Les Green, born Leslie H. Walker

new amended birth certificate

Les Green.Savannah GA.1998My new discovery is that I now have evidence that my father was born Leslie H. Walker in Binghamton, NY. I had been misled that it might have been Wesley Walker, based on the listing in the 1930 Census.

After failing to find a birth certificate in Wilkes-Barre, PA, where I thought he might have been born, I read some genealogical clues. One suggested the New York State Archives, in the same building as the state library in Albany.

I discovered a set of microfiche. It lists every birth in New York State – excluding NYC – by year, and alphabetically within the annual listing. For 1926, “Walker, Leslie H., Bing, 26 Sept.” I have to think it was no accident that Agatha named him similar to Raymond C. Cone’s elder daughter Lessie.

Now I could apply for his real birth certificate. The birth certificate I’d seen since 1974, dated from 1944, listed McKinley Green as Leslie Green’s father. I now know it may have been the “real” birth certificate. Or a legal fiction. Thanks to Melanie for the following:

According to this: “As a portion of the estimated 6 million adoptees, our New York adoptees have two ‘official’ birth certificates. The original one, which truthfully states the information about their physical birth, including their original names, their natural parents’ names, the hospital, doctor, date, time and weight, becomes forever sealed under a court of law when their adoption is finalized.”

Birth certificate #2

“At that point, the new adoptive parents are issued a new amended birth certificate which might or might not state the real birth information such as date, time, hospital and weight, and replaces the natural parents names with the adoptive parents names ‘as if’ the child was born to them. The name of the child is also reborn and all identity from the point of finalization on is replaced.”

Ha! So the registrar didn’t screw up. McKinley and Agatha didn’t lie. And this suggests heavily that McKinley Green actually adopted Leslie H. Walker by 1944, though my father’s surname shows up as Green as early as the 1940 Census.

Since November 2019, obtaining Original (Pre-Adoption) Birth Certificates are now available for adoptees from New York State. “Direct Line Descendants” are also eligible to access it. “A Direct Line Descendant is a child, grandchild, or great grandchild, etc. of the adoptee.” I qualify.

I’ve applied directly to the City of Binghamton office of Vital Statistics. New York State’s queue for old birth, marriage and death certificates is about 15 months.

Les Green, Pop, ancestry, DNA, anger

It would be Les Green’s 92nd birthday tomorrow

Les Green.Savannah GA.1998
Les Green.Savannah GA.1998
On the same day this month, I read two oddly similar stores. One was in the Boston Globe: “DNA test tells man the bittersweet truth: His father was a Catholic priest.” The other was a piece by Times Union blogger Robert S. Hoffman When your dad is not your father.

And it got me to thinking, again, about the parents of my father, Les Green. Something in the Globe story stuck out: “For decades, James C. Graham was tormented by a simple, but profound question: Why did his father seem to dislike him so much? The South Carolina man confirmed the bittersweet truth: The man who raised him wasn’t his father at all.”

My father seemed to have at least a mild antipathy his stepfather, for the man we all called Pop, McKinley Green. Clearly, he knew Pop wasn’t his biological father, and that might have been the source of his distress. Or maybe it was Pop’s family, who, even after Mac died in 1980, said disparaging things – “bastard son” – about my father within his earshot.

Regardless, I’m still hoping that DNA will someday help me to identify the identity of my biological grandfather. There are at least five people in Ancestry that are noted as my second or third cousins. One is cousin Lisa, a second cousin on my maternal grandmother’s side. And just recently, there’s a guy named Charles with a very distinct surname, clearly a third cousin on my paternal grandmother’s side.

But what of the other three, two of which are closely related to each other as well as to me? One has a genealogy with 125 names and 10 distinct surnames, none of which are familiar. He’s very African, with lineage almost exclusively from Ivory Coast/Ghana, Nigeria, and Mali.

I should address a question from my friend Carol about Ancestry.com: “I’m concerned about the data storage and privacy issues. Have you researched that at all?” Well, yes, they do, though participants can contribute either pseudonymously or with real names. It is the open sharing of information that the best information will arise.

This is a picture of my dad at the ASBDC conference in Savannah, possibly the best time I ever had with him. It would be Les Green’s 92nd birthday tomorrow. I’ll figure this genealogy stuff out eventually.

Father and Son – Cat Stevens

Paternal grandfather McKinley Green, “Pop”

Though married to my grandmother Agatha (Walker) c. 1932, McKinley Green was NOT living with her or my father in 1940,.

mckinley greenSome months ago, this fellow named Jack, who worked with my paternal grandfather, sent me something on Facebook:

Roger, I have an old Binghamton [NY] Sun Newspaper dated May 23, 1959 that has a story about WNBF-TV-AM-FM and their move to the Sheraton Inn. They show pictures of the staff and a brief story about each. Here’s one on your Grandfather, Mac.

“McKinley Green, Maintenance – A World War I veteran, McKinley hails from Bloomsburg, Pa., and now lives at (yes, they actually posted his home address) He has a 32 year old son who is a World War II veteran. McKinley is a member of the WNBF Employees Club and of the Elks. His Wife belongs to the Order of the Eastern Star.

Thanks, Jack. I’ve not done as much searching on Pop, which is what we always called him, than I did with other branches of my family.
Continue reading “Paternal grandfather McKinley Green, “Pop””

G is for the Greens

NO ONE left IBM in those days, and certainly not for some likely short-term government job.

rog.leg.meg.1962aprI grew up in Binghamton, which is in the Southern Tier section of New York State, not far from the Pennsylvania border. I had, and have, two sisters, Leslie Ellen Green, born about 16.5 months after my birth, and Marcia Elayne Green, born a little more than five years after me.

We grew up with our parents, Leslie Harold Green and Gertrude Elizabeth (nee Williams) Green, at 5 Gaines Street in the city’s First Ward. When I was born, my parents Continue reading “G is for the Greens”

Grandmother Agatha Green, found at last

Her greatest contribution to my development was that she taught me how to play canasta.

When my parents moved downstairs at 5 Gaines Street, Binghamton, NY, my paternal grandparents, McKinley and Agatha (nee Walker) Green moved upstairs. Her name, BTW, was pronounced a-GATH-a, not AG-a-tha. Yes, it is I who she is holding.

Grandma Green was almost certainly my first Sunday school teacher at Trinity A.M.E. Zion Church, only a couple short blocks from our home. She had a certain refinement and bearing. While my maternal grandmother would nag me, this grandma gave me the parameters she expected, and I pretty much did it.
It’s rather like some Bill Cosby routine. Grandma Williams was Cos’ mom, “Go to bed, because it’s important for…blah, blah.” Grandma Green was like Cos’ dad: “Go to bed.” OK, grandma.

Of course, I visited her and Pop (my grandfather) virtually every day. One time when I was three, I fell down the flight of stairs from their dwelling to mine. To this day, the hair will grow on an area of chin, just below my lower lip. (Also odd: two of my co-workers fell down flights of steps when THEY were three.)

She was the eldest child of some half dozen kids, and I recall when her father died; I was around 7, so it would have been about 1960. He was this little tyrant, even at his advanced age, and all of his kids were afraid of him, though he was nice to my father, and to me.

Red threes

Her greatest contribution to my development was that, when I was six or seven, she taught me how to play the card game canasta. It’s an arcane game, but I learned to love it. I then taught my great aunt, my mother’s Aunt Deana, how to play. I’ve been playing cards ever since, though the last time I played canasta was against my high school girlfriend’s father over four decades ago.


Then suddenly, at the age of 62, she died. I no longer know from what, though I assume now it was a heart attack. I remember going to the funeral, and the burial. What I don’t recall is ever going to her gravesite afterward, even though her husband and her son lived in the area.

Floral Park

In fact, I pretty much couldn’t remember precisely WHERE she was buried until my niece came across Paul R. at Find A Grave, who is “retired so I have time to walk through the cemeteries and take pictures. In mid July 2010 I started a project to record as many memorials for the cemeteries in my county (Broome, NY) with pictures that I could.” He added this record on 10/29/2010. She’s buried in Floral Park Cemetery in Johnson City, the village adjacent to Binghamton, and within walking distance of the house the family moved to in 1972.
Thanks, Paul R. You’ve cleared up part of a family mystery.

When I went to Binghamton in mid-July, my family went to Section M and found the headstone. It was next to a newly-dug grave of her sister-in-law, Jesse Walker, who had died a few days earlier. The SIL was known as “Earl’s Jesse”; my grandmother had a sister named Jesse Walker, and so their brother Earl’s wife got the odd appellation.