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Clara Bishop

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Clara E. (Bishop) Adair, 1864-1932

Clara Bishop

Clara E. Bishop was born on 7 November 1864 in Vassar, Tuscola Co., Michigan. She was the fourth of eleven children born to Hiram and Catherine (Wiser) Bishop. Hiram and Catherine were both born in Pine Twp., Crawford Co., Pennsylvania, which is where their first child was born, and they moved to Michigan about 1859. Hiram was working for a lumber company in 1860 as a "sawyer", and the 1870 census of Vassar (when Clara was five years old) lists her father as a "dry goods merchant." Clara's family moved to Thetford Twp., Genesee Co. (adjacent to Tuscola Co.) during the 1870's where they purchased a small farm. They lived in Henpeck, a small community in Thetford Twp., which is also where Augustus G. Adair grew up and worked as a farm laborer. Clara and Augustus married on 4 April 1881. They had two children, Roland in 1885 and Tressia in 1887 (they also had another child who died young). In January 1891 Clara was judged to be insane by the Probate Court of Genesee County and admitted to Eastern Michigan Asylum for the Insane at Pontiac, and was discharged in May. That fall Augustus died at the age of 36 and left Clara with two small children (Roland was six and Tressia was four). Roland went to live with his paternal grandparents while Tressia remained with Clara.

In the spring of 1896 Clara took a job as housekeeper for Charles P. Day, a divorced farmer near Farrandville which was not much more than a few farm houses clustered together about a mile north of Clio in Genesee Co. Charles was 18 years older than Clara and a Civil War veteran. He received a veteran's pension of 30 dollars a month, which was attractive to Clara who had designs on Charles and his pension (according to testimony recorded in 1908 when Clara filed a petition seeking half his pension following their separation). A few months after Clara started work for Charles as his housekeeper she became pregnant and expected Charles to marry her. When he refused she filed a legal charge of "bastardy" against him. He reluctantly agreed to marry her rather than go to jail. They married in August of 1896. Shortly after Bessie was born in November Charles filed for divorce claiming the child was not his, that Clara would not cook his meals, etc. The court decided the child was his and dismissed the suit. They continued to keep house together and at times lived amicably enough until shortly before their final separation in 1906. A running complaint of Clara's was Charles's habit of drinking. He was arrested and fined a number of times for drinking. After a few years on the farm they moved to Pine Run, another hamlet similar to Farrandville and also about a mile from Clio. They rented a house for four dollars a month and Charles supplemented his pension by working for local farmers. Clara also worked by taking in washing and working for a local elevator picking beans. After they separated in 1906 Charles went to live with his mother near Davison, while Clara moved to Clio and supported herself by domestic work or working in a little restaurant in Clio. Neither Clara nor Charles remarried, and when Charles died in 1923 she applied for a widows pension. During the 1930 census Clara was living with her daughter Bessie in Flint, which is where Clara died on 1 May 1932. According to her obituary she died of dropsy at the age of 68 and was buried in Thetford Cemetery.

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