Friday, May 21, 2021

Query - Twin Orphans - South Bend, St. Joseph County, Indiana

 The picture below shows my husband's Michael A. Cardinale uncles, twins born approximately on Jan 24, 1909 and living in South Bend, Indiana when they became orphans. They became orphans in 1913 at the age of 4 1/2. At that time, they disappeared from any and all records.

Their family surname is misspelled on the 1910 census as Connors. Their actual names are Charles and Walter Connars. The father's name is John C. Connars, and the mother is Emma Clifford. I have not been able to find a birth certificate for either one.

This is what I know about the twins:

1. They were born in Kankakee, Illinois around 1-24-1909.

2. They were living in South Bend Indiana in 1913. They were four 1/2 years old when their mother Emma Clifford died around the age of 30 of a heart attack. According to a news article, she was found dead in a rocking chair by one of her four kids.

3. Very few people stepped up to adopt the twins, because they were hyperactive

4. They were taken to Mishawaka orphanage located in South Bend Indiana by Rev. Arthur G. Schafer, pastor of Lowell Heights Methodist church. According to this library website, the church no longer exists and there are no records from that time period. The orphanage is described here and this is where they disappear from any records.

5. The last known home that they had before they were taken to the orphanage was located at: 511 N. Frances St. South Bend, In 46617. You can see the home here:

The following article is about them. Sadly, their last name is misspelled again as Connor. They are probably both dead now since they would be 112 years old. But I would love to find possible offspring that they may have had. Does anyone have any ideas where else I can look? Already found many articles about their dad, their mom and their two sisters. Just cannot find anything else about them.

Published in the South Bend News-Times, November 20, 1913, page 3.

This is the transcription:

Wanted: A Home For Two Bright Boys—-Only trouble is They’re Twins

Where is the couple who will volunteer to be father and mother to two lively, healthy and enterprising twin boys. Just four and one-half years old?

Rev. Arthur G. Schafer, pastor of Lowell Heights Methodist church, is trying to find the answer.

The volunteer parents will need to have a full supply of a real parents' patience, maybe a little more. For the twins are lively, everyone who knows them agrees to that. Things will be "doing" in their household from early morning until night.

A good many people have considered the twins and then reconsidered. They might undertake to bring up one boy, they said, but a pair of them— Well, you know, what one won't think of the other will.

Still, the boys need a home. They are nice little fellows, pretty, and bright as two dollars, and lively. They look alike, but are different enough that you would never mistake them for one individual. There must be somebody somewhere who would want them both, reasoned Mr. Schafer.

As a solution, he thought of publishing a want ad. It appeared in the South Bend News-Times Tuesday evening, Wednesday edition. Mr. and Mrs. Arthur Marville, living nine miles from South Bend, across the Michigan line, volunteered to take the twins for a short time on probation.

The twins in question are Charles and Walter Connor, the sons of John C. Connor, living in the vicinity of Lowell Heights church. Their mother died two weeks ago and since that time the boys have been looking for a home. Mr. Schafer Is doing his best to help them.

Their two sisters have been more fortunate in their quest; a baby of nine months old and a little girl of 12 years are both provided for in families in the neighborhood. Their father Is a laborer and has no one to look after his home while he works, so It had to be broken up.

The little boys didn’t give up their old home without a protest. The day their mother died they were taken to the home of a neighbor. They accepted the situation willingly enough until night and then they wanted to go back. They said so very emphatically, but their hosts thought it just a whim. The boys kept on saying it until 11:30 o'clock, when they got their way.

It was their last night there. Since that time there has been no home to go to. Some of the neighbors have had them for two or three days each, but in the end they all agreed that two boys are a good too many.

Finally Mr. Schafer took them to the orphanage at Mishawaka. They are now waiting to begin their probation with Mr. and Mrs. Arthur Marville. The twins' father is employed at the Notre Dame University farm. The family came here from the South a year ago after stops of various lengths along the way. They were never very prosperous and the present unhappy circumstances has left them almost destitute.

The mother was one of the quiet, uncomplaining sort, who carried her burden patiently while she could and then lay down and died. Since her last baby came she could not rally the strength to go on.

Sometimes Went Hungry.

And while their mother failed, the twins took care of themselves. So long as they didn't worry her too much she let them alone. Sometimes they were fed and sometimes they were hungry, but they always kept pretty cheerful.

Now they show a little evidence of the neglect that couldn't be helped. They need a little brushing up and a little toning down. They need someone to take care of them instead of having to take care of themselves. But they are twins, of course, and they would like to go on being twins. They are used to team work and would probably make quite a fuss if they were to be separated. And two boys are a great many.

If you have any information or suggestions please contact Nelly Cardinale at ncardinal@gmail


  1. Wow! that is quite the write up by the minister. I wonder if he has any descendants that may know something of the story, since it seems one that would not be forgotten. Also, I presume the 1920 census for the Marville family has been looked at and the boys are not with them. Any chance an archivist at Notre Dame would have access to employment records for the father that could shed light on what became of the boys?

    1. I read Lillian Connar Moore's obituary, is the named nephew, John Hurley, and nieces, Carole Hurley and Mary Garrison, children of the younger sisters Lucille or Louise Connar? or perhaps they are related to her husband Felix. There is no mention of her siblings in the obituary.

    2. I did find one of the descendants of the minister on Ancestry. I wrote to him and he did not know anything about what happened to the twins after they were dropped off at the orphanage. I also searched for the Marville family 1920 census/records and it only lists one daughter.
      Lillian Connar is one of the twin's sister but she never had children and Lucille Connar (the other sister) had two daughters (one who passed away). I already contacted the family mentioned in the Lillian Connars's Obit and also contacted one of Lucille's daughter. None of them know what happened to the twins. The people mentioned in Lillian obit never even heard of the twins nor heard about any of Lillian siblings before I contacted them.

      Do you have any idea how I could contact an archivist at Notre Dame University where the twin's father John C. Connars worked? By the way, my correct email is

    3. I found this website which has information regarding the farm located at Notre Dame University where John C. Connars worked. I guess I can try reaching out to the website.
      XMA Header Image
      Echoes: ND's Department of Agriculture, 1917-1932 | Notre Dame Magazine | University of Notre Dame

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