Sunday, April 8, 2018

52 Ancestors: Maiden Aunt

I don’t have a biological aunt – my mother was an only child and my father had one brother.  In fact, my paternal grandfather had three brothers and my paternal grandmother only had a brother so I didn’t even have a biological great aunt on my dad’s side.  So that just leaves my maternal grandparents – my maternal grandmother had one sister and one brother but I’m not sure I ever met her sister, although I’ve connected a bit with some of her descendants.  And since my mother was not close with her father and his siblings, while I know about them now I didn’t before I started this journey.  So the only aunts or great aunts I might have had were those who were married to my ancestor so not a maiden, or spinster as I’d always heard these women referred as.

But I always remember the next door neighbors of my grandparents, the Stubblefield sisters.  I have very few memories of them and until I started researching, I didn’t even know their first names.  The only ‘detail’ I had was that one (or maybe both) was my dad’s teacher at one time.  And I remembered that neither of them had ever married.

Ethel Lacy Stubblefield was born 31 October, 1897 in New York; Gertrude Scott Stubblefield was born 2 November, 1903 in Oklahoma.  They were the children of James and Mattie (Lacy) Stubblefield, who were married 11 September 1895 in Cuyahoga, Ohio.  Another child, Frank, was born in February, 1999 but, sadly, only lived until 1 October, 1900.  And the sadness continued when Mattie died in 1909. 

I’ve done some research to try to validate the memories I have of them and found them in Fresno where they seemed to move around a bit.  Ethel was, in fact, a teacher at Fresno High School at the time my dad was there (early 1940’s) so that is probably the sister who was my dad’s teacher.  Although I thought I remembered she was his teacher in grammar school.  But my memories are fading so I could have that wrong.  In her later years she was a Consultant at the Board of Education.

Ethel Stubblefield 1946
Ethel Stubblefield, 1946 Owl (Fresno High School Yearbook)

Gertrude seemed to spend the majority of her teaching years at Theodore Roosevelt High School and Fresno City/Junior College.  Since my dad never attended of those schools, the connection must have been Ethel.

Gertrude Stubblefield 1959
Fresno City College Yearbook, 1959

I’ve tracked these two sisters from 1340 Linden Avenue to 727 Terrace Avenue to 4640 Wilson and finally to 1561 Echo Avenue, next door to my grandparents.

If I hadn’t pulled up these photos (I even have the 1946 Owl in my collection since my mom graduated from Fresno High School in 1946), I might have zero memory of what they looked like.  I have come across a few photos of my grandmother with some friends and I’ve wondered if they were the sisters. 

What do you think?

Loraine w Stubblefields circle

That’s Loraine in the middle (with her mink, of course) and my mom directly behind her.  The other ladies standing are my dad’s two cousins (Hermina and Gilda) with Gilda’s husband standing behind them.  And I think Gilda’s two daughters in the front.  Not sure about the other older woman.

And another.

My beautiful picture

Are these the Stubblefield sisters?  I would so love to get in contact with a descendant but since they had no children and no nieces or nephews, I’m not sure there is anyone out there looking for them. 

Ethel and Gertrude are interred together at Los Gatos Memorial Park, coincidentally not far from the home I grew up in.

You are not forgotten, Ethel and Gertrude Stubblefield.

Saturday, March 24, 2018

And now I’m 7!

Photo by Bart Maguire

Here we are - another year has passed.  Which means I’ve been blogging for seven (SEVEN!) years.  It seems like just yesterday that I got the bug and boy has it been a great ride.  Thanks again to Kerry Scott for getting me started (her blog is undergoing a makeover right now but you can find her at Clue Wagon)  And yes, she really does like dead people!

I remember my first post back in 2011 – I wasn’t sure what I was doing and was worried that no one would read it or if they did, care what I had to say.  But I’ve met a lot of people, received some great feedback, and built up my confidence.  And I’ve learned that no matter what I say, it’s MY blog and I can do and say whatever the heck I want.

I think I’ll take my blogiversary as a day to step back and reflect on some of the more popular posts throughout the years.  Not necessarily my favorites but the posts that brought the most views.  I will add that when I write about events in Fresno, I have two Fresno Facebook groups that I share my blogs in so traffic is always higher then.  So here are my top 5.

Wanted: Herman Levy from January 14, 2018.  I haven’t figured any of this out yet and I wasn’t very successful in my search in Salt Lake City but I’m not giving up.  My dad’s cousin’s two children have submitted their DNA to so maybe between us we’ll figure something out. 

Back in Time from October 14, 2012.  This was definitely one of my favorite posts to write as it shows the letter my grandfather, Sig Levy, wrote to his future in-laws, Birdie and Abe Gunzendorfer, asking for my grandmother’s hand in marriage.  It’s not often you can read both sides of the story.  I’m sure glad they said yes!

On January 5, 2013, I took part in Saturday Night Genealogy Fun and wrote about where my ancestors were 100 Years Ago.  It was fun to put the post together and I was so glad that I had a picture of one of the homes.

Best Wishes for a Long and Happy Life Together, from November 17, 2013 was one of the blog posts I wrote about the wedding of my parents, Gerry (Martin) and Gordon Levy.  A beautiful portrait of my mother in her wedding gown always hung at the end of the hallway in our home so there was no forgetting – ever – what she looked like on that day.  Plus, as kids my sister and I would spend HOURS pouring through the photo album from their wedding and memory book so there will always be lots of memories in my mind.

And a repeat from last year’s top 5 is this post from June 16, 2013 A Bittersweet Day, another Father’s Day without my dad.  It was an emotional post to write as my mom had passed away a few weeks before (May 22) and then we ‘celebrated’ her first birthday (June 8) without her.  So by June 16 I was pretty emotionally spent.  I love looking back at the photos in that post but I wish I knew more about Dad’s friendship with Bob Hope!

Another Facebook group I’m a member of is GeneabloggersTribe.  How nice to be remembered for my blogiversary – you can read it HERE

I have so much left to say so I hope you’ll stay with me for the next seven (or seventy) years.

On to eight!

Saturday, March 17, 2018

52 Ancestors: Lucky

This weeks’ prompt in the 52 Ancestors challenge is Lucky.  While it is St. Patrick’s Day and the luck of the Irish brought me my first grandchild 16 short years ago today, after some thought I’ve decided to focus on the lucky day of April 16, 1967.  Why this day?  Because on that day my grandparents were in a serious car accident and although injured, they quite possibly were lucky to be alive at the end of that day.

Sig & Loraine in Car Accident 4_16_1967 Fresno Bee

I have so many memories of that fateful day; however, I am also lacking so many memories of that day. 

I remember thinking that “old people” weren’t supposed to get into car accidents although now that I think about it, those probably are the people who got into car accidents.  I don’t specifically remember my grandfather’s driving skills, but I do remember that Grandma wasn’t really a great driver.  I’m not sure I’ll ever know exactly what happened with this car accident but I suspect that Grandpa was, at least, partially at fault because there is a memory stashed away of him feeling remorseful that Grandma was injured.

When I looked on Google Maps to see the location of the accident, I was surprised to see just how close the accident site was to the Community Hospital. 

Map of Accident Site

If I have my directions correct, Sig would have been traveling in the direction denoted by the red arrow, and Mr. Bare would have been traveling in the direction shown by the green arrow.  And as I researched the Community Hospital, I learned it was originally the Burnett Sanitarium (both my parents were born there) and rebuilt at the current location in 1905.

The clear memory I have of this event was visiting my grandmother at home after the accident.  At the age of 71 (the article stated she was 72 but this is an error) and with a severely broken leg (I seem to remember her knee cap was shattered), a large two story home would have been quite a challenge for her.  Luckily, they had the means to have a hospital bed brought into the home and a nurse (full time, I imagine) to care for her.  But where to put the bed?  In the dining room, of course!  While I don’t have a picture of the bed, I do have a picture of the dining room.

Dining Room 1982

The dining room table and chairs must have been moved out (where did they put that?) and replaced with a hospital bed so Grandma could be home where she felt comfortable.  When my dad was growing up, there was a live-in housekeeper so that bedroom, on the first floor, was the perfect place for a nurse to stay so she could be close by during the night if Grandma needed anything.

I don’t remember much else about the event – how long was she in the hospital, how long was her home recovery – but I do remember seeing quite a large scar on her leg after that.  And, sadly, about 15 months later Grandpa was gone so whatever lingering affects she might have had, Grandma had to deal with those on her own.

So much of this involved luck – lucky to have survived, lucky to have the means to bring her home so that she was more comfortable, and lucky to not have too much difficulty with her injuries later in life.  I’m so glad luck was with them!

Sunday, March 4, 2018

52 Ancestors: Where There’s a Will

Probably the first will of an ancestor that I reviewed was that of my 5th great grandfather, Ashbel Waller.  In fact, as I was preparing to add the information for this post I’d forgotten that I’d actually written about it before.  Man, this getting old SUCKS!  HERE is the original post.

Waller Ashbel Record of Will
Waller Ashbel Will

Thankfully, someone was kind enough to transcribe this for me and it’s confirmed some things that I’ve learned through my research.  I have A LOT of information about Ashbel and this reminds me, again, that I need to actually DO something with it.

Ashbel, the son of Phineas and Rhoda (Taylor) Waller was born 18 October 1759 in Cornwall, Connecticut. 1    He was baptized 11 November 1759.

Official Rost of Soldiers of American Revolution Ashbel Waller

Ashbel was married to Sarah Abbott of Sharon on 1 November 1781 by Judah Kellogg JP. 2

Ashbel Waller marriage Barbour Collection

The first definitive time I can place him after this marriage is in the 1790 Census in Luzerne, Pennsylvania in a household of 5 members – 1 free white male over age 16, 2 free white females over the age of 16, and 2 free white males under age 16.  Also on the census was Nathan, Daniel and Joseph Waller – most likely his brothers.

1800 shows him still in Luzerne, now with a 9 member household, all of which were free white people.  1 male over 45, 1 male 16 thru 25, 1 male 10 thru 15, 2 males under 10; 1 female 26 thru 44, 1 female 10 thru 15, 2 females under age 10.

In the Ohio, Compiled Census and Census Substitute Index I found Ashbel in Butler County, Ohio in 1807 and 1810.  I wonder what took him to Ohio.

I don’t know what happened to Sarah but Ashbel married again on 5 September 1820 to Elizabeth Blackleach in Butler County, Ohio.  They were married by Rev. James Hugh.  He was enumerated in the Federal Census on 7 August 1820 wth a free white woman over the age of 45 – was this Elizabeth prior to their marriage?

By 1830, Ashbel was now a free white male age 70 thru 79 in Union, Butler County, Ohio.  With him were a free white female age 60 through 69 and a free white female 15 thru 19.  I don’t know who the young female might have been as the age doesn’t fit for any of Ashbel’s children.  Maybe a grandchild?

1840 found Ashbel still in Union, Butler County, Ohio.  He was a free white male age 80 thru 89 with a free white woman age 70 thru 79.  I received quite a bit of information from the Butler County Historical Society several years ago (note to self – GET BACK TO THIS!) and in a letter to the County Commissioner in 1985 documenting some grave stones, learned that Elizabeth Blackleach Waller died in approximately 1841. 

What’s interesting about the 1840 census is that not only did I find Ashbel, but on the page before his entry is Jane Turner, a free white female age 50 thru 60.  With Jane were two free white males – one age 10 thru 15, one age 20 thru 30.  Know why Jane Turner is interesting?  Because on 12 April 1842 Ashbel married Jane Turner in Butler, Ohio. 3

And that leads us to Ashbel’s death on 20 September 1848.  Again I am puzzled as to the date of his will – 18 September 1848.  What prompted him to write (or dictate) a will on that particular date?  At nearly 90 years of age, I’m sure he knew he might not have much time but two days before his death?  I can just imagine him lying there and realizing he needed to take care of his family.

I don’t know for sure where Ashbel is buried, but from the information I received from the Butler County Historical Society I learned it is likely he is buried on the property he owned of about 101 acres in the northeast corner of Section 6.  Today it is described as about 0.4 mile eastward from 747 aong Hamilton-Mason Road thence about 0.2 mile southward parallel to the meidional section line.

Cyrus Osborne, Ashbel’s son-in-law and the Executor of the will, held a Sheriff’s Sale on 15 September 1849.

At $35 per acre, the sale would have brought $3,535 or about $108,000 in today’s dollars. 

Sheriff Sale Ashbel Waller

Now that I’m looking again at Zodoc Turner (stated as Zadre W. Turner in the transcription of the will), I’m wondering if that could be Jane Turner’s son who was listed in the 1840 census.

So after all of this, I’m not sure I’m any farther along than I was before.  What I know is that I have so much more research to do, particularly since Ashbel is my Revolutionary War patriot and my potential ticket into the DAR.

One last look for Jane Turner to see if I could find her after Ashbel’s death and look what I found in 1850 in Union, Butler County, Ohio.

Jane Turner Waller 1850 Census

Jane Waller with Benjamin Burton (who is this?) and next door?  None other than Zadock Turner!  My guess is that Zadock (or Zodoc or Zadre) was Jane’s son. 

More clues to follow up on.  Zadock, I’m going to find you!

1 The Official Roster of the soliders of the American Revolution buried in the state of Ohio.  Columbus, Ohio: Ohio Adjutant General's Dept., 1929-1959
2 Connecticut, Town Marriage Records pre 1870 (Barbour Collection)
3 "Ohio Marriages, 1800-1958," database, FamilySearch ( : 10 February 2018), Ashbel Waller and Jane Turner, 12 Apr 1842; citing Butler,Ohio, reference ; FHL microfilm 0355779 V. 1-4.
4 Hamilton Telegraph, 06 Sep 1849, Thu, Page 3

Sunday, February 25, 2018

52 Ancestors: Heirloom

This week’s prompt is HEIRLOOM.

Because my parents, their parents (mostly my paternal grandparents), and their parents (mostly my paternal grandmother’s parents) were packrats, I have A LOT of heirlooms.  They all are so special to me, which makes it hard to pick a favorite, so I’ll focus on a few.

As a young child, I remember my grandmother (and parents) telling me that when Grandma was no longer with us, I would get her mother’s diamond bracelet.  That’s a heavy thought for a young girl so I put it aside and went about my childhood.

It came up several times over the years when I heard “you get the bracelet, your sister gets a diamond watch, and your brother gets the silver flatware since he’s the only grandson and it is engraved with the letter L on it”.  I guess everyone assumed that none of the granddaughters (four of us) would marry someone with the last initial of L (we didn’t) so again, I went about my childhood.

And then in 1982, it happened – Grandma was gone.  And the family met to split up her things.  There was lots to divvy up and, sadly, my memory of that night is not a great one but it was over and I walked away with “the bracelet”.  Did no one know what the significance was or did I just not ask?

Bertha's bracelet

I wrote about the bracelet a couple of times but the post that really explains the significance of the bracelet is HERE – it was given to my great grandmother, Bertha Schwartz, on her high school graduation in June, 1890.  And I even have a photo of her wearing it – see it on her left arm?

Bertha Schwartz 2
Bertha Schwartz, June, 1890

Just so you can really compare, here’s a close up.

Bracelet on wrist

I put the bracelet in a safe place and the next memory I have of it was a couple of days before my oldest daughter was married when we pulled out the bracelet so that she could wear it on her wedding day.  As we opened the delicate clasp….SNAP!  It broke!  What to do?  Fortunately, there was a local jeweler nearby and when we rushed it to the store, we were thrilled to know he could fix it in time for the wedding!  I remember my dad feeling so proud to see his granddaughter walk down the aisle wearing her 2x great grandmother’s bracelet from more than 100 years before.

And then 5 years later, we pulled it out of the safe deposit box so that daughter number two could wear it and once again, Dad was proud.  And to be honest, so was I.

I think what is so special about this heirloom to me is the fact that it was given specifically to me.  It wasn’t something that was sitting in a stack of things to be divided but meant for ME.

A couple of new heirlooms came to live with me after my mother died and everything needed to be split up.  There was some special jewelry that is tucked away in the safe deposit box keeping the bracelet company but some other very special things found a place in our home.  I feel the presence of my ancestors in every room (and every closet) but these stand out.

The curio cabinet that I remember from my grandmother’s living room which later moved to Mom & Dad’s house.  That thing was always so packed with ‘stuff’ that I never really appreciated what was in it.  It must have meant a lot to Dad, though, as I found a photo of it in the hundreds of slides that were scanned.

My beautiful picture

And after splitting up the ‘stuff’ with my brother and sister, it now holds a special place in our home.

You’ll note a few other heirlooms.


This is a water color painting of my grandparent’s home!

Front_side 1982

I have such vivid memories of that house.  The large window upstairs on the right was my uncle’s room and where my sister and I slept when we went for a visit.

And then there’s a few things from my 2x great grandparents, Louis and Rebecca (Steen) Schwartz.

An engraved sugar and creamer set from their 25th anniversary celebration.

It’s hard to see but it has the initial LS and the date October 15 underneath.  And on the left it says 1865 and on the right 1890.

And I always remember this old tea pot set sitting on the hutch in Mom & Dad’s kitchen – see it on the left on the middle shelf?


I’m not 100% sure but I think this also belonged to Louis and Rebecca Schwartz, then Bertha Schwartz Gunzendorfer, and then to my parents.

As we started the arduous task of cleaning out our childhood home, I spent some time snapping photos.  I’m not exactly sure why I felt compelled to do it but I sure am thankful that I did. 

Excuse the mess (remember, they saved everything) but check out the fireplace screen in the back right corner behind the chair. (pay no attention to my brother-in-law in the doorway).  At one time this lived at Grandma’s house before it moved to my parents’ house.


And now it’s in my house!  Since my grandmother apparently enjoyed needlepointing, I wonder if she had a hand in this.

And last but not least is the drawing of my grandfather, Sig Levy, and his two older brothers that my parents found in the basement of Grandma and Grandpa’s home in Fresno.  They rescued it, had it framed, and it hung over their living room sofa for 30+ years.


And here it is in my house!

That’s my grandfather on the left.  The date would have been about 1889 or so, before baby brother Ben was born.  I am SOOOO thankful that my brother and sister graciously allowed me to give this a special place in my home.

Who knew I would end up with all of this stuff?

Sunday, February 11, 2018

52 Ancestors: Favorite Name

This week’s prompt is:  Favorite Name

I don’t know that I have a favorite name among my ancestors – what I do like is when someone is named for an ancestor, a memory, or something else that held a memory for those who named them. 

There are different Jewish naming traditions – some Jewish families (Ashkenazi) name a newborn after a deceased relative , while others (Sephardic) may honor a living family member.  Or, some parents use only the first letter of the relative’s name, while others may choose a name that is not identical, but rather similar in sound, spelling or some other manner. One additional way to honor and commemorate through the name is to make a newborn child’s middle name, as opposed to the first name, similar or identical to that of a special relative.

Since today would have been my Dad’s 91st birthday, I will start with him – Gordon Floyd Levy. 

Gordon 1933
Gordon Floyd Levy – c. 1933

The name Gordon is in memory of his paternal grandmother, Goldie Benas Levy, who died 19 Jan 1926, just over a year before Dad was born.  And I believe Floyd came from the long-time family physician, Floyd L. R. Burks.  I wrote a little about him HERE

My mother, Geraldine Martin, told me once that her name, had she been a boy, would have been Fitzgerald, her mother’s maiden name.  While she didn’t care for the name Geraldine (a nod to the name Fitzgerald), we both laughed that she got the better end of the deal. 

Geraldine c 1932
Geraldine Martin – c. 1932

Mom was not given a middle name, but somewhere along the line she ‘adopted’ the name Ann in order to honor her great aunt, Anna Theresa Fitzgerald Sronce, who she lived with for a period of time as her parents were going through a divorce.  And, thus, she passed the name on to me as my middle name.

When our oldest daughter was born, we decided to give her the middle name of Rebecca as that was what I was originally going to be named.  And the first time my grandmothers met her, they both told me that their ‘favorite’ grandmother was named Rebecca.  I never let on that I hadn’t known that in advance!

Rebecca Moriah Waller 1920
Rebecca Waller McAboy
Grandmother of my maternal grandmother, Clara Fitzgerald

Rebecca Steen cropped
Rebecca Steen Schwartz
Grandmother of my paternal grandmother, Mildred Loraine Gunzendorfer

Not wanting my youngest daughter to feel left out, when we named her we asked Daughter #1 what she wanted to name her and she came up with the name Kristi.  We took that suggestion and gave her the middle name of Kristina so while not named after someone, she was named because of someone.

And that leads to my grandmother, Mildred Loraine Gunzendorfer.  I never knew my grandmother by any name other than Loraine – I can’t blame her for that, who would want to go by Mildred?  And she was always Grandma Loraine rather than Grandma Levy, Nanna, Granny, or any other endearing name. 

Loraine c1898  w daisies
Mildred Loraine Gunzendorfer – c. 1898

My dad’s brother, Robert Levy, was likely named for Rebecca Steen Schwartz (above) who died about 18 months before Robert was born.  And his middle name was Sigmund after his father.

And that leads to two of my grandchildren.  Our oldest grandson has the middle name of Austen, which is very cool for a family with no sons.  And our youngest granddaughter’s middle name is Loraine, after her 2x great grandmother who she never knew.  I think she looks a little bit like her and I also think she’s going to have her spunk!

Sunday, February 4, 2018

52 Ancestors: In the Census

This week’s prompt is “In the Census”.

I can’t believe it’s been nearly 6 years since the 1940 census was made available and thanks to a mighty effort but thousands of volunteers, it was searchable pretty quickly.  My main goal with the census was to find my mother, Geraldine Martin, since she wasn’t 100% sure where she even was at that time.  I’m sure that seems hard to believe but it was about that time that her parents divorced and she spent some time with her mother, some time with her grandparents, and some time with her great aunt, Anna Theresa Fitzgerald Sronce.  So many places to look – I even blogged about the clues I had HERE

My mother didn’t talk much about her childhood but once I started on this journey, she seemed to remember more and more details and if pressed, would even share them with me.  I wish I’d pressed her more.

One place I knew she wasn’t was with her father, Earle Martin.  I think the photo below was taken in 1937 and I believe it wasn’t too long after that her parents divorced.   

Earle_Gerry 1937
Geraldine Martin and Earle Martin, c. 1937

When I first started looking nearly 6 years ago, I was unsuccessful in all of the places I suspected she would be.  Thankfully, Mom was still living at the time so I called her and asked the obvious question “Mom, where were you in 1940?”  I don’t remember the exact sequence of events (darn, I should know not to count on my memory) but at some point I think she said “I must have been at the Hotel in Oakland”.  HOTEL???

Turns out she was right!  Lo and behold, there was my mother, along with her mother, at a hotel on Harrison Street in Oakland.

1940 Census

Of course it’s hard to see them here (they are the last two entries), so I’ve cropped it  here.

1940 Census cropped

Oh boy, that’s still small.  On the top line it shows Clara Martin, Head, Female, White, 36 years old, Divorced, born in California, lived in Fresno, California in 1935 and her occupation was Hostess Manager.  And underneath is Geraldine Martin, Daughter, Female, White, 11 years old, Single, born in California, lived in Fresno, California in 1935.  That all checks out!

It might be the first time I’ve really studied a census like I did this one.  And because of that, I learned some new information.

In 1939, Clara’s income was $1500.  I would guess they got reduced, or maybe even free, board as part of Clara’s compensation as the Hostess Manager.  But $1500 in one year to take care of yourself and an 11 year old child?

In 1939, Clara worked 50 weeks of the year and worked 40 hours per week.

Clara’s highest school grade completed was 3 years of high school or 11th grade.  So she didn’t graduate from high school?  How did I not know that and, more importantly, WHY DIDN’T I ASK MY MOTHER WHEN I FOUND THIS?

Looks like Mom was in the 6th grade.  Would that be right?  She turned 12 in June, 1940 so I guess that makes sense.

One question asked was what the work status was during March 24-30, 1940.  Clara was at work for pay or profit and Gerry was in school.  Which school did she go to?  And, more importantly, WHY DIDN’T I ASK MY MOTHER?

I did find a link with a map of where the property was located and found this:

Map of 1940 Census Location Oakland

Hmm, that looked so familiar.  Turns out my paternal grandmother, Loraine Gunzendorfer, lived with her mother’s brother, Sam Steen, and his wife in the 1918 time period at 1733 Harrison Street which would have been just a few blocks away.  Hear the Twilight Zone music in the background? 

Geraldine w dog
Geraldine Levy – c. 1940-1943

Just think – only 4 more years and the 1950 census will be released!