Casefile Clues

17 January 2013

Retrouve in 1942

When searching old newspapers, particularly for stories that may have made the wire services, one should not ignore entries in foreign languages.

Date: Friday, May 22, 1942  

Paper: Justice de Biddeford (Biddeford, ME)--obtained on Genealogybank.com.  

Google Translate (combined with my paraphrasing of Google Translate's translation) indicates the caption indicates the mother of Henry Fecht of Chicago appears with her son, a sailor, that Uncle Sam had declared dead.

I almost ignored the French result--this family was not French and not live in Maine. However, news of Fecht's survival and his mother's unwillingness to admit he was deceased, made several newspapers at the time.

Only one little problem.

The "recovered sailor" was James Fecht. His mother was the wife of Henry Fecht, of Chicago, which is where the Fecht family had lived for some time before the war. Those little words like "mother" and "wife" can get confused. We've written about James before. There seems little doubt that the caption in the newspaper is simply incorrect. It seems highly unlikely that two "missing" soldiers in the South Pacific from Chicago with the last name of Fecht were found at the same time. It never hurts to double check a reference and the researcher is well advised to always keep in mind that a source could be wrong in one or more detail.

We've found an even nicer picture of James and his mother in another newspaper that we're hoping to use in a future post.

Going Forward


In further attempts to locate more on this incident, we are going to search for Chicago area newspapers, which may have included more detailed articles about the incident. I'm also going to see if there was any mention of this incident in newspapers from Hancock County, Illinois--where James' parents were originally from.