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Albert Leonard's birth date finally confirmed

My great-grandfather, Albert Jay Leonard, was born in Osceola, Pennsylvania, on December 15th according to all accounts, but half of the records give his birth year as 1894 and the other half, 1895.

When Albert registered for the draft on June 5, 1917, his age was reportedly 22 and his birth date was given as December 15, 1894. The dates on Albert's tombstone suggest he lived from 1894 to 1957, and his obituary boldly states that he was 62 years old when he died on October 10, 1957. To avoid doing the math, I used my handy dandy Date Estimator, which confirmed that his obituary is basing his age off his birth being December 15, 1894.

On the 1900 census, though, his mother reported that Albert was 4 years old, born "Dec 1895". Then, in April of 1910, his brother, James, was head of the household and the informant who gave the information to the census taker. He reported that Albert was 14, which, once again, would mean he was born in 1895. Then, in April of 1930, his age was given as 35, which would mean he was born in 1894.

So which year was he born in? 1894? Or 1895?

I've stated, in the past, that when conflicting birthdates are given for a person, I find that the earliest census record is usually most reliable, and that is for a few simple reasons - it's easier to do the math when a person is a child, and many people in olden times were not highly skilled at math. It's also easier to remember the ages of children without doing the math. We also know that a person's parents are usually more knowledgeable about birth dates than a wife or other informant years down the road. So, did both Albert's mother and brother mix up his birth date when he was a child, or did his birth year get mixed up somewhere along the line?

After finding his birth record in the Tioga County Birth Index and Register, we finally have the answer! In the Index, we see that his birth is recorded in Book 1, Page 55.

Albert in Birth Index, Tioga County Courthouse, Wellsboro, PA

From the Index, we go to page 55 and see Albert's birth recorded. Entries span two pages, both shown here:

So, once again it is proven, mother knows best! Albert was born December 15, 1895, and, for the record, he was 21 when he registered for the draft and he died at the age of 61. His tombstone should read 1895-1957.

A few minor corrections

To be exact, Albert lived 61 years, 9 months, and 26 days. Don't forget to use this free handy tool next time you need to calculate an exact age or time span. (The Time Calculator)

Also, having confirmed his date of birth, we can know see clearly that Albert was only a year and ten months old when his father, Lewis, died on October 16, 1897. It was two months before Albert's 2nd birthday, making it highly unlikely that Albert had any remembrance of him. He missed out on any fatherly advice and guidance Lewis had to offer as well any family history Lewis possessed in his memory bank. It's just another demonstration of how easily family history can be lost when people die if the knowledge they have isn't documented. Even if you're not a hardcore family history seeker, it would be wise to collect whatever information you can still salvage from the memories of the elders in your family. There are books that make it easy! (Show now!)


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