09 February 2015

The search for James Peake

Bill and I are often asked what our research process is. Some searches are relatively easy as the person we are looking for might appear in an online family tree or easily identifiable through some other source. Other searches are very complex requiring the examination of multiple source documents and no small amount of luck. I thought I would take readers through a very detailed description of this search to give a better idea of some of the effort we go to in order to get a solution.

WX12289 James Elliot Hughes Peake was known as Jim. I found this out when I spoke to his nephew today. I now know that his name change to Jim wasn't the only one he went under. More about that later.
This is a picture of Jim from his service record.
It is now that some of the confusion and difficulties surrounding the identity of Jim started.
Jim was from Kalgoorlie and I found him easily in the electoral rolls. At the same address lived Jenny Everson Peake. However, in his service record it stated on several occasions that his NOK was Jenny Everett Peake. This is close but other facts didn't line up. I just couldn't conclusively link Jim to another person called Jane (Jenny) Everson Peake who I found quite a bit of detail about.
This is were the investigation got really tricky. Knowing that Jim was from Kalgoorlie I started searching the online Goldfield's newspapers using Trove. I probably used about 30 different search  combinations but came up with some interesting results.
The first was an engagement notice for a William Loneragan, the step-son of Mrs JE Peake. I knew this was the Mrs Peake I was interested in as her address (given in another engagement notice) was the same as one from Jim's service record.
I then returned to the electoral rolls and followed William and Edna through different addresses around WA. William was a radio engineer and worked at several stations including Kalgoorlie and Northam. I also had a look at the family of Edna Lemmon and to my surprise found that her father worked at the telegraph station at Applecross. Members of my family will realise the significance of this but for everyone else, I should explain that this station was very close to my grand parent's house in Alfred Cove, my parent's Applecross home and our family home in Booragoon.
The next clue from Trove was the wedding notice for William and Edna.
Once again, my family will recognise one particular location in this notice.
The next usable piece of information I found was a birth notice announcing a son to William and Edna. What the notice didn't say was what the child's name was. Interestingly, William also served during WWII in the VDC.
All this information really bought me to a dead end. Not having the son's name was the problem. I then started doing some sums. The child was born in 1941. That would mean that he would appear in the electoral rolls from about 1960. I began scrolling the electoral rolls and in 1968 came up with a likely candidate by the name of William Axxxx Loneragan. The WA Reverse Marriage index gave me his wife's name and I then found them in the White Pages. However, there was no conclusive evidence that this person was related to the William Loneragan from Kalgoorlie I was searching for.
There was nothing else to do but ring the number I had found. After explaining the reason for my call I discovered that I was indeed talking to William's son (Jim's nephew) and he was able to fill in a lot of details.
Jenny Peake had three daughter's, William was a foster child and Jim was an adopted son. Jim's name at birth was Thomas Elliot Hughes. All these name changes was what caused me to be so confused. When I spoke to William today he was able to read to me a very touching note that accompanied a photo of Jenny that said that the family was very close.
This piece of research was quite difficult. It took me a month or so to get to a point where I had a lot of different threads but it wasn't until last night that I was able to bring all the threads together. A fair amount of luck came in to play today but in the end a successful result.
Thank you to George O'C for sending me the medal and to Liane for her assistance.
The returned medal tally is now 1615.
One other coincidence in this search is that William lives in the same complex as Gail, Frank and Gloria.