Was that creative story telling to amuse his granddaughters or was he really a secret service agent?
When he died in 1932 on a vacation visiting relatives in California, his death certificate says he was an insurance agent. His obituary tells of his church membership and his founding membership (and first president) of the local tennis club. His son's birth certificate (1890) lists his occupation as clerk. In the US census for Oak Park IL he is listed as a grocery clerk (1880), dealer in stocks & bonds (1900), broker in a bank (1910), insurance broker (1920), insurance salesman (1930). Sounds like a pretty ordinary daily life for a middle class family man. No adventures tracking down crooks in Denver.
The one thing that didn't quite fit to the story of all those years in Oak Park ILLINOIS was that his son graduated from East High School in DENVER on 10 June 1909. My mother said the family story was that her father was sent to school in Denver because they were afraid of TB and wanted a healthier climate for him. The school has only Robert W enrolled (not his younger brother) and only one parent was listed as contact (his father). Robert (Bobbie) enrolled in September 1907.
A few years ago I decided to search for any record of his serving in the Secret Service. I had to file a Freedom of Information Act request with Homeland Security and send proof that he had died (couldn't send birth certificate since he was born in Canada before vital records). The paperwork that came back told me that he WAS a Secret Service agent in Denver from 1907-1909, he worked for $4/day and then got a raise to $5/day. There are probably records in NARA in Washington DC on the daily records for "Operative Richardson" but I have to go to DC to see them.
Yes he was an agent in Denver, BUT, was he capturing people debasing gold coins?
I recently discovered there were some revealing newspaper articles on GenealogyBank.com
So Harry was working in Denver and was moved to the Department of Justice (investigating counterfeiting might be part of the job).
Great details on what an agent does investigating and how the criminal worked -- even ideas for someone to follow if he wanted to go into the debasing coin business. Here's the followup article:
"Coin sweating" sounds like a profitable business. Here's another crook, not caught:
Less help in the Denver office, more work for Harry and his partner:
Another crook, this guy was minting his own coins:
Counterfeiting sounds like a profitable second job even for the well-known in the community (as Gregory above)
I guess those stories of adventures tracking down criminals out west were true. The mild-mannered clerk took a couple years off and played Secret Service Agent while his son finished high school! Who knew! The census gave no clue about his other career.
The link to this post is http://genea-adventures.blogspot.com/2014/02/mild-mannered-clerk-or-secret-service.html
©2014 Erica Dakin Voolich