Friday, February 10, 2012

Ralph Westcott Grant

Ralph Westcott Grant
about 1900

I never knew my paternal grandparents - they died long before I was born. I am lucky though to have some of their documents and photos so I know something of their lives, including the time before my father was born to them in 1922. There are quite a few photos of my grandparents dating from the first couple of decades of the 20th century from the time that cameras first became available to amateurs. I only wish that someone had noted the subject's names on the photos since most are unidentified.

My paternal grandfather was Ralph Westcott Grant. He was the oldest child of William Sprague Grant and Mary Helen Mellor. He was born 17 April 1894 in Valley Falls, Rhode Island but he grew up in nearby Central Falls, Rhode Island.
Ralph W. Grant
It is unknown where his middle name came from but he is the first of 4 generations of Grant males to use it as a middle name. There were families with the surname of Westcott living in Rhode Island during the late 19th century, but none that can be identified as being associated with the family. Perhaps it was just a name his parents liked, or a name of a friend.
1913

I don't know many details of Ralph's childhood. He did attend the Rhode Island School of Design (RISD) after high school and graduated with a 2 year degree in drafting. While there he played Center on the school football team and was the captain in 1913. He graduated from the School of Design around 1915 but I have not found his school records yet. I was told that his Aunt Mary Grant helped pay his tuition at RISD, and that enabled him to enroll there for his post-secondary education. After graduating, I think he worked as a draftsman in the Providence area for several years.


Draft Registration Certificate, 5 June 1917


Ralph registered for the draft in June 1917. He did not serve in World War I perhaps because his younger brother, Howard was already in the RI National Guard at the beginning of the war and was posted overseas (subject of a future blog post). It is also possible that Ralph was excused from active duty because he had an essential war-time job. From family reminiscences, I know he worked at the Watervliet Arsenal near Troy, New York and also in Erie, Pennsylvania during the war.
Ralph at unknown work location

Ralph  married Florence Hazel Skinner (she was always known as Hazel) on 15 January 1918 at the Baptist Church in Valley Falls, Rhode Island and they lived after their marriage in Erie, Pennsylvania. By the time their first child, my father Warren Westcott Grant was born on 11 January 1922, they were living in Clifton, New Jersey where Ralph and Hazel would live the rest of their lives.

around 1939

My grandfather died 2 months after his 45th birthday in Baltimore, Maryland on the 27 June 1939. He had gone to Baltimore to march in the Shriner's Band and felt ill while marching. He went back to his hotel and suffered a heart attack. He was taken to the hospital and died there early the next morning.

Ralph was an accomplished saxophonist and I think he also played flute at home. At the time of his death, Ralph was the General Manager of the National Rubber Machinery Company in Clifton, New Jersey. As a hobby, he did museum-quality taxidermy.

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