Wednesday, October 3, 2018

William McMullen Peterson (1898-1960): Missing Wife

William McMullen Peterson was my third cousin twice removed, the grandson of Lafayette "Fayette" McMullen, a U.S. Senator and territorial governor of what is now Washington Sate. He was born on 22 January 1898 in Winston-Salem, North Carolina, to William Jacob Peterson and Mary Fayetta McMullen. He was their second child. William's father was a merchant and owned his own home on South Liberty Street.

Ten years later when the 1910 census was enumerated, William's family continued to live on South Liberty Street but his father was working as a musician for a church organization. On 21 December 1916, his father suffered a cerebral hemorrhage and died five days later on 26 December at home. William was 18 years old at the time of his father's death.

On 12 December 1917 William was inducted into the U.S. Army at Fort Oglethorpe, Georgia. He was sent the next day to Receiving Company No. 1 at Camp Johnston, located near Jacksonville, Florida. Construction began on the camp in October and the first recruits arrived 19 November 1917. It became the largest of all the Army's Quartermaster mobilization and training camps by 1918. William remained at Camp Johnston until March 1918 when he was assigned to Supply Company 310, Quartermaster Corps. Three months later, he was sent to Europe where he remained until 16 July 1919. I know little about his overseas military service except he was assigned to the St. Nazaire Casual Company, which was a temporary administrative unit for Army personnel awaiting discharge. William returned to the U.S. on 16 July 1919 and was honorably discharged on 23 July.

By 1920 William's family had scattered. His oldest sister, Pauline, graduated from Salem College as a teacher and was likely living in El Paso, Colorado, working as a teacher. His widowed mother and youngest sister, Agnes, lived in Washington, DC. I have been unable to find William in the 1920 census.

On 24 August 1925, William married Mildred E. White in Petersburg, Virginia. She was the widow of John L. Casper, Jr. and the daughter of Emory Charles White and Lula Parrish. The marriage index record indicated William was divorced, hence the missing first wife. Who was she? When and where did they marry? When did they divorce?

Marriage index record from

William and Mildred's marriage lasted less than five years. By 1930, William had moved to California and owned a paint and wallpaper store. He had also married again to Marion Edna Liddell, daughter of Robert Liddell and Mary Caithness. She had previously been married to Earl F. Levitt and had a daughter. When the 1940 census was enumerated William worked for the City of Los Angeles as a license inspector.

William died on 18 May 1960 in Los Angeles County was was interred at the Inglewood Park Cemetery in Inglewood, California. His wife died 31 years later in San Luis Obispo County.

If readers know anything about William McMullen Peterson's first wife, please contact me. Thank you.

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