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William Weekley Drowned in the San Diego Bay (& My 1st Experience as a FamilySearch Indexer)

Becoming a FamilySearch Indexer has been on my "to do" list for quite some time. In the past, there never seemed to be a large enough block of time in one sitting (that I wanted to set aside) to get started. Even though I knew that train of thought was a little selfish, it didn't spur me into action. Then I read Amy Coffin's FamilySearch, Football and Milestones post.

Her talk of football (I watch it all weekend, too) and indexing her 11,000th name made me wonder how many names I could have indexed by now if I had started back when the thought first entered my brain. Add that to the scenario of me being off from my real job and having a block of time to work with, and you got a new indexer!

Another thing Amy mentioned in her post was, as a genealogist, being attached to records. Wondering what the stories were behind those names. I chuckled when I read that because I know exactly what she means. Even though I am not related to 99.9% of the stories I bring you on this Southern Graves blog, I am still protective of and moved by them. I guess that would make me attached to each and every tombstone I come across, visit, and record. Yes, I think that is a fair characterization.

For my first official batch of records to index (after the initial one for beginners), I chose to work on death certificates from Washington, DC. This group also includes burial permits of individuals laid to rest in DC, though they died elsewhere. Can you guess what happened when I was working on those documents? One came across my screen that made me pause and want to know more.

His name was William Herbert Weekley. He was 24 years of age and single. His cause of death was drowning. What happened to him, you ask? Well, he was affiliated with the United States Navy and was attempting a parachute jump. Something must have went wrong, because he drowned in the San Diego Bay in March 1928.

I enjoy providing information about William Herbert Weekley and individuals like him. He was not married and did not likely have any children. You see, I am just like him in that regard. I am not married, and I have no children. Will there ever be anyone interested in learning more about their great great great grand aunt Stephanie? I hope so! And likewise, I hope someone will come along one day and want to know more about Mr. Weekley. In that vain, I helped put the information out there, free for the masses.

Yes, I think I will continue with this indexing thing. I don't know if I'll ever reach 11,000 names like Amy and other wonderful volunteers like her, but I'm going to give it a shot.


If you watch football as much as I do (which you seem to indicate) you'll get to 11,000 at some point.

Thanks for sharing your experience with indexing. I'm glad to hear I'm not the only one who gets attached to the stories in the records.
Anonymous said…
My husband Wayne will be 80 in about a week. He began indexing over 2 years ago, and loves it! He will hit 300,000 before his 80th birthday. He puts on football games, old movies, etc. on a small TV right next to his computer, and spends 4 to 5 hours a day! And he uses his 2 index fingers! I also index but do other phases of genealogy and don't get those indexing numbers!
Dianne said…
I was glued to my chair as I indexed name after name of men who died in a providence in Canada in the same place on the same date. I had to know more. I did a little research and discovered that they were all victims of a mining disaster where over 100 men died. I love connecting indexing with actual history. I thought I was the only strange person who did that. Thanks for sharing your experience.
S. Lincecum said…
Oh, you are definitely not alone. :-)

Paralee, all I can say is WOW!
Indexing is so much more than just entering letters and numbers. I get SO involved in the lives of those my fingers touch...even to wishing happy birthday to those long gone but who just happened to have beem born on June 26th! And feeling sorry for the father who had seven children .. all girls. AND having to look on Wikipedia to understand Jamaica in the early 1900s. I am SO enriched by being a part of this wonderful, interesting and important job.
Kevin said…
Wow wow wow!!

I was googling "Herbert Weekly Navy Parachute" and came across your article. I am William Herbert Weekley's only grand-nephew. His brother Murry Anderson Weekley is/was my grandfather on my mother's side. To finish the story of his death, he apparently landed OK in shallow water, gathered up his parachute, lines, etc. and started walking to shore. On his way he fell in a hole and the weight of the equipment drug him down and he drowned. There was no quick-release system yet on parachute harnesses.

I was talking last night with my 84 year old mom (his niece) and asked about him. She repeated the above story almost verbatim with no prodding from me. She was only about 5 months old when he died and never knew him.

I am in possession of a box of his personal effects, trinkets etc, from his time in the Navy and I treasure it. I also have a photo of William H. and his brother Murry as very young boys (4-5) years old dressed in knickers and, ironically, sailor-style shirts.

I looked him up on and am now a direct recipient of the fruits of your labor. Many, many thanks!

Warmest regards,
Kevin Mahoney (replace =)
S. Lincecum said…
I say "wow, wow, wow," too! Thank-you so much for letting me know the complete story, as well as how you found this post. That excites me a great deal, and helps me to remind me that this blog does provide valuable information. :-)

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