Posted in Letters, Military, World War 1

“[They] gave thier Lives where we only gave our service. But we were all willing.”

Pvt. A.L. Gooch on his motorcycle, WWI 89th Div., Military Police
Pvt. A.L. Gooch on his motorcycle, WWI 89th Div., Military Police

[This is 14h in a series of letters written by Private A.L. Gooch to his family in Duncan Arizona, while a part of the American Occupation Forces in Germany after WWI.

This letter was written 23 Jan 1919, after the end of the war but before Pvt Gooch had returned home.  This letter is the last in the series of letters from Pvt Gooch to his family during WWI – at least the last of those I have found.  In this letter, Pvt Gooch (known as Nig) was recovering from the Spanish Flu, had returned to his company, and was looking forward to his return home at some point. Original letters are in possession of Dayna Gooch Jacobs, King City, California. Envelope missing. Continue reading ““[They] gave thier Lives where we only gave our service. But we were all willing.””

Posted in Fairy Tale Genealogy

Captain Hook: Misunderstood gardener? It’s all in the records…

Captain Hook
Captain Hook
They say a newborn baby’s name can influence the course of his life for good or for bad. Well you certainly can’t blame Mr. and Mrs. Hook for trying.  After all, they probably were hoping for a distinguished maritime or football career from little “Captain Percy Hook”, and weren’t quite banking on him going the pirate ship route.

But kids will be kids, and what kid, when given the option, would not choose to be a pirate, right?

Little Captain Hook you’ve got a choice to make:  Would you rather be the captain of the Tunbridge Footballers or the Jolly Roger?


I know you think I am making this up, right? But I have proof.  The Fairy Tale Genealogist always has “proof”.  Yes, I know J.M. Barrie’s character was named James, but this is a minor detail when the Fairy Tale Genealogist is presented with such a tantalizing set of records for a fictional character. Who ever dreamed a British birth record, census record, and army enlistment papers for Peter Pan’s archenemy could be produced? Little Captain Percy Hook first appears in the Free BMD Birth Index for England and Wales, for the March quarter of 1899 in Tunbridge district.

Captain Percy Hook, England and Wales, FreeBMD Birth Index, 1837-1915,
Captain Percy Hook, England and Wales, FreeBMD Birth Index, 1837-1915,
Information from the FreeBMD Birth Index (district, volume, and page) can be used to order a birth certificate from the General Register Office or view one online, and from there we could obtain his mother’s maiden name and father’s name.  We can also see both his parents’ names on the 1911 England census, where twelve year-old Captain Percy Hook, the future pirate, has an occupation of “school boy” and a birthplace of Brenchley, Kent, England.

Captain Hook 1911 England Census Brenchley-Kent-England - Copy

Captain Hook 1911 England Census Brenchley-Kent-England pt2 - Copy

Five short years later he has “received notice” to enlist in the British army for World War I. One can only imagine the navy would have been his first choice had he been given one. Wisely, Captain Percy Hook has elected to start giving his name as Percy Captain Hook, thereby avoiding the confusion and redundancy a promotion to the rank of Captain would have caused. (Captain Captain Hook reporting for duty, sir!) Interestingly, he gives his occupation as gardener, giving us a glimpse into his early, gentler side and leaving us to wonder where it all unraveled for him. As a bonus, we get his signature on this document!

Percy Captain Hook, British Army Records, 1914-1920,
Percy Captain Hook, British Army Records, 1914-1920,
Two years later the war has ended and Captain Hook has been awarded the British War Medal and/or the Victory Medal.

Captain Hook WWI Medals
Captain Hook WWI Medals
Further ideas for research would be looking in the FreeBMD index for marriage and death records, as well as the 1921 census. The 1931 census was destroyed in WWII, and the 1941 census was not taken due to the war.

By all accounts Captain Hook was an upstanding citizen, and I am wondering if he was just a misunderstood character with a gardening implement for a prosthetic device. Sure, he was a pirate and forced Peter Pan to walk the plank, but like Jack Ripper and Attila Hun he faced long odds at birth when he was named.

We must look at him through the long lens of literary license and know J.M. Barrie had a story to tell, and perhaps the actual records hint at a more gentle, noble man behind the mustache. OR perhaps the Fairy Tale Genealogist has had some fun again 😉  Sorting out the fairy tales from the facts is what a good genealogist does.  Arrrrgh!

Posted in Letters, World War 1

“The sights I have saw is worth a million” and “…there will be no capturing me as a prisoner”

These images were loaded in reverse order, so start at the bottom right to read them…

6th letter in a series.  To read the others click here:  1   2   3   4   5

[Letter from Pvt. Allen Lee Millard (“Nig”) Gooch to his family in Duncan, Arizona, written during World War I, 22 Jun or Jul 1918 at Hemptead, N.Y.  Transcribed by Dayna Gooch Jacobs. Slashes indicate page breaks. Original spelling and punctuation.]

Hemstead, N.Y.

6 p.m. Saturday 22  [Jun or Jul 1918]

Dear Parents,

Received two letters/ from you in the past/ few days and was/ awfly glad to get/ them.  I am now in/ Hemstead on a pass/ there is about a dozen/ towns alond the south/ east side of this/ Island and I have/ seen most of them/ today don’t have to/ go back to camp/ until 10 oclock tomorrow./  Oh how I wish you/ was here to see the/ sights the pretty homes/ and parks.  This is/ a wonderful place. So/ much different from the/ west and a very nice/ climate.  But give me/ cactus and the west./  We boys don’t get/ along with these people/ for they laugh/ at us when we talk/ and we can hardly/ understand them.  But/ they sure are good/ to us at that.  And/ I had rather stay here/ than in Kansas for/ the wind and sand/ never blows it s allways/ cool and nice.  Havent/  heard an more about/ moving.  But cant think/ we will go over for awhile./

Mother I think you/ will get your alotment/ next month and I/ had it sent to the/ Phoenix address so you/ had better write Cap/ to watch out for it/ or have it sent to/ you from the post/ master./

Yes you can send/ Grant my clothes if/ you like.  Poor kid./  I guess he needs them./  Yes I have written/ Sis and Bob and sent/ Cap a few cards with/ my address.  Will write/ her soon./

Well I guess Doll has/ blowed up.  I haven’t/ heard from her/ since I came here/ only letters she/ written to funston./  I got a letter from/ Jessie Sanders sayin/ Doll was not at home/ and didnt know when/ she was coming home./  Also said they expected/ her to be married/ in California the last/ of July.  Now I don’t/ know what to think/ if that hardly.  There/ is some thing wrong/ some where.  I think/ it a put up job in/ a way.  But I cant/ see why she doesn’t/  write.  For she surly/ has got my address/ and could get me a/ letter some way./  Any way she knows/ what she wants to do/ so I wont loose much/ sleep.  Of course I like/ her, and I know they/ are trying to split/ us up.  But she should/ have let me know/ she was leaving./  And if she has found/ someone else she likes/ better, he’s the guy for/ her.  This letter from/ Jessie was written the/ 13th,  I answered it with/ a very friendly letter/ and spoke of Doll/ very little.  So if they/ are working us some/ way they wont get far/ with me.  I have some/ friends in Duncan/ yet.  And if she lets/ them work her ____ well/ she isn’t the girl for/ me. I have enough to/ worry about allready./  So I will leave it all/ up to her and when I/ come back I will know/ all before goeing farther/ with her./

Now mother you/ musnt feel so/ blue and worried about/ me for if I cant be/ with you I am perfectly/ satisfied.  Am having/ a good time when I/ feel like it and the/ sights I have saw/ is worth a million./  This letter will have to/ do you all this time.  And/ I will go take in another/ town.  Tell dear old dad/ that if I get a chance/ I will go over the top/ with the same old/ smile I allways wore/ and there will be no/ capturing me as a prisoner./  We ware a tag around/ our neck that would/ identifie us if killed./

Love to all,

Chears Nig

Posted in Letters, Uncategorized, World War 1

“…I am just about all in from another knoclalation [sic] taken this morning.”

This is the second in a series of 14 letters I will be posting—letters which were written by WWI Private Allen Lee Millard (“Nig”) Gooch to his family back home in Duncan, Arizona.

We will follow Pvt. Gooch from his first week in boot camp to his last letter from France at the close of the war. Readers will catch a glimpse of his fears, girl troubles, concern for his family, and his duties as an MP, as he grows from a young man who doubts he will see the trenches to a soldier on the front lines of the final offensive of an epic WWI.  So follow along as this story unfolds…

[Letter from Allen Lee Millard Gooch (Nig) to his family, 12 May 1918 from Camp Funston, Kansas.  Transcribed by Dayna Gooch Jacobs.  Slashes indicate page breaks. Original spelling and punctuation.]

                                                                                                                                                                 May 12. 18

 Mother and All:

Just received/ your letter of interest/ which cheered me so/ much.  Am so proud/ you all are getting/ along alright.  I cant/ write much tonight/ for I am just about/ all in from another/ knoclalation [inoculation] taken this/ morning.  This makes/ three knoclalations/ and two vaxinations/ and this one was a/ [p2] hard one to stand/ as the needle was/ so large and they/ stuck it so deep/ didn’t hurt so bad/ untill about an hour/ afterwards then it made/ me sick and my/ arm sure is sore.

I don’t feel like writing/ much but want to/ send you all another/ picture of me and a/ friend of mine in/ the same tent./

This is Sunday and/ [p3] my first day off/ but don’t feel like/ running around. Wish/ I was with you all/ but know I cant be/ for some time,/  but am sure I will be/ some time.  No one/ here seems to think/ we will ever see the/ trenches.

Ma I have no/ one I knew except/ the ones came with/ me.  Jinnie Pittman/ and Josh Clark and/ some boys from/ [p4] Clifton including/ Edd Bonita they are all in this Co. I/ think Ross went/ to California, Believe/ me we sure had/ some dinner today./  Chicken and noodles/ with strawberry short/ cake and ice cream./  We have plenty of/ eats all the time and/ believe me I sure do/ eat too.

I just sent you a letter explaining my insurance/

[remainder of letter missing]

To read other letters in the series click below:

1    2   3    4   5    6    7    8    9    10    11    12    13    14