After the road trip uncovered some unfortunate realities with respect to gaining access to basic information about Douglas, I spent early February trying to work out an alternative way of learning his date of birth.
Knowing this small piece of information would allow me to enquire with Corrective Services and other departments and agencies. At this point I was considering all possible angles. Yes, prison was one of them. I believe people are more likely to want to do all they can to assist you if you possess as much information as possible too–a date of birth was my top priority at this stage for that reason. This whole search has been a bit like the games I used to play as a kid–having to unlock certain items/mini adventures in order to proceed with the main adventure.
I considered the possible options to learning Douglas’ date of birth: asking his niece and nephew if they remembered (they didn’t), asking H if she remembered (unlucky again)…and then I remembered a tidbit of information I’d been told by H last year. Douglas is Catholic, he went to a Catholic school. Let it be known that no piece of information is insignificant when searching for someone!
Why is this important? Douglas went to school in the 1940s. In order for him to have been able to attend a Catholic school at that time, he would have been required to be baptised into the Catholic Church.
…meaning that there’s a baptismal record floating around somewhere. Baptismal records state the child’s birth date.
The benefits of Douglas being born in a small town meant that working out which church this occurred in was super easy. The call that I was required to make though wasn’t. I always get so nervous making these types of phone calls. I’m used to being shut down due to the nature of my call! But, I managed to get lucky and the lovely gentleman, the priest on the end of the phone offered to search through the records for me.
I got a call back the next day and was excited to find out that a record had been found. And a copy of said record was being mailed to me. Finally, a win!
I received that record the following week, which I opened in my friend’s car. She was rather bemused at my excitement I think.
Gotcha, grandfather of mine.
Birth date acquired. Interesting to note his birthday is very close to my own.
The spelling of his last name is different on this record to the spelling in every other record I’ve found on him and his family!
With this newly acquired birth date, I was finally able to make a call to Corrective Services to make an enquiry. Happy to say that no one by the name of Douglas Purcill/Purcell has ever been incarcerated in NSW. What a relief.
I am now considering my next move…as I said in my last post, bear with me whilst I complete these last few weeks of my prac. I will be back on the search very soon.