July 12, 2022
Birch Bay, Washington
Happy Birthday, Mike!
(Today would have been my older brother Michael’s 83rd birthday)
Just a few days ago I made the discovery of a half-sister that neither I nor any other family member (to my knowledge) was aware of. A girl child born to my father and Emilia in San Francisco on November 12, 1929. Her name was Zoe Francesca Hodel, and she died just three days after being born.
Having learned this has sparked me to explore and hopefully discover the truths of another unknown and unspoken of half-sister.
Today I have decided to reveal another name in hopes of learning more about another child’s name. Information that I have kept secret for some twenty-five years.
I do this in hopes of discovering the true identity of this long-lost family relative. She would have been my half-sister and my father’s firstborn child-Folly.
Excerpt from Black Dahlia Avenger (2003) Epilogue Pgs 403-404:
Throughout my investigation, as the linkage was made from victim to
victim, I asked myself the same question—Why? What was the trigger?
Then I recalled the story of Folly.
For more than fifty years Folly’s existence had been a whispered family
rumor. Mother had told me bits and pieces of the story when I was in my
twenties: a vague reference to Father having had an early affair as a teenager, which resulted in the birth of a child; somewhere out there another
Hodel, a half-sister, predating Father’s acknowledged firstborn son Duncan born in 1928.
In the summer of 1997, Father and June visited me in Bellingham for
a three-day tour of the San Juan Islands. We had returned from our ferry
crossing, having filled our day with spectacular vistas, and an early dinner
on Orcas Island. The three of us sat in my bay-front apartment as the sun
began to set late in the evening. I had noticed that Father was especially
mellow and the three of us, sated with the beauty around us, felt close and
comfortable. He reminisced about how quickly time had passed, remarking that he was just months away from his ninetieth birthday!
It was then I broached the subject of the family rumor and Folly. “Was
it true, Father? Is there a Folly out there? A sister I’ve never met?” He
paused, and I could almost see him turn back the pages of time in his mind.
“The rumor is true,” he said. “I was very young, a boy of fifteen, and very
much in love.” As I listened intently, Father told the story of Folly.
In Los Angeles, while attending Cal Tech, he had had an affair with
a much older married woman. Her husband discovered the infidelity and
they separated. She moved to the East Coast and gave birth to the child,
a girl whom she christened Folly. “I followed her east,” Father continued,
“found where she was living in a small town, and told her I wanted to
marry her and raise the child. She wouldn’t have it. She laughed at me and
Black Dahlia Avenger.indd 403 2/10/15 12:07 PM
404 BLACK DAHLIA AVENGER
said, ‘You’re just a child yourself. Go away, George. This has all been a terrible mistake. Just go away from me. I never want to see you again.’” Father
said he remained in the East and tried to convince her that they should be
together, but to no avail. In the end, he left, returned to Los Angeles, and
never again attempted to make contact with mother or daughter.
As follow-up to his story, and by way of demonstrating the new computer software I had recently purchased for searching and locating witnesses and individuals nationwide, I suggested we check to see if Folly was “in the system.” He provided me with the mother’s last name, and the
name of the small town in the East where she was last known to be living, some seven decades past. I input the information and pressed “enter.”
Incredibly, there she was! First initial “F,” same last name, with her address
and telephone number. Gazing at the screen in disbelief, Father paled. I
suggested that maybe it was now time to make contact. Wouldn’t he like to
see and meet a daughter he had never met? For the third time in my life, I
saw him visibly shaken. In a firm voice that bordered on anger, he said to
me, “No! You must destroy this information. She must never know. There
must never be any contact. Do you understand?” I didn’t, but I said I did.
Those were the last words ever spoken about Father’s “Folly.
Here now, for the first time I am making this information public in hopes of discovering more hidden truths related to my father’s early years.
In 1997 as reported in BDA (above) the name my father gave me to search for was PULSIFER, the city, WORCESTER, MA. My search back then showed numerous listings under the last name Pulsifer.
So, it is believed my half-sister’s name was Folly Pulsifer residing in Worcester.
I am no longer sure, but I believe dad told me Folly’s mother’s name was Roberta.
However, Folly’s mother may have resumed using her maiden family name, which is unknown.
This introduces a new possibility into our investigation.
As stated it was my belief that Folly’s mother was “a professor’s wife at CalTech” and the pregnancy caused her divorce from her husband and her move to the East.
With the discovery of my father’s magazine, FANTASIA, it would appear that the truth may be slightly different than originally believed.
Note the names of the Editors- George Hill Hodel and G. Bishop Pulsifer.
Based on the timing this cannot be a coincidence. The co-editor of FANTASIA very likely was the cuckold husband and his wife (possible first name-Roberta) became impregnated with George’s child.
Could G. Bishop Pulsifer also have attended CalTech? Possible, but regardless, I am confident that based on this connection and the year (1925) this would have been the husband of the woman dad had an affair with and who birthed his child.
A quick check of Ancestry.com shows George Bishop Pulsifer born in Maine, in 1901, making him just six years George Hodel’s senior. Could this be the same G. Bishop Pulsifer? Possible, but???
As I initially indicated in this post, today is my older brother’s birthday.
On his popular radio show, “HOUR-25” Mike used to talk about “The Group Mind” and how it could usually answer any question put to the audience within a half hour or so.
I am reminded of that concept and here offer a challenge to “The Group Mind.”
Who was Folly Pulsifer? Can you identify her or her mother with the possible first name of Roberta? (not certain). Or, in the alternative can we identify mother and child through a link to G. Bishop Pulsifer, co-editor of the 1925 Fantasia Magazine
The first person to positively identify her will receive a free signed copy of the original hardback edition of Black Dahlia Avenger: A Genius for Murder (Arcade Pub. 2003)
Email results to me at: [email protected]
UPDATE 7.12.22 5:15pm
This just in from my good friend Dr. Luigi Warren- a first thoughtprint that seems to confirm we have identified the correct G. Bishop Pulsifer! Has to be him. See below article found by LW showing he like dad, he was a journalist for the LA RECORD newspaper. Pretty colorful bio. Also, like Fred Sexton, and John Huston he studied under artist S. MacDonald Wright. By 1932, the below article shows him to be an award-winning landscape photographer in Maine.
The Lewiston Daily 2.1.32
(Found by Dr. Luigi Warren)
I have decided to reproduce the above article so readers may get a true sense of the man that was G. Bishop Pulsifer in his own words–clearly an intellectual and artist extraordinaire.
Reproduction of above article 2.1.1932 in full
G. BISHOP PULSIFER PICTURE HUNTER
“STALKING LIGHT” WITH A CAMERA
Tell How He Secured the Remarkable Collection of Nature
Photographs Displayed at the Auburn Public Library–
Pays Tribute to Picturesque Minot Corner
G. BISHOP PULSIFER–A MONOGRAPH
G. Bishop Pulsifer, writer and photographer born in Lewiston in 1901, and attended Jordan high. Traveled in the Black Republics of Haiti and Sano Domingo, where Columbus was imprisoned and buried; explored the Morro Castle and San Juan, Porto Rico, and photographed the coast of Santo Domingo, explored the pirates’ rendezvous in Old Pana City, witnessed bull fights and gambling for high stakes in Tia Juana, Mexico, America’s wickedest city; vagabonded through the painted desert and petrified forests of New Mexico and Arizona, studied liberal arts and journalism for three years at the University of Southern California, worked for two years on the editorial staff of the Los Angeles Record and the Los Angeles Herald; studied art in the life class of S. MacDonald Wright; studied drama and stage technique as a member of the Garret club; dog team trip from Minot, to Boston, and Albany with letters from Governor Brewster to Governor “Al” Smith and later from Lewiston to Montreal and return; tramped more than 2000 miles of Maine trails to historic shrines; winner of first prize in “Old Home Week” photographic contest in Auburn 1931; contributes feature stories to Boston Post, Portland Press Herald and Lewiston Journal, and articles to sport and trade journals. In photography specializes in Maine landscape, child portraits, and character studies.
There is a popular belief that photography is a mechanical process. The advertising and instructions given out by camera companies is responsible for the prevalent idea that all you have to do is “press the button” and the picture is complete.
The first thing that a tyro learns on being introduced to the mysteries of photography is that it is an extremely supple medium, bending itself to all sorts of expression, providing the photographer is a capable man and is content to spend several years in acquiring a technique, as is the case with the man who wishes to work with oil, crayon or chisel.
Photography, in fact, is the least mechanical of all the arts, because it deals with the least palpable material. You can grasp and get a good hold on paints and pastels and marble. But what can you do with light–the most elusive quality of all. And it is light in all its various shading and tones that the photographer works.
You know, objects in themselves have no particular appearance. They are always changing according to the light that strikes them. They change constantly in form, color, importance, and even texture–according to the manner in which they are lighted. It is up to the photographer to get the lighting he wants to express a certain idea of mood. That is what I attempt to do–to draw with light!
When I came upon a certain secluded spot on the banks of the Little Androscoggin, I felt that I was suddenly transported to another world–one that awakened a feeling of eerie romanticism and a vision of Poe’s mysterious country of Psyche. I tried to reproduce the elements that aroused that emotion in the picture I now call “–down by the dank tarn of Auber, in the ghoul-haunted woodland of Weir.”
Everybody loves the pristine loveliness of white birches. I found three beauties near “Indian Dump,” near Haskell’s corner. It is the sort o picture that Wallace Nutting revels in. Although there is little of originality in this picture, it has its many admirers.
Sometime I hope the world will realize what a beautiful spot Minot Corner is. The view down the river from the bridge is unsurpassed for rustic tranquility. In the summer, visiting artists rave about it, with its shaded banks and sleepy waters, broken by a gentle waterfall. You can’t see it from the new road. You’ll have to get off the beaten path and take the old road down the hill. It is worth it. No less than a half dozen pictures were made in this one spot of those on exhibit. But I have made a hundred or more within a quarter of a mile, of reeds and rocks and rippling water. When the soft slanting light of late afternoon steals under the leaf-laden boughs and softens the masses of shimmering shadows into luminous patches of light and shade–you’d love it.
“Sunlight thru the Maples” is striking because of its graceful lines and luminous foilage. The trembling shadows of the slender trunks, drawn on the rippling surface give interest within the heavy mass at the bottom of the picture.
Sunset at Range Pond
“Sunset” was made at Range Pond. It is a lonesome picture, with swaying reeds, the last rays of a sinking sun, black brood pines in the distance, and dark ominous clouds.
“Moss Covered Fence” is a favorite of mine. I like it because I was fortunate to catch more qualities than in most pictures. There is a strong illusion of the third dimension, with at least six receding planes, through foreground, middle distance, and background. The atmospheric quality adds to the sense of aerial perspective–that is, distance or depth.
In another “Androscoggin Scene” I attempted to balance large masses of light and shade into a harmonious composition in the Japanese manner.
“The Watering Place” was one of those places that naturally called for a picture, showing the strong sun shining down through the leaves and branches. The cows come to the tub to drink. The bucket hangs on a sapling.
“Summer Skies” was made of a little pool of lazy water at Steven’s Mills. The water plants claim attention in the foreground, while the billows of clouds give a feeling of summer richness and peace.
I am (name deleted for privacy.) Someone from Ancestry.com emailed me your latest blog regarding the search for your possible half sister “Folly”. George Bishop Pulsifer was my paternal grandfather. Unfortunately I never got to meet or know him. Five years ago, at the age of 62, I found out the man that brought me up was not my biological father! My mom is living today and had confessed to this affair with George Bishop Pulsifer’s son (name deleted) back in 1953. My biological father (name deleted) was murdered at the age of forty and George died in 1967 and his wife (my paternal grandmother) passed in 1997. So, my chances of meeting my biological parents and grandparents were lost.
My story is long but, because of DNA through Ancestry.com and tests for an ill sister, I finally get some answers. Anyhow, getting back to your search, I know through two genealogy websites I subscribe to, the free genealogy site FamilySearch.org and a couple newspaper websites, I have found biological cousins and lots of information to fill in some gaps regarding my family. I found on FamilySearch.org a marriage license for a George B. Pulsifer age 21 from Maine and living in Los Angeles to a Hazel Rosetta Stevens age 23 also from Maine and residing in Los Angeles dated March 24, 1923. I know my grandfather was in Los Angeles attending school and working as a photographer after his Navy service around 1921 and came back to Maine in 1925. I asked my newly found paternal cousins if George had been married before my grandmother ___ and no one seemed to be able to answer me. There are other George B. Pulsifer’s out there but not with the same middle name “Bishop”. In my discoveries, there were two George B. Pulsifer’s in Maine and two in the Boston area. My grandfather moved from Maine to Norwood, Massachusetts in 1950’s. I’ve had to really scrutinize any information I’ve found. I actually thought I might have had another aunt or uncle out there through George Bishop Pulsifer. If your theory is correct, that changes everything.
I’ve researched Hazel Rosetta Stevens and she did indeed move back to Maine and remarried. I can dig out that information for you later if you wish. Maybe “Roberta” is actually “Rosetta”? My family was visiting and staying with me these last few weeks and I watch my grandkids today. I’m willing to help out in anyway possible in your search. I can surely relate to how you feel regarding this matter. I’ll attach a screenshot of this Marriage License I found in a separate email.
Thank you so much _____for the above information!
So, was teenager George Hodel’s “fling” with the “older woman” in fact Hazel Rosetta Stevens? (As ____ points out “Rosetta instead of Roberta”?)
Unquestionably, a lot of the pieces appear to fit. She was not a professor’s wife, but rather the wife of his good friend and co-editor on George’s home, Fantasia Magazine. As seven years his senior, Hazel was definitely, “an older woman.” Assuming the “affair” occurred during her courtship, or after her marriage to G.Bishop Pulsifer (Married in Los Angeles on March 24, 1923) then Hazel would have been age 23 and George just 16.
Was the pregnancy the reason that broke up her marriage and caused her to go East and have the child?
This age difference would definitely qualify in her attributed statement, when George sought her out back East, “Go away George. This has been a terrible mistake. You’re just a child. Get out of my life.”
1923 Los Angeles Marriage Certificate G. Bishop Pulsifer to Hazel Rosetta Stevens
Stay tuned. I’m sure there will be more to come.