Friday, October 21, 2011

Unexpectedly Confirming A Family Story

When I first looked for my Michigan ancestors in Ancestry's WWII Draft Registration Cards, 1942 I was frustrated to learn that the state wasn't included.  I then put it on the back burner and forgot about it for the last year or so until yesterday when I read this post at GenBlog.

I was able to immediately find my great-grandfather in FamilySearch's collection (which thankfully includes Michigan).  But wait a minute, what's this on line seven:
Joseph James Allen WWII Draft Registration Card, 1942 from FamilySearch, p. 1

Joseph James Allen WWII Draft Registration Card, 1942 from FamilySearch, p. 2
The full name, birth date, birth place, residence and employer match what I know about him exactly so there isn't a question as to if this is my guy or not, but...

Who on earth is Mrs. Mary Merrill and why is she the "person who will always know" his address?!  In 1942, Joseph had a wife, four children, living parents and several living siblings - none of whom were a Mrs. Mary Merrill.  So who is she?

Well, I still don't know but I have an idea.  I decided to Google the address after her name, "307 S Dwight Johnson, Mich." and this is what I got:

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One of the stories I had heard about Joseph was that he was badly injured/gased in WWI and spent the last years of his life in and out of the local VA Hospital.  I never knew which VA Hospital, or even if the story was true until now.  If he had been a full time patient in 1942, I doubt he would have put his Jackson address as his residence or listed an employer.  But, it looks like his health was failing enough to where the Veterans Affairs Medical Center knew who he was.  By putting them down as the ones "who would always know" his address I wonder he knew he would be a full-time patient there one day...

I started out looking for the draft card because it was something easy to find and add to his file.  I really wasn't expecting any surprises or new information...  I'm so glad I was wrong.

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