Wednesday, May 3, 2017

Crossing Borders

Let's take a look at the details of Richard Reid's life—the one member of the Henry Reid family most likely to have been the connection between the 1936 photo album sent from Ireland by Harry and Alice Reid and the antique store in northern California where I found it eighty years later.

We've already learned that Richard was the next-oldest brother to Harry Reid, arriving in 1887, three years before Harry's birth. We can confirm that relationship, handily, by the 1901 census in Ireland, showing the family still living in the same place—Grange in County Cork—where Richard had been born.

While I can't yet find any passenger records confirming his arrival in Canada, we were able to learn his arrival date, thanks to the 1921 Canadian census, in which Richard was now living with his wife—the former Amy Lucking, a British immigrant who likely met Richard somewhere in Ontario—and a baby daughter.

Though Richard and Amy were living in the northern part of the city of Toronto in 1921, that wasn't an arrangement which lasted for long. By 1922, a border crossing report from the United States immigration service showed Richard temporarily leaving his wife at their then-current residence in Windsor, Ontario, while he sought permanent residence for the family in Buffalo, New York.

Judging from an entry in the 1925 New York state census, Richard succeeded in his effort, for the family was by then living in a Buffalo apartment building at 17 Walden Avenue.

Finding the border crossing record provided us with another small observation about this Reid brother we're currently discussing: at the time of his immigration to the United States, he was five foot seven and one half inches in height, with brown hair, blue eyes and a "fair"—a later report from his World War Two draft registration card described it as "ruddy"—complexion.

That later document also revealed another detail about Richard: he was diabetic. So it was stated on the reverse of his draft registration, completed on April 27, 1942, in Buffalo, New York, where the family had remained—but for a brief stint in Detroit, Michigan—since their immigration to the United States around 1922.

It wasn't long after that, though, that Richard—whether on account of difficulties from his diabetes or from another cause—died, on the first of December in that very year. He was only fifty five at the time of his passing, leaving Amy with four children still in the home—three teenagers and a daughter in her early twenties.

That specific loss may be the very trigger catapulting the family from their adopted home in Buffalo to seek other living arrangements much closer to that northern California antique shop where I eventually found the Reid family's photograph album.   

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