Tuesday, June 4, 2019

"A Mother's Love ..... or Something Else" by Peter E. Small: Part II

Genea-Musings reader Peter E. Small solved a family genealogical mystery and wrote a report about it, and I offered to publish his work on my blog.  

This will be a multi-part series posted over several weeks - probably on Tuesdays and Thursdays.  Earlier parts were published in:

*  Prologue:  https://www.geneamusings.com/2019/05/a-mothers-love-or-something-else-by.html

*  Part I:  https://www.geneamusings.com/2019/05/a-mothers-love-or-something-else-by_30.html


A Mother’s Love…..or something else?
 A True Genealogical Mystery Solved

 Copyright © 2019 Peter E. Small All Rights Reserved

“The best laid schemes o’ mice an’ men gang aft a-gley” – Robbie Burns

The 1960’s, 70’s and most of the 80’s left little or no time for serious genealogy. Military service, career demands, marriage and then child rearing took precedence. A “Special Assignment” as a Loaned Executive to the United Way of New York put me in close proximity to the New York Public Library and their massive genealogical holdings. I spent many fruitless hours perusing their Family History tomes with no success.

But, I considered it a learning experience at the time and I still do today. The library is a national treasure.  During the 1990’s I was introduced to Personal Computers and the Internet. My first internet success story was finding a Passenger Manifest on the newly created Ellis Island website. The manifest recorded my mother and her parent’s emigration from County Antrim, Northern Ireland to New York’s Ellis Island. It was truly an amazing experience. It also coaxed me to take the plunge into Irish Genealogy.

My father passed away in February of 2000 and a few years later, after I had retired, I went to visit with my mother. My plan was to have her move back up north to live with my wife and me. My plan did not meet with her approval.

I was preparing for my forlorn departure when I thought of my father’s personal papers and effects. I asked my mother if she would let me have his birth certificate, death certificate and anything else that might be of genealogical importance for my files. She gave me his death certificate and a well worn scrap of paper that he always carried in his wallet. Transcribed there on, was his father, mother, sister and all of his nieces and nephews birth date. She did not know if he ever had a birth certificate.

My father enlisted in the Army in 1941, pre-Pearl Harbor. After the war ended he worked for the US Postal Service. Wouldn’t two governmental jobs, so to speak, require some proof of identity? I was baffled.

An axiom or recommended strategy of genealogical research is that you always start with yourself and work backwards. “Advancing to the rear” as the French on the Maginot Line might have said.

I was soon to learn that I had made rookie error number two by circumventing well established genealogical practices and not documenting each generation before moving to the next. I had completely overlooked a missing piece of the puzzle. A puzzle I still had not solved after several decades.

I suppose I could make the excuse that my father, aunt and the NYC Health Department’s death certificate all referred to my grandfather as Albert. Everything was substantiated by people who knew him. I had never considered asking my father to see his birth certificate.

One of the first things I did when I returned home from my visit with my mother was to order a copy of my father’s birth certificate from the City of New York. After 10 to 15 days I received the document. I was not expecting to find any new information, but I was still glad I had ordered and received it.

I opened the envelope and unfolded the copy of the birth certificate. I took in the document in its totality. 

Then, item by item. 

*  Date of Birth: September 15, 1917, 
*  Name of Child: Howard Edgar Small
*  Father’s Name: Elvin Edgar Small.

I just stood there staring at that name for maybe a minute or so. It was not registering with me. Elvin. Not Albert. Where had I seen that name before?


Randy's NOTE:  Stay tuned for the next installment of this multi-chapter report.  I will add all of the chapters to this post, and the other chapter posts, as they are published. The chapters to date are:

*  Part I:  https://www.geneamusings.com/2019/05/a-mothers-love-or-something-else-by_30.html
*  Part II:  https://www.geneamusings.com/2019/06/a-mothers-love-or-something-else-by.html
*  Part III: https://www.geneamusings.com/2019/06/a-mothers-love-or-something-else-by_6.html

*  Part IV:  https://www.geneamusings.com/2019/06/a-mothers-love-or-something-else-by_11.html
*  Part V:  https://www.geneamusings.com/2019/06/a-mothers-love-or-something-else-by_13.html

*  Part VI:  https://www.geneamusings.com/2019/06/a-mothers-love-or-something-else-by_18.html

My thanks to Peter for sharing this mystery and its' solution with me and the Genea-Musings readers.

The URL for this post is:  https://www.geneamusings.com/2019/06/a-mothers-love-or-something-else-by.html

Copyright (c) 2019, Peter E. Small

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