Thursday, July 24, 2008

Is Frank Calloway really 112 Years Old?

Did you see the Associated Press article published several days ago - the online version is titled "Alabama man turns 112, still drawing." The San Diego Union-Tribune published the story about Frank Calloway yesterday.

The key genealogy-related items in this story are these two paragraphs:

"He was born on July 2, 1896, and has lived in mental health centers since 1952, when he was diagnosed with schizophrenia. Moncrief-Craig said that patient confidentiality prevents her from discussing his condition in depth but did say he shows signs of dementia. He lives in the geriatric division of the home on the Bryce Hospital campus in Tuscaloosa.

"Details about Calloway's youth are few. He says he remembers growing up with brothers and, as a "little, bitty, little boy," playing under the quilts his mother made as if they were tents. He has no known family left and there is no record of his ever being married. He talks frequently about working hard and mentions laying railroad rails, cutting lumber, farming and working for a blacksmith, but there are no records of his life before he entered the Alabama Department of Mental Health and Mental Retardation system."

After I read the article, I thought "surely there must be some record of his life somewhere." There's a birth date, but no birth place, an indication of a family, but no names. Due to his mental state, he may not remember the names of his parents or brothers.

Is he really 112 years old? It doesn't say how he, or anybody else, knows. Perhaps he has a Social Security card, which might list his parents' names, but it's not available because he's still alive.

This is a job for Genea-man. Unfortunately, Genea-man's sooper-dooper genea-search whizzer didn't find a definite candidate. Logic says that there's a 90% chance that he's in the 1900 US census in Alabama with a birth date that says July 1896 (or some other year) - but only if he's older than 108! In 1910, he would be 14 years old, and perhaps living with his family. There might be a World War I draft registration card for him.

The 1900 census provides several black or mulatto Frank Calloway (and variants) aged 0 to 10 in Alabama:

* Frank Calloway (born Apr 1892, black) - son of Booker and Rena Calloway in Bibb County, Alabama.

* Frank Calaway (born Jan 1891, black) - son of Dock and Georgia Calaway in Lee County, Alabama.

* Frank Callaway (born May 1898, black) - grandson of Alex and Bettie Callaway in Montgomery County, Alabama.

In the 1910 census, there are (born between 1891 and 1910):

* Frank Caloway (age 8, mulatto) - son of Doc and Georgia Caloway in Lee County, Alabama, with seven siblings in the household.

* I looked for the Booker and Rena Calloway family, and found a Booker as a boarder and a Rena (age 8) with grandparents, both in Montgomery, Alabama.

In the World War I draft registration cards, there are:

* Frank Calloway (born 24 Nov 1894 in Opelika, Alabama) - a laborer in Cleveland, Ohio.

* Frank Callowoy (born 4 July 1893 in Birmingham, Alabama, race is Ethiopian) - residing in Montgomery, Alabama, but in jail in Bay County, KY, has a wife and child.

Frankly, I don't think that any of these match up well with the Frank Calloway in the newspaper article.

It's quite possible that he is really much younger than 112 - he may be as young as 85 to 90. Apparently, Alabama birth records were started at the state level in 1908 and are closed for 125 years except to family members. His SSA would probably be the best source for his parentage, and from that one could find his approximate age from census or other records.

Has anybody else searched for this man's records?

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