Wednesday, August 31, 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)

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