Carnival of AA Genealogy

Although I missed the Carnival of African American Genealogy the past few months..i wanted to write on the one that seemed easiest… Grandma’s Hand: Grandmothers and their influence on the family.

Mine comes from a different perspective. More tragic for those who want to know their family I suppose.

Many of you know that I have been in search for my grandfather, George Washington Bolden. He would be my father’s dad. However, trying to find him has been one of the most difficult searches to date. Maybe because he’s closer to my heart than the more distant ancestors. I don’t know who he is, but I would love to. I see the pain in my father when the subject comes up. He disparately wants to know who this man is. What child doesn’t want to know their father? Just think about all the siblings, nieces, nephews, aunts, etc that he doesn’t know. Who knows..maybe we’ve crossed paths and had no idea.

But, this is how a grandmother, a mother can change the course of your family and it’s research. That traditional relationship of grandmother and child escapes many of us in my generation. Maybe due to distance or cross words between cousins. Maybe it’s due to jealousy of how one grandchild is treated compared to others. Either way, the relationships we have are very different than those I’ve observed.

Still Searching

So, after spending last week in a frantic search for my 80 year old cousins phone number, I finally got it. This is the man that worked with my grandfather, George Washington Bolden, on the docks in VA.

Granted it really didn’t take much searching. It was just frantic because when I wanted to talk to his sisters, they were home. So, my inability to be patient set in. So in a nutshell, I was frantic, the search was not.

Well, I got the number last week and have yet to call. I’m not exactly sure why I hadn’t called him. I know I need to call ASAP. Maybe I’m a little scared that I may get the same “I’m 80 years old, I can’t remember that far back” response that he gave me last time. It was crushing then when he told me. But, I have a new plan.

My plan is to call him and ask about his life during that time. Find out what type of work he did, but talk to him more about himself. Maybe in talking to him about this will jog his memory. Maybe he’ll remember some kind of detail that can get me to the next door.

So, tonight, I will be calling my cousin. Wish me luck.

Plan of Action from Karen

Thank you Karen SOOO much for your comment. I’m reposting the comment because this is information anyone searching for long lost military relatives can use!!!

From what little information you have about his movements in the Navy, here is a long shot for you. It might be difficult to find these sources, but you might try libraries and used book stores. Squadrons and ships and shore units often will publish yearbooks with photos and names of the personnel assigned to that unit. Maybe someone in Norfolk (I recommend RAOGK – Random Acts of Genealogical Kindness, http://www.raogk.org, and look in their directory for someone in Norfolk). You might get lucky.

I just wish I could see his left arm in the photo because his rating insignia (what his duty was in the Navy) would be there. He does appear to have a lot of medals. The really unfortunate thing is that he doesn’t seem to have a name tag on his uniform. If only he’d worn a name tag, that might have helped you a lot, if you could get the picture enlarged with some clarity. At that, you might try, because the name of his ship might be on the band of his cap! Something is written there, but I cannot make it out.

One thing you might think of trying is to go to the armed services website Military.com (http://www.military.com), and on the left-hand side of that home page, click on Navy. You will have to register, but it is free. Post the photograph on the site, if you can, and see if anyone recognizes your grandfather! That, too, is a long shot, but there could be some old retirees who just might remember.

You could try to get his service record with the sketchy information you have. It would be difficult. I would recommend that you call the National Personnel Records Center in St. Louis, which is where his record would be kept. Their phone number is 314-801-0800. I have found NARA and NPRC personnel to be very helpful. Explain your situation to them, and how much this means to you, and see if they can find his record just with the name — even though they’d have to sift through variations, in your case.

Much good luck, and I’m going to follow your blog to see if you have any luck with this.

Karen Packard Rhodes

Karen – I’ve started working on this. I did fill out a form and sent it to the National Personal Office. Since an immediate descendent had to do it, I had my dad send it to them. They replied back saying that we need a SSN in order to get information. But, I’m going to call and see if there is something else I can do.

Thanks again. This has given me some hope in finding info on my grandfather.

Not so Wordless Wednesday: I wish I knew my Grandfather

This is a repost of sorts about my grandfather, George Washington Bolden/Bowden/Baldwin.

When I think about this, my heart really breaks. Although, it doesn’t affect me as much because never having a grandfather, I don’t know what a relationship with one is like. But, for my dad, to not have a father, I can imagine the hurt he must have had growing up.

My dad joined the military to find him. All he knew was his dad was in the military. And all he had was this torn picture of a man he didn’t know. His step-father tore this picture into 4 pieces. Ripped it up out of rage. For what reason, I’m not sure. But, from that point forward, my dad was not to have that man raise him. My dad was raised by his grandparents. Raised as a sibling to his Uncles and Aunts. Cousins may be mad at me for what I have to say, but that’s what it is.

I smile when I look at this picture because to be honest, my dad looks a lot like this man…in his younger years. I see the features that make up my dad’s face…my face.

I often wonder about my possible Aunts, Uncles, Cousins and what not from this side of the family. My last name would have been something other than Spence. My life may have been different with knowing who my grandfather was. I imagine cousins that I could have known and/or grown up with. I wonder if I’ve dated any of those cousins…eewww.

The fact that the story behind this man has varied over the years and the fact that I have such little information is poignant. I wish I had more to go on. I wish I had more information. Hell, I wish I knew where he was from! But, I don’t even know that. There is a paper trail for him. There is documentation. He was obviously in the Navy. He had a career. People knew him somewhere. I just want to find him. Maybe one day someone will come across the original post. Recognize some of the details. Compare notes and contact me.

Maybe The Locator will be able to locate him. I’ll continue to dream my little dream and wish my little wish and hope that one day I will know who he his.

Side note – George Geder did restore this photo for me. But, I think it’s more appropriate to see the picture in it’s semi original form.

Restoring Grandpa…..

While wandering thru google (to see if I’m listed as a genealogy blog..) I stumbled upon this site . Not only does he research his family tree, he restores pictures as well. Do you see the sample? He did that!

This is a picture of my grandfather, George Washington Bolden/Bowden/Boulden. The picture is damaged due to a step-father tearing in a fit of rage.

One of my relatives taped it back together for my dad when he was a young boy. However, they put the tape on the top of the picture instead of the bottom. This makes the picture even more fragile and difficult to restore. I have sent it off several times to get restored and it always came back looking…well…like crap! My main concern is the face. Previously when I sent it off, the face would come back looking like someone different.

I sent this to George b/c I’ve seen some of his work. All I can say is, he did an amazing job. I only seen him a low resolution copy I had saved on the computer to see what he could do with it. Now, I’ll be scanning a higher resolution image onto CD to send to him. He really does some amazing work. Along with the fact that he takes pride in his ancestors, he knows how important these photo’s are to those researching theirs.

Questions for the dead

I saw this on Jennifer’s blog, But Now I’m Found, and I thought it was a great idea. So, I borrowed it.

I would love to ask my great great grand father Aaron Edward Spence what his brothers and sisters’ name’s are. I know he had siblings, but I haven’t been able to locate them.

I wish I could as my great great grandfather William Lowry if that was really him living with his grandfather in 1880 and did he change his name from Barker to Lowry. Also, is he part Indian? Does he have any siblings? Who is Issaac Boykin and Alfred Ferebee that was living with him in 1880? How did he feel when his mom married and left him with his grandparents?

I wish I could ask my grandfather, Aaron Edward Spence, who George Washington Bolden is? What is the real story behind my dad living with them as a kid? How much land did he own?

Lastly, I would love to ask all the ancestors…….WHO ARE THESE PEOPLE?!?!?!?!?

George Washington Bolden/Bowden/Baldwin

This is George Washington Bolden/Bowden/Baldwin. Excuse the variation of the last name, my grandmother could never tell me what it really was.

He is my paternal grandfather. Neither I nor my father has ever met him. My dad joined the navy for 2 reasons; because he was drafted and he wanted to find his father. My grandmother has never really given much info about this man and I’m not to sure why. But my father and I would love to know who he is.

What my grandmother has told me:

  • She’s not sure if his last name is Bolden/Baldwin/Bowden. But, she’s sure that it’s George Washington.
  • He called her about 2 or 3 months after the initial meeting. She told him she was pregnant and he said that he would come back and marry her. She said no.
  • She says that he was older, maybe in his 20’s.
  • It was a one time thing.

What my great aunt (my grandmother’s sister) has told me:

  • It wasn’t a one time thing. He’s been to their house before and all the sisters just thought he was so cute.
  • She thinks there was more to the relationship.

What I’ve been able to determine:

  • My grandmother was 16 when she had my father. My father was conceived in December of 1952 when my grandmother was 15.
  • He was in the Navy in 1952, probably working in Norfolk, VA.
  • Based on the stripes on the sleeve, he was in for at least 8 years and he was an E-3 by the time this picture was taken.
  • If the picture was taken about 1952 or 1953, that means he joined the Navy around 1944.
  • I believe that the youngest they could have been to enlist was 17. That means that he could have been born anywhere between 1920 to 1928. My grandmother was born 1936 and she claims he was much older than her.
  • He’s not from Pasquotank or Camden, NC. He always visited with some distant cousins and stayed with them. That tells me that maybe his home is to far to travel when he was on leave.
  • He was probably on Christmas leave in 1952 when he and my grandmother ‘hooked up’.

What the distant cousin has told me:

  • Last he saw him was around 1955 to 1965. he was on his way to Trinidad on deployment.
  • He worked on the docks with him.
  • Last he talked to him, George was getting deployed to Trinidad some time in the 50’s.

My father is the oldest of all her children and the only one with a different father. My grandmothers 1st husband took the picture when my dad was young and tore it up. This is the only picture we have of him. I intend on getting the picture restored. I sent it off once, however the picture that came back looked HORRIBLE! It didn’t even resemble this.

My father was raised by his maternal grandparents, Aaron Edward and Bessie Spence and on several documents he’s listed Aaron Edward Spence as his father.

Now what? It’s not like the Navy enlistment records are available online. So, how can I locate him???