The Only One

The man on the bicycle is Paul Curd, identified by writing on the reverse of this worn vintage snapshot. Was he the author of the writing? Or was it penned by a girlfriend or admirer?

I discovered not one but two men that are a match to our bicyclist, and they were cousins.

Robert and Skyler Curd were brothers born in Barren County, Kentucky. Both men had sons they named Robert Paul. Did they do this to cause confusion? Probably not, but the result speaks for itself. The snapshot’s inscription “the only one” is making more sense now.

The eldest Robert Paul was born in Horse Creek, Kentucky on January 27, 1912, to Robert and Mary (Bridges). He had a twin brother that sadly didn’t survive. The younger Robert Paul was born in Gainesville, Kentucky on March 12, 1914, to Skyler and Mollie (Sears).

It’s my opinion that our bicyclist is the younger Robert Paul, who used the name Paul throughout his life. His older cousin used Robert. For the sake of clarity in this post, I will refer to them as such.

Both boys suffered tragic losses at a young age. Robert was five years old when his father was struck by falling timber and killed while working on a barn. His mother moved herself and her children in with family and eventually remarried.

At eight years of age, Paul lost his father to tuberculosis. His mother relocated the family to Evansville, Indiana where, in April 1930, she worked as a laundress for a private family. That same year she was committed to the Evansville State Hospital for an unknown mental illness and died 17 days later of exhaustion from mania. Paul, sixteen at the time, lived with his older brother Vudor and began working as a gardener and laborer. He moved to Detroit, Michigan about 1940.

Our only other clues to the bicyclist’s identity are the cousins’ draft cards. Robert was a short man at 5’4″. Paul was 5’8″. I don’t believe there’s anything in the photo that helps gauge the man’s height. Although my partner said that based on the bicycle he doesn’t believe the rider was 5’4″. What do you think? One thing is for sure, we can see that although both men’s names are listed as Robert Paul Curd, only one signed his name Paul Curd. I believe he’s “the only one.”

Robert died in 1982 and is buried in Poplar Grove Cemetery in Barren County, Kentucky.

Paul passed in 2004 in Detroit, Michigan. His interment is unknown. Paul has living children. I’ve reached out to them on facebook but haven’t heard back. Maybe one day I will be able to make contact and solve the mystery.

Census records
WWII draft records

3 thoughts on “The Only One

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