Sunday, September 28, 2014

Genealogical Serendipity

Serendipity: luck that takes the form of finding valuable or pleasant things that are not looked for.  (Merriam-Webster)

Serendipity sort of bit me in the rear today and I couldn’t be happier.  Anyone who has spent time researching their family dreams of connecting with another descendant and, occasionally, it happens.  But how often does it happen when you are preparing to blog about the EXACT same ancestor that connects you on the DAY you were going to post? 

I’ve been writing recently about my Gunzendorfer family, the family who got me started on this quest.  I wrote about that here and my mother’s challenge that there were no more Gunzendorfers in the United States.  And just recently I wrote about Adolph and Jacob Gunzendorfer and my plan for today was to write about Jacob’s wife, Edith Inez Steinberger Gunzendorfer. 

I don’t know much about Inez in early years other than that she was the daughter of Mary Dyer and Julius Steinberger and was born in Nevada 22 April 1874.  By 1880 the family was living in San Francisco and she married Jacob in about 1893.  From that point on, I can follow her with Jacob – the birth of their children, their addresses, and information about Jacob’s business, The Typewritorium.  But I have come across two photos of her that I wanted to share in the event someone would find my blog so decided that she needed a blog post of her own even though I don't know much about her.

I have shared this treasured photo on many occasions but it’s worth sharing it again since I’m now 99.99% certain that I have identified Inez.

Gunzendorfer Family
The Gunzendorfer Family
Edith Inez Steinberger seated on right holding her son Mervyn Gunzendorfer
Irene Gunzendorfer, daughter, seated in front

And then I came across these two photos.

Inez Steinberger with children c 1896 cropped

She’s even wearing the same dress!  This would be Mervyn on the left and Irene on the right.  Infant boys must have been dressed in dresses in the late 1890’s, right?

And then there is this from maybe a year or two later.

Inez Steinberger with children cropped

Would they still have dressed Mervyn in a dress?  Another child, Helen, joined the family in 1902 but since Irene was eight years old when Helen was born, this just can’t be Helen and Irene with their mother – it must be Mervyn who was just two years younger than his big sister, Irene.

And that’s about all I know specifically about Inez except for her date of death, 12 April 1957, and final resting place, Cypress Lawn Memorial Park in Colma, California.

Edith Inez Steinberger Gunzendorfer

So how is this serendipitous?  Maybe the serendipity involves not just Inez but her daughter, Irene.  Because guess who I connected with today (well actually last night when she sent me the e-mail but today by the time I woke up and read it)?  INEZ STEINBERGER GUNZENDORFER’S GREAT GRANDDAUGHTER, GRANDDAUGHTER OF IRENE!  I have dreamed about connecting with a Gunzendorfer descendant for years and now it has happened.  I know that her mother, Lois (Irene’s daughter), helped in this quest and I can just imagine just how happy that would make both Lois and my dad, two cousins who shared the Gunzendorfer connection. 

Lois passed away in July and while doing some research last month, I ran across her obituary.  Even when you don’t personally know someone, it still hits you in the gut when you realize that one of your relatives has passed away and somewhere there are other relatives mourning their passing.  So, I signed the on-line guest book, expressed my condolences, and stated how we were related.  And then I received the e-mail telling me that there is, in fact, another Gunzendorfer descendant who actually cares about this stuff.  I know there is lots of information to share and I’m excited to get to know this “new” cousin.

Who knew?

Sunday, September 21, 2014

Jacob Gunzendorfer - Inventor

Jacob Gunzendorfer
Jacob W. Gunzendorfer
c. 1896

Jacob Gunzendorfer was the youngest of the four Gunzendorfer brothers (Gustave, Adolph, Abraham, Jacob) and my great grand uncle.

Jacob was born 5 Sep 1871 in California, probably in Gilroy.  In 1880 the family was living on Fifth Street in Gilroy – I’ve run across some old photos of houses and one day I hope to learn that one of them might be this house.  In the late 1880’s and early 1890’s, Jacob was in Monterey working in the family business, The White House. 

Sometime around 1893, Jacob was married to Edith Inez Steinberger, three children joined them – Irene in 1894, Mervyn in 1896, and Helen in 1902 – and by 1896 they were living in San Francisco at 1630 Sutter.  They moved around in San Francisco a bit, from Sutter Street to 1636 Buchanan, 107 Lyon and 821 Ashbury all while Jacob was building his business, The Typewritorium.  And finally sometime between 1906 (earthquake!) and 1908 they moved to their much more permanent home at 3367 Washington Street which is in the current Presidio Heights district of San Francisco.  I know that the home was built in 1902 so it either survived the earthquake or was rebuilt before Jacob and his family moved in.  Jacob and Inez remained in that home for many years and were living there at the time of the 1940 census, and maybe longer. 

I wrote about Jacob, son Mervyn, and brother Adolph’s participation in The Submarine exhibit at the Panama Pacific Exhibition in 1915 here.  What fun it must have been for my grandmother to see the exhibit and know that her family had a hand in it.  But I wonder if she knew that Jacob actually had a patent (No. 1,037,474) for an Amusement Apparatus which was patented 3 Sep 1912? 

Patent 1037474 Page 1
Patent 1037474 Page 2
Patent 1037474 Page 3
Patent 1037474 Page 4
Patent 1037474 Page 5
Patent 1037474 Page 6

There’s a lot of words on those pages and most of it doesn’t mean much to me but it is interesting – look at that photo of the submarine!  In a nutshell the “invention relates to an aquatic amusement device and particularly pertains to a passenger carrying structure which is adapted to be submerged and propelled through a body of water in simulation of a submarine boat.”  Cool!

I need to continue researching the house on Washington Street and The Typewritorium – so far I’ve found some current records on the house and while I know it has been renovated more than once, the photos are beautiful.  Would the current owners consider me a stalker if I contacted them?

Inez (more on her in a later post) left Jacob a widower in 1957 and Mervyn passed away just two years later.  By 1960, Jacob was living at 170 Vasquez Avenue, which was right around the corner from daughter Helen, when he passed away on August 5, 1960 at Mt. Zion Hospital.

Jacob Gunzendorfer SF Examiner 7 Aug 1960 Sec III Page 12
San Francisco Examiner
August 7, 1960
Section III, Page 12

Jacob is entombed at Cypress Lawn Memorial Park in Colma, California.

Jacob Gunzendorfer Grave

Sunday, September 7, 2014

The rest of the story

The first part of the story of Adolph Gunzendorfer’s (my great grand uncle) life is here

By 1910 Adolph was back in San Francisco and sharing a home at 1627 Sacramento with his wife, Charlotte, her brother, Marshall White, and a lodger, Ralph Knowlton.  And in 1920, he and Charlotte were living at 645 Bush Street as lodgers.  Pages and pages of the census from that enumeration district are filled with lodgers – it could have been apartments or even hotels.

By 1913, Adolph was involved in a very special project – the Panama Pacific Exposition in San Francisco.  I wrote about my grandmother’s visit to the Exposition visit here.  What might Adolph have been up to?

Submarines Daily City Journal 24 Feb 1913 Page 5
Daily Capital Journal (Salem, Oregon)
24 Feb 1913, Page 5

Yes, Adolph, his brother, Jacob, and Jacob’s son, Mervyn, were granted the right to produce their original and remarkable concession, “The Submarines” at the 1915 World’s Fair.  And what’s really coincidental is that I wrote about Grandma’s visit to The Submarine here.  How fun that she had so many mementos from the exhibit that her two uncles and cousin had a hand in creating.  My favorite memento was the piece of redwood that kept trying to escape from the scrapbook – was Grandma trying to tell me to keep researching?  Why didn’t she leave me more clues?


On February 10, 1922, Charlotte passed away and Adolph was alone.  I remember reading about her being ill in the letters my grandmother wrote to my grandfather in 1918 so, perhaps, it was a lengthy illness that led to her death. 

Charlotte White Gunzendorfer Obit SF Chronicle 13 Feb 1922
San Francisco Chronicle
Monday, February 13, 1922

Sometime about 1926, Adolph moved to the Hotel Maryland at 490 Geary Street, which is now the Warwick Regis Hotel.  I’ve discovered several of my ancestors living in San Francisco hotels – maybe it was common to live in a hotel back then.

The Warwick Regis Hotel today:

Warwick Hotel 490 Geary Street 490 Geary Street

But Adolph not only lived in the hotel, he died in the hotel in 1932.  I can just imagine poor Adolph all alone in that hotel room as he, hopefully, passed peacefully in his sleep.

Coroners Report page 1
San Francisco County Records (1824-1997)
Coroner’s Register, March 1932
Image 52 of 398, page 423

March 1, 1932 at 11:32 a.m. 

This date at about 11 a.m. the deceased was found dead undressed under the bed covers in his room at 490 Geary by the manager Thos. D. White.  Supposed natural cause.  He was last seen alive this am about 4:15 o’clock before he retired.  He had been complaining of pain in his right arm.  Been dead several hours.

Coroners Register Mar 1932 Image 53 of 398
San Francisco County Records (1824-1997)
Coroner’s Register, March 1932
Image 53 of 398, page 423

Interesting facts on this page:

Apparent cause of death:  acute dilatation of heart, cardiac hypertrophy, chronic cystitis, chronic prostatitis.

The authorities took no clothes from the hotel and he had $105.00 at the time of his death (about $1200 today).

The ring was taken off his finger.

A check dated March 14, 1932 for $10.00 for miscellaneous cards was cashed.

Look at that – there was an inquest on March 8, 1932 and the jury verdict was that the death was due to natural causes.

And two days after his death, there was a very small obituary in the San Francisco Examiner.

Adolph Gunzendorfer Obit SF Examiner 3 Mar 1932 Page 19
The San Francisco Examiner
Thursday, March 3, 1932
Page 19

A very interesting and almost mysterious life was reduced to just two short paragraphs in the local newspaper?  Surely there must be more to the story.  Grandma, where are the clues?