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