Shelby Families Result of WWII "War Brides" Marriages

Daily Globe Staff Reporter

SHELBY - As many as 100,000 British women and 20,000 German women married U.S. soldiers during World War II. As a result of the War Brides Act of 1945, these women and their children, if any, were guaranteed admittance to the United States as alien spouses and dependents. But marrying a U. S. soldier was not about a free ride to America.

Whirlwind romances during a time of war formed great love stories, and war brides, who often did not see their new GI husbands for well over a year after they wed, came to America to fulfill a promise they had made to the men they had fallen in love with.

Two local families recalled their war bride journeys for the Daily Globe. Today we will meet Mary Kinsey, now deceased, an English bride who joined her husband in America, and ended up in Shelby.

As told by her daughter, Rena Deaner, David Wayland Kinsey and Mary Barrowman wed on June 9, 1945 in London, England. David was Army Air Force. Mary was in the Timbercorp. The pair met at a USO dance.

Mary would tell her children about war-torn England. "She said it wasn't too bad," Deaner recalled, "but sometimes they'd be riding on the bus and hear the buzz bombs. When you didn't hear the buzzing you knew it was going to drop."

"Mom graduated from high school, and she was supposed to be going to college, but they closed them all with the bombings. So she couldn't go," Deaner said.

Mary's father moved her family from England to Scotland during the bombing, and returned after the bombing stopped. Mary wed David and they had an infant, Mary, who would travel on a war brides' ship in 1946 from Southampton to New York at six weeks of age, according to Deaner. "Mom said she stayed in England until she had Mary because she didn't know if she'd ever see her family again." But Mary's parents and sister would follow her to the United States years later, settling in Detroit.

"Mom said that when she was at the boat getting ready to board, there were quite a few war brides who didn't get on. They just couldn't do it," Deaner recalled. "Then when they got to New York and the wives and the babies got off, there were quite a few with no one to meet them. They were stranded. Their husbands didn't come to pick them up."

Deaner recalled conversations her mother relayed to her that took place amongst the women on the boat, such as where each were going. War brides had little knowledge of American geography or culture prior to coming to live here. Kinsey was headed for Vermont, and no one knew exactly where that was.

Letters to her parents back in England left Mary's family distraught, from news of bears and deer on the front porch.

David was not having fruitful employment in Vermont, so he decided to pack up his family in his car and drive until the car broke down, according to Deaner. "They were coming down the hill on 42 in Mansfield and saw the sign 'You can be sure it's Westinghouse' and they got a hotel and they went out the next morning and had a flat tire, so dad walked down the street and got a job at Westinghouse," she remembered.

Deaner recalled growing up with a mother who had a British accent. "People would say, 'your mom talks funny', and I'd say 'no she don't'." Deaner recalled her mother constantly being asked if she was from Olive Hill, Kentucky, and after awhile, she just started saying that she was so she didn't have to explain "the big story".

A common thread between war brides was the treatment they would receive from their new American families. Deaner relayed that Mary's mother-in-law was not the kindest woman to her, taking her to the parlor to have all of her hair cut off, and even trying to take her children from her.

The Kinseys would have six children. Mary Kinsey (mother) would never become a citizen of the United States. "Mom said she had no desire," Deaner relayed.

"I always thought that mom had to be so brave to leave everything and come to America, especially on a boat with a baby," Deaner said.

David and Mary's children include Mary, Catherine "Rena" (David) Deaner of Shelby, Daniel (D), Robert (Theresa) Kinsey of Shelby, Debbie (Randy) Kanzig of Hawl River, NC., and Helen (Ralph) Kanzig of Loudonville.

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