Wednesday, July 31, 2019

52 Ancestors: Brother

This is a perfect prompt for me this week as I have a lot of "brothers" in my tree.  So many, in fact, that I was having trouble picking just one.  But then it hit me that my paternal grandfather, Sig Levy, was born 131 years ago today and instantly became a little brother.  So in honor of Sig and his three brothers....

Sig Levy was born to Goldie (Benas) and Herman Levy on 31 July 1888 in Vallejo, California.  Why Vallejo?  As my mother told me, because Goldie escaped the Fresno heat to be with her parents in Vallejo.  Is it really all that much cooler in Vallejo?

I think the first photo I have of Sig is this photo of Herman and Goldie and the first three of their sons in front of their home in Fresno.  I'd guess this photo to be sometime in 1889 based on Sig's age.

Goldie (Benas) and Herman Levy
Leon, Herb, Sig Levy

This is one of my favorite photos of the first three boys - in fact, I have a pencil drawing of a photo from the same photo session framed and hanging on a wall.  I treasure it!

L-R:  Leon, Sig, Herb Levy, c. 1890

The family seemed to have a lot of fun together.  Here are the boys after a day of swimming.  Youngest brother Ben was apparently too young to join in the fun.

Sig (top) Leon (left) and Herb (right) Levy

A few years later Ben was able to join in the photo session - all four brothers together.

L-R:  Herb, Leon, Sig, Ben Levy

And then some fun with dad.

Back:  Leon, Herman, Sig Levy
Front:  Ben Levy and ?????
But wait - Herb must have been busy that day so they added a different boy and hoped no one would notice.  Ha!

And then the boys starting growing up and still posed for photos.

Back, L-R:  Leon, Sig, Ben, Herb
Front:  Goldie and Herman

And then they really grew up and formed a business together, Levy Bros.  What a great time in their lives.

L to R:  Ben, Herb, Sig, Leon

I love how often times they posed in age order.

L to R:  Herb, Leon, Sig, Ben Levy

Then some drama occurred and the brothers went their separate ways.  I don't remember spending time with any of the brothers other than Leon.  But I know Sig and Ben stayed in contact because I remember spending time with Ben's two daughters.  But, sadly, all contact between Sig and Herb (and maybe others) ceased and until I started on this journey, I really knew nothing about Herb,  But I have since connected with some of Herb's grandchildren and great-grandchildren so I feel like the "brother curse" has been erased.

Sig was the last of the brothers to die.  I remember it was just two weeks after his 80th birthday when he was gone.

And I don't want this day to go by without recognizing my own brother.  I just love this thoughtful photo of him.  I used to pretend I had an older brother - I'm sure glad that was just pretend and that I have a younger brother instead!

Here's to brothers!

Sunday, July 21, 2019

52 Ancestors: Challenging

Another challenging post.  We had this blog prompt earlier this year but I didn't remember what I'd written about.  Not surprisingly, it was the challenge of identifying photos, especially since my great grandfather, Abraham Gunzendorfer, was a photographer.  And being that my memory really sucks these days, I didn't even remember that I'd pulled out some of the photos I was going to post for this blog post.

But the photos of the Hotel Del Monte had me scratching my head again and the photos got even a little more challenging.

First are the beautiful photos that Abe took.

Hotel Del Monte, Monterey, California
Photo by Abraham Gunzendorfer
Date Unknown

I learned that the Hotel Del Monte opened in 1880 and was one of the finest luxury hotels in North America until it ceased operating as a hotel in 1942.  It later became the Naval Postgraduate school of the U.S. Navy and today is known as Hermann Hall and functions as administrative offices and a hotel for the school.

There have been three buildings on the same site.  The first was designed by architect Arthur Brown, Sr. and was destroyed by fire on June 1, 1887.  The hotel was then damaged and two guests were killed during the San Francisco earthquake in 1906.  And then on October 28, 1924 the hotel was again destroyed by fire.

Which leads to the extra challenge when I found these two photos.  I'm not certain these are the hotel but it sure looks like it to me.

What is going on here?  It seems like it could be during the earthquake but the chances of getting such an action shot seems unlikely for 1906.  But could it be?

Here's another photo that leads me to believe this really is the hotel.

Oh geez, now that I compare the two photos I'm not sure they are the same building even though the damage looks the same.

Now my challenge is to find an expert in the history of the Hotel Del Monte.  Time to renew my contact with the Monterey historian I met when I first started this journey.

Sunday, July 14, 2019

52 Ancestors: Reunion

This weeks' blog post, Reunion, conjures up visions of a very large family gathering, complete with plaid tablecloths, fried chicken, and potato salad.  Unfortunately, as part of a VERY small family, that vision is just one from books and something that never actually happened for me.

My mother was an only child and after her parent's divorce and second marriage for both, she did have two half siblings from her father and his new wife; however, I only remember meeting my grandfather once and to my knowledge, never met his new children.  And since my grandmother never had any more children, that left any cousins on that side essentially non-existent to me.

My dad had one brother who had two children so those were really my only cousins.  And since they lived in Kentucky and we lived in California, we didn't see each other much.  My uncle would make the trek out west on occasion and at one time or another he brought one of his daughters with him.  Sadly, there were very few times when all five cousins were together.

But as this picture proves, there was at least once!

Back, left to right:  Me, Sister, Cousin V
Front, left to right:  Brother, Cousin M
Here we are - the Levy cousins!  This looks to be sometime about 1963 since my brother was born in November, 1961 and looks to be somewhere around 2 years old here.  I was notorious for closing my eyes when the camera snapped.

Several years ago I connected with a distant cousin on my mother's side - her grandfather was the younger brother of my great grandfather.  And just like that, she was GONE.  But she did share with me some information about our common ancestors and a reunion that occurred in 1979.  What a gift to have this newspaper article - unfortunately, I do not know the newspaper it was printed in.

The Horgan family, descendants of Jerry and Maggie Horgan of Ireland, who never immigrated to this country, held a family reunion at the Zamora town hall on June 2.  More than 100 descendants of the Horgan clan were present for the potluck dinner.  They came from Dinuba, Livermore, Redwood City, Sunol, Red Bluff, Sacramento, Salinas, Esparto, San Jose, Newark, Fresno, Arbuckle, Merced, Davis, Knight's Landing, Woodland and Zamora.  A few older friends of the family around Zamora were also invited.

The oldest member present was Irene Fitzgerald Johnson of Arbuckle.  Youngest members were Kelly Barnard of Livermore and Bonnie Hilleby of Woodland.  Traveling the farthest was Viola Fitzgerald Crawford of Fresno.

Father Elwood Geary said Mass for the family in St. Agnes Catholic Church in Zamora on Sunday morning.  The church was built by John, Cornelius and Andrew Horgan.

Planning the reunion were Betty Dall of Dinuba, Edith Heidrick, Mary Croll and Mable Hermle.  Mrs. Hermle is the second generation Horgan in this country and the only one in her generation that is living today.  The Ireland couple were her grandparents.

How cool is that?  Can you imagine finding 100 descendants 40 years ago and then planning a reunion and notifying them all to gather on a specific date????

And then there was a photo of the St. Agnes Catholic Church, built by my 2x great grandmother's brothers John, Cornelius, and Andrew.

What a great little church!  I'd sure love to see inside.

Look at this - a current photo!

St. Agnes Catholic Church, Zamora, California
from google maps
But best of all is this photo of some of the Horgan descendants who gathered that day - and labeled with the names!  Only problem is I can't be sure of who is who with one exception - my grandmother's sister, Viola Fitzgerald Crawford who is third from the right.  And I know this only because she looks EXACTLY like my grandmother!

Clifford E. Johnson, Irene Fitzgerald Johnson, Harry Johnson, Jack John E. Fitzgerald (Patti's grandfather), Elfie Johnson, Lorraine Follett (Viola's daughter), Clarence Follet (Lorraine's husband), Viola M. Crawford, Jane Fitzgerald Schneider, Carla Schneider.  Note - Irene Johnson died a few months after reunion

I enlarged it so I could see it better.

I'm guessing that Lorraine is to Viola's right with her husband, Clarence, standing behind her.  And if Irene Johnson was the eldest, I would guess her to be 2nd from the left.

Interesting to note that in all the times we visited my grandmother in Fresno, I don't remember ever meeting Viola.  And being that my grandmother was still living in 1979 (and quite active), I wonder why she didn't attend?  Could it be that there was some sort of rift between she and Viola?  Another question I will probably never have answered.

As my family grows and grows due to this journey I'm on, maybe one day I'll have a chance to attend my own family reunion.

Sunday, July 7, 2019

52 Ancestors: Independent

This weeks' blog prompt was a tough one for me - Independent.  How would I interpret that?  Of course, since this week we celebrated Independence Day, those ancestors were top of mind for me.  Which leads me to Nathan Waller, the brother of my 5x great grandfather, Ashbel Waller.

Nathan Waller was the eldest of five sons born to Phineas and Rhoda (Taylor) Waller on March 7, 1753 in Cornwall, Connecticut.  The family consisted of brothers Levi, Ashbel, Daniel and Joseph and sisters Rhoda, Mercy, Lydia, Hannah and Esther.  Nathan became one of the early settlers of Wyoming Valley, Pennsylvania.  As had many others, he purchased land from the Susquehanna Company in that area.

Nathan is especially interesting as he is documented by the Daughters of the American Revolution (DAR) as a Revolutionary War Patriot, joining the army as a private within Captain Hickock's Company of the Sixteenth Regiment, in turn part of the Connecticut Line.  While Ashbel, along with brothers Levi and Daniel, also served in the Revolution, they are not documented by DAR as a patriot.  Which means that I have a lot of work to do before gaining admittance into DAR.  Note to self: get to work on this.

Nathan's service is well documented but especially interesting was his participation (and wounding) in the engagement at Horse Neck in 1779.
On February 26, 1779, the American patrol withdrew to the settlement at Horseneck Landing, located at West Greenwich.  There, Maj. General Israel Putnam attempted to make a stand with a couple of cannon and 150 militia.  The British attacked the Americans and drove them off.  Tryon's raiders destroyed the salt works, 3 small wooden ships, a store, and then plundered the settlement.  They carried off about 200 head of cattle and horses  Conclusion:  British victory.  Casualties:  American: unknown; British 2w, 20 c.

Nathan even has his own Wikipedia page!  There I learned that Nathan eventually attained the rank of captain and once the war ended, he returned with his family to the Wyoming Valley.  There he came to own significant amounts of land in and around Wilkes-Barre.  He built a home on his lower farm and more than 100 years later it was still standing on what was then Division Street.

Nathan's name appears frequently in the earliest records of Luzerne County.  He assisted in determining the location for a new Congregational Church and the site chosen was on Wilkes-Barre public square.

Nathan married Elizabeth Weeks on May 4, 1773.  They had two sons and eight daughters.  Named after Nathan's father, his eldest son was Phineas, who was the father of David Jewett Waller, a Pennsylvania minister and civic leader.

Nathan Waller opened a Saddling business, described here.

The Gleaner, Mon, 24 Jan 1803, page 1

Oh no!  Some of his cattle got out!

The Gleaner, Friday, 20 Nov 1807, page 3

I wonder if they were ever found?

Captain Nathan Waller died in Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania on 11 July 1831 and is buried in Hollenback Cemetery, Wilkes-Barre, Luzerne County, Pennsylvania.

Nathan Waller, 7 Nov 1753 to 11 Jul 1831
Hollenback Cemetery, Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania

Thank you for your service in America's battle for independence, Captain Nathan Waller, my 6x great uncle!

Saturday, June 22, 2019

52 Ancestors: Earliest

This weeks' blog prompt is Earliest.  At first I was stumped - should I write about the earliest document I have, the earliest ancestor I have documented, or earliest memory I have of one of my ancestors?  Wait - how about the earliest photo I have of my ancestors?  So here we go.....

Paternal side

3x great grandmother, Hannah (Plotzky) Steen, 1828-1909

2x great grandmother, Rebecca (Steen) Schwartz, 1848-1918

2x great grandfather, Louis Schwartz, 1834-1893

2x great grandfather, Ferdinand Gunzendorfer, 1838-1907

2x great grandmother, Fannie (Goldstein) Gunzendorfer, 1848-1910

Great Grandmother, Bertha (Schwartz) Gunzendorfer, 1872-1950

Great grandfather, Abraham Gunzendorfer, 1869-1944

Great grandfather, Herman Levy, 1856-1918

Great grandmother, Goldie (Benas) Levy, 1864-1926

Grandmother, Mildred Loraine (Gunzendorfer) Levy, 1896-1982

Grandfather, Sigmund Levy, 1888-1968

Father, Gordon Levy, 1927-2005

Maternal Side

2x great grandmother, Sarah (Miller) Brooks Anderson, 1836-1923

2x great grandmother, Rebecca (Waller) McAboy, 1845-1928

2x great grandfather, Mathew Fitzgerald, 1850-1905

Great grandmother, Mabel (McAboy) Fitzgerald, 1883-1966

Great grandfather, Edward Fitzgerald, 1879-1968

Great grandmother, Frances (Brooks) Martin, 1860-1936

Grandmother, Clara (Fitzgerald) Martin Hunter, 1903-1987

Grandfather, Earle Martin, 1900-1986
Mother, Geraldine (Martin) Levy, 1928-2013

And last but not least - ME!

I'm missing a few and hope to one day find them but I feel like I have a pretty good collection!

Sunday, June 16, 2019

52 Ancestors: Dear Diary

This week's blog prompt is Dear Diary.  I consider myself one of those fortunate family researchers to have had pack rat ancestors, even though at times it feels overwhelming.  But several years ago I did run across a little diary of my grandmother's which I transcribed and blogged about HERE.  I guess I was just a little ahead of the prompt.

This leads me to think about the hundreds (and I do mean hundreds) of letters that I have which my grandparents, Loraine Gunzendorfer and Sig Levy, wrote back and forth to each other from 1916 until their marriage in 1919.  I am only about 70% completed transcribing them but this first letter from Sig to Loraine is so special that I need to share it.  It is the beginning of a budding romance and, ultimately, a marriage lasting nearly 50 years.  I guess you could say letters are a different version of a diary.

Fresno, California
August 14, 196
10:30 PM
to Monterey
Monday night

Dear Miss Gunzendorfer:

Yes I am in Fresno and have just finished a hard days work.  As I promised, I will send you tomorrow morning's Republican but I fear it will not interest you much as we are now experiencing our very quietest weeks and the paper shows it.  And when I arrived I found one of my men had gone to Yosemite on a pleasure jaunt and things were not in the best of shape.

Now, I am wondering if I am taking too much liberty in writing this note but I believe you said it would be alright.  At any rate I am taking the liberty and I hope it will be well met.

I want to express my sincere appreciation for you coming to the train.  It was certainly an unexpected pleasure - accidental as it was.  We just happened past your house and the folks spotted you.  I had a very nice and quick trip and on board were some of our business men who all are good friends of mine, and one of them really gave you a beautiful trade-last - the gentleman who was in that machine next to ours.  But I guess I'd better save it until you want it.

This note will no doubt arrive in your fair city about as soon as you do.  I trust you had a nice trip home and that you will like your new position.  I am hoping that you will punch out a little time off for me - I know it will be hard

to spare, but I am very appreciative.

If you are really thought you were interested in my paper I will send you copies from time to time as soon as we get real busy with live stunts.  Now look what I did - please pardon the mix-up but there are about seventeen fellows up here all arguing with each other about the war and everything - in the main room they are putting down a new hard wood floor and below the windows many chorus girls are singing at an open-air musical show.  The noise is immense, so I am not accountable.

I just realized how large this little note was getting so I will cease immediately.


Sig Levy

Address:  Fresno Republican, Fresno

I don't know why I find this first communication from Sig to 'Miss Gunzendorfer' so beautiful.  Maybe it was not just Sig taking the bold step in sending this letter but the innocence of the times and the 50+ year love story this single letter started.  No matter what, I'm sure glad Sig sent this letter or I might not be here today.

Sig Levy