Saturday, February 26, 2011

Who do you Think you are? Frank Judson Hildreth 1899-1991

      Kim Cattrall's hunt for her grandfather on "Who do you Think you are" mirrored my own hunt for my grandfather.Frank Judson Hildreth who left Mary, Bruce and Jerry about 1926-27.  He changed his name to Peter Gilmor, left New York state and went to work in Detroit.  Mary and Frank had only been married about 3 years when he left her with two toddlers.  My grandmother Mary never remarried.
      My hunt began in earnest after my father, Bruce, died in 1990.  I didn't want to meet him, particularly, but just wanted to know about his life. The Social Security Death Index showed that he died in 1991--AFTER my father died--but it didn't give the state where he died.  About 10 years ago, I was checking, yet again, and found he had died in Manatee County, Florida.  It was a short hunt to find his obituary and contact his survivors. Voila!  I found his second family, Keith and Larry Hildreth.  Not only that, I met Keith and his wife in Florida and he gave me more information about Frank "Pete", including a couple of pictures about him. Keith and Larry and I are still in touch.
      Frank Judson "Pete" was born 9 Feb 1899 in Elmira to Frank Judson Hildreth, Sr. and Myrta Nichols and died 24 September 1991. Before Frank met Mary he enlisted in the army in World War I  on May 8, 1917 at the age of 18. He was discharged September 26, 1919. His record stated he was 5 feet 7 ¼ inches tall with light brown hair and blue eyes. Helen Tobey Burr, Mary’s sister, remembers that he was very handsome and was an accomplished pianist. In later life he was a painter, eventually moved to Florida where he died.
       I may never know why he left the family, but I know this chapter is closed for me.  It is interesting that some of us want to know more about our missing grandfathers.  I have helped several others find their own grandfathers who abandoned the family.  I guess it's our "need to know" the end of the story.


  1. So interesting. I'm going to have to watch that episode online - I meant to watch it but forgot. That's great that you got to meet the second family, and that they were willing to meet you and show you pictures.

  2. I watched it on Friday, too. I'm addicted to that show!! The good thing is that you followed up so that it CAN bring closure to the story. Isn't it amazing that he outlived Dad?