Sunday, June 24, 2018

52 Ancestors: Same Name

I haven’t had too many problems with ancestors having the same name – it’s happened once or twice (and maybe more that I haven’t discovered yet) but it hasn’t really caused me any problems.  What’s been more interesting to me is the same name popping up in not only my tree, but that of my husband.

One name that has surfaced several times on both sides of my tree is Rebecca.  Does this look like a Rebecca?

Debi 1955

I’m not sure what a Rebecca would look like but, apparently, it wasn’t this child.  WAIT – that child is ME and my name is definitely not Rebecca!

My mother, a Gentile, married into a Jewish family in 1950.  And while she wasn’t terribly religious, it must have been difficult for her to convert to Judaism.  She told us on several occasions that it was tough for her to “take” Santa and the Easter Bunny from her kids so while we were mostly raised Jewish, we did have visits from these two characters even though we didn’t really understand the meaning of the holiday.  Many of my friends would comment that we were “lucky” to celebrate both Hanukkah and Christmas – more presents!

Mom also told me the story that when I was born, the name they had decided on for me was Rebecca.  For whatever reason, Mom thought the name was “too Jewish” so they settled on Deborah instead.  Apparently, it escaped Mom that Deborah was also Jewish name.  Of course, children often don’t care for their name and many times I longed for the name Rebecca.

So when I was expecting our first child, I remembered my best friend from nursery school (whom I never saw after I left that school) who was E Maria Mulcahey.  I loved her name and when I told my husband, he agreed to the first name but wanted a different middle name.  Marie?  No, something else.  And it was then that I remembered the story about my name and said “what about Rebecca”.  And so it was.

I remember when I first saw my grandmothers after her birth and one of them said “my favorite grandmother was Rebecca”.  To which the other replied “MY favorite grandmother was Rebecca”.  I never let on that I had no idea of those facts when their first great granddaughter was named.  And then, many years later, this genealogy journey began and the pieces of the puzzle began to come together and I was able to learn about these two favorite grandmothers.

Rebecca (Steen) Schwartz

Rebecca Steen cropped
Rebecca (Steen) Schwartz, date unknown

Rebecca Steen was born 8 Feb 1848 in Poland and died 7 Jan 1918 in Oakland – I’ve written about her many times and you can learn more about her HERE

While I wasn’t ‘happy’ to read about Rebecca’s death, it was interesting to read what my grandmother said to her future husband about the passing of her grandmother.
January 7, 1918 – 10 pm
Monday eve
My very own Sweetheart,
We are a house of mourning here at 1933 tonight, my Grandmother passed away at 15 minutes to six tonight, poor soul, she is much better off, but, of course, we all shall miss her terribly. She is to be buried Wednesday.
Enough about sorrow, sweetheart. You can see how much I think of you to be writing tonight, all the folks are in the front room and I am in the dining room trying to collect my thoughts for you only.

And then after the burial on Wednesday.
January 9, 1918 – 10:30 pm
Wednesday night
My own Sweetheart
Your letter was waiting for me upon my return from the cemetery and it cheered me up considerably, sweetheart. It was quite comforting after the ordeal of the afternoon. Grandma looked so peaceful sleeping that no one could have the heart to wish her back. If she could only have seen the wonderful bower of flowers she was lying in I know she would have been so happy as she loved them so. But now it is all over and we have only the memory of her.


Rebecca Steen death notice Oakland Tribune 1_8_1918
Oakland Tribune 8 Jan 1918


Rebecca (Waller) McAboy



Rebecca Moriah Waller 1920
Rebecca Moriah (Waller) McAboy, c 1920

Rebecca Moriah Waller was born 7 Feb 1845 in Warren, Ohio and died 23 Oct 1928 in Fresno.  I wrote a little about her HERE when my ‘new’ cousin, Kris, shared a photo of Rebecca with me.  Thanks again, Kris!

Rebecca (Parker) Waller

Another very, very important Rebecca in my tree is Rebecca Parker, Rebecca Moriah’s mother.  I discovered her quite by accident several years ago HERE and love thinking about this woman whom her daughter was never able to know.  While I don’t have a photo of her, I treasure the information I do have so that she will never be forgotten.

Rebecca Parker Waller

In Memory of Rebecca consort of E L Waller. She departed this Life February 13, 1845; Aged 30 Years, 4 months, and 5 days. Look at this as you pas by, as you are now so once was I, as I am now so you must be. For death and follow me.

While I’ve written about these special women on many occasions, I like to have things in one place so that my ancestors are never forgotten.



Sunday, June 17, 2018

52 Ancestors: Father’s Day

Today is Father’s Day in the United States – a day that each year is a difficult reminder that my dad has been gone another year.  I still see the Father’s Day cards in the store and it punches me in the gut to know that once again, I won’t buy one. 

But there is another father whom I don’t know much about, my maternal grandfather, Earle Laurence Martin.  I have a lot of dates and places saved to my tree but I have almost no memories of him as my mother was a bit estranged from him throughout my lifetime.  Sure, we received Christmas greetings each year (and, I’m assuming, birthday greetings) but I only remember a visit with him once, maybe when I was about 10-12 years old. 

Earle was born 23 Jul 1900 in Fresno, California, and was the youngest child born to Robert Lewis Martin and Francis “Fannie” Brooks.  When I first started researching, I connected with someone who said she had seen both 1900 and 1901 for his birth date but after asking my mother (and getting a copy of both his birth and death certificate), I am certain that the year was 1900. 

Being that Earle was born after the 1900 census was conducted, the first time I found him was in 1910 when he lived on Palm Avenue in Fresno with his parents and five of his seven siblings (Lillie, Pearl, Nellie, Dessie, and Ethel – William and Guy were living outside the home).  My mom always told me his father’s name was Guy but I think somewhere along the line she got mixed up and remembered his older brother rather than his father.

On 12 Sep 1918, Earle registered for World War I in Fresno County.  He listed his address as Route E, Box 37, Fresno and his occupation as a Clerk, California Peach Growers.  His next of kin was his father, Robert L. Martin, at the same address.

By 1920, Earle was living on Maple Avenue in Fresno with his parents and Nellie, Guy, and Ethel.  And new to the household was his maternal grandmother, Sarah Miller Brooks Anderson.  I’ve writtten about Sarah HERE and HERE.

On 23 Jun, 1923, Earle was married to my grandmother, Clara Maxine Fitzgerald.  During the 1924-1926 time frame, it appears that they were living at both 1335 Glenn Avenue, Fresno, and 2844 Liberty, Fresno.  Earle was an Inspector at Burroughs Adding Machine and by 1925, Clara was a Purchasing Agent (that’s the first I’ve heard of that).

The 1930 census brought changes as by that time their only child, Geraldine Martin (my mother), was born and the young family was living at 1023 Thorne, Fresno.  Living with them was Ruby Jones, a servant.  What?  I realize my mother was just a toddler at the time but I don’t remember her ever mentioning a servant in the household. 


Earle Martin_Gerry Martin 1928
Earle Martin and Geraldine Martin, 1928

My mother always remembered the Thorne Avenue address and I had a memory of that address, as well.  But it wasn’t until today that I connected the dots - by 1940, Clara’s parents, along with her sister and two nieces, were living at that address.  I’ve been unsuccessful finding Earle in the 1940 census but I know that by that time, he and Clara had divorced and Clara and my mother were living in Oakland.  So my assumption is that when Earle and Clara divorced, they either sold the house (or Clara’s parents were renting it to them) because the 1940 census shows Edward and Mabel (McAboy) Fitzgerald owned the house. 


Clara_Earle_Gerry_Francis Brooks
Clara Fitzgerald, Francis Brooks, Geraldine Martin, Earle Martin
Was this 1023 Thorne Avenue?

I know that in 1937, Earle and Clara (with my mother, I’m sure) were still on Thorne Avenue.  But the next few years go cold and I haven’t found them.  And then by 1940 they were divorced so my guess is that they divorced during that missing time frame.

I have this photo of Mom with her dad in 1937 – were they still a family or was this a special time together?  I wish I knew.


Earle_Gerry 1937


On 14 Feb, 1941, Earle was remarried to Verda Nelson in Las Vegas.  And then exactly a year later, Earle registered for the World War II draft and listed his address as 131 Highlands Drive, Bakersfield.  His sister, Nell, was listed as Next of Kin and I was treated to a description of him:  5-91/2 inches, 170 pounds, hazel eyes, brown hair, and light complexion.  He was employed by Burroughs Adding Machine, Fresno.  But no mention of Verda?  I know they remained married until his death in 1986 but not sure why she wouldn’t show up here.

I know that Verda brought two children into the marriage, whom Earle adopted, and together they had two more children.  Since one of these children is still living, I will refrain from providing details but I don’t believe I ever met any of these children.  I’m somewhat connected to the youngest, who is close to my sister’s age, and I hope in the future we can share information.  I am a picture junkie and would just love to see Earle later in life.

Earle died 11 Oct 1986 and is buried in Belmont Memorial Park, Fresno, California.

Martin Earle

And that’s about all I know about my maternal grandfather, Earle Laurence Martin.  While I know so much about my other grandparents, I wish I could say the same about Earle.




Sunday, June 10, 2018

52 Ancestors: Going to the Chapel

This week’s prompt is Going to the Chapel.  I’ve written about many marriages of my ancestors:  My parents, my paternal grandparents, and even my paternal great grandparents.  So with this prompt, I’ll focus on my maternal side of the family.

My mother’s parents, Clara Fitzgerald and Earle Martin, were married 23 June 1923.  While that marriage brought my mother, Geraldine Martin, into the world, it did not go well and somewhere in the late 1930’s, Clara and Earle divorced.  My mother didn’t talk about it much so I don’t know any of the details.

But then a new man, Sheldon Abb Hunter, came into her life and on 18 Feb 1942, the two traveled from Fresno to Las Vegas to be married.

Clara Martin Sheldon Hunter Marriage Fresno Bee Republican 18 Feb 1942 Page 6
The Fresno Bee Republican
18 Feb 1942, Wed – Page 6

Mrs. Clara M. Martin, who, with Sheldon A. Hunter, left today for Las Vegas, Nev., where they planned to be married late this afternoon.  They will establish their home here.


Late Afternoon Wedding Rites Planned by Mrs. Clara Martin, Sheldon A. Hunter

Mrs. Clara M. Martin and Sheldon A. Hunter left this morning for Las Vegas, Nev., where they planned to be married late this afternoon.

The couple, who motored (?) in Las Vegas, will have a wedding dinner in El Rancho Vegas after the ceremony.  They will remain in Las Vegas for the weekend, returning to Fresno Monday.  The couple will reside in The Californian temporarily. 

Mrs. Martin’s wedding attire is a navy bitte custom suit, trimmed at the neckline with a collar of white organdy.  Her hat, with a touch of white trim, and other accessories also are navy blue.  A corsage of white orchids wil complete the ensemble.

The bride is a daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Edward Fitzgerald of Fresno.  She is afilliated with the Eastern Star and has been employed at The Californian as social hostess and secretary in G. Vorn Snorgrass, manager of the hotel.

Hunter, who has lived in Fresno for many years, has been local manager of the Western Union Telegraph Company for twenty two years.  He has been employed by the company for thirty five years.

The bridegroom is a member of the Fresno Rotary Club, the University-Sequoia and Sunnyside Country Clubs and is the treasurer of the Fresno Childrens Summer Camp.


My mother was not quite 14 at the time of their marriage.  Where was she?  Did she stay home with her father?  Her grandparents?  Also interesting that she wasn’t mentioned in the newspaper article.

Again, so many questions without any answers.  I’m happy, though, that I came across this newspaper article to learn more about their wedding.  Note to self:  send away for a copy of their marriage certificate.  Not sure what it will tell me that I didn’t learn about here but I’ll never know if I don’t see a copy.  (SWEET!  I just ordered it online while the draft of this post was processing!)

These photos are not necessarily from the exact time period but I think fairly close.  While Clara wasn’t the packrat that my paternal grandmother was, she was nice enough to put notes on the back of most of her photos.  Thanks, Grandma!


Sheldon Hunter Thinking
Sheldon Hunter
date unknown


Clara Fitzgerald c 1942
Mrs. Sheldon A. Hunter
date unknown

It’s always fun to learn about my ancestors getting married!