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rojo's avatar

How can I find this person? Genealogy qustion.

Asked by rojo (24159points) November 6th, 2014

Looking for further ideas on how to locate an undocumented illegal irish immigrant in the New York area from 70 years ago.
What I have:
He would be a great Uncle of mine (Brother of my Grandfather).
Born in Ireland, raised in England
He was a sailor with the British Navy during WWI and afterward with the Merchant Marine.
I know of two ships he was on, the Matina (a British registry) in 1924 and again in 1925. and the S.S. Cold Harbor in 1926 which docked in Baltimore.
He does not appear on the 1930 Census.
Some time before 1940 he came to the US. No immigration records, probably jumped ship, but is on the 1940 Census where he is listed as working full time as a waiter in a restaurant. It gives the address in Mamaroneck, New York.
Around 1942 my Uncle visited while a Royal Navy Seaman, jumped ship and stayed for a few months where his uncle (the guy I am looking for) got him a job tending bar in a restaurant he was working at.
We won’t have access to the 1950 Census for another eight years.
He does not show up in any immigration or emigration papers that we have been able to find.
Nothing in the Social Security Index.
He is not listed in any of the grave listings available on line.
His brother died before he came to the US but he had a sister living in England as did his mother and father. We have had family members searching for some kind of correspondence to no avail.

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5 Answers

Pied_Pfeffer's avatar

What methods of searching have been used so far?

zenvelo's avatar

Have you tried Parish records for Holy Trinity Church in Mamaroneck? They might have him listed as a parishioner, and maybe if he was buried from there. No leads for any other towns or locations?

Any chance of him going back to Ireland or Great Britain after the war? That wasn’t uncommon.

filmfann's avatar

I am kind of amazed at the story of your Uncle, who jumped ship in 1942. That was pretty serious for that moment in time.

rojo's avatar

@filmfann My uncle was 16 at the time. His father had died four years earlier and he was the eldest child in a family of seven. He had been working at least two years prior to joining up. He had lied about his age to enlist and was assigned to what was, in effect, a liberty ship. It was a ship of questionable construction integrity and they were the main targets of the German U-boats. I don’t remember how many were lost during the war but it was a substantial number.
Family history has it that he went ashore to visit his uncle (the one we are looking for) in New York and the uncle, also a former sailor, knowing the reputation of these ships encouraged him not to return and, when he decided not to, got him a job.
The ship was sunk in the North Atlantic on the return voyage. My grandmother got a letter from the war dept. saying all hands had been lost including my uncle. Two months later he shows up back home. We are not positive but we think that by this time news had gotten home that he was still alive. I say this because none of the surviving siblings remember his return as being something unusual or miraculous.
He was discharged from the Navy for being underage (and probably jumping ship) turned right around, lied to the British Army, enlisted, and was sent to Burma where a year later he was forced to leave the army for punching out a superior officer who, in a fit of despondency, was trying to burn down the barracks with himself and his men inside. Because of the circumstances and his age he was not thrown in the brig or prosecuted but was sent home and subsequently discharged.
Once out of the army he went into the British Merchant Navy where he served out the rest of the war without, as far as we know, further incident.
After the war he came home, married, had six kids and spent a lot of time working with various veterans and old age pensioners organizations.

zenvelo's avatar

@rojo With all that new information, I’d look in Great Britain, not in the U.S., and with the vet organizations. My dad’s cousin was in the Royal Navy Women’s Auxiliary during the war, and she has written us in the past to tell us how they people connected even today.

He might even still be alive.

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