Thursday, March 19, 2009

Where in the World was Clifford Cruvant

I mentioned a few weeks ago my issue with the birth record of Clifford Cruvant in Cook County (Chicago) Illinois. The name in the index differed from the report. Cynthia at ChicagoGenealogy looked up the Certificate of Correction on the Family History Library microfilm, and posted a copy for me. It reappears below.

As is so often the case, the mystery deepens. The Family History Library microfilm didn’t capture the date on the correction so I decided to look up the name of the County Clerk at the top of the form. Michael J Flynn was Cook County Clerk from 1934-1950. Some say he was the origin of the phrase “in like Flynn.” Others suggest other politicians named Flynn, and still others suggest the actor Errol Flynn. Regardless, Michael J Flynn wasn’t a County Clerk who time forgot, and his dates in office are pretty well established.

Clifford was born in 1904, so he was at least thirty when his birth certificate was corrected. More importantly, since his mother signed the correction, both his mother and he were somewhere in 1920 and 1930. And his mother signed the correction with the surname Cruvant, suggesting she may not have remarried. My prior assumption had been the reason we couldn't find them was that she likely remarried and Clifford’s surname got changed, though that now appears not to be the case.

The Cruvant surname has many legitimate and illegitimate spellings. Since the English spelling is basically a transliteration of the Hebrew transliteration of the Lithuanian town Kruvandai, anything phonetically close is ‘accurate’ and several different family branches adopted different spellings. Cruvant, Cruvand, Kruvant, Kruvand, and Kroovand are the five most common spellings. And then there are the creative ways it has been written by clerks and census takers, or misinterpreted by indexers, for example, Crouvant, Cruivant, and even once Casavant. (Can't blame the indexer, either, as the handwriting was that bad.)

But Ancestry allows you to search by first name only, and I've gone through every person in the Illinois Census for 1920 and 1930 whose first name began with 'Clif' and who was born in 1904+- 2 years. Without any likely matches. I could drop the age from the search, or expand the range a bit, but the list was already getting pretty long. The list for 'Paul' is longer. Though I have tried to find Goldie in the same fashion. It's possible they were no longer in Illinois.

The next step was City Directories. I found a few Chicago City Directories on Footnote. They were definitely there in 1911, though they don't appear in the 1916 or 1923 directory. I found a Chicago Tribune news story mentioning Goldie, and providing her address, from 1912.

The St. Louis County Library has Chicago Directories from 1913-1917, 1923, and 1928. I already knew 1923 would be a bust, so that left 6 years for me to research. I dropped by the library, and the research added an address for 1914, but that was the last sight of them in Chicago.

I returned to Ancestry and did a search in the entire 1920 census for anyone born in 1904+-10 years with a first name beginning with 'Clif', and who had a mother whose name began with 'Gold'. And then I changed the mother field for names starting with 'Lil' for her middle name, Lillian. There were only 1000 names for me to page through with the latter. I was looking for a particular misspelled surname which helped. Unfortunately, I didn't find them.

My most recent effort was based on a suspicion Clifford may have been in the process of changing his name when the correction to his birth certificate was filed. I had a birthdate, and anyone born in 1904 who lived past the 1950s is likely to be in the SSDI. Rootsweb's database allows you to search by first name and birthdate, which I did. There are only 6 Cliffords in the database who share Clifford Cruvant's birthday. I asked myself, how many of these six can I find in the 1910 census? Because if they're there, they're not Clifford Cruvant. Unfortunately, all of them have matches in the 1910 census of approximately the correct age. The matches may not be them, but they could be.

So I am no further, and as of this moment I am unsure what happened to Goldie and Clifford after 1914. Ancestry is working on a 1940 census substitute, which could end up being helpful in solving the mystery, but isn't yet.

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