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

Sunday, June 9, 2019

52 Ancestors: Namesake

There are a lot of instances in my family tree of one ancestor being named for another - it's fun to follow the bread crumbs.  But one namesake that means the most to me is.......ME.

My mom always told me that my middle name, Ann, was given to me in honor of her Aunt Ann, the woman she lived with for some amount of time (how long?) while her parents were going through their divorce.  Somehow I learned that Aunt Ann was really Anna Teresa (Fitzgerald) Sronce, who was really her great aunt as she was the younger sister of Mom's grandfather, Edward Fitzgerald.  And I also knew that Aunt Ann lived somewhere around Berkeley or Oakland, California.  And even now I don't know much more than that.  And once again, I could just KICK MYSELF for not asking more questions.

Anna Teresa Fitzgerald was born 27 July 1883 in Woodland, Yolo County, California.  She was the seventh (and last) child of Mathew and Julia (Horgan) Fitzgerald.

I found what looks to be two entries in the 1900 census for Anna.

The first was enumerated on 7 Jun 1900 where she was in Fresno with dad Mathew and siblings Nick, Mary, and Joseph.  Mom Julia died shortly after Anna's birth so this all checks out.

The second entry was just a week later on June 12-13 where I found Anna in Woodland.  She was a lodger in the Delia Morrison household and was "at business college".  This Anna was born July, 1883 so it also looks to be her.  However, this shows that both her father and mother were born in New York when, in fact, they were both born in Ireland.  Maybe it was easier just to say your parents were born in New York?  Or, Delia didn't know where they were born so just said New York?

On 14 Aug 1902, Anna married Robert Hartsel Sronce.  And together over the next few years they had three children - Robert, Hartsel, and Elizabeth.

In 1910, Anna and Robert lived on G Street in Sacramento.  Young Robert and Hartsel had now joined the family, as had Aunt Elizabeth Sronce.  I don't have any record of a sister named Elizabeth but I also don't see a brother (making her a sister-in-law).  More research needed.  In this census it states that both parents were born in New York.

By 1920, Anna and Robert were living at 1600 Bancroft in Berkeley.  Again, both parents were born in New York.  And now not only were Robert, Hartsel, and Aunt Elizabeth in the home, but daughter Elizabeth had joined the family.

1930 found Anna and Robert at 754 61st St in Oakland.  In the home were son Robert and daughter Elizabeth and a "relative" Sarah.  Google maps shows the house in February, 2019:

754 61st Street, Oakland, CA  - google maps
Was this the home that Mom lived in with them?  She remembers Elizabeth living in the home so this could make sense.  Or not.  Ugh, WHY DIDN'T I ASK?

By 1940, they had moved to 1509 Edith in Berkeley.  With Robert and Anna were daughter Elizabeth and her husband, Malcom Bell.  Mom, did you live here?

1509 Edith, Berkeley, CA - google maps

I went back and researched some other things and found that Mom remembered living with them at 1441 Milvia Street in Berkeley.  But I don't find ANYTHING (other than Anna's death certificate) that showed them ever living there.

1441 Milvia Street, Berkeley, CA - google maps

I know that in 1940 Mom and her mother were living in a hotel on Harrison Street in Oakland (my grandmother was the Hotel Manager) so I think Mom must have been living with the Sronce's in the mid 1930's.  How long did she live with them?  Was it a week, a month, years?  I guess I'll never know.  AND I DIDN'T ASK!!!

Anna died on 2 May 1950 in Alameda County.  Based on the death certificate, she died of an accute myocardial infarction at her home on Milvia Street.  She is buried in Mountain View Cemetery in Oakland.

I know I can't beat myself up but geez, why didn't I ask more questions???

Sunday, June 2, 2019

52 Ancestors: At the Cemetery

I find cemeteries so interesting - behind/beneath every stone is a story.  I could spend hours sitting at my computer looking through death and cemetery records and love matching people with their loved ones.  Just when you think you've solved one mystery, another challenge stands before you.

This weeks' prompt is At the Cemetery.  I can't say that I've BEEN to a lot of cemeteries but I can say that I've virtually been to quite a few.  Last year I wrote about some very special cemeteries in my family history HERE.  

Another cemetery that is very special to me is Chapel of the Light Columbarium in Fresno.  

 From  "On July 1, 1914, the Fresno crematory was opened.  The crematory consisted of two cremation chambers, a chapel, and a columbarium.  The property is located on Belmont Avenue, west of Roeding Park, and north of the Mountain View Cemetery, which was established in 1888.

Originally behind the crematory, there was a streetcar track that ran through Roeding Park and dead-ended at the crematory.

There was also a self-made airport on the balance of the property.  Local aviators who flew bi-planes for their own pleasure established the airport."

The first time I visited the Columbarium was after my grandfather, Sig Levy, died in 1968.  I remember hearing the story that since he always wanted to sit on the aisle of a theater due to his short stature, he picked an aisle niche in the Columbarium.  And then I visited again in 1982 after my grandmother, Loraine Guzendorfer, died.

I had no idea that almost all of my Levy "kin" are interred in the Columbarium.  Sig's parents, Herman and Goldie (Benas) Levy, his brothers and their wives (Herb/Madeline, Leon/Elizabeth, Ben/Leah), some of their children, and even Sig and Loraine's oldest son, Robert Levy (1920-2004).

Chapel of the Light states "One of our most unusual urns is a replica of a home on Van Ness Blvd.  Mr. and Mrs. Ben Levy were in the process of building a home in what is now known as Fig Garden on Van Ness Blvd. and the home was close to completion when Mrs. Levy took a trip to Texas to visit her sister.  Mrs. Levy was in an automobile accident and was killed.  Mr. Levy came to the chapel and made arrangements for her niche."

In Ben Levy's autobiography, he gave a different account:

"In 1939, we went to the New York World's Fair and on our return, we had an automobile accident just out of Winnemuca, Nevada.  My wife was fatally injured in this accident.  My wife and I were both thrown out of our car, but my wife paid with her life."

What's interesting is that my in laws both graduated from Humbolt County High School in Winnemucca, I believe in 1939.  I wonder if they knew anything of the accident but, of course, there is no one left to ask.

At some point, I'm planning to get to Fresno to visit with some long-lost cousins, see the old yet familiar sites, and take a visit to Chapel of the Light to walk the halls.