Sunday, May 24, 2009

Tracing the Riders

Trying to trace the riders of the Corps has yielded some interesting results. Kennedy, the surgeon, it turns out, rose to the rank brigadier general. While searching records I found that at the end of his Army career, he was assistant surgeon general and head of Walter Reed hospital in the 1920s. In 1943, the army opened a 3,000 bed hospital in Memphis which bears his name. At this point, it seems Kennedy provides the greatest chance of having "findable" living descendants. His son, Archibald, died January 17, 1982 in Santa Clara, California. I am getting close! Perhaps somebody will read this and help us find living relations.

The mechanic, John Findley, who has always been one of most intriguing riders raises many questions and illustrates some of the difficulties I've had tracking down the black riders. In all three enlistment records I found for Findley, his birthplace is listed as Carlton, Missoui. Yet, the search for a Carlton in Missouri has proved futile. There is a Carrollton, Missouri but no Carlton. Was Carrollton the town Findley was born in?

A search through census records turned up a "John Findly" in 1910 who is black and born the same year as the enlistment records state, 1873, living in Cooper, Webster County, Iowa. This record shows that "Findly" and his parents were born in Missouri. Is this our man? If so things get very interesting. The 1915 Iowa Census for Webster County locates a John Findley who is 40-years old and living in Fort Dodge, Iowa. Cooper, it turns out, is part of the town of Fort Dodge. Surely the 1910 "Findly" and 1915 "Findley" are the same person. But this is where the trail takes some weird twists. In the 1915 record Findley's birthplace is listed as "Mexico" and indicates he has been in the United States only three years. But the blanks which would indicate military service are checked. This man was a veteran of the Spanish-American War and served in the infantry, the cavalry and (!) the navy. To further confuse matters his race is listed as "white". It should be noted that pictures of Findley and his enlistment records confirm that Findley was a tall, slender and had a mulatto complextion. A World War I draft registration card signed September 12, 1918 locates John Findley in Fort Dodge again. This time, his race is "Mexican" and he is working as a "fireman" at the local gas plant. His birthdate is given as September 25, 1874. Why would a forty-four year old man register for the draft? How would a man from Mexico come to have the last name "Findley"? And the big question, is this our Findley? Read more about Findley and the other riders in the section of my blog called "The Riders". I welcome any ideas from people who read this who might have an interest or theory.

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Three Cheers and a Tiger

Just got an article from the St. Louis Post-Dispatch from July 25, 1897. It describes the Corps entry into St. Louis. The reporter relates that several bicyclist enthusiasts who rode out to greet the Corps gave them "three cheers and a tiger".

Click here if you'd like to see the article in it's entirety. You'll need to scroll down until you hit the "2200 Miles..." headline. Incidentally, this reporter exaggerated the distance. Moss claims the corps only (!) travelled 1,900 miles.