I discovered only recently that my maternal grandmother’s brother Ernie, born in 1904, was arrested in 1928 near Syracuse, NY and that he spent nearly five years in a prison in Auburn, NY. Apparently, he was spending time with a young white woman, her father didn’t like it, and helped manufacture a charge of rape against Ernie.
In the mounds of papers filed in anticipation of him being paroled in 1932 was this “social history” such as his education, his military service (none), religion (Catholic – I did not know that), marital status (single), and family background. His father, Edward Yates, had died in 1910 at the age of 58. His mother, nee Lillian Bell Archer, remarried to a Maurice Holland in 1911. (His Census track is fascinating, born either in Texas or Mexico, depending on what Census one checks.)
This, though, was the kicker for me. It indicates that she was of Irish descent! This is fascinating, because all the Census records I came across suggests that she was black. Surely she was partially black, but as the rules of the time would suggest, anyone partially black was considered black. And that’s still largely true of most mixed-race people; see Barack Obama, Halle Berry, etc.
Lillian, my great-grandmother though, at least on this document, was Irish, and that’s reason enough, besides my name, to be wearing the green. Oh, and Ernie, who agreed to live an “honest and upright life” married Charlotte Berman, a white woman of Eastern European descent, in 1937, and did just that until he died in April 1954, just 50 years old, when I was but one. I have no first cousins, but most of the second cousins I’m close to, including the one who retrieved this prison record, are his grandchildren, who, I suppose, are all a little Irish, too.
Creepy old Simon and Kirby comic: Nasty Little Man