I chose the death certificate of a man named Robert Bean Wilson Jr. reported to be born on September 13th, 1900, died on August 14th, 1972. He was lost at sea off the coast of Crescent city, California and his body was never recovered, he was assumed to be dead from drowning after getting caught in a violent storm. I found this fascinating and wanted to learn more about how his death may have occurred.
I found that Robert Bean Wilson Jr. was supposedly born on September 12th, 1900 according to the 14th, and 15th census of the United States as well as on his military registration file. I thought perhaps whomever typed up the death certificate made a typo that was overlooked. Navigating through the ancestry files I found that he was born in Eufaula, Oklahoma, son of Robert Bean Wilson Sr. from Dardanelle, Arkansas and Hettie Morrison from Eufaula Oklahoma. According to the 14th census of the United states recorded in 1920 he lived in Dustin, Hughes, Oklahoma and was born September 12th 1900. In the 15th census, recorded 10 years later in 1930 he lived in Eldon, Miller, Missouri, and again stated he was born on September 12th, unlike the 13th stated in the death certificate. He married Nila B. Krause born July 27th, 1908 in Kansas. I found no other records of her besides that she died in Solano, Florida on November 18th, !984.I also found that she was also married to another man after her husband Robert Bean Wilson Jr. died, by the name of Grant E Mcgrew on October 13th 1973. I then found that Wilson enlisted into the military on February 14th, 1942, at the age of 41, when I found a copy of his military enlistment sheet. The enlistment sheet stated that he was unemployed and living in Sasatiwa, Seminole. He enlisted and served in World War 2. No other records were found of him until his death in 1972.
I hungered for more information of his death, knowing he died off the coast of Crescent city, California, I managed to find the phone number for the Del Norte county historical society. I called and spoke with Karen Betlejewski, the Coordinator. I gave her all the information I had found of Wilson and she set out on a hunt through the articles they had from the time period. I gave her my email address and she said she’d email me back within a day or so, confident she’d find something regarding his death. I patiently waited for her email, 2 days had passed and I got an email from her with an attachment of a newspaper article from the Del Norte Triplicate published Saturday, August 19th 1972, Vol.96 No.67. The article regarding a storm that claimed 12 men, including Wilson. It explains that the storm originated 400 miles off the coast and strengthened to claim the 12 men after their fishing vessels got in the path of the storm. The storm was so strong that it sent gusts of wind up to 80 miles per hour throughout Del Norte county. The 12th Coast guard district, out of San Francisco, that led the search for the lost men at sea, presumed Robert B. Wilson Jr. ,owner-operator of the commercial vessel Mindy Lynn, drowned.
So in all, I found that Mr. Robert B. Wilson was a Machinist that bounced around from town to town in search of work, until he was unemployed and decided to enlist in the military and serve our country in World War 2. He then settled down with Nila B. Krause and lived in Yountville, California where he had 2 children that can not be listed for privacy reasons, then killed by a storm at the age of 71, soon after his wife remarried and moved to Florida, which was very odd to me that she moved on so quickly after being married to her husband so long, and being later in age.
I spent hours looking through the files ancestry.com had to offer. I didn’t find as much as I hoped to find using ancestry.com, so I took matters into my own hands and found the phone number of the coordinator of the Del Norte historical society. I contacted them explaining who I was looking to find more information about, they took that information and used it to only find the article of the incident from the local newspaper. I was so fascinated and thankful for the findings that I made a small donation to the historical society in return for their work and hard effort to find whatever they could for me. I do believe it was worth it, I wouldn’t have found out the details of his death otherwise.