Alice Mott and Ethel Mott

In September, 2011, I published the story of Leah Mott, a Missoula, Montana, business woman who was murdered by her second husband, leaving two adult sons from her first marriage: Henry and Oscar Strothman; and two young daughters by her second marriage,  Alice Fedelia (named for Louis’ mother) and Ethel Mott.  With the original post, I included information about Henry, who died as a young adult leaving a widow and small son.  I didn’t know what happened to the other three children.  But now, here are the stories of Leah’s two daughters.

Leah was killed on January 4, 1903.  Newspapers covering the story of the murder, and later the trial of Louis Mott, mention the children, and say that the two little girls went to live with an aunt.  The aunt was Leah’s sister Anne Elizabeth (Smith) Cardwell, wife of Marshal W Cardwell, a civil service Army clerk.  Alice returned to Missoula to testify at the trial, but Ethel seemed to have disappeared.  I suspected that she died young, as a relative bequeathed money to Alice but not Ethel, and I suspect he would have taken care of Ethel as well, if she was still alive.

After a long search, I recently located records for Ethel, in Oklahoma Probate Records at Ancestry, for 1906.  When I saw the name in the index, I almost didn’t look at the record.  Why would a seven-year-old have probate records?  But the first image of the record included the name Alice Mott, and the second showed Marshall W Cardwell was this Ethel’s uncle and guardian.  I had located the right Ethel Mott.  Her assets were listed as $331 dollars (minus some court costs).  I suspect that this might have been her share of her mother’s estate.  Alice was listed as the only heir, and living in Des Moines, Iowa. The probate records name Gertrude Mott (Louis Mott’s aunt) as Alice’s guardian.  Alice eventually received about $320 from Ethel’s estate.

The probate records say that Ethel Mott died intestate 21 December 1906, in Oklahoma City, but cause of death is not listed.  I have not yet found a matching death certificate or news item with that information.  The probate records do include receipts for payment of bills from doctors and druggists, so it appears that she died from an illness, as opposed to a sudden (untreated) death.  A receipt from the Fairlawn Cemetery Association indicates that her grave is on Lot 27, B5. 

While both girls initially lived with the Cardwells, after her father’s trial, Alice went to live with Lamoine Mott, her father’s uncle, who was a well-to-do business man in Des Moines, Iowa.  When Lamoine died in 1907, he left Alice an annuity of $600 on condition that she marry a man approved by the trustees of the estate.  Alice challenged this condition, and in 1908, the court ruled in her favor saying that because the trustees were heirs to the estate, they in theory could object to anyone in order that the annuity might revert to the estate.   It was an interesting condition, probably meant to protect Alice but also showed the control her guardian thought he had, even after his own death. 

Alice went to live with the Cardwells, and in 1910, age 16, was counted in the census with them and their 19-year-old son Marshall, living in Denver.  On 1 Jul 1911, in Golden, Alice married her cousin Marshall.  In 1920, they were living in San Antonio TX, and he worked as a chauffeur.  (His parents lived in the same town.)  By 1930, Alice had a son Norman, and daughter Peggy.  However, both Alice and her husband were in the state asylum for the insane.  It appears that the children were raised partly by their now-widowed grandmother, and spent time in youth homes.  Marshall died in the hospital in 1930.  Alice’s 1940 census shows her in the hospital, and lists that as her residence in 1935.  Alice died in a nursing home, age 78, in 1973.  Her son Norman, Soundman 2c, USNR, was killed in action on 19 August 1943, and is listed on a war memorial in Honolulu. Navy muster rolls list him on the destroyer USS Abner Read.  Two years after launch, while patrolling near Kiska Island, Alaska, the rear of the ship blew up, possibly from striking a mine, and Norman was among the 70 men lost or killed.  Peggy served her country during WWII as a WAVE (Navy’s Women Accepted for Volunteer Emergency Service) and died in 1999. 

Just as Leah came to a tragic end, her children Henry and Ethel died too soon, and Alice, on paper at least, had a hard life.   But what of Oscar?  I know he was alive in 1904, as he was mentioned in newspaper coverage of the hanging of his step-father.  But then what became of him?  Is he the same person as John Strothman listed in the 1904 city directory and working at the same place as his brother Henry?  I’m still looking for Oscar. 

 

 

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