Milton Otto Slinkey
Born: May 24, 1882 (or perhaps 1883... read on) in Sausalito, California, USA.
Married: November 28, 1906 in San Francisco, California, USA to Ethel Sarah Neate (1886 - 1952)
Died: January 8, 1953 in San Francisco, California, USA.
Milton always reported that he had the best childhood in the world. Indeed, the Slinkeys were financially well-off in the 1880s and running the El Monte Hotel in Sausalito offered daily cultural experiences—from recitals by his sister Lilian to picnics, balls, and parties of all sorts.
He entered the world under some suspicious circumstances, however. His brother Francis is well-documented to have been born August 31, 1883 and died an infant in 1885. Milton's first appearance in the Sausalito News—a paper his father John E. Slinkey ran—isn't until a reference to his twelfth birthday party.
Born in 1882 or 1883? You decide:
The case for an 1882 birth:
* Milton listed his birth year on his World War I registration card as 1882.
* His marriage certificate from November 1906 says he's 24 (1882).
* His death certificate lists date of birth as May 24, 1882 (informant is son Eugene).
The case for an 1883 birth:
* Sausalito News, June 1, 1895 reports twelfth birthday party for Milton at the El Monte Hotel. This is the earliest reference we ever get on Milton. The News possibly confused twelve years old with thirteen years old, but with Lilian's social schedule frequently published in the paper for years, it's hard to believe the Colonel wouldn't have his son mentioned at some point before this party. Especially considering the "Old Friends" banquet and media mention that Francis Slinkey received in 1884. Francis' baptism bash is referred to as a special and unprecedented occasion. Why wouldn't J.E. Slinkey have lauded the boy he had first, just one year before?
* United States censuses from 1910, 1920, and 1930 all point to an 1883 birth (all taken before May, and Milton reports his age as 27, 37, and 47.)
* The most telling evidence to me was when I chatted with my grandfather's first cousin, Art Markstrom, before his death. He was Milton's nephew, the son of Milton's sister-in-law, Iris (Neate) Markstrom. I asked him about the rumor that Lilian was really Milton's mother. He nodded and said he had heard that it was true from his mother, who died in 1974. He knew of it before meeting me, and he definitely hadn't been researching old newspapers. So it seems this had been talked about in the past.
* Lilian sure acted like his mother. I have letters she wrote, hounding him about who to thank for wedding presents, etc. Even the name of my grandfather, Milton's son, gives a clue: Eugene Dalbert Slinkey. I have discovered that there was a well-known opera composer named Eugene D'Albert. I don't think Ethel Neate was an opera fan, and the carpenter Milton likely wasn't much of one himself. Could an operatic soprano aunt have so much influence? Maybe. The Sausalito News's frequent articles about Lilian's reading groups on Sir Walter Scott, etc., make me think John Milton was right up her cultural alley. I'm betting that's where Milton got his own name.
Specific mentions of Milton in newspapers, directories, and records:
May 24, 1895: "An afternoon tea was given last Friday, May 24, at the El Monte, to all the children of the hotel, by Master Milton Otto Slinkey, it being his twelfth birthday anniversary. After the party, the children all adjourned to Sausalito Hall, and wound up the activities with a social dance." (Sausalito News, June 1, 1895, page 3.)
Milton is listed as a bellboy at the El Monte Hotel (its reincarnation at 501 Geary Street in San Francisco) in the San Francisco directory.
Milton is listed in the San Francisco directory as a machinist living with Lilian and JE Slinkey at 809 Leavenworth Street.
Milton is listed in the San Francisco directory as a carpenter living with Lilian at 866 Ellis Street.
The story passed down through the family is that Milton met his future wife Ethel in a relief camp after the San Francisco's 1906 earthquake and fire. They married that November:
Oakland Tribune, November 13, 1906, page 9, column 1:
"AN ENGAGEMENT—Mrs Luffman Neate announces the engagement of her daughter, Miss Ethyle Neate to Milton Slinkey, son of Major JE Slinkey, manager of the Real Estate Syndicate, Oakland."
(Fancy spelling for Ethel, and Colonel Slinkey got a demotion.)
Sausalito News, November 24, 1906; page 2, column 3:
The engagement of Miss Ethyle Neale of SF to Milton Slinkey, son of JE Slinkey, former proprietor of the News, and brother of Miss Lilian Slinkey, the well-known vocalist, is announced and the wedding will take place during the holiday week. The bride to be is the daughter of Mrs. Loffman Neale of SF."
(Just some interesting spelling. I'm betting Lilian Slinkey sent in this notice, since she gets a nice plug and the bride's family is misspelled!)
San Francisco Call, November 27 1906:
The following marriage licenses were issued yesterday:
Milton O. SLINKEY, 24, 1072 Ellis street, and Ethel S. NEATE, 20, 2709 Mission street."
December 22, 1906: Milton is described as living in the East Bay, working as a contractor and builder in North Oakland, in an article about J.E. Slinkey's real estate business opening on the Oakland/Berkeley line. (Oakland Tribune, December 22, 1906, page 67.)
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