Thursday, June 9, 2016

Claude Gearald Hartley's Body was Sent to the Medical College in Galveston

Mina Mitchell's son Claude Gearald Hartley (my 2nd cousin 2x removed) led a life that seems as difficult as his mother (see A Troubled Life: Mina Mae Mitchell ).

Born the second son of Mina Mitchell and Edgar Otho Hartley on 12 June 1894 in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, he appeared to grow up mostly in East St Louis, Illinois with his mother and stepfather (according to 1900 and 1910 Census records).

According to the 1910 Census dated 15 April 1910, he was sixteen and was living his mother Mina on North 7th Street, East St louis Ward, Saint Clair, Illinois, occupied as a laborer.  Five months later she died and some time after that he became involved with a traveling carnival, according to his WWI draft card and a newspaper article on a manslaughter charge:

On 29 May 1917 he filled out his draft card.  He claimed exemption based on "Ruptured" although what exactly was ruptured is not clear.  An examination of his death certificate reveals it may have been a ruptured lung(?), "atelectosis" [atelectasis].  Note he was working in "Show Business" for the Flack North Western Carnival Co, and he had no permanent address, although he was listed as temporarily living in Detroit.
From "World War I Draft Registration Cards, 1917-1918," digital images, ( : accesssed 9 June 2016), Claude Gearald Hartley, Draft Board 3 Detroit, Michigan; citingWorld War I Selective Service System Draft Registration Cards, 1917-1918, Nara microfilm publication M1509.
He was charged with killing a fellow carnival worker, Elmer Johnson, in Detroit later the following month:
Bay City Times Tribune
Bay City, Michigan
30 Jun 1917
Page 1

Gives Himself Up; Admits Fatal Blow
Detroit, June 30.--Hearing that the Detroit police were looking for him on a charge of manslaughter in connection with the death, Monday, of Elmer Johnson, an employe of a carnival company, Claude G. Hartley came from Chicago Friday and gave himself up at detective headquarters.
Arraigned before Justice Stein Friday afternoon, he admitted knocking Johnson down.
Johnson struck a cement sidewalk in falling and his skull was fractured.
Justice Stein set his examination for July 6.

I don't know if he served any time for this.  He is not found anywhere in the 1920 Census.  But he was in trouble again by 22 February 1921 when he was admitted to the penitentiary at Ft. Madison and then the Men's Reformatory in Anamosa, Iowa for "att. to Rob" in Polk County, Iowa (the Des Moines area), along with Eddie Little (who was charged with Larceny).  Claude was described as 26 years old and 5'6", and Eddie Little was 33, 5'4" and from Kansas.  Claude was paroled on 7 Feb 1923.

Iowa State Historical Society, Des Moines, Iowa,  Claude Hartley, case no.9455, admission 22 February 1921 at Reformatory at Anamosa, page 100; digital image, "Iowa Consecutive Registers of Convicts, 1867-1970," Ancestry ( : accessed 9 June 2016).

Not one to waste any time moving on, he married Jeannette E Reckseen (1900-1961) in Fort Dodge, Webster, Iowa on 12 April 1923, although he listed his residence in East St Louis, Illinois.  

Des Moines County, Iowa, Certificate of Marriage, 94-020334, Claude Hartley-Jean Reckseen, 12 April 1923; digital image, ( : accessed 9 June 2016).

It is not clear to me how they met or how long they had known each other, but they were married for a few years, as evidenced by a city directory listing in Boone County, Iowa (north of Des Moines), and the 1 January 1925 Iowa Census, where he and Jeannette were living as lodgers in Des Moines.  He was listed as engaged in trade and transportation.  He said his parents were from England (!): 

Boone, Iowa, City Directory, 1923, "Hartley, Claude (Jeannette)," "U.S. City Directories, 1822-1995," database, ( : accessed 9 June 2016).

Jeannette subsequently married Greek-born Gust Vars (1895-1964) about 1926, based on Gust's age of first marriage on the 1930 Census, although I haven't found a marriage certificate.

After this there is a large gap in Claude's record, not to be found in either the 1930 and 1940 Censuses, although it appears he filled out his Social Security Application in November, 1936 (location not known):

Claude's original claim info, from U.S. Social Security Administration, “Social Security Applications and Claims Index, 1936-2007,” database, Ancestry ( : accessed 9 Jun 2016), entry for Claude Gearald Hartley, Type of Claim: Original SSN.

I find his World War II draft card dated 27 April 1942:
He was still living an itinerant lifestyle, now in the employ of Lawrence T Levy (Lawrence Thorsch Levy, 1898-1960, who was a salesman for a chemical company).  It's not clear what he did for Levy, but he was in Indianapolis, Indiana for this card.  From "World War II Draft Registration Cards," digital images, ( : accessed 9 June 2016), Claude Gearald Hartley, Draft Board 12, Indianapolis, Marion, Indiana; citing Selective Service Registration Cards, World War II: Fourth Registration. Records of the Selective Service System, Draft Registration Cards for Fourth Registration for Indiana, 04/27/1942 - 04/27/1942, NAI Number: 623285,  Record Group No. 147.
The final record I find was his death certificate from Galveston, Galveston, Texas, where he had died at John Sealy Hospital (his residence listed as 2220 Ave Q).  He was a widower (so perhaps had married again), and supposedly lived in Galveston the previous 5 years.  He died at 9am on New Year's Day, 1951 of coronary insufficiency (possibly angina pectoris?)  and "atelectosis".

Even though I've seen thousands of death certificates, this was the only instance that I remember seeing the body given to the medical college.  I am not sure what happened then, although my guess is he was used as a dissection cadaver

Galveston County, Texas, “Texas, Death Certificates, 1903–1982” database, Ancestry ( : accessed 9 Jun 2016), entry for deathcertificate no. 7260, Claude G Hartley, 1 January 1951.

© 2016 Copyright, Christine Manczuk, All Rights Reserved.

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