Week 39 (September 24-30) – Unusual: What is the most unusual record you’ve ever found? Or, who is the most unusual of your ancestors? (You can take that any way you want to!)
Frank Serviss, my grandfather died in 1948. His death certificate says he was born Dec 15, 1890. His WWI and WWII draft registrations both support the Dec 15 date, one giving the year 1890, the other 1891.
These documents lead me to believe Frank was born on the 15th of December in either 1890 or 1891; it makes sense to this point!
In the 1892 NYS census, a census where Frank should have been enumerated, there is no Frank! In fact, his mother Clara is listed (under her stepfather’s surname) with her mother, stepfather and sisters. Frank’s father Remsen is also nowhere to be found. Strangely enough Clara’s also married sister is listed with the wrong surname in the household.
Searching for a birth record for Frank first led me to his cousin Frank’s birth record. That gives the birth date of March 22, 1893 for cousin Frank. In the WWI & WWIII draft registration cards, cousin Frank’s birthdate is February 15, 1896 and Feb 15, 1895, respectively. The Social Security Death index lists Frank Serviss, born Dec 15, 1895 died 1966!
There is no birth record for my Frank Serviss with the parents Remson Serviss and Clara Bowen. That is not unusual in itself, birth registration compliance was not 100% at that time.
What has been unusual has been the tangle of records that I’ve found for Frank Serviss. The shifting birth dates make it difficult to be sure I am reading records for the correct Frank at times. Turning to the census records for more clarification adds to the confusion. It also appears there is another unrelated Frank Servies that is close in age in the same NYC vicinity.
In 1900, I cannot find “my” Frank. Cousin Frank was in a household with his parents and siblings. The 1900 census was great in that it asked for not only age but month and year of birth. Cousin Frank was enumerated as 4 years old, born Dec. 1895! Furthermore he has a brother, Arthur, enumerated as born in Aug. 1893 making the March 22, 1893 birthdate impossible.
In 1905 NYS census, I find my Frank and cousin Frank listed together in the household of uncle Frank. (Did I forget to mention earlier that cousin Frank’s father was also a Frank Serviss?!) In this census only ages are given. My Frank is 15 and cousin Frank is 10. Ok, this makes sense with the 1890 and 1895 birth years.
But wait, there’s more! In the 1915 NYS census my grandfather Frank is listed as 23 yrs old- so born in about 1891/2! Five years later in 1920 he’s 30 years old. Isn’t census math grand?! Five years later, he’s lost one of those extra years, listed as 34 years old, and five more years after that in 1930 Frank is 37! This would be a lot less frustrating if there weren’t two closely related Frank close in age. Thank goodness for family members to help sort them out. But they did give some of their children the same names too…