Notes on the Hastings family: October, 2003

In the past several months, we've managed to straighten out the parents of Leighton B. Hastings and add several interesting lines to the Adams-Hastings ancestry.

For the past three years, we have had Leighton's mother as Lula Jane Skidgell, a name resulting from several contradicting references. During the annual review of the Hastings line, we noticed again in Leighton's birth record his mother's maiden name of Maria Skidgell, born in Bridgeford, Connecticut. Past attempts to find a Maria Skidgell failed, so we assumed that Maria was just a nickname for Lula Jane Skidgell.

We have just obtained a copy of Leighton's death certificate from San Francisco, and it indicates his mother was in fact Maria Skidgell.

One of the exciting things about on-line genealogy is that people are continuously entering new data and references, and entering Maria Skidgell this time resulted in several new "hits", identifying her as the daughter of Isaac Skidgell and Frances DeVoe, and establishing two new interesting ancestral lines to the Adams- Hastings genealogy. It also results in a new mystery as to whom Lula Jane, Washburn's second wife, was.

The DeVoe genealogy covers over 150 pages and we have just begun looking at it. The next project in this line is to put in a new section on the Skidgell and DeVoe ancestral lines.

We have finally established the whereabouts of Leighton B. Hastings at the time of his death, and some clues as to where he might have been during the middle and later part of his life. His Social Security death record says his last known residence was in Clear Lake, California. His California Death Record says he died in San Francisco. Family history says he died in Clear Lake and is buried there.

After he and his wife Lilian divorced in about 1940, Leighton remarried and broke contact with the family. Where he was and what he did from 1940 until his death in San Francisco/Clear Lake in 1966 was unclear. We have checked the Clear Lake phone book for several periods in the 50's and 60's and he is not listed. There is no obit in either the Clear Lake newspapers or the San Francisco Chronicle.

Locating Leighton's death certificate gave us a few new pieces of information. It indicates that he did die at San Francisco General Hospital, and that he was buried several days later at the Lower Lake Cemetary, Lake County, California. The informant on the death certificate was Leighton's second wife Mable, and she gave her address as Clearlake Highlands, which is at the lower end of Clear Lake, not too far from the Lower Lake Cemetary. A visit there might be interesting.

The death certificate also indicated that Leighton served in both WW-I and WW-II. We know that his brother was in the military at Fort Mason, in San Francisco, at the time, so it is possible that Leighton maintained a reserve status after WW-I, went to San Francisco with his wife to visit his brother, and re-activated there. We know from a newspaper ad that Leighton had a sale of personal property in December, 1942, in Maryland.

The other entry that is interesting is that Leighton's last occupation was "Deputy Sheriff, Placer County." In many cases, military police experience is very useful in getting on with a local police department. It's possible that Leighton's job in the military was in that area. In any case, it gives us a place to look for Leighton between the end of WW-II and his probable retirement in about 1955-1960.

Frank I. Hastings is also a bit of a problem, in that only small fragments of his history have been found. He appears to have been a career military non-com - he is in an Army uniform in the two pictures we have of him, and he was living on a military base in San Francisco in 1939. One would assume that he joined the Army in WW-I, and a telephone listing in San Francisco places him at Fort Mason from about 1936 to 1939. At that time he is listed as a Warrant Officer, a specialist enlisted rank, and Fort Mason was an Army base. I can't find him in any census after 1910, or any reference to him in genealogy data. This wouldn't be a problem if he were in the military and stationed overseas. His two pictures show him holding a child named Mickey - is this his child? Is the mystery woman in another picture with Mickey Frank's wife? Is Mickey a boy or a girl?

The chronology of the two brothers is interesting. Here are the known facts:

Washburne F. Hastings (1865-1939) was an accomplished organ and piano player who studied in New York and Europe, and in his early years was often on tour according to the family.

Washburne F. Hastings married Maria Skidgell about 1888 and had two children, Frank in Ohio about 1890 and Leighton in Massachusetts in 1895. Maria was probably gone (died or divorced) by 1899.

In the 1900 census, Leighton was found in New York City as a boarder in a private home. Neither Washburne nor Frank have been found. Presumably Maria had died (or divorced), Washburne had placed the boys in foster homes (or Frank was with him) and he could have been touring or studying abroad.

By 1905, Washburne had reclaimed his boys and married Lula Jane ? (The 1910 census asked how many years the husband and wife had been married, and they reported 5 years).

The Washington D.C. Post reported on August 1, 1906, that 10 year old Leighton had run away from home in Hagerstown, Maryland, headed for New York City, and his father had left to bring him home.

The 1910 census of Washington County, Maryland shows Washburne, Lula, Frank, and Leighton living on Mount Hope Road. Frank is listed as a "laborer at odd jobs".

Family history says that Leighton tried to enlist in the army at a premature age, and unsuccessfully tried to pass himself off as his brother. Leighton would have been 15 in 1910, so this must have occurred between 1910 and 1913.

Leighton was in the military during WW-1, but was back home by 1920 when he was found with Washburne, Lula, and half-sister Jane Elise in Elizabeth City, North Carolina. Both Washburne and Leighton are piano tuners.

Leighton marries Lilian Butler in 1920.

Both Leighton and Frank are shown in a photo in 1937-39 with "Grandpa" (presumably Washburne). Frank is in uniform.

Leighton and Lilian are divorced in 1940. Leighton remarries to Mable A. Miller.

On December 3, 1942 (Pearl Harbor was Dec. 7, 1941), Leighton lists a sale of his personal property in the Frederick, Maryland, newspaper. Nothing more is heard from him until his death certificate in 1966.

Jane Elise Hastings, b. 1911 to Washburne and Lula, is probably the same Jane E. Hastings who is buried in the Culpeper National Cemetary in Culpeper, Virginia. The cemetary listing reads, "Hastings, Jane E, b. 11/24/1910, d. 04/16/1982, CPL USA, Plot: G 1050, bur. 04/28/1982" It's hard to determine whether she made a career of the military. Since military personnel were not subject to Social Security, she would not be listed, and we have found no record of a marriage.

Jim Pearce