Monday, July 21, 2014

Helena A. "Lena" Van Cauwenberge (52 Ancestors - #29)

Helena A. "Lena" Van Cauwenberge was born on the 9th of September, 1889 in Belgium.  In May, 1913 she married Joseph Thomas Stephan.  Helena died at age 29 on December 23rd, 181 in Boston, Massachusetts.

Helena (also "Alina" and "Lena") arrived in America with her mother and siblings in 1904, following her father who had come to Boston in 1903. She was raised in London, where the family lived for a few years after leaving Belgium, and then in Chelsea and South Boston. In May 1913 she married a Massachusetts-born accountant, Joseph Thomas Stephan, before a priest, Fr. R.J. Johnson of the Gate of Heaven Catholic Church in South Boston. Helena's surname was mis-spelled on the marriage record as "Van Corwenberge". (Her mother's maiden name was also given as "LaSalle", while elsewhere it was reported as "Filler".) Joseph's parents were listed on the marriage record as John J. and Katherine (Sexton) Stephan. 

In May 1914 residing on Holworthy St., the couple welcomed a son, John Joseph Stephan. Joseph's 1917 draft card shows Helena's husband living at 117 Almont St. Boston, working as an auditor for the Old Colony Trust Company, and supporting his wife, one child, and his mother. 

According to her son's obituary, John Joseph Stephan was the couple's only child, and Helena died in the flu epidemic of 1918. Helena's death record (MA VR 1918 deaths v. 3, p. 405) shows she died of "lobar pneumonia" after 13 days; the death occurred in her home at 119 Almont St. in Boston. Whoever provided the information for the death certificate
had trouble with spelling Belgian/Dutch names or perhaps just had poor handwriting that was typed up badly: Helena's maiden name was given as "Causenberg", and her mother's maiden name as "Falla").  Helena was buried at St. Joseph's Cemetery in West Roxbury by the T.J. Mahoney and Sons Funeral Home. Helena's parents were buried there when they died decades later, perhaps in a family plot. 

The 1920 and 1930 censuses, Helena's son, listed as a boarder, was in the household of her parents, Emiel and Wilhelmina Van Cauwenberge. 

No 1920 census listing for Helena's widower could be located, but around 1924 he married again, to Enid Sampson. Joseph and Enid had several children: Virginia, Muriel, George, Richard, and Robert, all present on Fuller St. in Dorchester at the 1940 census, at which time Joseph was working as a salesman. He could no longer work as an accountant, having been convicted of bank embezzlement in 1926; according to newspaper reports he was sentenced to 3 years in prison (but apparently served less). Helena's widower, Joseph Stephan, died in 1955; his wife Enid died in 1977. The 1914 birth record for her son, John Joseph Stephen, misspelled her maiden name as "Van Convenburg"; that spelling was preserved in his 2004 obituary.

All credit for this story goes to Liz Barnett, my friend and professional genealogist (2013).

Martha Dauwer - The Mother They Never Knew (52 Ancestors - #28)

Growing up motherless must have been tough for two little girls and two little boys whose lives were uprooted by their mother's sudden death.  I often ponder this when I think about my father-in-law and his siblings who lost their mother when she was just 24 years old.  Because they were so young when she died they had little or no memory of her.

The few whisps of stories I have about Martha is that she brought her purse to the hospital, according to my father-in-law, but never left the hospital alive.  

Another brief story I heard was that she was a very loving sister.  Martha made sure that her little sister Alice had a gown for her prom according to Alice's daughter Sandee.

When Martha Dauwer was born on August 24, 1908, in Boston, Massachusetts, her father, Camielle, was 30 and her mother, Marie, was 29. 

Oscar W. Bruynell and Martha married on November 15, 1924, in Boston, Massachusetts. Together they had five children by the time she was 23, one of who died before their first birthdy. Alice sadly died on September 11, 1932, in West Roxbury, Massachusetts, at the age of 24.

Martha must have been the love of Oscar's life as he never re-married after her death.  Sadly we have no photos of Martha.

Monday, July 7, 2014

Lillian Amanda Snow (52 Ancestors - #27)

Lillian Amanda Snow was my Canadian paternal great grandmother.  Lillian was born on June 1st, 1867 to Winthrop Snow and Elizabeth Bethel in Port LaTour, Shelburne, Nova Scotia.   Just shy of her 18th birthday, this young spinster met and married fisherman Smith Swain Nickerson who was also from Port LaTour, Nova Scotia.

Lillian and Smith had their first child, a daughter Elizabeth, in December, 1885.  Lillian went on to have an additional eight children.  Her second to last child, Charles "Savol" Nickerson was my grandfather.  

On February 28th, 1934 she passed away from complications due to Diabetes and was buried in Yarmouth Nova Scotia.

Those researching genealogy should keep track of what illnesses or diseases start forming a pattern.  For instance, my dad and my brother both are diabetic however, until my research, we didn't know where in the family the disease originated.  My maternal grandfather, according to his death certificate, died from a form of liver cancer.  Since his death some of his daughters either have or are carriers of hemochromatosis which can be genetic and in some forms can cause liver cancer.  We all wonder if he may have had hemochromatosis and if they knew then what doctors know now maybe his death could have been prevented.  Another interesting pattern that emerged through my research was that all my maternal grandmother's family died of some form of heart disease (ranging from heart attacks to congestive heart failure).  All my maternal grandfather's family died from some form of cancer (except 2 - 1 sibling died from a burst appendix and another lived until 106 and passed naturally).  There is lots of thyroid issues in my mom's family as well, however, my paternal grandmother died from complications to chronic thyroiditis.  My point about this paragraph is that genealogy can help you try to avoid illness.  I've been tested for hemochromatosis (and happy to report I'm not a carrier), my heart is good, no cancer, but I am pre-diabetic right now and thyroid issues continue to run in the family.  So I just have to work harder to try to avoid becoming diabetic.  You might be able to help other family members if you see a pattern of disease develop in looking back at your ancestors.

I'm hoping to see a photo of Lillian someday.  Hopefully someone will have a picture of her!!

Johannes "John" Van CAUWENBERGE (52 Ancestors - #26)

Researching my husband's Belgian ancestors feels like a challenge to me because of the language barrier and my inexperience with researching ancestors from other countries.  Thankfully some of the mystery became a little clearer with the help of professional genealogist and friend, Liz Barnett.  It would be wonderful to be able to find the Belgian records of Johannes and Adelaid.  Here is what we know about my husband's x2 great grandfather.

Johannes "John" Van CAUWENBERGE
 b. at Belgium

His name and that of his wife were given in the death record of their son, Emil Van Cauwenberg of Boston, MA. Emil's son, Frank Vann, reported that "John Vann" and his wife, Adelaide Vanderhooten were born in Belgium. No other written record was found showing Emil's parents or where they lived. Although the relationship to Emil is not proven, data from another Belgian-born cigar-maker who may be his brother sheds some light on the Van Cauwenberges origins: When he married Mary Ann Webb in London in 1897, Camille Van Cauwenberge, born around 1867, also gave the name Johannes as his father. This Camille, like Emil, was in the Hackney section of London at the 1901 census (mis-indexed as "Pamil Van Conwenberge"). Unlike Emil, this Camille stayed in London, where he died in 1936,although he did travel at least once to the US: at the 1911 UK census his wife, Mary Ann (Webb) Van Cauwenberge, reported that he was "in America". Happily, before doing so, she wrote on the census form all his age, occupation, etc., and his place of birth: Grammont, Belgium. Since this is the same place that Emil's son, Frank, later gave as his own place of birth, it seems very likely that Emil and Camille were brothers, and both from Grammont, nowadays more commonly called by its Flemish name, Geraardsbergen, in East Flanders. Gramont (or Grammont ) was a well known center of the cigar-making industry. London saw an immigration of such highly skilled cigar makers from Belgium and the Netherlands; some later moved on to Boston and Manchester, NH.

When he married in 1897, Camille Van Cauwenberge reported his father was deceased. Further research might reveal proof of the connection of both Emil and Camille, and possibly other Van Cauwenberges in the US and UK.

As you can see, Liz gives me great direction on where to concentrate my research, especially clarifying the relationship between Camille and Emil.  It is on my "to do" list!