This is an absolutely wonderful class photo from 1923 – the seniors of Liberty Union High School in Baltimore, Ohio (near Lancaster in Fairfield county.) I’ve started with the lovely Dorothy Cowan. I don’t think the written name next to her photo is her signature though, as all the names are written in the same script.
Dorothy, I presumed, was born about 1905 given she would have been 18 in 1923. I found a Dorothy Cowan living in Liberty, Fairfield county, OH in 1910, 1920, 1935, and 1940. She was the only surviving child of Charles G. Cowan and Emma Olive Sager born on May 7, 1905 in Ohio. It appears that Emma had several children die, but at what age is unknown. She was 34 when Dorothy was born. On the 1910 census the number of children born is difficult to read, it could be 3 or 5. Dorothy is the only one who made it to adulthood. That must have been tough on everyone.
In 1910, four year old Dorothy lived with her parents and maternal grandmother (Rebecka Fultz Sager.) By 1920, the three lived on their own; Mr. Cowan was a farmer. But Dorothy’s paternal grandparents, Amos and Lucinda Cowan, lived only a few houses (or farms) away. Three years after this lovely high school photo was taken, Dorothy married Floyd R. Blum* at the age of 21, and after 3 years of college. And in 1930 they had an almost 2 year old daughter Relva J. Blum and were living in Lancaster.
However, something goes amiss. By 1935 Dorothy had moved back in with her parents, little Relva with her. In 1940 she was an elementary school teacher still living in Liberty with mom and dad. Dorothy listed her self as a widow. But Floyd wasn’t dead. As a matter of fact he became a WWII vet and lived until 1981.
Her Ohio death certificate indicates that Dorothy Mae Cowan Blum died on July 5, 1994 in Richland and that she was divorced. It seems silly to indicate a marital status of divorced when she was married for less than 10 years of her whole life! Dorothy is buried at Union Evangelical Cemetery in Baltimore, OH.
It would be easy to characterize her life as sad. But the truth is that these bare facts tell us very little about how Dorothy weathered what may have been rocky times. She very well could have been the happiest woman on earth. And I hope she was!
*A follow-up post will cover Floyd. He’s also in the 1923 class photo with Dorothy!
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