This week's census form is the first U.S. census on which my Polish great-grandparents, Michael and Sophie Bodziony, appear. As the census form states, both Michael and Sophie were ethnic Poles from Galicia, a region in Eastern Europe that was part of Austria-Hungary at the time of their births in the 1880s. (Today, half of this region is located in Poland, and the other half is in the Ukraine.) Although the form states that Michael arrived in 1909 and Sophie in 1910, immigration papers and ship manifests prove that they both arrived in 1910. Michael and Sophie are listed with their three children, Stella, Joseph, and Veronica. Sophie actually gave birth to two other baby boys between 1911 and 1920, one who was stillborn and one who died just hours after birth. The family rented living space in a Cleveland neighborhood that was predominantly Polish; The census form indicates that Michael could speak English, but Sophie still could not. Michael worked as a chipper in a foundry. (I talk more about his job in this post.)
This week is the American Library Association's Banned Books Week. One of my favorite heirlooms that belonged to my Grandma Bellan is her copy of Betty Smith's A Tree Grows in Brooklyn, which, though immensely popular upon its 1943 release, has also been, at times, banned due to themes related to alcoholism, sex, and poverty.
Grandma received this book as a gift from her niece and nephew, Linda and Dick DeRigo in 1944. (Linda was only 2 years old and Dick was a baby.) This particular copy has seen better days; the edges are worn away, the binding has become loose in some areas, and the spine is faded and dirty. It has that wonderful 'old-book-musty' smell, too. But that only means that it was well-loved, and, in this case, by more than one generation. I read this very book as a teenager (it was on my school literature reading list one particular summer), and I fell in love with it immediately. I wanted to re-read it as an adult, but I decided to purchase a new copy. I can be rough on my books, and at that point in my life, I was shoving them into the bottoms of bags to read on my train ride home from work. I didn't want to risk any more damage to a copy I loved so much.
Not only did I inherit Grandma's book, but, more importantly, I inherited her LOVE of reading and books. When she was living with us in her last year or so, she didn't like to drive too much, so during my weekly trips to the local library, I would head on over to the 'large print' section and pick up a few for her. I hope that at least one of my children will feel the same way I feel about reading and books, and I hope that they will cherish this book from their great-grandmother as much as I do.
Amanuensis Monday is a weekly blogging prompt sponsored by Geneabloggers in which participants transcribe family documents, journals, letters, postcards, etc.
Gottfried Wimmers was one of my husband's 3x great-grandfathers on his mom's side of the family.
He was born about 1804 in Keyenberg, Germany and immigrated to Ohio with his wife and children in 1852. I have transcribed his last will and testament here (original probate record transcription images below):
Sworn to and subscribed in open Court this 24" day of January, AD 1883. HH Pulekamp, Prob. Judge.
Will. Last Will and Testament of Godfried Wimmers, of Granville Township, Mercer County, Ohio, November, 28" 1882. I Godfried Wimmers do make and publish this my last Will and Testament as follows: I will that after my death all of my property, Real Estate and personal property, shall be and belong to Maria Wimmers, widow of my son John Wimmers, deceased, so long as she may live her natural life; provided: that she pays, or cause to be paid, the following: All of debts; and also to Hubert Wimmers, my son, fifty dollars; and to my daughter Agnes Wimmers, five dollars; and twenty five dollars for Masses for my benefit. I Will that after my death and after the death of Maria Wimmers above mentioned, all of the property then left of my estate, shall be and belong to the children of my son John, deceased in fee simple and forever, provided: that if the amounts above mentioned are not all paid at the death of said Maria Wimmers, that than said children of my son John, deceased, pay or cause to be paid said sums not yet paid. I will that my son Hubert and my daughter Agnes above mentioned, received said said sums above mentioned as their full share of my estate, and shall not be entitled to any further sum or amount out of my estate. I hearby declare that my other children, viz: Jacob _ Joseph _ Lorenz _ and William _ have received of my estate their full share which I ever intended for them; and I hearby Will that they receive no more of my estate. I revoke all former Wills by me made. In witness where of I have (...?) my hand and scrawl seal, this 28th day of November A.D. 1882.
Godfried Wimmers (seal)
Signed, sealed and acknowledged by said Godfried Wimmers as his last Will and Testament in our presence, and signed by us, at his request and in his presence, and in the presence of each other - Bernard Uhlenhake and John G Beckman.
Since at least 1870, potentially several years before then, Gottfried and his wife, Eva, lived with their son John, his wife, and his children on the family farm in Granville Twp, Mercer County, Ohio. On September 15, 1882, John Wimmers, at the age of 45, was killed in some sort of accident (see death record below, at bottom). His wife, Maria (Mary), was left to care for five children aged 15 and younger. Gottfried wrote this final version of his will two months after John's death and less than one month before his own death, which occurred on December 17, 1882. He was 79 years old. He was obviously worried about the fate of his daughter-in-law and grandchildren, and left the majority of his estate to them. John's wife, Mary, managed the farm with the help of her sons Henry, John, and Hubert until at least 1900. She passed away in 1919 in St. Henry, Ohio at the age of 81.
This Sunday, I am looking at the first U.S. Census that my Italian great-grandparents appear in. Louis (Luigi) Licciardi came to America in late 1920 and his wife, Adele, followed with their two young daughters, Dina and Yola, in 1921. In 1930, the family is renting part of a duplex home on Cleveland's east side. Louis owns an embroidery business on West 6th Street in downtown Cleveland's Warehouse District.
I'm not quite sure why, but the census enumerator listed my Great Aunt Yola separate from the rest of the family. (And they got her first name a bit wrong, but, hey, that happens all the time.) He did make a note of it though and points the reader in the right direction as to where she IS listed.
Here are a couple of Cleveland city directories. The one on the left is from 1928 and gives the address of Louis' embroidery business. The one on the right is from 1930 and shows their home address. (Click on images for larger view.)
Here is what the house that they lived in looks like today via Google Street View. Real estate data shows that it was built in 1927, and since the 1928 Cleveland residential directory lists them as living there in 1928, they were very likely the first occupants. Based on the census form, it looks as if my great-grandparents rented from the owner, Joseph Bertolius, who also lived there with his family.
And finally, here is the building in which my great-grandfather, Louis, ran his embroidery business in 1930. (He later moved the business to E. 25th St.) It is known as the Bradley Building. It was completely renovated in the late 20th century, and today it is an apartment building with shops and restaurants on the main floor.
I have been doing some additional research on the Knob family this week, so I decided to feature them in this week's Census Sunday. William Knob and Mary Watercutter were two of my husband's great-great grandparents on his dad's side of the family. William was the youngest child of Henry and Anna (Pancier) Knob, both German immigrants, and Mary's grandfather, Ferdinand, was also a German immigrant who came over in 1834. (This area of western Ohio was largely settled by German Catholic farmers in the 19th century.) Here are both families as 'next-door' neighbors in the 1880 census, about 17 years before William and Mary get married. They are living in McLean Township in Shelby County. There are maps below for reference.
Census Sunday is a weekly prompt sponsored by Geneabloggers in which family history bloggers are encouraged to talk about how census records help us learn about our ancestors.
Andrew Brunswick was my husband's 3x great-grandfather. He emigrated from Germany to America in 1853 and became a farmer in western Ohio's Auglaize County. Here he is with his family in the 1860 census:
He is listed with his wife, Philomena, and young daughters, Catherine and Theresia. (The transcription of first names is slightly incorrect as usual :-) A boy by the name of Clements Holdman is also listed, along with a Theresia Brunswick, who is enumerated as a 'domestic.' I am fairly certain that Theresia Brunswick is Andrew's youngest sister, although I have some more research to do regarding her. For the longest time, I had trouble figuring out who the boy was, especially since this particular census form does not list relations between family members. Although I'm sure he did much work on Andrew's farm, he is a little young to be a hired farmhand and he is not listed as a farmhand in the occupation column. Hmmm...
Andrew's wife Philomena had a maiden name of Oldendiek (or Oldendick depending on the source). Earlier this year, I found Andrew and Philomena's wedding record in a book indexing Mercer County marriages. In her marriage record, Philomena's maiden name was listed as 'Holdink,' which is not really that different from Oldendiek phonetically-speaking. I am willing to go out on a limb and say that Clements 'Holdman' is probably Philomena's younger brother. As to why he may be living with his older sister, I don't know. In fact, there is much I do not yet know about this Oldendiek/Oldendick family that I still need to try to research.
Andrew Brunswick is also listed in 1860's agricultural census. I love these 19th century ag census schedules because they give us a sense of what our ancestor really DID on their farms. Here is Andrew listed at the bottom of the images below (click for larger image).
Andrew had a total of 76 acres of land valued at $1000. The family had five horses, three milking cows, five general cattle, four sheep, and twelve pigs as livestock, which had a value of $300. Over the past year, his farm had produced 150 bushels of wheat, twelve bushels of rye, a hundred bushels each of Indian corn and oats, and forty bushels of barley. Their sheep had yielded ten pounds of wool, and the milk cows helped them produce 150 pounds of butter. The farm also produced 14 tons of hay.
Today is Labor Day here in America, when we remember and honor the work of our current citizens and of those in the past who worked to create the America that we know today. For this post, I was originally going to make a list of my and my husband's direct ancestors' occupations. However, I wanted something more visual and artistic, so I went to Tagxedo.com and made this cool, autumn-themed, family tree word cloud using words related to our relatives' jobs. The information came from personal knowledge, city directories, as well as from census schedules and draft registration cards on which occupations and employers were recorded. Most of these words obviously represent jobs for which our relatives were paid, but I have also included unpaid ones, such as 'volunteer' and 'mother' because, especially for so many of our female ancestors, these were their lifelong labors and vocations.
My parents, Terry and Jennifer (Bellan) Kowalski were married on September 1, 1973 at St. Anthony of Padua Church in Parma, Ohio. To commemorate the day, I've created a special online photo album of their wedding pictures. The album can be found at this link: http://kowalski-bellan.weebly.com/kowalski-bellan-wedding-album.html
The one "story" we (the kids) always hear about that day is how HOT it was. The church was not air-conditioned - it wasn't even air-conditioned after it was turned into our school gymnasium in the 1980s - BUT the reception hall thankfully was air-conditioned. Since I know the places in which to obtain historical weather information, I decided to look up the weather details of that day. I found two Cleveland observation stations not too far from Parma. Here are their temperature observations for September 1:
The average high temperature for September 1st in Cleveland is around 79F, so yes, that's pretty warm, and it was likely quite humid, too. Several observations stations mostly east of Parma recorded some precipitation for the day, likely due to smaller "pop-up" thunderstorms. (The second column shows rainfall for September 1, in inches.)
Emily Kowalski Schroeder