1. Go to The Random Name Generator and click the red “Generate Name” button at the top of the screen
2. Go to Ancestry.com and enter your generated name in the search box on the main search page. [Randy’s add: If you don’t have Ancestry.com, go to http://www.familysearch.org/ and do it there – it’s free.]
3. From the results, your research target will be the first census result for your generated name.
4. Using whatever online resources are at your disposal, see what else you can discover about your random person and write about it. It can be a formal report complete with footnotes, or just a “research story” about what you tried, problems you overcame, or success you had. Maybe you want to create a research plan for practice?
5. Post about it on your blog or wherever you wish, and link here to tell Chris about it. Tell Randy about it too as a comment here or a comment on Facebook or Twitter.
My Results: The Random Name Generator came up with Galen Singleton. When I put that name into Ancestry, the first name listed was John Galen Singleton and was from the California Death Index, which gave me his name and Social Security number, birth and death dates as well as birth and last residence locations. He was born April 30, 1923 in Oklahoma, which is where I was born and where I currently live; he died June 20, 1997 in Los Angeles, California. One other clue given there was his mother’s maiden Name – Kasling.
The next person listed was Galen Ray Singleton, but our assignment was to pick the first name. Right below the second person listed was a photograph of a John Galen Singleton from someone’s family tree. When I clicked on that family tree, I discovered the second John Galen Singleton was the father of my John Galen Singleton.
According to that family tree, John Galen’s father was born in Marshall, Saline, Missouri on February 19, 1893. John’s 1917 World War I Draft Registration listed his occupation as self-employed painter doing odd jobs. That occupation was reiterated on the 1930 census. Again, according to the family tree, John died March 19, 1961 in Compton, Los Angeles, California.
John Galen’s mother was Elizabeth Luisa Kasling who was born September 20, 1894 in Germany. According to the 1930 census, both Elizabeth’s parents were also born in Germany and Elizabeth arrived in this country in 1908. Elizabeth married John Galen Singleton on July 25, 1917 in Fort Smith, Buchanan, Arkansas. Elizabeth died December 22, 1980 in Lakewood, Los Angeles, California.
Although John and Elizabeth married in Arkansas, their daughter, Anna M., was born in Oklahoma in about 1921 and son, John Galen, Jr., was also born in Oklahoma in 1923. Their son, Edward, was born about 1926 in Missouri and their daughter, Addie, was born in California about 1928. By 1930, the family was living in Montebello, Los Angeles, California. Another brother James Leroy Singleton was born in Los Angeles, California in 1936. He died in Las Vegas, ten years before his younger brother, John, also died in Las Vegas. Edward died in 2002 in Seal Beach, California and Annie died in 2008 in Fontana, California. John apparently, according to the family tree, had two other sisters who are still living.
The birth locations of the children in Oklahoma, Missouri and California would parallel the Great Dust Bowl migration to California of the late 1920s and early 1930s. With John Galen, Sr. being a self-employed painter, I would suppose his earnings during that difficult time period were pretty meager. Since the whole family remained in the west, it would appear that part of the country provided a better living than what they had found in the Midwest.
John Galen Singleton, Jr. served in the US Navy during World War II beginning on December 29, 1942. As one who served in the military, his burial location was reported by the U.S. Veteran’s Grave Index. He was interred on June 25, 1997 at Riverside National Cemetery in Riverside, California.
John Galen Singleton, Jr. died in Las Vegas, Clark, Nevada at the age of 74.
The potential rest of the story: There was also a third John Galen Singleton born March 6, 1952 in Los Angeles, which was the county where the other two John Galen’s were living and would have been an appropriate time frame for John Galen Singleton, Jr. to have married and begin raising a family. John Galen Singleton III’s mother’s maiden name was Wyatt.