10 February 2013

Paul Thomas – Jay Paul Thomas

I discovered a Paul Thomas who was born in Utah on 16 January 1916 – the year fits with what was in my mother’s letter. His father was Julian Moroni Thomas of Salt Lake City – a lawyer, and his mother was Jennie Manning Ballantyne Skolfield.  Julian and Jennie married in 1914. They must have later divorced because Julian married Marie Simon in 1922.

I have a copy of Julian’s passport application in which he states he is a student and wished to go to France. I also have a copy of Jennie’s passport application in which she states she wished to travel to join her husband and it also nominates a son, Paul Thomas, born Utah 16 January 1916.  It also identified Jennie as a teacher.

As an aside I have found further records whereby Julian’s brother Llewellyn applied for a passort to also travel to France on church business – same address as Julian –  and another brother – Gomer – who applied for a passport to travel to New Zealand as a missionary so I assume that the Thomas family were Mormons.  A third brother – Gilbert – died at the age of 6.  There were also three sisters.

I have a copy of the shipping manifest that shows Jennie and Paul leaving New York for England and then presumably on to France to join Julian and another showing them both leaving Liverpool for Utah via Quebec in 1920. It also stated that Jennie was a teacher and included Paul’s birth date as 16 January 1916.

I also have the records showing Julian died in 1947 in Alameda and Jennie died in 1968 in Utah.

A web site at confirms both marriages for Julian plus possibly one other to a Jenny Ballantyne which is in fact Jenny Skolfield.  It also names his parents and siblings and one un-named daughter who I have found out is Odette. There is no mention of Paul Thomas.

Before I discovered the following information, I emailed the Salt Lake City Tribune asking them if they would consider publishing this story as I would think it likely that there must be someone living today in Salt Lake City, or in Utah, that has some knowledge of the descendants of Julian and Jennie/Marie.  But I never heard back from them.

I always thought that was owned and managed by the Mormon Community but I have now discovered that is incorrect.  It is owned and run by a “for profit” organisastion.

I then discovered which is run by the LDS – you don’t need to join up to use it and there are no charges – and it was there that I discovered that Paul Thomas is in fact Jay Paul Thomas – same birth date, parents and grandparents.

I then found records showing that Jay Paul Thomas graduated from the Air Corps Training Center, class of 40-A, at Kelly Field, Bexar, Texas.  He enlisted in 1939 and received his commision on 25 March 1940 and rose to the rank of Colonel.

In my mother’s letter she said that she met her Paul Thomas in 1938 and they dated for a year and then Paul went back to the USA.  After the war broke – no date given, Paul Thomas returned to England.

He was still serving in the Air Force when he died on 9 December 1962 – DNB – death, non battle.  He married June Armstrong, daughter of Frederic and Edith (nee Witzler) Armstrong in Honolulu, Hawaii on 18 September 1942.  They had at least two daughters and at least one of them is married and has a daughter.  Not sure if they had a son.

I have also discovered a reference for Jay Paul Thomas in four family trees – a Skolfield family tree, two Thomas family trees, and a Deffee Fulcher Andrew and Pearson family tree.  I have written to the owners of those three family trees and am hoping to hear from them soon.

Also – I have discovered that Jay Paul Thomas was awarded the order of the British Empire, Military Division.  As far as I can ascertain, this award is rarely granted to non Brits.

Still so many ifs and buts but I have given this a 20/80 chance – my best so far but still lots of work to do.