Sunday, February 23, 2014

52 Ancestors- Charles Szodry or Charles Dorn? Eeny, Meeny, Miny, Moe



I have just downloaded the trial of Evidentia to try it out. So far I love it but it has only been two days. I decided to try it on my great-grandfather and see if re-evaluating the records would lead me to something I may have missed. I know I am talking about an entire family but trying to prove Charles’ parentage I need to know everything I can about the rest of his family as well.

My great-grandfather was born Charles Szodry, 31 October 1882, in Manhattan, New York. His parents were Charles Szodry and Bertha Offhaus. The problem is that that is the only record I have for him as Szodry. Everything other record for his life says his last name is Dorn. The main question is do I have enough to prove that birth record is him? That’s where Evidentia comes in. 

Charles’ father Carl/Charles Szodry/Szczodry immigrated to the United States in May of 1882 on the ship Kronprinz Friedrich Wilhelm, leaving his wife in Germany. On his passenger list he states he is 30 year old male farmer from Prussia. Charles’ wife Bertha came in August of 1882 on the ship Bolivia. The odd thing is she is listed as a 31 year old male carpenter. Could she have dressed as a man? Probably, if she wanted to but the fact she gave birth 2 months later means it may have been fairly difficult. 

Charles and Bertha moved to Brooklyn by 6 July 1884 when their second son, Albert Szodry, was born. His mother was written as Bretha Szodry, maiden name Offhaus, age 33, born in Germania. The father, Carl Szodry, a 32 year old German born cabinetmaker. Albert married Bertha Buccholz 5 August 1911 at his residence, 139 East 8th St.. They were married by the Reverend of the Second Reformed Church where his mother was listed as a member in her obituary. They moved to Philadelphia, Pennsylvania between 1920 and 1930 and during that time Albert died possibly in an industrial accident.

Charles and Bertha’s third son was Otto August Szadry, born 13 January 1886 in Brooklyn. Again the mother was Bertha Szadry, born Offhaus, age 34, born in Germania. Carl Szadry, age 33, cabinetmaker from Germania was the father. Otto married a woman named Lulu and was alive as late as 1940.

Later in life the boys seem to have middle names that they either didn’t have or that didn’t match their birth records. Charles used the letter A. It didn’t stand for anything but he always thought it odd he didn’t have a middle name. Otto started using Albert August and Otto used Otto Frederick. 

Carl and Bertha had their fourth child, Wilhelm Gotthold, in June of 1887. The surname was spelled Szadry on the record. Carl was stated to be a 34 year old cabinetmaker born in Germania. Bertha was 36 years old, born in Germania, and her maiden name was written as Offhaus. Due to issues with the cemetery I have no idea when he died but I know it was before 1892. His name on the tombstone is Goddard.

Charles Szodry Sr. died 6 October 1887 at 321 Livingston St., Brooklyn of a coma due to chronic nephritis. His age at time of death was given as 35 years, 6 months and 14 days. That means he was born 23 March 1852 which is a fantastic start towards finding out more about him. If only I knew where he was born. Charles is buried at Evergreen Cemetery in Brooklyn. I’m thankful that my grandfather was able to tell me exactly where the plot is located since the cemetery has lost all record of the plot. All I have as proof that the family is buried there is the tombstone. My great-grandfather had the tombstone made with no dates on it. Also buried there is Robert Dorn, Bertha’s second husband. Charles did not put his name on the stone so it was only due to him telling my grandfather that I even know that.

Evergreen Cemetery, Brooklyn, photo taken by Rachel Mackin-Evans, 2008

Bertha married a second time between 1889 and the 1892 census to another German immigrant, Robert Dorn. By the 1892 New York census all of the Szodry sons are listed with the surname Dorn. For some reason the census states that Bertha is 6 years old. I won’t even begin to try to figure that one out, maybe a language barrier? Living in the household with Robert and Bertha are Charles (9), Albert (8), and Otto (6). 

Robert and Bertha had their only child, Anna Paulen Emma Dorn 10 August 1892 in Brooklyn. Mother, Bertha Dorn, maiden name Offhaus, 39 year old born in Germany. Robert Dorn, the father, was a 33 year old German born blacksmith. Anna was the 5th child born to her mother. Anna was married to Richard Sadlier by the Reverend Louis Goebel of the Second Reformed Church, Flatbush.

The 1900 census has Robert and Bertha living in Brooklyn. Charles, Albert, and Otto are listed as sons and daughter Anna. All the information matches perfectly what I stated previously. The only new thing was that Bertha was born in November of 1853. The number of years married was 21 so it may be that she married her first husband 21 years ago. If that is the case I’m ecstatic because the cut-off for the civil registration records for the possible town in Germany only goes up to 1880.

Bertha died January 1910 in Brooklyn, Kings, N.Y. Due to a note written on the back of the record I know the informant was her youngest son Otto. Bertha was a 58 year old German born housewife. She is said to have been in the U.S. and NYC for 28 years which matches her immigration record. Her parents were Carl H. Offhaus and the mother’s name was blank. The note that Otto wrote was that he didn’t know the maiden name of his grandmother. In Bertha’s obituary it states she was a member of the Second Reformed Church in Flatbush and the funeral was held there. So I am planning a trip to see if there may be any records pertaining to the family there. Her will was as expected since she left everything to be divided between her children. She did have a fund that she left to her sons that would give them $1,000 to be divided between them. Maybe that had something to do with either their father or before her marriage to Robert Dorn and she didn’t feel right leaving it to Anna as well.

In 1910 Robert is widowed with his two stepsons, Charles and Albert, and his daughter Anna in the household. Also living there is Charles’ first wife Elsie and Elsie’s son Edward. According to my grandfather Edward was adopted by Charles. Elsie and Charles eventually divorced after having no children together between 1910 and he remarried in 1920. What is confusing me is that Charles and Elsie were married for 5 years and Edward was only 4 years old but Edward was Charles’ stepson. Maybe the 5 years was when she married her first husband? I have been unable to locate a marriage or divorce record for them but I have not given up yet.

Robert Dorn died 30 October 1913 in Brooklyn. His son-in-law, Richard Sadlier was the informant. He was said to be a 57 year old blacksmith from Germany who had been in the U.S. and NYC for 35 years. His father was Robert Dorn and his mother was unknown. His will was an insight as to his relationship with his step-sons. Stories my grandfather told me gave me clues that there was bad blood but the will confirmed it. He leaves everything to his daughter Anna Sadlier except for $1,000 that was to be divided equally among his children at the death of Charles Dorn and his wife was to have none of it. That may have had something to do with the divorce which tells me he was still more than likely legally married to Elsie at the time. The next part is where it gets interesting. He writes that he is leaving nothing to his sons, Charles, Albert and Otto since they have not “maintained themselves towards me in a dutiful manner nor treated me with the consideration that I deserved for the treatment and bringing up which I gave them.” Is this his way of saying he raised the boys as if they were his own and they didn’t appreciate it? 

Charles was exempt from service in World War I due to 3 fingers he fractured in his hand. He was a semi-pro baseball player in the Albany, N.Y. area and played the catcher's position. While doing that he broke several fingers and they didn't heal right. At the end of his baseball career he went back to being a machinist.

Charles married his second wife in May of 1920 , Elizabeth Eleanor Randel, my great grandmother. Charles died in 1954 after having 5 children with Elizabeth, 4 who survived.
Photo in possession of author.
From using Evidentia I can prove the boys relationship to their mother but not definitively to their father. Due to lack of records linking them to the Szodry name I'm hoping if I can come up with more proof of Bertha Offhaus and Carl Szodry that I can infer that her sons would have had to be the Szodry boys.

Sunday, February 16, 2014

Maggie Doyle-Hanrahan 52 Ancestors #7



I’m sitting here tonight trying to decide who to write about in this week’s 52 ancestors blog post. It’s not that I have nobody to write about. Maybe it is snow on the brain since it is snowing here yet again. I have forgotten what the sun looks like and is grass still green? I’ve been anxiously waiting for the weather to get better so I can visit some cemeteries. If I went now I would never actually see the tombstones under all the snow. So I decided to write a blog post on why visiting the cemetery or requesting a photograph of the tombstone is worthwhile.

I have known about Maggie Doyle for a long time. She didn’t leave many records but it was the memorial on the tombstone that led to answers. You can imagine the groans when I saw the marriage record of her daughter, Mary, and noticed that her name was Maggie Doyle. How common can you get? Well, Bridget Murphy comes to mind and yes I also have that name in my family. 

I knew the family plot was at Calvary cemetery in Woodside, Queens, NY but since I lived in N.C. at the time it was impossible to visit. In 2005 my husband and I decided to take a trip to N.Y. for our honeymoon. This should worry me but I love it about him. He actually agreed to wander around cemeteries on his honeymoon. As long as we did some other stuff while we were there. So, it was off to Calvary and a few others before the trip was over. Even knowing where the plot is in Calvary you can still wander around quite a bit looking. We finally found it and I was in heaven.
Above is only one of the many pictures I took of the tombstone. While it took me years to prove where Thomas Hanrahan was from he told me where his wife was born, sort of. He said Margaret was a native of Tallamstown, County Louth, Ireland. Well, there is a Tallanstown but not a Tallamstown. He was close though so I'm thankful. There was something odd about the burials in the plot., the daughter Margaret. I received a copy of the interment list for the plot and noticed that Margaret and her daughter's Theresa and Margaret were originally interred in another plot belonging to a Rafferty. Thomas bought his plot in 1899 and had the three moved to it in 1900. Not uncommon but the burial date for Margaret in the first plot was in 1884 at the age of 10 months! How could she be buried in 1884 at 10 months old and still be the daughter of a woman who died in 1881? It turns out she died in August of 1881, was buried in one plot, moved in 1884 to the Rafferty plot, then moved to the Hanrahan plot. Confusion solved!

Now back to Maggie. I ordered a copy of her death record and found she died 23 February 1881. The record didn't give much information. I knew she was 30 years old, born in Ireland, in US for 11 years, 4 years in Brooklyn, and that her parents were both born in Ireland. No names for parents since they didn't ask on NY death records for that time period. I was feeling pretty sorry for Thomas since he buried his daughter Theresa Hanrahan in November 1880, his wife Maggie in February of 1881 and his daughter Margaret in August 1881. Especially given that Margaret had only just been born around November of 1880. She was probably one of the only bright spots he had during that time period.

My next step. Find their marriage. Doing an index search of New York marriages gave me a delayed record number. Meaning the marriage occurred in February of 1874 but was not filed shortly after. Maybe due to the fact that they didn't know they had to? My thoughts are that they just thought since they were married in a Catholic Church they didn't have to do anything else. The information given by the priest wasn't much. Fortunately he obtained the couples names, residence, and their parent's names. Thomas Hanrahan, residing NYC, parents Thomas Hanrahan and Bridget Murphy. Margaret Doyle, residing NYC, parents Lawrence Doyle and Alice Mohan. finally, I had her parents.









So I run to the Griffith's Valuation looking for Lawrence Doyle in county Louth and....none? Could Thomas have gotten her birth location wrong? Nope. Baptism record for Margaret Doyle, 19 February 1849, parents Laurence Doyle and Ally Mohan, living in Rathbrist, County Louth. I was also able to find a baptism record for another daughter, Mary, in 1851 and Lawrence and Alice's marriage record in 1845. I now have a new avenue to investigate.


While it still took me a while to locate Maggie and her family in Ireland even knowing her birth location. It would have taken a lot longer looking for a Margaret Doyle born in the whole country of Ireland between 1849 and 1852.

Sunday, February 9, 2014

The Missing? Patrick Fowler- 52 Ancestors #6



One of my resolutions last year was to pick a family in my tree, go through everything I knew about them, source everything if it wasn’t already, and make a research plan of what I needed to do next. I also planned to do one family at a time to keep myself focused. I have tried to keep it up but I am so scattered with my thinking it didn’t last. With the 52 ancestors challenge being somewhat like what I had been trying to accomplish it was perfect for me. One of the people I had started researching was Patrick Fowler. My grandmother had previously worked on him but he was a man who grabbed my attention because of some photos. I don’t have many photographs of ancestors on three of my grandparents’ branches that I have seen. My grandmother has quite a few from her family though so I am lucky in that case. I love looking at old photos! Trying to imagine what their lives were like at the time it was taken and why. One of those pictures I keep going back to as I learn more and more about the man’s life is the one of Patrick Fowler.
Patrick Fowler, in possession of Florence Bronner Mackin.  Used with permission.

It’s hard to see due to the stache but I think he is almost smirking. Most photos I have are taken with serious faces and make me think they are being forced to pose for it. But Patrick looked to be enjoying himself. Almost. It was a picture that always grabbed my attention. Maybe because he looks so satisfied and content.

Patrick was born about May of 1835 in the area of Luggacurren in Queens county, Ireland to Edward Fowler and Elizabeth/Eliza McEvoy. He came to the U.S. about 1859 and married another Irish immigrant, Catherine Casey, from Clonmel. They had 3 children that I know of: Mary, my ancestor; Thomas, never married; and Edward who died from a bug bite when he was a child. He had a pretty normal life for a man of that time and was fairly easy to document. And then I found an advertisement that made me wonder about what Patrick knew.

While searching the Irish Immigrants Advertisement database at NEHGS for some other ancestors I got scattered again and started entering every Irish surname I had in my tree. Fowler being more of English origin than Irish and a possibility of Patrick’s father being born in England I wasn’t expecting to see an entry for a Patrick Fowler. It was posted by a James Fowler of Dracut, Massachusetts looking for his brother Patrick. A native of Ballyadams parish in Queens County. The same general area my Patrick came from. He came to the U.S. 14 years ago, since it was posted in 1873 it makes emigration 1859. Patrick was supposed to have gone to Ohio? Everything else seemed to match except for the fact my Patrick rarely, if ever, left Long Island, NY after he came to the States. Ohio? Something must have kept him from going beyond New York. Maybe he got the bug so many others do when seeing the city. He fell in love. Either the city or Catherine made him stay and I’m glad he did. I immediately called my grandmother who knew a lot about the family. She said she never heard of family living anywhere in the U.S. and was just as shocked as I was. But I still had no proof that this was even our Patrick. I soon found it.

A search of Massachusetts vital records led me to the death of the James Fowler, son of Edward Fowler and Eliza McEvoy, in Boston in 1895. This was definitely my Patrick’s brother. I quickly located his marriage and records relating to his children, his naturalization record, and the 1880 census (the only census he was ever in). Viewing the census I received my next shock. Living with James was his mother, Eliza! What? She apparently came to the U.S. and lived with her son James until her death in 1883. 

Did Patrick know his mother and brother were living in the Boston area? I wonder if he ever saw the advertisement in the newspaper looking for him. Did anyone read it and ask themselves if it was the Patrick Fowler they knew? It breaks my heart to know that Patrick may never have seen his family again.