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June 19, 2012

WW1 Soldier's Pocket Watch Found in Michigan!

R. H. Smedley's Pocket Watch from WW1
Recently Chad wrote to Olive Tree Genealogy about finding a watch that belonged to a soldier in WW1:

I am trying to find someone that once lived in or around Thamesville.  Here is the story, years ago when i was a kid i found a nice watch laying in a yard in Michigan. Inside there is some engraving indicating that this watch was given to RH Smedley by the friends of thamesville for his service in world war 1. I forgot about this watch but found it yesterday in a box.  I would just like to find a relative of RH that I can return this watch to. Any assistance you can provide would be much appreciated.
Pocket watch of R. H. Smedley CEF
Lorine's Research: Thamesville is in Kent County so I had a quick look in the online CEF (Canadian Expeditionary Force) records for that area.  There were 20 hits for the search term SMEDL*Y but only one with the initials R.H. - Ronald Herbert Smedley born Oct. 26, 1898.

Ronald's Attestation Paper (front) shows he was living in Thamesville when he enlisted November 1, 1916.

He was born in Blackpool, Lancashire England and his parents were Herbert and Maggie Smedley.

Starting with that information it should be possible to find out if he survived the war, had any siblings, or a wife and family who might like to have the watch.

I hope my readers will jump in to help find Ronald's family. Let's help Chad send this watch home!

Update: It only took a few hours and we have the names of 3 children for Ronald, who moved to Detroit Michigan from Thamesville Ontario, in 1920. See comments for more updates! Thanks everyone! Let's keep going and find Ronald's sons and grandchildren to let them know about this watch.


Terri said...

I may have found the family - the information you gave seems to match - I have sent them and email.

Lorine McGinnis Schulze said...

Terri that will be terrific if you did find them. Would you please share what you found with me in private email?

olivetreegenealogy AT gmail DOT com

Replace AT and DOT with the appropriate symbols.

Lorine McGinnis Schulze said...

Thanks Terri for sending the link to the online family tree. I also found 3 children for Ronald.

His daughter died in Livonia MI in 2005 Source: Margaret R. Hamill - Detroit News - (Jul/28/2005) There are no children listed in her obit but it does name two brothers, and their families, as her survivors.

It appears Ronald moved to Detroit Michigan in 1920 as I found him on the Border Crossings and in 1930 census.

I don't want to name the brothers until I see if they are still living or deceased

Ezri J. Rediker said...

As I was looking at the comments I wondered if R H Smedley may have not been from Thamesville, Ontario, Canada. So I gave it some resonant thought. I sent you a couple records to the E-mail posted just for an additional idea as you have all done an outstanding job. Happy hunting hope that they help.

Becky said...

Can you give me a synopsis of where we are at with this case? Do we have the names of the brothers but just don't know how to contact them?

private email: trexbecky AT gmail DOT com

Lorine McGinnis Schulze said...

Becky - email with the obit coming your way. Thanks for your interest! Any help is much appreciated

james h smedley said...

hi the watch in the photo looks like the one stolden from my parents house 30 some your ago . his name was ronald herbert smedley , my name is james herbert and my brother name is ronald j . my father was herbert james , my mother sent the link to the sight ( ann smedley )she contacted someone at the sight . she has all the imformation on him, if that is the watch that was taken , we thought we'd never see it again . it would really nice to know who found it and held on to it so long and was nice enough to turn it in to you
james h smedley

Ann Smedley said...

Ronald Herbert Smedley was my father in law,his son my husband Herbert Jamed Smedley passed away 3 yrs ago.This wathch was taken from our house in Troy 30 yrs ago.We have to sons James Herbert and Ronald both with here Grandfathers names.Would to have this watch back for our sons.Would like to thank Chad for keeping it safe for all these yrs.Would like to know how to get the watch back.Thanks so much never thought I would see the watch again.Ann Smedley

Ronald J Smedley said...

Hello both my brother (Jim H Smedley) and my mom( Ann Smedley) have already left a comment so basically I wanted to reconfirm what they both said. This watch was taken from our home while we were on vacation and thought that it was lost forever. i fondly remember looking at it in its case when i was young. unfortunately my grandfather passed away before i was born so i have no personal memories of him other than pictures and few items my parents had of his( the watch being one of them). it is amazing that after all these years it has resurfaced! i just wish that my father was still with us to enjoy the discovery of his father's long lost watch. i want to put out a huge thank you to the person that found it and wanted to find the proper owner and would love to meet them to give them a personal thanks.
Ron Smedley

Lorine McGinnis Schulze said...

It's so great to hear from Ronald's family (Ann, Ronald and James) but please contact me directly. I will put you in touch with Chad, the finder of the watch.

olivetreegenealogy AT gmail DOT com

Replace AT and DOT with the appropriate symbols.

Bayern.FTA said...

Hello, this is Chad that found the watch when I was 12 years old and inadvertantly kept it for so many years(franly I just found it recently and had forgotten about it). I had always wondered why I found the watch on a neighbors lawn in Troy, MI but I am glad that the thief dropped it and I found it.

I now live in Clinton Township, MI so if you are local I can drop it off at your house. My cell number is 586-291-8246.

Many thank you's to Terri, Ezri, Becky and especially Lorine for helping me return this watch.

Chad H

Nancy Geisler said...

Ronald Herbert Smedley, was born 26 Oct 1898 in Blackpool Lancashire England to Herbert Smedley, a stableman, and Maggie Murphy. His father Herbert married Maggie Murphy in Blackpool Dec 14 1897 arrived in Canada May 25 1907 with 5 children. Most stayed in Ontario , except for Ronald's family. He moved to Livonia, Detroit, Michigan.

As for the siblings Ronald left behind in Ontario, many are buried in Toronto Thamesville. His sister Elizabeth Jean Smedley,a psychiatric nurse, was born 1909 in Thamesville. She married my Dad's cousin Dr. Les Emery, a brilliant engineer, professor, and inventor.
Regards, Nancy

Anonymous said...

My fathers name is Douglas Smedley whom is still alive to this day. He is one of about 10 children of Christopher and Ellen Jane Boothroyd Smedley. Both parents buried in the Mt Pleasant Cemetary Thamesville. They lived in Zone Township. Doug's father was a farmer and worked for the Township grading the roads up until the day he retired from a heart attack training the person taking over his position. Christopher was 65 years old. I believe from what Douglas said that Ronald Herbert Smedley was his uncle. Glad your family found the watch.

Daughter of Douglas Smedley
Kim Smedley