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Jean Pation’s New Adoptive Home

Jean thrived in her second adoptive home, which was located in Ypsilanti, Michigan, a small city of 15,000 people, thirty miles west of Detroit.  The Patons were prosperous and much better off than her first adoptive family, the Deans.  They lived in a large, imposing, three-story house, located on 122 Normal Street and had just purchased a new EMF automobile for Dr. Paton, a general practitioner, to conduct his house calls over the muddy and rutted roads in and out of Ypsilanti.

For those of you who are serious history nuts, car buffs, or just plain curious: the letters “EMF” stand for the initials of the last names of Barney Everitt, Bill Metzger, and Walter Flanders, who founded the E-M-F-Company in 1908.  Within three years the company was “the largest employer in Detroit and was producing more cars than any other company in the United States other than Ford.”  The primary reason that the name of the car is unknown today is because the Studebaker Brothers purchased the entire company in 1910.

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Jean Paton and her second adoptive family

This is a photo of Jean Paton, age 2½ or 3, with her second adoptive father, Dr. Thomas Paton and her seven-year-old foster sister, Virginia.  Jean was adopted twice.  The first time, she was adopted on May 10, 1909, by Harry and Millie Dean, a lower-middle class couple who also lived in Detroit.  The Deans renamed the baby Madeline Viola Dean.  Baby Madeline lived with the Deans for only two years.  At age 44, Harry Dean, a house painter, contracted cancer of the liver and died on May 6, 1911.  (I have not been able to locate any photos of the Deans).  The last six months that Madeline lived under the Deans’ roof were filled with illness and the smell of death.  Some seventy years later, Paton believed that her first adoptive father’s death had left her with “an undying and fierce hatred of the spectacle of human suffering.”  Impoverished by her husband’s death, Millie Dean was unable to support Madeline.  She returned the child to the Children’s Home Society of Michigan, which again placed Madeline in a foster home.  Madeline stayed in that foster home for 7½ months.  Then on December 11, 1911, Dr. Thomas and Mary M. Paton of Ypsilanti, Michigan,  adopted Madeline and renamed her Jean Madeline Paton.