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Dear Reader #173

Dear Reader,

Clara Bow’s twelfth movie was Empty Hearts, produced during the summer of 1924 and released on September 15, 1924. Fourth on the bill, Clara played Rosalie. 

A drama, the plot of Empty Hearts centred on a blackmail letter, relationships, and misunderstandings. The screenplay was based on a story written by Evelyn Campbell a screenwriter, author and actress active during Hollywood’s silent era. Evelyn also wrote Westerns.

At this stage of Clara’s career, B.P. Schulberg was loaning her out to various studios. Indeed, not one of her eight movies made in 1924 was produced by Schulberg. On the whole, these movies were beneath Clara’s talent, and she must have felt frustrated.

Serial Stars

Kay Aldridge

Although she was screen-tested for the part of Scarlett O’Hara in Gone with the Wind, Kay Aldridge made her name as a heroine in serials. She starred as Nyoka Gordon in Perils of Nyoka, 1942. In the series, Nyoka confronted a host of villains while looking for her father, who’d disappeared while on expedition in Africa. Each episode ended with the traditional cliffhanger.

Kay also played the heroine in Daredevils of the West, 1943, and Haunted Harbor, 1944. She retired from acting in 1945.

After ten years, I’ve completed the preliminary research on my family tree. Of course, because of missing records, there are gaps, but I’m delighted with the stories I’ve discovered. Now, I intend to trace a branch back in greater detail, starting with my 3 x great grandmother Hannah Morgan, 30 July 1848 – c1881. How far back does this branch go? Stay tuned and find out 😉

The basics of Hannah’s life, outlined below, look ordinary. However, as the mother of five children and the wife of a coal miner, she was one of the women who formed the backbone of Welsh society during the Victorian era.

Hannah’s father was an ostler, so it’s likely she was familiar with horses. Her mother lodged Irish navvies, so from a young age she became accustomed to the Victorian norm – a crowded house.

The points on this modern map highlight where my 3 x great grandmother Hannah Morgan was born and where she lived at the time of each census. The birth records of her five children indicate that her family was constantly on the move as her husband Thomas Jones sought employment in the newly developing coal mines that were transforming the culture and landscape of Glamorgan. Llandyfodwg, highlighted to the north, was Hannah’s last known address.

Hannah Morgan’s family chart and timeline reveal that, in common with many parents of her era, she named her children after her parents. Two of the major events of Hannah’s life occurred during her teenage years when her father died and when she married.

My 3 x great grandparents Hannah Morgan and Thomas Jones married on 22 February 1868, a Saturday, at Ruhama Baptist Chapel, Bridgend. As newlyweds establishing a home maybe they paid attention to advertisements like this one, which appeared on the day of their wedding.

Unfortunately, no pictures of Hannah Morgan or Thomas Jones exist. However, I have managed to find a picture of their son, Richard Morgan Jones, 1874 – 1954. Like his father, Richard was a coal miner in Glamorgan.

My 3 x great grandfather Thomas Jones started his working life as a ‘cow boy’. After that he worked as a coal miner, dicing with death, every day. At random I have selected ten Joneses who worked alongside Thomas in the local coal mines. The brief notes that follow record their fate.

Thomas Jones, aged 22: killed by falling from a byat while moving a stage in the shaft.

Evan Jones, aged 14: killed by a full train passing over him.

William Jones, aged 38: killed when the mineshaft roof fell.

William Jones, aged 37: killed by a fall of coal.

William Jones, aged 16: killed by a fall of coal.

Richard Jones, aged 34: killed when the side of the pit gave way.

David Jones, aged 45: killed when the mine roof collapsed.

Thomas Jones, aged 48: killed by an explosion of firedamp, one of two people killed.

David Jones, aged 26: killed by a gas explosion, one of eleven people killed.

Lewis Jones, aged 12: run over by trams through breakage of coupling chains.

📸 Aberbaiden Colliery

My 3 x great grandmother Hannah Morgan disappeared from the historical record in the 1880s. Some researchers think she emigrated to America. The historical record and my DNA profile confirm that a number of my ancestors did emigrate to America. However, I have found no records that suggest Hannah joined them. With her family, she moved around the Glamorgan coalfields. I suspect that her death record was lost due to the transient nature of her life.

Clara Bow Quotes: “Mr Schulberg could not use me in any of his productions at the time but there was nothing to prohibit him from ‘farming me out’ to other producers for small roles. Looking over my records I find that I played in twenty-seven productions in not so many months. But as time went on, I was getting no place. Always the instructions were the same: ‘Clara, X Blank wants you for a “bit” in their production, which starts Thursday’. Always a “bit”. If this was Hollywood, I wanted no more of it.

Gradually, I became better known. Occasionally, my name would creep into the billing on pictures and executives of the various studios were nodding now and then when I ran across them on the lot. I was getting somewhere.”

Intertitle #13

As ever, thank you for your interest and support.

Hannah xxx

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2 replies on “Dear Reader #173”

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