Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Brothers Separated for Twenty-five Years Reunited

My grandfather Aldred Erskine had an older brother named Cyrus Melvin Erskine. Sometime after Cyrus filled out his World War I registration card in 1917 he disappeared. No word, no connection was made with Cyrus for a long time. The story in the family is that Cyrus was declared legally dead after he had been missing for about 25 years. I have not found an official death record to verify this part of the story, but today we know more about Cyrus because of the newspaper record that documented his sudden return to the family. My mother had this newspaper clipping in her scrapbook. Her father, Aldred Erskine was a police officer for Burbank, California. One day when he was at work, Cyrus showed up to surprise him. Here's the full story from the newspaper account:

If Police Desk Sgt. Aldred Erskine could duplicate at will that expression of suspense, surprise and joy that he enacted spontaneously last night, he probably would be snapped up by the movies. His eyes popped, his mouth flung open as if moving automatically on hinges and his face turned pale momentarily as he looked up from his desk at police headquarters to peer into a smiling face that seemed familiar. Suspense across his face faded to surprise and then joy, "Cy!" exclaimed Erskine as he hopped off his chair and lunged forward to clutch an extended hand.

Clutches Extended Hand
It was the hand of Cyrus Erskine, a brother the police officer hadn' t seen for twenty-five years. The story goes back a quarter of a century when the four Erskine brothers - Aldred, Cyrus, John and Thomas were living in the family home at Richmond in northern California. The eldest of the four, Cyrus, a young man then, decided to go east. He settled at Dallas, Tex. Later he moved to Miami, Fla., where he engaged in the real estate business during the Florida boom.  

Address Lost 
Meanwhile, the other three brothers, now grown, moved from the family residence. Cyrus left Miami. Addresses were lost and correspondence, previously only occasional, ceased entirely. Last fall Cyrus decided to return to the coast. On Christmas day he arrived in San Francisco , hoping to find his brothers somewhere in the bay region. Thumbing through the telephone book, he found the name of Thomas Erskine at Richmond. Not sure that was his brother, he telelphoned. A few hours later the pair was reunited at Thomas' home. Aldred and John, the latter a resident of Glendale, soon received word that the "long, lost" brother, feared dead, was very much alive.

Arrives Without Warning
 John drove north during the week-end to see Cyrus. He returned last night and without any previous warning dropped Cyrus off at police headquarters, and the third of the series of reunions followed. A sheet metal man, Cyrus has decided to settle here, and seek employment in the aircraft industry. He is making his home for the present at the police officer's residence.

Research To-Do
  • The date and name of the newspaper is unknown. Aldred retired from the police force on 1 Nov 1951, so the reunion was before that date. I expect to be able to find the article in the local Burbank newspaper. 
  • I found Cyrus in the 1910 Census and the WW I Draft Registration, but I have not found him in the 1920 or 1930 Census.
  • I hope that when the 1940 Census is released I will be able to find him. I hope the clues obtained from his residence in 1940 will also lead to finding him in the 1920 and 1930 census records.


Mary said...

Hello, How do I get in touch with you? There is no email or contact info listed .. please advise .. thanks .. Mary. Please contact me maryregency at gmail dot com

Fran Jensen said...

I replied by email. Hope to hear from you soon!