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still alive
07-01-2012, 11:59 PM
I know that it could be done. H.L. Hunt, the oil man, married--bigamously--in FL using the name "Franklin" Hunt in c.1925.

And with no Soc. Sec. #, that wouldn't have been a problem. But I wondered how a villian could set up a new Id with bank acc't! in order to disappear and get away with theft.

Anyone know? Or know where I can look. I've tried Google but I guess I'm doing it wrong. (No surprise there! :))

Thanks.

lorna_w
07-02-2012, 12:05 AM
I bet it was a snap to do. I'll do some research for you (I'm a google whiz. Or I whiz google. Or something.)

Starting with: the history of Florida driver's licenses (http://www.taxcollect.com/content.aspx?ContentID=551). Not until 1939, as you can see.

This (http://floridahistory.org/landboom.htm) is interesting. It also reminds me, if there was a hurricane, one could claim to have lost all records, ID, etc., in it. So...oops, no, there were none. gee, there were like no hurricanes in 1922 or 23, weird. But he could say "my house burned down and I lost all records."

When I was a kid (which wasn't 1923) I opened a bank account by walking up and stating my name and handing them a piggy bank. They gave me a card to take home to parents to co-sign. The end. No big deal at all.

Enough, or you want more?:)

still alive
07-02-2012, 12:10 AM
You're a sweetheart, Lorna. Thank you!

And it can be Texas or any state along the Gulf Coast--or any coast I guess.

Or anywhere in the continental US.

lorna_w
07-02-2012, 12:23 AM
YW. Here's how you do it: you go to a big city. You walk a graveyard and find a grave of a child born about your birth year. (ooh, atmospheric scene!) You go to the county courthouse and ask for a copy of "my" birth certificate, being the dead person's. Or you write and ask for one. 2 cents for a first class letter. That's all the ID you'd ever need...but I bet you wouldn't even need that.

ETA: but the grave, not some big monument that would suggest important family in town. They might be known at the courthouse. A modest grave marker that says "sings with the angels now," or something else oil man can think cynically about.

Good luck!

still alive
07-02-2012, 12:48 AM
The fire idea is correct--it's almost unbelievable how many towns burned down. Of course they were all wooden--even the sidewalks in some towns still--and the fire equipment was fairly primitive--esp. in a small town.

And fires always seemed to pick a dry windy day to start.

And in LA my dad didn't even have a birth certificate from the state: he only had his baptismal certificate for proof of birth. And that actually was burned in a terrible fire that destroyed the Church and also the Courthouse. He had to have two people who'd known him since birth testify as to who he was in order to get a birth certificate.

still alive
07-02-2012, 12:50 AM
The fire idea is correct--it's almost unbelievable how many towns burned down. Of course they were all wooden--even the sidewalks in some towns still--and the fire equipment was fairly primitive--esp. in a small town.

And fires always seemed to pick a dry windy day to start.

And in LA my dad didn't even have a birth certificate from the state: he only had his baptismal certificate for proof of birth. And that actually was burned in a terrible fire that destroyed the Church and also the Courthouse. He had to have two people who'd known him since birth testify as to who he was in order to get a birth certificate.


That's LA not L. A.--why the PO ever did that to us...

Cyia
07-02-2012, 02:56 AM
With a newborn who died shortly after birth, old graveyards have "baby" sections where there's just a plain wood (now metal) marker placed with a name either inscribed or written on paper. You'll find several graves all packed together and not with their families.

Another source is obituary columns.

frimble3
07-02-2012, 03:16 AM
He had to have two people who'd known him since birth testify as to who he was in order to get a birth certificate. They're probably the part that would be harder to find these days! :)

jclarkdawe
07-02-2012, 03:32 AM
I'm trying to think this through. First off, bank identification is something fairly recent. 1923 was even before the federal banking acts that resulted from the Great Depression.

So you want into a bank in East Podunk and say you want to open an account, and here's $10,000 in cash to do it. When asked what name to put on the account, you say, "John Smith." Now ignoring the fact that I can't think of one reason why the bank would care who you are, how would you prove your identity?

Social security didn't exist, passports were rare, driver licenses were not common, so what's left? Most you might have is a letter addressed to you.

I think you're trying to create a modern problem that didn't exist. I know part of the reason for people migrating to Swiss banks after World War II was the identification issues with the US. Before that you could bury a lot of cash in the US and no one would know, especially the IRS. The modern income tax didn't exist until the Sixteenth Amendment and that wasn't passed until 1913.

Best of luck,

Jim Clark-Dawe

Lil
07-02-2012, 04:37 AM
Around 1960 I got a copy of my birth certificate by writing to town hall and asking for it. No proof of anything required. I got a bank account by walking into a bank and saying, "I'd like to open a checking account."
Either I looked transparently honest or they were not greatly worried about fraud.

jaksen
07-02-2012, 06:24 AM
I will tell you how a relative of mine did it in 1919. No kidding, this is the whole truth.

He went to another state (Connecticut) with his deceased baby brother's birth certificate. He used that certificate as ID to marry my grandmother. (Whoops.)

On the marriage certificate it states his dead brother's name; the other info he made up, re. his parents and place of birth. (My grandmother's info was all correct.) He had not yet divorced his first wife when he married his second wife (my grandmother).

With that false information he lived for quite a while in MA, had a family (six children, one of whom was my father) and eventually his first wife hunted him down, but it took her a while. (She was in Maine.)

So using a birth certificate of a deceased relative might work at the time you are suggesting. It worked for this man. He was never found out by his children. They all died before any of them knew the truth about their Dad. They never knew he married young in Maine, had a wife and family and deserted that family to marry an Army nurse he met (again, my grandmother.)

(I learned all this when I started doing some family genealogical research in 1999. I even located grandchildren from the first family my grandfather had in Maine.)

Williebee
07-02-2012, 06:32 AM
Very doable, I'd say. I can speak to West Texas, South Texas and Southern Illinois on this, a bit. A lot of folks back then didn't have birth records other than, sometimes, a family bible.

I have an ancestor who had several identities (failed businesses) along the Gulf Coast in Texas prior to the depression.

Here in Southern Illinois -- on several occasions we've proven birth/citizenship for a government request by proving school attendance -- by pulling REALLY old, heavy bound books of handwritten attendance and graduation records for schools that haven't existed for 80 years +.

jaksen
07-02-2012, 02:43 PM
Very doable, I'd say. I can speak to West Texas, South Texas and Southern Illinois on this, a bit. A lot of folks back then didn't have birth records other than, sometimes, a family bible.

I have an ancestor who had several identities (failed businesses) along the Gulf Coast in Texas prior to the depression.

Here in Southern Illinois -- on several occasions we've proven birth/citizenship for a government request by proving school attendance -- by pulling REALLY old, heavy bound books of handwritten attendance and graduation records for schools that haven't existed for 80 years +.

Nice, Williebie, I love it. Gives me ideas for stories. The old books being dragged out, dusty and musty. Someone coughing. The pages all yellow and soft. (Old record books are often filled with these soft, decaying pages.)

I do want to add (in my story) the first family put a detective on my grandfather. It took the detective a few years to track him (grandfather) down and I have copies of some of the paperwork he did in 1922. My grandfather finally divorced Wife No. 1 and put that part of his life to rest. He died in 1952. In 1999 I uncovered what he had successfully hidden (from the second family) for 90 years.

So, to the op, your idea is doable - highly doable - and can be done in several different ways.

still alive
07-02-2012, 08:58 PM
My thanks to all of you!! I finally happened on a site late last night on Google that went into great detail about how easy it was to change identities back then.

Apparently no identification was asked for nor presented except the person's word. Now that's a different world!!

And Jakesen I like your story--much! May I steal it if necessary?

Williebee
07-02-2012, 09:02 PM
Nice, Williebie, I love it. Gives me ideas for stories. The old books being dragged out, dusty and musty. Someone coughing. The pages all yellow and soft. (Old record books are often filled with these soft, decaying pages.)

It's exactly like that. And the handwriting is usually beautiful. I'm in the process of trying to get the Illinois Records Archive to take all these books in our office into a climate controlled room at one of the universities.

still alive
07-02-2012, 09:08 PM
For what it's worth I looked up my notes and in Hammet's THE MALTESE FALCON, he has a parable of Flitcraft who did exactly that: walked out of his life and began again. Although the book was written in 1930, in it Sam Spade says about the "parable" --"...but that was 1922."

jaksen
07-03-2012, 03:52 PM
Off topic...but I love this thread.

Wiliebee, someone needs to photocopy them - at the very least. I know it takes mucho money, but sometimes historical societies will provide the labor of copying. And in the 1940 census, I often see that real old-style handwriting, with the extra loops in letters like C and G. (Threw me for a loop until I figured out all the "Claras" couldn't be "Elaras.") When I get a page like this (I'm indexing the 1940 census along with many others.) I know I'm looking at a person who was middle-aged or older in 1940. The younger people who were doing the interviews/surveys have a more modern style of cursive handwriting, or they print.

Back to alive, yeah take my story. When I reflect on my grandfather's past I realize my entire family 'lived' a mystery. The children of this grandfather would often get together and trade what they knew. "He said he ran off to join a circus in 1910." "He said we come from royalty out of Scotland." "He said there were Siamese twins in the family."

He said...he said...he lied. But his children, and my Dad, loved him despite it.

Lots of us do have mysteries in our backgrounds - once we start digging around in the past we find them. I also found first cousins who married. And an ancestor present at the witchcraft trials in Salem.