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Dialogue in the Age of

Criticism

 

New Evidence of Paul's Birth Date

     Among the many interesting things discovered in the Paducah Library files on Paul Twitchell, new evidence has turned up that may be the most reliable in determining the real year when Paul was born. While David Lane's book has shown the conflicting reports based on family bibles, marriage certificates, college records, etc., all of these are lacking the kind of verification we would  really like to see.

     For example, family bibles are often filled in years later, sometimes by distant relatives. Paul never had a properly registered birth certificate until shortly before his first marriage, over thirty years after his birth, when his father filed a delayed application. A number of other records have used these references as their sources, further leading us astray in determining the exact year of Paul's birth.

     However, in the files at the library of Paul's hometown is a genealogy of the Twitchell family that was donated to the Paducah Public Library on September 1996 by a Dean McMakin. It includes a page from the "Thirteenth Census of the United States." This was the 1910 census, and the page is from McCracken Country, Kentucky, which covered the City of Paducah.

     The Twitchell family is listed:

Jacob Twitchell           head             31 years old

Effie Twitchell           wife of         32 years old

Catherine Twitchell    daughter        5 years old

Howard Twitchell       son                   3 years old

Paul Twitchell         son                   6 months old

     Since the census is generally taken in the spring, this would be exactly right if Paul were born in October 1909. Since Kay-Dee's birth date was July 8, 1904, and Clyde (Howard) was born March 24, 1907, we can see that all these dates add up to a spring 1910 census date. I believe this is the most conclusive record of the year when Paul was born.

     Since I posted Chapter One in my book, which talks about the controversy over Paul's birth date, I received a note from Steve Runfeldt. He asked an interesting question:

     "Are you certain about the date on Paul and Gail's marriage certificate?"

     Steve was right, I had made a mistake. I had thought David Lane had mentioned it on the Internet, but when I checked with David Lane to see if he'd ever seen Paul and Gail's marriage certificate, he admitted he never had. That's when Steve's second statement struck home. Steve said:

     "I do not recall Lane having any evidence at all for Paul's supposed 1922 birth date, except for his death certificate...Of course if Paul did "lie" on his own death certificate, it was a pretty neat trick."

     Good point. Gail was the source of information for Paul's death certificate. Since she also recorded his age as 48 at the time of death, we can see that the 1922 date was not a typo, but still this was not written by Paul.

     David Lane also refers to an article by Jack Jarvis written for the Seattle Post Intelligencer in July, 1963, called "Paul Twitchell, Man of Parts." In the article, according to David, Jarvis claims that Paul had just turned forty years old. I haven't seen a copy of this article, but it would also indicate a 1922 year of birth. Once again, however, we don't know the source of this error.

     David says that other documents "summarily indicate that the "1922" birth date was a fabrication made years later by Paul, presumably to convince his young wife, Gail, that he was not too much older than herself." However, as I said before, this is pure conjecture on David's part. In fact, it is just as easy to imagine that Jarvis made up the date, either due to error, or to help his colleague look younger to his new girlfriend. Perhaps Gail got her idea of Paul's age from Jarvis. It's not hard to imagine that Paul's age was not a popular topic of conversation for Gail. On the other hand, David might be right and Paul mislead Gail. However, where in my book I had thought David had conclusively proven that Paul lied about his age, I feel I'd been mislead and upon reexamination have to revise my statement.

     David refers to one more source, the book by Brad Steiger, called "In My Soul I Am Free, the Story of Paul Twitchell." David uses this reference on the premise that on page 54 of the book it states "that Twitchell was still within his teens at the outbreak of World War Two." Unfortunately, it does not state that on page 54. On that page it only states that Paul and Kay-Dee returned home shortly before the outbreak of World War II. The reference to Paul as a teenager comes from a previous page in relation to a different story that supposedly took place shortly before returning home. In other words, any reference to his age is obscure at best.

     What is interesting about all this is that none of these cases actually show Paul lying about his age, but show Gail, Jack Jarvis, and Brad Steiger getting his age wrong. Since the Brad Steiger book has widely been known as a biographical story of Paul's life, it is very interesting that there is no direct reference to when Paul was born, or how old he was. If anything, this shows that Paul was trying not to talk about his age. He certainly never told ECKists how old he was, or his birth date, so this matter is really irrelevant as far as ECKANKAR goes.

     As I looked into this story further, it struck me as odd that Paul's first marriage certificate with Camille Ballowe showed a date of October 22, 1912. Was this a case of Paul actually lying about his age? If so, why change his age by three years, especially since Camille was a year older than Paul?

     Well, it turns out that less than a year beforehand, Paul's father filed a delayed birth certificate. Paul's father filed it with the birth date of October 22, 1912. Since marriage certificates often require a birth certificate as proof of age, it seems possible, and even likely, that Paul's father filed the birth certificate in preparation for Paul's marriage. This would make Paul's father the source of this error. Or did Paul's father get it from Paul?

     In fact, from all the evidence that has been produced in this matter so far to date, there is no actual proof that Paul ever lied about his age. There are only records of his family and friends reporting his age incorrectly. And what is strange about this, is that it began the day Paul was born, as the family bibles show his birth date ranging from 1908 to 1910, and it carried through until the day he died.

     Steve Runfeldt made another interesting observation while we were discussing this subject. He said, if Paul lied about his age to help win Gail's affections, why did Paul tell his story of being born illegitimate, which David also contests? Is that the kind of story you tell to win a young bride?

     On this subject of Paul's birth out of wedlock, David writes:

     "Paul Iverlet [Paul's brother-in-law], however, strongly disagrees with Steiger's account of the Twitchell family and calls it an "atrocious lie."

     Unfortunately for David, the Paducah Library files gave a biographical description of Kay-Dee, Paul Iverlet's husband, that sheds great doubt on Iverlet as a credible witness. It turns out that Iverlet barely knew Paul. He was not even Kay-Dee's first husband, as David thought, but married Kay-Dee about a year and a half after Paul had left Paducah to join the Navy.

     It also turns out that Iverlet was dying of cancer about the time when David Lane spoke with him over the phone. Iverlet was 77 years old at the time and reported a number of errors in information, such as where the Twtichell's lived in Paducah, even though Iverlet himself lived in the house for a number of years, and Iverlet reported Paul's birth date as 1910. Iverlet's age, plus the 18 years that had passed since Kay-Dee had died, were probably causes for his poor memory. It seems that Iverlet also had a strong religious dislike of ECKANKAR, so his objectivity is in doubt.

     So what do the Library files tell us about Paul's birth? Well, the biographical sketch on Paul's father suggests as least Paul's stories of his father's way with women may be accurate. The bio shows that the first son born to Jacob and Effie Twitchell, known as Rupert (who died at a very young age), was born about 8 months after their marriage.

     Paul's mother, Effie, died in 1940. Ten years later Paul's father remarried. His second wife was some thirty years younger and the mother of seven children. Paul's father, Jake, and his new wife petitioned the court to adopt two of her daughters. However, according the biographical sketch, from their birth certificates it appears that Paul's father was their natural father and that he may have adopted them to legitimize them.

     Interestingly, Freda, the older of the two daughters, was born eight months after Paul's mother died. This means Jake Twitchell's second wife was pregnant before his first wife died. This certainly could explain the sour mood that Paul reports about his mother on her deathbed. And if Effie had indeed known that Paul was a previous product of Jake's infidelity, and now Jake had impregnated another women while she was dying, it is easy to image her hatred of Paul, as Paul reports.

     It is also easy to understand why the Twitchell family might not have talked about such things, and relatives two or three times removed would not be good sources to verify such stories.

     I still don't see how these details have much of an impact upon our insight into Paul, or the teachings of ECKANKAR, but since they correct some of the information I originally gave out in my book, as well as David Lane's research, I thought it important to pass it on.

 

 

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Copyright 2000 by Doug Marman

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