I haven’t posted a blog since mid-2017, but I am bound and determined to continue onward with the John Logan Letters Project this year! I also have a new treat for you guys.
I am launching my own genealogy-inspired Youtube Channel for metal detecting called “Roots and Relics“. The following isn’t my first video on the channel, but it’s the first of many of its kind to come! Please check it out!
Roots and relics, genealogy inspired relic hunting. What does that mean? Well, I’ve been a genealogist for almost 18 years now. My freshman year at East Carolina University, I took a class called “Marriage and Family Relations and I had to do a genealogy project in that class and it got me hooked on genealogy ever since. The summer after my freshman year of college, I went back home and I did nothing but genealogy research that entire summer. When I decided to make a youtube channel for metal detecting, I wanted to come from it from a historical perspective and really try to mix in genealogy whenever I could. My photos are really my true treasures. I mean every single time I can put a face to a name of one of my ancestors. That is absolutely priceless to me. What’s up with all this? Talk about genealogy today. Well, that brings me to today’s video.
A few weeks ago I was on the Nugget Noggin facebook page and a lady named Amanda Johnson posted a really, really interesting find that she made. She found a purple heart from a World War II soldier named Edward F Deerey Jr. She was asking Nugget Noggin, what’s the best way to research and find the family of this person.
In her message, she said, “hey, nugget, check out our find from today at an old school house site on our family’s property. My Dad and I found a purple heart medal. The poor guy lost his life in World War II at the age of 19. We have no idea how it ended up here unless one of his distant relatives took it to school with them back in the 40s and lost it. We’re trying to find his family so we can give it to them and he suggested on fast tracking the search for this family. This is a first for us. Thanks.”
This interested me right away. I wanted to try to help do my part, put my genealogy skills to the test and see if I could help track down a close relative of Edward Deerey’s,
So I messaged to her, “Did you have any luck finding his family? I may be able to help. I do genealogy work”.
There’s a really popular website called FindaGrave.com, and so I was able to pretty quickly pull up a grave of a WWII soldier named Edward F Deerey, Jr..
The cemetery that he’s buried at is St. Mary’s Cemetery in Salem, Essex County, Massachusetts. He’s born January 9, 1925 and died October 29th, 1944. So my first message to Amanda was, “where did you find this? I know that Edward was from and is buried in Salem, Massachusetts.” And Amanda said, “Jonathan we found that metal detecting on a farm here in Cumberland County, Tennessee.”
Wow. Obviously Edward is from Massachusetts. He was buried in MMassachusetts. So how did this purple heart wind up on a farm in Cumberland County, Tennessee so I responded to Amanda. “Wow. I will do some more genealogical digging and let you know what I find.”
I was able to find Edward’s senior year, a yearbook from 1942 from Salem high school in Salem, Massachusetts. The yearbook is kind of fun list nickname. So Edwards nickname is obviously junior because he’s the son of Edward Deerey, um, which we already know. He was listed as a junior in the purple heart. His chief companion, “the old’s” favorite saying, “hey, take it away”, hang out “wherever he hangs his hat”. And his ambition is “fair Harvard”. Now Salem, Massachusetts is not very far from Cambridge, Massachusetts where Harvard is. So I was really curious, his ambition is to go to Harvard. Did he actually fulfill that? I found one clue to kind of help us answer that. Here is an army enlistment record from 1938 to 1946. So we had Edward F Deerey Jr. Born 1925 native of Massachusetts county Essex. He enlisted in the city of Boston, Massachusetts on 17th of November, 1943 under education status. It’s listed as one year of college. That’s a little bit of a clue that maybe he did get to Harvard.
I found out that on the campus of Harvard University, there’s a monument dedicated to those alumni who died in WWII. Edward F Deerey Jr is listed under the class of 1946. The next record I was able to find about Edward was actually an application for a military headstone. This application was applied for by his mother, Madge B. Deerey on April 2nd, 1950, and it was verified on January 19th, 1953 and ordered on July 21st, 1953. The next document is a roster of WWII dead 1939 to 1945 right here at the top is Deerey, Edward F Jr private. There are no other Edward F Deerey Jrs listed on here, so we know that the purple heart belongs to the one and only Edward F Deerey Jr who died in WWII.
The next thing I was interested in doing was piecing together what Edward’s life was like and also finding out if he has any relatives that may still be living.
When I look at the 1940 us census, it’s kind of sad. Edward F Deerey Jr is the only male in the household. Apparently his father had already passed away when he was 15 years old in 1940. His mom, Madge was 44 years old and she’s listed as widowed and the only other person living in the household is a maid. Who’s from Ireland. The curious thing, when I looked at this page, there are several houses that had hired maids who were all born in Ireland. Kind of interesting.
Now when I look at the 1930 Census, his father’s living. His father was 43 years old and his mom was listed as being 34 years old and Edward was just five. Also living in the household was someone named Anne who is a cook and she was born in Ireland and also someone named Mary who is listed as a practical nurse. Another interesting part of the 1930 census was Edward’s, dad, Edward Sr was listed as a manufacturer and he actually owned a leather factory. When I took a look at the 1920 census, Edwards sr was 31 years old and he was actually living with his mother Catherine, who was 70 and widowed at the time. His mother is listed as being born in Ireland. When you look at the occupation for him, he was in the leather business at another factory, so he had always worked in this factory apparently.
I decided to do some digging on leather factories in salem, Massachusetts to see what I could find. What I found was pretty interesting. There was a Deerey brothers leather manufacturer in Salem, Massachusetts. One of my favorite tips for genealogy is you don’t have to have a subscription to ancestry.com to find some really cool stuff. Google books is a treasure trove of genealogical data. Here’s the entry and a google book that I found to enlarge factory Deerey Brothers. Manufacturers of shoes stock have plans for an additional 50 by 100 feet, three stories high to their factory at good huge street, salem, which they recently purchased from the american hide and leather company. Their leather factory was known for making good year welts.
Amanda Johnson, who found this purple heart was really wanting to return the purple heart to the family of Edward Deerey. But one thing I found was Edward was an only child. So the thought of finding a relative who is related closely to him was starting to wain on me. I knew I wasn’t going to be able to find an uncle or a first cousin or anything like that. So what I needed to do was find Edward Sr’s family and see if maybe he had a brother or sister and follow that branch down the line.
So Edward Sr was the son of John Deerey and Catherine Brogen when neat little thing here I was able to find was a WWI draft registration card for Edward Francis Deerey Sr. He lived at Treemont street in Salem, Massachusetts. His date of birth was April 9th, 1887. His present occupation was leather manufacturing place that he was employed was the Deerey Brothers. He listed that he is responsible for the care of his mother. Do you claim exemptions from the draft business reasons to support mother as what he listed there, and he’s listed as being tall, medium, build blue eyes, light, hair color, and has the person lost arms, leg, hand, foot or both or eyes or otherwise disabled. Specify. He has a very serious condition known as “varicose veins”.
This is a picture of what the house on Treemont street looks like. I don’t know for sure if this is the exact same house, but judging by the looks of it, I think it might be.
Here’s a look at the tombstone of the Deerey’s. So they’re all buried together. Edward F Deerey, Born in 1887 died 1936. Madge born 1896 died in 1957. And then Edward F Deerey Jr died in 1944. So Edward Senior’s. Father is John H Deerey who’s born November 1845 in Ireland. John Deerey and Catherine had six children. So I had six different possibilities of people to be able to find a close relative so that Amanda could return this purple heart to the family.
Edward F Deerey Sr had one brother and four sisters since the purple heart had the name Deerey on it. I thought it’d be kinda cool to see if we could find a relative who’s last name is Deerey and make contact with them. So I decided to focus on Edward’s brother John Andrew to see if we could find a close relative.
So John Andrew was born 20th of January 1886 in Salem, Massachusetts. He married a lady named Elizabeth Furey and they had three girls and one boy. The one boy’s name was of course John Andrew Deerey Jr. They lived at 33 Loring Avenue. What a beautiful house that was and still is.
So John Andrew Deerey Jr. married a lady named Joanella. I’m hiding the last names of the women involved here for security purposes for the people that are still living. So John Andrew Deerey Jr died pretty recently and he had five children. John Andrew III. Tristram, Eliza, Desiree, Sean Deerey and Shawna Deerey. With all of this information in hand, it was time to give an update to Amanda on the situation. I told Amanda. “Ok, so unfortunately Edward Francis Deerey Jr was the only child of Edward F Deerey and Madge Bernadette Collins. His father passed away when he was only 11 years old and his mom passed away in 1957.
The closest family members would be his cousins through his father’s brother, John Andrew Deerey. Amanda wasted no time and got right on trying to contact the family.
“I’ve messaged 4 people whom I believe may be some of the cousins you’ve listed, including a copy of your post here showing your work and finding potential family members, a picture, and then a link to my original posting on another facebook page. I spoke to Andrew Deerey friday night who put me in touch with his cousin Charles Reardon. He called me today regarding the purple heart. We have confirmed that they are the family of Edward F Deerey Jr and I will be mailing the medal to Charles this week. He lIves in Colorado and is the second cousin to Edward F Deerey Jr. Every bit of the information you sent me was correct and I will also be crediting you in this journey to find the family. Thank you sir.”
Wow, that’s pretty cool. We’re actually able to connect the purple heart with the original family, which I think is pretty neat. The one thing that is still curious to me is how did this metal ended up in Tennessee? So I asked Amanda about that.
“That is so great. Did anyone in the family move to Tennessee or do you think this was auctioned away? Perhaps someone from this from his unit was from your area and was given the medal.”
Amanda said, “we’re still unsure, but I will be including in the mill some description of the area in which it was bound so that when Mr. Reardon continues to search for answers, then maybe he can make that connection.”
So what do you think it is? How did that medal end up in Tennessee? I can see a couple of different scenarios. There must have been an auction when the family passed away. With all the stuff in the household and no one to inherit it. I have to imagine that a lot of the stuff just went up to auction and maybe that purple heart made its way on the auction block and someone purchased it and it traveled somewhere and got sold at a store or someone bought it and then some kid to school and left it on the school yard. Maybe that’s a possibility. Another thing I think maybe is maybe there was a very special friend and his unit that was with him when he died and perhaps his mother gave that purple heart to one of his dear friends from his unit and maybe that friend was from Tennessee. And so maybe that’s how it ended up being there. I think there’s a lot of research to be done in that area.
We know what unit of the army that he was in. And I would like to take a look at the rosters and see if there’s anybody from that particular county in Tennessee where it was found. I hope you’ve enjoyed this video. We’re kind of taking you through the process. If you’re a metal detectorist and you found something that maybe has a name associated with it or you’re just kind of curious about a piece or a cemetery or greater that you found and you’d like some help researching the geological history behind a piece… I’d be more than happy to help you out with that. Thanks for watching.