12 June 2017

Resource Roundup: New Jersey State Census Update

Good news! FamilySearch has now made available the 1885, 1905, and 1915 New Jersey state censuses. They are indexed and searchable, and best of all, with images.

Previous indexes I've seen for the 1915 census included only the most basic information. With access to the images of the enumeration pages themselves you get so much more. Information on the census form includes:
  • Address
  • Name
  • Color or race
  • Sex
  • Month and year of birth
  • Age
  • Marital status
  • Place of Birth
  • Place of birth of parents
  • Citizenship information, including number of years in U.S. and naturalization status
  • Occupation
  • Education: reading, writing, abitlity to speak English
  • School attendance, including the name of the school and whether public, private or parochial
  • Home ownership information, including ownership, rental, mortgage, and house or farm

Here are the links to search the newly updated records:

I've been going through the 1915 census and have found some interesting things. For instance, my grandmother, Lillian (Maita) Traina, was 11 years old when the census was taken, but the name she is given on the census is "Rosalie." Was Rosalie her middle name, or was Lillian? 
 "New Jersey State Census, 1915", database with images, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:QV9W-4DZY : 8 October 2014), Vincent Maita, 1915. Downloaded 11 June 2017.
1915 NJ state census record showing my grandmother, Lillian (Maita) Traina - listed under the name Rosalie.
The birth month and year are a match, so it must be her.
 "New Jersey State Census, 1915", database with images, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:QV9W-4DZY : 8 October 2014), Vincent Maita, 1915. Downloaded 11 June 2017.
 I've also found adults ennumerated in both their parents' household as well as in the household with their own spouse and children. More than one example of that, actually.
If you've found anything interesting about your family in the 1915 census I'd love to hear about it! Leave a comment below.

15 May 2017

Wedding Bells 1955 : Dixon and Traina

My mother, Mary E. Dixon, married her best friend's brother, Frank J. Traina, on May 15, 1955. From photographs I have seen, Mary was well acquainted with the Traina family for years before she and Frank tied the knot.

The wedding took place in Union, New Jersey, and was a civil ceremony performed by a Magistrate of the Court. Mary's Matron of Honor was her future sister-in-law, Frances (Traina) Carlino. The Best Man was Frank's friend, Leo Piazzo.

Here are a few photos from their wedding day.

Mary (Dixon) Traina gets help with her hair
from her sister-in-law and
Matron of Honor, Frances (Traina) Carlino.

Mary (Dixon) and Frank Traina
15 May 1955

Matron of Honor, Frances (Traina) Carlino
and Best Man, Leo Piazzo

The toast.
Frank and Mary (Dixon) Traina toast,
as Fran (Traina) Carlino looks on.

The happy couple and their parents.
Left to right: Joseph Traina and Lillian (Maita) Traina;
Frank and Mary (Dixon) Traina; Sophie (Karvoius) and Wallace B. Dixon.

Mary (Dixon) and Frank Traina cut the wedding cake.

Frank Traina dancing with his sister, Mary Ann,
and Mary (Dixon) Traina dancing with her brother, Wallace A. Dixon.

The happy couple in a snazy car.
Mary (Dixon) and Frank Traina.

08 May 2017

My Immigrant Ancestor : Marian (Reina) Maita

Marian [or Mary or Marianna] (Reina) Maita, on the right, and an unidentified friend or relative. Collection of E. Ackermann, 2017.
Marian [Marianna] (Reina) Maita, right.
Collection of E. Ackerman, 2017.
If you recognize the lady on the left,
drop me a note!
What a thrill to hold in your hand a photograph of someone you've never met, but who is intimately connected with you. A person that is, if you think of it, instrumental to the mere fact of your existance.

I would like to introduce you to my great-grandmother, Marian (Reina) Maita.

That's her, on the right in the photo. You can click on it if you'd like to see it a bit larger.

This "meeting" would not have been possible without the happy convergance of a number of things. First was the generous gift of this photo, along with many others, from a first cousin of mine. He did not know who these ladies were, though my first thought was "that woman sure looks like Grandma Traina." The second was the wonderous connections that Ancestry.com DNA has given me to living cousins that I never knew I had. I was able to send a digital image of this photo to one of them who confirmed that it was her grandmother - my great-grandmother. Hooray!

"They were married in Sicily..."

The helpful cousin who identified the photo for me shared the few facts that she knew about her grandmother, who died when my cousin was a young child. According to her, Marian and her husband, Vincenzo Maita, were married in Sicily before coming to the United States. They lived in Elizabeth, in "the Italian section" – Peterstown, where Vincenzo had a house built on Christine Street. The house is still there, and she describes it as being all brick, with a green door and shutters. My cousin also confirms that Marian and Vincenzo had eight children, one of whom was my grandmother, Lillian.

So now I have a place to start, and I know 100% more about my great-grandmother than I did two weeks ago.

"...then they came over to the U.S."

It's the Maita line that, ultimately, pushed me into researching my family tree. A death in the family lead to frantic e-mails amongst cousins asking "do you know Grandma's maiden name?" We sorted it out after a bit, but it bothered me that none of us knew even that much about our grandmother. Sheesh.

Early investigations led me to discover that three of my grandparents had more siblings than I ever knew of - if I knew of any at all. At least I had personal knowledge of my maternal grandmother's family, and I knew my great-grandmother in that line, although she died when I was a child.

In any case, aside from the Dixons, who appear to have been in this country for many more generations, I have three sets of great-grandparents who were immigrants to this country. This is, to coin a phrase, a very long walk off a short pier that points straight out into the Atlantic Ocean. But before I put on my water wings and take that leap to research in the "old country" there is plenty of research to do in my homeland - Elizabeth, New Jersey!

25 April 2017

Other People's Ancestors : Success and a Reunion

This photo of  George Wickham Metcalfe
is soon to be reunited with his family.

G.W. Metcalfe is heading home!

I'm thrilled to report that I've been able to reunite this photo of George Wickham Metcalfe with his family. [You can read more about George in an earlier post on this blog.]

George's granddaughter contacted me via Ancestry.com, where I had created a tree for George and uploaded his photo. I included in every note space available on that site the invitation for a family member to contact me to reclaim the photograph. And it worked!

This is a photograph of George that his granddaughter had never seen. She was kind enough to share some of her memories of him with me, and I treasure that. I feel like George is part of my family too, after spending so much time researching him.

Happy trails, George!

13 April 2017

Easter 1964 : Bonnets!

Ah, Easter! Chocolate bunnies, jellybeans, dyed eggs, and the dreaded Easter outfit. Please, take a moment to absorb the rediculous things that we are wearing on our heads. [You can click on the images if you want to make them larger.]

In our Easter bonnets... The Dixon/Traina ladies showing their Spring style. 1964, Warinanco Park, Union Co. NJ. collection of E. Ackermann, 2017.
Mom, Grandma, and me. Easter 1964. Warinanco Park.
Collection of E. Ackermann, 2017.
That's my Mom, Mary (Dixon) Traina, in the black mushroom hat, complete with some sort of half-veil thing. No idea what is on the veil. It looks like a bug.

My Grandma, Sophie (Karvoius) Dixon, looks a lovely in neutrals, with her spiky ribbon pouf-hat. Her purse looks big enough to put me in!

 And then there's little me. Snappy double-breasted camel-hair coat, eh? You can see my whole ensemble below.

A four-year old Liz, wearing a cute little yellow suit and a hideous daisy-covered Easter bonnet. 1964. Warinanco Park, Union Co. NJ. Collection of E. Ackermann, 2017.
Easter 1964. Liz enduring the indignity of The Bonnet.
Warinanco Park, Union County, NJ.

Check out my little yellow suit! This may be the most well-coordinated outfit I've ever worn in my life! But really, what the heck were they thinking with the hat? The daisies are bad enough, but what's with the mound of yellow bow meringue on top?

The Easter bonnet was my least favorite holiday tradition. And I probably had a few unkind thoughts about the gloves and the saddle shoes as well. But what's a four-year-old to do?

Endure. Simply endure. The Easter baskets full of treats are on the horizon...

05 April 2017

Sophie (Karvoius) Dixon : Safety First!

"How to Keep My Family Safe"

"...an ideal way for the lady of the house to improve the safety of her family..."

Promotional photo taken of the winner of the 1959 Esso Bayway safety contest - my grandmother, Sophie Dixon. E. Ackemann 2017.
One of the promo pictures from the contest.
Sophie (Karvoius) Dixon, 1959.
Collection of E. Ackermann, 2017.

On 19 Feb 1959 a letter went out from G.R. Murrell, Manager, to the employees of the Esso Standard Oil refinery in Bayway for a safety contest. In it he invited "the wives of our employees and the married women employees at Bayway to develop a Home Safety Program for their families." Entry forms and instructions were included with the letter. The forms listed the leading causes of home accidents and asked the entrants to explain the ideas that they found successful in preventing these types of accidents. "English composition will not be judged, only the safety activities presented..." in each contestants submission. (1)

Offering a total of $750 dollars in prizes, each contestant was also eligible to select an award from the Esso safety award catalog. (1)

My grandfather, Wally Dixon, was employed at Esso. He retired in 1960 after 28 years of service. (2) He probably encouraged his wife to enter. I would love to see the completed form that my grandmother submitted for this contest.

And the winner is...

Western Union Telegram to Sophie Dixon informing her that she won the 1959 Esso Bayway safety contest. E. Ackemann, 2017.
You're a winner! I would have loved to have seen my Grandmother's face when she got this telegram.
E. Ackermann, 2017. (1)

 On April 15 my grandparents went to the Bayway Refinery so my Grandmother could accept her award.

Sophie Dixon accepts the first place award in the Esso Bayway safety contest. 15 Apr 1959. Esso/Bayway Refinery Photo. E. Ackemann, 2015.
Sophie Dixon accepts her award from G.R. Murrell.
Her husband, Wallace B. Dixon looks on.
Esso Standard Oil Co. Bayway Refinery.
Photographic Group. Number 1016-2. 15 Apr 1959.
Collection of E. Ackemann, 2017.

"Wins Esso Safety Contest." Clipping about Sophie Dixon, Singer employee, winning Esso Bayway safety contest. June 1959 issue of E'Port Observer. E. Ackemann, 2017.
"Wins Esso Safety Contest"
click image to enlarge
E'Port Observer, June 1959
E. Ackemann, 2017
 According to this article in The E'Port Observer, newsletter of the Elizabethport Works of the Singer Corporation, "It took a Singer employee, Sophie Dixon of the Oil Milling Department, to win first award in an Esso Bayway Refinery safety contest." (3)
"Mrs. Dixon used a humorous approach to offer practical safety suggestions. Among them: "If the roof of the car must be held up. the car or the driver should be replaced." Another comment was that people who work in gardens and backyards should not go beyond their limit, lest they overcome garden fragrances with liniment. She encouraged drivers to "leave baby shoes where they belong" because they clutter up visibility in a car."
I was thrilled to find this article which provides a glimpse into the winning entry, as well as a little snapshot of what other members of the family were doing at the time."Mrs. Dixon has been with Singer for 18 years. Her sister, Estelle Karvoius, is chief clerk of Dept. 33 and a daughter, Mary Traina, is in the Employment Office." It also reports that my grandfather was on sick leave from Esso at the time.

All the winners of the Esso Bayway Refinery 1959 safety contest, along with their husbands and the plant manager, G. R. Murrell. 15 Apr 1959. Esso Bayway photo. E. Ackemann, 2017.
All of the contest winners and their spouses. The Dixons are on the far left, Mr. Murrell is in the center.
Were my grandparents very short, or are all those other people freakishly tall?
Esso Standard Oil Co. Bayway Refinery. Photographic Group. Number 1016-8. 15 Apr 1959.
Collection of E. Ackemann, 2017.

Safety First!

Photo of Wallace B. Dixon pointing to the steel-toe shoe that saved his foot from the lawn mower. Date and photographer unknown. E. Ackemann, 2017.
Wallace B. Dixon, showing the shoe
that saved his toes.
E. Ackermann, 2017. (1)
The caption my grandfather wrote on the back of this photo says

Wallace B. Dixon
Summer 1953
Sheer luck!
Safety shoes purchased at Bayway

Be careful out there! (Especially when you're mowing the lawn.)

[This photo is probably not related to the 1959 contest, but I thought it was fun.]


(1) Sophie (Karvoius) Dixon - Correspondence and photographs relating to Esso Home Safety Contest; E. Ackermann, 2017.

(2) Esso Standard. Retiree Identification Card. Issued to Wallace Be Dixon. Esso Standard, Division of Humble Oil and Refining Company, Bayway Refinery. E. Ackermann, 2017.

(3)  "Wins Esso Safety Contest," E'Port Observer; A Publication of the Elizabethport Works of the Singer Corporation. (June 1959): p. 2.  

30 March 2017

Wallace B. Dixon 1912

Wallace Bernard Dixon, age 7. Portrait taken by E.L. Jenkins & Co. NY in 1912. Held by E. Ackermann, 2017.
Wallace B. Dixon. 1912.
Held by E. Ackermann, 2017.

Wallace B. Dixon in 1912, at the age of 7. Photo by E.L. Jenkins & Co., 122 Front St., NY. Held by E. Ackermann, 2017.
The original photo of Wallace B. Dixon. 1912
E.L. Jenkins & Co., 122 Front St. N.Y.
Held by E. Ackermann, 2017.
This is my grandfather, Wallace B. Dixon, at seven years old. The photograph was taken by E.L. Jenkins & Co., 122 Front Street, New York. The handwriting on the front of the original mounting is my grandfather's.

I haven't been able to learn much about the photography studio, but I did find another photograph with the same mounting by way of a Google search. Interstingly, that photo of a young man also appeared to have been taken outside, next to the front steps of a building. I wonder if this was Jenkins's particular style of portrait photography. If you know anything about them drop me a note.

You can see a photo of Wally B.'s son, Wally A. Dixon, at about the same age in my previous post, "Wally Jr. Strikes a Pose."