Tuesday, June 11, 2019

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

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

*  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


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

 Copyright © 2019 Peter E. Small All Rights Reserved

"Go West, young man, Go West" – newspaper editor Horace Greeley (unconfirmed)

In 1891 Austin Manford Small married a girl, of Norwegian descent, named Gertrude “Gertie” Olsen in Astoria, Oregon. They moved to Seattle, Washington presumably to work in the fishing industry and had a son Lester in 1892 followed by a daughter Marion in 1906. Marion died at eight months old. Then, in February 1907, Gertie died.

Sometime between 1907 and 1908 Austin became acquainted with a divorced woman named Carrie and her two year old son. Their meeting probably took place in Seattle but by 1908 they and their two children were living in Alameda, California. A son, Frederick Brewer Small, was born in 1909.

There is a genealogical adage that says a census can tell us where a person was on a given day with some degree of accuracy. All other information volunteered by those being enumerated is questionable and should be challenged.

Carrie, as her son reported earlier, could play fast and loose with the truth. She reported to the
enumerator of the 1910 Census that she and Austin were married four years. No record of a marriage can be found and in 1906 Austin was living with his first wife. She then adjusted her son Paul’s age to 3 years which would coincide perfectly with the imaginary marriage.
The 1910 Census of Oakland, California. Paul C. is incorrectly enumerated with the last name Small. Carrie A. is also recorded as Austin’s wife. A marriage record can not be found.

The 1920 Census of Oakland, California. Paul is incorrectly enumerated with the last name Small. Carrie M. is recorded as Austin’s wife. A marriage record can not be found.

Austin Manford Small is described only as a handsome ex-sea captain and ex-husband of our   autobiographical author’s mother and never by name. The 1930 Federal Enumeration of the Point Loma Lighthouse supports the author’s statement that Austin was a lighthouse keeper. He is also buried at Fort Rosecrans National Cemetery because the lighthouse service was, at one time, part of the US Coast Guard.

Likewise, Austin’s two sons, one of which was the author’s actual half brother, are not mentioned at all. Despite being enumerated as Paul C. Small in the 1910 and Paul Small in the 1920 Federal Enumeration of Oakland, California he excludes them from his narrative. He devotes about five short sentences to his time with Austin.

But when he writes about moving in with a family of seven complete strangers, during this same time
period, he treats them entirely different. He remembers every one of their names and nick names, where they lived and how long he remained with them. The telling goes on for several pages.

Why did our intrepid author invent this narrative of a relatively short visit with his mother’s ex-husband when in fact he was documented, probably by his mother, as living with this family for more than ten years?  Did he assume, rightly, the 1910 and 1920 Enumerations would never see the light of day during his life time? It would seem his mother had taught him well. Maybe he was innocently taking some “literary license” in order to spice up the telling of his childhood adventures.

Most of this information came years after I researched the three sons recorded in 1910 and 1920.
I found a birth entry for Lester Small in a Washington register which confirmed Austin and Gertie as his parents. I also found a newspaper clipping that reported him missing in action during the First World War.  The article went on to say he was the step brother of JS Smith who had written a book about his war time experiences. The book was called Over There in Three Uniforms. I had no idea how Lester was a half brother to a man named Smith.

I spent many fruitless hours and days researching Paul C. Small and could not find a shred of evidence to support his existence.

I found Frederick Brewer Small on a California birth index. His mother’s maiden name was recorded as Mason. Through the years I have developed a much fuller picture of his life. But it was his mother’s maiden name that would take me in a direction I least expected.


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 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_11.html

Copyright (c) 2019, Peter E. Small

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