Monday, November 14, 2022

Raymond Doyle, Again

Do you have a relative who won't leave you alone, who keeps coming to mind, wanting his or her information to be found?  Raymond is one of those people in my family.  Every few years he gives me a nudge, just about the time some new record set where he might be found becomes available online; or sometimes when I haven't given him a thought for a year or so.  Finding information and records for Raymond, an adopted son, have been a challenge.  In truth, the only information I have comes from family and census records.

Raymond was born between 1904 and 1905.  He was adopted by my great-grandparents, William and Tressa (Froman) Doyle before 1910.  Census records provide the following information.
  • 1910:  age  6, adopted son, living with William and Tressa Doyle in Stoneboro, Mercer County, Penna
  • 1920:  age 14, inmate living at the State Institution for the Feeble-minded in Polk, Venango County, Penna
  • 1930:  age 25, inmate living at the Polk State School for the Feeble-minded, Venango County, Penna
  • 1940:  age 35, inmate living at the Polk State School (Feeble-minded), Venango County, Penna
  • 1950:  age 45, inmate living at Mercer County Home, Coolspring Township, Mercer County, Penna  (Image below.)

This 1950 census (Penna, Mercer, Coolspring Twp., E.D. 43-3, Sheet 5, Line 3) is my newest record for Raymond.  My memory of meeting him between 1958 and 1960 at the Mercer County home is partially supported by this 1950 U.S. Census.  In the 1920-1940 census records he was living at Polk.  It's possible he was moved to Polk again after 1950 but I doubt it.

Two factors complicate finding what I'd most like to know about Raymond:  his birth records, an adoption record, and his death record.

Factor #1.  Adoption records are sealed in Mercer County Pennsylvania, no matter the date of the adoption.  It might be possible to petition a judge to open Raymond's file but, in fact, I don't know that there was a legal adoption.  Neither do I know his birth surname.  An older family member suggested that he may have been born to the Page family but I could not find evidence to support that idea.

Factor #2.  Raymond likely died in the county home.  I cannot find a burial record, nor even a death record (yet), let alone an obituary.  Pennsylvania death records are available through 1971 but checking the Penna Death Indexes from 1954 through 1971, I did not find a likely candidate for my Raymond Doyle.  A death certificate would probably give a burial location and date--if I had a death certificate.  And finding an obituary seems unlikely for a man who lived in the county home, especially considering that most family members had already died (assuming he died after 1971).  Which also means that no one would have been available to buy a gravestone.
Edited to add:  At the date of this post, Pennsylvania death certificates created after those published online at Ancestry, hence from 1972 to the present, are available for purchase at the Pennsylvania Department of Health.  However, they limit those who may purchase certificates to close family members and some legal representatives.  See the application here.
Once again, I'll put this search to rest for a while and return when other records become available or when a new search strategy comes to mind.  I'm sure Raymond will give me a nudge if I wait too long.

Have you ever petitioned a judge to open an adoption record?  If so, how did it go?  I can't imagine success for that effort without any record that there was, in fact, a legal adoption.

 Previous posts about Raymond


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  1. I hope you can find an obituary or death record in a newspaper or something. It's so frustrating to be actively looking but not finding. Your post reminded me of a hunt my sister and I were making a while back. The only record we had for the father was that his name was Orlando. We didn't know if that was a first or a last name. After hunting and hunting we found him and his name was really Oscar Leonidus Creel. Crazy! We were lucky (blessed) enough to find a letter online that Oscar had written to say he was the father of that specific son. He never married the mother, in fact, he never married at all.

    1. Thank you, Robin. The most likely thing to find would be a death certificate. I have one older relative yet to ask, a cousin who lived in the area and whose mom might have shared more information about Raymond. I'm hoping she might have an idea of a death date, or at least a death year.
      That's crazy to find Orlando's name was Oscar Leonidus. That's quite a transition in names. Truly, a blessing to find a letter online with the information stating his relationship to his son. One never knows how genealogy help may come!


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