Since his father disappeared, it was possible that Arthur's father, William LaPearl, was the same man found in Utah in the 1900-1930 censuses, married to Haley Lewis. Searches of the vital records of Providence, Rhode Island for the 1890's never turned up a marriage record for William LaPearl and Emily Jennie Stevens, and I thought that it was unlikely that the (according to family) alcoholic had even bothered to marry the mother of his children. Considering the fact that Jennie was 13 when she gave birth to their first child, I thought it unlikely that a man who seemed to have no compunctions about running off with a 12-year-old girl, would care about marrying her.
But marry her he did. Two years after she gave birth to Arthur and four months before having a daughter, Emily was married to William LaPearl on 8 July 1891 in Pawtucket, Providence County, Rhode Island. The record gave their names as "William LaPearle" and "Jenne Steens". I had originally thought it likely that, if they had gotten married, they would have done so there in Providence, since that is where their children were born. Of course, I was wrong.
So the marriage record, which I found at www.familysearch.org (I love that they are digitizing and transcribing their microfilms now) gives William LaPearl's parents as Alfred and "Allen". Allen is clearly a misreading of the original register, but at least I had something to go on!
Sure enough, I found the family of Alfred LaPearl, along with his wife Anastasia, and their children in the 1880 census in Holyoke, Massachusetts, and there was William. Both Alfred and Anastasia (Trudeau) LaPerle died in Massachusetts, in 1880 and 1901 respectively. I viewed their death records on the NEHGS site and now have added an entirely new branch of French-Canadian ancestors to my ex-husband's family.
What a pleasure to resolve half of the mystery - William's origins and parents.
That just leaves me wondering where William went after abandoning Emily, and their son and daughter. If I feel ambitious enough, someday I will try to locate a divorce record in Rhode Island or Massachusetts, as Emily (Steven) LaPearl returned to Massachusetts and married Arnold W. Mathewson in Charlton in 1898. Arnold died on 27 February 1900 in Charlton. They had one son, Roger Arnold Mathewson, born 19 April 1900 in Oxford.
After that, Emily married a third time to Benjamin Franklin Wells on 30 October 1907 in Southbridge, and it seemed they were together at least more than 10 years, since Emily is mentioned in her husband's and son's WWI draft registration cards in 1918. Emily must have died between then and 1920, as Benjamin is found on his own in the 1920 census in Huntington, Massachusetts.
Meanwhile, I wonder how often William bothered to come around and see his children. My former father-in-law said:
"All I know about Grandpa's father is that he was a drunkard. He would go a bender and disappear for months. Then he would show up again and be a pain... Maybe he wanted money for booze. Then, at some point, he just didn't come back..."
Copyright (c) 2011 Wendy L. Callahan