Tuesday, March 21, 2017

SNGF: A Critical Life Decision

Dark Matter



From Randy Seaver's GeneaMusings (a bit belatedly). Here is your assignment if you choose to play along (cue the Mission Impossible music):

1) Did you or your ancestor make a critical life decision that really changed their life in terms of place, work, family, relationships, etc.?

I think all people make a multitude of critical life decisions over the course of their lives.  Things like changing jobs, deciding on a college or career or to join the military, getting married, having children, and moving will alter the course of your life.

My ancestors that most changed their lives with one decision were those that decided to get on a boat and cross the Atlantic to come to the US from wherever they lived in Europe.  Some of these people came with only pennies to their name, in search of a better life for themselves and their family.

In my own life, I would also equate critical decisions on moving, though on a smaller scale.  I moved to Syracuse 10 years ago and everything changed because of that: I met my now-husband, decided to get my MSLIS, had Julian.  All things that most likely would not have occurred in the same way had I stayed in Oneonta.  I can't imagine my life any other way, so I think it was the right move.

If you're interested on a fiction book that shows how even minute changes effect your life, I highly recommend Dark Matter by Blake Crouch.  It is one of the best books I've read this year and well worth the hype.


Saturday, March 18, 2017

52 Ancestors: Jacob Gress

Amy Johnson Crow at No Story Too Small began the 52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks Challenge in 2014.  I am playing along this year.  I will be following my mom’s pedigree chart to start.  In addition to writing these posts, I will be making sure everything I have on the specific individual is in both OneNote and Legacy, do any basic research needed for missing documents, and start research plans as needed.

Woo-hoo, I’m all caught up!  I’m going to try to get back to posting these weekly.

jacob gress bar

Jacob Gress and his son Chester behind the bar

Me > My Mom > My Gramma > Vera Gress > Jacob Gress

Jacob J. Gress was born 26 January 1869 in Buffalo, Erie, New York to Joseph and Sophia (Possehl) Gress.  He was the second of what would be five children.

He married Elizabeth Fink around 1886, also in Buffalo.  They had 7 children, Chester, May, Walter, Elsie, Beulah, and Vera.

Jacob worked as a saloonkeeper for many years.  Later in life, he was a handy man at a paint company.

Jacob died 11 August 1932 in Buffalo of broncho-pneumonia and was buried at Forest Lawn Cemetery.

Thursday, March 16, 2017

52 Weeks: Anna May Sanderson

Amy Johnson Crow at No Story Too Small began the 52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks Challenge in 2014.  I am playing along this year.  I will be following my mom’s pedigree chart to start.  In addition to writing these posts, I will be making sure everything I have on the specific individual is in both OneNote and Legacy, do any basic research needed for missing documents, and start research plans as needed.

Me > My Mom > Her Mom > William Whitehead > Anna May Sanderson

  Anna May and Charles_thumb
I find all of my ancestors interesting.  They were all pretty salt of the earth people, a lot of farmers and laborers, living normal lives like their descendants do today.  But some hold a stronger fascination for me.  I’ve always been drawn to the sad story of Lillian.  I’m very interested in doing a one-place study for Halstead, Kent, England (an area we’ll get to with my 3rd great grandparents.) And of course there is the ancestor who got me into genealogy in the first place – Anna May.  Or Elizabeth Ann.  Whichever you want to go with.  Special thanks goes to the distant cousin who contacted my grandmother over 20 years ago with this link and got me started on this journey.

Elizabeth Ann Sanderson was born in Burlington, Ontario, Canada, 17 June 1871 to John William and Mary (Alwood) Sanderson.  She was the third of four children.

She married Willmar Lawrence 7 April 1887 in Toronto, Ontario, Canada.  According to her marriage record, she was 18.  According to the birth date listed on other documents, she would have been 15.  They had 4 children between 1898 and 1893, Ruth, Elizzie, Wilmur, and Carrie.

The story that was passed down by these children and eventually found it’s way to me was that one day Elizabeth packed up her children, dropped them off with various relatives, and never returned to get them.  Instead she hopped the border to Buffalo with Charles Whitehead, changed her name to Anna May, and had 3 more children, William Herbert, Harry Hobson, and Adeline Anna, born between 1896 and 1904.  She never returned again to see her family in Canada.

Parts of that aren’t true: obituaries showed that her siblings knew her new name and her sons William and Hobson were pallbearers at her brother William’s funeral.  However, when Willmur died in a tragic hotel fire n 1905 the newspaper article on the incident mentions that the whereabouts of his wife are unknown. 

The how and why of my belief that Elizabeth Ann/Anna May being the same person will one day make an excellent journal article, but until that time I will say that all of the evidence fits, including the DNA test I took a few years ago, where my closest matches were Anna’s descendants from her first marriage.

The why of her leaving like she did is more complicated, and something we’ll never know the actual answer to.  Based on her leaving her children with family, I would guess that her first husband might not have been the best guy.  Women did not have the options they do today and it is important not to judge someone through a modern lens.  I know parts of her first set of descendants still, understandably, harbor resentment, but maybe that was the only way she could figure out to give her children a better life.

I do know that Anna treated her sons William and Hobson like kings, never letting them lift a finger.  She was not nearly as kind to her daughter.  She also wasn't a very happy or nice woman in general.

She died 29 April 1928 in Buffalo of acute myocardial degeneration (primary) and acute cardiac dilation (contributory).  Her obituary mentions only her second husband and children she had with him, though it does mention her siblings in Canada, “sister of William Sanderson and Mrs. Freeman of Burlington, Ontario, and Gertrude Sanderson of Galt, Ont.”  She was buried next to her husband in Elmlawn Memorial Gardens in Kenmore.  Located in an unmarked grave, even in death she is difficult to locate.

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

52 Ancestors: Charles William Whitehead

Amy Johnson Crow at No Story Too Small began the 52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks Challenge in 2014.  I am playing along this year.  I will be following my mom’s pedigree chart to start.  In addition to writing these posts, I will be making sure everything I have on the specific individual is in both OneNote and Legacy, do any basic research needed for missing documents, and start research plans as needed.

Me > My Mom > Her Mom > William Whitehead > Charles William Whitehead

Anna May and Charles
Charles is on the right.  Also pictured are his wife Anna May and, I think, their son William.

Charles William Whitehead was born 12 June 1872 in Hamilton, Ontario, Canada to Charles and Mary Ann (Hayman) Whitehead.  He was their third son and the first born in Canada after the family had immigrated from England.  His sister Rose would be born a few years later.

Then it gets complicated.  At some point in the early to mid-1890s, he met Elizabeth Ann (Sanderson) Lawrence.  I’ll get into this a bit more when I write up her post, but the short version is she left her family in Canada, and Charles and Elizabeth, now calling herself Anna May, moved across the border to Buffalo around 1895 and had 3 children, William Charles, Harry Hobson, and Adeline Anna.

According to census records and his death certificate, he had many occupations, including being a teamster in Canada, a laborer in the auto manufacturing industry, a purser for a hotel, and, finally, retired store keeper at the Iroquois Hotel.  In Buffalo he was a member of the Episcopalian church.

He died 27 December 1927 in Buffalo and was buried at Elmlawn Memorial Gardens in Kenmore, Erie, New York.

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

52 Ancestors: Augusta Tross

Amy Johnson Crow at No Story Too Small began the 52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks Challenge in 2014.  I am playing along this year.  I will be following my mom’s pedigree chart to start.  In addition to writing these posts, I will be making sure everything I have on the specific individual is in both OneNote and Legacy, do any basic research needed for missing documents, and start research plans as needed.

Me > My Mom > Robert Casell > Lillian Eichorn > Augusta Tross

No picture for Augusta.  If anyone out there has one, please let me know.  I’d love to see it!

As my great-great grandparents go, Augusta is the one I need to do the most research on as far as birth and early life go.  I am relatively certain that Augusta M. Tross was born 6 September 1866 is Germany, probably in Eberstardt, the southern-most borough of Darmstadt in Hessen.  Her parents were Wenzel and Maria Elisa (Strassheim) Tross and she was the 8th of 9 children, though 3 of these children had died young.

Augusta left Hamburg, Germany 11 June 1884 with her mother and her five siblings, Balthasar, Elisa, Katharina, Heinrich, and Philip.  They had 3 pieces of baggage and arrived in New York City 13 days later on 24 June.  From there they headed to Buffalo, Erie, New York.

She married William Eichorn 14 June 1899 in Buffalo.   Their witnesses were his brother, Fred Eichhorn, and her sister, Katharina Tross.  They had six children, Kathryn V., Clara Evelyn, Marie A., Edna L., Lillian L., and William Tross, who was probably a bit of a surprise being born six years after Lillian in 1914.



Augusta died 1 January 1939.  The official cause was coronary thrombosis, though it was said she actually died of a broken heart after her daughter Lillian  died at the age of 29 a few weeks prior.  It was unfortunate that she wasn’t able to deal with her grief more effectively, as she was the last remaining grandparent to Lillian’s children, my grandfather and his siblings and with her help they probably would not have been put in an orphanage later that year.

Augusta was buried next to her husband, William, in the plot owned by their daughter Clara and Clara’s husband Friendly Amidon at Acacia Park Cemetery in North Tonawanda, Niagara, New York.






Monday, March 13, 2017

52 Ancestors: William Fred Eichorn

Amy Johnson Crow at No Story Too Small began the 52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks Challenge in 2014.  I am playing along this year.  I will be following my mom’s pedigree chart to start.  In addition to writing these posts, I will be making sure everything I have on the specific individual is in both OneNote and Legacy, do any basic research needed for missing documents, and start research plans as needed.

Me > My Mom > Robert Casell > Lillian Eichorn > William Fred Eichorn

No picture for William.  If anyone out there has one, please let me know.  I’d love to see it!

William Fred Eichorn (also spelled Eichhorn) was born 22 June 1874 in Chippewa, Welland, Ontario, Canada to Charles Herman Eichorn and Katherine Weiß (Weiss).  He was the first of, as far as I know, eight children.

The family crossed the border and lived in Niagara Falls, Niagara, New York by 1878 and were enumerated there in the 1880 census.  By 1884 they had moved to south to Buffalo, Erie, New York and lived there the rest of their lives.

William married  Augusta Tross 14 June 1899 in Buffalo.  Their witnesses were his brother, Fred Eichhorn, and her sister, Katharina Tross.  They had six children, Kathryn V., Clara Evelyn, Marie A., Edna L., Lillian L., and William Tross, who was probably a bit of a surprise being born six years after Lillian in 1914.

William worked for the Erie Railroad and from 1900 until his death he was an office clerk.  According to his obituary, he was a member of Parish Lodge No. 290, F. & A. M. [The Masons], and Walden Tent 115, The Maccabees
Eichhorn William tombstone
William died 9 March 1931 and was buried in the plot owned by his daughter Clara and her husband Friendly Amidon at Acacia Park Cemetery in North Tonawanda, Niagara, New York.

Sunday, March 12, 2017

52 Ancestors: Carolina Izzo

Amy Johnson Crow at No Story Too Small began the 52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks Challenge in 2014.  I am playing along this year.  I will be following my mom’s pedigree chart to start.  In addition to writing these posts, I will be making sure everything I have on the specific individual is in both OneNote and Legacy, do any basic research needed for missing documents, and start research plans as needed.
Izzo Carolina
Me > My Mom > Robert Casell > Alfred Casell > Carolina Izzo

Carolina Izzo was born 3 May 1876 in Calvi Risorta, Caserta, Campagna, Italy to Giovanni Izzo and Caterina D’Onofrio.  There were a lot of Izzos in Calvi Risorta whom I have not yet sorted out.

She married Marcantonio Casillo there 6 December 1901.  They immigrated to Buffalo, Erie, New York and were living there in 1903 when their first child, Amelia Angela Maria, was born.  Following Amelia were twins Alfredo Marco and Angelina Caterina, daughter Lucia, a child (name, date, and gender currently unknown) who died soon after birth, daughter Clara, and son Roberto Giuseppe, who died at 10 months, 2 days of gastro enteritis.

Casillo Caroline Tombstone

She died 2 October 1934 in Buffalo, Erie, New York of general arteriosclerosis and was buried in Buffalo Cemetery, Cheektowaga, Erie, New York.

Saturday, March 11, 2017

52 Ancestors: Marcantonio Maria Casillo

Amy Johnson Crow at No Story Too Small began the 52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks Challenge in 2014.  I am playing along this year.  I will be following my mom’s pedigree chart to start.  In addition to writing these posts, I will be making sure everything I have on the specific individual is in both OneNote and Legacy, do any basic research needed for missing documents, and start research plans as needed.
Casillo Marco
Me > My Mom > Robert Casell > Alfred Casell > Marcantonio Casillo

Marcantonio Maria Casillo (also known as Marco) was born 11 January 1868 in Roccaromana, Caserta, Campania, Italy to Pietro and Angela (Palmiero) Casillo.  I’ve found two siblings so far, but need to do more research into the Italian records.  FamilySearch is slowly indexing Italian records which will be much easier than the microfilm and browsable digital records I’ve used in the past considering my lack of Italian language skills.

Marco first came to the US on a trip with his father in in 1887.  He married Carolina Izzo in her hometown of Calvi Risorta, Caserta, Campagna, Italy on the 6 December 1901.  They immigrated to Buffalo, Erie, New York and were living there in 1903 when their first child, Amelia Angela Maria, was born.  Following Amelia were twins Alfredo Marco and Angelina Caterina, daughter Lucia, a child (name, date, and gender currently unknown) who died soon after birth, daughter Clara, and son Roberto Giuseppe, who died at 10 months, 2 days of gastro enteritis.

Marco worked for the railroad and it was there that his co-workers told him to change his name to Marco Antonio/Mark Anthony Casell to sound more “American.”  In records he is often found listed as “Antonio.”

Marco died 26 November 1937, the day after Thanksgiving, in Colden, Erie, New York of thrombosis and bronchitis.  He was buried next to his wife in Buffalo Cemetery, Cheektowaga, Erie, New York.

Friday, March 10, 2017

52 Ancestors: Vera Louise Julia Gress

Amy Johnson Crow at No Story Too Small began the 52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks Challenge in 2014.  I am playing along this year.  I will be following my mom’s pedigree chart to start.  In addition to writing these posts, I will be making sure everything I have on the specific individual is in both OneNote and Legacy, do any basic research needed for missing documents, and start research plans as needed.
IMG_0011 (2)
Photo: Vera on left, her mother Elizabeth, her husband William; scanned from my great aunt Lois’ album.

Somehow February came and went, so let’s see if we can play catch up a bit this weekend.  Vera Louise Julia Gress is my mom’s maternal grandmother.  Unbeknownst to any of her children, her birth certificate had her name as Vera Louise Gress, with Louise likely being being for either her aunt Louisa Gress or her uncle Lewis Fink (or maybe both.)  However, she was always known as Vera Julia Gress.  In fact, my mother, Julie, was named after her, and my son, Julian, then named for my mom.  We’re not sure when it changed, but her engagement announcement listing her as “Vera J.” in 1921.

Vera was born 11 January 1900 in Buffalo, Erie, New York, to Jacob and Elizabeth (Fink) Gress.  She was the 7th and last child of the couple.  She married William Whitehead 28 March 1921 in Buffalo.

Whitehead Elizabeth tombstone
William and Vera had their first child, Elizabeth, 8 November 1922, who sadly passed away 9 days later on the 17th from a cerebral hemorrhage.  They were told they would not have any more children, but had 5 more daughters.

Vera enjoyed BINGO and playing cards.  One of my favorite stories of my great grandparents is how during the Great Depression they were doing okay, so Bill would be helping people, handing money out the front door, and Vera would be doing the same out the back.

William died in 1965 and Vera later got remarried to Elmer Daniels.  Vera died 3 February 1976 from injuries sustained in a car accident.  Vera was cremated and placed next to William at Forest Lawn Cemetery in Buffalo.

52 Ancestors: Angela Rosa Palmiero

Amy Johnson Crow at  No Story Too Small  began the 52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks Challenge in 2014.  I am playing along this year.  I wi...