The Commonwealth of Virginia has thrilled and astonished me by making vital records available via Ancestry.com. Yesterday, cousin Barbie Jones notified me that the databases were up and open, and I thank her for part in the gargantuan task of indexing these documents.
Just as with North Carolina Marriages a couple of months ago, Virginia Birth, Marriage and Death Records are unveiling little mysteries and setting records straight.
I’ll start with the Allens.
In the 1900 census, Graham Allen is listed in Charles City County, Virginia, with wife Mary, sons Alexander and Edward, and grandsons Milton and Junius. My assumption has always been that Graham and Mary’s eldest daughter Emma was the mother of the younger boys.
Last night, I found this:
So, yes. Conjecture confirmed. Milton William Allen — the middle name is new to me– was 16 year-old Emma’s son. Who was Mrs. Laura Ray, “friend”? And Milton was alive as late as 1958??? Where was he living?
But then I found this:
Is this right? Was Junius really Graham and Mary’s youngest child? (For a fact, my grandmother told me Junius was John C. Allen‘s brother, but I figured this was a manner of speaking.) And who is James Dobson, “uncle” and “a neighbor at the time,” who attested to Junius’ birth for this delayed certificate? And when did Junius move to Paterson, New Jersey? And there was once a King James Bible recording family births and deaths?
And then I found Emma Allen Whirley and two of her children:
No surprises, but who was informant Joseph Ghee?
A bit of a sad surprise. As I wrote here, Graham’s brother Samuel is the one who’d had a brush with infamy, yet Graham ends up shot in the chest. Where was South “B” Village? Taxi driver and wood dealer? And where did his wife pull “Binford” from as Emma’s maiden name?
Samuel Whirley, at least, lived a longish life.
What I’ve found after just a bit of looking:
- Laura Ray appears in the 1900 census of Harrison, Charles City County, with husband Graham Ray and three children. Laura Ann Wray’s death certificate shows that she was born 24 September 1873 to Lennie Glenn and “Annie” and died 12 June 1958 in Harrison district, Charles City. She was buried at New Vine church. Her husband Graham Wray’s death certificate reveals that he was born about 1871 to John Wray and Margaret Jones, that he was a farmer, that he died 3 March 1916, and that he was also buried at New Vine. New Vine, of course, was the Allen family’s church, too.
- I have not found Milton in any Virginia censuses after 1900, but I’m even less sure now that the Milton Allen that lived in Kokomo, Indiana, in the 1920s is my Milton. However, he may be the Milton W. Allen listed in the 1960 Petersburg, Virginia, city directory:
- I don’t have a death certificate, but the Social Security Death Index shows that Junius Allen, born 22 February 1896, died in January 1975 in Paterson, New Jersey. He had obtained his Social Security number prior to 1951 in New Jersey.
- Junius’ handwriting had immeasurably improved since his scrawl on his World War I draft registration card.
- A James Henry Dobson, self-employed barber and minister born 25 December 1884, registered for the World War II draft in Paterson, New Jersey. He reported being born in Richmond, Virginia, and named Mrs. Lavinia McKay as his contact person. Is this the same man? (The James Dobson above was born about 1875.) How could he have been Junius’ uncle?
- Joseph Wiley Ghee’s death certificate reveals that he was born in 1897 in Charles City County to Robert S. and Lovey Williams Ghee, that he died in 1957, and that he was buried at New Vine. He was a member of the Allens’ church then, and there’s no evidence so far that he was related to Emma.
- In the 1940 census of Hopewell, Virginia, Graham Whirley is listed as a 25 year-old lodger living in the Maplewood Avenue Extension household of Andrew Joyner, a fellow chemical plant worker. Graham is described as married, but no wife appears with him. This might be why:
- Per Wikipedia’s Hopewell, Virginia, entry: “Due to its hasty construction as a mill town during the First World War, Hopewell had a large number of kit homes that were hauled in and erected in neighborhoods laid out by DuPont [Company, which operated a dynamite, and then a guncotton factory there] known as ‘A Village’ and ‘B Village.'”
- As I’ll show elsewhere, Graham’s life contrasted sharply with his violent death. Newspaper accounts reveal that he was a church man, popular about town, and respected in and outside his community.
- Samuel Whirley’s marriage to India Carter Lee was a late one. Their license correctly lists his mother’s name:
- And here’s an earlier marriage:
- And the sorry end of that one. (Los Angeles, California???):
I mused earlier that it was hard to believe that of Mary Brown Allen’s children, only John and Emma had children. Emma’s sole known grandchild died childless, leaving my great-grandfather’s relatively few descendants as the only extant Allens. (By my count, we number only 25 across three generations. Twenty-five.) These additional records do not change that scenario. Neither Samuel nor Graham Whirley had children, and I’ve seen no evidence that Junius or Milton did.