Can someone help me unscramble Graham Houston Smith's story?

+7 votes
Hello all,

If you saw my post last night about my best friend's easy tree well then be prepared to help me as I struggle through the murky waters of his father's side. In particular, I would like to know about William Dorey b. 1875 MO to either a James Smith or Gideon Dorey as he changed his name from William Dorey to Graham Houston Smith sometime before 1898. His bio and information has not been filled out because I am not certain enough of any of it. The timeline that I have, based on what I was told by the family and what records I could find, is as follows:

William Dorey was born December 5, 1875 in St. Louis, MO.

He changed his name to Graham Houston Smith (supposedly in Texas) at some point before 1898 where he can be found in an army enlistment record from 1898 where he was in the 5th Infantry at Fort McPherson in Georgia (line 3614):

 He is not seen again until 1917/18 where he can be located through his WWI draft card. This gives our first hint at his parentage: he lists his mother, Ms. Gideon Dorey, as his emergency contact. It is also a note of the fact that he has moved to New York.

In 1920, he is married to a Christina Hallinan (who was born in 1896 Ireland) and has a 4 year old son, Donald Kenneth Smith, with her.

After this, he can be seen getting a passport on April 24, 1922 where he lists his father as James Smith from Scotland.

A New York Passenger list shows a Graham H Smith arriving in New York from Southampton on June 9, 1922 with the birthdate that has been used throughout all of the other records:

After this I can find no record of him as he is no longer in a census (to my knowledge). It is known that him and Christina Hallinan split up between 1923 and 1925 giving life to one more son. A 1925 New York State Census reveals this fact.

While I have not found any concrete records of his later years it is known that he was imprisoned during WWII (presumably not in battle) and he died in Chicago, Illinois in 1954.


Any and all help is appreciated. Thank you!

WikiTree profile: Graham Houston Smith
in Genealogy Help by Michael Hruska G2G6 Mach 5 (53.3k points)
edited by Michael Hruska

2 Answers

+1 vote
Best answer

The passport application of 1922 is a gem of a find: In his own hand saying on oath his father was James Smith of Scotland. Given that the witness to the passport, a Joseph Tigue Flaherty, states that he has known Graham Smith 15 years we can speculate that Graham was in New York by 1907. And then there is even a passport photo, with Graham's signature.

In addition to what you have already detailed, Census 1920 also tells us that Graham was the proprietor of a taxi company and that the family lived at 910 Columbus Avenue.

This fits with the 1918 Draft Registration Card you already mentioned which describes Graham Houston Smith as "Owner of Taxi Cabs" at Liberty Taxi. At this point he is living at Manhattan Avenue. I find it interesting that for nearest relative he gives his mother Mrs. Gideon Dorey and not his wife.

If I had to speculate I would say his father was James Smith, and that after his father's death his mother remarried a Gideon Dorey.

There is an 1880 Census record at St Louis for a Kate Smith, with children Graham, James, and Edward Smith and a 9 sister Anne Miers, that might be worth further scrutiny, particularly in light of a later marriage record of an Arthur Gideon Dorey born in St. Louis ~1887 to parents Gideon F. Dorey and a Katharine Myers (Miers?)


by Rob Ton G2G6 Pilot (275k points)
selected by Keith Baker
Hi Rob, it seems like a very plausible story and one in which she outlasts two husbands because I found a 1900 Census record of Gidion Dovay (Dorey) and his wife, Jessie (Kate) and then she was widowed by 1910 with the same children living with her. Also Gidion Dorey  lists a James Smith as his "s son" meaning step-son, I would think, who was born in 1877 and matches the James Smith in the 1880 census record you found.

It appears that the name change may have been just a legend or perhaps was just a plan that never happened. I feel very confident now that Graham Houston Smith was always Graham Houston Smith.



There is a Missouri birth record for twins Sylvia and Sylvina Dorey born 10 Apr 1896 at St. Louis to a Gideon Dorey and Jessie Meier. The address was 704 Manchester Road.

Since the above twins appear in the 1900 Census record you mention I think we can be fairly certain that Dovay is actually Dorey:

I would also point out that the above record gives Jessie as the mother of 14 children, 12 who are living. 11 Children are resident in the house. Assuming this is Graham's family, and that the 1880 Census record I found is also the right family, Graham would be the non-resident living child, Graham's full-brother Edward would be one of the two deceased children, and the other would be Joseph Dorey for whom there is a death record on 24 Jun 1895, aged 3 months who died of "Cholera Infantum" at the address already given.

Sorry the following post jumps around a bit:

An Edward Smith, age 1, of 1411 Cass Ave. St. Louis, died of Marasmus on 2 August 1880.

The city directory for St. Louis in 1880 has Kate Smith at 1411 Cass Ave., and perhaps more importantly there is an 1882 city directory entry for Kate Smith widow of James residing 1411 Cass Ave.

Here is a 1924 death certificate for Catherine (Myers) Dorey of St. Louis, born 4 June 1855, Pennsylvania to John J. Myers.

Here is Kate Meyer born in Pennsylvania, living in Missouri in 1870 with father John J., born in Prussia: and probably the same family in 1860:

I assume the 1910 Census record you previously referred to is: I read this record as saying she is still married which seems likely given that In the same year we find a Gideon Dorey as a lodger elsewhere in the city:

In fact I would guess Gideon Dorey outlived Catherine by quite a while - until 1945, and also remarryied - or it could be a giant coincidence that two bookbinders named Gideon Dorey lived in St. Louis with similar birth dates and fathers from France ;)

Here is Gideon and Anna in 1930: and in 1940:


My only problem with Gideon remarrying is that I found a 1914 city directory that had a Jessie Dorey listed as widow of Gideon F. and in the 1900 Census there was a Gideon and Jessie Dorey who had the same kids as later in the 1910 Census. Finally, she lists herself as widowed in the 1920 Census. It's possible, though maybe not super realistic that he didn't come back from a trip he was on so she moved around possibly looking for him but could not find him presuming him dead by 1920.

Either way, it appears our info gets murky after 1910
Also of note is that both Gideon and Catherine have a different marriage number on their census records for 1910. Interestingly enough, he put "M2" for marriage 2 and she put "M1" in the marriage column even though this could not be the case as she is currently in her second marriage, especially since her middle son, James Smith, from her first marriage was listed as Gideon's stepson just a census prior. To add to this fact, she is listed as being married for 28 years at this point and he has no marriage length on his section.

It's funny because I expected less confusion from Graham's parents (once found) than from him himself! I guess there's always a new surprise.

I agree the 1920 Census says widowed:

But at the same time the 1924 Death certificate filed by son Edmund says married... not widowed.

+2 votes

See if this is him - birth matches -  Find A Grave Memorial# 2896276


by Sandy Edwards G2G6 Mach 7 (73.2k points)
edited by Sandy Edwards
It looks very promising! I'm sending the link to my friend's mother now to see if that rings a bell or two.

At the very least it's a start!



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