29 April 2016

William A. Dixon : From Oysterman to Carpenter

A Change of Careers 

Way back at the beginning of this blog I wrote about a birth certificate that I had for my grandfather, Wallace B. Dixon. In that post, after recording the facts on the document, I was left with two questions.

One was about the family story that claimed that my grandfather changed his name. Sending off to the NJ State Archives for his original birth record answered that question, and I wrote all about it in the post "Wallace B. Dixon : Name Changer."

The second question centered around his father's occupation as listed on the birth document. I knew from previous research that many of the Dixon men worked as oystermen. The birth document gave William A. Dixon's occupation as "carpenter." I wondered if he had ever worked as an oysterman, and if so, when he made a change of careers.

Comparing the documents that I have found for William A. Dixon thus far showed that he did work as an oysterman. The earliest record is the 1880 United States Census, which shows that William, aged 17, worked at "oystering." (1)

Oystering by the age of 17. 1880 US Census entry for William A. Dixon, son of John Dixon and Isabella Porter. Ancestry.com images. Family History Film 1254800.
1880 US Census entry for William A. Dixon. Ancestry.com. Family History Film 1254800.

Both his marriage record (2) and an entry in the Elizabeth City Directory for 1883 (3) also give his occupation as "Oysterman." So do the birth records for his son William J. Dixon (1885) and an unnamed son, probably George Thomas Dixon (1897).(4, 5)

His switch of careers to "Carpenter" first appears in the 1900 U.S. Census.(6)

This is interesting, because by 1900 the oyster industry in the waters surrounding New Jersey and New York had begun a serious decline due to over-harvesting of the oysters and increase in pollutants and sewage dumped into the coastal waters. Increasing concerns about food quality and sanitation also played a part in the decline of the oyster as a major food product of the area, and in the country at large. (7)

It is possible that William foresaw the decline of the oyster industry. It is also possible that with the responsibility to provide for a growing family (five children were in the household by 1900) he realized that more stable year-round employment was needed. Oyster harvesting was, by law, limited to certain months of the year. William's Uncle, Asa Dixon, had been shot and killed in 1866 while poaching oysters out of season.

So, at some time between 1897 and 1900 William gave up harvesting oysters and took up carpentry. We also see the same occupation on the birth records for his two youngest children, Wallace Bernard Dixon, b. 1905 (8) and Hazel Dorothy Dixon, b. 1909.(9) [On the latter he is a Carp Ender. You can read more about that here.]

Occupation of Deceased: Carpenter. William A. Dixon, death certificate No. 611, Elizabeth, NJ. NJ State Archives, Trenton.
William Dixon, death certificate No. 611 (23 May 1927), Elizabeth, NJ.
NJ State Archives.
William continues working as a carpenter until the time of his death in 1927. (10)


[1] 1880 U.S. Census, Union County,New Jersey, population schedule, Elizabeth, enumeration district (ED) 164, 23-24, dwelling 184; family 226, William Dixon; digital images, Ancestry.com (http://www.ancestry.com : downloaded 31 July 2015); Roll 800; Family History Film: 1254800; Page 40D; Enumberation District: 164; Image: 0084.

[2] State of New Jersey Marriage Return, Marriage Return, William A. Dixon Mary Elizabeth Clyne, 22 August 1883; New Jersey State Archives, Trenton.

[3] "U.S. City Directories, 1822-1995", database, Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., Ancestry.com (http://www.ancestry.com : accessed 23 April 2016), page 87, William A. Dixon; citing "Cook & Hall's Elizabeth City Directory for 1883-84 (Elizabeth, N.J.: Elizabeth Herald Steam Printing House, 1883)," oysterman; boards at 107 Elizabeth Ave.

[4] William J. Dixon, birth certificate (12 November 1884), New Jersey State Archives, Trenton, New Jersey.

[5]  [Unnamed Male Child] entry, Elizabeth, New Jersey Births: D40, New Jersey State Archives, Trenton, New Jersey.

[6] 1900 U.S. Census, Union County, New Jersey, population schedule, 5th Ward, enumeration district (ED) 102, Sheet Number 7, dwelling 83, family 180, William A. Dixon; digital images, Ancestry.com (http://www.ancestry.com : downloaded 5 March 2015); United States of America, Bureau of the Census. Twelfth Census of the United States, 1900. Washington, D.C.: National Archives and Records Administration, 1900. T623, 1854 rolls.

[7] For information on the history of the oyster industry in and around New York City and New Jersey see the following web sites: 
[8]  Theodore Wallace Dixon, birth certificate 235 (2 March 1905), Elizabeth, Union County New Jersey State Archives, Trenton, New Jersey.

[9] Hazel Dorothy L. Dixon, birth certificate 79 (16 January 1909), Elizabeth, Union County, New Jersey New Jersey State Archives, Trenton, New Jersey.

[10] William Dixon, death certificate No. 611 (23 May 1927), New Jersey Department of Health, Bureau of Vital Statistics, Trenton, New Jersey.

27 April 2016

Happy Administrative Professionals Day

Remembering Mom


Mary E. (Dixon) Traina, working at her desk. Date and location unknown. Photo property of E. Ackermann.
Mary E. (Dixon) Traina. Administrative Professional.
She had mad secretarial skills.
My mother was a stellar typist. Her phone manners were top notch. She always tidied her desk at the end of the day. All in all, a most excellent secretary or, as some call them today, Administrative Professional.

She eventually became an office manager, and then a branch manager for Kelly Services. But that happened several decades after this photo was taken.

Here's a bit of advice she once gave me. There are two groups of people you should always be especially kind to in any business setting : the secretaries and the maintenance staff. Those folks are the ones who can really help you get things done.

You can read more about the holiday at Wikipedia or at the International Association of Administrative Professionals web site. 

25 April 2016

Other People's Ancestors : A Girl and Her Sheep

Wooly Wonders

It's Spring! Some of my friends are in the middle of lambing season, and soon enough we'll also be seeing some lovely freshly sheared fleeces. [I'm a fan of wool, both on the hoof and off.] It seemed appropriate that I share this photo that I found in an antique store.

Is this a 1920's version of a "Make it With Wool" contest? Is she posing with a favorite ewe? We'll never know. But her coat is fantastic, with it's plaid and big buttons, isn't it?

As always, if you recognize this girl (or the sheep) let me know. I'd be delighted to return the photo to the family.

A young woman (unidentified) models a terrific plaid jacket. A sheep adds to the wooly ambiance of the photo.
A girl and her sheep.
p.s. As a side note, the girl looks a little bit like a much younger me!

22 April 2016

Frank Klein : 1884 - 1889

Frank Klein, the son of John George Klein and Rachel Hawley Klein, died on 5 July 1889 at the age of 5 years and 10 days. He was born, and lived in, Elizabeth, NJ for all of his short life. He is buried in Evergreen Cemetery, Hillside, NJ.

I won't transcribe Frank's death certificate here. It confirms the name and country of birth for both of his parents. John Klein, Germany. Reichel Klein, US. The place of death was No. 224 Geneva [St. or Ave.?], Elizabeth, NJ. The attending physician was W.H. Miller, M.D., 142 First St. He gives the cause of death as Bright's Disease and Dropsy. The undertaker was M. Durning of Elizabeth, place of burial Evergreen Cemetery.

Although I have not yet acquired Frank's birth record, he does appear in the 1885 New Jersey State Census in the household of John and Rachel Klein as a male child between the ages of 0 to 4 years. Siblings in  the home at that time included Kate, Ida, William, Clara, Effey, and Gertie. His oldest sister, Mary Elizabeth, had married William A. Dixon in 1883, and was no longer in the household.

The 1900 US Census record for John and Rachel Klein shows that Rachel was the mother of 13 children, with 7 children surviving. I have not yet confirmed those numbers.


Frank Klein, death certificate (5 July 1889), Union County, City of Elizabeth, New Jersey State Archives, Trenton, New Jersey. 

"New Jersey State Census, 1885," database, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:6B6P-KW2 : accessed 16 April 2016), Frank Klein in household of John Klein, Elizabeth, Ward 01, Union, New Jersey; citing p. 175, Department of State, Trenton; FHL microfilm 888,640. 

1900 United States Federal Census (Provo, UT, USA, Ancestry.com Operations Inc, 2004), Ancestry.com, Year: 1900; Census Place: Elizabeth Ward 2, Union, New Jersey; Roll: 995; Page: 5A; Enumeration District: 0096; FHL microfilm: 1240995. Record for John Klein.

20 April 2016

Clara Viola Dixon Marries John J. O'Hare

Wedding Bells : November 21, 1912

St. Patrick Catholic Church, Elizabeth, NJ. Sometime in the 1920's. Karvoius girls sitting on bench. Collection of E. Ackermann.
St. Patrick Catholic Church, Elizabeth, NJ
Collection of E. Ackermann, Karvoius Family Photos
One of the documents that I received recently from the New Jersey State Archives was a "Certificate and Record of Marriage" for John J. O'Hare and my great-aunt, Clara Viola Dixon. Just to put her in context on the family tree, she is the daughter of William A. Dixon and Mary Elizabeth Klein, and the sister of Wallace B. Dixon, my grandfather.

This document confirms that Clara V. was the daughter of William Dixon and Mary Klein. The 1900 US Census gives November of 1892 as Clara's birth date, and this marriage record aligns with that information.

Although the document that I received does not indicate specifically where they were married, an index record on FamilySearch.org gives St. Patrick Catholic Church as the "Event Place." 

Here's the transcription:

State of New Jersey. Bureau of Vital Statistics.
Certificate and Record of Marriage. No. 478

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

Residence: 312 Livingston St. Elizabeth, N.J.
Age: 24 yrs
Color: White
Number of marriage: 1
Occupation: Driver
Birthplace: Elizabeth, N.J.
Father's name: John
Mother's maiden name: Julia Fitzgerald

Residence: 82 Second St. Elizabeth, N.J.
 Age: 20 yrs
Color: White
Number of Marriage: 1
Birthplace: Elizabeth, N.J.
Father's name: William
Mother's maiden name: Mary Kline

Witnesses: Joseph Donovan, Grace Andrews
Signature of person or officer of society officiating and P.O. address: J. P. O'Malley, 211 C[????] St.


New Jersey, Certificate and Record of Marriage, 478, John J. O'Hare and Clara V. Dixon, 21 November 1912; New Jersey State Archives, Trenton. 

"New Jersey Marriages, 1678-1985," database, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:FZ5C-5D4 : accessed 16 April 2016), John J. O'Hare and Clara V. Dixon, 21 Nov 1912; citing 1,398,789

1900 Federal Census, Union County, New Jersey, population schedule; digital image, Ancestry.com (http://www.ancestry.com : downloaded 5 March 2015 ); record for Viola Dixon; FHL microfilm: 1240996.

18 April 2016

The Mystery of the Merry Group

The More Mysteries, The Merrier!

These folks, possibly related to me and/or each other, are featured in two photos from the collection. Both snapshots bear the same number stamped on the back: "43." There are a few seemingly familiar faces here. Familiar in the way that I have seen them in other photos. Not in the way where I actually know who they are. If you know who they are, tie a note to a pigeon and send it my way. [Or just leave a comment below.]

Cropped from the original.
That fellow on the right is either blurry or he's wearing the fuzziest sweater I've ever seen on a man.

The dog keeps an eye on them.
Here's the complete image. Now you can see that the folks on the right are looking down at a dog. Good dog! I don't know his or her name either.

I believe that the fellow in the suit appears further on down the page here in a bathing suit. See if you think there's a resemblance.

That man lurking in the background looks familiar to me. I'm sure I've got other photos of him in the collection. I think I need to figure out a way to diagram the familiar faces between the photos to see if there's some connection I'm missing. Have you ever done anything like that? I'd love to hear about it.

The fellow in the suit and the young woman look like they could possibly be a couple. So do the man and woman on the far right. Again, no real clue.

Just to add to the insanity, here's another photo from the same roll "42," only now we've added more people that I don't know.

The group changes, but the dog stays the same.

Now we've got three more women I can't identify at the party. Although I think the woman on the far left, standing, appears in other family photos.

Roll "259"

Now we move on to the second pair of photos. Do you think the guy in the bathing suit is the same person as the man in the suit from the previous two pictures? There's a resemblance, though his hair is curly, not slicked back.

And lastly, there's the fellow in the white trousers. Same dock, same pond. But he's not in any of the other photos.

Pretty good. You?
How you doin'?

13 April 2016

Gettin' Hitched : William A. Dixon and Mary Elizabeth Klein

It's always a happy day when I get an envelope from the New Jersey State Archives in the mail. This week brought me a flurry of papers, but today I want to focus on just one.

Marriage Document for William A. Dixon and Mary Elizabeth Clyne [Klein] 1883, Elizabeth, NJ. From N.J. State Archives, Trenton.
From NJ State Archives, Trenton.
Marriage Return for Dixon & Clyne.

This is a Marriage Return for my great-grandparents, William A. Dixon and Mary Elizabeth Klein. At first glance there aren't any real surprises. William's name, his parents' names and places of birth, and his occupation all fit right in with what information I have about him so far.

Aside from the misspelling of Mary Elizabeth's surname, Clyne rather than Klein, and her mother's name, Halley instead of Hawley her information rings true as well.

Most of the significant data is right in line with what I have seen in other documents. I have every confidence that these are my great-grandparents, documented for the first time as a family. [I'm working on a proof argument right now, and will post as soon as I can make it comprehensible.]

The Transcription

[I have not used all caps for those bits of text that appear in the original in that way. I find I find all caps "shouty" and difficult to read.]

State of New Jersey
Marriage Return
See Penalty for Non-Report.

1. Full Name of Husband ... William A. Dixon     (if Col. so state.) [blank]
Place of Residence... 107 Elizabeth Ave  Elizabeth N.J.
2. Age, nearest birthday... 22     Number of his Marriage...First
3. Occupation...Oysterman     Country of Birth...America
4. Name of Father...John Dixon     Country of Birth...[ditto]
5. Maiden name of Mother...Isabella Porter     Country of Birth... Ireland

1. Full Maiden Name of Wife...Mary Elizabeth Clyne    Country of Birth...America
 (if Col. so state.) [blank]
2. Place of Residence... 47 Third Ave Elizabeth N.J.
3. Age, nearest birthday...17  {If in any trade or business, so state.} [blank, space crossed through]
4. Last name, if a Widow... [blank, space crossed through]   Number of Bride's Marriage...First
5. Name of Father... John George Clyne     Country of Birth... Germany
6. Maiden name of Mother... Rachel Halley     Country of Birth... America

1. Date (in full)... August 22nd 1883     Place... 29 Third Street...Elizabeth N.J.
2 In presence of (Add P.O. Address) { Mrs. Heywood, 29 Third Street...Elizabeth N.J.
                                                            { Miss Odner 302 W 32nd Street...New York
3. Signature of Minister, (what Church Pasor of) or person officiating, }
                                              Thos Heywood...Pastor...1st Congl. Church
                                               Elizabeth N.J.

Some Questions

  1. 1st Congregational Church? Huh? Were either of them members?
  2. Who is Miss Odner? I would have expected some of the couple's siblings to appear as witnesses.
  3. Since the place of the marriage was the same address as Mrs. Heywood's P.O. address, did they get married in the Pastor's house rather than the church?
  4. William's address matches up with what I found in the 1883 City Directory. Mary E.'s address makes no sense. Looking at contemporary maps, she would have been living very near the ropeworks and the river. There don't appear to be any residences there. In fact, Third Avenue doesn't appear in any of the City Directory street guides for any of the years around 1883. Now Third STREET, on the other hand, puts her on the same street as the Congregational Church, which makes slightly more sense. This requires some investigation.

11 April 2016

The Mystery of the Marcel Wave


This week Mystery Photo Monday brings you a fashionable lady with a sense of style. From the tips of her pointy little shoes to the top of her wavy coiffure, she's right in fashion. If only we knew her name.

Unidentified woman with a Marcel Wave and some very fine shoes. Possible connection to Dixon or Karvoius families, Elizabeth, N.J.
Right in style!
The heated curling irons required to get the hair to wave "just so" were invented in Paris in the 19th century. By the early 1920's the wonders of modern technology offered women a electric curling iron with temperature control. No more singed hair!

If you recognize this Doll, send me a note. Thanks!

06 April 2016

Genealogy Do-Over : Month 4

March Assignments and What I Did

The assignment for March was to conduct a self interview, recording information about my life. We are also supposed to conduct family interviews with our parents and siblings.

Since I always enjoy talking to myself the self-interview was easy. [just kidding] I went ahead and entered all my vitals and such into my genealogy database as I thought of them. Then I dug up the supporting documents, scanned, sourced, transcribed them all. As I continue to come across personal information and supporting documentation I'll add that too.

I started from scratch entering vital information for my parents, being sure to add images, transcriptions, etc. of supporting documentation.

April Assignment and What I Plan to Do

  • Tracking research : We are encouraged to select a Research Log and use it to track our research. I'm already using the research log that comes with the RootsMagic software. It seems to be working pretty well for me, so I will continue with that.

  • Conducting Research : Now the fun starts! We are supposed to start with ourselves and for each data point (birth date, location, marriage, etc.) we are to track our research. For each record we find we are supposed to make an entry in our research log. Since I have already recorded and entered as much information as I have, all from copies or original records that I have on hand, I'm going to continue with tracking my research on my current focus, which is my maternal grandfather and his siblings.


Helpful Resources

04 April 2016

The Mystery of the House in the Country

Welcome to another episode of Mystery Photo Monday!

I've got a multi-photo mystery for you this week! These were all taken at the same place [unknown] and seem to have some of the same people in at least a few of them [also, unknow]. Most likely from the Dixon side of the family. Not sure if this was someone's home, or a vacation cottage. There is nothing written on the back of any of the photos.

Wave your arms and jump up and down if you know who these people are. And just in case I don't see you, send me a note, O.K.?

Mystery Photo! A woman in a cowboy hat, a boy, and an older woman wearing an apron. Unidentified. Enlargement of original image.
Mother, son, grandmother? They look happy.
Mystery Photo! A woman in a cowboy hat, a boy, and an older woman wearing an apron, all standing on a porch. Unidentified.
The first photo was cropped from this one.

Mystery Photo! A group of two men and two women on the porch of a house in the country. All unidentified.
You can click on the photo to make it bigger.
It will still be out of focus, just a bigger blur.
Mystery Photo! A woman and a man sitting on the porch of a house in the country. Unidentified, probably Dixon family.
Just sitting on the porch.
She's really eyeing that hat.

Mystery Photo! A house in the country with an epic porch. Check out that automobile! Also, two unidentified women.
Check out that car! Also, the porch is sort of epic.

And then, there's this one...

I don't know who she is, but I like her style! Unidentified woman, possibly Dixon, wearing a stolen hat and flashing her knees.
She took his hat, and now she's showing us her knees!

01 April 2016

The Dixon Homestead 1953

Sophie & Wally Dixon working in their garden. Thompson Ave. Roselle, NJ. 1953
Sophie & Wally in the garden. 1953
Today I wanted to share parts of a letter written by my grandfather, Wally Dixon. It describes the first house my grandparents owned, and the improvements they had made and hoped to make in the future. Mostly though, it's full of humor, much like my Gramps.

1023 Thompson Ave.
Roselle, N.J.
March 18, 1953

"Our little place is shaping up pretty well but I figure that it will take us at least another year to get things the way we want them. Between slaving to improve the estate and ditto to pay for it, we are just working our heads to the bone. " [Get it? Heads...bone...bone heads? Ha!]

"At present the place reminds me of a fan dancer without even the fans. (Naked)" The Dixon home, Roselle, NJ. 1952.
The fan dancer without the fans. Naked. 1952.
 "So far I've removed ten trees in the rear of the house and had a contractor remove two from the front. At present the place reminds me of a fan dancer without even the fans. (Naked). I then spread fifty yard of top soil plus piles of fertilizer, believe me Ma, it's a heck of a lot easier to throw that stuff than it is to spread it." [See, I told you he was a funny guy!]

"I've planted twelve dwarf fruit trees that do not seem to be taking, twenty rose bushes, three peonies and about three hundred assorted Iris, Tulips and Glad. bulbs. I have on order for Spring delivery, twelve more rose bushes, thirty strawberry, twenty blackberry, ten raspberry, rhubarb, asparagus, asst. shrubs, also flower and lawn seeds. (The birds just love that last item.) I've also written to the Shade Commission for curb shade trees to replace the scrub ones that I removed."

The Dixon home on Thompson Ave., Roselle, NJ. 1953. A little yellow house with flowers all around!
After a year of hard work the place is shaping up!
"My collection of tools has become quite an investment in itself. I have about every tool that you can imagine and maybe a few that you can't even imagine. I have a swell power mower that has more pep than the old Green Hornet." [The Green Hornet appears to be parked in the driveway.]