Monday, January 23, 2012

Part II: My Research on Arthur Guy CHAMBERLIN

Previous post in this series:
Part I: My Research on Arthur Guy CHAMBERLIN
Following post in this series:
Part III: My Research on Arthur Guy CHAMBERLIN

As stated in my previous post, at my cousin's request, I was trying to find out more about my uncle's biological father, Arthur, who left the family when my uncle was a young child. I had exhausted online resources, as well as the few family resources we had. I was ready to take a trip to visit family in Michigan and planned to sneak in some research on my ancestors, as well as Arthur, while I was there in the summer of 2007. But before I discuss the findings of my trip, here is a summary of what I had so far:
  • Arthur was born 08 Feb 1923
  • He married Christine Elizabeth CHATTERSON, probably in the 1940s in St. Clair County, Michigan
  • Arthur and Christine had four children:
    • Alma Pauline (Chamberlin) YOUNG, who was born 17 Feb 1942 and died 25 Sep 1996 in Port Huron, St. Clair, Michigan
    • Tommy CHAMBERLIN, who died as a teenager in an accident, c. 1960s
    • Betty CHAMBERLIN
    • James CHAMBERLAIN, my uncle, who spelled his name differently
  • Arthur left Christine when my uncle was a young child in the late 1940s or early 1950s
  • Christine remarried to George E. MASON, who raised her children as his own. In fact, my uncle considered George to be his father.
  • Arthur died 03 Nov 1984 in East Point, Macomb, Michigan
  • Arthur was buried at White Chapel Cemetery in Troy, Oakland, Michigan
  • Christine was born 23 Nov 1922 and died 12 Oct 1979  in Port Huron, St. Clair, Michigan
  • George E. MASON was born 19 Apr 1920 and died 2 May 1989 in Port Huron, St. Clair, Michigan
This was not a lot to go on, but it was certainly enough to search for marriage records, death records, and obituaries at the St. Clair County Public Library and St. Clair County Clerk's office.

The courthouse was closed for genealogy research the first day set out to do research, so the first thing I did was search for Alma Pauline (Chamberlin) YOUNG's obituary in The Times Herald at the public library. This is the Port Huron newspaper. Her obituary stated that she was preceded in death by her parents, George "Eddie" and Christine "Teensie" MASON. It did not mention Arthur at all, which would make sense if Arthur had walked away from the family with very little contact afterward. Like my uncle, she probably considered George her father. The obituary confirmed her birth date as 17 Feb 1942 and gave her place of birth as Marine City, Michigan. It stated that she married her husband, Edmund J. YOUNG, on 30 Apr 1960 at Court Street Baptist Church in Port Huron. It listed my uncle and Betty FRENCH of California as surviving siblings. Betty's husband's name was listed as Ford FRENCH. So, now I had a married name for Betty, as well as a location.

I also searched for Christine's and George's obituaries. Christine's obituary made no mention of Arthur at all. It's almost as if the family wiped him out of their memories after he left. Of course, when a previous marriage ends in divorce, it is often not mentioned in an obituary. Her obituary stated she was born 23 Nov 1922 in Detroit and had lived in Port Huron for 25 years. This means that she moved to Port Huron around 1954. Her obituary stated that she married George E. "Eddie" MASON on 21 Apr 1952 in South Bend, Indiana. This helped to narrow down the timeframe of when Arthur left. No other new information was found, except that her daughter, Betty, was living in Port Huron, and not California, at the time of her death.

George's obituary stated he was born April 19, 1920 in Bay City, Michigan, and was a lifelong area resident. His obituary gave a different marriage date and place of 21 Apr 1954 in Grand Bend, Indiana. He was a lifelong chef and had even owned his own restaurant in Port Huron. It appeared that he had been previously married, as three surviving sons with the last name of MASON were mentioned. These sons were not mentioned in Christine's obituary, nor in Alma's obituary. My uncle, Betty, and Alma were all listed as surviving children. Betty was listed as living in California this time, so she obviously moved to California sometime after her mother's death in 1979 but before her (step)father's death in 1989.

So, this is what I found on Day 1 of research onsite in Michigan at the St. Clair County Public Library. Not too much was found on Arthur. What wasn't found on Arthur was more telling: further evidence that his children considered their stepfather, George MASON, to be their father. Now, looking back on it four years later, I wonder why I didn't look for an obit for Arthur. I am sure it was because Arthur died in Macomb County and was buried in Oakland County, so I probably assumed he wouldn't have an obit in St. Clair County. Also, keep in mind that I was really there to find obits on my own ancestors and was not focusing entirely on Arthur and his family. However, I think I need to revisit that next time I am in Michigan to make certain I didn't miss anything. Now I have something to put on my to-do list for my next trip.

Stay tuned for the report on Day 2. It would prove to be a much more productive day for research on Arthur.

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