"Our Loose Ends" Genealogy Column
by Lynna Kay Shuffield
Houston, Texas

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Printed in the Taylor Daily Press & Thorndale Champion
- 27 March 2003

Part of a Mystery Solved - Alfred Nobel

In October 2002, I wrote about Alfred Nobel and his connection to the Milam County and Central Texas area. William "Bill" Estevens, Jr., of Baton Rouge, LA sent me an e-mail query about Alfred Hammond of Waterford, Texas who had received a $10,000 bequest in Nobel's will dated 27 November 1895.

All we knew was that in 1889, Waterford, located in Milam County, became Burlington, Texas.

Estevens' first question: Who was Hammond and how was he connected to Nobel?

This week, I received a reply from Prof. Anders Bárány, Senior Curator, of The Nobel Museum located in Stockholm, Sweden, who stated, "Alfred Hammond was the son of one of Alfred Nobel's housekeepers. The young man wanted to become an author (as did Alfred Nobel when he was young!). Nobel helped him in different ways, one was to introduce him to the great French author Victor Hugo. When Nobel wrote his will, Hammond had emigrated to the US."

Estevens' second question: Why was Hammond living in the Central Texas area? To my knowledge, remains unanswered.

If you have any information, please contact Bill at: 4321 Blue Ribbon Dr., Baton Rouge, LA 70814 or e-mail him at < billmailnews@earthlink.net >.

To read the full text of Nobel's will, go to The Nobel Museum website at: http://www.nobel.se/.

Social Security Death Index (SSDI)

This week, I received an interesting question from one of my readers in California. She wanted to know why she couldn't find someone in the Social Security Death Index (SSDI) who had died during World War II.

What is the SSDI? It is a list of individuals with Social Security numbers whose deaths were reported to the Social Security Administration (SSA).

In 1962, the SSA started using computers for processing Social Security Benefits. About 98% of the people in the SSDI died after 1962, but a few death dates go back as far as 1937. Because legal Aliens in the United States can obtain a Social Security card, their names may also appear in the SSDI, if their deaths were reported. Approximately 400,000 railroad retirees are also included in the SSDI.

The SSDI is not an index of all deceased individuals who have held Social Security Numbers. It is not a database of all individuals who have received Social Security Benefits or whose family members have received survivorship benefits.

If you find a person in the SSDI you will learn the date of birth, month and year of death, and Social Security Number (SSN) for that person. Other records potentially available from SSA include the Application for a Social Security Number (form SS-5) and information from the "claims folder" for past recipients of benefits.

To obtain a copy of the form SS-5 from SSA, you will need to file a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request. The procedures are:

A deceased person does not have any privacy rights. Therefore, if he/she applied for an SSN, the SSA can generally provide a copy of the application for a Social Security Card (Form SS-5). This document contains the person's name, date and place of birth, and parents' names that were given when he/she applied for the number.

You may send your request for the form SS-5 to:

Social Security Administration
OEO FOIA Workgroup
300 N. Green Street
P.O. Box 33022
Baltimore, MD 21290-3022

The SSA did not begin keeping records until 1936; therefore, they have no records about people who died before then.

You will be charged the cost of searching SSA records even if they are unable to locate any information on the person you are asking about. The fee for searching is $27 when the SSN is known and $29 when the number is unknown or is incorrect. The fee to search for a claim file is $14 when you provide the SSN. You may be charged 10-cents a page for copies. Please note that most claim files are destroyed within a few years of the final decision on the claim, so they will not have a claim file for most people.

Send requests for claim files to:

Freedom of Information Officer
Social Security Administration
6401 Security Blvd.
Baltimore, MD 21235

The check or money order should be made payable to the SSA. They will also accept VISA, MasterCard, Discover, American Express or Diners Club. Please include the appropriate credit card number, along with the expiration date of the credit card with your written request.

For more information, visit the SSA's website at: http://www.ssa.gov/.

In this column, I will be glad to highlight and review any family history, genealogy, county history, or similar book, free of charge, if you donate a copy of the book or item. After it has been highlighted and reviewed, on a space available basis, it will be donated to the genealogy section of a library. You will receive an acknowledgment of the donation from the library. Mail item or book to me at the below address.

Lynna Kay Shuffield has written several books related to Texas genealogy and military history. She has spoken before numerous genealogy and veterans groups. Also, is a County Coordinator for the Texas GenWeb Project. Regretfully, she cannot help with individual genealogical research. Please visit the website for this column at: http://www.geocities.com/lks_friday/COLUMN-001.htm or if you have any questions, comments, suggestions for column topics, genealogy or historical society announcements, please contact her at: P. O. Box 16604, Houston, Texas 77222-6604 or e-mail: lksfriday@sbcglobal.net

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This webpage was last created on 10 June 2003 and was last revised on __________

Copyright © 1999, 2001, 2002, 2003 Lynna Kay Shuffield - All rights reserved.
P. O. Box 16604
Houston, Texas 77222-6604