Wednesday, August 31, 2011

The Search for Nobu Ina, Part 3

For previous posts about the search for Nobu Ina, see:

The Search for Nobu Ina, Part 1
The Search for Nobu Ina, Part 2

In Part 2 of the Search for Nobu Ina, one of the things that I wrote about was the Alien Registration form AR-2 that Nobu filled out in 1940.  From the form, I learned that her married name was Hatano.  I decided to see if I could find out who her husband was and see if this could lead me to more information about Nobu.  The form didn't give a first name for her husband, so I just searched on for the surname Hatano in New York.  I found a "Hay" Hatano in Manhattan in the 1930 census (see image below)[1].  He was 34 years old, had arrived in the U. S. in 1925, and was working as a cook in a restaurant.  I didn't know if this was her husband, so I kept looking.

1930 New York census showing Hay Hatano.  Click to enlarge (from

I found a Hisatane Hatano in the New York Passenger Lists (see image below)[2].  According to the passenger record, he arrived in New York on January 16, 1924.  He was single and 29 years old at the time of his arrival.  He was a student from Japan but had come to New York from Berlin, Germany.  He spoke French, German, Spanish, and English.  I still wasn't sure if I had the right person.  

1924 passenger arrival record for Hisatane Hatano.  Click to enlarge (from

Then I found Hisatane's World War II (WWII) draft record[3].  It gives the same street address as Nobu's Alien Registration form (see images below).  So, this was her husband.  His draft registration card gives his birth date as December 28, 1895.  It says he is self-employed but doesn't give the type of business. It says he was from Saruhashi, Japan.

A portion of Nobu Ina's Alien Registration form.  Arrow points to address (click to enlarge).  From

WWII draft record for Hisatane Hatano.  Arrow points to address (click to enlarge).  From

I googled Hisatane's name and found him listed in a publication of Japanese Students at the Berlin University 1920 to 1945[4].  It appears he attended during the school years 1921/1922 and 1923/1924.  He studied "staatswissenschaft" (political science, according to Google Translate).  I also found a passenger record for a Hisatane Hatano who arrived in the U. K. from Japan on April 30, 1921 (see image below)[5].  At first, I wasn't sure if this was the same person since the passenger record says he is a government officer and that he is 28 years old, making his birth year about 1893 rather than 1895 as stated on his WWII draft record.  The passenger record says he planned to stay in England one month and gives his address as the Grosvner Hotel, Liverpool.  There is a student by the name of Juji Yokokawa listed on the same passenger record who also planned to stay in England for one month; he has the same address in Liverpool as Hisatane (see image below).  The Berlin University record of Japanese students says Juji started there in 1921, the same year as Hisatane[6].  Both men attended during the same school years (1921/1922 and 1923/1924).  I believe that the Hisatane on the U. K. passenger record is the same person as the Hisatane Hatano that came to the U. S. in 1924.  In looking back at the 1930 census for "Hay" Hatano, I noticed that the head of household is listed as Elsie Vonderschmitt from Germany.  Hay is a roomer in her home (see census image above).  Did he know her or her relatives in Germany or did someone in Germany put him in touch with her in the U. S.?  Hisatane spent some time in Germany and could speak German.  Hay's age in 1930 (34) is close to that of Hisatane (34 or 35).  Hay could be a nickname for Hisatane.  However, I still am uncertain if these two names are for the same person.

U. K. passenger arrival record for Hisatane Hatano and Juji Yokokawa (click to enlarge).  From

I found Hisatane's Social Security Death Record on[7].  He died in New York City in May 1971.  I hoped to find an obituary for him but haven't found one yet.  This past March when I was visiting Valdosta, my youngest sister and I drove over to the Huxford-Spear Genealogy Library in Homerville, Georgia, to do a little research one morning but mainly to see what the library had to offer for future research trips.  They have city directories from New York in their collection, so while I ran off to another area of the library, my sister looked through the New York city directories, but she didn't find anything on Hisatane or Nobu Hatano.

In Part 4 of this series The Search for Nobu Ina, I'll continue my discussion with other avenues of research that I've tried.


[1]  Year: 1930; Census Place: Manhattan, New York, New York; Roll: 1557; Page: 31B; Enumeration District: 453; Image: 100.0.
[2] New York Passenger Lists, 1820-1957 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Operations, Inc., 2010.
[3] U.S. World War II Draft Registration Cards, 1942 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Operations, Inc., 2010.
[4]  Rudolf Hartmann.  Japanische Studenten an der Berliner Univarsitat 1920-1945.  Kleine Reihe 22.  (Herausgegeben für die Mori-Ôgai-Gedenkstätte der Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin von Klaus Kracht, 2003).
[5] UK Incoming Passenger Lists, 1878-1960 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Operations Inc, 2008.
[6]  See footnote 4 above.
[7] Social Security Death Index [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Operations Inc, 2011.

The Search for Nobu Ina, Part 2

In my previous post, The Search for Nobu Ina, Part 1, I wrote about my mother and my Aunt Catherine finding letters from Nobu Ina to their father addressing him as "father."  I also discussed what we know about Nobu from her letters.  I decided to do some of my own research.  I wondered what happened to her.  Where did she go?  Did she stay in the U. S. or return to Japan?  What happened to her during World War II?  Did she get married, have children?  Will we ever know if she was Will's daughter?

I found nothing about her in a Google search, and at first I had difficulties on  Her name had been misspelled in a couple of ancestry's indexes (I filled out corrections), but I finally found her.  If this is "our" Nobu Ina, in 1930, she is living on Red Spring Lane in Glenn Cove, Nassau County, New York, with the Sterling Pile family and is working for them as a servant (one of four servants, as a matter of fact)[1].  Out of curiosity, I looked this up on Google Earth to see where this street is located--it's on Long Island.  The census gives 1923 as the year she arrived in the U.S. and says she was born in Japan.  So far so good.  It says she is single and 31 years old, which would make her birth year around 1899.  She is listed as an alien.  However, the census says that her mother and her father were born in Japan.  Who gave this information to the census taker?  Did the census taker assume this?  Is it true?  If it's true, then my Grandfather Will could not be her father.

1930 New York Census (click image to enlarge).  From

If Nobu was born around 1899, then she was about 16 in 1915 when Will arrived in Japan for his 4 year assignment.  There's still a chance that he could be her father if he visited Japan earlier when he was with the Asiatic Fleet (click here to see the post about Will).

I found Nobu's passenger arrival record on  The "List or Manifest of Alien Passengers for the United States" (see image below) shows that the ship S.S. Shinyo Maru set sail from Yokohama, Japan, and arrived in San Francisco on December 18, 1923[2].  It says that Nobu was from Achi-Ken Nagoyashi, Japan.  Her age is listed as 34 years and 10 months.  What??  This would make her year of birth around 1889, not 1899 as indicated by the 1930 census.  If she was actually born in 1889, then Will is probably not her father.  He would have been 16 and old enough to father a child, but I doubt he was anywhere near Japan at that time.  Could this be a typo on the manifest?  Did she mistakenly give the wrong year?  Something else--her nearest relative is listed as a younger brother.  She never mentions having a brother in her letters to Will.  I've not heard that Will had more than one child in Japan.  Nobu is also listed on the Record of Aliens Held for Special Inquiry[3].  Beside her name is stamped "READY."

S.S. Shinyo Mura passenger list (click image to enlarge).  From

I looked for a Social Security Death Record for Nobu on but didn't find one, so I wondered if she had gotten married or maybe she returned to Japan.  I also checked for any records that didn't have, but I didn't find anything new.  I looked up a few websites about how to do genealogy research in Japan.  I need to look further into this, but I thought for now that I would just stick to looking for her here in the U.S.

I filled out Standard Form 180, "Request Pertaining to Military Records," pertaining to Will and paid a fee[4].  Under "Information and/or Documents Requested," I checked "other" and wrote "Marriage record while in Japan or birth record of child born in Japan between 1900 and 1919." The letter I received in reply to my request told me to contact Passport Services for any birth certificates for U. S. citizens born outside the United States or its territories and that marriage certificates are not a matter of record.  Rats.  According to the 1930 census (see above) Nobu wasn't a U. S. citizen.

I tried searching the Naturalization Records on to no avail.  Then I learned that Japanese living in the U. S. could not become U. S. citizens until the 1952 passage of the McCarran-Walter Act[5].  I also learned that during World War II, Japanese in the U. S. were required to fill out an Alien Registration form (AR-2) [6].  Copies of these are available through U. S. Citizenship and Immigration Services ( through a Genealogy Immigration Records Request (form G-1041).  This is a two-part process.  First you fill out form G-1041 Index Search Request to get the file number.  After you've received this from USGIS, you fill out form G-1041A Genealogy Records Request to obtain a copy of the file (each of these has a fee).  I thought it was worth a try but really thought I'd not find anything out.  I was surprised to learn that they did have a file on Nobu, so I requested a copy.

The AR-2 form is dated November 1940 (the day is illegible).  It gives her married name and maiden name, her address in New York City, when and where she arrived in the U. S., and on what ship.  It gives her height, weight, and hair and eye color.  It says where she was born.  It has her finger print and her signature.  Her married name was Hatano.  She was a housewife.  She had been in the U. S. for 17 years and was a permanent resident.  She had no parents living in the U. S. (recall that Will died in 1932).  She had no children.  The form says she was born February 22, 1889!  The same birth year indicated by her passenger arrival record.  Not 1899 as indicated in the 1930 census.  Well, this didn't answer a whole lot of questions, and certainly not my main question of whether she is Will's daughter, but at least I found out that she stayed in the U. S. and had gotten married.  I checked her signature on the form against her handwriting in her letters just in case this wasn't "our" Nobu.  The handwriting is the same.  I'm no handwriting expert, but "Nobu" is written similarly and the "t" in Hatano has that floating cross which is sometimes how she crossed "t" in her letters.  So....I'm beginning to doubt that she is Will's daughter, but I'm too far gone into her story to stop the search.  Plus, I still have the hope that I will find out that it is true, that she was his daughter. 

In The Search for Nobu Ina, Part 3, I'll continue with what I've found through my research thus far.


[1] Year: 1930; Census Place: Glen Cove, Nassau, New York; Roll: 1457; Page: 1A; Enumeration District: 1; Image: 138.0.
[2]  California Passenger and Crew Lists, 1882-1957. Provo, UT, USA: Operations Inc, 2008-2011.
[3]  See footnote 2 above.
[4]  Standard Form SF-180, Veterans' Service Records, National Archives,
[5]  Carolyn M. Brady.  Japanese-American Family History Resources.  (Carolyn M Brady, 2002).
[6]  Kimberly Powell.  Alien Registration Forms. (, 2011)

Thursday, August 25, 2011

The Search for Nobu Ina, Part 1

Our curiosity about Nobu Ina has lasted for several decades.  She might be the daughter of my maternal grandfather, William (Will) Liming Redles, and she might not be.  My family has talked about her off and on for years.  Who was she?  It has only been within the past couple of years or so that I became serious about searching for Nobu Ina, but this might be a mystery that will never be solved.  All of the people who know the truth are long gone.   

Some years after my grandmother Leona died, my mother and Aunt Catherine found their father's papers when they were cleaning out her storage.  Included in his papers were many letters he had received.  Most interestingly, there were letters from a woman named Nobu Ina that begin, "Dear Father," "My Dearest Father," "My Dear Father."  We've wondered if referring to Will as "father" was just a term of endearment for a very good friend or if she was actually his daughter or step-daughter.  There is nothing in her letters to indicate one or the other.  A friend of my sister's asked her daughter-in-law who is from Japan about this.  She said, in Japan, you wouldn't address a man in this manner unless he was your father.  I still wonder, though.  She signed her letters with "From N.," "Lovingly From Nobu," "Most Sincerely, From Nobu,"or "Yours N." 

Written on the back: Ina Nobuko received Apr. 1920.

From her letters, we know that Nobu came to the U. S. from Japan in 1923 with a missionary group.  She explains in one of her letters that she felt that there was no hope for her in Japan, so she decided to come to the U. S.  The dates on her letters indicate that she was in Los Angeles at least until 1926.  She worked for the home board of the Japanese M. E. Church.  One of her duties was to work at a home for homeless girls, and she sometimes worked for the pastor of the church.  In 1925, she resigned and went to work for the YWCA as a secretary.  She asks Will to find her a place to work in the east so that she could improve her English.  She did not want to stay in California.  By 1927, she is in Chicago.  While in Chicago, she attended the University of Chicago Divinity School.  She said she was having difficulties with her studies because she didn't know enough English.  She also had a job which didn't leave her enough time to study.  She begs him not to write the dean about her school problems.  (I wonder if Will was in the habit of stepping in on her behalf sometimes.)  

Nobu's letters are sometimes quite poignant.  In several of them, she expresses a wish to see Will.  I don't think she ever saw him again; there is no mention of a meeting in any of her letters.  By the time Nobu arrived in the U. S., Will was married to my grandmother.  Nobu never mentions knowing anything about his wife or his children, at least not in any of the letters that I've seen.  She indicates that he had written that he was ill.  She tells him several times to take care of himself; she worries about his health.  Some pages of her letters and some of the envelopes are (annoyingly) missing, and I can't help but think that they are in my dad's infamous paper piles in his office. 

My grandfather Will spent several years in Japan, but the only time period that I have found with specific mention of Japan is when he was appointed assistant attache at the American Embassy in Tokyo from 1915 to 1919[1].  If he fathered a child during this time period, she would have been only 8 to 12 years old by 1923, the year Nobu came to the U. S., and much younger than Nobu seemed to be.  He could have visited Japan earlier, as he served on the marine guard of the Asiatic Fleet from 1902 to 1906[2].  My mother has a photo of an Asian woman in Tokyo dated 1903 that she found in his papers (one photo among several).  My mother and my aunt were told that Will had a Japanese wife and child.  The wife died from tuberculosis.  What happened to the child?  Is the child Nobu?  She mentions in one of her letters that she wore a white carnation on Mother's Day at the church she attended in Los Angeles because her mother was no longer living.

My father and my Aunt Catherine tried to track down Nobu Ina over 40 years ago through the return addresses on her envelopes and by what her letters revealed.  My mother and aunt wanted to know if they had another sister.  In the late 1960s, my Aunt Frances (Thomas) McLaughlin, who lived in California, tried to find out for my father where the Los Angeles YWCA was located where Nobu worked to see if they had any information about her, but the YWCA had moved several times and was unable to help.  My Aunt Catherine asked a colleague of hers to check the University of Chicago.  Aunt Catherine told me that somehow she found out that Nobu had ended up in New York City and had a possible connection to the Methodist Church there.  She wrote to Nobu but never heard anything back. 

My father was so intrigued with this mystery that he wrote at least two stories (that we've found so far).  He calls her Miki Koto.  In one of these stories, he has a letter dated 1930 from Miki Koto to her father asking him to not write the school in Chicago any more; that the dean might ask her to leave.  I wonder if this is from an actual letter, as my father copied several of Nobu's letters for his story, but I haven't found the original, if there is one.  As my father did with a lot of his stories, these have a lot of truth in them, but there are parts that I don't recognize, and I wonder which parts are fiction.  Now, my father is gone, too, and my mother and my aunt have forgotten some of what was uncovered in their search so long ago.

In The Search for Nobu Ina, Part 2, I'll write about what I've been able to find through my own research.


[1] Arlington National Cemetery Website.  William Liming Redles, Lieutenant Colonel, United States Marine Corps.
[2] See footnote 1 above.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

My Maternal Grandmother: Martha Leona (Roberts) Redles

I wish I had known both sets of my grandparents.  I don't remember my maternal grandmother; she died when I was just a few months old.  I have a photo of her holding me.  Well, it's in storage in Valdosta with the rest of my photographs (Why, oh why, didn't I bring them with me!).  Even after her death, we continued to visit the Big House where three of my grandmother's sisters still lived and where my mother and her sister Catherine grew up.  I felt disconnected to my grandmother, because of having not known her; I always thought of the Big House as the home of my great aunts.

Martha Leona Roberts

My maternal grandmother, Martha Leona Roberts, was born December 11, 1895, in Valdosta, Lowndes County, Georgia.  Her parents were John Taylor (J. T.) and Catherine (Kate) Margaret (Young) Roberts.  My grandmother was one of nine children.  She had two brothers, Leland and John, and six sisters, Kathleen, Maie Dell, Stella, Margaret, Edwina (Midge), and Mary Remer (Dinah).  No wonder they needed such a big house.  In 1975, my father interviewed my great aunt Margaret for the Lowndes County Historical Society newsletter.  She told him how one day she and my grandmother were having a fuss when they were kids, so their father put them in a closet together, but the "worst punishment was when he let them out and made them kiss"[1].  My grandmother went by the name Leona, but like many others in her family, she had a nickname--the same one as my mother--Lonie (long "o").

My grandmother, Leona (Roberts) Redles (third from left), and her sisters.

My grandmother graduated from Ward Bellmont, a junior college in Nashville, Tennessee, as education was important in the Roberts family, for both the girls and the boys.

As I wrote in my post about my maternal grandfather, William Liming Redles, my grandparents were introduced by Warren Graham who was dating (and later married) my grandmother's sister Margaret.  They were married on May 8, 1923, in Bryn Athyn, Pennsylvania, in Pendle House, the home of my paternal second great uncle William Frederick Pendleton who officiated the wedding. They traveled across the ocean on a ship to spend their honeymoon in Paris.  I was looking at the passenger record yesterday for their return took 8 days.  I can't imagine having to take a ship every time you wanted to go to Europe.  It might be fun once.

From her obituary in The Valdosta Daily Times[2],

She was a member of the First Baptist Church and over the period of years of her active life, she took a prominent part in church affairs.  She was particularly active in the Womans Missionary Union and other church organizations.  She also was active in Wymodausis circles and in the affairs of the Readers’ Forum.

Leona (Roberts) Redles

My mother told me that her mother always arranged the flowers in the entry hall at the Big House.  I wonder if she had vases of the narcissus flowers that I love so much.  By the time I was old enough to notice flowers on the table just past the front door, Great Aunt Margaret was the one who had taken on the duty of arranging them.  I remember in spring there would be a huge vase of narcissus blooms picked from the back garden (they grew there by the hundreds).  Heavenly scent!  Every time I smell them, no matter where I am, I think of the Big House.

My maternal grandmother died on April 19, 1955, in Valdosta, Georgia, from breast cancer.  She is buried in Sunset Hill Cemetery in a plot that contains her parents, several of her siblings, and other Roberts family members.  My mother mentioned to me today that she wondered why her father wasn't mentioned in her mother's obituary.  She has said this to me before.  Usually, a spouse is included, even if their death preceded the recently deceased's.  Maybe it was just an oversight on the part of her family, or maybe there's a story behind it that we'll never know.  Sometimes I wish I could time travel!

[1]  Albert S. Pendleton, Jr., "The John T. Roberts Family." Lowndes County Historical Society. V, no. 1 (1975).
[2] "Mrs. Redles, Valdostan, Dies in Hospital." The Valdosta Daily Times.  19 April 1955, p 8.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

My Maternal Grandfather: William Liming Redles

I never knew my maternal grandfather William (Will) Liming Redles.  He died when my mother was six years old and my Aunt Catherine was just over a year old.  He was a career marine and was a lieutenant colonel when he retired.  I've always been fascinated by him.  Maybe it's because I know so little about his life before he married my grandmother, who was more than 20 years his junior, but the papers he left behind offer some very interesting clues.  Lucky for us, he kept a lot of his correspondence, not only letters he received but copies of letters that he wrote.  My father was writing a novel based on my grandfather Will titled, Death of a Colonel (n.d.).  I don't know if he was finished with it.  It's supposed to be fiction, and some of it is, but there's a lot of truth in it that my father got from Will's papers. 

William Liming Redles

My grandfather was born on November 1, 1873.  His parents were George Albert and Isabella Liming Redles.  He had two younger sisters, Helen and Isabella.  He was born either in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, or Mount Holly, New Jersey.  I don't know which.  The 1880 U. S. census says he was born in Pennsylvania, but as those of us who do family research know, the census isn't always accurate[1].  His passport application says Philadelphia[2].  Surely he's the one who filled it out and would know where he was born, or maybe he assumed if that's where he grew up.  My mother has two newspaper clippings about his death and a copy of his death certificate that all say he was born in Mount Holly, New Jersey.  Could the person that supplied that information have been mistaken? 

I don't have any information about my grandfather's early years.  In Death of a Colonel (n.d.), my father writes that the main character Davenport (based on my grandfather) signed over the rights to a child in 1897 and paid $300 to the brother and father of the young lady.  I asked my mother about this.  She said she had seen the paper that her father had signed attesting to this.  I looked for this document in the trunk where my mother keeps his papers the last time I was visiting her, but I couldn't find it.  (Goodness, if it's true, I may have some more relatives out there somewhere.)  Maybe it's in my father's papers somewhere.  Not long after this, my grandfather had joined the Marines.

The following about his military career comes from his obituary in the August 9, 1932, Mount Holly Herald[3],

Appointed a second lieutenant on September 11, 1900, Col. Redles served on the marine guard of the Asiatic Fleet from 1902 to 1906 and was stationed in Cuba during 1907.  In 1914 he was on temporary expeditionary duty with the Fifth Regiment in Cuba and San Domingo.  He was appointed assistant attaché at the American Embassy at Tokyo, Japan, in 1915, and continued in that capacity until 1919.

Col. Redles held an excellent record of service and had the distinction of being the only marine officer to have the Fourth Order of the Rising Sun and decoration of Daijiten awarded him by the Emperor of Japan for invaluable services to that country during the World War [World War I].  He also held the Cuban and Haitian Campaign Badges and the Expeditionary Ribbon for Panama.
He was a brilliant linguist, having mastered six languages, and this combined with his rare gifts as a diplomat, made him of great value in foreign details where scholarship and diplomacy were required.

Colonel Redles was a 32d Degree Mason, a member of the Scottish Rites and the Sojourner’s, and the Army and Navy Club.

The Army and Navy Register adds that he served in naval intelligence from 1919 to 1923, then "he was ordered to Haiti and attached to the 1st brigade marines and served as brigade law and intelligence officer"[4].

My grandfather was introduced to my grandmother, Martha Leona Roberts, by his friend Warren Graham who was dating (and later married) my grandmother's sister Margaret.  My grandparents were married on May 8, 1923, at Pendle House in Bryn Athyn, Pennsylvania.  My paternal second great uncle William Frederick Pendleton, Bishop of the Swedenborgian Church, officiated. 

Post card in my mother's possession of Pendle House in Bryn Athyn, Pennsylvania

My grandparents lived in Haiti after they were married.  When my grandmother was expecting their first child, she returned to Valdosta.  My mother, their first child Leona Roberts Redles, was born November 18, 1925.  Another daughter, Catherine Liming Redles, was born on February 9, 1931.

My grandfather retired from the military in 1926.  From his letters, it sounds like the military was forcing him to retire because of ill health, and he was not pleased.  He died on August 29, 1932, at the naval hospital in Washington, D. C.  His death certificate says the cause of death was arteriosclerosis from which he had suffered for eight years, but my grandmother told my mother that he believed he had been poisoned by the Haitians[5].  I don't think I've ever heard why he believed this.  He was buried in Arlington National Cemetery with full military honors[6].

William Liming Redles

As my Aunt Catherine has said (or maybe it someone else), my grandfather had already lived one lifetime by the time he married my grandmother, so he was bound to have a history.  When they married, he was nearly 50 years old, and she was 26.  After my grandmother died in 1955, my mother and my Aunt Catherine were cleaning out her storage and found their father's papers and letters.  There were all sorts of personal papers including letters to and from the military, my grandmother, his sisters, and his friends.  There were also letters from some women with whom he'd apparently had some sort of relationship (if you get my drift) before he married my grandmother.  However, the greatest surprise (besides the child mentioned above, if true) are the letters from a young Japanese woman written to him with the greeting "Dear Father," "Dearest Father"!!----but this will have to wait for another Pendleton Genealogy Post.

About a year ago, I sent in a request to the National Personnel Records Center for copies of my grandfather's military records[7].  I received a letter a few months later in reply stating that they could find no record of him and neither could the FBI!  I called my mother and we had a good laugh over this and made all sorts of speculations (like, he was a spy!).  The letter did say that if I had any information that might help locate his service records, to please send it in.  I finally got around to it a month or so ago and did just that.  I'm still waiting to hear from them.  The wheels of bureaucracy turn slowly.


[1] Year : 1880; Census Place: Philadelphia, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania; Roll: 1181; Family History Film: 1255181; Page: 380D; Enumeration District: 447; Image: 0395.
[2] U.S. Passport Applications, 1795-1925 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Operations, Inc., 2007.
[3] "Retired Army Officer, Native of Mount Holly, Dies in Washington."  Mount Holly Herald, date unknown.
[4] Army and Navy Register.  Obituary of William Liming Redles. Date unknown.
[5] Certificate of Death for William Liming Redles, District of Columbia, Record No. 345615, August 31, 1932.
[6] Colonel Redles Accorded Full Military Honors," Valdosta Daily Times, August 30, 1932.
[7] Standard Form SF-180, Veterans' Service Records, National Archives,

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

My Paternal Grandmother: Helen Larue (Brown) Thomas Pendleton

My paternal grandmother, Helen Larue (Brown) Thomas Pendleton, made the best caramel cake!  I believe it was my father’s favorite.  I loved it!  I would eat the icing and leave the cake.  I remember her mayhaw jelly, considered a delicacy in the South.  I remember picking up pecans in her backyard on Slater Street when I was a kid, and I used to sneak into her bedroom to try a little of her Jergens lotion.  It smelled like candy to me.  To this day, that scent of Jergens reminds me of her.  Her house always seemed so quiet and serene, unlike my own that was filled with noise and chaos created by my siblings and me.  

Helen Brown

The information about my grandmother comes from my father’s unpublished memoir Growing Up South Georgian (n.d.).  My grandmother was born in Pensacola, Escambia County, Florida, on October 26, 1896.  My father would sometimes get my birth date mixed up with hers (mine is October 21).  Her parents were Henry Washington Brown and Hattie J. Finney.  She had two sisters, Lucy and Lavada, and two brothers, Elliott and Hoyt.  Hoyt was her twin brother.  My father writes that she never liked her middle name, and her mother had told her that her father Henry had tried to name all of his children after his friends!  For entertainment when she was young, my grandmother went to musical shows and movies at the Pallafox Theater, listened to phonograph records, and spent time at the nearby beach. (Oh, to live so near a warm beach! Heaven!)

Sisters Lavada (on left) and Helen (on right) Brown

She married Wiley Lawton Thomas on June 5, 1914, in Pensacola.  She met Wiley when he was either working as a shoe salesman in her brother-in-law’s (F. E. Brawner) store in Pensacola or was traveling through town.  Wiley was from Valdosta and was the son of William Lang and Susan Frances (Elder) Thomas.  Their first daughter, Helen Clyde Thomas, was born on September 26, 1915, and their second daughter, Frances Hoyt Thomas, was born on March 3, 1917.  My father notes that Wiley had wanted to give Frances a different name,

When Frances was joining the Waves in World War II, she was having trouble obtaining a birth certificate in Tallahassee.  When it did arrive, it was for “Josie Thomas.”  Mama said Wylie had wanted to name Frances for his brother Joe, but she didn’t know he had actually submitted the name.

After Frances was born, they moved to Perry, Florida.  Not long after this, Wiley died during the flu epidemic in 1918, so my grandmother and her children moved back to Pensacola to be near her family.  Her mother-in-law, "Grandma Thomas," asked her and the children to move to Valdosta to live with her.  My grandmother got a job in the Staten-Converse Store in Valdosta working for Tom Converse, and Grandma Thomas looked after Clyde and Frances during the day.  She had a few dates with my maternal great uncle Leland Roberts, and even ran into my maternal grandparents, Leona Roberts and Will Redles (before they married), while they were all out on dates.  (Valdosta was a very small town back then.)

As I wrote in my post about my grandfather Albert S. Pendleton, Sr., my father said it was “inevitable” that my grandparents would meet.  Tom Converse was a friend of my grandfather’s and my grandmother's, and Wiley’s sister Clyde had married one of my grandfather’s brothers, William Frederick Pendleton.  Two of Wiley’s nieces, Lila and Virginia, where also cheering them on.  My grandparents were married on November 18, 1923, at the Thomas home on Central Avenue in Valdosta.  My father was born on March 15, 1925, and on April 13, 1927, William (Billy) Frederick Pendleton II was born.  My father seemed to really be attached to his mother.  He writes,

I remember always wanting to be with Mama.  She’d have to run to the car or hide behind a door in the effort to “get away.”  Just a coat and hat in her hands meant she was going away.  Later, she took me with her and I’d stay in the car and blow the horn—which I’d been instructed not to do.  When we had to stay at home, we’d wait for her in Daddy’s room because we could see from there all the way to Brookwood Place and catch a glimpse of her car coming by.  She always got a big greeting, and many’s the time we’d rush out too soon and almost get hit by the car.

My grandparents had friends over on Saturday nights and again on late Sunday afternoons for parties and get-togethers, but during World War II, they did this less and less as none of their friends “had anyone in the war.”  They had three children serving in the military during the war; my father was in the Army and Billy and Frances were in the Navy (Clyde had married by this time). 

Billy, Frances, and Albert

After my father was wounded, my grandparents kept mainly to themselves and only visited with Clyde and her husband Charlie (Charles) Joyner and “haunted the postman” until everyone came home from the war.

Helen Larue Brown Thomas Pendleton

Sometime after my grandfather died in 1965, my father and his siblings had my grandparents’ house turned into a duplex.  My grandmother lived in the apartment in the front, and she rented out the back.  One day, she fell and broke her hip, and she was never the same.  She was put in a nursing home.  I remember going to visit her with my dad.  Sometimes she would know who we were and sometimes she wouldn’t.  She would sometimes talk about people who were long dead as if she had just seen and talked to them.  I used to wonder what tidbits she might reveal about the family!  My grandmother died on November 28, 1972, in Valdosta; she’s buried next to my grandfather in Sunset Hill Cemetery.


Saturday, August 6, 2011

Family Stories in a Novel

While doing genealogy about my family, I sometimes think “Now, that would make a good story!”  I don’t know if I could actually write a full blown novel or a work of nonfiction, but something about the lives of my ancestors tugs at me to tell their stories.  Author Caroline Miller used her family stories and those of other people to write Lamb in His Bosom, a novel about 19th century, non-plantation owning, south Georgians that won the Pulitzer Prize for literature in 1934. 

On the New Georgia Encyclopedia website, Carey O. Shellman writes about the book,

Described by literary critics as a work of regional historical realism, Lamb in His Bosom depicts the struggle and hardships of poor white pioneers in the nineteenth century on the south Georgia frontier, known as the wiregrass region. The story begins with the marriage of sixteen-year-old Tillitha Cean Carver to Lonzo Smith, a neighboring yeoman farmer several years her senior. By the time Cean is forty-three, she has borne fourteen children, buried five of them and a husband, and survived civil war, a venomous snakebite, a ferocious panther attack, and a deadly house fire. She perseveres to find contentment in a second marriage to a New Light preacher named Dermid O'Connor[1].

The article says that Caroline Miller, who grew up in Waycross, Georgia, and lived in Baxley, Georgia, during her first marriage, went around rural south Georgia collecting stories.  My father told me several years ago about this book.  When he told me about it and said that it won the Pulitzer Prize in the 1930s, I wondered why I hadn't heard of it before.  He told me that the author had interviewed "the family."  I assumed he was referring to the Pendletons since he also mentioned that she was from Waycross, and I knew that my second great grandfather and his family had lived there at one time.  My father said that when the book came out, "the family" went up in arms.  They were shocked to see their stories in print and without their permission!  After hearing this, I couldn't wait to get my hands on a copy.  I wondered what juicy details were in the book!  I'm sorry my family was upset (or embarrassed, maybe?), but what a great thing for me as a descendant to read about what their lives may have been like!  The whole time I was reading the book, I wondered, "Was this part influenced by one of my family's stories, or is it this part?"

I also wondered who in my family she may have interviewed or who knew my family and told her some stories about them.  I would love to know which parts, if any, are about them.  Did her family know my family?  My paternal second great grandparents Philip Coleman and Catherine Sarah Melissa (Tebeau) Pendleton and their children lived on a farm in the piney woods of Ware County in Tebeauville (named after Catherine's father and later renamed Waycross because of the railroad).  They lived there for a few years before moving to a farm just outside of Valdosta in Lowndes County Georgia sometime during the Civil War[2].  In fact, they are listed in the 1860 Ware County census[3].  According to the New Georgia Encyclopedia article, Caroline Miller's maiden name was Pafford, a name known in that part of Georgia.  Listed next to the Pendletons in the 1860 census are their neighbors the James Pafford family.  I couldn’t find a direct connection between this Pafford family and Caroline Miller’s Pafford family in a quick search on, but there is probably a connection somewhere.  I don’t think I had any relatives still living in the Waycross area when Mrs. Miller was living there, so I don’t know who she might have interviewed.  Maybe her Pafford relatives told her some stories about the Pendletons.    

In the New Georgia Encyclopedia article, Shellman says, “With characters named after Miller’s own family members, Lamb in His Bosom grew out of her interest in local research and genealogy.”  I can see why this inspired her to write.  There are stories happening in the background of the census and land records, behind the birth, marriage, and death records.  Family stories inspired my second great uncle Louis Pendleton to write, and they inspired my father to write, too.  More on this later on.


[1] Carey O. Shellman.  "Caroline Miller (1903-1992)."  New Georgia Encyclopedia (Georgia Humanities Council and the University of Georgia Press, 2004-2011).
[2] Constance Pendleton, ed., Confederate Memoirs: Early Life and Family History, William Frederick Pendleton and Mary Lawson Young Pendleton. (Bryn Athyn, Pennsylvania,1958).
[3]  U. S. Census, Year: 1860; Census Place: Ware, Georgia; Roll: M653_140; Page: 152; Image: 152; Family History Library Film: 803140.

Friday, August 5, 2011

My Paternal Grandfather: Albert Sidney Pendleton, Sr.

I didn't know my paternal grandfather Albert Sidney Pendleton, Sr., very well.  He died when I was 11 and had been in a nursing home for a while before that after suffering a stroke.  I was a little frightened of him; I don't know why.  He was like a giant to me when I was a little kid (he was tall) and seemed stern and quiet.  I guess I didn't feel comfortable around him because of that.  I had more interactions with my grandmother (his wife Helen).  My cousins may have a different view of him, but this is mine from a child's perspective.  After his stroke, I remember riding around with him and Grandmama once while their driver tooled us around town in their car so my grandfather could get out for a while.  I don’t know much about my grandfather’s life, but luckily, I can find some stories about him in my father’s unpublished memoir, Growing Up South Georgian (n.d.).

Albert Sidney Pendleton, Sr.
My grandfather was born in Valdosta, Lowndes County, Georgia, on August 7, 1888.  His parents were Alexander (Andy) Shaw Pendleton and Susan Dasher Parramore.  He had four brothers (Philip Coleman, William Frederick, Francis Key, and Alexis Runette) and two sisters (Bessie Parramore and Gertrude Adala).  They had a home on Ashley Street across from the Barber home, now the Chamber of Commerce, and as has happened to a lot of lovely old homes in Valdosta, it was torn down years ago.

The Pendleton house on Ashley Street.  My father is on the steps.

His first marriage was to Nasseye Henderson.  The marriage ended in divorce, and there were no children.  I knew my grandfather had been married before, but I wasn’t told this until I was older.  Nasseye’s daughter by her second husband James Ashley was a friend of my father’s, and her granddaughter was a year or two ahead of me in school.  My father notes in his memoir,

In their divorce papers, Daddy retained ownership of their red brick home on Ashley Street next to the Pendleton home…Nasseye’s father, a rich lumber man in Ocilla, had furnished the lumber for their home, and Daddy paid Nasseye for that and got the house. 

My grandparents met after my grandmother, Helen Larue (Brown) Thomas, moved to Valdosta after the death of her first husband, Wiley Lawton Thomas, in 1918 in the flu epidemic.  She and her two young daughters, Helen Clyde and Frances Hoyt Thomas, moved in with her mother-in-law, Susan Frances (Elder) Thomas.  In my father’s memoir he says that “it was inevitable” that my grandparents would meet.  They were connected though a mutual friend, Tom Converse, and through my grandmother’s sister-in-law Clyde Thomas who had married William Fredrick Pendleton, my grandfather’s brother.  

Helen (Brown) Thomas 1917

My grandparents were married November 18, 1923, at the Thomas home on Central Avenue in Valdosta.  This house is still standing.  My father says in his memoir that my grandmother was described as “a petite blonde dressed in a brown suit with fur collar.”  My grandmother must have really been small; I wore this suit in a fashion show in the 1990s—as thin as I was (and never will be again), I could barely fit in it! 

My grandparents first lived in a house on College Street.  My father left the house number blank in his memoir, but one of my cousins thinks it was 504 College Street.  Clyde and Frances stayed with their grandmother Frances Thomas for a while but joined my grandparents later, as did my father, when he was born on March 15, 1925.  On April 13, 1927, another son was born, William (Billy) Frederick Pendleton II.  My grandfather built a house around the corner at 1504 Slater Street, and that’s the house they were living in when I was a kid.

My grandfather served as the secretary and treasurer for The A. S. Pendleton Company, a wholesale grocery business begun by his father.  After his father’s death in 1925, my grandfather became the first vice president while his older brother Philip became the president and his younger brother Alexis became second vice president (History of Lowndes County Georgia 1825-1941, General James Jackson Chapter, D.A.R., Valdosta Georgia, Reprinted 1995). 

My grandfather was an avid hunter and fisherman.  He owned a share in the Ocean Pond Fishing Club and fished at Whitewater and Cat Head.  The Pendleton family had a house at Twin Lakes built by my great grandmother Susan where they spent part of the summer.  My grandfather got up very early each morning, around 4:00 or 5:00 am, to head off to work and went to bed around 8:00 or 9:00 pm.  Here is a description of my grandfather’s typical week (well, except the part about the fire) from my father’s memoir,

In the very early morning, when it was still dark except for light from the bathroom, Daddy would let out a curse word when he dropped his razor, or towel, etc.  I heard quite a few choice words and phrases, some of which I didn’t even understand.  Daddy then cooked his own breakfast and then left for work.  One morning a pan of grease caught fire, and he rushed to the sink with it, doused it with cold water, and Mama’s kitchen curtains disappeared in a blast of smoke and fire along with Daddy’s eyebrows and some hair.  Boy, was he mad!  On Saturdays and Sundays, Daddy arose later, but he still went to the post office before we could see him; he got the mail and went to his office for a while—to see how much money was in the mail.  First, however, he visited the city jail to find out about the happenings of the night before.  Sometimes he found a friend behind bars, or someone he knew quite well—sleeping it off.  All this was part of his news when he came home for lunch—which each day always had to be on the stroke of 12:00 noon.  Between that early breakfast—which was usually large with eggs, bacon, sausage, fish roe or ham—and lunch, he had nothing but coffee or coke, and thus by lunch, he was famished.  Then he took an hour long nap and would return to work.  That was his full weekly schedule, except that I didn’t mention work, work, work each day.  He called on most of the city trade and figured the profits on all orders.  As he did this, he positioned himself at a standup desk and wore a couple of places in the floor due to his shuffling around.  He left work at five o’clock, or just before, read the paper at home until 6:30 or 7:00 pm which is when we had supper.  No wonder he went to bed early.

I believe my grandfather worked until he had the stroke.  I remember I was playing outside when my father told me that Granddaddy had "gotten sick."  I could have sworn that I was told “his heart was sick,” so for years I thought he’d had a heart attack.  I found out when I was older that he’d had a stroke.  I went to the nursing home with my father to visit him on occasion.  I remember my grandfather’s frustration as he tried to communicate with us.  He died on December 16, 1965, at the age of 77.  He is buried in Sunset Hill Cemetery in Valdosta.

Albert Sidney Pendleton, Sr.


Thursday, August 4, 2011

Common Names in My Family

I've been doing some research on my paternal 3rd great grandfather Aaron Brown (b. 1800-1803 North Carolina, d. 1872 Covington County Alabama) to see if I could figure out where he actually came from in North Carolina and who his parents and/or siblings were.  He just "shows up" in Elbert County Georgia.  He marries Elizabeth Bashaba Cook in Elbert County in 1819 and by the 1820 census, they have one son (presumably my 2nd great grandfather William Jackson Brown).  I started by scrolling through the 1820 Elbert County Georgia and the 1830 Monroe County Georgia (where they've moved by 1830) census records looking for any other Browns (besides Aaron), when I got to thinking about some of the common names in my family that make it challenging to do research: Adams, Brown, Cook, Roberts.  I thought it wouldn't be too hard to research the Pendletons, but when the same first names are used over and over (Henry, James, Philip), it's sometimes hard to figure out which record refers to whom.