Besides the emotional impact the letter had on me, it also supplied me with enough information to give my search direction. She was born on December 29, 1928, she was from Galveston, Texas, and she had gone to work as a file clerk at the age of sixteen - and the chances were very good that her last name was Crawley. Now the real work would begin.
The letters I wrote and the phone calls I made over the next five months! The best contact was the Rosenburg Library in Galveston, for they helped research old City Directories (these aren't phone books, but more like a census with names, occupations, etc.). By obtaining these old listings, I was able to put together some names that, strangely, I knew instinctively were my family.
Beginning at the time of my conception, 1947, I found a Martin and Rhoda Crawley (my grandparents). Going even further back, I found that Martin and Rhoda had lived with a Dennis and Maria Crawley (my great-grandparents). This was pure speculation and everyone told me not to get my hopes too high, but I just knew that’s who they were. In 1944, there appeared a Lillian Crawley who was working as a file clerk - the same year that my sixteen year old mother was supposedly working as a file clerk. In 1948, the year I was born, Lillian disappeared from the listings. In 1950, two years after my birth, Lillian appeared again. The problem was that in 1964 all listings for Crawley disappeared - and I had no idea where to go from there.
The library went over and above what I could have expected of them. I had written to ask if they had newspaper obituaries for Dennis, Maria, Rhoda and Martin, and they had one for each which they sent me copies of. The lady who did the research took it upon herself to check the current phone book for listings of some of the next-of-kin, and was able to find listings of some of them, including listings for two of Rhoda’s sisters (my great-aunts). She sent me their names and addresses.
On January 29, I sent a letter to each of the ladies. I took some time to compose them as I didn’t want to risk hurting my mother by letting any skeletons out of the closet. Since I was unsure of exactly how the names I had collected along the way were connected (despite my gut feelings), I decided to take the approach that I was tracing the family of Dennis and Maria Crawley. I also mentioned a few other names, including Lillian’s, and asked if they could give any information on them. Once the letters were written and mailed, I again began a mailbox vigil - and jumped in anticipation every time the phone rang. (to be continued...Part 5 here)
6 years ago