Old Letter reveals Surprising Family Secret

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Old Letter reveals Surprising Family Secret

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Posted: 8/20/2011
Note: Names, Identifying informaiton and details may have been altered to protect personal identities.

/images/stories.asp?i=20110806084431.0.jpgOne day shortly following my paternal grandmother's death, I was settling her affairs and came across a letter I had never seen before. The letter had a baby picture inside, and was from a woman named Dollie, who wanted to introduce my grandmother to her new grandchild, named "Lesley Dean."

She claimed to have had a relationship with my father before he met my mom, and wanted to offer the family an opportunity to be a part of her son's life. I was flabbergasted to find this letter, and wracked my memory to see if my grandmother or father had ever given any indication that I had a half brother somewhere. Unfortunately, my father has Alzheimer's disease and can seldom remember who I am when I visit him, so I knew I would not be able to get any information from him. I wished my grandmother had told me more about this mysterious Dollie before she died. I also wished that I could find my half brother and get to know him. My father's health was worsening, and I knew if I didn't act soon, my brother would never have the opportunity to meet his father.

My siblings and I got together and decided to hire SQA to locate our half brother. We knew that his mother, Dollie, would be 74 years old, and that she went to school in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma in the early 50's. My father's name is Franklyn Booth, and we still have the letter from Dollie. We also know that Dollie had a sister named Marge or Margie who was a hairdresser and had a shop connected to her house. She had 4 or 5 kids and was divorced sometime in the 50's.

Because the events of this search occurred over 50 years ago, my researcher, Julie Jones, turned to the historical documents for clues. She contacted one of my father's oldest friends, who remembered knowing Dollie and who thought her salon was located on Spitler or Brawdy Streets in what was then the Midwest City. She talked to the downtown Oklahoma Library regarding old city directories and they referred me to the Oklahoma Historical Society. In the 1954 City Directory, she confirmed that there was a salon located at 29th and Spitler.

Julie walked me through the process to request the 1954 and 1955 Midwest City directory and a copy of the beauty shops page and the reference by address pages in the back for the 29th and Spitler and Brawdy Streets. I followed her instructions, and the documents were faxed directly to Julie. I remember that a major ice and snow storm had just passed over us, when I received a letter from the Historical Society stating that city directories were not available for Midwest City. Phone directories did not start until the 70's, and the OK Department of Libraries, University of Oklahoma Library, and even the rose state University Library did not collect these records until the 90's. It seemed like a dead end.

Meanwhile, Julie had been weeding through the list of people by the name of Lesley Dean nationwide. She contacted several men by that name who was not the right person. Then finally, she struck pay dirt. She found one Lesley Dean whose father's name was indeed Franklyn Booth. His mother's name was Dollie and she would be 74 years old today. Julie confirmed that Lesley's mother Dollie had even gone to school in Oklahoma City in the early 50's. Case closed? Not for Julie.

Before she contacted Lesley, she wanted to be 100% positive that this was the correct family. She called me and asked me a question I hadn't even considered, "Does the envelope from your grandmother's personal effects have a return address?" I pulled it out and was surprised that I had not noticed it before. The address said "English Ave. Ext, Columbia, S.C., c/o Lee's Trailer Court."It was post dated October 7, 1955 from Columbia, South Carolina. Luckily, the South Carolina City Directory is available. Julie requested the 1955/1956 English Ave. City Directory. From the directory, Julie learned the names of the owners of the trailer park, who might still have records of their tenants. She contacted the nephew of one of the owners, who reported that his uncle was in poor health and would not remember anything about the past, and that the records from the trailer park have been destroyed. He promised to call back if he could locate any additional information. This appeared to be another dead end, but Julie decided to take the direct route.

She sent Lesley and email on Facebook. She wrote: "My name is Julie Jones and I'm an investigator with Search Quest America. I have a client who is trying to locate her brother. All we know is that he was born in approximately the spring of 1955 to a woman who went by the name of "Dollie." Janet's, my client, father was Franklyn Booth. After her father passed away she found a letter written to her grandmother (Franklyn's mother) from Dollie with a photo of the baby, Lesley Dean. So, I am on a quest to find all Lesley Dean's born within the right time frame. You are the only one I can find with ties to Oklahoma City. The photo (attached) was taken in Columbia, SC in 1955. If you could please let me know if this may be you, I'd greatly appreciate it."
While she waited for Les to respond, Julie also located an obituary for his mom, Buie Donna "Dollie." Dollie had owned and operated an antiques and collectibles show in Oklahoma City for many years. She had 3 sons and 3 daughters, and passed away in June of 1998. When Les responded, he said there was a distinct possibility that the baby picture was his. In response, he emailed a picture of himself, and asked me if he bore any resemblance to my dad. When I got the photo, there was no doubt in my mind that we had found my half-brother. The resemblance is unmistakable. Julie gave me his contact information and we arranged to meet at a restaurant last night.

It was absolutely wonderful!! We met at a restaurant. My sisters & I waited inside the front door until we saw him get out of his pickup truck and then we ran to him. We stayed in the restaurant & visited for hours!! This picture, from left to right: me (Janet), Les, younger sister Cheryl, older sister Teri. Our brother, Mike, was out of town and not able to get back in time. But we will have dinner with all of us and our spouses next week.

I just want to thank you again for all your hard work and perseverance!! It really, really is a dream come true!!

Written by Mica Burton on Janet's behalf.
(Client 226030)
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