Friday, December 31, 2010

Happy New Year!!

Should auld acquaintance be forgot/And never brought to mind?/Should auld acquaintance be forgot/And auld lang syne?

Harry: “What does this song mean? My whole life, I don’t know what this song means. It means ‘Should old acquaintance be forgot.’ Does that mean that we should forget old acquaintances or does it mean that if we should happen to forget them, we should remember them which is not possible because we already forgot?”

Sally: “Well maybe it just means that maybe we should remember that we forgot them or something. Anyway, it’s about old friends”

Wishing a very happy and safe New Year to all my readers, everyone in the genealogy and blogging communities, and to all your families as well - may 2011 be a good year for us all!!

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Merry Christmas to all, and to all a good night...

I hope none of you are reading this today, but I wanted to wish my readers, the blogging and genealogy community, and the rest of the world too a happy, safe, and peaceful Christmas - spend time with your families, retell old stories, share memories, ask questions, write down the answers, and if just for a little while, forget about preserving it all for the future, and enjoy being with loved ones in the present!

Merry Christmas!

Thursday, December 16, 2010

'Who Do You Think You Are?': NBC Announces The Celebrities Tracing Their Family Trees On Season Two

'Who Do You Think You Are?': NBC Announces The Celebrities Tracing Their Family Trees On Season Two

Shoebox full of memories: sifting through my childhood

My 95-year-old grandmother has been slowly but surely cleaning out of her apartment all the stuff 95 years and nine grandchildren will cause to accumulate. This has involved separating and giving back to each grandchild all the cards and drawing and letters he or she sent her over the years. I don't think it ever occurred to me that she would have saved them for so long, but tonight she handed me a folder full of thank you letters scrawled in my uneven print, birthday cards drawn in bright markers, and pictures of her, my grandfather, my mom, my dad, from when I was so young that they barely even resemble people.

The first reason I mention this is that not only did talking about these things and reminiscing about them provide some nice quality time with my grandmother, but listening to my grandmother talk about how receiving these letters and cards and drawings and then looking back over them through the years gave her such joy made me (well, to be honest, not only cry) but realize that just as the letters and cards and photos that our parents and grandparents and great grandparents pass on to us are important and meaningful, going generationally backward it is as well.

The second reason I mention this is that looking over these letters I wrote when I was 5, 6, 7, 8 years old, all the way through high school, I recount feelings and thoughts, stories about the things going on in my life and the people who were in my life. You can see the time period when I stop writing to Grandma and Grandpa and start to just write to Grandma, a clue to future generations that this is the time when Grandpa died, but that's what I was thinking about - future generations. I look at the letters and photos from older generations but sometimes forget about the things I will pass on to my children and their children. When I'm gone, these letters and drawings will give them insight into my life. And the memories that looking at these things jogged - I tell my dad he needs to start recording all his memories about not only his grandparents and parents but about his own life as well, and I guess these things my grandmother handed me made me realize that I, too, will need to record the things I remember about my grandparents and parents and my own life, before I'm too far removed to remember them. It also made me sad to think about future generations that won't have these mementos - they'll have e-mails and digital photos, but an e-mail doesn't show a 5-year-old's handwriting or a distracted teenager's doodle in the corner. These are the memories that within the next generation will be completely lost, which makes it all the more important to hold on to the ones we have!!

I think the scary figures to the left are multiple Easter bunnies?...not quite sure about the disembodied heads to the right...

Why I didn't thank my grandfather as well is beyond 1987, I was eight.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Tombstone Tuesday - Steve Brodie, first man to supposedly jump off the Brooklyn Bridge and survive

Claimed to be the first man to jump off the Brooklyn Bridge and survive (July 23m 1886) - he became pretty famous for the alleged feat although in later years the act for which he became known was disputed. Whether or not the claim is true, I guess he accomplished what he set out to do since we're still talking about him today :)

Steve Brodie's headstone. Photo by Timothy J. Gorry.

Brodie died in Texas on January 31, 1901 at the age of 39. Tuberculosis isn't quite as romantic a death now, is it? He is buried with his wife Bridget in Calvary Cemetery in Queens, New York. Thanks to my dad for taking the photo. He just told me he "just happened upon it" while he was at the cemetery. That might mean he spends too much time wandering graveyards. That's definitely where I get it from! :)

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Charleston, S.C., here I come...: 2011 NGS Family History Conference

So, I am officially registered for the 2011 National Genealogical Society's Family History Conference. The 5-day long conference is next May in Charleston, South Carolina. I almost decided against going because of the money - the conference itself and extra luncheons and social events are not exactly cheap and then you have to add in cost of travel and hotel, but I'm going with Cousin April, which will cut down on some of the expenses, and frankly, I didn't go on vacation this past year and I don't have any foreseeable vacation plans next year, so why not? Five days of workshops, all day long, isn't exactly a vacation, but it's a new city I've never been to, there's some opportunity to actually see some of the city, and just the chance to get away from home and work, for whatever reason? That's vacation enough for me.

Anyway, April and I met last weekend to discuss the conference, and the more we talked about it, the more excited I got. There are some really interesting workshops being offered covering an array of topics - I was looking at ones specific to German church records and Irish land valuation records, ones that deal with thinking "outside the box" when it comes to looking for and finding records, ones that talk about how to resolve conflicts in records, ones that talk about records I've only recently started to use or haven't used yet but might in the future, like probate records, ones that talk about the future of genealogy, specifically the way social media (and blogs!) are changing the way research and networking are done, and because I'm interested in becoming certified, I was also looking at several workshops that deal with that as well as the proper techniques for working as a professional genealogist.

Bored yet? C'mon, if you read this blog, I don't see how you can be!

April was excited about some of the workshop presenters, such as Elizabeth Shown Mills, who seems to be a big name in genealogy (I'll admit, I'm not quite as up-to-speed on my genealogy celebs - if anyone is a bigger genealogy nerd than me, it's April! :)), and the fact that Buzzy Jackson, who just wrote a book called "Shaking the Family Tree," will be a keynote speaker.

There will be several social events throughout the week, which I think will be great for networking - as you all know I love to repeat, we family historians have to work together! But I also think they just sound fun - a wine and cheese party at the Charleston Museum, a barbeque at the Charleston rifle club. I wonder if they cash bar at the rifle club will be followed by the opportunity to try out the weaponry...

I also decided to sign up for an extra trip to the South Carolina archives in Columbia. As it so happens, I have some family, the Storys, who lived in the Charleston area for a couple of generations back in the mid-1700s (Mary Story, daughter of Morris Story, granddaughter of Rowland Story, and great granddaughter of Zachariah Story, born in Charleston, married Richard Poole; their daughter Annie married J.J. Raynor - Annie and J.J. were my great-great grandparents...) and I think it's possible I might be able to find some records that could help flesh out and verify parts of that branch of my tree.

And on top of all that, it was nice to see April again. I think April and I are actually a good example of modern genealogy - we found each other through the Internet, we pool our research and resources, we're both big proponents of verifying our research. Whenever we go to these genealogy things, we're always the youngest ones there, but I think we represent the next generation of family historians. It's those like us, those like all of you, that have to make sure the *next* generation is well-prepared to carry on the legacy!

Registration for the NGS Family History Conference is still open! For more information, visit!

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Tombstone Tuesday - Who's buried in Grant's tomb?

For all those who ever wondered about that question, lol...or presidential buffs. Or Civil War buffs. The General Grant National Memorial is located in Riverside Park overlooking the Hudson River.

(Btw, it's Grant and his wife...) :)

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Busy bees slack off on blogging...quick post about NGS conference

I've been so busy with my "real job" that I've been slacking off on the blogging - apologies all around. So while I continue to work my little tail off for the rest of the week (and hopefully get back to our regularly scheduled blogging program very soon!), here's a quick link Cousin April shared with me today - registration for the National Genealogical Society's 2011 Conference is now open. It will be in Charleston, SC May 11-14 and if you look at the brochure, it looks to be pretty interesting. Whether you're a beginner or a "pro," it's worth at least taking a look at - as with anything, learning new techniques and building new skills are things we should never stop doing, and networking with others is always good, too - plus, while your friends and families might tune you out once you start "talking genealogy" like a lunatic when you get excited about it, these people will only share your enthusiasm (and probably won't tune you out - just keep the mad excited hand-waving to a minimum!) :)

Friday, November 26, 2010

Connecting and sharing (and saying hello to new cousins...)

So often I think of this blog as a way for me to share my genealogical journey with you in hopes that my adventures will help you in your own family research, and along the way I also share the help that I've gotten from the distant cousins I've connected with along the way.

I forget that one of the fantastic additional perks to this blog is that it itself is a tool to connecting with those cousins. At the very beginning, my very first blog follower was a distant cousin of mine, Stan, who found my blog while he was researching our shared Berg genealogy. This morning I received a wonderful e-mail from a "new" cousin on my Reinhardt line, who had stumbled across my blog while researching our shared tree. Not only did he write me a very lovely e-mail saying hello and outlining his Reinhardt line, but he sent me copies of all these photos of his grandparents, great grandparents, and great great grandparents. He even had verbal descriptions of his family members' personalities from his mother. Opening that e-mail was like opening a treasure chest.

So I just wanted to thank Cousin Chris for not only reaching out and making that connection, but for sharing so much with me - those are the two most important things when it comes to genealogy, in my humble opinion. We have to connect to each other, and we have to share with each other! That's how we get things done!

Enjoy your weekend everyone! :)

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Thanksgiving thoughts and wishes

Today is American Thanksgiving (for those of you who read this blog who do not live in the United States), and while part of the reason I love this holiday is all the good food and the extra-long holiday weekend from work, this is also a day that reminds me that even when life is tough going, there are so many things I'm thankful for: my family and friends, my health, having a job and a roof over my head, all the people in my life, even those who are gone. Even those who are long gone. Everything I have and everything I am is because of the people who went before me and I try to thank them every day by remembering them and passing on the memories of them to others. And I'm also thankful for all the people I've met along the way who are helping me do that and for all of you who read this blog, who allow me to do it and who are hopefully on your own "family thanksgiving" journeys! :)

So today, I wish everyone out there, everyone who's a part of my larger "human family", a very happy and safe Thanksgiving!

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Tombstone Tuesday - Earl "Red" Blaik, West Point Cemetery

These are the kinds of headstones my dad likes (besides, of course, the angel headstones). Headstone of Earl "Red" Blaik, head football coach at the United States Military Academy at West Point, New York, from 1941-1958. His Army football teams won consecutive national championships in 1944 and 1945, and he was inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame as a coach in 1964. Born Feb. 15, 1897, died May 6, 1989. Appropriately enough, his headstone is shaped like a football. His wife is buried with him. I wonder how she feels about the headstone she ended up with...

Monday, November 22, 2010

An early Thanksgiving present from Cousin Milton

I've spoken of Milton before, my 78 year old second cousin 3 times removed who has been an enormous help to me in my research of our shared Haase genealogy. Being an older Southern gentleman, he always makes me smile with how polite he is in his e-mails, calling me "Miss Mary," and I am always amazed at how proficient he is with using technology for genealogical purposes - uploading his tree to, uploading old photos and documents to his computer, and sending and receiving e-mails.

Through e-mail and Ancestry we keep in touch, not frequently but regularly, and I heard from him most recently this past weekend. He had found an old photograph that was several generations older than himself, that he wanted to share with me. The people in it are unidentified, but he believes that one of them is my 4th great grandmother Barbara Reinhardt Haase and my third great grandfather Edward Haase from about the year 1880. This is the note that accompanied the photo:

"This is the family’s great mystery photo. Neither Neil (Scholl), John Scholl, nor Fred Haase can identify these people. The photo was in Stella’s (I assume Estelle Haase Scholl, their mother) collection that was given the Sandy, so they are significant family members.

My guess, the woman in white is Kate (Reinhardt) Jacobs, sister to the lady in black, my Great Grandmother Barbara (Reinhart) Haase. The baby (about 1 year) is my grandfather, Fredrick, born 1878, and the older boy is his brother Edward, born 1866. That seems logical based on the size of the older boy, who appears to be about 10 – 12 years old. If so, this picture was taken about 1880."

And this just serves to reinterate the importance of sharing with each other and even just talking to others searching our same searches. Talking with Cousin Milton is like talking to my grandmother - he's two generations closer to our ancestors than I am, so he remembers names and faces and places that I don't. He's met some of these people that I've only ever read about. And being from a different Haase branch than I come from, he has photos and documents and letters and stories that got passed down his way and not down mine, but they're photos and documents and letters and stories that are meaningfully to both of us, on both a personal and a genealogical level. You never know who has that missing link! And Cousin Milton, I know I already wrote you back, but thank you so much for sharing so much with me, and a very happy Thanksgiving to you and your family!

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Breakthrough! John Horgan wasn't a ghost...NY State census, 1905

I have written before about my difficulties with tracking my 3rd great grandfather John Horgan from the time of his arrival in New York from Ireland in 1871 until his death in 1908. The guy was a complete ghost. I was beginning to think he might be a spy of some sort.

Well, the patience and perseverence have finally paid off.

There are so many records available online nowadays that sometimes we forget that not everything is online. It's getting to that point, that's for sure, but websites like Ancestry and FamilySearch are constantly not only adding new databases but adding to the ones that already exist. You have to constantly check databases you may have already checked. Just because it didn't pan out before, doesn't mean it won't pan out now. The repetition can be excrutiatingly dull at times. But it's worth it.

On a whim, I decided to check today and see when the New York State censuses were last updated, and the 1905 census had been added to just last week. Including records for people living in Manhattan. Within five minutes, I had found John Horgan. What had been so difficult for ages was suddenly so simple. Unfortunately, the 1905 census is not super informative, and whoever was the census taker in this district made a ton of mistakes in his record taking, but here's what it says:

At 627 East 16th Street in 1905 we have living, amongst other families:

Michael Gorry, head, 38, born in the U.S., metal polisher
Mary Gorry, daughter, 35, born in U.S., sales lady
Hannah Gorry, daughter, 32, born in U.S., underwear business (sounds scandalous!)
Elmer Gorry, daughter, 9, born in U.S., school
Fred, son, 13, born in U.S., school
John Horgin, head, 70, born in Ireland, citizen
Mary E. Gorry, sister, 32, born in U.S., pencil worker

Jeez, this thing is all over the place. So, Michael, Mary, and Hannah were the siblings of my 2nd great grandfather, James Gorry, who died in 1897. Obviously, then, Mary and Hannah are not Michael's "daughters" as this states. Elmer Gorry is my great grandfather, and a male, so also obviously not Michael's daughter. He was Michael, Mary, and Hannah's nephew. Fred is new to me. Elmer was the only surviving child of James, and Michael, Mary, and Hannah were all single, so he might be worth looking into. John Horgin (had a feeling his last name might be mispelled) is listed as a citizen. There are so many mistakes here that this might also be a mistake, but it might not, and is worth looking into. Mary E. Gorry is not his sister, but his daughter, the sister-in-law of Michael, Mary, and Hannah, as well as the mother of Elmer. What this entry also does, by way of information that is *not* there, is narrow the time frame for when John's wife and Mary's mother, Julia, died. Since she's not listed here, I assume (although this is not always the case) that she is already dead. Which narrows her window of death from Mary's birth in 1873 to John's death in 1908, to 1873-1905. Not a lot narrower, but every bit helps.

This find has invigorated me. I can't wait to see what else I turn up.

Friday, November 19, 2010

Funeral Card Friday - Mary Corr Gorry funeral bill

Mary Corr Gorry, my third great-grandmother, died July 3, 1901 at her home at 358 East. 10th Street in New York City at about the age of 70. According to her death certificate, the cause of death was heart failure brought on by heat stroke. I imagine that the turn-of-the-century tenements on the Lower East Side were not well ventilated and that a particularly hot summer was fatal to many elderly.

Her funeral expenses were billed to her daughter Hannah and include: a solid walnut casket with an engraved silver name plate and satin lining, a hearse and three carriages, candles, the use of a candelabra and camp chairs, advertising of the funeral (again, no name of newspaper, so not so helpful), and a few other things. In addition, you can see that after Mary's expenses have been tallied, the remainder of the funeral expenses for Joseph Gorry, Mary's grandson and Hannah's nephew, are finally paid, three and a half years after his death.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Tombstone Tuesday - A walk through Holy Rood & St. Brigid's cemeteries on a gorgeous autumn afternoon

Just a typical Saturday afternoon, wandering around a cemetery. Creepy, you ask? Not at all. Just my idea of fun, I answer.

I had to work at St. Brigid's Catholic Church in Westbury (Long Island) this past Saturday, Nov. 13, and I got there early. Realizing it was right next door to Holy Rood Cemetery and had an old cemetery of its own, *and* that I had my camera with me, I decided to go for a walk. I know some people get creeped out by cemeteries but I have always found them peaceful, and now that I'm a genealogy buff, I find them all the more interesting, looking at names and dates and just thinking about the past and our histories. Even when it doesn't pertain to my own family, sometimes I like to go and just "say hi" to the names I cross as I make my way through the headstones. I like to pay attention to the names - after all, that's why those markers are there, so that the people those names belonged to can be remembered. Plus, you never know which of those people don't have anyone around to remember them anymore. So I like to take a little time to do that. I also like to pause at those old white headstones that are so faded and worn that you can't even read the names anymore - that kind of makes me sad. So even though I don't know who they are, I like to stop and "say hi."

Anyway, these are some photos of some of the headstones I came across that day. My dad has a thing about angel headstones, so I was paying particular attention to them. The two cemeteries blend into each other, so I'm not sure where one ends and the other begins, but most of these were in the St. Brigid's part, I think, right behind the church.

Carmeno Capobianco & family

DeFerrari family

Angel hiding in the bushes - McGunnigle family

Sad little angel - Behr family

Love these Celtic cross headstones

Children's graves always make me sad - Eugene Francis Rhodes, died age 8.

Vallely family

Close-up of Vallely angel

Always interesting to see a headstone inscribed in a different language. This one is in Italian, and says something about a mother, a son, and Enrico Strada.

Della Ratta family

Saturday, November 13, 2010

The legend of the Mott Raynor House - Nancy Drew and the case of the crooked chimney PART DEUX

 So I found a website that claims that during Tudor times (that would be mid to late 1500s England), houses were built with crooked or twisted chimneys to frustrate witches, who couldn't get down them. That makes sense. Not the witch part - what, they're not smart enough to just knock on the front door? - but the Tudor England part. Plus, in that place and time, one can find both Motts and Raynors who may have bought into that superstition.

Mott Raynor House in Freeport.
I also found a website of real estate assessments that says the Mott Raynor House was built in 1851, which is older than I thought it might turn out to be, but still much younger and in the wrong place than Tudor England. So the questions remain: is the chimney just not visible in the old photo? And would 19th century fishermen and oyster planters descended from 17th century English colonists have bought into a 16th century English superstition?

So far this search is turning up more questions than answers...what would Nancy Drew do in this situation?

Friday, November 12, 2010

Funeral Card Friday - Elizabeth C. Adams Murray

I find this funeral card interesting, how it ties into other things my grandparents held on to, how they all link together to reveal who this person was to my family.

Elizabeth Murray was not a relative of mine, but her funeral card was one of the many my dad found in his parents' house. It reads: "Pray for the repose of the soul of Elizabeth C. Murray who died on November 12, 1937. On the same page in my genealogy scrapbook is an obituary:

It reads: "Murray - Elizabeth C. (nee Adams) suddenly, beloved wife of Stephen J. (whose funeral card we also have), and devoted mother of Ellen Hindley, Margaret McGuire, Elizabeth Hinch, and May and Thomas Murray. Funeral from her residence, 613 E. (something) st., on Monday, 9:30 a.m., thence to Immaculate Conception Church, where a solemn Requiem Mass will be offered for the repose of her soul. Interment Calvary Cemetery."

Looking at the 1930 U.S. census, we find Stephen and Elizabeth, age 55, living at 613 E. 16th Street in Manhattan. In 1910, they're living at 647 E. 16th Street, which is pretty much right across the street from where my great great grandmother Mary Horgan Gorry was living that same year (at 654 E. 16th Street) and where Mary Horgan's father, John, had died two years before at 652 E. 16th Street. And Mary was only two years older than Elizabeth, so the connection between Elizabeth Adams Murray and my family then is there - my great great grandmother and Elizabeth were friends. And apparently pretty good friends and longtime friends as well, because in 1896, before she was Elizabeth Murray, Elizabeth Adams was my great-grandfather Elmer Gorry's godmother at his baptism.

So, friend and godmother, which makes her just as good as family. :)

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Tombstone Thursday - Haase mausoleum at Evergreens Cemetery, Queens, New York

Xavier "Gustav" Haase 1886-1928

His mother, Eva Meinberg Haase 1861-1919

Haase mausoleum in Evergreens Cemetery in Queens, New York

Tombstone Thursday isn't a real thing, but I missed Tombstone Tuesday this week and I wanted to get this in - plus, the alliteration is still there, right?

This is the Haase "receiving vault" at the Cemetery of the Evergreens in Queens, New York. The first photo is of the vault for Gustav Haase, who was my great-great grandfather. The second is of the vault of his mother, Eva Meinberg Haase. She died in 1919, just two months before her husband, Edward Haase, also died. If you look at the front of the mausoleum, you can see the date "1919," the year both of Gustav's parents died. I know there are other people buried here but I forget who - Gustav was an only child. I'm not sure if his wife, Meta Ricklefs Haase, is buried here with him. What I find interesting is that my Gorry relatives couldn't even afford a simple headstone, and here are my Haase relatives, who could not only afford a headstone but could afford a big, fancy mausoleum (although, to be fair, its one of the less fancy mausoleums I've ever seen). My dad is the one who took these pictures, back in 2004. He might have more information about this burial plot, regarding who else is in there.

Happy Veteran's Day, everyone - thanks to all those in our trees who served in the past, and to all those, whether in our immediate family trees or just part of the human family tree, who are serving still today...

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Wordless Wednesday - Ellen Casey Cronin, Freeport, circa 1918

Great grandmother Ellen Casey Cronin feeding the chickens in a much more rural Freeport, NY circa 1918 Looks like my grandmother, Mary Cronin Raynor and her brother, Dan, are playing to the right in the background.

Monday, November 8, 2010

The legend of the Mott Raynor House - Nancy Drew and the case of the crooked chimney

Mott Raynor House on Bedell Street in Freeport.

Mott Raynor House crooked chimney - no witches here!
This is a somewhat famous old house in Freeport and I have loved it ever since I first heard about it. The house is located on Bedell Street, just south of Raynor Street, right in the heart of the oldest part of town. That's one block west of South Main Street, all streets located in the oldest part of town. This house is known as the Mott Raynor House, and what sets it apart from all the other old houses in that area is that it has a distinctly crooked chimney that, according to legend, was intentionally built that way. Why, you ask? Well, to keep out witches of course!

I love a good superstition!

Anyway, my father and I were driving past the house the other day, and it reminded me how much I love that story, but now that I'm older and enjoy researching and finding evidence for the stories and legends and information I know, I decided to see what I could find out about the house and if there might be any truth to the crooked chimney story.

I don't know when this house was built, but according to census records, Mott Raynor (who is obviously descended from at least two old Long Island families, the Motts and the Raynors, and is a relation of mine somehow, as all Long Island Raynors are) was born in 1828. In the 1900 census, he is living on South Main Street in Freeport, so I assumed he was not living in the Mott Raynor House at that time. A Google search, though, of archived old photos from the Freeport library, reveal that the Mott Raynor House was actually originally located on South Main Street, and later moved one block west to Bedell Street. I can't find an exact date for when this happened, except that it was after but close to the year 1900, and I can't find a reason WHY this was done.

What's interesting though is that in the photo I found online of the house being moved to Bedell Street, the crooked chimney doesn't appear to be there. So was it added afterward? Is it crooked simply because of shoddy workmanship? A new mystery to delve into...

Okay, so while I look into that, I also decided to look into the idea of a crooked chimney being built intentionally for the express purpose of keeping out witches. A Google search gave me a ton of entries connecting "crooked chimney" to "witches" but all about witches living in houses with crooked chimneys. I finally found a forum where someone claimed to have lived in a house built with a crooked chimney to keep out witches. Now, were witches something 18th & 19th century Long Island farmers and oyster planters considered a real threat? Was that a superstition that would have been found in that place and time period? Is it something perhaps that could've been passed down to them by their English immigrant ancestors? Were the Mott Raynors a little crazy? Is this all a moot point if that old photo proves the chimney wasn't even in existence until after 1900? Am I intrigued enough by this subject that I don't care anymore if it applies to this particular situation?

All very good questions. Looks like Nancy Drew has a lot of detective work to do...


Sunday, November 7, 2010

Sunday's Obituary - Name Games: Sophia Dorothea Stieg Berg

In the Friday, March 11, 1921 issue of The Long Islander, the obituary reads: "Mrs. Doretha S. Berg. Saturday morning at the home of her son, Albert, on the Hempstead Turnpike, this vicinity lost its oldest resident by the death of Mrs. Doretha S. Berg. The cause of death was general debility, due to old age, the deceased being 97 years of age. The funeral occurred Tuesday afternoon from her late home which she made with her son. Services were conducted by the Rev. Mr. Carr, of Hempstead, and were largely attended. The interment followed in Greenfield Cemetery, Hempstead. Mrs. Berg is survived by three sons, Albert, Peter H., and Theodore Berg, and 11 grandchildren."

Now, Doretha, or Sophia as I have her in most of my records, is my 3rd great grandmother and one of those goshdarned relatives that are so hard to find because they go by so many, many names. I actually don't know that much about her. I know she was born in 1825 in Germany and that she married my 3rd great grandfather, Peter Hansen Berg, in New York City in 1851. On the marriage certificate, her name is supposedly given as Sophia Dorthea Christina Steig or Stegt. Her maiden name has also been spelled Stieg and her father's last name (on her death certificate) as Stigter.

It's hard enough when there are a variety of spellings for a surname. Now there's fun with first names!

In the 1860 U.S. census she's listed as Soffiah Berg. In 1870, Sophia Berg. In 1880, Sophia D. Hansenberg (that was the year Peter's middle and surname were combined - it's like the universe is just laughing at us sometimes as we scramble to track down records). In 1881 there's a record of a petition for naturalization for Sofhia D. Berg. That's a fun one. In the 1900 census she's again Sophia D. Berg. In 1903 her husband Peter died. In 1910, she's suddenly Dorothy Berg. Can't find her in the 1892 or 1905 NY census yet because of all these name games, or in the 1920 U.S. census either, but on her death certificate, she's Dorothea S. Berg. Just to be different. Which is close to the name on her obit, Doretha.

I just call her Great Grams.

Anyway, in the obit, her son Theodore is my 2nd great grandfather, and one of the 11 grandchildren mentioned is my great grandmother Amelia Berg Raynor. In fact, Sophia/Dorothy/Dorothea/Doretha also had several great grandchildren when she died (my family seems to like to do death in extremes - either very young or very old. Forget about this 60s-80s years of age crap...), including my grandfather, Clifford Monroe Raynor, who was 6 at the time of Great Grams' death.

Friday, November 5, 2010

Funeral Card Friday - Funeral bill for Joseph F. Gorry, age 7

So, I know this is supposed to be a "funeral card" theme, but I thought it might be interesting to share something in the same vein that my Gorry relatives had a penchant for saving - funeral bills.

Morbid, morbid folk, those Gorrys. The genealogist in me thanks them profusely every day.

Anyway, since a lot of the funeral cards they saved belonged to friends as opposed to family, I thought I'd switch it up, and start with someone who, had he belonged to a less genealogically inclined family, might have been lost to history forever - my great grandfather Elmer Gorry's older brother Joseph, who died when he was just 7 years old. Joseph Francis Gorry was born Nov. 11, 1891 in New York City and died there on Nov. 8, 1898 at age 7 from acute endocarditis and acute nephritis - whether this was something that came on suddenly or something he lived with for awhile in his short life, I don't know. I do know that less than a year after Mary Horgan Gorry lost her husband Jimmy when he was just 27, she lost her third of four children. My great grandfather Elmer was only 2.

So, this is what we know from Joseph's death certificate. What we find out from his funeral bill is that his funeral expenses were billed to his paternal aunt, Hannah Gorry, on Jan. 9, 1899 by Maxcy Brothers, undertakers located on 504 East 14th Street in Manhattan, opposite "the Church" according to their bill - that would be the Gorrys' parish, Immaculate Conception Roman Catholic Church. Included in the bill is a "white embossed plush draped couch casket - full open, with engraved silver name plate" and handle ornaments with satin lining for $75, a hearse for $10, five carriages for $27.50, preserving of the remains, candles, use of a large candleabra and chairs, advertising (evidence of an obituary - in future funeral bills you will see they sometimes post what paper the funeral was advertised in), an outside case for transporting the casket to the cemetery, and a $5 charge for the opening of the grave, for a total of $137.50. Adjusting that for inflation, the cost of burying Joseph Gorry was almost $3500.

What we know from the bill as well (and you have to look at his grandmother Mary Corr Gorry's bill to see this, but of course the Gorrys saved that) is that it took the Gorrys until July of 1901, a year and a half, to pay off those expenses - $5 here, $25 there. Considering they couldn't even afford a headstone, that's no surprise. Maybe that's why they couldn't afford a headstone - between 1893-1901, the Gorrys buried James Gorry the Elder (1893) and his wife, Mary Corr Gorry (1901), their son Jimmy (1897), and three of his four kids - infant twins Mary and Ellen (1893 & 1894) and Joseph Francis, 1898.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

And now for some words about the photo of Tim Cronin and the stonecutters union

Yesterday I posted a photo of my great-grandfather Timothy Cronin and his fellow members of the stonecutters union for Wordless Wednesday, but there are some things about that photo that I thought needed a few words said, so here I go talking about it today!

I love old photos. Besides seeing what your family members looked like when they were younger or when they were dressed to the nines or when they were caught in a candid moment, there are other things within the frame (in film, all these elements within the frame are called the "mise-en-scene") that are also important - important clues to a time frame or a place or just to what the world was like in that year or that week or on that day. A stopped clock. A storefront sign. An outfit.

Anyway, this photo is of Timothy Cronin with his stonecutters union. While Tim worked as a hotelkeeper, a barkeeper, and a farmer during his life, much of his work was spent as a stonecutter or marblecutter.

Personally, I love all their hats.

They're standing outside a building that reads either Marquet or Marquette in the stonework. If I can track down that building, I can pinpoint the exact location of this photo. And if you notice in the windows, there are fliers hanging, advertising the "Belleville Egyptian Hustlers." I always wondered what that was, so I finally looked it up online and after scrolling through a bunch of annoying results for actual Egyptian hustlers, I found out that the Egyptian Hustlers were an organization of traveling salesmen from southern Illinois who held an annual convention that would apparently draw a huge crowd of people. (Belleville is a city in southern Illinois.) Underneath, it has what I assume are the dates of the convention - June 4, 5, and 6. So this picture was probably taken in May, and if we assume those dates are a weekend - Friday, Saturday, and Sunday - then the year could be 1909, when Timothy was 29, 1915 when he was 35, or maybe 1920 when he was 40...I don't think he looks much older than 40. But I'm sure if I did some more digging online I could find a newspaper story or journal or something saying when the Egyptian Hustlers came to New York in June. But it's interesting to see all these little visual clues you can find in photos - as genealogists we deal so much with verbal and written clues that sometimes we just skim over the visual ones that are sitting right there in front of us.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Those Places Thursday - Grossbockenheim, Germany

First, can we just acknowledge how awesome the name Grossbockenheim is? It sounds like something you might exclaim emphatically to express great displeasure. Or maybe great delight. Who knows? All I know is it looks even better when spelled the German way - Großbockenheim.


Anyway, this is the town from whence my Stutzmann ancestors hail and where they apparently lived for hundreds of years before good ole' Friedrich decided to come to New York in 1871. The town, which actually doesn't exist anymore as itself, is in the Rhineland-Palatinate region of Germany (or Rheinpfalz, as it is sometimes referred to in German). The Stutzmanns are also said to be from Bavaria, and since a part of Bavaria was incorporated into the Rheinpfalz, that would also be correct. Interesting aside: It took me forever to find Friedrich in a passenger list manifest because whoever transcribed his entry listed his ethnicity as being "Italian," because his recorded place of origin, Pfalz, was incorrectly read by the transcriber as Italy. Those kinds of mistakes happen a lot on, I've found.

Okay, so this is what Wikipedia says about Grossbockenheim today: Known today as "Bockenheim an der Weinstraße" which means "Bockenheim on the Wine Route," or just Bockenheim for short (not to be confused with Bockenheim district in Frankfurt am Main), the town lies at the north end of the 85 km-long German Wine Route, which connects all the vintner villages in the area. (Being located in wine country, it's no wonder then that Schlegel's describes Friedrich's father Peter Stutzmann as owning a vineyard. Continuing...) "Bockenheim is made up of two smaller centres called Großbockenheim and Kleinbockenheim (groß means “great” and klein “little”), which were merged in 1956. The two places arose from small settlements that themselves had grown out of Frankish estates after the Franks took the land about 500. In 770, Bockenheim had its first documentary mention in the Lorsch codex. In April 1525, in the Palatine Peasants’ War – part of the German Peasants' War – the Bockenheimer Haufen (“Bockenheim Cohort”) was formed, a rabble of peasants who joined the uprising. The village’s appearance is characterized by many old homesteads, of which ever more are being restored. From the 11th century comes the tower at the Romanesque Saint Martin’s Church (Martinskirche), which once stood next to the Emichsburg, a castle belonging to the Counts of Leiningen, after which today’s community centre is named. The castle, after being destroyed many times, was eventually converted into a residential castle, which itself was also destroyed. Its remnants have been incorporated into a winery, which bears the name Schlossgut (“Castle Estate”) in memory of the now mostly vanished complex."

The Stutzmanns were good German Lutherans and in addition to helping his father operate a vineyard, Friedrich Stutzmann, who was educated in the local school, was also a farmer.

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Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Wordless Wednesday - Outside T. A. Cronin's Bar in Brooklyn

A gathering outside T. A. Cronin's pub in Brooklyn.

T. A. Cronin himself - my great grandfather, Timothy Cronin, standing front and center.

My great grandmother (Timothy's wife), Ellen Casey Cronin, looking out from the first window by the bar's sign.

I'm in the process of trying to narrow down what year this photo might have been taken. I believe it's probably somewhere between 1912-1917...

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Tombstone Tuesday - CIA Director William J. Casey

Photo taken by Timothy J. Gorry
My dad is the only person I know who loves cemeteries as much as I do. He took this photo at Holy Rood Cemetery in Westbury, New York on Long Island. William J. Casey was born in 1913 and died in 1987. He was the director of the CIA from 1981-1987. As you can see by his headstone, he was an Irish Catholic - I really like the Celtic cross marker.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Sunday's Obituary - Catherine Corr

CORR - On Sunday, Nov. 5, CATHERINE L., beloved daughter of the late Thomas and Bridget Corr (nee Baxter) and sister of Margaret and Nicholas Corr and Mrs. William Gould, formerly of the 11th Ward, Manhattan.
               Funeral from her late residence, 84 Clinton av., Brooklyn, on Tuesday, Nov. 7, at 9:30 A.M. thence to the Church of the Sacred Heart, Clermont av., between Park and Flushing avs., where a solemn mass of requiem will be offered for the repose of her soul at 10 A.M. Interment Calvary.

My dad found this obit in his parents' house and since they seemed to hold on to all kinds of obits, I never really paid this one much attention. Then we got the death certificate for my 3rd great grandmother, Mary Gorry - her next of kin apparently did not know her parents' first names, but they did know something even more helpful - her maiden name, Corr. So, Mary Corr was my third great grandmother and we had an obit for a Catherine Corr, which meant they were probably related, and it turns out, they were. The info in Catherine's obit helped me find info on Mary Corr and her family - Catherine's father, Thomas, was Mary's brother and the Corrs, between passenger list records, banking records, census records, and, of course, obituaries, has actually turned out to be the Irish branch of my family that I know the most about.

Friday, October 22, 2010

Taking a tour of historic Freeport - Village Hall

Freeport, Long Island, New York is where I grew up and where my maternal immigrant ancestor Edward Raynor settled in 1659. In 1853, the name of the town was changed from Raynortown (formerly Raynor South) to Freeport, and in 1892 it became an incorporated village in the Town of Hempstead. This incarnation of Village Hall was built in 1928 and according to the sign, is also known as "the municipal building. It was built to replicate Independence Hall in Philadelphia. Enlarged 1973."

The first thing I think is funny is that the Raynors, who founded Freeport, were actually Loyalists during the American Revolution - the whole Hempstead area was full of British sympathizers, including my Raynor family. Lords knows they were probably rolling over in their graves when Village Hall was built. The second thing I find funny is that I've heard my whole life how Village Hall was built to look like Independence Hall and 31 years later, today, I finally looked - and they're right! Exactly the same! History - it's everywhere, people! :)

Freeport Village Hall, photo taken 21 October 2010

Freeport Village Hall, photo taken 21 October 2010

Independence Hall, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Those Places Thursday - the Berg house at 475 Front Street, Hempstead, New York Part Two

Ok, so I had a bit more info on the Berg house at 475 Front Street, so to keep the post from getting too long, here's part II!!

This next image is from the U.S. Indexed County Land Ownership Maps from 1906, courtesy of, which shows the property and even the house outline of "T. P." Berg on Front Street on the corner of Attorney Street. (I highlighted it in yellow to make it a little easier to see)

What I think is so interesting is this is exactly what that corner of Hempstead looks like today, with some street name changes and residential-to-commercial changes of course - Cross Street, in the top lefthand corner of the image, is still there, only now it's Peninsula Blvd. The best part for me, though, is that, despite the years that have passed and the many changes to the face of the neighborhood, the Berg house at 475 Front Street is still there. It now houses a medical practice, but if you look at this image from Google maps, you can see the outline of the house, just as it was more than 100 years ago.

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