04 April 2021

The best-laid schemes of mice and men go oft awry

52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks : Off The Rails

This year, 2021, I'm participating in the 52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks genealogy challenge from Amy Johnson Crow.  

Today I quote the wonderful Robert Burns as I reflect on schemes gone awry. My plan on writing about an ancestor or story each week has indeed gone off the rails. The month of March was a complete miss, and April looks not all that much better. 2021, we had hoped for better, but alas, life with all of it's complications and intrusions seems to have other plans. Nevertheless, I will continue to do my best.



07 March 2021

The Mystery of Mrs. Redmond

52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks : Week 8 - Power

This year, 2021, I'm participating in the 52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks genealogy challenge from Amy Johnson Crow. This week’s topic is “power,” and I’m [broadly] interpreting that through the story of Minnie (Dixon) Moore. I think this story reflects the power of accidentally or intentionally incorrect documents and records to cause confusion. It touches on the power of laws as a way of directing behaviors, and also, how our ancestors intentionally skirted those laws to get on with their lives. While I’m sure there is much more to be learned about the lives of the people I mention here, as the pandemic limited me to on-line resources, I think this story also shows the power of focused research to help us discover our ancestors’ stories.

This is where the story starts

Elizabeth Daily Journal, 24 May 1927
William Dixon.

Following an illness of about a week, William Dixon, of 66 East Jersey street, died last night in the General Hospital of a complication of ailments, aggravated by advanced years. He was born in Elizabeth, a son of the late John and Isobelle Dixon, and was a retired carpenter.

Surviving Mr. Dixon are three daughters, four sons, a brother and two sisters, all living in this city. The daughters are Mrs. Charles Redmond, Mrs. John O’Hare and Miss Hazel Dixon, and the sons are Frank, William, Wallace and Thomas Dixon. Mrs. Ida Bruggy and Mrs. Lillian McPhee are sisters, and the brother is Alfred Dixon.(1)
This is the obituary of my great-grandfather, William A. Dixon (b. 1862 - d. 1927). I was able to account for every one of his surviving family members with one exception – the daughter listed as Mrs. Charles Redmond.

William and his wife, Mary E. (Klein) Dixon, had four daughters during their marriage.
    •    Minerva “Minnie” - b. 1884 - d. 1953(2)
    •    Alora - b. 1891-d. 1891(3)
    •    Clara Viola - b. 1882(4) - d. TBD
    •    Hazel Dorothy - b. 1909 - d. 1957(5)

Alora died at 8 months old, and Hazel, the youngest child, was single in 1927. Clara had married John O’Hare in 1912.6 Minnie, the oldest of the Dixon children, married Milton Moore in 1905.(7)

So who the heck was Mrs. Charles Redmond?

Consulting the usual sources I found an entry in the 1915 New Jersey State Census for Minnie Redmond. Also in the household were William Redmond, Charles Redmond, and children Milton and Ralph.(8)

Knowing that Minnie and her husband, Milton, had two sons, Milton and Ralph created a few questions. Was Mrs. Charles Redmond actually Minnie (Dixon) Moore? If so, what happened to Milton? Did he die? Did the couple divorce?

Minnie and Milton Moore

Marriage Certificate for the wedding of Milton George Moore and Minnie Elizabeth Dixon in Elizabeth, NJ, 1905.
Marriage Certificate for Milton G. Moore and Minnie E. Dixon, 1905.
 

As I noted above, Minnie Dixon married Milton Moore in 1905, on September 30, in Elizabeth, NJ.(9) The name of Milton's parents on this certificate would be the key to helping solve part of the mystery.

Although Milton had been living in West New Brighton, Staten Island, NY with his parents at the time of their wedding, the couple appears to have settled in Elizabeth, or at least that is where their first child, Milton William Moore, was born on July 2, 1906.(10)

Their second son, Ralph E. Moore was born on February 13, 1909 in West New Brighton, NY, and an address in that town was given as the parents’ place of residence.(11) And in 1910 we see that the young family had moved, and were living in the home of Milton Sr.’s parents, William and Sarah, along with Milton’s siblings Charles and Percival. Also at that address were Milton’s sister Edith, her husband, Robert Van Clief, and their two young children, Dorothy and Robert.(12)

The Plot Thickens

The years between 1910 and 1915 are the pivotal point in Milton and Minnie’s story.

Milton Sr.’s father, William Moore died on December 13, 1913 at the age of 49.(13) One can only imagine how this effected the extended Moore household. The 1910 census showed that William and his son-in-law, Robert Van Clief, were renters. Losing William’s income must have been a blow to the family financially. What effect this may have had on Milton and Minnie is unknown.

Two records on Ancestry.com that kept popping up appear to indicate that Milton and Minnie had ended their marriage some time between the 1910 census and early 1915.

According to the New Jersey Births and Christenings, 1660-1931 database, on April 23, 1915, in Elizabeth, NJ, Ralph Charles Redmond and Milton Joseph Redmond were Christened. Ralph’s date of birth is recorded as February 13, 1909, and Milton’s is July 2, 1906. These match the birth dates of Minnie (Dixon) and Milton Moore’s sons. In these index records the boy’s parents are listed as Minnie Dixon and Charles Redmond.(14) This seems to confirm that Minnie and Charles Redmond are, by April 1915, living together as husband and wife.

By 1915, Milton’s widowed mother, Sarah (Fullegar) Moore, was living with her daughter Edith and her family at a different address. There is no indication that either Milton, Minnie, or their children are in the household.(15)

According to the 1915 NJ State Census, Minnie was living in Elizabeth with her two sons and going by the name “Minnie Redmond."(16) Minnie is also listed that census year in her parent’s household. Her children, however, are not included in that household. Because all of the children of Mary E. and William Dixon are in the household enumeration, including those who were married and living elsewhere, I have wondered if the respondent misunderstood the census taker’s question.(17)

Sidebar - Charles Redmond

We can connect Charles Redmond to the Dixon family through two newspaper articles in the Elizabeth Daily Journal that chronicle the usual Dixon hi-jinks on the wrong side of the law. Both events occur in 1913, and show that Redmond and the Dixons were certainly acquainted at that time. Whether Redmond was introduced to the family through Minnie, or Minnie was introduced to Redmond through his acquaintance with the Dixons is unknown.

Elizabeth Daily Journal, 18 June 1913
Three Change Pleas
- Elizabeth

The indictment returned against Charles Redmond was nolle prossed [dismissed] on motion of Assistant Prosecutor O’Connor. Redmond was indicted with Frank Dixon for stealing ten pigeons from Margaret Yekel. Dixon admitted taking the birds, thus clearing Redmond.(18)

[Frank Dixon, b. 1895, was Minnie’s brother. He would have been 18 years old at the time of the incident.]

Elizabeth Daily Journal, 22 August 1913
Police Have Sharp Battle With Gang

- Garwood

…Charles Redmond of 451 Elizabeth Ave. and William Dixon of 538 Elizabeth Ave., Elizabeth…were sentenced to pay a fine and costs of $12.85 each and all were committed upon their failure to produce that amount.

“When arraigned before Recorder Cash, Redmond claimed that he didn’t know how he got into the lock-up. The last he remembered, he said, was coming to look for work. He admitted drinking. Dixon admitted drinking at Britt’s saloon, also from a pail and from a bottle.(19)

[The William Dixon mentioned here could either be Minnie’s father or her brother. Her father deserted the family in September 1912, and at some point was arrested after refusing to pay support to the family. He spent six months in jail, though the exact dates for that are unknown. It is possible that he was free by August 1913.(20)

Power of the Law

Whether Federal, State or Local, laws govern our actions and our lives. When those laws prove inconvenient, some of our ancestors did what they needed to “get on with it” and live their lives on their own terms.

While it seemed possible that Milton and Minnie Moore divorced, I had no real way to prove that one way or the other. As far as I can tell, the State of New York won’t share divorce records unless you are one of the parties involved.

Many states, up until fairly recently, made getting a divorce difficult if not impossible, and the repercussions for at least one of the parties could be severe. According to the New York Genealogical and Biographical Society website:
With few exceptions, adultery was the only grounds under which divorces were granted in New York until 1967.

The divorce decree during this era would usually specify that the innocent party was free to remarry while the guilty party (the adulterer) was not. The guilty party usually did remarry anyway but left New York State to do so.

Because a divorce on any grounds was so tinged with scandal, it was not unusual for couples to separate without the benefit of the law. They would then pretend to be single or widowed, and often remarry, usually in another state.(
21)

Both Minnie and Milton left New York after they split up. Minnie went back home to Elizabeth, NJ. Milton was a little more difficult to track down, but I did find him eventually.

According to the records of the Masonic Lodge in Boston, Massachusetts, Milton became a member of the Rabboni Lodge on December 12, 1912.(22) I’m confident that this is our Milton, as his birth date is given as January 8, 1885, which matches other documents. Based on this evidence, it would appear that Milton and Minnie ended their relationship before the death of Milton’s father in 1913.

In 1917, Milton is well established in his new life in Boston, and is working as a chauffeur. That year, on July 22, he marries Margaret Cassidy, a 21 year old telephone operator. It is the Marriage Register for the City of Boston that positively identifies this Milton as Minnie’s former husband by listing the groom’s parents as William Moore and Sarah Fullegan [sic].(23) His mother’s maiden name was Fullegar, which is how it appears on the certificate from 1905, when Milton married Minnie Dixon.(24)

The telling bit of information here that speaks to “working around” the power of the law is the fact that in this 1917 document Milton claims that this is his first marriage.

Based on a Veterans Administration Master Index Card, it appears that Milton served in the military during World War 1. The card states that he enlisted on May 9, 1918 and was discharged on March 29, 1922.25 The card also indicates that he was eligible and had made a claim for, a “service connected disability, pension, and education and training” bonus as part of an Adjusted Compensation plan for WWI veterans.(26)

Milton and Margaret’s first child, William S. Moore, was born in 1923. He was followed by Patricia (b. 1925), Jean (b. 1927), Margaret (b. 1929), and Sheila (b. 1933). The family lived in Milton, Massachusetts, a suburb of Boston. Milton was employed for many years by the Boston Elevated Railway. (27) 

On April 26, 1942, the 57 year old registered for the draft for World War II. Lacking any photos, the physical description on the card gives us a sense of his appearance. He was 5’9” tall, weighed 170 pounds, had hazel eyes and brown hair, and a dark complexion.(28)

As far as I can tell, Milton was not called upon to serve his country. He died  on September 17, 1942 in Milton, Massachusetts.(29)

Meanwhile, Back in Elizabeth…

Demonstrating the power of a bureaucrat to totally mess up an official document, we find Charles Redmond registering for the Word War I draft in 1918. I blame the registrar for the misinformation, as the document is filled out in what is clearly his own handwriting, which matches the registrar’s signature. Charles’s signature at the bottom of page 1 is markedly different from the script in the form. [I neglected to add this to the footnotes, so here is the source: Ancestry.com. U.S., World War I Draft Registration Cards, 1917-1918 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations Inc, 2005.]

 Although the name on the card is Charles L. Redmond, written in the upper margin is “Rebman.” Additionally, the nearest relative is listed as “Minnie Reynolds.” However, the residence matches the address given in the 1919 Elizabeth city directory, so at least that’s correct, and the occupation of “moulder” matches other documents for Charles. So evidence indicates that this is our man, and at least in 1918, Minnie is living with him. I have not found any record indicating whether or not Charles actually served in the military.

 



In the 1923 Elizabeth directory, Mrs. Minnie Redman is living at 1173 Elizabeth Ave. No listing for Charles appears. In 1925, Mrs. Charles Redmond is living at 256 N. Broad St., no mention of Charles himself. In 1926, Charles Redmond appears at that same address, no mention of Minnie.(30)

This brings us back, chronologically speaking, to the mysterious Mrs. Redmond in William Dixon’s obituary in 1927. I am now confident, based on the information I’ve presented here, that this is William’s daughter, Minnie.

Minnie and Charles do not appear in the city directory in 1927 or 1928. Minnie pops up again in 1929 as Mrs. Minnie Redmond.

Back to "Minnie Moore"

Minnie drops out of the directory until 1933, when she is listed as Moore, Minnie E, widow of Milton. One would conclude that Charles Redmond had died, or that he and Minnie were no longer living together. She maintains the 1933 information in the listings until 1941, when she simply appears as Mrs. Minnie E Moore, which is how the listing reads until 1951.

In 1951 and 1952 she again adds the “widow of Milton” tag to her name. Starting in 1944 her address is 25 S. Spring Street, which is the address that is listed as her residence on her death certificate nine years later.

Minnie (Dixon) Moore died on September 20, 1953, at the age of 69, at the New Jersey State Hospital in Marlboro, Monmouth County, New Jersey.(31) The facility there was essentially a residential psychiatric hospital. The reason for Minnie's admission is unknown but given the distance to Marlboro, and the close proximity of two hospitals in Elizabeth, one could conclude that she had some psychological issues requiring specialist care.

The informant on the death certificate is listed as “NJ State Hospital - Records” which means that, aside from her death, there is no first hand knowledge behind the information provided o the form. There is no space on the certificate to list a spouse’s name, but the document does indicate that she is married, not widowed, and the name on the certificate is Minnie Moore. Her parents names are given as William Dickson and Elizabeth Kline which is true, though the spelling of both last names is not correct.

The physician signing the death certificate attended Minnie from August 28, 1953 until the time of her death a few weeks later. Minnie suffered from cardiovascular disease, but pneumonia was the stated cause of her death.

Minnie (Dixon) Moore (aka Redmond) was buried on September 23, 1953 at Evergreen Cemetery in Elizabeth.(31)

Conclusions

Based on the evidence that I’ve found so far, it seems likely that these things are true:

  • Minnie Dixon and Milton Moore married in 1905. 
  • They had two sons, Milton and Ralph. (I have photos of both of them.)  
  • In 1910 the family was living with Milton Sr.’s parents on Staten Island. 
  • By at least December of 1912 the couple were no longer living together. (Milton is found in Boston, Massachusetts.)

I have established that by 1913 the Dixon family was acquainted with Charles Redmond. By April of 1915, it appears that Minnie and Charles were living together as husband and wife. I have found no evidence of a marriage in New Jersey, or really anywhere, around that time. Also, in that year Minnie and her children appear in a household with Charles, all given the surname Redmond. It should be noted that in real, as opposed to documentary, life, the two boys used the surname Moore.

Records show that the senior Milton Moore married Margaret Cassidy in Boston in 1917, and went on to raise a family with her in that area.

Whether the Minnie and Milton actually divorced or not is unclear. Records for both seem to indicate that they did not, but without access to an actual divorce record I hesitate to say that they definitely did or did not.

Evidence seems to lean toward the negative on a divorce.

  •     Milton declaring that his marriage to Margaret Cassidy is his first.
  •     Minnie returning to the surname Moore at some time between 1929 and 1933.
  •     Minnie listing herself in city directories as Milton’s widow after 1933.

Does it matter? I don’t think it does, really. Both Minnie and Milton parted and went on to live their own lives on their own terms. Milton’s seems to have been a full, productive, and hopefully happy one. Minnie’s details are sketchy, but she seems to have stayed with Charles Redmond for some years. He was certainly accepted by her family, as indicated in the obituary that started this research project, so perhaps they were happy too.

Having solved, at least to my satisfaction, the mystery of Mrs. Redmond, I will be setting aside research into the Moore cousins for now. If you have any info or comments you’d like to add, I’d be glad to hear them!

Sources 

One quick note about the source citations. I did not cite the entries for the Elizbeth city directories. Those are easily available in a number of places on-line, should you be interested. Also, please excuse any inconsistency in the formating of the citations. Some were generated by my genealogy software, and some were copied from Ancestry.com or FamilySearch. Hopefully, they are sufficient to guide you to the original material if you are interested.

1 Elizabeth Daily Journal, Elizabeth, New Jersey. 24 May 1927, Evening Edition, p. 10, col. 3. “William Dixon.”

2 New Jersey State Archives, Birth Records, D40. birth register for unnamed female child of William A. Dixon and Mary E. Kline, born April 5, 1884 in Elizabeth, NJ.; New Jersey State Archives, Trenton, New Jersey. Also:

New Jersey, Department of Health, Bureau of Vital Records, Death Certificates, New Jersey Department of Health, Bureau of Vital Records, Trenton. NJSA microfilm roll 1096 (Death Certificates 1953: #36,801-#38,400), certificate #37237. New Jersey State Archives, Trenton. Minnie Moore, parents William Dickson and Elizabeth Kline, died 20 Sep 1953 at NJ State Hospital, Marlboro, Monmouth, NJ..; New Jersey State Archives, Trenton, New Jersey.

3 New Jersey, New Jersey State Archives, Death Certificates, D22. Alora Dixon, died November 16, 1891, Elizabeth, NJ. Child of W.A. and Mary Dixon..; New Jersey State Archives, Trenton, New Jersey.

4 New Jersey, New Jersey State Archives, Birth Records, D 13. Birth record for unnamed female child, born to Willie Dixon, b. Elizabethport; and Luisa Dixon, born Ohio. New Jersey State Archives, Trenton, New Jersey. [The midwife was not a native English speaker, and often confused facts on the certificates. Hence the mother’s name as Luisa.]

5 New Jersey State Archives, Birth Records, Record No. 79. Dixon. Hazel Dorothy L. Dixon, born 16 January 1909, parents William Dixon and Lissie Klein, Elizabeth, NJ. New Jersey State Archives, Trenton, New Jersey. Also:

New Jersey, State Department of Health, Death Certificates, State File No. 27268. Hazel Sullivan, d. 21 May 1927, father William Dixon, mother Mary Klein. State Department of Health of New Jersey.

6 State of New Jersey. Bureau of Vital Statistics. Certificate and Record of Marriage. Full name of husband: John J. O'Hare Maiden name of wife: Clara V. Dixon Place of marriage: Elizabeth, Union Co. N.J. Date of Marriage: November 21st 1912.

7 New Jersey, Bureau of Vital Statistics, New Jersey Vital Records, May 1, 1848 to December 31, 1915. NJSA microfilm roll 201 (Marriage Certificates 1905: Matt - Mule), organized alphabetically by surname of groom. New Jersey State Archives, Trenton. Milton George Moore and Minnie Elizabeth Dixon.

8 1915 census, Population schedule, Elizabeth, Union, New Jersey, First Ward, Sheet No. A 1. Ancestry.com, New Jersey, U.S., State Census, 1915 [database on-line] Lehi, Ut, USA: Ancestry.com Operations, Inc, 2017. Reference Number L-15; Film Number: 59; New Jersey State Archive, Trenton, NJ, USA. Redmond household at 149 Bond St: Minnie, William, Charles, Milton, and Ralph; digital image, Ancestry.com (http://www.ancestry.com).

9 New Jersey, Bureau of Vital Statistics, New Jersey Vital Records, May 1, 1848 to December 31, 1915. NJSA microfilm roll 201 (Marriage Certificates 1905: Matt - Mule), op. cit.

10 New Jersey, New Jersey State Archives, Birth Records, Certificate 980, Milton William Moore b. 2 July 1906, Elizabeth, Union, New Jersey. Parents William G. Moore [corrected in 1942 to Milton G. Moore] and Minnie Dixon. New Jersey State Archives, Trenton, New Jersey.

11 New York, City of New York Department of Health, Birth Certificates, 1909, Certificate No. 436 for Ralph E. Moore born 13 Feb 1909. Parents Minnie E. Moore nee Dickson [Dixon] and Milton Moore. New York Municipal Archives.

12 1910 U.S. census, population schedule, New York, Richmond, SD No. 2, NY; ED No. 1299; 9th Election District, Sheet 10A. Moore: William, Sarah, Milton, Minnie, Charles, Percival, Milton, Ralph.; NARA microfilm publication T624, roll 1072; digital image, Ancestry.com (https://www.ancestry.com).

13 Ancestry.com. New York, New York, U.S., Index to Death Certificates, 1862-1948 [database on-line]. Lehi, UT. USA: 2020. New York City Department of Records & Information Services; New York City, New York; New York City Death Certificates; Borough: Richmond; Year: 1913

14 Ancestry.com. New Jersey, U.S., Births and Christenings Index, 1660-1931 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., 2011.

15 Ancestry.com. New York, U.S., State Census, 1915 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., 2012. New York State Archives; Albany, New York; State Population Census Schedules, 1915; Election District: 15; Assembly District: 01; City: New York; County: Richmond; Page: 30

16 1915 census, Population schedule, Elizabeth, Union, New Jersey. Op. cit.

17 New Jersey State Archive; Trenton, NJ, New Jersey, State Census, 1915 [database on-line] (Lehi, UT, Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., 2017), New Jersey State Archives, Trenton, New Jersey, Sheet No. 14 B; Elizabeth, Union County; Enumeration district: 3rd Ward, 1st District. William, Mary, Minnie, William, Clara, Frank, George, Bernard, Hazel Dixon.

18 “Three Change Pleas.” 18 June 1913, page 2. Indictment against Charles Redmond dropped when Frank Dixon admits to stealing the ten pigeons from Margaret Yekel. Elizabeth Daily Journal, Elizabeth, New Jersey, online images (http://www.elizpl.org/LocalHistoryResources.html). Downloaded 13 Feb 2021.

19 “Police Have Sharp Battle With Gang”, 22 Aug 1913, page 2. Downloaded 13 Feb 2021. Elizabeth Daily Journal, Elizabeth, New Jersey, online images (http://www.elizpl.org/LocalHistoryResources.html). Charles Redmond and William Dixon, looking for work in Garwood, instead end up drinking at a hotel and become “abusive and annoying.” The police are called, a brawl ensues, and the two end up in jail.

20 Union, New Jersey, Superior Court Files, Dixon, Mary E. vs. Dixon, William A., 25 July 1923, Chancery Court Records; Superior Court Records Management Center, Trenton, New Jersey. Mary Elizabeth Dixon petitions for divorce from William A. Dixon on 25 July 1923. [p. 2-4]., New Jersey, Chancery Court Records; NJSA microfilm 2-23, file number C64-517, New Jersey State Archives, Trenton, New Jersey.

21 Frederick Wertz, “New York Divorce Records for Genealogy Research,” 15 March 2020; New York Genealogical and Biographical Society <https://www.newyorkfamilyhistory.org/blog/new-york-divorce-records-genealogy-research>; accessed 6 March 2021.

22 Rabboni Lodge. Moore, Milton, b. 1885-1-8, Staten Island, NY.; "Massachusetts, U.S., Mason Membership Cards, 1733-1990 [database on-line], digital image.” Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., 2013.Original data: Massachusetts Grand Lodge of Masons Membership Cards 1733–1990. New England Historic Genealogical Society, Boston, Massachusetts.

23 "Massachusetts State Vital Records, 1841-1920," database with images, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:KB83-XFW : 22 October 2019), Milton Moore and Margaret Cassidy, 22 Jul 1917; citing Marriage, Boston, Suffolk, Massachusetts, United States, certificate number 4913, page 28, State Archives, Boston.

24 New Jersey, Bureau of Vital Statistics, New Jersey Vital Records, May 1, 1848 to December 31, 1915. NJSA microfilm roll 201 (Marriage Certificates 1905: Matt - Mule), op. cit.

25 "United States, Veterans Administration Master Index, 1917-1940," database, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:7BSN-L73Z : 23 October 2019), Milton G Moore, 29 Mar 1922; citing Military Service, NARA microfilm publication 76193916 (St. Louis: National Archives and Records Administration, 1985), various roll numbers.

26 “VA Master Index” Card File, Key to Codes & Prefixes. National Personnel Records Center, Archival Programs Division, National Archives and Records Administration. <https://www.archives.gov/files/calendar/genealogy-fair/2018/6-csar-handout3.pdf> viewed 6 March 2021.

27 Ancestry.com. 1940 United States Federal Census [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., 2012. Census Place: Milton, Norfolk, Massachusetts; Roll: m-t0627-01628; Page: 7B; Enumeration District: 11-136.

28 Ancestry.com. U.S., World War II Draft Registration Cards, 1942 [database on-line]. Lehi, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., 2010. The National Archives at St. Louis; St. Louis, Missouri; World War II Draft Cards (Fourth Registration) for the State of Massachusetts; Record Group Title: Records of the Selective Service System; Record Group Number: 147; Series Number: M2090.

29 Ancestry.com. U.S., Newspapers.com Obituary Index, 1800s-current [database on-line]. Lehi, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations Inc, 2019. The Boston Globe; Publication Date: 18 Sep 1942; Publication Place: Boston, Massachusetts, USA; URL: https://www.newspapers.com/image/432265517/?article=f4cf71e3-2e37-4020-bae2-31c358452a19&focus=0.15022425,0.12783787,0.27002925,0.15272206&xid=3355.

30 Ancestry.com. U.S., City Directories, 1822-1995 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., 2011. Directories for Elizabeth, Union, New Jersey. See dated volumes for individual listings.

31 New Jersey, Department of Health, Bureau of Vital Records, Death Certificates, New Jersey Department of Health, Bureau of Vital Records, Trenton. NJSA microfilm roll 1096 (Death Certificates 1953: #36,801-#38,400), certificate #37237. New Jersey State Archives, Trenton. Minnie Moore, parents William Dickson and Elizabeth Kline, died 20 Sep 1953 at NJ State Hospital, Marlboro, Monmouth, NJ..; New Jersey State Archives, Trenton, New Jersey.

18 February 2021

What's In Your Wallet?

 

52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks : Week 7 - Unusual Source

This year, 2021, I'm participating in the 52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks genealogy challenge from Amy Johnson Crow. This week's entry was tough. For the most part I use the "usual' sources - census; birth, marriage and death records; newspaper articles - that sort of stuff. But then I thought about the more personal sources that shed light on a person's life, or help along the research in other ways.

As far as unusual sources go, I've already created a whole series of posts about Wallace B. Dixon and his cars using the complete collection of driver's licenses and registrations that he saved in a scrapbook.  I haven't added the two final vehicles, a Rambler and a Chevy Nova which would take us from his first car in 1924, up to 1979 when he voluntarily surrendered his license. 

But that got me to thinking about the other things people keep in their wallets, and what we can learn from them. Certainly those licenses and registrations provided a good bit of information: address, age, personal appearance, type and age of vehicle. They were useful in creating a timeline of addresses, and helped with dating of some photos that pictured those cars.

Another type of item from my grandfather's wallet are ID cards. 

This card, issued by the US Coast Guard at the Port of New York tells me that in 1942, just a few months after the United States formally entered World War II, my grandfather was working for Standard Oil as a Shift Breaker. I've written about that previously, here. It also gives his place and date of birth and a physical description. It's wonderful to find a photograph on the card as well, as Wally was more often behind the camera than in front of it.

US Coast Guard ID issued to Wallace B. Dixon, April 28, 1942

Coast Guard ID with photo and thumbprint.


Eighteen years later, he was carrying this card in his wallet.

ESSO Bayway Refinery ID Card,
showing that Wallace B. Dixon had logged
28 years of service to the company.


But 1960 minus 1942 only accounts for 18 of the 28 years years of service mentioned on the retiree's ID card. According to a more "usual" source, census records, he was working for an unspecified refinery as early as 1930. Of course, that would make 30 years between 1930 and 1960, but it is entirely possible that the two earliest years were with a different company. According to the 1930 Elizabeth Directory, there were a number of oil producers and refineries in the area.

Oil Producers and Refineries listed in the Elizabeth, NJ city directory for 1930.
Oil Producers and Refineries in
 the 1930 Elizabeth Directory, Price & Lee, Co., Publishers.


So, two unusual sources - the ID cards- and two very usual sources - census records and a city directory - help to fill out the story a bit. I'm glad that my grandfather kept all the bits and bobs from his wallet. It's added information and insight to our family history.


11 February 2021

Because You Make Great Stew

 

52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks : Week 6 - Valentine

This year, 2021, I'm participating in the 52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks genealogy challenge from Amy Johnson Crow. 

 

A love poem by Wallace B. Dixon.


Your nose is so red

Your eyes match it too

You're shaped like E.T.

But I still love you

Not because your hair is curly

Not because your eyes are blue

I love you more than anyone

In the wide wide world

Because you make great stew


06 February 2021

Mary Jane Dixon and Frederick Hammond

What I Know So Far...

As I've been moving files and adding data into my new genealogy software, it seemed like a good idea to take time to summarize some of the research I have to date on various individuals and families. This will hopefully clarify those branches that require more research, and those that I can set aside, as least for now. If I come across more information, or decide to do further research, I'll update this page.

In this post I focus on Mary Jane Dixon and her husband, Frederick Chittinden Hammond. Sources are noted in parentheses, with the citations at the end of the page. I have created tables for those facts with conflicting data to, hopefully, make sense of things.

If you have any information about this family that you would like to share, please let me know. Of course, photographs are always welcome!

Mary Jane Dixon was the daughter of John Dixon and Isabella Porter.(1,2,10) She was born in New Jersey [probably in Elizabeth] between 1871 and 1873, most likely in the month of May.

Birth Date

Date of Source

Stated or Implied

Source

Source #

1872

1880

Implied

1880 US Census

1

1872

1890

Implied

Marriage Certificate

10

May 1871

1905

Stated

1905 NJ Census

3

1873

1910

Implied

1910 US Census

4

May 1873

1915

Stated

1915 NJ Census

5

May 1873

1918

Stated

Find A Grave [database]

7


Frederick Chittinden Hammond was the son of Thomas Blake Hammond and Olive Luttle Rigby. (10) He was born in New Jersey in the month August of between 1870 and 1873.

Birth Date

Date of Source

Stated or Implied

Source

Source #

Aug 1871

1890

Implied

Marriage Certificate

10

Aug 1870

1905

Stated

1905 NJ Census

3

1873

1910

Implied

1910 US Census

4

Aug 1871

1915

Stated

1915 US Census

5

1872

1920

Implied

1920 US Census

6


Marriage

Frederick and Mary Jane married on 24 September 1890. They ceremony took place at 107 Elizabeth Ave., Elizabeth, NJ at the home of the bride’s parents.(15) H.H. Oberly, Rector of Christ Church, Elizabeth, performed the ceremony. Witnesses were Joseph Bird March and Charlotte Thompson. [The relation of the witnesses to the bride and groom has not been researched.] (10)

Family Narrative

At the time of their wedding, Frederick was 19 years, 1 month old, and he was working as a ticket collector for the Erie Railroad. He was living at 388 Ave. D., Bayonne, New Jersey. This was his first marriage.(10)

Mary Jane was living in her parent’s house at 107 Elizabeth Ave., Elizabeth, and was 18 years old. It was also her first marriage.(10)

The couple’s first child, a son, Frank Hammond, was born eight months after their marriage, on 24 May 1891. He was born at 603 Grove St., Jersey City, Hudson County, New Jersey.(12) Sadly, Frank died when he was 14 months old, on 15 July 1892.(11)

It would be another 8 years before the couple had their second child. Earl Chittinden Hammond was born on 6 May 1900.(13,14)

By the time Earl was 5 years old, the family was living at 305 1/2 Elizabeth Street, Jersey City, New Jersey. The family owned their home, with a mortgage. Frederick was working as a bookkeeper. The family also had a boarder, Robert Sutherland, a recent immigrant from Scotland, who also was a bookkeeper.(3)

By 1910, the Hammonds were living at 217 Pavonia Avenue, and it appears that they were renting the house. Frederick was still a bookkeeper, and Earl, age 9, was attending school. They family again had two boarders, Maude Doremest and Mary Tenney, both women in their 50’s.(4)

The family is at the same address in 1915, but now it looks like they have purchased the house with a mortgage. Frederick is still working as a bookkeeper, Mary Jane, or “Mamie,” was keeping house. Earle, now age 14, was attending Public School No. 4. The family had no boarders at this time. (5)

Some time after his 18th birthday, in 1918, Earl registered for the World War I draft. He is living at the Pavonia Avenue address, and is an Industrial Student at Dickinson High School. He is also working for a Dr. Hopkins Prine at Palisade & Newark Avenues, Jersey City. He is described by the registrar as being tall, of medium build, with grey eyes and fair hair. (14)

Sadly, Mary Jane died on 12 June 1918, in Jersey City. She is buried at Evergreen Cemetery in Hillside, Union County, New Jersey,(7) as are many members of the Dixon family. [At the time of this writing, January 2021, I have added Mary Jane’s death certificate to a document request list for the time when the archives are again open to the public.]

The 1920 US Census records that Frederick, a widower, now owns the house at 217 Pavonia Avenue outright. He is employed as a bookkeeper by Horrie & Co. Earl is also living at home, and was still in school. Also living in the house was a 49 year old woman with the last name Mahoney. She was a “servant” for a private family; presumably keeping house for the widow and his son, as she was not listed as a boarder.(6)

I don’t have a date of death for Frederick, but his son, Earl, died in February 1973, with his last residence being Secuacus, Hudson County, New Jersey.(13)

[As of this writing [January 2021] I have no plans to do any further research into the Hammond family, as my primary focus is the Dixons.]

Sources

  1. 1880 U.S. census, population schedule, New Jersey, Elizabeth, 1880 United States Federal Census [database on-line]. Page: 40C; Enumeration District: 164. Original data: Tenth Census of the United States, 1880. (NARA microfilm publication T9, 1,454 rolls). Records of the Bureau of the Census, Record Group 29. National Archives, Washington, D.C. Page No. 23, Lines 49-50, John and Isibela Dixon; Page No. 24, Lines 1-8, children: William, Ida, Laura, John, Mary, Lillia, Maybell, and Maud..; NARA microfilm publication T9, roll 800; digital image, Ancestry.com (http:// www.ancestry.com). 


  2. 1885 State Census of New Jersey, New Jersey State Archive; Trenton, New Jersey, United States; State census of New Jersey, 1885; Film Number: 42. Union County, First Ward, Elizabeth, page 52. John, Isabella, Ida, Laura, Jakob, Mary, Lillie, Mabel, Maud, Alfred Dixon; digital image, Ancestry.com 


  3. 1905 State Census of New Jersey, New Jersey State Archive; Trenton, New Jersey, United States; State census of New Jersey, 1905; [images on-line] (Lehi, Utah, Ancestry.com, 2017). Hudson County, Jersey City, 9th District, Ward 3; Sheet 17B. Frederick C, Mary J., and Earl C. Hammond.

  4. 1910 U.S. census, population schedule, New Jersey, Hudson, Jersey City, Ward 2; page 2A; FHL microfilm: 1374902.; NARA microfilm publication , roll T624; digital image, Ancestry.com (http://www.ancestry.com).


  5. 1915 State Census of New Jersey, Population schedule, Elizabeth, Union, New Jersey, Jersey City, Hudson County; Second Ward; Sheet A2. Hammond - Frederick, Mamie, Earle.; digital image, Ancestry.com (http://www.ancestry.com).
1920 U.S. Census, New Jersey, Union, Population Schedule; NARA Microfilm Publication T625 


  6. 1920 U.S. census, population schedule, New Jersey, Union, Jersey City Ward 2, Hudson, New Jersey; Page 1A; ED 118. Frederick Hammond, Earl Hammond.; NARA microfilm publication T625, roll T625_1069; digital image, Ancestry.com (http:// www.ancestry.com). 


  7. Find a Grave, database and images, Find a Grave, digital images (https:// www.findagrave.com), (accessed 03 January 2021), memorial page for Mary J Dixon Hammond (May 1873 - 12 Jun 1918), Find a Grave Memorial no. 198800968, citing Evergreen Cemetery, Hillside, Union County, New Jersey, USA ; Maintained by Robert (contributor 46512307). 


  8. New Jersey, U.S. Deaths and Burials Index, 1798-1972 [database on-line]. 
FamilySearch, New Jersey, U.S. Deaths and Burials Index, 1798-1972 [database on- line] (Provo, Utah, Ancestry.com, 2011), Ancestry.com, Lehi, Utah, Frank Hammond; FHL number: 589793. B. abt. 1891; d. 15 Jul 1892.


  9. New Jersey State Archives, Birth Records, H248; Frank Hammond; 24 May 1891.; New Jersey State Archives, Trenton, New Jersey.
Hammond, Frank Birth: 24 May 1890 in Jersey City, Hudson, New Jersey, USA 


  10. New Jersey State Archives, Marriage Records; New Jersey State Archives, Trenton, New Jersey. NJSA microfilm roll 79 (Marriage Certificates #404-82-K30 to #406-96-Z72), certificate #405-91-H7. Frederick Chittinden Hammond and Mary Jane Dixon, September 24, 1890.


  11. New Jersey, U.S. Deaths and Burials Index, 1798-1972 [database on-line] (Provo, Utah, ancestry.com, 2011) Frank Hammond; Death: 15 Jul 1892 in Jersey City, Hudson, New Jersey, USA; 1 year.


  12. New Jersey, U.S., Births and Christening Index, 1660-1931 [database on-line], database, Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., Ancestry.com, (http://www.ancestry.com), Frank Hammond; FHL Number 494217. Frank Hammond, b. 24 May 1890, Jersey City, NJ; parents Fred C. Hammond, Mary J. Dixon.

  13. Social Security Death Index, Social Security Administration, database, Ancestry.com,(http://www.ancestry.com), Earl Hammond, b. 6 May 1900, d. Feb 1973.
Hammond, Earl Chittenden ; Birth: 06 May 1900 ; Death: Feb 1973; Res: 1973 in Secaucus, Hudson, New Jersey, USA; 07094

  14. U.S., World War I Draft Registration Cards, 1917-1918, digital image, The National Archives
    (http://www.ancestry.com), Ancestry.com [database on-line]. Earl Chittenden Hammond, b. 6 May 1900; Relative: Earl Chittenden Hammond.


  15. Cook & Hall's Elizabeth City Directory for 1890-91, Cook & Hall (1890), Pages 113-114. U.S. City Directories, 1822-1995 [database on-line]; digital image, Ancestry.com (http://www.ancestry.com). 

 

04 February 2021

Helping Grandma in the Kitchen

 52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks : Week 5 - In The Kitchen

This year, 2021, I'm participating in the 52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks genealogy challenge from Amy Johnson Crow. 

This week's theme takes me back to my grandparent's kitchen in Roselle, NJ. From Monday through Friday, and sometimes on the weekends, my mother and I had dinner at Grandma and Grandpa Dixon's house. My mother worked, so Gramps took care of me after school. Grandma worked as well, at Singer's in Elizabeth, but her shift ended mid-afternoon, so she made dinner for all of us.

 When people today say they must have huge islands and miles of countertop in their kitchen, I laugh. What you see in these photos is the sum total of ALL the countertop in the Dixon kitchen. To make more room, dishes and the drain board were always dried and put away after every meal. That gave her an extra foot, more or less, of work space while she was cooking.

 And yet, every single day, my grandmother turned out a full evening meal. Meat, starch, veg, sometimes a salad. How did she manage with such a small work space? It was an eat-in kitchen, and she did most of her prep work sitting at the kitchen table. Often while enjoying her pre-dinner cocktail - a shot and a beer. To be clear, one shot of Segrams 7, and one can of beer is the most I ever saw her consume at one time. I never saw her tipsy, but I think after a long shift in a factory, she felt she deserved a treat!

In these photos, I'm around six years old. My "jobs" in the kitchen were setting the table, helping to clear the table after we ate, and drying the dishes. 

There are a few things from this kitchen that I still have and use every day. The stainless steel mixing bowls hanging below the upper cabinets are still going strong. On the counter below them are the aluminum cannisters for flour, sugar, coffee, and tea. Those are in my kitchen as well. It's a bit hard to see in the photos, but there is a glass tumbler that has a very simple and pretty leaf design cut into it that I also still enjoy using. This was Grandma's beer glass. I have her favorite shot glass too, though that gets much less use at our house.

Me and my Gram, Sophie (Karvoius) Dixon, in her kitchen. 1966.

A typical after-dinner scene in my grandparents' home in Roselle.


The lower cabinet next to the fridge had some dry goods. Most of the food storage was in the basement, where my grandfather had built a little pantry under the basement stairs. I was often sent down to get a box of this or a jar of that. The upper cabinets held dishes and serving things. 

I'm standing on a step-stool in front of a cabinet with four drawers. The top drawer was a "junk" drawer, that had a number of useful items, including the only cookbook my grandmother owned. "Meals Tested, Tasted and Approved," from the Good Housekeeping Institute. (Yes, I have that too.) If you want to host a formal breakfast or afternoon tea (Gram did neither) this is the book for you! Interestingly, I don't actually recognize any of the recipes printed in the book as things my grandmother made. She seemed to have used it as a filing cabinet for recipes she clipped from magazines and newspapers. I don't recognize most of those either. She knew how to cook food, and she just did it.

The one item tucked in the book that I do recognize is her recipe for pineapple upside-down cake, which seems to be printed on a calendar page. Here's the recipe:

Pineapple Upside-Down Cake

  • 1/3 cup margarine
  • 1/2 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1 (1 lb.) can sliced pineapple, drained
  • Maraschino cherries
  • Pecan halves
  • 1/4 cups sifted flour
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/3 cup soft shortening
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 egg

Melt margarine in 9-inch square pan. Sprinkle brown sugar evenly over melted margarine. Arrange pineapple, cherries and pecan halves over brown sugar mixture. Mix together flour, sugar, baking powder and salt in bowl. Mix in shortening. Add milk, egg and vanilla extract and blend well. Spoon batter over pineapple. Bake at 350F for 40 minutes or until cake is golden brown and springs back when touched lightly in center. Turn upside-down onto a serving plate, leaving pan on for a few minutes before removing. Serve with whipped cream.

Today we would shun the margarine, and the soft shortening (which was probably Crisco). Also, the Maraschino cherries (red dye!). If she did serve it with whipped cream, it was probably Miracle Whip, or something that squireted out of a can. But those were different times, and working women embraced convenience foods. All I know is that her Pineapple Upside-Down Cake was a family favorite!

Another recipe tucked into the book is from my Grandma Traina, written in her handwriting. It is "A Cake for Abe's Birthday. Pound Cake." Grandma Traina's pound cake was the pound cake by which all other pound cakes were judged. It was really good. I think it's interesting that my Grandma Dixon has this recipe. I don't recall her making this cake. Also, I have no idea who Abe is! So many mysteries!

My Grandma Dixon was a good cook. [So was Grandma Traina!] We never had gourmet meals, but everything was always tasty. Just good food, simply prepared. She made great chicken pot pie, and potato pancakes served with applesauce and sour cream were a special treat. She also, according to the rest of the family, made excellent Clams Casino. I never warmed up to clams, but she always made a few shells for me with just the "Casino" part and I loved that.

My Grandfather also knew a bit about working in the kitchen. When crabs were fresh at the market he would do the cooking. He also made clam chowder. And I suppose when we had a cook out, he manned the grill. He also taught me to make "egg nog," which I've written about previously

28 January 2021

Mary and Frank Horsing Around

 52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks : Week 4 - Favorite Photo

I'm participating in the 52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks genealogy challenge from Amy Johnson Crow. 

How can I possibly pick a favorite when I love all of my photos? This challenge gave me an excuse to spend way too much time scrolling through the pics that I have digitized. Finally, I decided on this one.


My parents, Mary (Dixon) and Frank Traina,
most likely taken in Elizabeth, NJ, some time in the 1950's.


I'm guessing that this photo of Mary (Dixon) and Frank Traina was taken some time in the mid to late 1950's. My parents were married in 1955. I don't know if that had yet happened when someone snapped this shot of them horsing around. I can't see if either of them is wearing a wedding ring. I feel certain this was taken in Elizabeth, NJ, since that's where they and their families lived. It also just feels like Elizabeth to me.

The photo isn't really in focus, but I think it's a perfect snapshot, captuing a moment just as it happens. I wonder who took it, and what they were joking about.

Mostly, I picked this photo because they look so very happy. I didn't see this picture until after my mother died and I started going through the boxes. She rarely spoke to me of my father, who died when I was six years old. They were separated at the time, so there's all of that as well. But I like to think of them before whatever troubles drove them apart, when they were a happy couple, enjoying each other's company.

So, while picking a favorite photo is, for me, nearly impossible, today I'm picking this photo to share.