Tuesday, April 29, 2014

The Fukkers (52 Ancestors - #17)

This week is going to be short, sweet and a slight repeat!  Here I am sitting in Cleveland for work and under the gun because it is 8:28pm on Tuesday evening and I only have until midnight to get my 52 Ancestors blog in for this week.  I've been struggling about who I should write about this week.  I even posted on my Face Book asking for suggestions.  Then it hit me, I'm going to write about Harry Jones.

Harry Jones was the third husband of Emily VanCauwenberge, and my husband Bud's great step grandfather.  I've already mentioned him in my earlier story about Emily, but unless you read it closely, you may have missed Harry's original last name was not always Jones.

Harry Jones was born in London. According to my professional genealogist, Liz Barnett, who helped me with this particular person, "despite his British name, Harry was the son of Dutch parents, Hendrikus and Johanna (Versluis) Fukker, who at his birth were living in the Mile End Old Town section of London's East End. Young Harry had arrived in New York with his mother and several siblings in February 1903 from Liverpool on the SS "Umbria", joining his father, a cigar-maker born in Rotterdam in 1872. The Fukkers had married and had a first child in Holland before moving to England, where several of their children were born from 1896-1901. Harry's birth (as Henry Fukker) was registered in 1898. The elder Henry Fukker moved to Boston in August 1902, preceding his family. Given their similar origins and profession it is very likely the two families, [the VanCauwenberges and Fukkers] knew each other in England and certainly in Boston. By 1910 the Fukkers (or Jones as they were called in the census, though still Fukker in the Boston City Directory) lived in the 14th Ward, on Burnham Place. Harry's father formally changed the family name when he applied for US citizenship in 1915; as a minor, Harry was included in Henry's naturalization."

Harry married Emelie in 1918 and by the laws of the time, she automatically became a US citizen, and never had to apply in her own right. At the 1940 census Emelie (now Emily) and Harry lived in South Boston on East Fifth St.; Harry worked as a driver for a coal company. In their household was their son, Harry, Jr. aged 12, and Emily's widowed son, Oscar Bruynell (here confusingly called Harry's "son-in-law" and named Oscar "Brown"). 

Harry, died of heart disease in November 1963 while living at 48 Newport St. in Dorchester.

Note:  I'm guessing Harry's dad must have had the same problems and some snickers with his name both in London and here in Boston.  Even back at the turn of the century when you would think there may have been a little more decorum.  Harry 's family must have some stories to tell if they were here today.

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Catharine "Joe" Leggett - A Spicy 1920s Love Story (52 Ancestors - #16)

After telling Oliver's story last week my mom's cousin Dotti dropped me a note saying that one of my future stories needed to be about "Joe" Leggett. She went on to tell me about my maternal great grand aunt, Catherine Josephine Leggett (aka "Joe). After reading what Dotti told me about her, I felt an urgency to write about Joe and I thought that there is no time like the present!!

Catharine Josephine Leggett was born on a cold Boston, January day in 1885 to William and Honora (Marnell) who were immigrants from St. John's, Newfoundland. She grew up with at least two sisters, Elizabeth (my maternal great grandmother) and Mary as well as two brothers, James and William. Catharine was second youngest.

Many knew her by "Joe" Leggett, including my cousin, my mom and my aunts.  It is not clear when she adopted her nickname.  As of the 1920s US Census, Joe was living with her sister Mary, brother-in-law John McDonough and her mother Honora on Second Street in South Boston.  She listed herself as a machine operator in a hosiery factory.  When asking folks what she was like or what she looked like, they all fondly remembered her being a tall thin woman with strawberry blond hair.  She was quite likeable and lived around the corner from my grand aunt Cassie (Griffin) Hurl.  From what I hear she loved to dress to the nines!  Wish I had a photo!!
1920 Census Listing the Leggetts (snippet taken from my tree in Ancestry.com)

This is where the story gets interesting!  According to my cousin Dotti, "Joe was the first forelady (aka: female foreman) in a stocking factory on B Street in Southie."  I tried to find a photo or the name of the factory with no luck.  Apparently a female foreman was unheard of for the time!  She was a modern woman of the 1920s, listed as single in the 1920s census, but not for long!

At some time between 1920-1924 Joe had an affair with a married man, Francis (Frank) Leo Cotter, who had an upper management job at the hosiery factory. He was so smitten with Joe that he decided to divorce his wife and marry her.  They were still married in the 1930s and 1940s US census and without children.  It did not seem that he was working as of the 1940's census and it showed that he was several years younger than Joe.

Sadly, Joe died in 1949.  I'm not sure of the cause of her death, but as any good genealogist would do, I'll research the death certificate next time I visit the Vital Records Office here in Boston.  

Note: If Joe were alive today, I would want to know what it was like to be a female foreman back in the 1920s.  I'm pretty sure her pay was not that of her male counterparts.  I would also like to know what happened to Frank's first wife and children.  Today families of divorced parents can find a way to get along for the sake of their children, but I wonder if that was the culture back then??  If anyone has photos of the B Street Factory or where I might be able to find that building, please email me at kbruynell1@gmail.com.  I would especially like to thank my cousin Dotti (Hurl) Cucinatta for her contributions to this story!!

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Oliver Amirault - He Died Where?!? (52 Ancesters - #15)

"He died where?!?" Was my initial thoughts and maybe (ok definitely) a few chuckles. This sad tragedy got me thinking about my family whom I've always had the impression that they were perfect.  Every last one of them.  Since starting my exploration of my family history and some more reflection, I've decided that yes, indeed, my family is perfect because they are my family.  Events that happened in the past, such as unwed mothers or alcoholics, were simply hidden or not talked about in the family.  Someone who was close to the family probably didn't know what I know today as hindsight is 20/20. These same unfortunate situations now have more acceptance today as well as social support.  We are so lucky to live in today's day and age in many ways.  We are also fortunate to know the person behind these unfortunate situations was really a good person.

With all this said, my 1st cousin (x2 removed) Oliver Joseph MALONE Amirault was one of those unfortunate souls and I would like to honor him by writing his story. As you can see from his photo he looked quite distinguished and handsome.

Oliver Joseph MALONE Amirault
courtesy of Lea d'Entremont 

Oliver was born October 21st, 1894 in Pubnico, Nova Scotia. As you may recall from my previous posts, Pubnico is a very small fishing village about 25 miles from Yarmouth. It is my understanding that there were many dirt roads up that way up until the late 1920s. My mom and aunts remember visiting there many summers as children during the 1940s. Many families had their own cows, pigs and chickens.  If nature called, my mom said she would have to brave her way through the barn yard animals to get to the smelly outhouse. On Sunday one of the villagers would put wooden benches in the back of their truck and drive around the village collecting a coin to drop them safely at Immaculate Conception Church which was located on the east side of Pubnico.

Most of my Canadian family were called by their middle names, however, friends and family called Oliver by his nick name, MALONE.  In looking back at the name for that era, I'm thinking maybe he was good at playing baseball as a youngster and was named after a famous baseball player of the 1920s? 

In 1915 he traveled to the U.S., according to border-crossing documents, and lived in Boston for some time.  As of, June, 1917, he listed himself as short and slender with blue eyes and brown hair when he registered for the WWI draft.  He listed his occupation as "painter".  I'm not sure if it was while he was in the "States" or when he returned to Pubnico, that he took a liking to his moonshine. 

According to his niece, Lea d'Entremont (who helped me last week with Laurie Amirault)
"Uncle Malone was somewhat of an alcoholic and he was living in the homestead with Ernest [his brother] and Alma [his sister-in-law] and of course Alma was always growling at him because of his drinking. One day he was at a store and this lady asked about Alma and he answered "if ever she gets ill and asks for a drink, she'll be mighty thirsty before I bring her a drink!"  He drank but he was not always 'drunk' and I guess he was very comical. I just remember seeing him a couple of times before he left Pubnico. One of those times was one Easter day.  Mom looked out the window and said to dad, 'here comes Oliver and he seems to be sober.' He [Oliver] came inside and after they talked a bit dad offered him a drink!! I'll never understand that move as long as I live, to me it didn't make any sense at all and it still doesn't. I was only 4 or five at that time but I remember it very well." Lea goes on to write that "After he left Pubnico he worked in the Annapolis Valley as a painter for years and never came back home."

According to his death certificate he was missing from May 14th, 1955 until they found him on May 25th, 1955.  The excerpt below, from his death certificate states "This man disappeared May 14/55.  Found dead in a water closet May 25/55.  No evidence of external injury.  Death due to 1. coronary thrombosis [heart blockage], 2 or cerebral hemorrhage [bleed in brain], 3 or subarachnoid hemorrhage [bleed in spine?]."  Yes, my cousin died in an outhouse and was there 11 days before anyone found the chap.  Poor Oliver was brought back home to Pubnico to be buried but it was a closed casket. 
So this is Oliver's story.  He traveled, worked, was a funny guy, never married but had lots of family as well as a sad alcohol addiction.  Oliver will be remembered and appreciated just because he was my cousin and he was perfect in my book!

NOTE: Thank you again to Lea d'Entremont for her contributions to Oliver's story and the photo of her Uncle "Malone".  Oliver never married and I wonder if he had married if maybe he would have avoided the hooch and may have been found in the outhouse sooner.  If AA was available to him maybe this unfortunate ending could have been avoided?? 

Monday, April 7, 2014

Laurie Amirault - a Man's Man! (52 Ancesters - #14)

Blogging about ancestors has proved not only a mechanism for me to learn about the person who I'm writing about, but I'm also meeting new people to whom I didn't even realize I was related!  Over the past few weeks I've been a pen pal with my "new" second cousin (x1 removed), Lea d'Entremont from West Pubnico, Nova Scotia.  If I was not working on this blog we may have never met, even electronically.  A few years ago we visited Pubnico, however, when my aunts and cousin visited Lea, I was researching family (with some of the most helpful nicest ladies around) at the Musée des Acadiens des Pubnicos in West Pubnico, Nova Scotia (http://www.museeacadien.ca/).  Lea has been kindly sharing photos of her parents, uncles and grand parents for the last few weeks.  She also sent me a wonderful family tree with names, dates of birth, marriage and deaths.  This week I decided to write about my Great Grand Uncle Laurie who was Lea's grandfather.  

When Joseph Levi LAURIE Amirault was born on October 8, 1861, in Pubnico, Canada, both his father, Marc and his mother, Rosalie, were 28. He was the oldest of five children (of whom I'm aware).  Many of my ancestors in Pubnico went by their middle names, however, I'm not sure how the name LAURIE came to him. 

He married Rose ADELINE on January 11, 1893, at Immaculate Conception Parish in Middle East Pubnico. Because Pubnico was such a small fishing village at that time, clergy was not always available all the time to perform nuptials for those in the village wishing to get married.  Another reason was because the men were busy fishing usually late into the fall. 

Laurie and Laurent (Laurence) wedding announcement -
Courtesy of Musée des Acadiens des Pubnicos (copy made 6/7/2012)
Laurie and "Deline" had eight children during their marriage.  One of their children was Bernice and Lea is her youngest daughter.  Here's where the "man's man" part comes in...According to Lea, a story she heard her mom Bernice tell about her father Laurie was that one day he got together with the boys in the neighborhood and had a little too much to drink so he went to the barn to throw up and the horse kicked him in the face!  When Laurie got back to the house he told them what had happened and his wife "Deline" didn’t dare laugh outright because he was kind of grumpy at  the time but every so often she couldn’t hold back her laughter and he heard her laugh.  The next day he told the story to his friends saying that his wife “Deline” would burst out laughing thinking he didn’t hear her.  Lea said there’s a name for it in French but she didn’t know how to translate. 

Lea went on to say Laurie was always kind of a serious guy, never played with his kids like her father did with them but he was a good man.  I think it is because they probably lived a hard life up there in the little village.

Laurie died on October 8, 1930, in Pubnico, Canada, at the age of 69.

I'm forever grateful to Lea for sharing her story with me and the photos.

NOTE:  Apparently all photos that existed of Laurie and Deline were tossed after their death by a nephew.  I ache thinking of the genealogical goldmine of information that is now lost in time.  If he were alive today I'd most likely ask what type of wedding celebration he and his brother shared (was there one?).  Also, I would have him smile for the camera and say cheese!