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Author Topic: Ray Mahoney of Cincinnati, OH  (Read 12706 times)

Clarence Carlson

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Ray Mahoney of Cincinnati, OH
« on: June 24, 2016, 03:22:08 PM »

On July 5th, 1937 several newspapers listed an item indicating that signals from the Earhart plane had been received by Ray Mahoney, a radio amateur living in Cincinnati, OH. This specific report is listed on the TIGHAR website Post Loss Catalog as message 4xxxxMY. I've been digging around to see if I could find any reference to this person and for what it's worth this is what I found.

I searched through two different sources to see if a Ray Mahoney was licensed as a radio amateur in 1937. The first site 1930 FCC catalog of callsigns showed no licensed amateur in Cincinnati with that name as of that date. The second site Fall 1937 Amateur Callbook was also reviewed starting at the point where the 1930 document left off. In short no licensed amateur with the name Ray Mahoney could be found. This was not a fancy database search, it was old school scanning with Mark I eyeballs through pages.

Then I wondered if any Ray Mahoney could be found in Cincinnati. Ancestry.com (a paid subscription service) listed four pages of Mahoneys living in Cincinnati in 1940. None listed a first name of Ray as head of household. With a little luck a Ray Mahoney, aged 19, was found listed as living at home with his father Charles W Mahoney at 1518 Central Parkway. The census data confirmed that the family lived at that address in 1935. This is the only Ray Mahoney I could find.

Then the newspaper accounts were reviewed using Newspapers.com. There was some variation on what they reported. All the accounts directly quote Mahoney as saying "'The signals were weak' said Mahoney, 'about all I could make out were the call letters of the plane, that apparently it had hit a reef or was near a reef'". The Sedalia (MO) Democrat indicated the Ray Mahoney heard Amelia Earhart on the radio "from a position he interpreted to be within 57 miles of Howland Island". However the Tipton (IN) Tribune offers this direct quote: "the figure 57 was repeated and also the word 'miles' and Howland Island although I couldn't make out any direction. Most of the articles end with the note that he heard the signals at ten minute intervals "throughout the day", but he is not quoted directly. This is, quite reasonably, felt to disqualify the report since such reception was impossible.

In summary no licensed amateur radio operator named Ray Mahoney could be found in contemporaneous documents. Perhaps radio "enthusiast" was a more appropriate term. One Ray Mahoney, a teenager living a home, was identified. Regarding his published comments I have one or two little lingering questions. His comment about not making out any direction: what if 57 was actually 157 degrees? We'll never know but it makes the report hold together well: a geographic reference (Howland), such and so miles, on a course 157, on a reef? The other question is, did he really hear signals throughout the day? He's not directly quoted and we can note that, when he is, the information becomes less ambiguous.

Clarence Carlson
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Ric Gillespie

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Re: Ray Mahoney of Cincinnati, OH
« Reply #1 on: June 24, 2016, 04:16:10 PM »

Good research.  Thanks.  We judged Mahoney to be "not credible" based on his story as reported but you never know what might have gotten lost or distorted by the press.
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Harbert William Davenport

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Re: Ray Mahoney of Cincinnati, OH
« Reply #2 on: June 24, 2016, 09:06:15 PM »

Good research, Clarence Carlson.  Thank you.  It prompted me to follow up a bit on Ancestry, and I have learned that the Raymond Joseph Mahoney (1921-1995) of Cincinnati, whom you have identified, does have living descendants.  I am using Ancestry to message those who have RJM in their posted family trees, to ask if they have any relevant info.  If and when I receive any responses, I will post whatever they are willing to share.
   To add just a bit more from Ancestry to your posted info, Clarence, RJM’s father’s full name was Charles Raymond Mahoney (1897-1970).   Whether he himself went by ‘Ray,’ I don’t know. 
RJM was born 3 Feb 1921, so he was 16 and one half, almost, on July 5, 1937. (His father was then forty.)
RJM later served 3 years in the Navy, 1942-45, married and had at least one child.
He had an older sister Catherine who married, and a younger brother, Charles W.
    Even though it's a very long shot that we will turn up additional contemporaneous documentation of what Ray Mahoney heard, it won't hurt to ask his descendants...

   
H. Wm. (Bill) Davenport
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Clarence Carlson

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Re: Ray Mahoney of Cincinnati, OH
« Reply #3 on: June 25, 2016, 08:16:59 AM »

A tip of the hat Bill. I'll be interested in seeing what you come up with.
Clarence Carlson
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Bruce Thomas

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Re: Ray Mahoney of Cincinnati, OH
« Reply #4 on: June 25, 2016, 08:19:19 AM »

RJM later served 3 years in the Navy, 1942-45, married and had at least one child.
He had an older sister Catherine who married, and a younger brother, Charles W.
There's an obituary for a Charles W. Mahoney, published in The Cincinnati Enquirer in March 2014. He was 85 (which would make him a few years younger than Raymond J. Mahoney). And it lists a brother named Raymond and a sister named Catherine. :) There's an insignia printed in the obituary that tells me that Charles, too, served in the Navy.

There are plenty of Charles' descendants listed to ask about family recollections concerning radio stories involving Raymond Mahoney.
LTM,

Bruce
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« Last Edit: June 25, 2016, 09:03:09 AM by Bruce Thomas »
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Clarence Carlson

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Re: Ray Mahoney of Cincinnati, OH
« Reply #5 on: June 26, 2016, 12:48:53 PM »

Well after all of that it would appear that the Raymond J Mahoney that I mention above is not our man. A search of the upgraded edition of Newpapers.com yields this item from the July 6th, 1937 Cincinnati Enquirer:

"Raymond Mahoney, 3818 Herron Ave, who reported Sunday the he had picked up faint radio signals from Amelia Earhart, missing round-the-world flyer, said yesterday that he was still receiving brief phrases of appeal from the aviatrix, for whom he said he worked in Hollywood until a few months ago. However radio engineers examining his receiving set yesterday were doubtful that the messages he been hearing came from the lost flyer because his set is not tuned to the band assigned to Miss Earhart".

I can find no other references to this Ray Mahoney. The news item lacks specificity regarding times and content but at least he didn't appear to be claiming reception on 3105 kcs. I'm not sure what to make of the Hollywood reference. At this time I see no further avenue of exploration. Thanks to all who were so supportive.
Clarence Carlson
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Bruce Thomas

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Re: Ray Mahoney of Cincinnati, OH
« Reply #6 on: June 26, 2016, 04:13:59 PM »

However radio engineers examining his receiving set yesterday were doubtful that the messages he been hearing came from the lost flyer because his set is not tuned to the band assigned to Miss Earhart".

Too bad the story did not include the band he was listening on ... He might have been hearing her on a harmonic.
LTM,

Bruce
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Harbert William Davenport

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Re: Ray Mahoney of Cincinnati, OH
« Reply #7 on: June 26, 2016, 10:04:15 PM »

Thanks, Clarence, for posting the news report that gave Raymond Mahoney's address in Cincinnati, which is a different address from the 1518 Central Parkway address of the Mahoney family we were researching.  That saves me the wasted effort of trying to contact descendants of that family.
   May I ask you an unrelated question that might be of interest to others as well, since you are using Newspapers.com? 
Does Newspapers.com give you free access to the New York Herald of July 1937?  Those issues have articles by C. B. Allen about his friend AE that I wd be interested in seeing, and which might make the subscription to Newspapers.com worth it to me, if in fact that wd give me access to them.
H. Wm. (Bill) Davenport
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Clarence Carlson

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Re: Ray Mahoney of Cincinnati, OH
« Reply #8 on: June 27, 2016, 11:40:57 AM »

Bill

They only have NY Herald from 1869-72. The NY Tribune is listed until 1922 when it merged with the Herald. Nothing after 1922.
I will say the upgraded version of Newspapers.com does seem to have more available. I wouldn't have found the article above without it.
Clarence Carlson
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Harbert William Davenport

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Re: Ray Mahoney of Cincinnati, OH
« Reply #9 on: June 27, 2016, 01:26:50 PM »

Thanks, Clarence.  It seems I will need to go to library microfilms for the July 1937 issues of the NY Herald.  But so far the newspaper librarian of my alma mater Univ of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign has not responded to my requests.
    My final words on the Raymond Mahoney of Cincinnati who reported hearing AE on July 3 & 4, 1937:
The 1940 US Census shows 112 Raymond Mahoneys.  The only one in Cincinnati is the wrong one, living at a different address, the one we both researched.
    I cannot think how to pick out from the other 111 RMs the one who made that report.  And of course it's possible that for some reason that RM does not even appear in the 1940 Census.  So for me this is a brick wall, at least for the present.
    His statement that he worked for AE a few months earlier in Hollywood is an intriguing clue.  She and husband GP had bought a home in North Hollywood.  So we can keep an eye open for his name as we keep researching these last 2 years of her life.
    I like to think that people who listen to shortwave radios are not delusional, since I myself used to do so many years ago, but then again one never knows for sure...

H. Wm. (Bill) Davenport
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Jennifer Hubbard

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Re: Ray Mahoney of Cincinnati, OH
« Reply #10 on: June 27, 2016, 02:35:06 PM »

The 1940 census shows a Mahoney family living at 3818 Herron Avenue. They reported living there in 1935 also.

As of 1940, the family consisted of Curtis, age 47; Pearl, 33; Curtis Jr, 17; John, 16; Robert, 14; Nadine, 12; Harold, 3.

There are a few possibilities. Raymond Mahoney might have been an older son or another relative who was living with them in 1937 but had moved out by 1940. Or Raymond might be a middle name used preferentially by one of the Mahoneys listed in the census--Curtis or Curtis Jr might do so, to distinguish themselves from one another.

In any case, it seems that if anyone wanted to follow up on this Ray Mahoney, the place to start would be with this Curtis Mahoney family.
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Harbert William Davenport

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Re: Ray Mahoney of Cincinnati, OH
« Reply #11 on: June 27, 2016, 06:05:32 PM »

Thanks, Jennifer!  That's an excellent lead that I had completely missed.  Will see where it leads...
H. Wm. (Bill) Davenport
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Harbert William Davenport

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Re: Ray Mahoney of Cincinnati, OH
« Reply #12 on: June 27, 2016, 09:27:14 PM »

Thanks to Jennifer Hubbard's identification of the right Mahoney family in Cincinnati, I think we have found the Raymond Mahoney of 3818 Herron St who on July 5 1937 reported having heard Amelia on July 3 & 4.  At that time he was apparently living with his father Curtis and step-mother Pearl, in the home where they lived in both 1935 and 1940, according to the 1940 Census. 
  A few basics, compiled from various online sources:
     Raymond Clinton Mahoney was born 27 Aug 1915, Franklin County, KY, to Curtis and Effie (nee Florian) Mahoney.  He died 29 Apr 1995, in Cincinnati OH.  He married Gertrude Holzapfel after the 1940 Census.  She died 10 Apr 2006 and her obit in the Cincinnati Enquirer of Apr 13 2006, p 12 = p 29, lists a son Roger (Mary) and other descendants and relatives. (I was unable to find Raymond's obit in the Enquirer of April or May, 1995.)
     Here's a key supporting point: his Social Security card was obtained in California, in February 1937, so his reported claim to have been working in Hollywood a few months before July 1937 is not so outlandish.  Whether he worked for Amelia is another matter.
     In short, we are back to a situation in which it will be interesting to learn what light if any this Raymond Mahoney's descendants or other relatives might be able to shed on what he heard in Cincinnati in early July 1937.
     
H. Wm. (Bill) Davenport
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« Last Edit: June 29, 2016, 09:40:36 PM by Harbert William Davenport »
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Harbert William Davenport

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Re: Ray Mahoney of Cincinnati, OH
« Reply #13 on: June 28, 2016, 12:36:35 AM »

This link should give you the short article printed in the Cincinnati Enquirer of July 7, 1937, that Clarence Carlson so kindly transcribed for us in a previous post.  Thanks for finding this for us, Clarence.  In discussing Ray Mahoney's report on p 171 of Finding Amelia Ric quotes the AP and NYT stories, but not this item from the Enquirer, which is possibly a follow-up based on their own interview of Mahoney.  I have not yet looked at those other news stories, so I wonder if this is the only source for Mahoney's claim to have worked for AE 'in Hollywood'?

https://www.newspapers.com/clip/5713634/quoted_by_clarence_carlson_in_post/
H. Wm. (Bill) Davenport
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Clarence Carlson

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Re: Ray Mahoney of Cincinnati, OH
« Reply #14 on: June 28, 2016, 11:59:28 AM »

Very good catch Jennifer.
Bill, yes this does open up some avenues. I'm digging away this afternoon with not much to show.
It just goes to show that shared research works best. I'll post anything pertinent that I find.
Clarence Carlson
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