Lightbulb moment: The Marryatts both died in Oakland. Why, I could get death certificates for them! They might shed some light on who came before them, and from where.
Well, that’ll be easy for James Marryatt, who died June 25 (my birthday!), 1907. Not so easy for Adaline Marryatt, who died sometime during the Roaring Twenties. Here’s the rub: Alameda County wants a date of death in order to issue a death certificate. No problem with JM, whose obituary ran several days in the Oakland Tribune. However, I’m not finding one for the missus.
Another potential lead fizzled, at least in the short term: JM was buried at Evergreen Cemetery in East Oakland. However, the cemetery does not have a Web site, ergo no easily accessed records. Changing this would benefit many others, as Evergreen is the final resting place for many of the Jonestown victims.
In other news: I visited the African American Museum and Library in Oakland today; it’s a reasonable walk from my office. A walk-in visit isn’t the most productive though; appointments are required for any sort of research. And you have to have an idea of what you want to research — and that doesn’t mean your great-grandma.
I’ll be going back tomorrow to peruse their entrepreneur files, in hopes that I’ll find something on my grandfather, A.W. DeLeon. At the very least, confirm whether his visage is among other black entrepreneurs pictured in one of the Arcadia volumes, on Pullman porters in West Oakland. (The book is somewhat broader than that — my grandfather was a tailor — and narrower than perhaps it should be, with focus on a few families and no railroad connections outside the Pullman brotherhood … which leaves out my great-grandfather, who benefited from an unofficial don’t-ask-don’t-tell policy at Southern Pacific.)
What I wish the museum had: things to simply browse. Yes, these resources are old and irreplaceable and precious. But what a joy if they were easily shared! Such as in the Arcadia book(s). The one mentioned above also has a photo of the house my Marryatt kin lived in (probably built too) when they left San Francisco for Oakland; a photo of my godmother’s father, a prominent attorney; and the school nurse at one of my schools.