The following article appeared in the St. Louis Star on July 17, 1911.
Then on September 11, these two articles were carried in the St. Louis newspapers.
This isn’t the end of the story. Julie Winch in her book, The Clamorgans – One Family’s History of Race in America, does a great job of following up on what befell the key players in this story. My summary follows but I highly recommend you read her book.
Everyone involved in this saga suffered through big changes in their lives. The Clamorgan family including all but one of their children, their son-in-law, Jack Collins and their infant granddaughter, Virginia had left St. Louis by the end of the year. Owen and Mary Collins had lost their son and granddaughter.
The Clamorgans moved to Los Angeles where they first changed their name to Morgan and then to Demorgan in an attempt to put the experience behind them. Louis and Louise moved to Sierra Madre. Louis died there in 1922. Louise moved back to LA where she died in 1946 at the age of 82.
Blanche left her two suitors in St. Louis. She married an English immigrant, Albert Leat, in California in August 1912. They had a daughter, Hazel in March of 1914. Albert died in 1957. Blanche died in 1969, age 86. Her race (white) had not been questioned.
Walter eventually got a job selling cars. Then, probably with the help of Blanche’s husband, he got a job as a maintenance man at 20th Century Fox Studios. He died in 1965 at the Motion Picture Hospital. He was 75 and white.
Clothilde, using her middle name, became Isabel Morgan. In 1916, she wed a Californian. They had one son born in 1919. “Like most of her siblings, Isabel spent the rest of her life in California, dying in Los Angeles County on May 26, 1978, at age 83, her identity as a white woman unquestioned.”
Grace, the youngest, married in California when she was 19. She and her husband moved to New Jersey but were living back in Pasadena by 1930. Grace Demorgan Roney died in Los Angeles in 1990, age 92.
Cora and Jack had a tough time. She gave birth to their second child, Herbert Jack Collins, on September 18, 1912. They moved often and by 1920 were back living with Cora’s parents. At some point over the next decade they separated. Jack’s parents moved to Burbank in 1920 in order to be near their son. They never reconciled themselves to their son’s marriage. When Owen died, Jack turned his back on Cora to be with his mother.
Jack and Cora’s marital problems had an impact on their children. Herbert left home early. Virginia married Orville Maloy when she was 17 in 1929. In 1931, she gave birth to a daughter, Jeanne Margaret. Cora stayed close to her daughter’s family. She never divorced Jack. Cora Clamorgan Collins died in Los Angeles County on January 6, 1989 with Virginia by her side. Like her siblings, she was white when she died.
What a powerful story! Thanks to everyone who stayed with me all the way through.
Doug Houser July 6, 2020
This addendum is made necessary by the meticulous research done by reader Dave Pepin. First, he has given us a bonus image by discovering a copy of Cora and Jack’s marriage license. As he has mentioned below, they were actually married in December of 1910 even though they reported a marriage date in August. This was, no doubt, in order to put a little more time before the birth of their daughter, Virginia in April of 1911.
On page 296 of Ms. Winch’s book she states that “Jack, burdened with a family…dead end jobs…continuing financial hardship…seems to have caved in under pressure. His father’s death intensified the demands upon him. His mother was alone and he turned his back on Cora to be with her.” The source she lists is the 1930 U.S. Census, Inglewood, Los Angeles, Calif.
Two paragraphs later, “Cora stayed close to Virginia, Orville and her granddaughter. She shared a home with them…and when she and Jack briefly reconciled in the late 1930’s, so did he.” Ms. Winch lists California Voter Registrations, 1934, 1940, 1942, 1944 (www.ancestry.com) as the sources of this information.
She goes on to say, “Within a year or two, Jack had faded out of their lives again. Cora never divorced him, but she made a determined effort to become independent of him. She decided on a new career. She qualified as a nurse and worked until she was in her sixties.”
This next document, discovered by Dave, shows that Ms. Winch must have gotten some misinformation somewhere along the way.
Jack Collins had passed away in 1921 at the age of 30. His death certificate is signed by his father. I suppose we ought ought to inform Ms. Winch of this. I think she would appreciate getting this information.
Much thanks to Dave Pepin for this surprise ending.