Wednesday, November 28, 2018

Alias Jackson

The labels on the front and the back of the abandoned family photograph might have said the one year old infant was named Peter Knapp, but if that was the only clue I had to go by, in seeking to return this picture to Knapp family descendants, I wouldn't have gotten far. Fortunately, the picture, taken in a studio in Kelso, Washington, featured not one boy, but two. In addition to Peter, there was someone named Arthur Knapp, listed as six years of age in 1899. Even better, the 1900 census led us to a family in Kelso with two appropriately aged sons possessing exactly those names—the household of George and Lena Knapp.

To find Peter Knapp anywhere else, however, was a bit more challenging. Wandering through all the possible documents and resources offered through a search at led mesomehowto the Find A Grave memorial for someone who was purported to be that very same Peter Knapp. Only...his name was listed as Jackson Harlow Knapp.

The Find A Grave volunteer responsible for this memorial made a note about Jackson Knapp:
He was born with the name of Peter, but when he went to get a delayed birth certificate in Portland, Oregon, in 1943, he changed his name to Jackson, as he preferred that name.

I scrolled through the possibilities found at Ancestry to determine just when Peter Knapp might have made the change to Jackson Harlow Knapp official. It was long before 1943, apparently. True, there is a transcription of a record showing a delayed birth certificate under the name Jackson Harlow Knapp, but the image of the actual document is not available online, so I can't verify the date that was drawn up.

However, as early as the draft for the first World Warwhich he completed on September 12, 1918he signed his name as Jack Harlowe Knapp.

Even before that point, he was identified with this same name, when a letter from his mother, dated June 19, 1918, was attached to his marriage license. The letter, naming Jackson Harlowe Knapp, granted parental permission for "Jack" to marry Alma Harriet Anderson in Wahkiakum County, Washington.

Peteralias Jackson Harlowe Knappapparently spent the rest of his life in the Pacific Northwest. We can see him first as a young couple with his Norwegian-descent bride, Alma, boarding in a home in Walla Walla, Washington in 1920, then back to the county of their marriage in Washington to raise their young family of three sons in 1930, and then to the city of Portland in 1940, where he worked as a machinist. Our last glimpse of him was still in Portland at the time of his passing in 1968, then over the river and across the state line to Vancouver, Washington, for his burial.

That, however, is the story of just one of two people in that hundred nineteen year old photo I rescued. Tomorrow, we'll discuss the other son of George and Lena Knapp in the picture—Arthur, the one who was big brother to Peter, alias Jackson Harlowe Knapp.

Above: Photograph of one year old Peter Knapp and six year old brother Arthur Knapp, taken in Kelso, Washington, in 1899; photograph currently in possession of author until claimed by a direct descendant.


  1. From family lore: that little blond baby grew into a toddler with beautiful ringlets. His mother was so in love with the curls she would dress him up as a girl and put ribbons in his hair. Much to his Fathers disgust.

    1. Now, there's a little tidbit to pass along to family! Would love to hear how you managed to coax that story out of a relative!

  2. Cute boys! I wonder how they kept the littlest one in that chair! :)

    1. I was wondering that, myself, Far Side. No telltale signs that I can see.


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