PROBE: May 8, 2001

May 08, 2001

QUESTION: We were recently in Imperial County looking for information about my grandfather, Henry Clay Reed, the first editor of the Imperial Valley Press.

My aunt Ruth Margaret Reed was the first white baby born in the Imperial Valley.

Do you have any suggestions as to sources of information? — Grandson, Encinitas

We think the best source for information about your grandfather would be the early editions of the newspaper.

We have the editions on microfilm but so does the Pioneers' Museum and the El Centro and Brawley libraries. You might also check the book "The First 30 Years" by Otis B. Tout.

Both your grandfather and your aunt were named in our recent special edition celebrating the 100th anniversary of this newspaper.

Nevertheless, we don't know as much as we would like to know about your grandfather and his family.

Maybe our PROBE readers know more. Yes, we know it's been 100 years since Henry Clay Reed was the editor of this newspaper. But many local pioneers kept journals — and some of the journals have survived as family keepsakes.


You can contact editor Reed's grandson Richard A. Potter by e-mail at, by phone 436-2419, or write him a letter: 554 Forrest Bluff, Encinitas, CA 92024.

Reed and his wife, Rhetta, stayed here just a few months. While they were here, their daughter, Ruth Margaret, was born.

The Reeds' next child, Ralph, was born the following year, 1902, in Silver City, N.M. Still another child was born in 1905 in Pasadena. In 1912, Reed bought his own newspaper in Glendale, Ariz.

QUESTION: I have been looking for my father for more than 30 years. I learned from Social Security that he died in Imperial County on June 10, 1997.

Is it possible there was an obituary that would include information about his funeral arrangements? I would like to visit his grave if I could find it.

His name was John Wayne Smith. According to Social Security, his last known address was 92222 Bard St., Imperial. I would appreciate any help you can give me. — Seeking Dad, Lakewood, Wash.

We had to tell the Washington woman that it's unlikely her dad died in Imperial County. A clerk at the county Recorder's Office went back 20 years without turning up a death certificate.

None of the local mortuaries has a record of a funeral for John Wayne Smith, nor is there a Bard Street in Imperial.

Then his daughter said, "Did you check the prisons?" She said the last time they heard from dad was 1956 when he wrote a letter from the Cook County jail in Chicago.

She said her dad might have been using the name John Wayne Davis.

He walked away from his wife and four kids in Michigan in 1954. The wife was 21 years old and never remarried. He was 6 feet 6 inches tall and thin, according to his daughter.

OK, PROBE readers, we have exhausted our leads. If you knew the missing man, call us on our PROBE line at 337-3448, write to us at P.O. Box 2770, El Centro 92243, or you can e-mail his daughter, or call her at (253) 202-5666 or (253) 476-3511.

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