Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Finding Pop Pop's Father

Without a doubt, the hardest initial part of the genealogical research was finding Pop Pop's father. For months, the only record I had of him was that one entry in the 1920 census. Even with the information from that, I only knew that he was either born in 1898 or 1899 in New Jersey. He doesn't show up in the 1900 or 1930 census anywhere, as best as I can tell. There were a few possibilities in the 1910 census that I couldn't be sure of, and for several months, I was stuck and didn't think I'd be able to find out any more information.

Then, I was home for a weekend and sitting on my nightstand was a baby book that I'd never seen before, that my mother must have dug out of the storage room, somewhere. On the very first page were the full names of all four of my grandparents, and some great-grandparents. Written down as Pop Pop's mother and father were "Clara Gertrude Walter" and "William Irving Naylor". So, I had middle names to work with now. However, that didn't seem to get me much further as there were no records on ancestry.com for any William Irving Naylor.

One day, though, I was googling, searching ancestry, and some other sites that 99% of the time yields no information. I went to the Family Search Labs website where they have a limited amount of records and typed in "William Irving Naylor". Up popped one record in the Texas Death Index for a William Irving Naylor, who died in Kerrville, in 1984. It's really rare to find one record of the exact name you are looking for- more often than not, you find tons of records for a vast array of individuals or you find none at all. I was curious, so I sent away to the Texas Department of State Health Services for the death certificate. Here's what I received:

It was him- all these years that we didn't no anything about him and I had his death certificate. Born in New Jersey on August 10th, 1898, he died in the VA Hospital in Kerrville, Texas on February 10th, 1984. He is listed as divorced, was in the Armed Forces (I've heard stories that he was in World War I, which had left some psychological effects on him- unfortunately there's no enlistment record on ancestry.com for him, and virtually all military records burned in a warehouse fire in the 1970's). His street address is listed as the Meadowview Nursing Home- I googled and wasn't able to find any information about that particular care facility. He died of pneumonia with arteriosclerotic heart disease being a contributing factor. He was buried at Palm Valley Cemetary in Pharr, TX. What is interesting is that he is listed as having died on February 10 in Kerrville, which is a six hour drive from Pharr, which is on the Mexican border, a few miles north of the Rio Grande River. Yet, they transferred him to this far away cemetery for whatever reason, and buried him on the exact same day that he died. I sent a letter to the cemetery where he is buried, inquiring about any additional information they could give me. Unfortunately, they could not provide me with anything, other than the spot where he is buried- he is in Section B, Lot 33, Space 1. I'm very curious about why he would've gone to Texas, of all places, and whether he went somewhere else first, after leaving Pennsylvania.

The biggest disappointment on this record was the fact that it did not provide any parents' names. However, it did give me his date of birth, and I had his full name. The New Jersey State Archives website is strict about the requirements for searching for Birth Records, including that you must know the county of birth, which I did not. However, a simple e-mail to one of the archivists resulted in a pleasant response and a quick find of his birth record. A few days later, I received this in the mail:

What a wealth of information! It lists the child as William Naylor, Jr. Sex- Male, Color- White, DOB- August 10, 1898, Place of Birth- Merchantville, NJ (Camden County), Name of Father- William Naylor, Maiden name of Mother- Emma A. Smith, Country of Father's Birth- England, Father's Age- 49, Father's Occupation- policeman, Country of Mother's Birth- U.S., Mother's Age- 37, Number of Children in all by this marriage- 4, how many living- 3, the doctor signs the birth certificate at the end. For the next post, I'll show what I found from this information.

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