Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Genealogue Challenge #137

Randy blogged about some World War II letters found in a trash can in California. A local newspaper is posting scans of the letters, and is asking for help in locating relatives.

What can you find out about Claude and Nadine (while respecting the privacy of any children they might have)?

Craig Manson

I believe I have identified the writer and recipient and their presumably still living children and grandchildren. Claude Everett Dawson was born on March 15, 1910 in Missouri. (California Death Index--available at His parents were difficult to identify, but his maternal grandparents were Albert and Belle Carlton of St Louis, MO. At some point when he was less than ten years old, Claude was shipped to California to live with his uncle Warren Lee Carlton in Oakland. (U.S. Census, Alameda County, Calif., 1920). His grandmother Belle Carlton joined that household as well (U.S. Census, Alameda County, Calif., 1930). Claude Dawson attended Woodrow Wilson Junior High School in Oakland in the late 1920's where he was a thespian and an athlete. (See "Students to Enact 'The Gypsy Rover,'" Oakland Tribune, Nov. 26, 1925, p. 29; see also Oakland Tribune, Feb 21, 1926, p4, col. 4 [list of Wilson Jr. High School Volleyball players]. In the late 1930's, Claude attended University of California at Berkeley. (See "Barber Shop Quartet Tunes Up; 'Too Slow' Says U.C. Jitterbug," Oakland Tribune, Oct 8, 1938, p. 2). It's not clear what he was doing during the rather lengthy time between when he should have graduated from high school and the time he was a U.C. sophomore; also, I cannot tell if he graduated from Cal.

Claude apparently worked to put himself through school. According to Alameda County voter registration records, in 1934, he was a "drug clerk," residing at 575 46th Street in Oakland. From 1936 through 1940, he was at 3765 Lakeshore Avenue in Oakland. The first several years he appears to have been in some company's "shipping dept." In 1940, his occupation is listed as "federal employee." Also in 1940, he moved from Lakeshore to 535 Stockton, also in Oakland.

Nadine Henry Dawson first appears in the voter registration records in 1942. She and Claude were then living at 840 York Street in Oakland and their occupations were given as "civil service clerk" and "federal clerk" respectively.

Records reveal little about Nadine Henry Dawson, except that she was born on Nov 7, 1913, in Washington State and her mother's maiden name was Edwards (Calif Death Index).

After the war, Claude resumed his federal civil service career as a manager with the Social Security Administration in Oakland and Alameda. (See "Legislative Club to Meet," Oakland Tribune, Dec 30, 1958, p. 6, announcing that Dawson, manager of SSA District office will be guest speaker at luncheon meeting of Women's Legislative Club).

The Dawsons had at least three children born in Northern California who would be of an age to still be alive. I have found recent addresses for two of those children. Claude and Nadine lived long enough to see at least two grandchildren born.

Nadine H. Dawson died on March 30, 1994, in San Francisco at age 80. Claude Everett Dawson followed his wife in death on May 1, 1994 in San Francisco, at age 83.


Wonderful job, Craig! Claude was evidently not a fan of Richard Nixon. He nominated Woodward and Bernstein for Time's Men of the Year in 1973.

Craig Manson

UPDATE: I've been in contact with the newspaper editor who's covering this case for the local paper. She says that one of the presumed children has denied any relationship. She (the editor) also has the advantage of having seen all the letters. From that she tells me that the dates of birth of other children I have identified are too early. The rest of what I have she takes no issue with. So we're still looking for the children, if any.

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