Thursday, January 28, 2016

The Mysterious A. E. Handley

There might not have
been any takers.
What you can accomplish through research can only go so far and every once in a while, instead of tracking down an early Esperanto speaker, I come up with nothing. Such is the case, unfortunately in the case of A. E. Handley, who lived in Ocala, Florida in 1908.

In 1908, starting on January 28, (Mr.? Mrs.? Ms.?) Handley ran a series of advertisements in the Ocala Evening Star, offering his services in the teaching of French, elementary German and Spanish, and Esperanto. The advertisement ran in the 17 subsequent non-Sunday issues of the paper, from January 28 to February 24, exclusive of the 2nd, 9th, 16th, and 23rd, additionally missing the 19th (a Wednesday). That last one was probably the fault of the newspaper, since the advertisement appears on both pages 5 and 6 of the February 18, 1908 newspaper.

There’s not a lot to go on though. In the advertisement, Handley lists nothing more than a city.
I will shortly open classes for tuition in French and elementary German and Spanish, also the new universal language, “Esperanto.” For information and terms for class or private lessons, address, A. E. Handley, Ocala, Fla.

A. E. Handley was probably a man, as the one other piece of evidence is in the Ocala city directory of 1908, where it stated that Handley worked as a public stenographer and accountant. The city directory also notes that A. E. Handley lived with Margaret Handley (a widow) and Daisy Handley. No families in Florida quite match up to these. Oh, there’s a Daisy and Arthur Handley in the 19oo Census, but even if we overlook the difference in the mother’s name (Celia, not Margaret), we have the problem that Arthur Handley is only 4, which would make him a twelve-year-old when the advertisement was placed. It’s not clear where Arthur Handley and his family are in 1910.

Often the literature of the Esperanto movement is of help, since its whole purpose is to document and promote the Esperanto movement. But A. E. Handley doesn’t show up, and the only Esperantist listed for Ocala in that time is E. C. Smith, also of Ocala. Did they know each other?

It would seem, given that A. E. Handley stopped placing advertisements in the Ocala Evening Star, that there were no takers for the language lessons, be they French, beginner’s German or Spanish, or Esperanto. The Handleys don’t even show up in Ocala by 1910 (while E. C. Smith is still there).

Sometimes the research just doesn’t pan out. And, as A. E. Handley found out in 1908 Florida, sometimes neither does offering classes in Esperanto.
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