“If Person is of African Descent, Cut Off This Corner”

“As my professional genealogy guru Jane Ailes says, the deeper you go into researching each person on your tree, the more you’ll get to feel as if you know those people, the more interested you’ll be in the process, and the less your tree will seem like just a names.

In Search of Our Roots Henry Louis Gates (page 415)

     So once I started this research on Rachel H. Flowers, it quickly spread to researching every single member of her family. With that being said, let us start with her eldest brother, Chauncey Flowers.

     Chauncey Sawyer Flowers was born on April 13, 1895 in Jacksonville, Florida to Harry F. Flowers and N.J.P Flowers. In the 1910 Census, Chauncey worked at a bookstore. In 1917, he was registered in the WWI draft in which he tried to be exempt. Oh in the corner, it states if this person is of African descent cut off this corner, I always wonder why.

WWI Actual


Yeah, I attempted to decipher the document, why oh why do they write in cursive, do they not know that in 2012 people would want to know what it actually said.

    In his registration card, Chauncey lived on 504 Brown Street in Harrisburg, PA and was a waiter and bar tender. He was also listed as single and under question nine, which states “Have you a father, mother, wife, child under 12, or a sister or brother under 12, solely dependent on you for support?” and he listed a sister and brother. He also wanted to claim an exemption from the draft, however he was not exempted for in his obituary he is listed as a war veteran.

     In 1920, Chauncey is 25 and marries Ernestine Flowers (I do not know her maiden name) who was at the time 21. The following year, they have a son Chauncey Jr and the year after that they have a daughter Margaret. I found Chauncey living in a boarding house in the 1920 Census, he was probably not married yet. I found the entire family in the 1930 Census (funny thing, I actually have two listings in the Census with some minor difference information for the same family, the only thing that is changed is the place of birth for Chauncey Flowers)

1930 United States Federal Census

1930 United States Federal Census-2

So one census is taken at North 6th Street and the other at Wallace St. Chauncey and his family lived in a home that they rented for $32.50. He was the only person employed in the household with a job as a clerk in a billiard room. His wife Ernestine is also listed as being born in Georgia.

I was lucky enough to find the family in the city directory from 1920-1932 with the occupation of Chauncey.

1920-630 Harris Street (Waiter)

1921- 630 Boyed Street (Waiter)

1922- Same as 1921

1923- 627 Boyd Street (Waiter)

1924- Same as 1923

1925- 208 Strawberry St (Clerk)

1926- Same Street Address in 1925 (Waiter

1927- 627 Cumberland Street (Valet)

1928- 426 Forster St. (Cook)

1929-426 Forster St. (Cook)

1930-1101 North 6th Street Apt 7th (Waiter)

1932-661 Briggs (No occupation listed)

On June 20, 1936 Chauncey died at 1637 Wallace St. Obituary is shown below.

WWI Chauncey

He is survived by his wife Ernestine, mother Alexander H. Sams (she remarried and goes by Nancy and Alexander), four sisters Paul G. Stevenson (Gladys Flowers), Mrs. Herbert Wilson (Hilda Flowers), Mrs. George Conway( I have no idea who she is, but she appears in two of the family’s obituaries), and Miss. Rachel H. Flowers. Three brother, John C. Flowers, Vincent Flowers, and a half-brother Henry Sams. I have a few missing siblings Clifford Flowers, Theodore Flowers, and Fred Flowers and the addition of a sibling Mrs. George Conway. In 1941, a birthday party is given for his son at 4617 Hawthrone Street and in attendance was his mother Ernestine Flowers and his sister Margaret. I was hoping that his children could possibly be alive, but Chauncey Jr. passed away in January 1966. I could not find any information about his sister.

Until the next post. Hope you enjoy this!



10 responses to ““If Person is of African Descent, Cut Off This Corner”

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  3. “…in the corner, it states if this person is of African descent cut off this corner, I always wonder why.”

    The U.S. military was still very much segregated at the time and blacks served almost exclusively in support positions. The torn corner made it an “at a glance” process of determining whether a person was able to serve in a combat role.

    Hope thishelps.

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