Monday, May 17, 2010

Madness Monday

A Brief Return to the Hunt For Uncle Felton

After reading Ann Coffins’s post, SS-5 Waiting Game, about requesting a SS5 for someone who is not in the Social Security Death Index (SSDI), I decided, once again, that I would try to determine what happened to Uncle Felton (my grand uncle) after 1919.

In my last post on Uncle Felton, Continuing the Hunt for Uncle Felton, I showed based on his military summary card, received from the Georgia State Archives, he did not die during WWI. In fact, he never even went overseas. He was in the reserves and was only in for six months. In addition, as mentioned in earlier posts, my mother remembers him coming to North Carolina when she was a child, to visit his big sister (that would be grandmom) and his nieces and nephews (mom and her siblings). This means that in the early 1930’s he was still alive.

Based on mom’s remembrances, I thought chances were good that he might have had a social security number even though I’ve not been able to find any documentation for Uncle Felton after 1919. I figured if he applied for a SSN that would at least give me a clue as to his movements after he was discharged from the army. So, I submitted a request for his SS5 application, along with the $29 fee on April 28th and continued working on other projects while I waited to hear back.

I received a response on Monday, May 10. I knew as soon as I felt the envelope, that there was no SS5 application inside. Initially, I wasn’t even going to open the envelope as I thought it was probably a letter stating that they had no SS5 application on file for him. However, I decided to go ahead and open it and see what was said.

Well, it’s your typical form letter, but the letter implies that there is an SS5 application on file for Uncle Felton but they don’t have any death information on him; therefore, the record can’t be released until I’m able to prove Uncle Felton’s death. Uhhh, given the fact that if he’s alive he would be 114 years old, can we just assume that he’s no longer with us. I understand the rule but doesn’t common sense need to take over at some point.

So, my frustration level in tracking Uncle Felton’s life continues to mount. How can my grand Uncle not leave some type of clues along the way for me, his grand niece, to figure out what happened to him after 1919? Did he get married? Did he have children? Did he die alone with no family around?

Uncle Felton’s life consumes and fascinates me almost as much as that of my great grandmother Fannie, Uncle Felton’s mother. So frustrations aside, I will continue to hunt for clues and hopefully, one day, this mystery will be solved. In the meantime, I’m back to the hunt for the last slave owner of Grandpa Jasper and Grandma Jane.


  1. Hi Mavis,

    I had a similar situation like that 2 years ago when I tried to obtain the Social Security application of my great-great Uncle Oran Johnson. They stated that they had no death information on file and could not release it until I provided proof. He was born in 1885 and common sense should tell them that he was deceased. He died in 1945 in Slaton, Texas and I sent in his death record and finally recieved his application.

  2. Don't give up. The Privacy Act has confused some offices on how to protect the immortals(?).


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