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52 Ancestors Someone I Wish I Could Have Known

Image courtesy of nuttakit /
Image courtesy of nuttakit /

Writing this post today has put me in a quirky mood so indulge me… Let’s pretend there’s a photo of a person of medium height with a medium build, blue eyes and light brown hair over there on the left instead of one of a camera, okay?

You see, if I had any connection with the other Williamson family lines I am related to, I might possibly have been able to insert a photo here but that is not the case. When death and divorce split my grandparents apart, we lost connection not only to my grandfather but to everyone in my grandfather’s family. [I realize it is possible that even connecting with distant cousins now won’t produce a photo but I can hope.] My grandfather left my grandmother right after my dad was born and he lived on never having contact with his family again. [That is something I have a hard time understanding.] He could have known his children as adults and his grandchildren could have known him but that was not to be. However, the past has passed and I choose to live in the here and now so let me introduce you to what I know about my paternal grandfather…

Raymond Curtis Williamson was born in Rochester, New York on 18 March 1886 or 1887—take your pick. For every record I have that says 1886, I have another record that says 1887. Grandpa liked to keep ’em guessing… [I need to order his birth certificate.] I have been able to find Raymond in all the applicable Federal and State Census with his parents and siblings. His parents are Thomas Edwin Williamson and Georgiana DeLong. Raymond is the second youngest of eight children. [I believe there was another daughter, Bessie born in 1889 that died in 1890 at 6 months of age. I need to order the death certificate to confirm her parentage.]

On the 31st of July 1912, Raymond married Grace Rose Buisch at Christ Episcopal Church in Rochester. The church is a beautiful structure full of fabulous architectural details, famous stained glass windows and pipe organ. I can hardly imagine what it would have been like to be married there. There are the things I wonder about their marriage now: Had they known each other long? How did they meet? Were they madly in love or was a child on the way the reason for their trip down the aisle? [If I’d only thought to ask my grandmother these things.]

New York, County Marriages, 1908-1935 on FamilySearch
New York, County Marriages, 1908-1935 on FamilySearch

A little side note about this marriage record… When I received a transcribed copy of this record from the Monroe County Vital Records office, Georgiana’s maiden name was written as DeYoung instead of DeLong. Yes, the “L” looks a little funky there on the original — kinda looks like a “Y”. But there are only four letters there — not five. It’s indexed on as DeYang. [At least they got the number of letters right.] That inaccurate copy caused much head banging against brick walls until I finally got a copy of Georgiana’s death certificate that listed her maiden name as DeLong.

The first copy I had of my grandfather’s draft registration was really blurry and I couldn’t make out the questions he was responding to. Then I found this copy on FamilySearch.

WW1 Draft Card for Ray C Williamson
WW1 Draft Card for Ray C Williamson

Much clearer. [I am beginning to think it’s not only important to look for multiple sources but to see if there are additional sources for the same records.] So I have my grandfather’s physical description and signature. Not quite the same as a warm hug and fond memories but I’ll take it. I believe my grandfather gave himself the 18 March 1887 birth date so he could qualify to register for the draft. He was probably thirty-one and not thirty. I also can see from this copy that he was in the New York State National Guard for three and a half years. I don’t know what type of military records are available for the National Guard but it is another avenue to pursue.

These are the children born to Ray and Grace:

  • Martha B Williamson
    • Born: 18 December 1912, Rochester, NY
    • Died: 9 February 1921, Rochester, NY
  • Raymond Curtis Williamson, Jr
    • Born: 7 October 1921, Rochester, NY
    • Married[1]: Elizabeth Jane Arnold
    • Married[2]: Mary Tarrant Hoffman
    • Died: 30 March 2009, Texas
  • Delores Elizabeth Williamson [aka Betty]
    • Born: 24 February 1927, Rochester, NY
    • Married: Walter Harold Olson, Jr
    • Died: 8 January 1987, Inverness, FL
  • Paul Rene Williamson [my father]
    • Born: 12 December 1932, Rochester, NY
    • Married: Opal Duthie
    • Died: 14 October 2006, Las Vegas, NV

In 1920, Ray switched occupations from meter reader/inspector to salesman. He traveled during his work as a salesman. I remember my grandmother cried when she was relating to me that their daughter, Martha died of diphtheria in her father’s arms and that Ray was never the same after that. She said after Martha died their marriage deteriorated. My grandmother was pregnant with their son, Ray, Jr, and carried on the best she could with Ray, Sr absent for long lengths of time. My grandmother would say she was a widow when asked her marital status according to census records and city directories for Rochester.

The 1925 New York State Census is the last time Ray and Grace are enumerated together. The Rochester City Directory for 1926 shows them living at separate addresses. It appears that their relationship was an on and off again affair until shortly after my father, Paul was born. I can find no record of Ray in the 1930 US Census that appear to be my grandfather. I believe it is possible that he wasn’t enumerated at all because of his travels. Grace lists herself as a widow.

Postcard - Lafayette Hotel, Buffalo, New York
Postcard – Lafayette Hotel, Buffalo, New York

In 1940, Ray is living in Buffalo, New York at the Lafayette Hotel. He is divorced according to the 1940 census, although I recall my grandmother showing me her divorce papers dated after that time. [I would so like to have those papers now as divorce records in New York are sealed for 100 years.] He is still a salesman for a food company and was living at the same place in 1935.

I do not know if Ray ever remarried or anything else about him except that he died on 1 May 1971 in Olean, New York. My grandmother never remarried.

Raymond C Williamson 1887-1971 Photo by Nancy Thomas. Used with permission.
Raymond C Williamson
Photo by Nancy Thomas. Used with permission.


  1. This post was last updated/edited on 14 March 2014.
  2. If you have questions about or corrections to anything posted here, please post a comment or contact me using the form on my Contact Me page.
  3. More about Raymond Curtis Williamson can be found on the Williamson Surname Page

Cite This Page:

Erin Williamson Klein, “52 Ancestors #2 Someone I Wish I Could Have Known (Raymond Curtis Williamson).” My Family History Files, 16 February 2014 ( [access date]).

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1 thought on “52 Ancestors Someone I Wish I Could Have Known

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