Thursday, March 18, 2021

The Stanley Family of Delmar


The Story of the Stanley family of Delmar would have to start in New Jersey. 

The Waverly Park race track opened in 1867, and it attracted Gypsies to the Elizabeth, New Jersey area. Three seasonal Gypsy campgrounds were established in the area. Despite the race track moving to Trenton in 1901, the gypsies' presence in the area did not cease. There is a 115-acre cemetery called Evergreen Cemetery that has over 3,000 Romany (Gypsies) graves. James Stanley (1847-1947) was from that area. He was from a sizeable Gypsy clan or tribe referred to as the Stanley tribe. His future wife Rosa (Rhodey) Smith, with her family, had come from England and settled in the area also. The Smith name also applies to a large tribe of Gypsies. One of the occupancies of male Gypsies is metalworking and tinkering, and the surname; Smith is an outtake of that metalworking occupancy. James and Rhodey were married in 1885, and it was probably an arranged marriage. 

Gypsy families travel, and they are referred to as Travellers. When warm weather started, James and Rhodey would leave the Elizabeth New Jersey area and travel, generally south, to work their trades. Female Romany will usually practice palm reading, and the male Romany will do metalwork of some sort, mechanical work, horse-trading, chair making, tinker, tinman, knife grinder, basket maker, etc.  

Chiromancy or palm reading became very popular in Victorian England when Rhodey Smith left England for America. Palm reading is based on the belief that the hand contains meaningful patterns that the palmist discerns through deliberate and rational inquiry. 

 The lines in the palm, particularly the four main ones (life, fate, head, and heart), are formed before birth. The fetus awaits birth with closed hands, and the act of making a fist creates creases or lines in the hand. The lines deepen and change somewhat during one's lifetime; new lines appear as well, but the primary lines mentioned above are quite easily read no matter what age. The right hand is read mainly. The left hand, according to tradition, is one's fortune at birth, his inherited fortune, while the right hand indicates what one is making of his fortune.  Today palm reading can be done on-line.

Because they travel, there are at least three characteristics of Gypsies that stand out when researching individual members. First, they are rarely in a census, and when they are in a census, their occupancy will usually be noted as “gypsy.” Second, their children are born in different states. Third, they will have limited formal education, and often they can not read and write. The James Stanley family, however, were recorded in most of the census after 1900.  In the case of James and Rhodey, their children were born in New York, Pennsylvania, West Virginia, and Indiana. 

The children that lived to adulthood were; Thomas (1885- ), Joseph (1892- ), Charles (1895-1954), Valley (1896- ), Cecelia (1899-1990), Edward (1900- ), Carrie Mae (1900-1977) and George (1905-1998).  

For many years the Stanley family traveled to Delmarva and North Carolina. 

There Rhodey and her daughters practiced palm reading, and James worked in State and local fairs with various concessions. In 1920 they lived in Dorchester County farming. They appear to have started using the Eastern Shore of Maryland as their operation base about this time, but they still traveled. In 1922 this ad appeared in the Goldsboro Daily Argus in North Carolina.

In November of 1922, Rhodey Smith Stanley would pass away in North Carolina. Her body was returned to Elizabeth, New Jersey, and she was buried in Evergreen cemetery. 

above from Courier News Bridgewater NJ

By 1924 James Stanley and his sons and daughters were on the Eastern Shore. They lived in Pocomoke, Cambridge, and later Salisbury, and some would settle in Delmar, Maryland in the 1930s. 

above 1925 ad

 They may have been aware of the area through earlier travels down the peninsula. When the gypsies would pass through Delmar, they would overnight or stay a few days at Leonard Millpond. Other Gypsy families besides Smith and Stanley settled in the area. The last names of Marks, Urich or Unich, Nickelas, and Uwanawich are but a few.

Wicomico County put a very high annual fee ($300 to $1,000) to practice palm reading or fortune-telling. Never the less in 1959, they had five palm readers apply for a business license. Most were just south of Delmar Maryland, on Delmar Road, which is today Bi-State Boulevard: Mrs. Anne Adams practicing as Madam Anne on Delmar road, Hattie Stanley practicing as Madam Cecelia on Delmar road, Julia Marino practicing as Sister Teresa on Delmar Road, Cecelia Hubbard practicing as Madam Stanley on Delmar Road, and Carrie Butler practicing as Madam Stanley. 

James Stanley's daughters continued to practice palm reading and James Stanley and his sons took up jobs as concessionaires in Ocean City.

In 1947 James Stanley would pass away. 


THOMAS STANLEY (1885- 1971 ) No record has been found of him marrying. He was described as being a rustic furniture maker and mechanic. He lived in Delmar, Maryland. He is buried in Wicomico Memorial Park Cemetery. Based on his 1942 WW2 Civilian registration card, he could not read or write, and his card is signed with an “X” that was witnessed by Hattie Hall.

 JOSEPH “Josh” STANLEY (1888 - 1930 ) He lived in Cambridge and then moved to Gloucester County, Virginia, when he married Edith Francis Jackson. She was the daughter of George Washington Jackson and Sara Elizabeth Sable Jackson. He made his living as a basket maker. He died in a car accident in 1930 and is buried in Cambridge, Maryland.

CARRIE MAE STANLEY (1894-1977) was born in West Virginia; she would marry Sidney Columbus Butler (1907-1953). Sidney Butler was from the Princess Anne area, and when he died, he was buried in Princess Anne. They would live in Delmar, and he would have concessions in Ocean City. Carrie was a palm reader under the name of Madam Stanley. Both are buried in Wicomico Memorial Park cemetery.

CHARLES T. STANLEY (1895- 1954) or 1891 to 1954 lived in Cambridge, Maryland, and later moved to Bay View, Virginia. In 1926 he married Katherine (Catherine) “Kate” Kaiser (1900- ), who was the daughter of George and Georgianna Mills Kaiser of Cambridge, Maryland. Kate worked as a palm reader, and Charles worked as a basket maker. He would die of a bleeding ulcer and is buried in Greenlawn Cemetery Cambridge, Md.  

VALLEY ARTHUR (Valintine) STANLEY (1898- 1970) was born in Pennsylvania. Valley Stanley and his brother Eddie were involved in novelty manufacturing and amusements. He worked in Ocean City, but he lived in Delmar until moving to Snow Hill Road in Salisbury. His second wife was Hattie Marguerite Mitchell (1917-1994), the daughter of Andrew A Mitchell and Lucy Elliott Mitchell. Hattie worked at the Roseland Diner in Delmar and practiced palm reading under the trade name Madam Cecilia. They had a son, Jack Stanley, who ran Jacks's Red Door Subs in Salisbury. Before coming to Delmar, Valley worked as a showman in a tent show in Virginia. He was a salesman. They are buried in Wicomico Memorial Park cemetery. 




She married in 1946 Eldridge “Ben” R Hubbard (1909-1990), who was born in Cambridge and was the son of William T Hubbard and Lillian Reed Hubbard. He was an electrician and owned several Ocean city Concessions. She practiced palm reading under the name Madam Stanley in Delmar, Salisbury, and Ocean City. Eldridge’s father had remarried to Estella “Stella” Ruelh Stanley from Baltimore, a palm reader. Estella (Stella) was related to Ella J. Kennedy Speights, the Baltimore gypsy herb doctor, who died in 1903. Lillian and Eldridge are buried in Wicomico Memorial Park cemetery.

EDWARD STANLEY (1900-1977) Born in Pennsylvania. He was an amusement concessionaire. He Married Alda Mae Horseman (1896 -1976), and both are buried in Wicomico Memorial Park cemetery. They would adopt a daughter, Judith (Judy). A little about Alda Horseman;.  

"John W. Hall, who created a sensation here some months ago by eloping with and marrying the 14-year-old daughter of William Horseman, a farmer, was arrested and carried before Magistrate Clapham on charges of mistreating his young wife. Hall is 45 years-old. From the first, Hall is alleged to have treated his wife most cruelly. He was held under $500 bail which he could not secure and was placed in jail to await court." From Delmar Jottings - Philadelphia Inquirer 18 September 1910.



 John W. Hall (1859-1914) married on 25 April 1910 in Denton, Maryland, Alda Mae Horseman (1896-1976). As the article said, she was 14. Alda's parents were William H. Horseman (1869-1940) and Louisa Annie Wells Horseman (1878-1964). Over the next four years, she would have three children. In 1914 John W. Hall died in Virginia. After his death Alda put the three children up for adoption in Wicomico County. Eventually, she would remarry to Edward (Eddie) Messchich Stanley (1898 -1977), son of James and Rhodey (Rosie) Smith Stanley. He was born in Philadelphia. Eddie and his brother Valley Stanley were involved in novelty manufacturing and amusements. He worked in Ocean City, but they lived in Delmar. They would adopt Judy Stanley.


 The Alda Mae Horseman children;


 Anna Beatrice Hall Hurley (1911-1936) lived in Mardela. She was adopted by William Elmer Hurley (1882-1965) and Della Lloyd Hurley (1881-1956). She would marry Roy Edwin Willey (1907-1969) on 2 April 1928. Research has not determined how she died in 1936 at age 25.


 Mary Louise Hall Morris (1913-1958) was adopted by Upshur and Mary Morris of Salisbury.


 Upshur and Mary Morris had no children before the adoption in 1914, about three years later after the adoption, they had Ruth; once Ruth was born, they no longer wanted Mary, so when she was about 17, they kicked her out.


 “Mr. and Mrs. Upshur Morris and Miss Ruth Morris are touring in the mountains of Pennsylvania for two weeks. Miss Mary Louise Morris is spending the time in Delmar.” From The Wicomico News 14 July 1927


 “Miss Mary Louise Morris, who spent the past six weeks in Salisbury has returned to New York. Miss Morris was accompanied by her brother, Mr. Hershel Taylor who will remain in New York indefinitely. “ From The Salisbury Times 29 September 1931. She was 18 at the time. She is recorded as still living in New York in 1937.


 Mary may have married someone with the last name of Daville. In 1941 she and her brother attended the Sophie Wells birthday and Reunion, and she was referred to as Mary Louise Daville.


 She married Harry Bessler, and they lived in the Chester, PA area. She shortens her name to Marilou. She was an assistant manager at Bonwit Teller and company in Wynnewood. In 1958 she shot herself in the head with a 22 pistol; she was 46 years of age, no children; her body was sent back to Delmar to be buried at the M. E. church cemetery. No headstone has been found.


 Of interest the adoptive parents nor the adopted child mention one another in their obituaries. For Marilou, in her obituaries, only Alda Stanley is mentioned as the mother. In Morris’s obituary only Ruth is mentioned as a daughter.


 John Herschell Hall Taylor Born 30 Dec 1913 Died Oct 1973


 He was adopted by Ernest Byrd Taylor and Emma J. Taylor (Emma was from Calif,) of Quantico, Md. Adoption degree Wicomico county circuit court 11 December 1914. He married Margaret Claiborne King on 29 January 1934 in Norfolk, Virginia. At the time of his death lived Cockeysville Md he had as children: Mary Jean Karol, Patricia A., Carolyn, and Herschell Jr.


 When E. Byrd Taylor died in 1944, Herschell Taylor is mentioned in the obituary as his son, and when his wife Emma died in 1940, Herschell is mention in the obituary as her son. There was no mention of them in Herschell’s obituary, but Alda Stanley was mentioned.


 To add to the general confusion, some researchers think John W. Hall may have used an alias and was John T. Chelton from Marion Station, Maryland. John T. Chelton had married Emma Hall on 25 July, 1879. They had several children. Emma received a divorce from him on April 7, 1907. She said in the Baltimore Sun at the time of the divorce, her husband got a spree about seven years ago and left her never to return. If the man was John T. Chelton, perhaps he thought it was a joke to use his wife's maiden name of Hall, but there was also a Delaware Gov. John W. Hall and a well-known farmer in Marion Station by the name of John W. Hall. Who will ever know for sure?



GEORGE MESSCHICH STANLEY (1905-1998) George married, in 1925, Mary Jane Brewer (1908 - 1956 ). She was the daughter of Walter Zachariah Brewer ( -1928) and Lillian R. Loving Kennedy from Baltimore. Mary Jane Brewer had been married to a Mr. Mumford before her marriage to George Stanley.. George and Mary Jane would have two daughters Rosemary “Rhodey” and Lillian Estella, and a son, James Howard. Mary Jane would divorce George Stanley and remarry to Warren Louis Deforge. George would remarry to Wilhemina Smith. Wilhemina was born in New Jersey and was the daughter of Thomas and Julia Smith. She practiced palm reading George was an Ocean City Concessioner. Mary Jane Brewer had a half-sister who was a product of John Kennedy and Lillian R Loving, and she was Estella Ruehl Kennedy. She would marry William T Hubbard. (father-in-law of Lillian Stanley Hubbard). Estella (Stella) was related to Ella J. Kennedy Speights, the Baltimore gypsy herb doctor who died in 1903. The newspapers reported Ella would ride through Baltimore dressed in flowing robes in a chariot drawn by white horses dispensing her medicine. George, Mary Jane, Wilhemina are buried in Wicomico Memorial Park cemetery. 

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