Trying to trace back my great grandfather. I am somewhat desperate for help after having looked a long time on my own and would be extremely grateful to anyone who can point me in the right direction. I already have all the official records I know of (census, military, etc.) but Virginia and Maryland records, where most of the clues are likely to be, contain many mysteries. There is no official birth record for him in Virginia.
His records fairly consistently claim a birth date on or about April 1, 1875, in Norfolk, Virginia, although his 1920 census claims a Maryland birthplace.
His father’s birthplace is variously listed as Virginia (West?) and Maryland; his mother’s birthplace is listed as Maryland and “at sea (U.S.)”.
He was in Chicago in 1908 when he enlisted in the U. S. Army and shipped out to Oregon. These are the earliest records I have of him.
His military papers list, as a connection, a cousin, one Alice Murphy of Vienna, Maryland. I have some suspicion that this may be the Alice Murphy who a few years later married George Bramble in Dorchester County, as I am part of the Ancestry DNA program, and have numerous cousin hits to descendants of the Bramble, Meredith, Mills, Moore, Murphy, Pritchett, etc. families who intermarried so much over the years in Dorchester County. I have no other connections to Maryland besides my great grandfather before the 17th-18th century, so while not proof this may be a good lead.
The 1874 Norfolk, VA phone directory lists exactly one Caucasian Mills, a W H Mills, oysterman, living in Atlantic City. It is quite possible that he was Harry’s father, or this could be a red herring. The child of a Chesapeake oysterman might well have the uncertainty about birthplace that my great grandfather showed in his paperwork, however.
Either his father or his mother may have some sort of roots in County Armagh, Ireland – or not, that’s anecdotal from family history, and might just as easily pertain his wife Nina Belle Moore’s ancestors, although I can trace them back some ways in the USA with confidence.
From late 1908 he spent as far as I know the rest of his life in Oregon, first in the military at Fort Stevens and then working for the Westport Lumber Company, where he was a foreman.
His most likely time of death is in 1931 but there is so far as I know no death record. Another anecdotal family story is that he was shot in some kind of bank robbery. I don’t know if there is a way to access Oregon criminal history records, but that might pinpoint time of death. I have not located an obituary, since the cost for searching over a whole year or more has so far been prohibitive and I live a long way from Oregon so can’t easily do it myself, but that is another possible source of more information. He lived in Portland in Multnomah County but often worked inWestport in Clatsop County.
His military records showed that he had multiple rather impressive scars when he joined. I have sometimes wondered if one or both of his parents died young or if he was born out of wedlock – although he worked with his hands and joined at 33, so there are any number of possible explanations. Booth is another possible first name for his father, and Winfield could be his mother’s last name, but I think those are just guesses of my grandfather’s from before he passed on.
I can be reached by message here at Ancestry or at firstname.lastname@example.org
if you have any helpful information. Thank you for your time and consideration.