Saturday, December 11, 2010

Great Uncle Paul

My grandfather, Red, was one of many kids. He was the son of James and Hattie. In addition to Red, James and Hattie had four other sons (George, Harry, Ralph and Paul) and one daughter (Lillie). James and Hattie divorced and both remarried. Hattie then had another daughter (Edna) with her second husband and a son (Joe) with her third husband. James remarried and I believe had more children, but I haven't quite confirmed that yet as I really have focused on Lola's family.

Having coming to a point where I'm not getting tons of information on Lola, I thought I should now focus on Red's family. I can't help but think that someone on that side of the family must have pictures of Red and Lola but just don't know who they are. I have some old pictures of Red's and don't know who all the people are, after all, so I have hope.

I knew that Red's younger brother, Paul, lived in California. Like his brothers, Paul was born in Illinois but at some point moved to California. From what I can tell, he spent his years in California (or at least most of them) in the northern part of the state. I have always heard of Paul, and the one story in particular that my dad used to tell. When my dad was young, he was going to a job interview and needed a nice jacket to wear, but he didn't have one. Red gave him one to wear and my dad really like that jacket. Apparently, Red took the jacket back and gave it to Paul. My dad was really bugged by that.

Prior to my now year long "journey" to the past, I pretty much knew Paul's name and the jacket story and that was about it. A few months back, I started going through memorabilia of Red's that I now have. He kept pictures and newsletters from the company he retired from. I also have his funeral book (he died in 1956). One day while looking through the guests listed in the funeral book I noticed "Paul, Bertie and family". I realized that was Paul because I had found Paul on the 1930 census living in San Francisco, California and married to a woman named Bertha (Bertie). They had been married for two years according to that census. Since the 1940 census has not yet been released, I haven't yet found names of the possible children of Paul and Bertie.

I then started looking through the company newsletters Red had and I suddenly noticed Paul's name with his team (he was a supervisor at the same glass manufacturing company Red worked for). I recognized him immediately from some of the photos I have of Red's with the people I couldn't identify. That was so exciting. I finally found a picture to associate with a name I had heard in the past. Funny thing is that I had flipped through those newsletters several times, but just never noticed this until that one day. Funny how that works.

Bertie died in Oakland, California in 1958. Paul died in San Leandro, California in 1971. For months, I kept thinking about ordering their death certificates in hopes of learning names of children so that I could try to find them. I considered ordering Bertie's but thought that Paul surely would have been the informant as the surviving spouse, so it was always in the back of my mind that I should order Paul's death certificate. That thought hung out in the back of my mind until Thanksgiving when I printed out the order form from Alameda county, filled it out, wrote the check for $14 and dropped it in the mail.

I got Paul's death certificate two days ago. When you order these vital records, you're really taking a chance as we know that the information is only as good as the informant. In other words, not all informants may know important facts. This was the case with Paul's d/c. Death certificates always have the names and places of birth of parents. Paul's parents names and birthplaces were unknown. The informant did know that Paul was a supervisor at the glass manufacturing company and had indicated he had been in California for 32 years. I know that isn't correct as that would mean he came to California in 1939. The 1930 census was my proof that that information was incorrect.

The d/c also listed Paul as a widower, which tells me he never remarried after Bertie's death. The informant was a Mrs. Cronin of Oakland, California. So, just who was this Mrs. Cronin? I wonder if that may have been Paul's daughter or a lady friend perhaps. However, if it was his daughter, wouldn't she have known the names of his parents? Hmm, maybe I will order Bertie's death certificate. Maybe one of the children did act as informant, and/or maybe the informant knew the names of her parents (something to build upon).

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