13 March 2010

Tracking Mack

My maternal grandmother's father, Vary "Mack" Hyler / Huyler disappeared during the Great Depression to look for work. He left when his daughter was an infant and didn't show up again until she was 14. I'm trying to track down his location during the approximate time period of 1931-1945.

Based on stories that he told his grandchildren, he was a true hobo. Mack said that he traveled "all over" in train cars and smoked "wacky weed." These statements aren't exactly detailed. So, what do I know as fact?
  • He was named Vary Americus Hyler, but was known in his later years as Mack Huyler (family stories and documents)
  • He stated that he was born on 2 April 1903 in Columbia, Richland, SC (ssa)
  • mack ruby marriage
  • He appears in Lexington County Census records in 1910 and 1920 and cannot be found in the 1930 census.
  • He married Ruby L Waters on 2 Jan 1931 in Atlanta GA (marriage cert)
  • He and Ruby divorced during his time away (she remarried)
  • On 25 Feb 1937 he filed a social security application in Augusta, Richmond, GA
  • He returned to Ruby (now divorced from her second husband) when his daughter, Betty, was 14 (statement from Betty)
  • He was living with Ruby again in 1948 in Atlanta, GA (directory)
  • He married Ruth Sexton after Ruby died (family info and obit)

What about rumors? Aside from the few mentions of riding trains, not much is known. It has been speculated by the family that Mack knew Ruth Sexton from his traveling days and may have been in a relationship with her at that time.
  • Ruth was born in Alleghany County, SC in 1913 (obit)
  • She spent part of her childhood in Virginia (1920 census).
So, I'm looking for Mack GA & SC and possibly NC & VA. Considering the extensive rail system, my search could expand much further. So, I'll start by examining his Social Security Application further.


Mack's 1937 ssa tells me a few things:
  • He was officially calling himself Mack, not Vary, and spelling his surname with a 'u'
  • His address was 446 Watkins Street, Augusta, GA
  • He was employed with Huckeye Cotton Oil Co
There are a few things I did immediately: mapped the address and checked city directories. Unfortunately, it's hard to say for sure what building on Watkins Street is 446.

The city directories are available online for 1937 and listed 446 as "vacant." So, it seems that Mack was new to this address in '37. The 1938 directory lists Benj F Steerman and Stoney Taylor as living at this address. Did Mack only live here a short time, or was he the roommate or friend of these men? Or was this just an address he listed to have something to put on the form? Regardless, Augusta, Richmond, GA is a city that might offer more clues about Mack. And maybe these other two men might provide information on Mack.

So, where else can I look? I can widen my search of city directories. I can continue to look in the 1930 census, though I don't hold out luck finding him there. I can look for military service. He should have registered for the draft in the early 1940s. I can try and track him through his siblings (three brothers, seven sisters). Any other ideas?

1 comment:

kbea831 said...

It sounds like you have all good ideas on where to try next. I've found fabulous information in newspapers so you might see if any of the locations have indexed their papers. Some of my best clues have come from siblings so I would spend some time with that, for sure. Good luck!

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