Abbeville Alabama 1910

Abbeville Alabama 1910

Sunday, November 17, 2013

The Mystery of my great-grandfather William H Preston.

So since I didn't know who to start with, I decided to start on one of my biggest brick walls. This story will be short but not so sweet.  You see, I have been hearing stories over the years about my family from my mother who is the family historian and Griot, she knows the history from both sides of the family.   My mom and dad had been dating since she was age 13.  My mother has the gift of gab and knows just what questions to ask.  The man you see below if I remember correctly is a picture of my paternal great grandfather
 William Henry Preston.  
Now,  what I'm getting ready to tell you I didn't find out until just some months ago, but as I was doing my research I couldn't remember my great grandfathers name to research him so I found my grandmothers obituary and found his name...when I searched his name,  I found a draft card from World War 1 1917-1918 .  

I examined the draft card and found that this person was a  Chauffeur with a wife and 3 children living in Washington DC,  for some reason I never really knew or asked about my grandmothers dad, I guess because she never really talked about him, she mentioned other family members regularly but never him.  I was young and never really paid attention,  but apparently at some point she must have spoken of her father, because my mom and oldest brother knew the story. 

I told my mom what I found she said "yes," that my grandmom, her mother-in-law used to say her dad was a Chauffeur and they did live in DC for a time when she was a young girl.  Great! I thought, this has to be him, then I found on familysearch.org some pages where there was  a marriage between Frances Thompson my paternal great-grandmother and William Henry Preston.



Now I have an estimate of the year he was born.   I asked my mother and oldest brother more questions, this is when I learned the rest of the story... At some point when my grandmother was a little girl, her father had left one day and no one ever knew where he went or what happened to him, they never heard anything else about him.   Now I know I really need to search more intently because I would really like to get to the bottom of this mystery.   The technology and access to documents and things that we have now, I thought surely,   I should be able to find out something.  To my surprise I think I might have found the mystery but I can't confirm anything yet and even if this is him the story is still sad.  It looks like he may have been put in jail, my search led to some documents saying that there was a William Henry Preston of Washington DC put in jail, maybe sent to a penitentiary in Atlanta Georgia.
The time adds up,  it was around the time that he had left, we believe that my grandmother said she was between the ages of 6-8 yrs old and she was born in 1912 making it 1918 - 1920 which would be right around the right time for the 31 year old William Preston #7850.  So this is my brick wall for now.  My next step is to send for these records and find out the truth.   If this is him, I wish that my grandmother would have been here to know that he didn't leave them, he was taken away.  But I know that he is back with his family and they are all together again, William, Frances, my grandmother Marie and her 2 sisters Bernice and Theresa.
Frances Thompson the mother top left, William H Preston father top right
L-R Theresa Preston Elliott, Marie Preston Crippen(my grandmother) and Bernice Preston 

and their baby brother Maurice Dennis.   His father was Roy Dennis whom I don't know anything about and that is another story for another day. 



26 comments:

  1. Wow, very interesting story. Can't wait to find out more on what happened to William. Great job on your first post! I am so proud of you for taking that step.

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    1. Thank you so much!! I'm glad I took that 1st step.. It really helped put things into perspective.

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  2. This is a gripping story! I am on the edge of my seat to see if this is him or not! I wonder if there were any newspaper stories about it at the time. I found very small clippings about a cousin who kept going to jail for small stuff. Good luck with the search.

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    1. Thanks you Kristin!! I can't wait to find out, but as soon as I do I will update yall!!!

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  3. There is a story to be told and I'm looking forward to hearing what you find next!

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    1. Thank you Erlaine, I can't wait to find out if this is him.

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  4. It is sad when a family member is missing and we don't know what happen to them. It looks like you are on the right track and you will have the answer to his absence.

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  5. Wow! what a great story.. You have been chosen to tell the stories of your ancestors and you've done a wonderful job. Your blog looks great! I can't wait to read more. :)

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  6. Nstar! Congratulations! I have a Henry Preston to. I can't wait to hear more detail. We've all spent those sad dollars and researched to no avail. Surely something will come soon. Just when you think..........
    Look forward to hearing more of your family history.

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  7. You DID IT!!! Yayyyyyy!!!! I'll be perched on the edge of my seat, awaiting to read what you uncover!

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    1. Thank you Cecelia!!! Hope I get the info real soon

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  8. Very proud of you Monique for taking the steps to tell your Ancestors stories & what better way to start than working to solve the mystery of Mr. PRESTON's disappearance. I too think you're on a good trail of clues. Explore each one & keep an open mind -- let the records tell the story because it may or maybe line up with the Oral history coming from your family. And make sure to record that too. Every version from anyone offering it. You'll use it to compare everything against. One last thing -- brick walls are solid, hard to break through & reduce your visibility. Get rid of that word (and thought pattern) as it applies to your research. You are beginning a new journey & there is NOTHING blocking it. Your path is WIDE OPEN! Happy to have you in The Fold! :)

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    1. Thank you Luckie!!! and thanks for the push. I just love this group...and I hope to share my journey with you all for a long time to come

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  9. You have done a wonderful job with your initial post; I am truly looking forward to reading about your journey with your Ancestor Preston. Keep the faith that you will find the answers you need. As my Mom taught me, the truth cannot remain hidden forever, and as she always tells me (being a minister and sharing the Bible with me, even applying it to my research)--there is nothing hid that shall not be made known. Best wishes and I believe you are coming into great family history knowledge!

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    1. Thank you so much!!! That is great insight. I needed to hear that. Thanks for the encouragement and I hope to have an up date soon

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  10. Congratulations on starting your blog!! You are off to a wonderful start! I'm looking forward to reading more about you and your family

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  11. Great post! Looking forward to hearing how this story unfolds.

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    1. Thank you so much!! Can't wait to have an answer for you.

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  12. It is great that you possibly found him in prison, because I am sure that there were missing husbands and fathers missing during the Jim Crow era, due to unknown homicides and lynchings.
    Stephani

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    1. Yes, Thank you for reading!! I really hope we can get closure on this story.

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  13. That's very interesting, Monique! I look forward to reading more. Just curious, but what led you to the document with the jail listings? I see that it's from archives.gov, but did you come across it just from doing a name search?

    My grandfather also disappeared into thin air when my mom was just four years old. I've been searching for years, but have never been able to find a trace of him after he left (1938). I hadn't even thought about jail. Hmmm.....

    By the way, welcome to the world of blogging!

    Renate
    www.justthinking130.blogspot.com

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    1. Thank you!!! I'm can't remember how I found it, but I have been searching for a while and one thing led to the other, but I did find a census for Indian, prisoners, inmates.....something like that and William Preston's name was on it and the years seam to match and then the search took off and then I ended up on the national archives site, because I found where some prisoners from DC area were transferred to ATL Penitentiaries.... I'll let you know what I find and I hope I was able to help a little with my story.

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