It’s Just a Name

As I begin compiling stories of my maternal grandmother I am immediately absorbed in my first quandary of mis-information. Her name on the Social Security Death Index states, “Sarah B. Keckler” this is the name that I knew her as, though everyone called her “Bea.”

So, first fact, her name is Sarah Beatrice Keckler, duly noted and moving back in time.

Whoa, wait, we have a problem … I once heard a story:

Sarah’s maiden name was Crosland, and she always believed that her name was Sarah Beatrice Crosland. However, she used to work at a place that obtained a government contract for some work. In order to be cleared for the job she had to show her birth certificate, but she had never even seen her birth certificate. She knew she was born in New Jersey, so she went to the vital statistic gods and requested proof of her birth.

As it turned out, her name wasn’t really “Sarah Beatrice” at birth on April 5, 1914, but rather Lillian Mildred Crosland. She had to traipse around Trenton, New Jersey in search of long lost aunts, uncles, and cousins that remembered that she was born Lillian Mildred. From there she had to ask them to give her notarized statements proving that she was who the stated said she was. Having figured out the information as best she could she went through a bit of an identity crisis — what did she really know about herself?

In discussing this story with one of my sisters I learned that she had heard a different story:

Her name was actually Mildred Lillian Crosland, and she learned of her actual birth name when obtaining a passport to visit her daughter Sarah Ann in Columbia, South America. It would seem the rest of the story matched.

So, now I don’t know if I am looking for Sarah, Beatrice, Mildred, or Lillian! I know, I will check my mother’s death certificate. But, along with Mom’s death certificate is her birth certificate. Death Certificate lists my mother’s mother as Sarah Beatrice Crosland, but the Birth Certificate lists her as Beatrice Sarah Crosland.

Oh me, oh my, where am I supposed to begin?