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Josephine Elizabeth (Betty) Wagaman

Josephine Elizabeth (Betty) Wagaman
Above is a picture of Josephine Elizabeth (Betty) Wagaman.

Submitted by Betty's brother Merle's daughter, Pauline (Polly) Wagaman Mazariegos.


Let me begin to tell you a story —— about a lady named Betty. This lady is my aunt and she has a story to tell.

A long time ago, in the Depression area, she was sent away to what some people would call an orphanage or a youth home or a county home. She arrived there at the age of 3. Soon she was sent to Philadelphia, PA, from Chambersburg, PA, to be adopted.

Something went wrong. These people did not want Betty. Now, who would not want a cute 3 year old.

At this part of her life she was bounced around from foster home to foster home - from Philadelphia to Lancaster, PA, and back to Chambersburg. At this point Betty is not sure why she was sent to the youth home in Chambersburg. She can only surmise it was because of the Depression and her family could no longer support her. Evidently this happened a lot during the Depression.

While at the Philadelphia, PA, youth home, she wondered why all the other children were going home on weekends and holidays and she did not.

At age 11, she asked her housemother, Mrs. Barr, "Don't I have any family?"

Mrs. Barr inquired to Chambersburg, PA, youth home and found out that Betty did have family. She had a sister Sarah who was still at the Chambersburg youth home and she had a brother Merle who was working on a farm in Altoona, PA.

Merle did not know about Betty, but did know about his sister Sarah, as he used to visit her quite often in Chambersburg. See, Sarah did not get moved from foster home to foster home as Betty did.

When Betty was 13 or 14 years of age she met her brother Merle while he was visiting his sister Sarah. Sarah went to school, graduated, and left the Chambersburg youth home at age 18. Sarah went to work first at Stanley Clothes Sewing Factory in Chambersburg and then to the Letterkenny Army Depot.

Sarah met her husband (we assume while working at the Army Depot) and they had 3 children. One child was named Susan and two boys named Shawn and Shane.

At this point Betty has lost all contact with her sister Sarah. Sarah did not want to be reminded about her life in the youth home or about Betty.

Betty found out she is the youngest of four children, Merle, Sarah, and Sam. No information is available on Sam, as the family never talked about him. His full name was Samuel Phillip Wagaman. He was named after his grandfather. Sarah was named after her grandmother.

Betty's real first name is Josephine. Her middle name is Elizabeth. This is how she was nicknamed Betty after her aunt Josephine Yeager who lived in Waynesboro, PA. Aunt Josephine's husband's name was Iron Yeager.

Betty's brother Merle's name was supposed to be Henry after his father Henry Harrison Wagaman. Here our story becomes somewhat vague. There was a man named Merle Harrison Wagaman who is Betty's brother from the youth home. Somewhere in his life, his real first name was messed up. He was supposed to be named after his father Henry Harrison Wagaman.

When Merle enlisted in the service, he enlisted as Merle Harrison Wagaman not Henry Harrison Wagaman. No one knows how he got the name Merle.

When my mother, Myra Wike, met Merle, that was the name he used. No one questioned his name. When Merle Harrison Wagaman was killed during World War II, that is when the discrepancy appeared.

Most of the information that Betty knows came from a lady name Edie Leonard nee Nagle. This was the last name of Betty's aunt Annie and Neopolean (known as Nap for short) on the Wagaman side of the family. She was Henry Wagaman's sister.

As we travel down the tree of life we have an uncle Lewis Wagaman as Betty's daddy's brother. He had children named Lewis and Elmer. Betty's mother's brother's name was Walter Rock. Betty's mother's maiden name was Rock. She went by the name of Margie Bell Rock nee Wagaman.

As I delved further into the family tree, I found out we have uncle Lewis that had a daughter Evie. Evie had a dark skinned baby boy, named Henry. Both were killed in an auto accident in Bonneville, PA, sometime in the 40's.

To come to the conclusion of the story about the life of my aunt Betty, we have to tell the story of how she met her husband Johnnie Lawrence.

She met Johnnie Lawwrence through George and Bessie Wagaman, who were Johnnie's Aunt on his mother's side and Johnnie's Uncle.

When Betty was of age and ready to leave the youth home, they asked her if she wanted to go live with aunt Annie and uncle Nat (short for Napolien) Betty went to live with Edie and finally she ended up at my grandmother's house.

When George and Bessie went to visit Edie, they had Johnnie Lawrence along. Johnnie also joined the Army and Betty corresponded through letters to him. Johnnie was a cook in the Army. Betty knew Johnnie would be coming home soon so she left my grandmother's house and went back to Bessie's house. Betty knew Johnnie was the one for her and when he came home they were married. Out of that marriage came two children. A boy named Merle (after my father and Betty's brother) and a girl named Carolyn. I am not sure who she is named after.

Thus ends the saga of Betty Lawrence nee Wagaman. Betty is presently living by herself in a trailer. Betty has always liked being in a trailer. When they sold their home, she moved into a trailer with Johnnie. During his lifetime he made many revisions to the trailer. Unfortunately, Johnnie passed away March 20, 1989.

Submitted by Betty's brother Merle's daughter, Pauline (Polly) Wagaman Mazariegos.

Josephine Elizabeth (Betty) Wagaman in picture.

We are grateful that this story was shared by Polly for all the Wagaman decendants. Pauline (Polly) Wagaman Mazariegos passed away on April 20, 2013. We are greateful for all the stories she shared.

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