An Unusually Attractive and Popular Girl

On occasion, while researching my family history, I’ve come across a person, photo, or event that touched me personally.  Often it was completely unexpected, and mostly about ancestors that I wasn’t even that closely related to.  One such instance occurred while reading about my great grand aunt Alma Catherine Updegraff.  Thanks to the New Castle News archives at the New Castle library, we can piece together some fantastic details of Alma’s life.  She is mentioned nearly 50 times in the Society Section during the time of her childhood and adult life.

Alma Catherine Updegraff

Childhood
5 February 1895:  Alma Catherine Updegraff was born in New Castle, Pennsylvania to Henry Herman Updegraff and Margaret H Davis.  She was much younger than her three older brothers: Clarence David, Royer Howard, and John “Jay” William. (1900 Census)

2 June 1900:  Five year old Alma was living with her parents, three older brothers, and Aunt Rachel Davis (her mother’s youngest sister) near 257 West Washington Street, New Castle, Pennsylvania. (1900 Census)

Adolescence 
20 March 1908:  A large meeting was held by The Protected Home Circle and the Ladies League, with a great number of members being present.  For entertainment, Alma performed a duet, “Star of the East” with Charles Isaacs.

7 February 1911: So that Alma’s 16th birthday would not go unnoticed, her friends at the L.B.G. Club planned a surprise party.  Alma’s mother furnished the music and entertainment and decorated the house with red and white ribbons, flowers, and hearts.

29 November 1911: Alma and her brother Jay spent Thanksgiving with their Aunt Susannah Davis-Schultz (mother’s sister) in Alliance, Ohio.

31 Jan 1912:  While visiting their home at 135 North Beaver Street, New Castle, Alma’s Aunt Annie Hughes-Davis died of dropsy.  Annie Hughes-Davis was the wife of Alma’s mother’s younger brother Luther John Davis.

11 March 1912: Alma and her brother Jay visit for a couple of days to Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, possibly to see their Aunt Rachel Davis.

17 January 1913: Just before her 18th birthday, Alma was appointed Pianist at the Protected Home Circle, New Castle Circle No. 5 (a fraternal insurance organization).

Adulthood
11 July 1913:  On this day she participated in a motor party to Youngstown with some friends, her brother Jay, and future fiancé Leon Claire Taggart.

15 August 1913:  In honor of a friend visiting from New York, Alma hosted a 6 o’clock dinner at her Front Street home.

30 October 1913: Alma participated in a “progressive party” in which party attendees change houses for each course.  Alma’s house was the last stop and was co-hosted by her cousin Irene Davis (Uncle Luther John Davis’ daughter).

28 July 1915:  Alma attended a “Supper at Park” in honor of her sister-in-law’s cousin visiting from Pittsburgh.  Those in attendance included her brother Clarence David and sister-in-law Minnie Colgan, brother Jay, and future fiancé Leon Clare Taggart.

31 August 1915: Alma hosted a “Corn Roast” with four of her friends.  The event was decorated with japanese lanterns and Alma’s mother served the refreshments.  Music and dancing occurred later in the evening.

Engagement
16 February 1918:  Alma was described in her engagement announcement as “unusually attractive and popular.”  The engagement party was held at the home of Alma’s parents and was hosted by her mother, sister-in-law Minnie Colgan, and Aunt Rachel Davis-Fischer.  A basket of red tulips decorated with red, white, and blue ribbon hung from the chandelier.  The favors to guests included miniature ships filled with red and white candy and the message “will sail in the spring.”

Marriage
13 January 1920: Renting at 179 Cleveland Street, Youngstown, Ohio with husband Leon Clare Taggart. (1920 Census)

16 April 1920:  The J.B.G. Girls held a farewell dinner at the Leslie House in honor of Alma who was moving to Akron, Ohio.

5 July 1921: Alma and Leon visit with her parents in Youngstown because of the serious sickness of Irene Davis-Shaffer -Alma’s 1st cousin.

17 February 1925: Mr. and Mrs. Leon Clare Taggart celebrate the birth of their son, Leon Russell Taggart.  (Family called him Russell, my Uncle Rusty Updegraff was actually named after him!)

7 April 1930:  Living at 35 Erskine Avenue, Youngstown, Ohio with husband and five year old son. (1930 Census)

Tragedy
20 November 1930: Funeral services for Alma Updegraff-Taggart occurred at the family residence 35 Erskine Avenue.  The house was filled with beautiful flowers and many friends in mourning.

I was absolutely shocked when I read the last article.  Happiness seemed to surround Alma and it was so enjoyable reading each article.  The last thing I was expecting to read was her obituary.

Alma died during childbirth at the age of 35.

Unless otherwise noted, all events have been gathered from the New Castle News archives.

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