Sunday, December 9, 2018

52 Ancestors: Winter

Black and White
photo by Norbert Reimer

This weeks’ blog post is Winter.  I may not be the most creative blogger around, but I just might be the luckiest as the wife of my 4th great-uncle was Amelia Winters.  How convenient is that?

Amelia Winters was born in June, 1848.  The early documents I’ve found about her show that she was born in Germany.  She married my 4th great-uncle, Abraham Aaron (Steen) Stein in October, 1865.  More on that later.

I first found Abraham in 1860 in Watsonville, California with his brothers, Jacob and Harris Steen.  All were listed as barbers and were living in a hotel.  Their older brother was my 3rd great grandfather, Joseph Steen.  It seems that the brothers immigrated to America and early on were all known by the name of Steen.

In 1880, Abraham and Amelia were enumerated in Watsonville with the name Stern.  But it’s hard to tell from the writing if it was Stern, Stein, or Steen.  What do you think?

1880 Census Abraham Amelia Stein zoom

With Abraham and Amelia were their children Joseph (14), Harry (12), Robert (6), Mary (3), and Lilly (1).

1880 Census Abraham Amelia Stein
Year: 1880; Census Place: Watsonville, Santa Cruz, California; Roll: 82; Page: 516A; Enumeration District: 091

Of course we don’t have the 1890 census but in 1900, Abraham and Amelia were now Stein and living at 746 W. Market in Lima, Ohio.  Amelia could read, write, and speak English.  Living in the household were Robert, Mollie, Lillie, Isaac, Jenny, and Irene.  Amelia stated she had 14 children, 9 of whom were still living.  I looked to see if the house is still standing and it appears that it is now a medical center.

A change of address (2127 E. 90th Street, Cleveland) but still Stein in 1910.  The children living in the home were Harriet, Mollie, Lillian, Jennie, and Irene.  Where did all the boys go?  And now Amelia stated she had 9 children, 8 of whom were still living.  The address is now part of the Cleveland Clinic.

1920 found Amelia and Abrham at 260 Lancashire Road in Cleveland.  Maybe trying to Americanize themselves, after years of stating that Amelia was born in Germany and Abraham in Poland, they now stated that Abraham was born in New York and Amelia in New Jersey.  Living with them were Mollie and Lillie and now widowed daughter, Jenny Zucker, and her daughter, Alice Zucker.  The address is now a parking lot.

Abraham died in 1923 so in 1930 Amelia was a widow living at 1291 East Boulevard, Cleveland.  Now she stated that she was born in Ohio and both parents were born in Germany.  Also in the home were Mollie and Lillie (these two never married) and divorced daughter Irene Deutch and her son, Albert.  All three daughters stated that both of their parents were born in Ohio.  What gives?  The address looks to be a parking lot now.

Back to the marriage of Amelia and Abraham.  I found many references to their marriage – most being on 29 Oct 1865.  Yet while some of the records listed the marriage of Abraham and Amelia Winters, there were a few references to Abraham and Amelia Neiter.  Was this just due to the hard-to-read handwriting of the clerk?

Amelia Neiter_Abraham Stein Marriage

I think it IS Winters but at least a few people thought it was Neiter.

I wish there was some explanation for why this part of the family changed their name (or at least the spelling) from Steen to Stein.  The only siblings who seemed to keep the name Steen through their lives were Joseph, Jacob, and Harris who all spent their lives in California.  Those who found their way to Ohio all seemed to go by Stein.

Amelia died on 8 May 1932 in Cuyahoga County, Ohio and is buried in Woodlawn Cemetery alongside Abraham.

Stein Amelia Winters 1932

Sunday, December 2, 2018

52 Ancestors: Next to Last

This week’s blog prompt is Next to Last.  There are so many ways to interpret this – would it be the next to last child born to one of my ancestors, the next to last person alphabetically in my list of ancestors, or the next to last birthday in a year or month?  There were so many possibilities but since I’ve recently shared a lot of the letters that my grandparents wrote back and forth to each other from 1916-1919, I thought I’d focus on the next to last letter they wrote to each other before the “big” day, their wedding on Sunday, February 23, 1919.  Since I seem to have missed a few of their many, many letters (probably were thrown away Sad smile) it is possible that these were not the next to last they wrote each other but rather the next to last I have possession of.  But either way, I treasure them.

Oh, how I wish I had a photo of them together (no selfies in those days) but I’m happy to have these photos of them on what I believe was during their honeymoon.  Does anyone recognize where this might be?

Loraine c 1919

Sig Levy c 1919

So here’s the next to last letters that they wrote to each other.  And just because I couldn’t leave you hanging, I’ve also included the last letters they wrote to each other.  [my comments] included.


February 16, 1919 - 5:00 p.m.Sunday afternoon

My Sweetheart

Just came from the house - I have been there all day. Have been straightening things up and I'm going to have a regular little bridal chamber [I’m not sure I want to think about just what a bridal chamber is used for]. I'll do the best I can my lover but remember I am almost all alone in getting everything ready. Because Madeline [Schuman – she was Sig’s older brother, Herb’s, wife] can't help on account of her suffering but then I am the kind sweet who depends on no one but myself so I'll have it nice. Yes dearest I understand about heating the house - I had the furnace going all day today. Tomorrow the oil attachment goes in and we will have it heated several times before we arrive there and it will be as clean as wax when my Russian women get thru. And you will be so happy then I know. [I wonder if Loraine was not anxious to live in that house].

I didn't write you last night because I hadn't heard from you for a couple of days, and then I knew you wouldn't get it until Monday anyway. Received your letter late last night. What do you think? I went out last night to the soldiers and sailor ball. They requested me to come so Dick & I went in uniform. It was simply packed and quite a night. The music and life was quite a change for me after all my strenuous grind of hard work.

And here is the best news - we had a wire from Ben [Sig’s younger brother] this morning stating that regimental headquarters had passed on his discharge and that he should get his final in five or six days - let us hope. Isn't that fine. And Leon is making a hard effort and wired to that effect Saturday.

Oh about the invites. Mother seems to be very satisfied as the original list stood and knowing that you are makes it that way for me. As long as you all are happy. I'll not worry I assure you as my thought was to endeavor to keep harmony with the relatives. So that's all settled.

And about the Rabbi - are you helping me on that. Sorry we couldn't get Franklin but let me know what I should do.

Sweetheart would you like me to bring my little aviator trunk. It might just be the right size for you and its cute. Probably your clothes will get soiled jamming them in a suit case. Just as you say love because we want to do everything that will help to comfort.

We will go to Santa Barbara as you or say L.A. or both - according to your desires. And where do you want to try and stay Sunday night - you didn't say.

So my list was alright, that's good. Don't know whether I missed any close ones or not as I haven't had a moment for thought since. Listen dear Mother wrote that we didn't answer Mrs. Ryta Plesh (?) for our engagement letter. We surely did but the lady is quite put out. We must amend for our overlooking it.

Now sweet I want you to take a good rest for the next few days - just go easy won't you. Can you realize that if nothing happens a week from now we will been married already and you Mrs. Sig. Is your love piling up dear? I wonder how much. Tell me all about it in tomorrow's letter. [what a tease]

I have so much to do in the next few days - gee I'll be busy. But I like to be that way. I wish you could see what nice weather we are having today.

Dear I intend leaving Thursday afternoon and going directly to Hotel Oakland that night when I arrive. Now where will you be? [no texting in those days – had to pre plan]  I hope you'll be there at the same time because I'll miss you if you are not.

That was nice of the girls to give you a tea! I hope you enjoy it a lot.

And the pin was pretty. I trust it was and being that it pleases you, I'm happy. I think it's best when you can select what you want. I am anxious to see it.

But more anxious than anything else in the world - to love you. Does that make you feel good? Would you enjoy having me in your arms now? Honest.  [now this is perhaps the sweetest paragraph I’ve ever read]

You know our Fresno address will be 1761 Van Ness Avenue. [I looked this address up on google maps and it appears to be an industrial area now]

How are all your folks. Give them my best love. "I'm fine".

Sweet we will have all day Friday and Saturday to get final details ready. Just a few more days. Be the sweetest little girl in the world. And I love you all that you want to be loved. Goodbye for today - a bunch of kisses.

Your boy


February 18, 1919 - 6 AM

Sig dearest,

Didn't write you today as was waiting for your letter which came tonight.

So my boy is very busy getting things ready for his "wife-to-be". Believe me, dear, we'll be a happy couple.

The girls gave me a delightful little tea today at the Gift Shop and I dolled up in my "going away" outfit. It looked quite swell  [that was quite a popular word in the 40’s but don’t remember seeing it much in the teens] and I hope you'll like it.

Yes, sweetheart, we expect to stay at the Oakland [Hotel] as far as we know, which I told you in yesterday's letter. About the trunk - unless you want to bring it for your things, dear, I don't think I shall need it as I expect to get a nice suitcase when I get to S.F. and will hold all I need as far as I know as I don't expect to take too many things along.

Haven't heard from Rabbi Meyer yet [they were having trouble confirming a Rabbi to marry them]. Hope he won't disappoint us or we will be up against it and shall have to scurry around for someone else.

It rained off and on today but now a strong north wind is blowing so I guess the weather will be clear for Sunday.

Am so glad to hear that the boys [Sig’s brothers, Leon and Ben] will be out [from the war] shortly. With them coming, though, it means that we'll have to look for a place to live in [Sig lived with them in Fresno]. Shall write a letter tomorrow. Stacks of love & kisses, dearest boy.



February 17, 1919 - 10:00 pm
Monday night

My dearest girl:

It is simply pouring out has been for a big part of the day and hailed some too. So I'll write this before I go home. Received your letter this morning and I'm sorry you were not in a loving mood, but down days in your heart you surely were because I don't want that love to be "moods", I want it to be continual.

Sweet, the house won't be too much work for you. I'm caring for all of that and you'll be surprised to see what a good little care-taker I'll be [I’m sure he was – and he passed that trait on to my father]. My friend Mrs. Sachs has been lovely and she is going to watch the job and see that it is done properly. I've engaged a man also to wash all the windows and when I get the job finished the house will look like a million dollars. The oil attachment to the furnace will be all finished and everything will be so comfortable that I think you won't be too anxious to leave until the folks come home. I have one little bridal chamber [there’s that bridal chamber again] about ready. And today I purchased new bedding so it will be ours, and the prettiest silk comforter [my grandmother always liked fancy things].

I am engaging tonight rooms at the Palace for Sunday night, and our train will leave at 8 A.M. Monday for Santa Barbara via Coast route. It will be a peach of a trip - arriving down there at 7:15 P.M. and observation on board. My plans are to arrive home Friday night the 28th so that I can help at the office on the first. And listen love you already have an invitation for Saturday afternoon March 1st. Helen Chartrand is giving a nice party and invited you today. She said that she would like to make you guest of honor. I was wondering if you would like to have it that way so quickly after your arrival here - or just go as one of the invited ones. Helen is very fond of you and was very happy to learn that we might be back by then.

Sweet, will you please add these names to your list.

Mr. & Mrs. Alfred F. Muenter, 30 7th Avenue, San Francisco
Mr. & Mrs. Ted Leyden, 430 Kearny, Fresno
Miss Bernice Olney, 175 Clark St.
Mrs. & Mrs. Harry Coffee, Fresno, Cal.

Have been very busy today - a lot of big things in sight which I am not attempting to do justice to. My thoughts just now are for you and I'm trying to have everything arranged so nicely. [awwww!!!]

I hope to see you Thursday night. Mother wrote that Mrs. Weimer is giving us a gorgeous silver bowl [wish I knew what happened to that bowl]. And do you know dear that the flat silver we picked is about the most expensive that Shreves have. [could this be silver engraved with “L” that my brother has now?] Their man it seems told one who was inquiring that it would cost $1000 [that was a lot of money 100 years ago] to complete the flat set. So I don't suppose we will get a big lot of silver. But we can't be worried - we will get enough.

Gee dear it seems that I picked a soiled piece of paper to write on but didn't notice it until too late. So please pardon won't you dear.

Don't you dare let your girl friends be more interested in your marriage than you are yourself [how could that be possible?]. I know you are tired dear but that shouldn't keep you from loving me more and more. Just imagine my responsibilities and still that love grows sweeter every day. So does yours I know it. And keep on thinking of the pretty things - we are going to have them.

That's all I know tonight. Last night I stayed at home and played cards. We had a lot of sport. I beat them but they said wait till you bring your wife out some night and we will get even. But they will all have to travel to get the best of us.

How is your mother - very well I hope. Give her my love. We are all well down here. Be a dear little girl. Loads of love and kisses for you tonight.

Your Sig


February 18, 1919 - 6 PM

Sig dear

I waited for the noon mail to come in today and thought surely there would be some word from Dr. Meyer as to whether he will be able to officiate or not, but none came [she was getting quite worried by this point]. It isn't enough that I have other things to attend to, I have to bother about getting the Rabbi, too [Grandma, don’t be irritated – he’s working on setting up the bridal chamber]. And you know we can't wait until the last minute or we won't be getting married at all. By rights you should have attended to this as soon as you knew the date, but it can't be helped now as we waited on Franklin. A few moments ago I wired to your mother and told her to find out if Meyer will be with us, if not, to get Nieto at once, altho' I would rather have the former, and to answer me one way or the other. It is a pretty late date now to be hunting some one to marry us on Sunday. We'll be in fine luck if everyone is busy on that day - preparations, etc and no one to perform the ceremony. We'll have to trust to luck, that's all. You'll have to get busy Friday if we haven't secured any up to that date. But I hope it will be settled before then.

Two presents came today - one from Mina and Morse [not sure who this is], the other from the Benas family; Gertie, Hortense, etc. Will tell you about them when I see you.

This will be my last letter to you, dear, until we meet in Oakland and I'll be waiting for you at the Oakland [Hotel]. Mother sent a list this morning for more announcements.

I'll be so glad when all this excitement is over - it is getting to be too much for me, especially when you are so far away that I have to do the figuring. I do hope we will be able to land some Rabbi. That is the worry I have now. [All of the preparations were draining, which is something my father would have agreed with].

Heard that Mina and her husband were coming to Del Monte last Sunday for a week and I phoned there five times yesterday but they don't seem to be around, although the operator claims they are registered.

I have to be on my way now, love, as I have many things to do yet this afternoon. Be good, and forgive my abrupt letter but my mind is so full that I can't sit down and compose a nice letter.

All for today. Loads of love and kisses, dearest, and I'll see you Thursday.


3:30 Just received a wire from your mother saying that Meyer will officiate but he didn't think I wanted an answer. So that is settled, thank goodness.  [YAY!  Because my life might have never happened if Meyer had not officiated].


And as my grandmother would say, that was that.  Not only the next-to-last letters but the last letters.  And now it’s time for them to get married.

Sig_Loraine Wedding Announcement

This photo is very blurry but I like to think it is Sig and Loraine leaving the ceremony after being married.  They look like they are in a hurry to get wherever they were going!

Sig_Loraine_date unknown cropped

What a gift my grandparents gave me by leaving their love story for me to find!

Sunday, November 25, 2018

52 Ancestors: Thankful

We are approaching the end of the Thanksgiving weekend, which is a perfect time to focus in on this weeks’ blog prompt – Thankful.

Table 1

Sure, I’m thankful for so many things.  Thankful for my family and friends, plenty of food (maybe too much) on the table, a nice warm house, and, of course, my health and the health of my loved ones.  Those are all a given.

I’m thankful to have known so many of my ancestors in real life and through this journey, I’ve gotten to “know” so many more of them.  Who knew I had a 5x great grandfather who served in the Revolutionary War, a 3x great grandfather who served in the Mexican War and Civil War (and lived to tell about it), and numerous other veterans who are so dear to me, most importantly my dad, his brother, and their father?

I’m thankful that I’ve met so many cousins from all sides of my family tree.  For someone with only one first cousin, this has been quite exciting.  Who wouldn’t love to share not just names and dates with family but also stories and photos?  What a gift!

But today I’m especially thankful that my family, mostly on my dad’s side, were packrats!  And I’m even more thankful that my parents, when “gifted” with this stuff, not only didn’t find the nearest dumpster and throw it all in but actually paid thousands of dollars over 30 years to store it.  And could I be any more thankful to my siblings for not really caring about this stuff and entrusting me with it?

oh boy

I first wrote about finding the stuff HERE.  We decided to tackle the storage unit once and for all, thankfully while my mother was still living, which was an unpleasant task for an arachnophobic – thank goodness for the brave men in my family.  While a lot did go into the dumpster (did we really need that 30 year old artificial Christmas tree?) or to my mother’s favorite charity (how many books can one family have?), much of it came home with me.  I remember finding boxes of letters, all in my grandparents’ handwriting, and when I picked up the boxes, they literally fell apart.  I threw the letters in a black garbage bag and stashed them in the car.

I found photos, scrapbooks, baby books, letters (I haven’t even started on the letters my dad either wrote or received during World War II), military uniforms, handmade quilts, Fresno memoribilia, and so many things I don’t even remember now.

I’m very thankful to have these two quilts that my mother’s maternal grandmother, Mildred (McAboy) Fitzgerald, made.  I remember using them as a young girl and I get a smile on my face every time I look at them.

I’ve done quite a bit of organizing but still have SO much to do – this will keep me busy throughout retirement and then some.

I first organized as many photos as I could identify into “family” boxes.  Those are now stored in several closets and while I know these boxes are not archival friendly, I feel like we’ve come a long way from the storage unit.

From there I scan them, label them with an acid free pen, and put them into archival boxes.  If it’s in the box, it’s labeled and scanned – boy do I love these boxes!

Some of the stuff is temporarily in the garage.  Thankfully we have a large home with lots of storage space but something had to give.  And someday, a few of those boxes, plus other things, will be donated to the Fresno Historical Society – road trip!

Back to the letters between my grandparents from 1916-1919.  From the black garbage bag the letters were sorted into boxes – one from Grandma to Grandpa and another from him to her.  This is what I have left to transcribe.

As I transcribe them, I’ve put them in archival safe boxes – I can’t believe how perfectly the letters fit.

Slowly but surely I’m transcribing them and am so thankful that my grandmother actually numbered each one so that there wasn’t much guesswork in figuring out the order they needed to go in.  I particularly love the first letter I found from August 14, 1916 with my grandfather’s loving words “Dear Miss Gunzendorfer”.  It was a love story they allowed me to share with them 100 years later.  Thank you, Grandma and Grandpa.

But most of all I’m thankful for my husband.  He has helped me clean out the storage unit and my childhood home, packed the car, driven the 1800 mile round trip journey (twice!), and humored me as I spread stuff out, photographed, scanned, blogged, all while listening to my stories.  I really couldn’t have done any of this without him.  I just hope that someday someone will be just as thankful that I’ve not only held onto this stuff for them but, hopefully, will make the journey just a little bit easier for them.

Sunday, November 18, 2018

52 Ancestors: Random Fact

This weeks’ blog prompt is Random Fact.  While I have so many random facts, I had to stop overthinking it and pick just one. 

My parents were born 16 months apart in Fresno, California.  But the random fact is that they were born in the same hospital, Burnett Sanitarium.

Burnett Sanitarium

Burnett Sanitarium was established in 1897 and by 1905, a three story building at the corner of Fresno and S Street was opened.  In 1916, the Burnett Annex was built and by 1945, Burnett Sanitarium was sold to a nonprofit corporation named Fresno Community Hospital.  But during that time, many children were born including my parents, Gordon Levy and Geraldine Martin.

Gordon Levy was born on 11 February, 1927 at 9:04 a.m.  And from his baby book which I shared HERE, I know that he was 8 pounds, 3 ounces and 20” long.  Note that the Registrar was H. Hulrbert.

Birth Certificate Gordon Levy
The family lived at 1212 N. Van Ness in Fresno.  From Google Maps, the house now looks like this.

1212 N

This is one of the earliest photos I’ve found of my dad – cutie patootie.  Could this have been outside the house on Van Ness?

Gordon 1927
Gordon Levy, 1927

Geraldine Martin was born on 8 June, 1928 at 6:25 p.m.  While I don’t know how much she weighed or how long she was, I remember her telling me that she and Dad were both about 8 1/2 pounds, which she said contributed to my birth weight of 8 pounds, 5 ounces.  An interesting tidbit she told me – since her mother’s maiden name was Fitzgerald, her name was to be Geraldine if a girl, Fitzgerald if a boy.  We laughed that while she didn’t like the name Geraldine, we thought she got the better end of the deal.

Check out the registrar – H. Hurlbert!  Okay, so Fresno was probably a small town in the late 1920’s and H. Hurlbert may be been the only registrar but still interesting to see that he/she signed both birth certificates.  I’ve done a little research and haven’t found mention of him/her anywhere.

Birth Certificate Geraldine Martin

The family lived at 1023 Thorne.  Mom always told me that her grandparents lived at that address.  In fact, her grandfather, Edward Fitzgerald died in that home in 1968.  Here’s what it looks like today, courtesy of Google Maps.  I actually have a faint memory of visiting my great grandparents at their home which looked like this.

1023 Thorne Avenue Fresno

Could this be the same house the family posed in front of in about 1930?

Clara_Earle_Gerry_Francis Brooks
Top – Francis Maria (Brooks) Martin (Gerry’s grandmother)
Bottom – Clara (Fitzgerald) Martin, Gerry Martin, Earle Martin

Geraldine c 1928
Geraldine Martin, 1928

Sure it’s not that abnormal to have parents born in the same hospital or have the same Registrar sign their birth certificates, but it makes for a pretty random fact.

Sunday, November 11, 2018

100 Years Ago Today

100 years ago today, 11 November 1918, the Armistice was signed which ended fighting on land, sea and air in World War I between the Allies and their opponent, Germany.  This was an exciting time and today we are celebrating and remembering those who fought for our freedom.

One of those veterans was my paternal grandfather, Sigmund Levy (31 July 1888 – 16 August 1968).  I’ve written a lot about Sig over the years but I thought it fitting to write about him today as he was a member of the Flying Cadets at March Field anticipating the end of the war 100 years ago today.  You can read a bit about his service, as well as the service of some other ancestors, HERE HERE HERE and HERE

Sig Military
Sig Levy, c. 1917-1918

Sig registered for the war on 5 June 1917 in Fresno, California.  As I’ve stated many, many times, Sig was short and he didn’t try to hide it when he registered.  Of course, there really was no way to hide that fact.

WWI Registration pg 1WWI Registration pg 2

I thought the best way to describe the feelings my grandparents were having 100 years ago was to share the letters they wrote to each other as the war was ending and the Armistice was signed.  On top of that, they were engaged to be married and congratulations were pouring in.  Loraine’s letters in red, Sig’s in blue.  I had to go all the way to November 14 when Sig was grounded for good because he was too short.  I just can’t get enough of the love that oozes off these pages!

November 9, 1918 – 5:30 am
Friday eve
[March Field]

My darling Boy

Just spoke to your mother over the phone to tell her good-bye and she said she hadn’t heard from you. I was hoping for a letter today but will probably find one at home. I surely hope so. Your mother is fine and said she was so excited yesterday over the peace news. Then it all had to be spoiled. But let uus pray that the Germans will accept our terms.

Had the loveliest letter from Leon today and I’ll send it to you, dear, as soon as I answer it. Melvine Schwarzbaum phoned a few moments ago to congratulate me and asked me to extend his wishes to you. He wanted to know what would be a good cure for a broken heart, Said he guessed he wasn’t quick enough.

Our announcement came out in the Emanuel today and the woman didn’t put it in a bit nice – leave it to them. I am not even going to get any copies – I gave it to her entirely different than she put it in. I hope the article in the Fresno paper will be good.

Don’t know a thing, love, to tell you, love, except that I am all packed up and ready to leave tomorrow morning at 7:30 for that is the time they are going to leave. Can you picture me leaving at that time?
Uncle Milt and Aunt Chas came in a little while ago and are here visiting. I am finishing this so they can mail it when they go. They enclose their love to you, sweet. Spoke to Bella a short while ago and she said to send her and her family’s love to you and said she hoped to see you soon.

Am so anxious to hear all about your camp and how everything is getting along. Sweetheart, don’t you think I am a good little girl to write to you every night? I love to write to you but some of my letters will be short on account of not very much news some days. After I get home I’ll have a little more to write about for awhile as everything will be news.

You know that I love you more and more and am thinking of you always and am hoping for your return to me very very soon. Then we will be so happy.

All my love, dearest, and then some. And a real kiss.

Yours forever

March Field
November 9, 1918 - 10 A.M.
Friday night

My Sweetheart:

Well another day is over and I am still alive - and I had my first flight. Sweet it was a wonderful ride and I felt right at home - honest it didn't frighten me a bit. Was up for almost an hour just on a joy ride and went up a little over 2000 feet. I have a peach of an instructor and he is a Mason so that helps. They strap you in tight and away you go - it really is fascinating - and they also have you take hold of the controls and run the ship for a tiny bit now and then. It only takes the least bit of movement to sway in any direction I dressed up real warm and was not at all cold in the air - have my helmet, goggles, etc. & look like the real stuff. Wish I could send you a picture love, but they don't allow them down here. From now on I fly every morning so wish me luck. I have the same instructor every day. I can't reach the rudder control without stretching a lot so I am having a pillow seat made. They seem to think that I won't have any trouble flying and there are a lot of pillow aviators down here. But if I do sweet I'll not venture beyond the proper point so don't worry - but it seems that it is going to be easy to handle the plane from today's experience. The country below looks beautiful & I didn't feel at all sick and took it all in.

We have classes every hour down here the same as at Berkeley - but I find they are mostly reviews & one don't have to concentrate on them.

Listen sweetheart, did you get the clipping from the Republican. I didn't & am anxiously waiting to get it. I cried to Herb for a pillow to sleep on & it came today - believe me I've had a hard pillow up to now. The eating is rotten I hope I can live thru it - if the war would really stop all would be fine.

Received your very sweet letter today and thanks for all your love. I'm writing at the Y.M. tonight & Widekund is sitting opposite me doing likewise. He sends his regards to you. He also bunks alongside me & we are paling together.

Dear I just wish you could see this gang. Honest you would enjoy it - they do everything from pick & shovel to thrilling flying & go around like tramps. I see Seigel every day - he is doing very good he says. But it only takes a little mishap & they throw you out. But I'm not worrying - just taking it as it comes & enjoying it.

Sweet I'm sending you a big lot of wonderful love tonight and now your boy is a real flier. I wish you were here so I could hug you a lot in our own way - gee I long for it & my cough has just about vanished. Bye-bye for tonight - oodles of love & kisses. Also love to your folks.

Your own

November 10, 1918
Saturday night
[March Field]

My very own Lover

My pen must not have enjoyed its trip down very much as when I took it out a minute ago I found it wouldn’t write. So here goes for pencil – you won’t mind I know.

My, but I was excited, love, when I read your letter that you flew yesterday and I knew nothing about it. How I hope that everything was fine and that you enjoyed your first trip in the air.

Had a very pleasant ride down this morn.

Oh, love, Dad just this moment phoned that the Kaiser abdicated, also the king of Prussia. And how I hope it is true – what wonderful, wonderful news.

To continue – rode down with Jule and his wife as far as Salinas. Hym couldn’t go. We left at 8 o’clock and had a very pleasant trip. At 12 o’clock when I reached Salinas I phoned to Dad and he drove to Salinas for me, so now I am home – until I got to my new home and the way it looks it won’t be so very long before I’ll go there –

So far it feels good to be here. Oh, the Fresno paper came with our announcement. But no picture. What happened, dear. Haven’t seen it yet as Dad took it to our paper to have the article put in as coming from the Republican and it is to appear tonight.

Your letter was such an interesting one, sweetheart, and surely the life is entirely different than at Berkeley. Am surprised they are sending you up so soon. And you said you didn’t think you would fly at all. One can never tell, can they? Am glad I didn’t learn of it until it was over but am so anxious to hear all about it.

You didn’t send me the address of that note of congratulation so I can answer same. Shall write to Leon tonight, then I’ll send you his letter.

Like the monogram on the stationery you wrote on – it matches my pin. The folks were very much in love with my ring. Oh, dearest, I hunted up the letter you wrote to them and it was adorable – a very cute letter I thought. And I am very proud of my little boy.

Hope that severe army life won’t be too much for you. If you don’t get enough to eat let me know and I’ll send you some goodies. Am going to start to learn to cook now, dear, so I’ll be able to cook a real meal for my boy some day. Shall learn to bake and the like. You’ll have such a nice little housewife you won’t know what to do.

Started this this aft and am finishing it this evening. Feel fine being at home, there is nothing like it – if you could only be here all would be complete. The enclosed appeared in tonight’s paper here – copied from Republican. Didn’t give you much of a send-off, love, said nothing of your former life. Have already received congratulations from some of my friends here.

We are going to take out lunch tomorrow and go off for the day. It is a glorious night and tomorrow will be a nice day I hope. Am going to take my chum along with us.

My old tooth just started to ache and I left my letter long enough to fill it up with oil of cloves. From the way it feels now I am liable to have a good time with it. The first of the week will probably see me at the dentist.

I’ve told you about all for tonight, dearest, and do hope I’ll get a letter Monday telling me of your safe flight yesterday and all about it, the sensation, etc.

My folks send their very best love to you, dear. And you know that every bit of m y love is for you and will be always. Yours was a very sweet letter and I liked it so much. Some more like that please when you have time.

Once again all my love and a million kisses (maskless too – joke?) to my very own boy. Oh, Wilt said the quarantine at U.C. was to be lifted today.

Good-night, my sweetheart – I love you.

Forever your own

March Field, Riverside, California
November 10, 1918
10:00 AM

My dear little girl -

Sweet this is my afternoon off and I have written several letters to the family and one to my former boss. Just as I started to write we had a fire in camp and were all called out to extinguish same. I helped with the hose cart and we only lost a tent. Suppose I better first tell you what I did today. Flew at 6:30 and did most of the driving - for fifty minutes - did some climbing and more driving and everything went fine - did not even have a scare as I handle the boat very carefully. Gee but they made us learn quickly and think nothing of it. I fly again Monday but take a later hour all next week - probably 8:30 and start in landing ourselves - all the boys do the same thing.

About the war - I'm praying that Germany signs that note and all bets are called off. Was so excited when the reports came out but I doubted then being true by the time of them. But I think its all over & I hope they will discharge us quickly so my sweet little girl and I can have our life of real love together as it should be.

Received the story in the Fresno papers today & thought it real nice. The picture is to run tomorrow Sunday. Herbert wrote me today and said all my fellow chums were in congratulating him and wanted to know if you were a very tall girl.

Sweetheart Jens letter was a dear wasn't it - and I am returning it in another envelope with a couple of others. The one from Ike Alexander I wish you would answer with a tiny note just for him. If you remember we met him at the Palace that night when we were rushing out. He is a fine fellow & one of my best friends.

My dear I sent my letters all to Monterey because I thot [sic] you would be there so most likely you had to patiently wait for the first one. I'm sorry love but I did as you directed. Your letter today was so sweet that it just made me long for you and I assure you sweet that I realize how much we have to live for an am just as careful as can be and if I don't do stunts fast enough for them, I'll let them throw me out and take my chances on the future. I'm going to learn my ship completely before I go alone but so far I find it not at all difficult.

Still in quarantine but I think they will lift it next week. I'm sending you a copy of the paper they issue down here. So glad you bought the pin you like and anything your little heart desire, don't forget your Sig is very anxious that you shall have it.

Dear don't forget to write to Mother as often as you can and I'm so glad you are well & happy. I am the same - never get enough to eat. I'm even hungry after I come down from the air. Bye bye my own little dear and all the love in the work and lots & lots of kisses.

Your little worshipper

Monterey - Telegram
November 11, 1918 - 10:30 AM
Flying Cadet Sigmund Levy
March Field Calif
Wonderful good news Everyone happy Good Luck Much Love
11:33 A

November 11, 1918 – 9 PM
Monday eve
[March Field]

My dearest Boy

I was so overjoyed this morn at the wonderful news that I just had to telegraph you and hope you received my telegram O.K. At 4:20 A.M. I was awakened by whistles blowing and bells ringing out the joyous news of peace. They kept the racket up for two hours and started it again at nine this morn. Then at two this aft all the automobiles who could paraded and everyone was so happy. Everything was closed up so we went for a lovely ride around the 17 mile drive and just returned.

My, but I was busy this afternoon down town receiving congratulations from friends I met, dear. It was rather hard to recognize people in their masks but I managed to.

And to think that my boy is really flying. Received your letter this morn and was so happy to get it and to learn that your first flight was so successful and I hope the rest have been likewise. And now that the war is a thing of the past, love, am so anxious to know what they are going to do about discharging you. Guess now that you have had a start at flying you would like to continue but I’d rather have you safe on terra firma. And I hope my wishes will have some weight. But it must have been a wonderful sensation – flying 2000 ft and I am so proud to think of my boy being so brave and fearless. If conditions hadn’t changed you would have probably been driving alone in a very short time. I am wondering and wondering if they will still continue to train you. Hope not. So please, let me know, sweetheart, about it as soon as you can.

Those were lovely letters from your cousins and I want to answer them but don’t know their last names or addresses. Please send them.

Am so sorry that the food is miserable. Hope it improves. Want to send you something but don’t know what will keep for so long a journey as to Riverside. Will try to send a cake.

Oh, Wilt phoned at 8:30 this morn to rejoice with us. Said they got word at 1 A.M. and everyone dresses and paraded over the campus and there were several bands out to[sic]. I can just imagine how immense the noise was in S.F.

I am sending you the clipping from the S.F. Chronicle. They didn’t put it in the way I gave it but we should worry.

My girl friend and I are going to see a young married couple for awhile tonight. Shall I try to get some pointers, love? I don’t think we need any, though.

I liked you stationery again. Where do you get such cute paper?

Believe me, dearest, I am so happy tonight and am just bubbling over and how I’d like to see you so we could be happy together. Your love is so wonderful and I love you so very much and now we can really plan for the future and our hopes will be realisms quite soon.

I hear the whistle of the evening train and I wonder if the train could be bringing me a letter from you. Possibly I won’t hear until tomorrow.

All for tonight, love. Be the best boy in the world and be careful. All the love that my heart possesses for you dear and a whole lot of kisses from

Your very own

Am so glad that your cough is gone and please don’t get any more. It is nice that you and Wedekind are chuming[sic] together as he seemed to be a very nice young man.

March Field, Riverside, California
November 11, 1918 - 9:30 AM
Sunday aft.

My sweet little lover:

Haven't a bit of news to write today but you must have a note. I guess by now you see I have been just as faithful as yourself. I have written every day excepting the first which was a physical impossibility. But my love it also gives me so much comfort to write to you and to receive your wonderfully loving letters. But I am getting so lonesome to have you in my arms - honest I'll never let go when we do get together.

Your letters arrive so regularly and I get them just after I return from flying and they sure give me enjoyment.

Today we have all day off & I have been getting my clothes and things together. Had a nice bath and Wedekind and I have just been taking it easy because next week will be very strenuous.

I'm anxious to receive that letter from Leon as I didn't get any. So glad you phoned to Mother. I received a note from her today - she being so happy that this war is almost over. Gee I hope so dear and that I can soon be with you and then our little family will be the happiest in the world.

We are still in quarantine so no chance for a furlough but I will try for one as soon as it is lifted.

I forgot to tell you that my nice trunk was smashed up on the way down. They put a big hole completely thru the end. I put in a claim to the S.P. & hope I get paid the loss.

I'm at the Y.M. - it's certainly a nice place to hang out. Buell Feltz just came in - he bunks near me so I see him often.

The canteen is just across the road from here - and we all usually have an afternoon tea party over there - a little of milk & cookies. That's all you can buy down here - no ice cream or cakes of chocolate or anything of that nature. But we had a good lunch today - real apple pie - I ate almost a whole one. But I really think I'm getting fat - at least it feels that way but we have no scales so cannot weight. I hope you are picking up my love, and know you will at home. If I had you now I would just kiss you a thousand times and love you like you love to be loved. But it won't be long dear and we'll have that, and some more and more.

It is really warm today and I am enjoying it. I'll send my suit case tomorrow as the post office is closed today. Haven't received any more letters concerning our engagement, but its nice you are hearing nice things from all your friends.

Bye-bye for today my sweet little dear . All my love to you and a lot more.

Your own lover

Did you get all my letters?

(mailed) November 12, 1918 – 3 PM
Sunday Evening (November 11)
[March Field]

My own Dearest

We just returned from the loveliest ride over to Watsonville, which is about forty miles from here. Mother, Dad and my chum went and we took our lunch and ate it on the way. We had a nice hot lunch and enjoyed it muchly. But during our meal I kept saying how much nicer it would have been if only Wilt and Sig were with us. And I meant it too, love. We found the nicest little beach and a little boat that we sat in to eat and had fun saying how much we enjoyed the boat ride.

We reached home at 6 o’clock then ate some more. Then my chum, Mother & I sat talking until now – 9 o’clock. And my boy had to wait all this time for his letter to be written. But I didn’t forget you.

Sweetheart, our announcement appeared in both papers – fairly good articles, the Chronicle one is the best and I’ll send you the clipping as soon as I procure another copy. So we have had plenty of publicity for a little while, don’t you think? Republican, Monterey Cypress, Chronicle, Examiner, and Emanuel.

It was one glorious day today and I wondered what you were doing all day. I am hoping that you won’t have to fly every day. The Kaiser has abdicated but whether that means peace or not we’ll have to wait for. Let us hope tomorrow sees the signing of the armistice and then, sweet, our happiness will be complete, and everything will be fine.

Hope your cough is all gone by now and that you are your old self once more. Take the best cared of yourself, dear, and I hope you are required to wear your mask so you don’t take any chances of the return of the “flu”. Everyone here has to wear them so I feel right at home in mine.

Started a letter to Leon and hope to finish it after yours. Still have my notes to answer and shall do so tomorrow.

Hope I get a letter from you early in the morning. Do you like me to write to you every day? If it gives you any pleasure, believe me I am willing to do it and I hope my letters won’t get too uninteresting from lack of news. But I guess all you want to know is that I am fine and won’t mind about the other.

Do I need to tell you how much I love you tonight? If you want to know here it is – as much as ever only more so, so much so that all I can say is that I love you, love you and love you and will always.

All my kisses, dearest, to my boy from his own

The folks send their love to you, dearest.
Did Chester Rowell die? Mother has an idea that she saw his death in the paper.

November 12, 1918 – 6 PM
[March Field]

My own Dearest

If you could see me now you would enjoy it – am as busy as a bee acknowledging some of the notes of congratulation and believe me, it is no joke. Just wrote a long letter to your mother, dear, it was the very first opportunity I have had to do so. My, but I’ve been busy – have really had no time to myself since I came home. Spent a pleasant evening last night and tonight am going to one of the girl’s houses. With this constant going I’ll never gain weight.

The letter written Saturday and the one written Sunday both came this morn. The envelope with the notes came last night and when I got it I wondered why you hadn’t added a line. And I enjoyed both your letters so much and felt fine to think everything was going so well. Then your telegram came and it upset me considerably on account of the wording. That “everybody fine” got me and “Levy”. Could someone else have sent it and was something wrong? I thought. Expected something to be said about Peace in answer to mine but not a word. Of course, sweetheart, I appreciate your thoughtfulness of me when you are too busy to write and told you to telegraph me but this one wasn’t explicit enough.

I am such a worrisome creature especially now that you are flying, that I take every little thing and weigh it. So you had better write one word “well” on a card instead when you can’t write. Love, I am so anxious to hear what the termination of all this will be now that we have peace and I wish you could stop flying immediately so my mind will be at rest. They surely give you little time to get started flying before you get control of everything. Just think you haven’t been there a week and you are already driving and doing stunts. But stop, dear, as soon as you can.

Isn’t it the most wonderful thing to think that we have actually stopped fighting. What a glorious Thanksgiving this will be. You can just bet that I have a lot to be thankful for, love.

Dearest, that was an odd letter from Ike Alexander. He said “I read your ad in the paper.” Funny he should call it an ad. I remember the night we met him distinctly.

Am so sorry you don’t get enough to eat and what you like. If I get to it this afternoon yet I’ll get you some chocolate and send it to you in your bag. Mother is going to bake you a cake of some description but hasn’t gotten to it yet. We haven’t done anything that we should do.

That was O.K., dear, about your sending my mail here. Dad brought your first letter to Salinas for me. Guess I’ve received all of them – four in number. And they have all been so nice and I am glad you miss me so much as it is nice to be missed. It is a mutual feeling I assure you. A very interesting paper March Fld publishes and I read it through.

Was sorry to hear that your trunk was damaged. Surely the railroad company should reimburse you.

It has clouded up and the wind is blowing so it looks like we are due for a good rain storm.

Have still to write to the Wieners today, then I am through until I get those other addresses from you. Hope I don’t get any more notes for awhile, then I won’t have to answer any. Weren’t those odd notes from Mrs. Parch. How could she tell what I was like in one meeting. Mystery.

While I sit here writing I incidently[sic] look at my ring occasionally and admire it. Everyone who has seen it thinks it is a beauty. My girl friend said she would like to steal it.

No more today, my own boy, and how I do hope everything is breaking splendidly. As usual my wish – be careful - You sent me so much love, dearest, and I almost thought you were here giving it to me in person – wish you were but I can see that day not far off, can’t you, love I am sending, herewith, all my love to you, every bit, and all my kisses too, so be happy for I am very happy.

Always your very, very own

March Field, Riverside, California
November 13, 198
5:30 AM

My sweetheart -

I only have a few seconds so will write just a tiny note. Not a thing new except that I am relieved from flying indefinitely. Should get some order today - would you be glad if I were discharged?

Well love the minute I get anything from headquarters I'll let you know. If you haven't sent the hand grip don't send it for the present.

I planned on having nights to myself so I would write you nice long letters but with K.P. I'm out of luck.

I sure have enough work to do and was certainly tired out yesterday. No letter came yesterday but guess it was delayed. The quarantine will not be lifted here for a couple of weeks.

Well my sweet girls I must hurriedly close as I have to report. Be a good little girl and I love you so much and I may see you soon. Loads of love to you and to your folks.

Your boy

November 13, 1918 – 6 PM
[March Field]

My own Love,

No mail from you yet and I am hoping that everything is fine. Was some worried about the telegram yesterday but feel better about it today.

Oh, dearest, when Dad came home at noon he brought me a package and when I opened same found it to be a beautiful pink silk kimono from your mother! And a beauty it is and you can bet, dear, that I am crazy about it. It was simply lovely of your mother and I am going to write to her immediately to thank her but how can I be able to express my appreciation. I had planned on getting one later on as I have always been so fond of them. Picture your little girl in it, dear.

Received a very sweet card from Mrs. Schuman today. Am not sending it to you as you were probably the recipient of one also.

I sent your bag to you yesterday and slipped in a little chocolate. Wanted to send more but the assortment is punk. And I had an idea you didn’t like it with nuts in and it all seems to come that way. But if it suits you, love, let me know and I’ll send you some more.

It started to rain hard last night but cleared up in a little while. Spent a very nice evening with three of the girls and they treated me so nice – in as much as I am an “engaged girl.” So you see, dear, it is something to be engaged.

Am sleepy today as have been keeping quite late hours since I’ve been home. You know when I don’t have to get up at any definite time I never think about going to bed at night.

Haven’t a bit of news to tell you today, love, as everything seems to be running along quite as usual. I can hardly realize that the war is over and that before long everything will be running along as before. My, but you’ll be happy to get away from army life, won’t you dear, and I’ll be so glad to have you away from it, too, it can’t be too soon to suit me.

All the luck possible, sweetheart, if you are still flying and please still be as careful as possible.

Mother just called in for me to give you her love.

All the love possible to my sweet boy and write when you can. I love you even more than usual, if that’s possible, dearest, and a whole lot of wonderful kisses from

Your very own

P.S. Just had a letter from Wilt in which he said he heard that the boys would have to remain in camp until next July. If that will be the case with you, wish you would leave flying if possible and go into a training camp where it will be safe as you know I’ll never be at ease while you are flying. I am so anxious for particulars about the demobilization of the troops.


March Field, Riverside, California
November 14, 1918
Wednesday night

My sweet girl,

It has been raining hard late this aft and is keeping it up. I have a little while off so I will write another note. Am at the y.m. and the lights have been out so I am delayed again.

What do you think my dear I received three letters from you today. The one you wrote Monday coming before Sunday's and I sure did enjoy them and of course I want one every day. All I do is go to the P.O. looking for them and they are so sweet - honest dear I treasure them.

I'm so glad you are so happy and I think your wish (the big one that has worried you so much) has been fulfilled - about my flying - I am grounded for good for no other reason than being too small and I now have been detailed as orderly doing office work at headquarters. Spent all of today there and will stay for some time unless changed. I will be called before the board of officers at the discretion (when they are ready) and at that time will hear what is programmed for me. Until then I know nothing excepting that I don't fly.

I hope sweetheart that now your worrying is all over as I did not protest at all on account of you and Mother & when I see you I'll have a lot to tell. You know - the air is very fascinating there is a feeling that one can't describe especially when one feels at ease in the ship as I did.

About the telegram. I'm sorry but I worded it this way. No time to write today - everything fine - and signed it Sig Levy but I guess they got it all mixed up.

About my cousin's address I don't know it but Mother can give it to you - their last name is Benas.

And I'll explain about Alexander's expression "I saw your ad". He is an ex-newspaper man & in newspaper circles it is a common thing when anything appears about a person to use the expression. So don't think any sarcasm was connected with same as he is one of the truest friends I have.

I have heard nothing about Mr. Rowells death - if you get anymore on it send it will you please sweet.

You don't know how much it pleases me that you are writing to Mother. I will return your letters sent me in another envelopes.

I've had so much enjoyment reading your letters this evening and you see all your wishes are coming as you want them. I feel that my prediction will come true - that all will come out O.K.

My sweet, your expressions of love are so wonderful and I feel just as you do. In fact I am bubbling over with pretty love for you and it is growing more and more and everything I do is with the thot [sic] for your happiness.

With you at home enjoying yourself gee it makes me feel fine and have a real good time my love. I'l be with you soon.

Your own boy

While today is a day to celebrate the end of World War I and to thank all veterans for their service, I am relishing in the love my grandparents shared with one another and for allowing me (and all of you) to share in their feelings 100 years ago.

Sunday, October 28, 2018

52 Ancestors: Cause of Death

This week’s blog post was a little troubling – Cause of Death.  I have many, many death certificates from my ancestors but most of them are nothing too exciting.  Sure, I’ve had a few – my great grandmother, Bertha Schwartz Gunzendorfer, died on a train, her brother-in-law, Adolph Gunzendorfer, died in a hotel, and Bertha’s sister-in-law, Charlotte Mervy Schwartz, died during the flu epidemic in 1918.  But this prompt warranted something more – how about a possible murder?

My husband’s 2x great grandmother, Julia O’Reilly, was born in May, 1834 in Ireland.  I don’t know too many details of her early life other than that she immigrated to America in 1864 and at some point, married Michael Gorham.  Together they had three children – Cecilia (my great-grandmother-in-law) in 1859, Josephine in 1860, and John in 1867.

But by 1880, Michael was either dead or they had divorced and Julia was married to Michael Post, a shoemaker, and living in Sharpsburg, Pennsylvania with Michael’s daughter, Maggie, and Julia’s son, John. 

Twenty years later, 1900, found Julia widowed and living on South Canal Street in Sharpsburg.  She rented her home and could read, write, and speak.  But what happened to her second husband, Michael Post? 

I know so little about Julia’s life but, sadly, I know quite a bit about her death.

Julia OReilly Murdered Pittsburgh Press 12_18_1906
The Pittsburgh Press, 18 Dec 1906, page 1

Mrs. Julia Post, aged 78 years, who resided at No. 1020 Main Street, Sharpsburg, was murdered according to the report of the investigation being made by the coroner.  Although it is supposed she has been dead since last Friday, the discovery was not made until yesterday.

As the result of a preliminary investigation, it was concluded that she had met with an accident at her home and had succumbed to the injuries she then received.  As the result of a more detailed investigation, however, it is now concluded that her death was due to a blow inflicted with a hatchet on her left temple and that the blow was inflicted by an unknown murderer in search of money.


Mrs. Post was a widow, was the owner of the property in which she resided and occupied the second floor.  The lower portion of the house had not been occupied for some time.  She had been in the habit of having a quantity of milk left at her door every morning but on Saturday and Sunday mornings this milk had not been removed from the doorstep.  It was concluded by neighbors that Mrs. Post had probably gone to visit friends for a day or two and had not troubled about canceling her milk order.  Yesterday morning, however, the milkman had his suspicions aroused, and after leaving the usual daily supply, he hunted up the Chief of Police, John Staub, and requested him to make an investigation.


Later the policeman went to the house on Main street and tried the doors.  Both front and rear were locked, and the windows were also securely fastened.  With the assistance of a neighbor, James Parris a ladder was obtained and entrance made to the second floor.  The woman was found to be lying huddled on the floor.  Near her body was a wooden block 4x4x10 feet, and also, a short distance away, was a hatchet.  On the hatchet were blood stains, and it was ascertained by Chief Staub and Parris that the woman had sustained an injury on the forehead.  It was thought, on this discovery, that the woman, while working near the block, had been overcome in a faint and had stumbled, sustaining the injury on the forehead from which she died.

A more rigid investigation, however, being made by the Deputy Coroners Carney and Pautin, showed that the woman could not have received the fatal injury in the way that had been supposed, and it was also discovered that the blow on the temple exactly corresponded with a blow that could have been made with the hatchet.  It was only in this way, too, that the blood stains on the hatchet could be explained.  The body was brought to the morgue, yesterday, and a second examination made which again served to bring out the fact that the woman could not have met her death by accident, but had been murdered by some person at present unknown.


The Sharpsburg police, however, are at a loss to find an adequate motive for the crime.  It was well known in the borough that the aged woman owned the property in which she resided, but it was also known that she did not keep any money or any valuables in the house.  It was stated, however, that a report had been current in the borough that the woman had been expecting to receive some money from a daughter in California, and it is probably that this report had become known to the murderer.  It is also thought that the house had been entered with a view to the getting possession of this money and that the woman had met her death on refusing to make known its whereabouts to the intruder.

Shortly after noon Dr. Speer completed his post-mortem and stated that it was his opinion that the death of the woman was directly due to a hemorrhage of the brain, induced by the blow on the temple.  He stated that he had also ascertained that while the blow on the skull had not fractured the skull, yet the skull had been fractured in two places.  One of these was at the base and the second was in a position behind the left eye.  The skull fractures could be explained on the theory that the woman might have been sitting on a chair and had accidentally fallen from it, striking her head on the nearby block.

This, however, could not account for the temple blow as well, nor for the blood stains on the hatchet.  The coroner will hold an inquest on the woman's death next Friday morning at 11 o'clock.


Shortly before noon today money to the amount of $210.85 was found that is supposed to have been hidden by Mrs. Post.  The discovery was made by Chief of Police, John Staub, and Deputy Coroner A. J. Carney.  A pocketbook containing $88 was found in the bed tick while a roll of paper money was found wrapped in a rag, lying in a pile of old rags.

Another sum of $2.85 was found in an old satchel lying under the bed, while various other amounts were found to make up the total.  It is thought that the belief that this money was in the house was responsible for the murder of Mrs. Post.

From present indications, more money will likely be found.  So far no arrests have been made but a searching investigation will be carried on in order to hold the inquest on Friday morning of this week.  Mrs. Post was supposed to be almost penniless and the finding of the money shows what might be a motive for the commission of the crime.


Perhaps one of the most significant features of the case was the position of the body when Chief Staub entered the upstairs room.  The head was toward the window and the feet close to the wooden block near which lay the bloody hatchet, suggesting the idea that she was trying to flee from her murderous assailant and endeavor to reach the window to cry for help.  The blow on the left temple appeared sufficiently fierce to have crushed the skull and caused instant death.

Mrs. Post was in the habit of going to the nearby hotel of John W. Reddinger, at Thirteenth and Main streets for her daily supply of soup.  Friday was the last day she did this.  It is now said that Mrs. Post is supposed to have a received a sum of money from Pittsburg last week, which may have been a remittance from her son or step-son, the former named Dorman living in New York, and the latter named Post and living in California.


It has not been discovered whether the murderer looted the house.  The place is filled with useless stuff which littered nearly all the rooms, much as is the case with an aged recluse who is prone to gather and preserve the most trifling and needless of artifacts.

A bit of conflicting information as this says she owned the building and lived on the second floor while the 1900 census said she rented her home.  The details of her death were disturbing – murdered with an ax? 

Each day brought more information about the case.

Julia OReilly Slain Harrisburg Daily Independent 12_19_1906 pg 5
Harrisburg Daily Independent, 19 Dec 1906, page 5

The son referenced in the article above would have been John.  He was still living so I don’t think the money she was expecting would have been inheritance.  Maybe something from his father? [where are you, Michael Gorham?]  But the earlier article said that her son (Gorham, not Dorman as reported) lived in New York and her daughter and step-son lived in California.

Interesting to see a photo of the building, even pointing out the room in which she was found. 

Julia OReilly Mystery Pittsburgh Press 12_19_1906 pg 1
The Pittsburgh Press, 19 Dec 1906, pg 1

But just two days later, it had been determined that her death was, in fact, accidental.  So if she hit her head on a block of wood, why was there blood on a hatchet?

Julia OReilly death an accident Pittsburgh Press 12_21_1906 pg 25
The Pittsburgh Press, 21 Dec 1906, pg 25

But wait – now we’re back to a murder????  And she died over $210?

Julia OReilly murdered Press Herald 12_28_1906 pg 7
The Press Herald, 28 Dec 1906, pg 7

And that’s all I’ve found on the mysterious death of Julia O’Reilly Gorham Post.  Was she murdered?

Julia OReilly Gorham Post death certificate 1906

The date of death just breaks my heart – “FOUND” December 17, 1906.  How long had she lain there?

And her will dated 29 May, 1906.  Lots of different spellings but I guess that happened when someone else wrote the document. 

Julia OReilly Will page 1
Julia OReilly Will page 2

Julia is buried in St. Joseph Cemetery in Sharpsburg, Allegheny County, Pennsylvania.  I’ve had a photo request on Findagrave waiting to be fulfilled for over 4 years – time to make the request again.  RIP, Julia O'Reilly Gorham Post, 2x great grandmother of my husband.