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

Theodore Peterson Berg and Delia Dauch Berg were my great-great grandparents. According to a family history that was written up several years ago, Theodore and Delia lived "in  East  Meadow (New York) until  shortly  before 1895, when they moved to Hempstead (a few towns over).  It is told by her daughter (Amelia Berg Raynor, my great grandmother) that her mother and father were out buggy riding one day, when they passed the house at 475 Front Street, which was very large and beautiful, on the corner of Front and Attorney Streets.  She said how much she would love to live in that house.  A few days later, Theodore came in and handed Delia a deed to that property, where they lived for many, many years.  Their youngest son, Royal Howard Berg, was born in that house.  The house had two large living rooms and a large dining room.  On the wall of the dining room was an ornamental wall hanging, with a Bible verse for each week of the year.  The children memorized a new verse each week, which undoubtedly had some influence on their lives."

Theodore Peterson Berg and Delia Dauch Berg were my great-great grandparents. According to a family history that was written up several years ago, Theodore and Delia lived I don't know what year this is from but this is a picture of what the house looked like. Delia died in 1932 and Theodore in 1944, so they were in this house for quite a few years, more then 30 years. This was the house in which they raised their family, in which they grew old together.

Theodore and Delia Berg

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Wordless Wednesday - St. Mary Star of the Sea Cemetery, Lawrence, NY

Photo taken by Mary Ellen Gorry 20 October 2010. Parish cemetery of St. Mary Star of the Sea Catholic Church in Far Rockaway, but within the parish boundaries of Our Lady of Good Counsel Catholic Church in Inwood, New York.

Monday, October 18, 2010

Making a new week's resolution...

It's been awhile, folks, and I apologize for that - my day job has had me completely swamped and consequently completely drained in the free time I've had left over. I feel like all I've done the past few days is work and sleep, work and sleep.

Anyhow, I am still busy today but thought I'd take two minutes to just write a quick post - as I haven't been finding a lot of new information on my family tree lately, and as it's the start of a new week, I've decided to make a "new week's resolution" to be a more accurate and detailed genealogist. Since there's been a derth of new information, now is the perfect time to go back over the information I do have - the records, the notes, the e-mails, the newspaper clippings, everything - and try to catalogue or at least organize what I have - where I got it from, who gave it to me, authors, repositories, anything and everything - a bibliography of my research, if you will. I should've been doing this from the start anyway, and to some extent I have, but on some accounts I've also been lazy and there have been one or two occasions where I know the information I have in my tree comes from a reliable and accurate source, but I didn't write it down, so I couldn't tell you where it came from. And that's what it's about, because even if I *did* know where it came from, I'm not doing this research for me (well, yes, I am, because I do find it so interesting), but I'm not doing it just for me - I'm doing this for my children and their children, so they have a good foundation on which to continue building the family tree. And I'm doing it for my cousins and their cousins right now, who also need a good, solid place to start. You can do genealogy for yourself because it's a hobby you enjoy, but I'm not sure it reaches it's full potential unless you share it with others, so you want those others, whoever they might be, to be able to go back themselves to any original documents or sources or whatnot on their own, which is why the bibliography is key.

So, if you're just starting, start right - try to write everything down and in some kind of ordered fashion that will be usable and helpful to others. And if you're like me, this is what the genealogy research downtime is for - catching up on your organizing is a good way to be productive even when you don't feel like you're being productive!

 For guides on how to properly catalogue your findings, visit the Board for Certification of Genealogists' website at

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Those Places Thursday - Ridgewood Savings Bank

My great-great grandfather Rudolph Stutzmann, who I've written about before, was an undertaker and prominent member of German-American society in the Ridgewood section of Brooklyn and Queens in the late 19th and early 20th century. He was one of the founding members and the first president of what is now known as the Ridgewood Savings Bank, which opened in 1921 - you can find branches all over Long Island, but while the original building is no longer there, the larger, more ornate one that was built in 1929, is, at the corner of Myrtle and Forest Avenues.

This is a recent photo of the original bank headquarters, and below is a copy of a story and photo (courtesy of from the June 19, 1929 issue of The Brooklyn Daily Eagle in which the cornerstone for the new building was laid. Rudolph is at the very center and in the front of the large photo at the top of the page, to the right of the cornerstone, holding the trowel. The headline reads, "Laying cornerstone for new $500,000 Ridgewood Savings Bank." He would be president of the bank until his death in 1946.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Wordless Wednesday - Evergreens or Lutheran Cemetery, Queens, New York

I visited both Evergreens and Lutheran Cemeteries in Queens, New York this day and did a terrible job of documenting which cemetery this one was, but I just love cemeteries and remember thinking this one looked even more hauntingly beautiful in the snow. Photo taken 24 March 2005.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Tombstone Tuesday - the Gorrys, Calvary Cemetery, Queens, New York

This entry is going to be a little different. This is a photo of the Gorry headstone in Calvary Cemetery in Queens, New York. There is no photo because there is no headstone. My great great grandfather James Gorry is buried in Calvary, his father James is buried in Calvary, and when I go to visit their graves, I walk amidst the thousands of markers, row upon row of memorials, to an empty square of grass where my family is buried, Irish immigrants and their children who were, like so many other immigrants then, too poor to be able to afford a headstone for their descendants to visit and remember them by. So I go anyway, and I stand on the empty grass and look across the river to Manhattan, the land of hope and dreams that the Gorrys came to from Ireland, and I close my eyes and tell my family hello, and that I know them and know of them, from all the research that I do, and that they don't need a headstone to be remembered.

Monday, October 11, 2010

And the Gorry family tree grows another (possible) branch...

It's only a possible branch at this point, but I don't believe in coincidences and my gut is telling me that there are striking similarities in this new possible branch and my own family tree because they are one and the same.

Early last week I was notified of a hint on my family tree, that someone else had built a tree that included my 3rd great-grandfather, James Gorry as a "possible" member of their tree. I was immediately excited, probably moreso than I should've been before I read any further, because my own branch of the Gorry tree is so narrow and, well, branchless, that any Gorry connection I find is valuable because of its rarity. For those who have not read about my Gorry branch before, here's the recap - my third great grandfather, James Gorry, son of Cornelius and Mary, emigrated from Ireland to New York. He and his wife Mary Corr had 4 children - Michael, Mary, Hannah, and James - and only James married and had children. He married Mary Horgan and they had four children - Joseph, Mary, Ellen, and Elmer - but only Elmer lived to adulthood, married (to Mary Tormey), and had children (Eugene Gerard and Elmer Anthony, my grandfather). So when my father was born in 1952, he was the only 4th-generation descendant of James the Senior and as far as I knew, the only 5th-generation descendant of Cornelius.

In recent years I was contacted by a woman in England descended from a Charles Gorry, son of Cornelius of Ireland, who was my first possible Gorry branch discovery - Cornelius and Gorry are both such uncommon names that I'm leaning toward the theory that she is a relation, but I have no proof beyond that. But here was this new tree I discovered last week - according to the author of it, James Gorry was a possible brother of a Mary Gorry, from whom her husband was descended. Mary Gorry is a very, *very* common name in my family and she had emigrated from Ireland to New York. So I wrote the author an e-mail saying I thought it was possible we were connected, and asking what kind of information she had on her Mary Gorry. I finally heard back from her last night. She wrote:

Her husband's "great great grandmother was Mary Gorry born about 1826 in Ireland. Her husband was Philip Tuite Philip Tuite and a James Gorry were both naturalized on Oct 25th 1866 in New York. They were witnesses for each other. James Gorry's address was 190 E 11th Street.I wonder if he is your James and if he and Mary were brother and sister.I remember my father-in-law saying there was an Elmer Gorry in the family but I don't remember how he was related... I'm going to try and get Mary Gorry's death certificate and hope it has her parents names on it."

So three things to note from that note - first, that my James Gorry definitely lived on E. 10th Street, which is around the block from E. 11th Street, but that there are years unaccounted for where he lived and back then people usually stayed in the same area, so it's possible he lived at 190 E. 11th Street in 1866. Second, that if Cornelius Gorry is an uncommon name, Elmer Gorry is an even more uncommon name, so if her father-in-law said they had an Elmer Gorry in their family, it was most definitely one of my Elmer Gorrys. And third, I don't have naturalization information for my James, so if her James and my James are the same, then that's new information for me.

While this new possible branch would only add to the outward growth of the Gorry tree and not to tracing it backward (so far), every piece you can add to the puzzle gives you a bigger, clearer, more complete picture. It connects you to other family members doing their own research. It adds to your new information. And if you can find one new branch, even though they might not add any new information, it leaves you hopeful that it's possible to discover *another* branch, and maybe they're the branch that *will* have that missing information that will finally bring you back another generation closer to your roots.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Sunday's obituary - Mary Story Poole

From the December 23, 1902 issue of The Brooklyn Daily Eagle: "Funeral of Mrs. Poole, Ocean Side, L.I., December 23 - The funeral of Mrs. Mary O. Poole, widow of Richard Poole, who died on Friday, aged 75 years, took place yesterday afternoon and was attended by a large number of relatives and friends. The interment was made in the Old Church cemetery at Lynbrook. Mrs. Poole was an old and esteemed resident, having lived here all her life. She was a daughter of the late Morris Story and leaves four grown children."

The Old Church cemetery is now Rockville Cemetery in Lynbrook. Mary Story Poole was my 3rd great-grandmother. Her daughter Annie married Joseph James "J.J." Raynor - they were my great great grandparents. There is still a lot of research I need to do on both the Poole and Story lines of my family tree.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

A Thursday "thank you"

That's not really a thing, except that today is Thursday, and this is a "thank you" to everyone who's been reading this blog, and an extra "thank you" to those of you who have taken the time to leave me comments - I hope some of you are learning about your own families through the posts I share, that some of you are figuring out how to research your own families through my own successes and failures, and that some of you have found at least one of my posts just generally interesting. And for those of you who have been so kind as to leave me a comment, I've been trying to respond to them, so check back from time to time! I write because I love to write, and I write about genealogy because I love genealogy, so while I would be perfectly happy even if my words were being received by no other entity than the universe, this blog is a more meaningful experience for me knowing others are sharing in it!

We now return you to your regularly scheduled program... :)

Taking a tour of historic Freeport: the Crystal Lake Hotel

You ever notice how you'll learn something for the very first time, in any arena in life, and suddenly, you're seeing that thing or hearing about it *everywhere*, even though before then you'd never heard of it before?

This sign was recently put up three blocks north of my house at the corner of Guy Lombardo Avenue and Southside Avenue. It reads: "Crystal Lake Hotel and cottage opened 1895 by Ward and Allie Frost. Accomodated 150 guests. Destroyed by fire 1958."

I know a bit about historic Freeport but I'd never heard of the Crystal Lake Hotel before (and what a fancy-schmancy name, too, right?) But when I was recently going through my great-grandfather Timothy Cronin's sister Julia's petition to become the administrator of their mother Nora's estate I found this - in petitioning the Brooklyn Surrogate's Court for administration, her brothers Timothy and Cornelius, both residing in Freeport, were served on March 30, 1921 with citations to appear in court if they wished to contest her petition. The page in the records reads: "William P. Jones, being duly sworn, deposes and says that he is over the age of twenty-one years and resides at the Crystal Lake Hotel, Southside Avenue, Freeport, N.Y., that he made personal service of the annexed delivering to and and leaving with each of them personally a true copy of said citation, as follows: On the 30th day of March, 1921 at 7:30 p.m. on Cornelius Cronin and Timothy A. Cronin, both at No. 270 South Main Street, Freeport, N.Y."

This is a postcard depicting the hotel in 1906 from a view from the southeast, looking west toward the hotel.

I just thought it was interesting that this probate record I found in the Brooklyn estate files mentions as a place of residence the hotel that used to exist up the block from where I now live - there are connections everywhere, you just have to look for them!!

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Wordless Wednesday - Berg family photo, Long Island, New York

What I love about this photo is the multigenerations in it, the coming together of family, how easy and relaxed and at home everybody looks. This isn't one of those fancy, posed, serious photos you get at Sears or by some other professional. This is a spur of the moment, "let's find someone who isn't family to take the photo because who knows when we'll have everybody together like this again" kind of photo. My grandfather, Clifford Raynor, is sitting in the front row, far right. He was about 10, so this photo is from about 1924. This is his mom's side of the family, so we have Amelia Berg Raynor and her kids, her brothers and their kids, and her parents, Theodore and Delia (Dauch) Berg. I believe this photo was taken at the house in East Meadow or Hempstead. 

What I also love about this photo is how at my recent Raynor family reunion, this photo kept my siblings and cousins talking for at least an hour straight, about how everybody looked and what their personalities must have been like based on how they were dressed, and everyone was asking me who each person was and how they were related to us - so this photo is proof that you can get anybody interested in the family history, even if it's just mildly interested, if you can find the right door to get them in. 

Sorry - that was a lot of words for Wordless Wednesday, huh? :) And when I find the original photo in my house, I'll upload a better quality image...

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Tombstone Tuesday - Poole Family of Long Island

This is one of the Poole family plots in Rockville Cemetery in Lynbrook, Long Island, New York. I took these photos July 16, 2009. The Pooles lived in that area - Lynbrook, Rockville Centre, Oceanside, and in this photo, we have the Poole headstone as well as the smaller markers for Mary A. (Story) Poole and Richard W. Poole, my third great-grandparents. Mary's marker says she lived from 1827-1902 and Richard's says he lived from 1820-1886. From newspaper articles I've read, Richard apparently amassed a sizable fortune in both farming and real estate, which his son, also Richard William, inherited upon Richard Sr.'s death. Richard Sr. and Mary's daughter Annie, was my great great grandmother, and was married to Joseph James "J.J." Raynor. Richard and Mary also had two other sons - Charles and Stanley (Stanley would go on to be a family name amongst Annie Poole Raynor's descendants) - and a daughter, Sarah. Sarah died very young and Stanley never married, and they are both buried in this plot as well.

Monday, October 4, 2010

Maritime Monday - Rockville Cemetery, Lynbrook

The Mariners Burying Ground at Rockville Cemetery, Lynbrook, Long Island, New York. Photo taken July 16, 2009. The sign reads: "The Mariners Burying Ground - 215 persons, mostly Irish and English immigrants, drowned when the American ships Bristol and Mexico were wrecked in the winter storms of 1836-37 off the South Shore of LI. 139 bodies were recovered. They are buried near this obelisk. 67 members of the Pearsall family are buried in the Sandhole Cemetery. Nearby is the grave Wright Pearsall, namesake of Pearsall's Corners, Lynbrook's former name. Lynbrook Historical Society 1990."

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Sunday's obituary - Peter Berg

From The Brooklyn Daily Eagle, Nov. 15, 1903

Peter Berg Dead
(special to the Eagle)
Hempstead, L.I., November 14 - Peter Berg, one of the oldest men in this section of Long Island, died at his home at East Meadowbrook this morning after a lingering illness. He was nearly 80 years of age and resided on Long Island for almost fifty years, and the wonderful changes that have taken place during that period were always a great source of wonderment to the old man. He came to this country directly from Germany when a young man, and was one of the first settlers of East Meadowbrook, which was then practically a wilderness. He was one of the largest raisers of pickles on Long Island and also farmed on an extensive scale and accumulated quite a fortune. No arrangements have been yet made for his funeral. He leaves three sons, Theodore, Peter Jr., and Thomas.

There are a few mistakes in there (mainly that he came from Germany, since he was actually born in Denmark), but Peter Berg was my 3rd great-grandfather, and his son Theodore was my great great grandfather.

Saturday, October 2, 2010

Reading the signs...

I told you I got an e-mail from cousin Milton the day before yesterday. I hadn't heard from him in ages so as I was thinking about it yesterday, I knew it was a sign. I just got this feeling. And I know that genealogy is, for lack of a better word, a science - we posit theories and we search for truths, and we back up these theories and truths with facts and evidence. We're scientists. We're detectives. But we also get feelings in our guts and we learn to trust our instincts when we know we know something but we can't prove it as truth...yet. Even NYPD detectives follow their guts sometimes when they're working a case...but maybe that's just the superstitious Irish in me talkin'... :)

Anyway, this doesn't have so much to do with my gut telling me to follow a lead so much as it was my gut telling me that Milton emailing me and the record I had just ordered from the New Jersey archives were connected. Beyond the obvious way, in that John Reinhardt, whose record I ordered, is a relation of Milton, too. So the day before yesterday I heard from Milton. And today my dad picked me up for work and told me I had gotten an envelope from the New Jersey archivss.

Now, you give a government department enough information and you would hope they would be able to work quickly. Unfortunately, that's not always the case. But I gave the NJDARM a ton of information to track down John Reinhardt's death record, based on information I had gotten off of the FamilySearch website, and they got back to me...within a week. Hallelujah - maybe God does exist!

Anyway, the disappointing news is, this record doesn't tell me anything I didn't already know - John Reinhardt, my 5th great grandfather, died in Union, Hudson County, New Jersey in October of 1870. He was married, 56 years old, born in Germany, and died of "atrophy of the brain." Actually, that last part I did not know, and now that I'm thinking of it, 56 is awfully young to die from so-called brain atrophy - some kind of dementia perhaps? I'll need to look into that. Unfortunately, what I had really been hoping for, some reference to his as-so-far unknown parents, was not there, but it does do two huge things for me: one, it verifies the information I already had, like I said, and two, it tells me that FamilySearch's record collection (not their family tree collection - that's user-submitted and awfully inaccurate!!) *is* to be trusted, that I can use it as a reliable starting place to find out other stuff. Like when and where John's wife died. That information is there. Now I just have to look for an actual record as evidence.

And now, too, I'll have something to write Milton back about, that I found a record, that it didn't tell us anything new, but that the record was there, and that it proves *John* was there, and if he died in Union, New Jersey, there's a good chance he was buried around there, too...

Road trip!! :)

Corresponding cousins, connecting cousins...

I got an e-mail from cousin Milton yesterday. I know I've mentioned him before - he's been extremely instrumental in my Haase family research, providing me with the only photo I have of my 4th great grandmother Barbara Reinhardt Haase, some histories of her husband Charles from his time during the Civil War, and copies of several Civil War documents of Charles', including his discharge papers.

What I find amazing is how genealogy can not only connect you to family from your past, but how it connects you to strangers who are alive now and turns them into family. Milton is a 78 year old living in Georgia. Besides all the knowledge he has shared with me, he put me in touch with a cousin of his who remembered meeting my second great grandfather. Just like the polite Southern gentleman that he is, he always refers to me as "Miss Mary" in his e-mails to me. And the fact that he is Internet and computer savvy, that he corresponds by e-mail and keeps a pretty well-documented family tree on is both amazing and endearing.

Cousin Claudia who has helped me with my Ricklefs research and Cousin April who has helped me with my Raynor research are also people I correspond with regularly - April and I live one town away from each other, but would never have met save our shared interest in our shared family tree. What also amazes me is how an interest in genealogy spans all ages - April and I are about the same age, Claudia is about my parents' age, and Milton is up there with my grandparents. But we all get excited as little kids at Christmas when someone discovers new information.

Milton didn't have any news for me; he was just checking in. But I sent away last week to the New Jersey archives for the death certificate of John Reinhardt, a shared ancestor of ours - my 5th great grandfather and Milton's great great grandfather - so hopefully I'll get that back and be able to have some news to share with Milton.

Friday, October 1, 2010

A funny little poem for a dreary, rainy day...

I found this genealogy poem on a genealogy quotes message board ( - the guy who posted it didn't know who the author was. If anyone does, I will rightly attribute it, but ths poem just made me laugh, because I think we've all been there - we've all had that one family member we're trying to trace who fits this bill, who's just so untraceable that it goes from being frustrating to funny. Also, it's reassuring to know that all genealogists have to deal with this, that we're all in the same boat!

Genealogy Poem:
I went searching for an ancestor. I cannot find him still.
He moved around from place to place and did not leave a will.
He married where a courthouse burned. He mended all his fences.
He avoided any man who came to take the US census.

He always kept his luggage packed, this man who had no fame.
And every 20 years or so, this rascal changed his name.
His parents came from Europe. They could be on some list
of passengers to the USA, but somehow they got missed.

And no one else anywhere is searching for this man
So, I play geneasolitaire to find him if I can.
I'm told he's buried in a plot, with tombstone he was blessed
but the weather took engraving and some vandal took the rest.

He died before the county clerks decided to keep records,
No family bible has emerged in spite of all my efforts.
To top it off this ancestor, who caused me many groans.
Just to give me one more pain, betrothed a girl named JONES.

Kings County Estate Files: Eva Haase and the Cronins

A third day of Brooklyn probate records?? Say it ain't so!! Sorry, all - it may seem repetitive, but I think these next couple of records show what other kind of information you can find on your ancestors with these sources, and I find the Cronin records in particular extremely informative and worth sharing. Buck up - it's almost over! :)

On Aug. 12, 1921, my 2nd great grandfather Gustave Haase petitioned the Kings County Surrogate's court to be the administrator of the estate of his mother, Eva Meinberg Haase. Gustave lived at 8564-104th Street in Richmond Hill, Queens (all of these addresses btw can help you if you don't know where to look for a relative in a census, or to find someone in a city directory which might then also give you their occupation or if you need to verify another record you have with an address, such as a death certificate...or you know, if you live close enough that you just want to drive over and go visit the home where someone in your family lived out his or her life...) and was the executor of the will of Edward Haase, his father, who was the sole legatee as well as the executor of Eva Haase's will. Eva had died Sept. 11, 1919 at 180 Arlington Ave in Brooklyn, NY and in 1921 had unadministered assets worth $1015.19. Now Eva's estate file actually includes a copy of her will. It reads: "In the name of God, Amen: I, Eva Haase, of the Borough of Brooklyn, County of Kings, and State of New York, being of sound and disposing mind, memory, and understanding, but considering the uncertainty of life, do make my last will and testament..." She names her husband Edward executor and it's signed July 3, 1913, with one of the witnesses her son Gustave.

What I like about the Cronin records in the estate files is how much family information there is. So, for example, when my great grandfather Timothy Cronin's sister Julia petitioned the court for letters of administration of the estate of their mother, Nora Donahue Cronin, on April 21, 1921, (she died on Jan. 31st of that year), it lists all her next of kin: "Mary Cronin, a daughter of decedent, who resides at 91 St. James Place, Brooklyn; Nora McCarthy, a daughter of decedent, who resides at 36 West 12th St., Bayonne, NJ; Julia M.Cronin, (petitioner), a daughter of decedent, who resides at 375 Quincy St., Brooklyn; Cornelius Cronin, a son of of decedent, who resides at 61 Main St., Freeport, NY; Hannah Hazelton, a daughter of decedent, who resides at 377 Quincy St., Brooklyn; Timothy A. Cronin, a son of decedent, who resides at 270 South Main St., Freeport, NY."

This particular record was actually extremely helpful to me, as there has been some confusion over whether or not Nora McCarthy was a sister of Timothy Cronin or a cousin, but as I assume this information was provided by Julia Cronin herself, I'd say it's fairly certain that Nora was in fact their sister. Now, there are also three siblings who died before 1921 - brothers Daniel and Denis, who both died in 1913 and never married, and sister Katherine Flannery. When Daniel died, Denis filed a petition because he had not left a will - Denis, Timothy, Mary, Julia, and Hannah Hazelton are all listed as siblings living in New York, Nora McCarthy a sister living in Bayonne, New Jersey, and Cornelius Cronin a brother living in Ireland. What I like about this record is that my grandmother, Mary Cronin Raynor, had always told me she thought Cornelius had gone back to Ireland at some point, and this record shows that in 1913, he was in fact living in Ireland. Although I do wonder why their mother Nora wasn't listed. She is listed, however, in the May 15, 1914 petition of sister Julia to be the administrator of Daniel's estate upon the death of Denis. In addition to the usual suspects, Daniel's next of kin include "Julia Flannery, a child of a deceased sister, Katherine Flannery." Cornelius is still a resident of Ireland, and mother Nora is listed as "an incompetent." I still have a lot of questions about Nora, who spent quite a number of years institutionalized at Kings Park State Hospital - was it Alzheimer's or some other kind of dementia? A mental illness of some sort? I wish medical records or even admittance papers weren't nearly impossible to get your hands on, even 90 years later...

Anyway, I apologize for how long this has gone on for, but I really thought it was interesting to see just how much and what kind of information these records contain - as I've said before and I'll say again, you may discover new information, you may find proof to solve some family mystery about how someone is related or where someone lived, or you may just add another piece of verification to your evidence...whatever it is, it's all good!