Dorothy Mae (nee Aliphat), Janes, Paulson, Fennell aka Carmen Aliphat
Born Carmen Alipaht 9/11/1914 San Francisco, CA
Died Dorothy Mae Fennell 5/24/1952 San Francisco, CA
I never met my paternal grandmother, she died when my father was a boy. Her pictures were hung in our home, my aunts home, my great grandmothers home. She was beautiful and mysterious with a sly smile as though she had a secret. Well, I was determined to unearth her secret. Growing up we were never told much about her because talking about her upset everyone.
When I started my genealogy search I resigned myself to the fact that I probable never would know anything or have any information regarding my grandmothers fathers family. The information that I did know of my grandmother and her father’s family, were all from stories from my Aunt Kathy. Kathy had olive brown skin, long features and dark eyes, defiantly not traditional Irish, which is what my father would say was their heritage, which was in fact correct on their father’s side. However, nothing about them “looked” Irish. My aunt Kathy did tell me that Dorothy’s father’s family was from Mexico, however, they were French and came to San Francisco at the beginning of the Franco-Mexican war. She also did know that his name was Eugene and he had a sister named Carmen, whom she had met.
I went to the San Francisco City Hall and pulled the birth certificate for Dorothy Mae Janes. However, the name on the certificate was Carmen Aliphat. Baby girl born to Bessie Elizabeth Janes & E. D. Aliphat at Lane Hospital on Sept 11, 1914. OK, so my grandmothers name is not Dorothy or Dot but “Carmen”. My father nor my aunt had knowledge of this. The family stories are,is that when baby Carmen was born Bessie’s parent’s, George & Grace Janes went to the hospital and decided to raise her as though she were their child. They named her Dorothy Mae , although, I have found no documentation that the name was changed legally.
Dot was olive skinned with hazel eyes, oval face and black hair. She grew to be tall and slender with long legs. The Janes children were of Anglo descent, very fair, blue/grey eyes and light brown hair. They did not grow to be very tall and became round as they got older. It was clear the Dot was not 100% Janes.
Dot attended Horace Mann Grammar School in San Francisco and school records reflect her name as Dorothy Aliphat.
When Dot was a year old, her natural mother Bessie Janes, married Daniel Paulson. My mother says that Bessie & Danny met on the street car going to the Court House, the day Bessie was filing for divorce from Eugene Aliphat. Bessie & Eugene never lived together and I believe the “marriage” was in contract only so that the baby would not be considered “illigitmate”.
Bessie & Dan Paulson lived with George & Grace for a few years until they got a place of their own. They had two daughters of their own, Alice & Lucille. After Lucille was born, Alice would have been 7 years Bessie wrote a letter to her mother requesting that they give Dot to them to come live with them (she would have been about 14 years old at this time). In a letter from Bessie to her mother Grace – “She is mine and I want and need her with me now. Pa must understand.” The letter was sad and desperate at the same time. It struck me that she was writing more for a babysitter or home helper rather than having her child live with her.
The 1930 US Federal Census does reflect that she was living with them shortly after this letter was written, using the name Dorothy Aliphat, stepdaughter to household. My Aunt Kathy told me that the grandparents were broken hearted to have their first grandchild leave them. Dot only lived with her mother & stepfather for four years and married Martin Murray Jr. Fennell, fifth generation Irish Catholic in San Francisco, CA.
Dorothy and Martin lived in San Francisco’s Sunset district where they had their two children. Dorothy died at the young age of 36 years and the death certificate states her maiden name as Paulson, her step father’s name.
Per my father and Aunt she would use which every surname suited her at the time, Janes, Aliphat or her stepfather name Paulson and of course her married name Fennell. In 1935 I have documentation that she was working as a telephone operator and using the name Dorothy Aliphat. My guess is that this name tied with her Social Security and is probably her legal name.