Saturday, March 19, 2011

Fearless Females: Vera Gress

In honor of National Women’s History Month Lisa Alzo of The Accidental Genealogist blog presents Fearless Females: 31 Blogging Prompts to Celebrate Women’s History Month.

March 19 — Have you discovered a surprising fact about one of your female ancestors? What was it and how did you learn it? How did you feel when you found out?

When I was beginning my genealogy search, I order birth and death certificates for all of my know ancestors.  There were no surprises until I saw the birth certificate of my great-grandmother, Vera Gress[ref]City of Buffalo, New York, birth certificate no. 148 (1900), Vera Louise Gress; New York State Department of Health, City of Buffalo, Buffalo.[/ref]

I had long know that her full name at birth was Vera Julia Gress.  My mom, Julie, was named for her.  Or so we thought.  It turns out that at birth, Vera's middle name was Louise, after her Aunt Louisa (I am guessing).  When did she change it?  Prior to her marriage when she was 20[ref]Tom Tryniski, "New York State Historical Photos & Newspapers 1817 Thru 2007," database, Old Fulton Post Cards ( : accessed 23 Jun 2009), Whitehead-Gress; citing The Illustrated Buffalo Express, 30 January 1931, p. 4, col. 2. [/ref]

My grandmother and her sisters were all surprised and my grandmother says Vera never said anything when my mom was born and named for her.  My mother wasn't quite sure what to think, as she apparently was named incorrectly, which was quite a shock.  We will probably never know when and why Vera changed her name, but it is definitely an interesting story.

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