Thanksgiving morning last week I got a call from my Aunt Mary Latchford Kennedy, my mom’s younger sister. We spent some time catching up and then Mary told me about a cousin of hers that she had lost touch with many years ago. With the help of her son Thomas and an internet search, Mary found out that the cousin, Marilyn Latchford Priem, had died in May of 2011 in Southern California. Here’s a link to Marilyn’s online obituary.
Marilyn was the adopted daughter of William Cageton Latchford (b. 1892 d. 1976), the older brother of my grandfather George Benedict Latchford (b. 1902 d. 1975). Uncle Will was the first Latchford born in the U.S. after his parents arrived in New York City from Ireland in 1890.
In his lifetime, William C. Latchford became a world-traveling entrepreneur, as well as a small-town politician.
The 1910 U.S. Census shows 17-year-old William working as a store clerk. The word “butcher” is written almost as a second-thought notation next to his occupation.
By early 1919, Will was employed by A.A. Vantine & Co., an importer of Asian goods located at the corner of 5th Avenue and 39th Street in New York City. Late that same year, Will was preparing to move to Yokohama to take up his duties as Assistant Manager of Vantines’ Japan Office. The passport application seen here indicates that he was expected to leave for Japan about January 10, 1920, “returning to the States in about 3 years.” He was sailing on the S.S. Venezuela out of the port of San Francisco.
(By the way, check out the history of Vantines. And be sure to click on the link for the rest of the story, in which Vantines was purchased in the mid-20’s by Arnold Rothstein, an early mob drug dealer. Interesting stuff.)
Click on the passport application images to see a picture of 27-year-old William. You’ll also find a physical description: 5 foot 7 inches tall, medium forehead, blue eyes, medium nose and mouth, round chin, auburn hair, fair complexion and medium face.
The images here are of his registration as a native American citizen. Toward the bottom of the first page you’ll see that he had to declare his annual income: $2,500.
In 1927, Will partnered with David Gunn to open their own import business, Gunn & Latchford. It was located at 323 5th Avenue in New York City. The tie pictured here is from Gunn & Latchford and was passed down to my mother.
Gunn & Latchford is no longer in business. I’m not sure how long the business was active, but I was able to find mentions of the store in The New Yorker in the 1950s.
As noted in Marilyn’s obituary, William Latchford and family moved in 1948 to Lake Success, one of nine Villages that make up the overall area commonly called Great Neck. Will eventually was elected mayor of Lake Success, but I don’t know the exact years in which he served. Lake Success was the temporary home of the United Nations from 1946-1951. Again according to Marilyn’s obituary, as mayor Will “dealt with the fledgling United Nations.”
William Cageton Latchford died in 1976 at the age of 83.