Sunday, September 19, 2010

Searching Harold Ryan

I can't always resist the pun.

I have spent the better part of the weekend on two errands. I have been researching a man named James Arthur Cobbett as he was one of my predecessors here in the late 1930's and early 1940's. With the anniversary of the Light coming preparations are underway to note all the contributions made by all the families who once lived here. I was approached last summer by George Cobbett, who very much (and rightly) would like to see James Arthur included in the long role going back to Simeon Bates. George, along with Dave Ball, fired emails fast and furious all day Friday. When I got around to helping out, I found that by using a commercial web site, I could have access to census data and military registrations that will help us tell the story. Thanks to George and to Dave, it is a growing file and the next step for me is to prepare a check list of documents and photographs that can be blown up and shared with the audience next September at the anniversary dinner. I will give you a sampler below.



The web site also expedites the creation of a family tree and that was the next errand. Haley had come home from school with an interest in such a project, (thank you Matt Poirer), and it took me over. If I did it right I made it back to the late 1770's with a great, great, great, great, grandmother who in the census of 1860 was listed as 83 years of age and described in a column as "idiotic". Apparently this was the term in place for those infirm who had lost themselves in illness. Mary Sullivan was spared the slight in the 1870 census by failing to appear there.

On Julie's side the story headed to England where generations of Wilsons must have covered the land like clover. One ancient grandfather had two separate families of great number. They might have suited up against one another for some football there were so many. I have found passport registrations for my Great Grandparents. I found the Abington Branch and that led me to the twice married and perhaps twice widowed, Theresa Hickey Dunn, who on the census report of 1900 recorded that she had had eleven children with 7 living. One of the living was my great grandmother. Mr. Dunn has yet to be found as the 1890 census was largely destroyed by fire. I never knew that and it may be the most important lesson of the weekend.

One of the facts that amazed me was that men born between 1877 and 1897 had to register for the draft in both the First and the Second World War. My maternal grandfather was 51 years old, my paternal great grandfather two years older and both have registration cards for World War two. Those follow:


It is a lesson about another era, another ethos, that these two and so many others like them registered in their fifties. Extraordinary.





And for those of you who are not members of my family, Harold Ryan was an uncle who saw service in Europe and fought in the Battle of the Bulge. I haven't found his stuff yet, but I will.

1 comment:

  1. Bobby, My father was in the 9th armored division Tech 104 with the tanks. His brother Bernard "Bun" Ryan Paul Ryans` dad, was one of the guards of the unknown soldiers` grave I have his picture when he was on duty. I have my fathers patch as well. The Battle of the Bulge movie with George Segal shows them wearing the 9th armored division on their sleeve. My father said they put the sign on the Remagen Bridge after the Germans surrendered. His infantry was the first americans to cross the bridge. Please let me know the name of the website where your getting your info. Good luck with Mr. Cobbett`s history.

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