Wednesday, June 29, 2011

The Teacher and the Marshall

Jerry Cline
"I exist on the whim of an 1869 Comanche raiding party in Central Texas".  Thus begins Hope Baby Jerry Cline's book Born and Raised:  An American Story of Adoption

Jerry was adopted from Hope Cottage in 1939 by King and Bertha Cline.  His parents never kept his adoption a secret from him.  As was the custom at the time, his adoption was closed meaning neither he nor his parents had any information about his birthparents, but Jerry says he always felt special because he was chosen by his parents out of all the little babies at Hope Cottage.  In 1985, Jerry started his quest to find out more about his birthparents.  His search started where his story all began - at Hope Cottage.  Because all adoption records were sealed at the time of his birth, the information that Hope Cottage could release at that time was brief  without any specific names or places that could identify his birthparents.  Most surprising of all is 1) he learned his birthfather was 72 when Jerry was born and 2) nurses at Hope Cottage originally named him Monte.  Jerry put the information aside for 16 years.
Jerry's Parents - 1946
 King (back row, right) and Bertha (front row, right)

Prompted by a friend, Jerry picked up again his search in 2000.  At this point both his parents had passed away .  He says "However sad, their passing removed a psychological barrier.  I think subconsciously that while they were alive, I had not wanted to do anything that they might interpret as undermining to their position as my real parents."  In April 2001, a Dallas judge opened Jerry's adoption records and the search was on. 

Without giving away too much of the story, Jerry learned that his birthmother was Pearl A. Tullis (1901-1992) and his birthfather was Daniel "Dee" Harkey (1866-1958). Harkey was a famous lawman in the Old West and had even written a book entitled Mean as Hell - The Life of New Mexico Lawman.  During his career as a Marshall,  Dee Harkey rubbed shoulders with  Billy the Kid,  the Dalton Gang and Pat Garrett.  What progressed in Jerry's search and the family history he discovered provides an absolutely fascinating glimpse into life on the Texas frontier post Civil War.  How did a lawman from Carlsbad, New Mexico meet up with a genteel Southern school teacher from Louisiana 35 years his junior?  You will just have to read the book!

Dee Harkey
Pearl Tullis

And where does the opening line in the book fit in?  In 1869, a Comanche raiding party found the Harkey ranch too great a temptation to resist - thirteen children, the oldest only 17, running the family spread after both parents died.  For whatever reason, after terrorizing the family for two days,  the Indians decided to only take the horses and spared the lives of the family, thus ensuring that Dee Harkey would grow to manhood and father Jerry Cline. 

Jerry Cline is a mathematician.  He earned his BA and MS degrees from Southern Illinois University in Carbondale and a Ph.D. from Purdue University.  His research specialty is Celestial Mechanics.  In addition, Dr. Cline served on the adjunct mathematics faulty at Washington University in St. Louis from 1967-2004.  He lives in St. Louis with his wife Phyllis.  He has two sons, two daughters-in-law and three granddaughters. 

To order your copy of the book, visit one of these websites:, and

The Cline Family
Christmas 2010

Hope Cottage is the oldest nonprofit, non sectarian adoption agency in Dallas. Since 1918 Hope Cottage has been building and nurturing strong families through counseling, education and adoption services.

If you have questions about adoption, please call Hope Cottage at 214.526.8721.

If you are a woman facing an unwanted pregnancy and would like to talk to someone about adoption, please call Hope Cottage at 1.800.944.4464 or 214.404.4546.

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