53 Years Ago Today

On May 29, 1960, fifty-three years ago today, Harry Carl Hamilton (1891-1960), my maternal great grandfather, died in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma Co., Oklahoma. Following his death, he was buried in Highland Cemetery in Okemah, Okfuskee Co., Oklahoma.

Headstone of Harry C. Hamilton
Headstone of Harry C. Hamilton

Harry was born Carl H. Heldman in 1891 the son of Rufus Bert Heldman (1870-1944) and Jennie M. Lightcap (1872-1905) in Robinson, Crawford Co., Ohio. Harry changed his name at the outbreak of World War I, a war in which he served. Harry was married twice, first to Lillie May Johnson (1894-1988), with whom he had two children; and second to Golda “Goldie” Mae Worthington (1912-2006), with whom he had seven children, one of which is my maternal grandfather, Harry “Lee” Hamilton (LIVING).

5 thoughts on “53 Years Ago Today

  1. I’m assuming that Heldman is a German name. It’s hard to imagine what it must have been like back then for people of German heritage. It must have been extremely difficult if someone would go so far as to change his last name.

    1. Yes, he was of German ancestry–his grandfather, Johann Adam Heldman was from Hesse, Germany. I have not made a huge study of it, but I know that many Germans during WWI (and WWII) changed their names to avoid being suspected as being sympathetic to the “homeland.” I think that I read that they were also encouraged to do so when enlisting to avoid any difficulties overseas.

    1. It is a sad fact of history, whenever there is an enemy anyone of that descent is thought of as collectively supporting that enemy. (This is not only found in the United States, I should point out. The British Royal family, for example, changed its name from Saxe-Coburg and Gotha to Windsor during WWI.) As for the Dust Bowl, they moved to Oklahoma after 1940. I’m not sure how long the Dust Bowl lasted, but they were probably there for part of it. Before moving to Oklahoma, they lived in Arkansas, which is right next to Oklahoma and was affected by the Dust Bowl. I have not uncovered what made him move his family from one Dust Bowl state to another.

      1. It’s hard to imagine someone moving to Oklahoma around 1940, but on the other hand, so many people had left that when things began to settle, maybe they really needed people in certain trades, etc.?? Yes, re the British royal family changing their name. Being not only prominent but in a position where they can be accused of conspiring with the enemy at the highest level. For the average German on the streets of Chicago, I wonder how many changed their names? My grandmother did change her spelling of Klein to Kline.

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