Whatever Happened to Eldon Carey Moon?

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The year was February, 1920 and Eldon's wife Anna Mae (Polley) Moon had just died at age thirty. Eldon was left with four young children to raise alone. Ruth Anna, age eleven and Lewis E., age eight, were both born in Mountain Lake Minnesota where Eldon's parents, Mr. and Mrs. Joseph Moon resided. Helen Jane, born in Reeve City, Franklin County, Iowa, was six and Charles William, three, was born in Latimer, Franklin County, Iowa. Undoubtedly it must have been difficult to make a living, and care for, four young children.

Eldon, a farmer near Sheffield, Iowa, was thirty-three years of age when he buried his wife in the City Cemetery at Eldora, Iowa. He then proceeded to raise the children alone. It wasn't long until he found that he could not make a living as a farmer and care for the four children. He decided his best option was to sell out everything he owned, find a temporary home for the children, and go look for work.

In November, 1920, he wrote a letter to his sister, Ina Sue [Moon] Fancher, in Tulsa, Oklahoma asking for the address of another sister, Minnie M. He also ask how much Ina Sue would charge to keep two of the children. He said he would pay any reasonable amount. He stated that he was going to sell out and look for work as soon as the corn crop was harvested. The letter was mailed from Sheffield, Iowa.

Ina Sue did not take the two children immediately so they were left with his sister, Minnie who lived in the Steamboat Rock, Iowa area. (Ina Sue and her husband, Edgar did adopt Ruth and Helen later).

Eldon Carey Moon at age 33 sold his belongings and set out to find work. He had every intention of returning for the children, or did he? He was never seen nor heard from again.

Many speculations have risen over the years. Did he die, was he killed, or did he leave the area and start a new family? Did he change his name as some have theorized and just start over? Did he go to Mexico as is indicated by his father's obituary in 1921?

Whatever the answer, the "longing to know" will not go away. The mystery has persisted within the family for over 70 years. Those who most wanted to know the answer to this paradox are now, themselves, gone to that great land of mysteries. Perhaps they now know the answer to this ever burning puzzle but the question still persists for those family members still living.

Somewhere out there in the vast unknown lies the answer to a riddle that begs to be solved. Somewhere out there, in an unmarked grave lies the bones of a family member who never had the opportunity to see his four children grow to adulthood.

On the other hand, somewhere out there in that vast unknown might be a lot of cousins that we will never meet. Whether he died young, or went on to raise a new family we will likely never know. But still we wonder, "Whatever Happened to Eldon Carey Moon?

ELDON MOON'S LETTER to his sister, Ina Sue [Moon] Fancher in Tulsa, Oklahoma

Sheffield, IA

Nov. 1, 1920

Dear Sister:

Well how are you by this time. We are all well. We sure do have lots of rain again. It seems like it just can't stop. I was to Eldora the other day. Every body down there is well and doing fine. Aunt Ama Montgomerys have come back to Iowa to live again. Have you heard from the folks since I saw you? I haven't.

Say, I wish you would send me Minnie's address if you know it. I still expect to have my sale on the 16th of Nov., if this rain don't put me back too far with corn picking. I hope the weather will be good after this. We have had so much bad weather this fall.

Say, Ina, how much would you charge me to take care of 2 of these children. You haven't got much work to do. The way things go around here they don't get half taken care of. I am willing to pay you anything reasonable. I can't make things go this way and I don't like to send them to the orphans home. If you can see a way to do this, Ina, it will help me out wonderfully.

Well write me about it soon as you can as I have just made up my mind to let them out and must know where they're going before I sell out.

As ever, your loving Brother,

Eldon and the kids

A little more about Eldon Carey Moon

Eldon's wife, Ann Mae died Feb. 9, 1920 of double pneumonia, at the Lutheran Hospital in Hampton, Iowa at the age of thirty. It was assumed she was pregnant again. Eldon, a farmer in Sheffield, Iowa, put his four children in the care of his sister Minnie.

Ina Sue and her husband, Edgar Fancher, eventually adopted the two girls, Ruth and Helen and their names became Fancher. Both Ruth and Helen lived their lives in the Tulsa area and attended Central High School there. Ruth Married Nola A. Higdon and Helen married Len Pool. Ruth and Nola had three children, one of whom died in infancy.

Lutheran Hospital in Hampton, Iowa
as it appeared in 1925.
Helen and Len had no children but did adopt one girl. One of the boys, Lewis E. Moon was never adopted and remained a Moon. He worked at various jobs in Iowa for a time, later moving to Tulsa, Oklahoma where he owned and operated an Automobile Repair Shop and a Mobile home sales Company. The other boy Charles William [Billy] was adopted by Ed Luiken's sister whose married name was Tholen, so he became a Tholen. [Ed Luiken was the husband of Minnie Bell Polley who was the sister of Eldon's wife Anna Mae.] Billy eventually moved to Tulsa, also, and managed a Retail Paint Store there. After retirement he moved to the Phoenix, Arizona area where he died Dec. 27, 1999. Lewis died May 24, 1969 while on the job at his Mobil Home Company. Helen died Oct. 20, 1993 and Ruth died Dec. 27, 1981.

Eldon Carey Moon was 28 years old, living in Reeve City, Iowa in 1914, and Anna Mae was 24. This is where their daughter, Helen was born. Reeve City no longer exists. A corn field now occupies the spot where it once stood. . (Evidence also suggests the family, also, lived in Hampton IA at one time.)

Eldon's Mother was Mrs. Joe W. Moon (Minna Wehrman Moon) Of Heron Lake, MN.

[Public info, Bureau of Census, Dept. of Commerce, Washington, D.C.]

When Eldon was preparing to leave, he made arrangements to take the kids to a sister. Before doing so he purchased new clothes for all and took them to a photographer to have their portrait made. This picture of Helen, Ruth, Billy and Lewis Moon is that picture.

Some speculation persists that he might have assumed the name of Charles Fry and used that name to check on the kids periodically without revealing his true identity. Someone, who gave his name as "Charles Fry," contacted the family on several occasions, while the children were growing up to ask about their well being. No one knew who he was and he did not reveal his identity.

When Eldon's father, Joseph Moon died in 1921, the obituary listed Eldon's residence as Mexico. In his mother's obituary, in 1927, he was not listed among the living children.

Viola Fern Moon was a sister to the four Moon children, but she died at a very early age. Below left is Viola and Ruth Moon abt. 1914

The following photo on the right is Ruth Moon [Fancher] Higdon, the oldest of the four abandoned children in the doorway of her Furniture Store in Tulsa, Oklahoma. In later years, she and her husband, Nola Asa Higdon owned and operated the "White City Furniture Company" of Tulsa Oklahoma. This picture was taken in the early 1950's. She died Dec. 27, 1981 in Tulsa after retiring from the Furniture Business.

This is Viola and Ruth Moon in
about 1914.

This is the same little girl as that on the left,
Ruth Moon. Only here she was Ruth Moon
[Fancher] Higdon

This, left, is a picture of the four Moon Children taken about 1951. [As it turned out there was only one who was still named Moon in 1951, and that was Lewis. All the others were adopted and became Tholen and Fanchers.

L-R: Charles William Tholen [Billy], Helen
[Fancher] Pool, Lewis E. Moon, Ruth Anna
[Fancher] Higdon

This is Helen in 1934 when she graduated
from Tulsa Central High School

This is Ruth in 1925 when she
was a Freshman at Tulsa Central
High School

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