Family history can be murky at best! Unless you wrote down all the stories about their families that you heard from your parents while you were growing up, it all becomes a blur when you begin genealogy research!
Take my mother’s cousin for example. He was born in Hazleton, Pennsylvania, in 1917, as Samuel H Fenton. His mother, Otelia Lohrke, was my grandmother’s sister. She and her husband, Samuel Fenton, died when Sam was about 4, and his brother Robert about 2. Sam was adopted by his mother’s aunt around 1921, whose name was Tillie Lohrke Smith, and her husband Conrad Smith. His brother Robert Fenton was adopted by another family, Cyrus and Etta SMITH! (No relation to Tillie and Con Smith!) Robert retained the Fenton name and lived in Montgomery and Butler counties is Pennsylvania. So far so good!
Here’s where it gets ugly. Sam Fenton took Con Smith’s last name, and became Samuel H Smith. Sam (who we always called ‘Uncle Sam’–Yes, I had a real Uncle Sam) enlisted in the Army in 1940, and served in Arkansas, where he married the first time, a Doris Barr, whom he later divorced. Sam eventually became a full-bird colonel with the Army, and when I remember him and his second wife, Vivian, they lived in Maryland. Now, you would think someone who had a full career in the military and died after the inception of Social Security records would be easy to document! Not on your life! I remember visiting Sam and Vivian when I was around 8 or nine, and my brother a year younger, and I know that he lived at least another 8-10 years after that. That would put his death between 1963 and 1975. Do you know how many Samuel Smiths died in those years? Do you know how many Sam Smiths served in the Army from 1940 onwards? YIKES!!!!!!!!!!!!
My reason for writing all this is to enlist your help! If anyone has any idea how I can find out more about Samuel H Fenton Smith, I would love to hear from you. If you know how I can find out more about his service record, so that I can trace his death and burial, I would appreciate it! Or, if you know more about Vivian, again thanks!
I like a good mystery, but this is getting ridiculous!