As I have written about in a previous blog (John Prescott Forrest (1884-1947)), my great-grandfather John Prescott Forrest left his family (or was told to leave by his wife Lulu Cairns) sometime between 1926 and 1930. To my knowledge, none of his four children ever heard from him again. No cards, no visits, no phone calls, no word of his death. Nothing. His fate was a mystery. My grandmother died not knowing what had become of her father.
At the start of my family research I was able to determine that he had remained in New Jersey and eventually was working as the partner of a Gerald Liebow and living in Vineland, NJ in 1942. Another clue came about a week ago when I received the obituary of his brother Archibald Alexander “Archie” Forrest. It said that Jack was still living in Vineland in 1946. Other family documents I had received from the Halifax National Archives noted the year of his death as 1947, but that could have been a guess. I decided to ask the Cumberland County vital records office (the county where Vineland, NJ is located) if they could look for his death certificate. They informed me they couldn’t do it. I had to either have the exact date of his death or be in the office in person.
So, I did what anyone would do. I hired a stranger on the Internet to go get it for me. And, to my surprise… that plan totally worked!
My great-grandfather, John Prescott Forrest, died on 4 May 1947 in the town of Elmer, New Jersey, just a mile or two outside of Vineland where he had been living since 1942. He was listed as a “retired salesman”, living at “R.D. #1, Elmer, Pittsgrove Township, Salem County, New Jersey”. His cause of death was listed as “possible coronary occlusion”, so a likely heart-attack. He was only 62 years old.
John Prescott Forrest, d. 4 May 1947; Place of death, Pittsgrove Twp., Salem Co. [New Jersey]; Residence, R.D. #1 Elmer, Pittsgrove Twp., Salem Co. [New Jersey]; SS 155-18-3559; Divorced; b. 4 September 1884; Birthplace, Nova Scotia; Occupation, Retired Salesman; Father, John Forrest, b. Nova Scotia; Mother, Annie Duff, b. Nova Scotia; Cause of death, Possible Coronary Occlusion; Burial, Silver Brook Crematory, Wil. Del. [Wilmington, Delaware]; Informant, George M. Forrest, 250 Post Rd., Rye, NY. Source: 1947 NJ Death Certificates, Microfilm 972 (Trenton, NJ: State Archives)
It says his remains were taken to Silver Brook Crematory in Wilmington, Delaware. I have no idea why. As far as I know no member of my family has ever even been to Delaware. They say he is not there, so it’s likely that Jack’s brother George was given his ashes.
It is emotional and exciting to finally know what happened to my great-grandfather. It does raise a huge number of new questions, but there’s time now to find the answers.