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Old 01-13-2006, 07:11 PM   #1
CentralCali
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Default Today's Creepy Story

Today on Lifetime I saw the story of Richard Coleman for the first time...and it was creepy! I'm not sure if it was so much the story as the guy playing him though. It was bizarre how/why he was keeping his military duties a secret.

Anyone know more about this case?
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Old 04-05-2007, 02:47 PM   #2
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Just saw the story on the "Mystery" channel and did some searching. Looks like his son has made a big break-through:

http://www.ancestrymagazine.com/2007...s-information/


I knew my father as Richard Coleman. He met my mother, Helen, in Washington, D.C., around 1946. They married in 1947, and I was born in 1949.

In the mid-1950s, my father became ill with cancer, eventually passing away in Maryland in 1961. As a child, I always wondered where Dad’s family was, especially at the traditional holidays. But my father just wouldn’t talk about it. Nor would he explain why he claimed to have never been in the military whenever someone would ask, yet he kept mementos galore: photos, ribbons, and even actual uniforms.

I had always been convinced that my father was born by a name other than the one that I had grown up knowing. My search for his name, as well as his military service and his reportedly large family, began in 1975, partly to help my mother receive veteran’s benefits, partly to satisfy my curiosity. Over the years, my search was featured in an article in the Washington Post and on a segment of Unsolved Mysteries. Still, no breakthrough.

Several months ago, I was sitting at my computer contemplating what to do next in my search. I just happened to check the new database listing at Ancestry.com when one caught my eye—World War II draft registration cards. More than 20 years ago, I had written for my father’s possible World War II draft registration card, but the Federal Records Center was unable to locate anything. At the time, I chalked it up to my father’s subterfuge.

However, now when I typed in “Richard Coleman” in this database, I received 26 hits. One of them was a Richard Coleman, born 12 September 1895, in Everett, Massachusetts, and living at the time of registration in New York City. That had to be my father—Dad had said his birthday was September 12, but he always said either 1901 or 1902. On a number of records, he gave his birthplace as “Everett” or “Everett, Massachusetts.”

When I looked at the card, it was indeed my father. The signature had his distinctive backward slant, and the address gave a location where I knew he had lived for a number of years. Interestingly, this was the first time that I had come across a record on Richard Coleman that gave his birth date as being in the late 1800s, even though I suspected as much these past 30-some years.

Armed with the new birth year, I switched over to the World War I database. Instead of typing “Richard Coleman” I simply typed in my father’s new birth date—12 September 1895—and the place of birth, Massachusetts. Nothing else. I got 61 hits, one of which was “Coleman Joel DeKorte.” I remember thinking finding someone with my father’s date and place of birth, and his last name as a first name couldn’t be mere coincidence.

I clicked on the card for Coleman Joel DeKorte and looked at the signature. Sure enough, there was his distinctive backward slant. And the “Coleman” part of the signature was dead-on with my father’s handwriting.

My wife suggested I check census records—“see who his parents were.” In a short time, I found my father’s parents, his seven siblings, his first wife, their son and their two daughters, and a number of cousins.

Unfortunately, most of the people who would have known my dad as Coleman Joel DeKorte had passed away, but I did find a number of half-nieces, nephews, and cousins. Within a few days, I spoke by telephone to the widow of my father’s son (my half-brother) who is now in her 80s and living in Michigan. The following Sunday, I received an e-mail from the woman’s daughter—“Hi long lost relative.”

It seems my father and his first wife married in Maine in 1915 and had a very nasty split. My father apparently walked out one day, never to be heard from again. All these years, there was speculation on both sides of the family that Coleman Joel DeKorte/Richard Coleman had changed his name and remarried. But no one had made contact.

Since finding my father’s birth name, I’ve met his family, discovered that he was a policeman in Malden, Massachusetts before he “left,” and learned that my father’s other family had always wondered what happened to Coleman.

While I have not yet been able to determine why Coleman chose the name Richard, I have made a lot of other progress—now I’m slowly working my way through each of my dad’s seven siblings to see who survives. So far, I’ve found a couple of new cousins—grandchildren of my dad’s older brother—and I am on the trail of several others.

– Bob Coleman
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Old 04-05-2007, 03:33 PM   #3
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What fascinating story and an interesting "hobby" to devote your life to: searching for the true identity of the man who sired you, and the true story of the life he led before you entered the world. It's hard to imagine our parents as existing as people before we knew them and its got to be astounding to come to find out that the man you knew as "dad", as Richard Coleman, was known as an entirely different for many years.

Also fascinating is that this guy, born in 1895, had a draft registration card for World War II. They must have been taking EVERYBODY for the war effort.
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Old 04-05-2007, 04:44 PM   #4
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I thought lifetime doesn't air UM anymore.
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Old 04-05-2007, 05:58 PM   #5
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Avalon,

Is "The Mystery Channel" a channel avaliable in the U.S. (other than having to own a big C-band dish)? It seems like I remember this channel being of Canadian origin.
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Old 04-05-2007, 07:03 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Cattt01
I thought lifetime doesn't air UM anymore.
It currently airs on Lifetime's spin-off channel, Lifetime Real Women. It's just not on the schedule for the original Lifetime.
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Old 04-05-2007, 09:34 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Thiussat
Avalon,

Is "The Mystery Channel" a channel avaliable in the U.S. (other than having to own a big C-band dish)? It seems like I remember this channel being of Canadian origin.
I think it's just available here in Canada, but I'm not totally positive on that...
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Old 04-05-2007, 11:24 PM   #8
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Always found this case very interesting. So he hid his past from his family to hid a nasty divorce?
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Old 04-06-2007, 10:14 PM   #9
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I don't understand if he legally divorced his wife, or if they were going to divorce and he decided it would just be easier to change his name and start a new life. That's the part I don't get, but yes... he did hide his past from his "second" family.
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Old 01-14-2012, 03:09 PM   #10
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Default Old Man's Draft

The WW2 Draft Reg cards from Ancestery.com are what is known as the "Old Man's Draft"...males born between a certain 20 year time span had to register. My own GG grandfather was born in 1881 and ever HE had a card.
The article still does not clear up the issue of military service...perhaps the Census from 1930 shows that?
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