Monday, March 1, 2010

Success Story: Long Lost Relative Discovered!

William Kieran Langdon

I've been working on a timeline on William Kieran Langdon for several months. The story of a legal squabble within his family has captivated me. In summary, his parents were Margaret Kelly and Michael J. Langdon. He was born in 1885 in Texas, even though his death certificate says he was born in Lincoln, Nebraska. I'll go with Texas as that shows up on numerous census records.

Michael J. Langdon spent the last four years of his life in insane asylums in New York and Nebraska. A few years later, Margaret Kelly Langdon, as guardian of her son, William Kieran Langdon, had her son committed to the State Hospital in Nevada, Vernon County, Missouri where he resided for 15 years. Shortly after his release, he filed suit to obtain the portion of his father's estate to which he was entitled. His mother had appropriated much of his share of the estate for her own use. She had involved her brothers, Daniel Kelly (my great grandfather) and Michael C. Kelly as bondsmen on the money and they became liable for the bond. This portion of the case went to the Nebraska Supreme Court.

So - I began my quest to find William Kieran Langdon. His 1918 draft registration showed him working at the State Hospital in Nevada. For months, his entry in the U S Census records have eluded me. This past weekend I received a copy of a photograph of William Kieran Langdon playing the piano. The photograph made me go back to the 1920 and 1930 census records for Nevada, Missouri. There I found a Jack Langdon, born in Texas in 1885 and by 1930 was married to a woman named Sarah. His occupation? He was a musician in a dance hall in 1920 and in 1930 a musician and teacher. This was definitely starting to look like a lead.

Through the Missouri Digital archives, I discovered a death certificate for Sarah Langdon, who died in Nevada, Missouri on 14 November 1954. The death certificate lists her husband as Wm. K. Langdon.

Through the magic of Google news archives, I discovered some issues of the Nevada Daily News and after going through the the issues from 1957 discovered a notice of the death of Jack Langdon and one about the funeral rites for W. K. "Jack" Langdon. That last one was confirmation that the William Kieran Langdon I'd been seeking and "Jack" Langdon were one and the same person.

As I searched some more in the Nevada Daily Mail,I found some advertisements that showed he played piano at the movie theater, and that the Jack Langdon Red Hot Pepper Orchestra performed on Christmas, 1926 at a place called Haddock.

The 1957 death notice for Jack Langdon and his death certificate both state he was a retired taxi driver. Now I am curious how he went from being a musician to becoming a taxi driver. He left a wife at the time of his death, but Sarah had died three years earlier. His death certificate states his wife was Dorothy Langdon.

The few pieces of the puzzle that I discovered just make me hungry to discover even more!

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