Monday, October 08, 2007

My Cousin Ernest, World War II Casualty

Click here and scroll down to "Casualties from U.S.S. Neosho."

Ernest Claude Johnson was the youngest son of my great grandaunt, Cora Clark Johnson, and her husband Aaron. He died after the Battle of Coral Sea (east of the coast of Australia in the South Pacific). After his ship, the U.S.S. Neosho, was attacked on May 7, 1942, he and 67 other men climbed aboard life rafts, lashed them together, and set themselves adrift, thinking the Neosho would sink. It didn't.

The men who clung to the remnant of the Neosho would be rescued four days later. The 68 men floating aimlessly on the raft would spend the next nine days suffering from lack of food and fresh water. Some were killed by sharks; others became delirious and drank sea water, and died quickly after.

Of those 68 men, only four survived to be rescued. They were taken back to the States in critical condition, and only two of those four would survive.

Tuesday, October 02, 2007

Aunt Jean

One day, I'll meet my great grandaunt Jean.

Eugenia Pearl Johnson - Jean - is my great Grandma Keen's older sister and she lived an interesting (sometimes unfortunate) life. She was married three times and had two daughters each with her first and second husbands, John J. Mullennax and Robey Harrison Tolliver. Tonight, I found missing information I'd been hoping to find for a long time about Robey and Jean's marriage.

As I've said before, for the most part I've given up trying to find really important, missing pieces of information. Now I just get to work and let it come. Tonight I took the extra step of praying before I started working on it. I plugged my PAF file into PAF Insight as usual, decided to work on the 3,000s, which happened to contain Aunt Jean's family, and thought, since it was slow and I was bored, "I should look up each person in while PAF Insight is looking for them in the IGI and see if I find anything" and lo and behold, that's when I found them. I also had the Washington state digital archives page open and happened to type in the name "Tolliver," which led me right to Jean and her daughters.

Robey was one elusive man to find, but tonight I have information I found in his World War I and II draft registration cards. I found out he and Jean divorced and he moved to California, where he died. I found Jean's third husband and his first wife living in Salem, Oregon. I found out that Jean's daughter Florence Ellen "Frances" Mullennax had been married not once, but twice, and that her son is the product of her first marriage.

A good night. I definitely feel closer to Jean and her family.