Did you ever have the desire to help a friend find somebody? How about trying to locate a young child who was adopted? That is what I did, and my quest began in February, 2006 when I responded to a query from Linda, she was looking for her great-uncle, John Scramlin, born on March 2, 1904 in Michigan, the youngest of eight living children. When his father died in 1908 (in a sawmill accident), young John was adopted by Charles and Susan Shoemaker, and John then became George Shoemaker and the new family moved to New Mexico. Not long after, Charles died, and Susan remarried a Mr. Hockman. This is pretty easy to follow, and it is basically what my friend and 6th cousin told me 7 years ago. In her initial letter to me, she said, "For 90 years our family has wondered about and prayed for John/George. We could like to know if he was happy, did he marry, did he have a family and where is he buried?"
Over the seven years, I tried to find George Shoemaker or George Hockman, and even George Scramlin in the 1940 census. Linda and I stayed in contact, even though there wasn't anything new to give to her. Fast forward to a few weeks ago, I rediscovered newspaper collections online. My blog post explains several sites HERE.
One of the first searches I did was for all the above names, then I threw in his original name of John Scramlin. Wow, a legal notice appeared From the Santa Fe New Mexican newspaper Feb. 9, 1978. That indicated to me he had gone back to his original name, and was still living in New Mexico. Through Ancestry, I found him in the 1930 and 1932 city directories for Santa Fe. Three new sources within 1/2 hour! I've never done research for New Mexico, so went to the San Miguel County site, and what a page that is...the top 3 tabs provided everything I needed...where John died, the date and his listing in the 1940 census! Why couldn't I find him in the 1940, well his name is spelled incorrectly, instead of Scramlin, it was Scromlin, now 34, single, and living in a state hospital.
I mailed the information to Linda, and even called her to discuss the next step. In her email to me, she wrote, "Miracles of Miracles! This time it came through. THANKS!!!!!! Our family has looked for him for over one hundred years. At least now we know, even though it appears he had a pretty difficult life. He must have had some functioning skills because he had been a laborer and janitor at the hospital. I hope he was content there. Thank you so much for all your work. We've been wanting to know what happened to him for over a century. I’m very disappointed, not for me, but for him. We had hoped better for him."
But, I wanted to know more....so, stay tuned for the next post.