25 July 2016

The Mystery of the Boys at the Beach

Hello Friends! I hope you're enjoying this last bit of July. It's Monday so we're back at Mystery Beach, where the boys are.

These fellows came from an album owned by my Great-Aunt Estelle Karvoius. Were they school-mates, neighbors, friends, cousins? I don't know. But if you do, please let me know. That would make me happier than the guy at the top of the pyramid.

Three unidenified young men entertain beach goers by making a human pyramid. 1920's? From album owned by Estelle Karvoius. Privately held by E. Ackermann, 2016.
Young men showing off, as young men will do. From a photo album owned by Estelle Karvoius.

Three unidentified young men take a break from the beach to lounge on the rocks. There are railroad tracks and old cars parked behind them. 1920's? From photo album of Estelle Karvoius, privately held by E. Ackermann, 2016.
Young men on the rocks. Note railroad tracks and old cars in background.
From a photo album owned by Estelle Karvoius.

Two young men sitting on large rocks at a beach. They are unidentified, but appear in other photos from an album belonging to Estelle Karvoius. Privately held by E. Ackermann, 2016.
Two good looking young men on the rocks. Was their lunch in that box?
From a photo album owned by Estelle Karvoius.
All photos from Mary Dixon Traina Collection, privately held by E. Ackermann (her daughter), 2016.

20 July 2016

Hazel (Dixon) Sullivan : Death Certificate

One of my ongoing mysteries has involved my Grandfather's youngest sibling, Hazel. In the post "Hazel Dixon, Where Did You Go?" I summarized what I knew about Hazel and what clues I had to follow. Two months and a little luck has made a world of difference.

I recently received a copy of Hazel's death certificate, Number 27268, from the New Jersey Department of Health.(1) This is the bounty of information I gleaned from that document:
  • Hazel died on 21 May 1957 at St. Elizabeth Hospital in Elizabeth, New Jersey.
  • At the time of her death she lived at 534 South Broad Street, Elizabeth.
  • Her married name was Sullivan. [This has been confirmed by my Moore cousins]
  • Her parents were William Dixon and Mary Klein.
  • She was widowed at the time of her death.
  • She was unemployed at the time of her death.
  • She never served in the armed forces.
  • Hazel was buried on 23 May 1957 at Mount Olivet Cemetery in Newark, New Jersey.
  • On the document I received, the cause of death was redacted as per N.J.A.C. 8:2A-2.1. There was no autopsy.

Conflicting information

There is some information on the document that disagrees with other documents that I have. Hazel's birth certificate records 16 January 1909 as her birth date, making her 48 when she died. The death certificate claims that she was born on 19 February 1910.

The birth record was certainly made closer to the time of Hazel's birth, so one would expect it to have more accuracy. However, it was filled out by Therese M. Leyerer, Midwife. As we've seen in other birth documents, she wasn't always entirely accurate.

The informant on the death certificate was Mrs. Clara Greaves, who was in fact Clara Viola (Dixon O'Hare) Greaves, Hazel's older sister.(2) Clara was seventeen years older than her sister. It's possible that her memory was faulty, or that she was distraught at her younger sister's death.

I'm not going to worry too much about the conflicting birth dates right now. I will review the census documents to see if there's is any data there that leans one way or the other. Hopefully I will find a marriage record for Clara that will clear things up a bit.

Information still needed

  • Marriage record
  • Date of her husband's death
  • City directory data 
  • Marriage record for Clara (Dixon) O'Hare to Mr. Greaves

(1) Hazel Sullivan, death certificate 27268 (21 May 1957), State Department of Health of New Jersey, Office of Vital Statistics and Registry, Trenton, New Jersey.

(2) Facebook correspondence with cousins who descend from another Dixon sibling confirm that Clara "Toots" Dixon did marry twice. Once to Jack O'Hare, and then to a man with the surname Greaves.

18 July 2016

The Mystery of the Man in the Bathrobe

Another sand-between-your-toes mystery today kids.

I'm loving the fashion statement with the bath robe. Snazzy!

Here's what I know:
  • Nothing. Absolutely no clue who this cute couple is.
  • I'm guessing these folks are friends or relations of the Dixon family. Maybe.
If you know who these folks are please let me know!

Photo of unidentifed young couple at the beach. Possibley connected to the Dixon family.
Unidentified couple at the beach. Possible Dixon connection.

13 July 2016

The Blitzkreig Bar : Moore and O'Hare

Cousins Ralph "Bucky" Moore and Jack O'Hare with their wives, Theresa (left) and Martha (right) pose at the "Blitzkreig Bar", c. 1945, taken in New York while Jack was on furlough.
Theresa (O'Reilly) and Ralph "Bucky" Moore, and Martha (Tyler) and John Joseph "Jack" O'Hare.
"The Blitzkreig Bar." Real photo postcard c. 1943-45, New York. Collection of E. Ackermann, 2016.
This is such a great photo.

It's only been in the past year that I've been able to identify these folks. With the help of my newly discovered cousins this photo mystery has been solved!

Back of postcard. "Taken when Jackie was home on furlough. This was taken in New York." Theresa & Ralph Moore, with Martha & Jack O'Hare. WWII.
Back of "Blitzkreig Bar"postcard.
"Taken when Jackie was home on furlough.
This was taken in New York"
Left to right we see Theresa (O'Reilly) and Ralph "Bucky" Moore, and Martha (Tyler) and John Joseph "Jack" O'Hare.

Bucky, as he was widely known, is the son of Minerva "Minnie" (Dixon) and William Moore. Jack is the son of Clara Viola "Toots" (Dixon) and John Joseph O'Hare. Minnie and Toots were sisters of my grandfather, Wallace B. Dixon.

Bucky and Jack were my grandfather's nephews, but there wasn't a great age difference between them. Wally Dixon was nineteen years younger than his sister Minnie! Bucky was four years younger than his Uncle Wally, and Jack was ten years younger than Bucky.

It makes sense that this photo was with my grandfather's collection. He must have been great friends with his nephews. In fact, Bucky named one of his son's in honor of my grandfather!

A few notes about "The Blitzkreig Bar" 

I was hoping to learn more about the photo so I did a Google search. I didn't learn much, but did find other photos with the same backdrop.

You can find one at Nelson History [scroll down to the bottom of the page] that has a group of British sailors pictured. Included is the information that the photo was taken in New York. There is another one over at Flickr with comments from people with similar photos indicating a date of 1943, and locations of New York and Coney Island.

Special thanks to the descendants of Bucky Moore and Jack O'Hare, who were key in solving this photo mystery, and in providing so much good information.

11 July 2016

Things I Learned in School : GRIP

You know you're addicted to genealogy when:
  1. You spend your summer vacation at a genealogy institute
  2. You're having a nice time pouring through archival supply catalogs
  3. You think a fun thing to do on your day off is re-humidifying old rolled photos and documents
I guess I'm hooked :-)

During the last week of June I was lucky enough to attend GRIP - The Genealogical Research Institute of Pittsburgh. Imagine a whole week of classes immersed in one topic! In my case it was Family Archiving: Heirlooms in the Digital Age with Denise May Levenick. Does that not sound perfect for where I am right now, surrounded by family "stuff?" [Which will now officially be referred to as "The Mary Dixon Traina Collection."]

One of the nifty hands-on techniques that we learned was how to flatten rolled photos and documents without cracking or damaging them. I had read about this technique before I took the class, but was a little hesitant to try it. Doing this in class gave me the confidence to try it myself when I got home. Denise Levenick has a very thorough tutorial on her blog if you think you'd like to try it yourself.

Here's what I did to flatten my photo


"Before" picture of tightly rolled vintage photo prior to being re-humidified and relaxed.The the secret to success here is humidity. Your tight little rolled photo or document is bone dry and needs to be relaxed so you can frame it or store it properly.

My first re-humidification project was a rolled photo. When I peeked inside it looked like a class photo. But it was very tightly rolled and the print emulsion would certainly have cracked if I had tried to flatten it out as dry as it was.
Tightly rolled vintage photo. Re-humidifying will relax the print and allow it to lay flat.
The first two photos here are my "before" pictures.

It's very important that you not unroll and try to flatten a photo or document that is in this condition.
You may cause irreversible damage.

The tightly rolled picture has been placed on a rack in a plastic storage bin. There is about 2 inches of water in the bottom.
To start the process, I took a large plastic bin with a lid, put some water in it and then placed a plastic coated dish rack inside. I only added enough water to make it an inch or two deep. The dish rack is the type you use to create additional storage inside your cupboards.

Then you just put on the lid and wait. It's a good idea to check on the project every few hours to make sure that no condensation is building up on the inside of the lid. You don't want water dripping on your photo or document.

After about 3 hourse, the image has started to relax. It will take several more hours for it to be ready to dry flat.
After three hours my photo had started to soften up a bit and I was able to unroll it a little bit more.

It took about seven hours in the bin to get the photo relaxed enough to lay flat. Or reasonably flat. I was hesitant to leave it in the bin overnight, since I wouldn't be able to monitor the possible condensation. So at the seven hour mark I called it "good enough" and proceeded with the next step.
The re-humidified photo is placed on top of archival blotter paper with parchment paper on top of the image. Another sheet of blotter paper is placed on that, then the whole thing is weighted with books.
The photo is laying face up on top of a piece of archival blotting paper from Gaylord. On top of the photo I put a sheet of parchment paper, the kind you use for cooking and baking. Then there is another piece of archival blotting paper on top of that.

Those layers are being pressed under stacks of books. Yes, I read murder mysteries at Christmas. Please, don't judge me.

And here are the results!

A once rolled photograph, now re-humidified and relaxed to lay flat.
Re-humidified photo, pressed and dry.
Getting the photograph flat revealed that it is the 1942 class photo for Theodore Roosevelt Junior High School in Elizabeth, New Jersey. The photo is not perfectly flat, but is relaxed enough that I would be comfortable framing it or putting it in flat storage [archival, of course!].

Here are two close-ups of the photo, front and back. The girl in the striped shirt with the great smile and the dimples is my mom. I love how happy she looks in the picture. 

Mary E. Dixon, right of center in the striped shirt.
Citation: Photographer unknown. Class Photograph, Theodore Roosevelt Junior High School.
1942: Elizabeth, New Jersey. Photographic Print. Mary Dixon Traina Collection, privately held.

Flattening the photo also gave me a chance to study the back of the photograph. It looks like some of Mom's classmates signed it. Transcribing all those names will be a little project. I can check the 1945 Battin High School Yearbook to see if any of the girls also graduated high school with Mom.

Classmates of Mary E. Dixon signed the back of their class photo. T. Roosevelt Jr. High School, Elizabeth, NJ, 1942
Names on the back of the photograph. Classmates from Theodore Roosevelt Junior High School.
Elizabeth, New Jersey. 1942.


Photographer unknown. Class Photograph, Theodore Roosevelt Junior High School. 1942: Elizabeth, New Jersey. Photographic Print. Mary Dixon Traina Collection, privately held.

08 July 2016

Clara Viola Dixon : Birth Registration

The Midwife Strikes Again!

We've seen the creative writing style of Therese M. Leyerer before. She is the midwife who writes with an Austrian accent, and who declared that my great-grandfather was a fish killer: a "Carp Ender." She appeared in that post on the birth registration for Hazel Dixon, the youngest child of William A. and Mary E. (Klein) Dixon. In this entry we see her delivering what she claims to be the couple's fifth child. *

Birth register entry for Clara Viola "Toots" Dixon, 1 November 1892. New Jersey State Archives: Trenton, N.J.

The Birth Record (1)

1 Full Name of Child (if any): [blank].  Color: [blank]
2. Date of Birth: November 1 1892.  Sex: Girl
3. Place of Birth: No. 63 Little Schmid Street
4. Name of Father: Willie Dixon
5. Maiden Name of Mother: Luisa Dixon
6. Country of Father's Birth: Elisabethport.   Age: 30.  Occupation: Oystermann
7. Country of Mother's Birth: Oho [Ohio].  Age: 26
8. Number of Children in all by this Marriage: 5.  How many living: 4
9. Name and P.O. address of Medical Attendant, in own handwriting, with date:
      T M Leyerer Midwife [no address or date given]


I am reasonably sure that this is the birth register entry for Clara Viola Dixon.

I have two other sources that support at least the month and year of birth. The 1900 U.S. Census records Viola Dixon's birth as November 1892. (2) In addition her marriage record from 1912 gives her age as 20 years, which infers a birth year of 1892.

Midwife Leyerer claims in this birth register that the unnamed child's parents were Willie Dixon and Luisa Dixon. I believe she was in error. As the registration forms were generally not filled out at the time of the birth errors are possible. We have seen this on other documents authored by this midwife. It is possible that she kept sketchy records and relied on memory to fill out the rest. She may have delivered so many babies that it was easy to loose track.

The 1900 census and her marriage record also list Clara Viola's parents as William A. and Mary E. Dixon, or William Dixon and Mary Kline [Klein]. Viola Dixon appears on the 1895 (4) and 1905 (5) NJ State Census with this couple as her parents. The parent's birthplace, age, and occupation also agree or come very close to the same items appearing in other sources related to William and Mary E. (Klein) Dixon as individuals and as a married couple.

As to "Little Schmid" Street, I have found William Dixon, laborer, at 63 Little Smith Street in the Elizabeth City Directory for 1895-96. (6) While the occupation doesn't match the birth record, it is possible that William had quit oystering for other work.

* At the time of Clara Viola's birth, my records indicate that William and Mary had four children: Minerva "Minnie" b. 1884; William b. 1885; Harry, b. 1887; followed by Clara Viola in 1892. Given the five year gap between Harry and Clara Viola, it is possible that another child was born and died young. Indeed, Harry would die in 1894 at the age of six. I only found him by chance in a birth index.


(1) [Clara Viola Dixon], birth certificate D13 (1 November 1892), Elizabeth New Jersey State Archives, Trenton.

(2) 1900 Federal Census, Union County, New Jersey, population schedule, Elizabeth Ward 5, Union, New Jersey; Roll: 996; Page: 7A; Enumeration District: 0102; digital image, Ancestry.com (http://www.ancestry.com : accessed 5 March 2015 ); FHL microfilm: 1240996.

(3) New Jersey, Certificate and Record of Marriage, 478, O'Hare and Dixon, 21 November 1912; New Jersey State Archives, Trenton.

(4) Ancestry.com. New Jersey, State Census, 1895 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations Inc, 2007. Family number 220, page 38, line 11. Original data: New Jersey Department of State. 1895 State Census of New Jersey. Trenton, NJ, USA: New Jersey State Archives. 54 reels. Roll V227_105.

(5) "New Jersey State Census, 1905," database, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:KMHK-VXD : accessed 15 February 2016), William A Dixon, , Union, New Jersey, United States; citing p. 6, line 44, Department of State, Trenton; FHL microfilm 1,688,625.

(6) Cook & Hall's Elizabeth City Directory for 1895-96 (Elizabeth, N. J.: Cook & Halln.d.), 127, Dixon William, laborer, h 63 Little Smith; digital image, Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., Ancestry.com (http://www.ancestry.com : downloaded 3 July 2016).

06 July 2016

Update : Minnie, Clara, and Hazel Dixon

Through the magic of the Internet I've been contacted by some cousins I've never met, and they have begun knocking down some brick walls. Thank you to my Moore cousins!

Minerva "Minnie" (Dixon) Moore

These cousins, grandchildren of my grandfathers eldest sister, Minnie, have helped fill in a lot of blanks. I now know that Minnie's name really was Minerva. She married William Moore and they had two sons, Ralph "Bucky" Moore and Milton "Derby" Moore. And here they are:

Ralph "Bucky" Moore
Milton "Derby" Moore
This solves a photo mystery for me. The photo of Derby had a caption written on the back by my grandfather so I knew his name. But I did not know the connection to my grandfather. Now I know that they were first cousins.

The second mystery is found in a photo that I will feature in an upcoming post. The photo featured two couples, both unidentified. But thanks to two sets of new-found cousins I have now identified both couples and know their connection to the family.


Clara Viola "Toots" (Dixon) O'Hare Greaves 

Clara Viola was called "Toots" and she once had a thrift shop in Elizabeth. My cousins also confirmed something that I had suspected - Clara had been married twice. I've written before about her marriage to John O'Hare. Her second husband had the surname Greaves. More clues to research!

Hazel Dorothy (Dixon) Sullivan

My cousins tell me that Hazel, the youngest of the siblings, was married to a man with the surname of Sullivan. As far as anyone can remember, she had no children.

Hooray for Cousins!

All of this information should help my research quite a bit. I'm hoping that my cousins will have some memories of my grandfather's siblings, and of growing up in Elizabeth. I'd really like to know more!

04 July 2016

Mystery Men at the Beach

Only a partial mystery this week. At least I have some family context for this one.

At the beach, sometime in the 1920's. Members of the Karvoius family: Alice, Constatntine, Estelle;  two unidentified men on right in front and back rows.
My people loved the beach! Standing, l. to r. : unidentified, Alice (Rimkus) Karvoius.
Seated, l. to r. : unidentified, Constantine Karvoius, Estelle Karvoius.
Note the small unidentified child standing behind the man with the mustache.

Closer view of the original image of the Karvoius family at the beach. 1920's
Closer view of the Karvoius family and the mystery men.
I believe that this photo was taken out of an album that belonged to my Great-Aunt Estelle Karvoius. That's her on the far right in the front row. I also recognize my Great-Grandmother, Alexandra "Alice" (Rimkus) Karvoius in the back row, and my Great-Grandfather, Constantine Karvoius, in the middle of the front row. Based on Estelle's birth date in 1909, I think this was taken in the 1920's, probably in New Jersey.

The mysteries in this photo are the young man in the back on the left, and the man with the rather spectacular mustache. They both appear in other pictures in the collection as well. Also, please note the little child standing behind the man with the mustache. He is looking down at the ground, and nearly disappears into the background.

The back of the photo has some of the black paper from the album still attached, but you can see that it was stamped "Printed by Elizabeth Novelty Co. / 1?5 / Elizabeth, N.J."

So, any ideas gentle readers? If you recognize the people or the location, please let me know!