Were Annie Horan and Anora Lee Prettyman the same person?

[NOTE: I recommend you read this revised post on Anora instead: https://blackenedroots.com/blog/anora-a-fresh-look/.]

confusedfamilytreeIn yesterday’s post, I investigated the birth family of my great-great-grandmother Mary Ann Horan. I learned that her parents were William and Anna (“Annie”) Horan. William Horan apparently disappeared (died? divorced?) around 1880. Annie Horan is listed on the federal census of 1880 as being the head of her household, while also marked as being married but not marked as being a widow.

Five years later, in 1885, Annie Horan also appears to have disappeared or died and her children appear to have been adopted a brother-in-law and next-door neighbor of Mary Horan, her husband’s older brother Francis (“Frank”) Marian Prettyman and his wife Anora Lee Prettyman.

When doing further research today into the mystery, I discovered a growing number of similarities between Anna Horan and Anora Lee Prettyman that make me now think that they were quite possibly the same person. If this is true, then my great-great-grandmother’s mother was also her sister-in-law!

Both Annie Horan and Anora Lee Prettyman were born in 1847 in Indiana. Both were mothers to the Horan children. Anora died in 1892, and Annie is said to have died in 1891 (although in yesterday’s post, I suggested that this might have been the result of someone conflating the birth and adoptive mothers of the Horan children). Anna and Annie seem reasonable nicknames for Anora, and Anora and Frank Prettyman later named one of their own daughters “Annie L”, quite possibly naming her after her mother.

Anora Lee and Frank Prettyman were married on January 15, 1883, two and a half years after Annie Horan last appears in any of the documents I’ve thus far uncovered. Two and a half years after their marriage, Frank and Anora have the younger Horan children living with them.

In Arthur Horan’s obituary, two sisters are mentioned (Frances and Laura) that do not appear to be Horan children. Anora and Frank do have a daughter named Frances May and Annie L (the L may stand for Laura). Arthur Horan and his descendants (and several historical documents) refer to his mother as Anora, not Anna or Annie.

At least one genealogy site lists William Horan’s wife’s name as “Anora Anne J Lee”. In my older research notes, I noted that a genealogist (unfortunately, I didn’t record his/her name) referred to Frank’s wife’s name as “Anorah Lee Horan”.

To make things just a little more complicated, I discovered a 1910 census entry that shows a 60-year-old Frank Prettyman living with a 55-year-old Annie E. Prettyman. She’s listed as having been born in Ohio, and her implied year of birth is 1855, making her eight years younger than Anora Lee Prettyman. She is listed as having given birth to five children, all still living, and it is recorded that this is the second marriage for both Frank and Annie. They are recorded as having gotten married two years earlier.


Frank is clearly listed as a widower on the 1900 census, so it appears that he coincidentally remarried a woman with the same first name as his first wife. Oy.

Here’s my current best guess as to what happened:

  • Anora Lee (aka “Anna” or “Annie”) marries William Horan around 1866.
  • Anora (“Anna Horan”) and William have six children together.
  • William disappears, dies, or divorces Anora (“Anna”) around 1880.
  • Anora (“Annie Horn”) is sole parent of the four Horan children remaining at home (I do not know where eldest daughter Mary Ann Horan was at that time).
  • The last Horan child, Arthur Wallace Horan, is born on March 29, 1881.
  • Anora Lee marries Frank M. Prettyman on January 15, 1883.
  • Mary Ann Horan marries Frank’s younger brother Alfred (her father-in-law’s brother), thus becoming her mother’s sister-in-law.
  • Anora and Frank have the five youngest Horan children and two of their own children living with them in Parkers Prairie, as next-door neighbors to Alfred and Mary Ann Prettyman.
  • Anora dies in 1892.
  • Frank remarries a woman named Annie in 1908.

I think the simplest explanation that comports with the facts is that Anora Lee and Anna/Annie Horan are the same person. The mystery that remains, then, is what happened to her first husband, William Horan?

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