Monday, May 20, 2013

Looking For Louie - Perusing His Passport Files

Louie Love Padgett, passport application photo
Louie Love Padgett, my husband's uncle, was an interesting man.  The facts of his life are simple, born 6 Oct 1893 to John Padgett and Joella Love Padgett, educated at Reinhardt College and Emory University, rose to the rank of major in World War I, taught school in China, and later was a traveling salesman.  Recently I started looking further to learn more about the man behind the facts.

US Passport application

The first document that got my attention was Louie's passport application which he obtained prior to going to China to teach.(1)  Rather than the standard two pages, his application covered five pages due to the accompanying letters.  Continuing to turn pages provided new facts and information to add to what we already know about Louie.

This application included information about his first passport, a military passport issued 1 Jan 1918 by the War Department.  The family had heard that Louie had taught in France following his service in World War I, and the 1918 date seems to support this.  A soldier would not have need for a passport, but an individual remaining in a foreign country in a civilian capacity would need one.  Included on the application is the statement that he resided in France from Jan 1916 to 17 Jul 1919, giving more information related to his military service and possible later time as an American residing in France.

His proposed itinerary for traveling to China is part of the application.  From it we learn that he planned to sail from Vancouver on the Empress of Asia, leaving on 26 April 1921.  His travel would take him from Vancouver to Japan, finally arriving in China for his teaching position.  His application for a late April journey is stamped 9 April 1921; apparently paperwork moved more rapidly in those days.

Also included in his application are letters pertaining to his employment at the school in China.  His two-year teaching contact was with the International Committee of the Young Men's Christian Association for teaching in one of the private school in China.

Letter from YMCA accompanying the passport application

The final document in Louie's passport application was another letter from the YMCA detailing the passport application process and information concerning the payment of taxes.

Registration as US citizen with US consul in China
By 22 June 1921, Louis was in China where he had to register as an American citizen with the United States Consul in Amoy, China.(2)  This document provides additional dates for Louie's travel, indicating he left the United States on 28 April 1921, arriving at Amoy in the province of Fukien on 21 May 1921.  He states that he would be teaching at the Tan Ka Kee School in Chip-Bee and that his annual income during his three year teaching contract would be $1800 silver, somewhat higher than the average salary of $1678 reported for high school teachers by the University of Chicago Press.(3)

I ended up being pleasantly surprised by how much more we now know about Louie just by turning the pages of some standard government documents. 

(1) US Passport Applications, 1795-1925, database and images; ( : accessed 18 May 2013); citing National Archives and Records Administration (NARA); Washington D.C.; Passport Applications, January 2, 1906 - March 31, 1925; Collection Number: ARC Identifier 583830 / MLR Number A1 534; NARA Series: M1490; Roll #: 1561.
(2) US Consular Registration Applications, 1916-1925, database and images; ( : accessed 18 May 2013); citing US Department of State, Division of Passport Control, Consular Registration Applications, Roll #: 32734_620305173_0275.
(3) Bonner, H R. "Salary Outlook for High-School Teachers." The School Review vol. 30, no. 6 (June 1922). Online archives. : 2013.

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