, Essie remarried to LeRoy Crosby and the family moved to Granada, Minnesota, where Essie's sister had secured them work. Ruby had limited contact with her Father after this point, he was known to have sent a few letter for a time, but eventually contact was lost, it's unclear if she ever saw her Father again after leaving Central City.  In 1917, Ruby moved to northern Minnesota with her Mother & Stepfather--- it seems likely that sometime prior to moving away she must have met John Yore-- as in early 1920, she was still living with her family in northern Minnesota, but on September 15, 1920, Ruby and John Yore were married and promptly moved to the Downing, Missouri area-- where John was from.

Life appears to have been rather difficult in these early years... a young 17 year old bride who relocated to a very rural, underdeveloped part of northern Missouri, where her husband's family were poor farmers. According to an elderly cousin, Ruby had a baby boy within those first couple of years, who died. A son, Don Carlos Yore was born in 1923.... In early 1925 the family was living near Stiles, Davis County, Iowa... though they were quick to return to Downing, as daughter Helen Elizabeth Yore was born March 23, 1925.

Ruby holding a crying Don & Helen

At some point John and Ruby moved their two young children to Winnebago, Minnesota (where Ruby's sister Ruth was living) and on May 1, 1927, Maggie Henerietta "Hank" Yore was born.
Helen & Don Yore

During 1928, Ruby was apparently ill, with a couple of differently ailments... in March she is mentioned in the newspaper as having been "seriously ill" and then later "recovering".... by September she was having surgery to have her appendix removed.

On September 2, 1929, Ruby gave birth to a son, who died two hours later... from unknown causes. Shortly after this time, the family again left Winnebago and moved to a farm near Vernon Center, Minnesota (about 20mi away), they resided here approximately a year, before moving to Huntley (a few miles from Winnebago)... where they lived about a year before moving back into Winnebago, living at the home of "Ma Spencer", who was an elderly Aunt of Ruth's (Ruby's sister)... while living at Ma Spencer's, Ruby gave birth to premature twin boys (1932 or 1933) and they died shortly after birth and were buried under the weeping willow tree on the property. It is possible that an April 1933 auto accident that caused Ruby a "back injury" could have been around the time of the twins' births. On June 6, 1935, with her mother Essie in attendance, Ruby gave birth to Betty Jean (my Grandmother). Ruby was 31 years old at Betty's birth, and had now given birth to 8 babies, half of which had died.

John Yore was a hard working man, working as a farmer and later with the railroad and eventually the local canning factory. It's been said, that Ruby was never very interested in being a wife and mother-- she was frequently absent, forcing her young children to fend for themselves, and her Mother to care for them. However, I have also found mentioned where she hosted card parties, entertained for her cousin's bridal shower, took her children visiting to local relatives and did other 'normal activies' of the time...

I have often wondered what caused Ruby to be so unhappy with her life and how she could neglect and ultimately abandon her 4 children. Some family stories say that she was 'bored' with motherhood and married life, that her husband worked too often and she'd rather go to parties with her brother Erwin, than stay home and be a mother. While it was common for her to leave for days at a time, on Christmas Day 1940, Ruby left home, never to return.

It is unclear exactly, where she went or who she was with, but two years later in 1942, she was married in Grand Island, Nebraska, to Buckley "Barney" King. This marriage must have been very important for Ruby to get, as she never bothered to get a divorce from her husband!

Ruby's marriage record to Barnie
Somehow, Ruby thought she was only 32...? I guess that's
close to the 39 years she really was....or not...
 Since she lied on her marriage license, it seems likely she lied to her new husband as well... On a side note, not only did she use her maiden name on her new marriage record, but she made herself quite a bit younger too! Eventually the new couple settled in Minneapolis, where in 1944 their daughter Audrey Faye was born. In 1952 Ruby and her husband and daughter moved to Cotati, California. Ruby maintained contact with her siblings and her Mother--- but very limited, sporatic contact with her children. As her daughter 'Hank' also lived in California, she had the most interactions with Ruby.

Essie Crosby, Ruby, Hank & daughter

After 1940, when Ruby left, her older two daughters Helen & Hank were left to care for their little sister- Betty. Later Betty would live with her Aunt & Uncle- Ruth & Alpha Stoddard (Ruth being Ruby's twin), while the other three siblings would remain with their Father until leaving home at young ages. John Yore was deeply devoted to his wife and was heartbroken at her leaving, later developing an addiction to alcohol that plagued him the rest of his life, he loved Ruby until his dying day. John would later obtain a divorce from Ruby, in 1949.

Christmas card John Yore sent his
Mother in 1944, notice he still
signed it "J&R"... sadly the 'R'
had been gone for years at this
point. Must have kept it a
secret from the rest of his family?!
I don't believe Ruby ever 'remarried' Barnie King, so I would assume their 1942 marriage to be invalid... I guess back then you could get away with things like that easier than today!? It wasn't only her husband who suffered, but Ruby's children who had certain degrees of trauma related to her neglect and abandonment. The specifics of which I must refrain from discussing indepthly, as my Grandmother Betty (age 76) and her sisters Helen (age 87), Hank (age 85), and Audrey (age 68) are all still living. (It seems unfair and inappropriate to analyze the relationships Ruby had with her daughters and how that impacted the decisions they made and the paths their lives when down... but it is safe to say the ripples are felt even today.)

Delayed birth certificate Ruby obtained in 1963,
with the false 1902 birth year

After years of making herself younger- Ruby decided it would be beneficial to age rapidly! So she obtained a delayed birth certificate with the incorrect birth year of 1902.... probably to allow her to obtain Social Security a year sooner.

It doesn't appear that her second marriage or shot at motherhood were any more appealing to Ruby then her previous efforts. She remained married to Barnie, though daughter Audrey spent a lot of time with Ruby's brother Marshall and his wife Jo, and would remain close to them.

Ruby never lost her love for a good 'party'-- though I have difficulty imagining a short, fat woman in her mid 50s finding bars where she fit in and found the attention she was seeking.... But apparently she did.

Her partying lifestyle was not kind to her health-- and on August 30, 1973 she suffered a major heart attack... and died ten days later, on September 8, 1973, after battling heart disease for at least a decade.

Obituary, ironically
lists all her children?!
At her death she left surviving, her husband, her ex-husband, 1 son, 4 daughters, 1 brother, 1 sister, 1 half sister (plus 2 unknown half siblings), and a slew of grandchildren, most of whom she never had any interest in knowing.

It is fascinating to me, to think of the decisions Ruby made in life.. and I wish I had a better understanding of her motives. I'm sure her choatic upbringing had some bearing on her later life, and shaped some the choices she made...
But those she left behind ask "why"?

Fittingly, after her death, she was cremated and her remains spread in the Pacific Ocean... so even in death, Ruby was spared the confines of a final resting place.

1 comment:

  1. The photo of Don and his sister alone, I think you resemble him somewhat.