What Happened to George Frederick Hopf? My brick wall! My grandfather!
I’ve been doing genealogy research for over 12 years. It has been a great adventure meeting long lost relatives, finding relatives I never knew existed and learning the stories of their lives. It was great fun. They told me their stories and I told them mine. I visited the places where they lived, walked the streets where they walked over 100 years ago. I haunted graveyards looking for their burial plots and gravestones. I spent hours in county records offices looking up land records, wills and probate. I spent uncounted hours searching the Internet for records of census, birth, death and marriage and social security records. Many times a name was spelled or copied wrong or the record taker’s handwriting was difficult to read.
I spent a fortune in both time and money copying or sending for original documents. I grew increasingly fascinated with the lives they led against the backdrop of the times.
The stories morphed into a book Lotties Lot. Lottie Jane Walker was my great grandmother. She was born in 1871 in Cresco, Iowa. She married Charles Ira Hastings when she was 18 years old. They were married for 23 years and together raised seven children six daughter and one son. The title of the book Lottie’s Lot refers to her lot of kids and her lot in life. Her second daughter, Iris Hazel, everyone called her Hazel, was my grandmother.
I started the book in the middle, first writing the story of one of my grandmother’s sisters Bethany who died at age 26 from a self-inflicted abortion. She left four children behind. Before I stated my research I never knew Beth existed, let alone her children. My family was expert at keeping secrets. It made my investigations harder but more fun. Beth and her family lived in Alberta, Canada. After I found out about them I called and talked to one of her son’s Lynn who was just three years old when his mother died. That led to a trip and I was privileged to visit and meet three of the Beth’s four children some spouses and children. Cousins and second cousins. I visited places where Lottie lived, where Beth lived and died. It was wonderful.
Then I found out that my biological grandfather was George Frederick Hopf. This was quite a shock because all of my life I believed that my last name was Vardon. My name was Nancy Vardon. I discovered that Hazel married George Hopf on July 25, 1910 in Minneapolis, Minnesota. I have their marriage license. My father was born April 5, 1911, his name was George Kenneth Hopf. They moved to Edmonton Alberta, Canada. George was a Seventh day Adventist and his religion and other issues caused conflicts in their marriage. Hazel separated from him and ran away with another man named Anthony Leroy Vardon who was still married to another woman. They went to Detroit in 1915. Because both were married to someone else they had to keep their situation secret. Living together in those days was judged harshly so she arbitrarily changed my fathers name to Kenneth Leroy Vardon.
George in his despair joined the Canadian Army and fought in WW1. He spent three years in France and was a medic. After his discharge in January 1919, he found Hazel in Detroit and wanted his son. They argued more. She finally filed for a divorce and it was granted in her favor September 1920. He was living in Detroit in the 1920 Census. In about 1926 he moved to Washington D.C. He is listed in the city directories from 1926 to 1930, and he is in the 1930 census. Then he disappears. He would have been 50 years old. He was born on January 20, 1880 in Pittsburg, Pennsylvania, the second son of George M F Hopf and Caroline. I desperately want to find out what happened to him, when and where he died, where he is buried. If you read this and can help me please send an email to me.