William Harlan Leslie Shaw, 1897-1972

While searching the online records regarding my sister Marcy’s many legal-actions against businesses and people who failed to comply with the American’s with Disabilities Act of 1990, I stumbled onto my Grandpa Bill Shaw’s name. His has led me down an avenue that had long been obscured from my family researches.

He was born William Harlan Leslie Shaw on December 27, 1897 in Mount Blanchard, Ohio to Frank L. Shaw and Nettie L. Musgrave. On August 26, 1918, at the age of 21, Grandpa Bill enlisted in the U.S. Army and was assigned to the 159th Depot Brigade, Company B, 46th Battalion at Camp Zachary Taylor, Kentucky.

The role of the Depot Brigade was to receive and organize recruits, provide them with uniforms, equipment and initial military training, then send them to France to fight on the front lines as well as receive returning soldiers at the end of the war and complete their out processing and discharges. According to records Grandpa Bill was there from November 1, 1918 until his honorable discharge as a Corporal on December 11, 1918, which makes no sense as he was supposedly gassed while in the trenches of France.

Following the war, Grandpa Bill got married in Biglick, Hancock County, Ohio, between 1920 and 1930 and by 1930 had become a widower. In 1932, he moved to California and by 1935 he was married and living in San Francisco with my grandmother Leola.

Five years later, Grandpa Bill was listed as both a prisoner in the Alameda County Jail in Oakland, California and divorced. However, Grandpa Bill’s 1972 obituary lists my Grandma as his wife and both are buried side-by-side at Sunrise Cemetery in Fortuna, California.

Grandpa Bill seemingly disappears from the records until he moved to Humboldt County, California in 1964. It is around this time that he his known to have been a member of the Elks Lodge Number 1689 in Crescent City, California and a dues paying member of a bartenders’ union.

And so the search continues…

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