Three years ago (10 Jan 2003, to be exact), I made a research goal to find out what happened to my great-grandfather's brother, Ernest York. The latest record I had for him was in the 1930 Federal Census, when he was living with his wife and two daughters in Flint, Genesee County, Michigan. I had heard from a relative that later he and his wife divorced. Attempts to forward mail to his daughters through the Social Security Administration about 10 years ago were futile. I simply didn't know where to turn next, and I didn't want to wait until the 1940 Federal Census came out to find where he next went to.
Talking to descendants of his sister Hazel York Mcilveen and half-brother Wayne Randell also proved fruitless. His brother (and my great-grandfather) Howard York's obituary had no mention of siblings. Their father (and my great-great-grandfather) James York's obituary did not mention children, either.
I finally decided to try to find an obituary for their mother (my great-great-grandmother) Mary "Mae" E. McArthur. I had to go the round about way to find it. I only had a death year (1959) for her and a possible death place (Wheeler, Gratiot County, Michigan), but knew she was buried in the Ortonville Cemetery in Oakland County, Michigan. Using Google, I was able to find a phone number for the cemetery, and got both burial (19 Oct 1959) and death (16 Oct 1959) dates for her, but no death place.
I then went to Random Acts of Genealogical Kindness to find a volunteer to help me get an obituary. I was pretty sure Mae had died in Gratiot County, so I picked a volunteer from there. This weekend, the very kind lady e-mailed me Mae's funeral record and an obituary. Besides all the great information on Mae and other family members, the obit mentioned Ernest living in Alaska. Now that triggered something, because I remembered about five years ago looking up all the Ernest Yorks on the Social Security Death Index. I remembered finding an Ernest York who was born in 1894 that lived in Alaska. That stuck with me, because I was born and grew up in Alaska, and at the time I saw the listing for Ernest York in the SSDI, I thought it would be interesting that we might have lived in the same state at the same time. I had no idea if this was my Ernest, because I didn't have a birth date for him (other than "c. 1895"). Yesterday, I ran another search in the SSDI, and found my Ernest (died Sep 1976). His last known location was Anchorage, Alaska, and his birth date was 12 Apr 1894...a date I remembered finding about 3 months ago on his World War I Draft Registration at Ancestry.com.
So back to RAOGK to find a volunteer for the Anchorage, Alaska, who has promised to send me a copy of the obit, if she finds one. Stay tuned...