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Searching a common name,,,,,,,,

March 30, 2017


I am currently working on my "Smith" line.  Smith!!  One of the most common names in the universe!!  Or so it seems.  Just a few short years ago the only information I had was my grandma Parker was a Smith from Jersey City, NJ.  Her parents might have been named Joseph and Eva.  Or not.  Not much information to go on!!  I knew that at one time my grandfather Warren Parker had lived in Jersey City.  He was married there, and they had a couple of their children there.

If you are not aware of this, Jersey City is a big place and it was even back then.  This was like looking for a needle in two huge hey stacks, LOL.  Trying to search "Smith" was not working, there were just way too many of them.  So then I decided to try to search for Warren Parker.  Yup, there were a couple of them but eureka, only one that was married to an Annie!!  I found my grandparents!!  And to further confirm it, there oldest boy had been born by the time the census was enumerated in 1900 and I knew his name.  Two of my grandmother's youngest siblings were living with them at the time, so I plugged their names into the family tree.  But what about her parents and her other siblings?

It wasn't until about 6 months later that I decided to take another look at the census and look at pages before the one my grandparents were listed on as they were at the top of the page.  Low and behold, there they were on the previous page!  The address the enumerated wrote in showed that they were actually in the same house!  It was a two family house.  Grandma and grandpa were in one apartment and grandma's parents and other siblings in another apartment.  It pays to "look around the neighborhood" so to speak.  Always pay attention to the details.

It turns out, grandma's father's name was not Joseph but John and her mother's name was indeed Eva.  Through newspaper articles and other documents I found after that I was able to confirm this information was correct.  What was really cool was I had the exact address they lived at and was able to google it and see what the house looks like today.

Over time, I have been able to find out about or at least the names of all her siblings, her parents, her grand and even great grandparents.  The search continues though as there has not been much information and I am hoping to find some living descendants.

Currently, I have been focusing on her brother William.  I found him in a 1920 census living with their brother Charles A. and his family in Jersey City.  He was single and working as a Chauffeur for a trucking company.  Chauffeur was the common name used for a driver of any type, not just a limousine as we think of today.

Note, it says Eighth St in the column on the left.  That info will come in handy later  William is on the bottom.  I know this to be accurate because I know the names of Charles' wife and children.

I then found William's WWI Registration card.

Note, he is living on Eighth St. He is a driver and his nearest relative is his brother Charles Smith.  Yes!!  This is the right William Smith!!  Do you have any idea how many William Smiths lived in Jersey City?  Way too many!!  Now I also have his date of birth!!

Then I found a WWII Registration card.

Still living on 8th St.  Same DOB but 2 things are different.  He is now married and is working on a WPA project.

Oh wait, he has a wife!!  Who is this Catherine?  I still have no idea.  But what I do know is by the 1930 census he has not only a wife but a 2 year old daughter named Patricia.  I have been able to track him up to 1942 in a city directory.  I found two Social Security records for him and truthfully I should have read the first one more carefully.  It was saying in 1983 his name was shown as William John Smith.  I know it is him because it gives his parents names and correct DOB.  But what I did not notice was that it was a claim for an "Original SS #"  that is much different than a "Life Claim".  So, apparently, someone in 1983 needed his SS# for some reason and perhaps did not know he actually had his own already.  I found another SS Record for him, that shows a different number but this was a "life claim"  in 1950.  So, it turns out he did not die in 1983 but probably in 1950.  It pays to really look at the details good.  I was in a hurry when I read the first record and made an incorrect assumption.  That is why I often go back to read things several times, just in case I miss any clues.  

I found him again in the 1940 census.  We'll have to wait about 3 years for the 1950 census to be released.  I am trying to find an obituary to see if I can glean any other information.  The search continues but I will probably switch to a different branch of the family for a while and give my tired eyes a break.  Sifting through all the Smiths in Jersey City is a big strain on the eyes, LOL.

Until next time,,,,,,,


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