Laura Jane Boorem was the last child of John Boorem and his first wife Jane. Jane Boorem died shortly after Laura was born and there exists certain family tradition surrounding these events. The story goes that Laura was the surviving daughter of twins born to her mother in 1874 and it was Laura's stillborn twin that caused her mother's death. Apparently those attending the birth were unaware of the second child. Jane and her stillborn infant were buried at the nearby Methodist church cemetery in Mountainhome.
The death of his wife must have weighed heavily on John Boorem, who had three underage children at home at the time. Although his children Susie, Agnes and Hooker would continue to live with their father, who remarried in 1879/80, John apparently asked his brother-in-law Joe Starner to raise the infant Laura. Joe Starner was Jane's brother or half-brother, the son of Joseph and Mary Van Horn Starner. He and his wife Jane Reinhardt had no children of their own, so they agreed to take Laura and raise her as their own in their home in nearby Tobyhanna Mills.
We can only speculate as to why John refused to raise Laura. Perhaps he felt that he simply couldn't have an infant in the house without her mother, or perhaps he felt resentment towards the daughter who had caused the death of his beloved wife. Years later, Laura's daughter Dorothy made no bones about her feelings in the matter. In a letter to her sister-in-law Daisy Vogt, she says the following:
"(Laura) was nine days old when her mother died and Uncle Joe Starner and his wife took our mother at the request of John Boorem and raised her. The only thing John Boorem ever did for our mother was give her one pair of shoes and a silver thimble. Uncle Joe and Aunt Jane were our mother's nearest and dearest."
Laura's daughter Mary told a similar story, saying:
"My mother was John Boorem's daughter. Her mother (Jane) died when she was 9 days old. Uncle Joe and Aunt Jane Starner took my mother when 9 days old. Mother went to them to live her last days. She passed away March 28, 1912 in Tobyhanna Pa. Was buried in Gouldsboro, Pa. April 1 1912."
Later on Joe and Jane Starner took up residence in Chicago and Jane went with them. All three are present in Chicago for the census of 1880. The Starners maintained their residence in Tobyhanna as well, travelling back and forth between Chicago and Pennsylvania during the summer and winter months.
In 1896 Laura married William Doebele and had two daughters, Dorothy and Mary (mentioned above), and the census of 1900 shows the Doebeles living in Scranton, Pa. For some reason however, the marriage didn't last, and Laura divorced her first husband and married Ulreh John Vogt in 1903. From her second marriage came children Laura, Ulreh Jr., Naomi, and Blanche. Afterwards Laura continued to spend time in both Chicago and her hometown of Tobyhanna.
Coming from unsettled and humble beginnings, Laura was nevertheless a talented and accomplished woman. In addition to being musically talented, Laura was an accomplished public speaker, something she learned while attending school in Chicago. In fact, the census of 1910 lists Laura's occupation as "dramatic reader for lodges". In an era when most women were expected to stay at home, Laura was clearly a woman ahead of her times.
Unfortunately Laura Boorem Vogt died in 1912 at age 37, after losing a battle with tuberculosis she contracted several years earlier while living in Chicago. She died in Tobyhanna at the home of her Uncle Joe and Aunt Jane Starner, who had raised Laura as their own daughter. According to her daughter Laura, "she died in her Uncle Joe's arms." Laura Vogt was buried in the cemetery at Gouldsboro; she was eventually be joined by her husband Ulreh, several of her children, and her sisters Susie and Agnes. At the time of her death, all of Laura's children were underage, and apparently her husband Ulreh could not face the prospect of raising his children without her, an ironic twist, considering Laura's own childhood circumstances. Agnes Boorem John stepped in and helped raise several of her sister's children in Scranton, and Laura's family would remain close to Agnes in her later years.
Below: (left) Laura as a child with her older brother Joseph Hooker Boorem, and Laura as a young woman (right)
Below: Agnes (left), Susie (center) & Laura (right) Boorem
Much of the information above was provided by Laura's great granddaughter, Mary Jane Vogt. Other information was provided by Anne Boorem Dawson, and Dorothy Boorem Thomas-Kott (my grandmother). Other details are the result of the research of Jeffrey L. Thomas.
Death certificate of Laura Vogt
Return to the John Boorem III page
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Text and photographs copyright © 2014 by Jeffrey L. Thomas, with all rights reserved