You Don’t Know the Half of It

In past posts, I’ve talked about my great-grandfather, William J. Earp (1888-1974), who was the son of Edward Earp and Annie Bowers. Annie died in 1900 at the young age of 33, leaving her husband Edward with three children, William (12), Anna (9) and Edward (7). The children were placed into the Children’s Industrial Home in Harrisburg, PA by Edward. He probably had convinced himself that this would be for the best at the time until he could find another way of taking care of the children.

In 1902, he did just that…Edward remarried. He married a woman by the name of Alice H. Minsker and brought his three children out of the Children’s Industrial Home into a new home with their new step-mother.

By 1910, a lot had changed.

Edward and Alice had at least 2 children together:

Ralph Norman Earp b. 1903 d. 1983

Florence Geraldine (Earp) Gerhart b. 1907 d. 1997

Some Ancestry family trees indicate there was a third child born to Edward and Alice, a daughter named Alice Earp. She was born either in 1905 or 1909, and died either in child birth or later in the same year of her birth. I found no concrete evidence that there was an Alice Earp born to Edward and Alice.

Edward, b. 27 Jan. 1866 in Maryland, died of tuberculosis 14 Oct. 1909 at the age of 43. In 1910, my great-grandfather William and his brother Edward were both working at the United Shoe Factory and Ralph was more than likely in school.

Ralph N. Earp, the half-sibling of my great great-grandfather, is the subject of this post.

Ralph Norman Earp was born 20 April, 1903. Ralph attended Technical High School and on 2 Aug. 1920, he enlisted in the Pennsylvania National Guard, the 107th Field Artillery, Battery A. He served there for five years, upon receiving his first commission as second lieutenant on 13 Aug. 1925. For his day job, Ralph was also a bookkeeper in a manufacturing company during this time.

Ralph got married 17 Oct. 1925 to Beatrix L. Whichello.

In 1930, his wife filed for divorce for cruel treatment. At first, it didn’t look like Beatrix was going to be granted a divorce:

A ruling by the court was held over until March of that same year.

In April of 1930, the judge decided in Beatrix’s favor and the divorce was granted:

By 1937, Ralph had risen to the rank of Captain in charge of Battery A of the 107th Field Artillery unit, where he had been serving for seventeen years, but his military life was only part-time. Ralph still worked among the working class in the Auditor General’s Department of Dauphin County. Ralph’s life appeared to take an unexpected turn and in June of 1937, he was arrested for the following:

Later that same June of 1937, Ralph lost his job in the Auditor General’s Office:

In July, Ralph’s troubles mounted:

In September of 1937, this was reported:

Again more troubles for Ralph. It seems he was definitely going through something:

The following day, this news item appeared stating that Ralph had resigned his post from the 107th Field Artillery, Battery A of the PA National Guard:

In November, things seemed a bit brighter:

In December, Ralph appeared to slip again:

In January of 1938, Ralph just couldn’t seem to keep himself out of trouble:

From this point in 1938 until 1940, there was no mention of a Ralph Earp anywhere in the newspapers. The next item I found tells me he obviously had turned his life around:

Also further proof that Ralph was getting his life in order, in May of 1940 he and wife Roxane attended a party for a fellow officer’s wife:

By January of 1941, it appears that Ralph Earp was back into the swing of things and back with the PA National Guard (I did not find any mention or record of how Ralph got back into the National Guard):

En route to Shelby, Miss. for a year of training, Ralph was obviously back in his element:

I then found this on Fold3…what a find! Pictured below and highlighted in blue, Major Ralph N. Earp of the 166th Field Artillery. Pictured next to him on the left is my great-grandfather and Ralph’s half-brother, Wm. J. Earp c. 1930’s:

More good news for Ralph – a promotion:

In June of 1944, Lt. Col. Ralph N. Earp was sent to Europe, attached to the Third Army in Germany under Gen. George S. Patton. Ralph received a Bronze Star, and although not mentioned here, he also was awarded the French decoration, the Croix de Guerre:

After his service in the war, Ralph returned home to his wife and children and continued his career in the Pennsylvania National Guard (notice the mention of the Battle of the Bulge):

For the rest of his life, Ralph N. Earp was committed to the Pennsylvania National Guard, and he also contributed his time to the Boy Scouts of America. When he retired, his rank was that of Brigadier General. He lived another 9 years beyond my great-grandfather, William living to the age of 80. Here is his obituary:

When researching your ancestors, don’t forget to even look into half-siblings…you may only have half their story!





Featured Image courtesy of the National Archive, Washington, D.C.

Special Appreciation:

To all my Earp relatives who continue the legacy of the Earp family.

Cheryl, my wife whose love and support means everything.

Brian S. Miller

2 thoughts on “You Don’t Know the Half of It

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