Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Making His Way Home


It appears to be a very different William Crago, at least from his passport photograph, who returns home from Africa after the war. A lot can happen in three years—not the least of which is the need to stop in at the American Consulate in Cape Town to see about getting a new passport.

There at the Cape Town office, Will put in his application for an emergency passport on January 27, 1921. Once again, he was obliged to rehearse the tedious minutiae of his life: born December 3, 1879, in New Herrington, a village in England; emigrated with his father, John, and family from the port of Liverpool to Iron Mountain, Michigan, for business purposes in April, 1881; naturalized at the Circuit Court at Dickinson County, Michigan, effective April 6, 1892.

Again, for this document, Will listed his permanent residence as Duluth, Minnesota—not Colorado Springs, where his wife and children were living. We learn from this document that he last left the United States on January 8, 1918—slightly later than his intended departure. The trip to Cape Town had taken him until February 6, 1918, and he didn’t arrive at his final destination, Elisabethville, until the 18th of the same month.

His return trip seemed to be accomplished more quickly—at least at the first. Leaving the Belgian Congo on January 21, 1921, he made it to the Consulate at Cape Town within six days. His trip from there to Southampton, England, was completed—first class aboard the Saxon—by February 14. Though I wonder if he was tempted, while passing through England, to take some time to return to the place of his birth, I doubt he did so, for the distance to the County Durham region would have required the addition of a few more travel days. His itinerary showed he quickly dispatched the final leg of his ocean travels, arriving in New York on the SS Aquitania on February 21, 1921.

And by March 19 of that year, a professional journal was already noting his “visit” to Duluth—considering the lead time for publications back then, I presume that would indicate that Duluth was Mr. Crago’s destination once he disembarked the SS Aquitania in February.

He didn’t lose much time once in Duluth, either. Before that Colorado Springs Gazette piece announcing his “visit” to his family there in September, Will and his colleagues had already traveled to Manchuria, departing Japan August 26 for the return trip to San Francisco on the SS Taiyo Maru.

Whether Will Crago was able to settle down with his wife and family after that point is difficult to reconstruct from public documents. I find no record for him—so far—in the 1930 U.S. Census, though it is quite possible that he was, once again, out of the country. As for the 1940 census, well, that’s not yet available for those states in which he’d be most likely to reside.

There are other signs of his whereabouts, however. That he was in demand professionally continued to be evident from news publications almost up to the point of his death in Duluth in 1949.

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