02 April 2017

Searching for Vernon Robinson Lee

I have been searching for Vernon R Lee off and on for awhile now. He is the maternal grandfather of some of my cousins on my Newman side. I have managed to develop a pretty good tree on our shared paternal side, the Newman side, but they know almost nothing about the maternal side of their tree.

My cousin, FN, has tested at 23andMe at my request. And his son, AN, tested on Ancestry at my request. This was to try and narrow down which side of my tree some of my matches fall. Basically I knew if they matched both myself and one of them that meant the match would be on the paternal Newman side of my tree.

Howevery, they both had a significant number of matches that don’t match me, and since I hadn’t done any research on the Lee side of their tree I had no idea how people who contacted me might connect with them. So I started searching.

I did manage to find the marriage record for FN’s maternal grandparents. I discovered that Helen Hartmann and Vernon R Lee were married 04 Jun 1930 in Clark County, Washington. But there was very little information on the certificate that would allow me to go further back in the records, especially on Vernon’s side.

The one hint I did find on the certificate was what town Helen had been living in. I decided to see if maybe I could find her as a child in the census which would allow me to discover who her parents were. Sure enough, I did find her as a child in that town with her parents. And that meant I was able to get a little more on her. Vernon however wasn’t showing up in the census records in Oregon or in Washington, so I was stuck.

Until this week when a DNA match that I had tried to contact previously finally answered. They said that yes, Vernon R Lee was on their tree! This person had a tree with good sources and documentation, so I think I can trust their research. They had Vernon’s family of origin, including his parents, both sets of grandparents and even a couple sets of his great grandparents! AND they including siblings at each level. I feel like I hit the mother lode because of this person’s hard and detailed work.

The problem is I can not find any record of what happened to Vernon coming forward. Like I said I have his marriage certificate, I know Vernon and Helen had 2 daughters, and there is a passenger list that has Vernon listed as single and heading to Hawaii a couple of weeks before the bombing of Pearl Harbor.

When and where did Helen and Vernon divorce? Why was he going to Hawaii? What happened to him after he arrived? Did he join the military? If so, why can’t I find a record of that? Did he ever remarry and have more children? When and where did he die? So far ancestry isn’t showing any easy answers.

I am hoping that someone who is a descendant of one of his 8 siblings might know something that will give me a clue to where to look for him. To that end I am sharing the Family Group Sheet with his parents and siblings. If Vernon or his family are in your tree and you have any information on any of them please contact me. I would love to be able to hand my cousins a copy of their family story on the Lee side.

Since I first wrote this a few days ago I have found a death date for Vernon of 1 Nov 1958 in Oregon, and the fact that he was buried in the Greenwood Hills Cemetery in Portland, Oregon. Also in looking closer at the Passenger list I found that the USS Chaumont was a Navy Transport ship that made regular runs from San Francisco, California to Manila via Honolulu. This leads me to think that Vernon was at that time in the Military, and probably the US Navy. Haven't found anything more about his military service. A thank you to Paul for replying to my message on FindAGrave.