Saturday, August 3, 2013

Christene Applegate on WDYTYA; --Surprise Prison Records!

Second WDYTYA--A Much Better Show

I am a big Kelly Clarkson fan; but I don't think she did a very good job in the first show of the series.  I just didn't find her very believable as it seemed her reactions were too contrived.  In contrast, I really enjoyed the second show with Christina Applegate and her father.  I felt she was much more believable and sincere about her feelings, as was her father.  

I found it interesting that instead of working with records dated in the 1850s to 1880s, as is most of my research, one of their records related to 1955--the year I graduated from High School!  Perhaps I should learn something from that--I am getting old!  Of course, Christina is ten year younger than my oldest daughter.  Maybe they need to pick older celebrities for the show.
Surprise Prison Records!

A little over four years ago I was filling in some holes on my research and noticed that I had census data for my maternal great grandfather for 1870, 1880, 1900, 1910 and 1920.  He passed away in 1937, so there should be a 1930 census record.  In 1920 he and his family were in Denver; but in 1900 and 1910 they were in St. Joseph, Missouri.  Since his name, Walter O'Malley, was more common; I decided to use his wife's name, Bessie, for the search.  I didn't find her in Denver, so I looked in St. Joseph and found she and the youngest two children.  She was listed as "married", so Walter hadn't passed away.  I went back and looked for him in Denver, thinking perhaps he stayed there for employment purposes.  I searched and he wasn't there, so I decided to search "all states" for him.  

I found him listed as residing in Leavenworth, Kansas--in the Federal Penitentiary!  This obviously peaked my interest and, wanting a quick answer, I found a web site for the Bureau of Federal Prisons and sent them an e-mail.  Following was their response:

I was very impressed that they responded within a couple days of my e-mail.  I was even more impressed when I contacted the National Archives, as they suggested, and within about a month received an envelope with about 30 pages of information about Walter William, including the typical "mug shots".  Previously, I had no photos of him.  They had held those records for 80 years!  

Walter William O'Malley

Ironically, in the 1910 census, Walter's occupation was "bartender".  I jokingly comment to friends and family that when prohibition came along he decided to make his own in the basement and it caught up with him!

The valuables in his possession when he was imprisoned were "1 Key, 1 Gold Nugget".  I wonder how big the nugget was, where he got it, and how much it would be worth today?  The records show that both were returned to him when he was released along with $12--probably for transportation to get back to St. Joseph.  He was released 2.5 months early for "good behavior".   

I can't begin to list all of the detailed information about Walter that was contained in the papers I received from the archives; but it included names and addresses of wife and children, details of interview with the prison chaplain, results of physical exam, letters from friends supporting his early parole, fingerprint chart, physical description and all the court documents dealing with his imprisonment and release.  It provided a wealth of information.  

  Most of us would rather not have a close relative who served time in prison; however, on the up side, it can provide you with a lot of information you might have never discovered.