What? It must be true. This is the only logical conclusion based on the information available.
My great grandfather, Harold John Crowe (Sr.), was born in 1899 in Cannelton, Perry Co., Indiana. His parents were Charles C. and Ida Mae (Gray) Crowe. I have found the family on the 1900 U.S. Census (Perry Co., Indiana) and the 1910 U.S. Census (Spencer Co., Indiana).
Sometime between March 1910 and September 1920, the entire family was abducted by aliens, forced to wear military uniforms, have their photographs taken, and who knows what else!
As you can see, the photo purports to have been taken at Davis’ Studio at 35 W. Forsythe Street, Jacksonville, Florida. Likely story. Here is that address (courtesy of Google maps):
Shortly after returning from outer space in September 1920, Harold John Crowe married Lucile Francis Stiker in Mt. Vernon, Posey Co., Indiana. I wonder if she had any idea where he had been. Certainly, it must have affected their relationship somehow. Perhaps she was sworn to secrecy.
I pick up Harold’s family again on the 1930 U.S. Census in Indianapolis, Marion Co., Indiana, where Harold works as a mechanic in a garage (obviously from the extensive training he received during his abduction). Harold is listed as a veteran of “WW” (which I take to mean World War I) on the census. I guess this is the only way he could explain the photos in military garb.
Around 1939, Harold went to work as an engine inspector for Allison Gas Turbine (a division of General Motors specializing in aircraft engines – coincidence? I think not.) in Indianapolis, where he stayed until his retirement in 1964. He died in September 1971 in Indianapolis and is buried at Calvary Catholic Cemetery. His obituary in the Indianapolis News on September 20 says that he was a member of St. Catherine Church, the Speedway American Legion, and 40 & 8 “and was a WWI Army veteran.” I’m not sure what 40&8 is … but I bet it’s a coded message for other abductees.
In all seriousness, I have exhausted every search I know to do. I have looked in city directories in Mt. Vernon, Indianapolis, and Rockport – nada. I have looked for WWI draft cards and veteran lists – nothing. I have looked for newspaper articles – zilch. State census records have not been indexed or do not exist for most counties. (And, yes, I checked the census in Jacksonville, Florida also).
I did some research on this 40 & 8 club (official name: La Société des Quarante Hommes et Huit Chevaux – or – the Society of 40 Men and 8 Horses). Apparently, it is a branch of the American Legion that honors those soldiers who were transported through France on railroad cars during the Great War. Each rail car had a symbol on the side “40/8” which meant the car would hold 40 men or 8 horses.
I have sent emails to the American Legion and the 40 & 8, so hopefully they will be able to provide some information that will fill in the gaps. I am pretty sure that he missed the census because he was still overseas or returning from overseas, but I could be wrong. I know very little about World War I (I’m rethinking that whole not-paying-attention-in-history-class thing now, though), so if anyone out there can shed some light on what might have happened between the “official” end of the war in June 1919 and the census in March 1920, I would be most appreciative!
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