Sunday, November 26, 2017

Sentimental Sunday: Traveling to the Fair

I recently read a story about a mystery solved after nearly fifty years for a woman buried in a potter's field in New York City. Original police records were consulted that provided clues to the woman's identity and origin. The story reminded me again that it is often just a small tidbit of information, one tiny clue, that can help illuminate a story of those in the past.

Recently, a trip to Ontario, Canada opened up another tidbit of information that, used with a tiny clue from an old letter, adding depth to the sad story first told here:

This past July, my sister and I took a weekend trip together meeting up in Ontario, Canada and staying at a friend's condo there. Ever the history buff, I checked around to see what museums, etc. I might find. There are two museums in the city of Burlington, but only one was open that weekend. I implored my sister to go, promising that we would go shopping at the local mall later.

The Ireland House museum introduces you to the life and times of three generations of the Ireland family in the family home built in 1837.

Sketch of the Ireland Residence, Burlington, ONT, ca. 1877

Our guide for the day was very knowledgeable and shared many stories of the home's occupants. In the dining room, she showed us a painting of Queen Elizabeth telling the story of how it was won as a premium by the owner of the Ireland house who entered a prize bushel of apples at the famous fair in Hamilton.

The place name of Hamilton rang a bell with me in relation to Eliud Smith and his family. I also recalled a reference to the fair. Sure enough, a letter written by Eliud's wife, Wilhelmina, in November of 1885 mentioned she was "up to Hamilton to see my husband at the time of the fair..."

That letter and others I transcribed in the first post describes a poignant time in history for the family as Eliud Smith was confined to the Hamilton Psychiatric Hospital in 1879 for nearly thirty years, leaving his wife to raise their five young children on her own with the help of other family members. It was a distance of about fifty miles from Thorold where the family lived to the facility in Hamilton. It was not likely possible for frequent trips to see him. Traveling the route along Lake Ontario might have potentially prevented many journeys during winter weather. Train service was available between the destinations but I imagine money for fare would have been dear for a mother of five. I also imagine it would be heartbreaking when it came time to say goodbye after a visit.

Wikipedia notes that the city of Hamilton, Ontario was the home of the Crystal Palace which "opened up at Victoria Park 20 September 1860 by Edward, Prince of Wales (who later became King Edward VII and was home to the area's "largest fall fair (agriculture exhibition) for many years." 

A story about the structure in the Hamilton Spectator published September 17, 2010 stated the "...fragile structure, made of wood and glass and lasted a scant 30 years, it was modelled on London, England's 1851 building of the same name" and that it was "erected by Sir Allan MacNab and Sir Isaac Buchanan to attract the Provincial Agricultural Fair, which later became the Canadian National Exhibition."

The Crystal Palace, Hamilton, ONT, Canada built 1860, demolished in 1891.
I never thought about these details before, but gaining knowledge of the famous fair certainly sparked my imagine. Being farmers, the fair and agricultural exhibit certainly would have been a big attraction for the family. I can just picture Wilhelmina heading up the walkway pictured above to get a glimpse of the Crystal Palace and wistfully wishing her husband could be there by her side. 

Saturday, November 25, 2017

Sibling Saturday: A Westfall Thanksgiving in 1950

Photos scanned from Granny's old albums

Lawrence L. Westfall (Sr.) carving turkey for his family. Shown from his left and around the table: Gerald, Kenneth, Marie, Mabel (his wife), Donald, Richard, Thomas, David Michael. The boys who are still around that were at this gathering tell me that this was at the house on Middle Road where they lived until Lawrence's death in April of 1958.

Another shot of the turkey carving. Below you can see that while Don (who is seated in a different spot in this photo) helps himself to the mashed potatoes, Ken seems to be giving his baby brother Tom the evil eye. Maybe because Tom looks like he's trying to leave. On the other side of Ken, Gerry seems to be eager for Don to pass the potatoes.

Whoever Harry is, he was definitely invited to partake. He is sitting where Marie and Mabel were in the first photo. Maybe he was the cameraman for that shot.

 Taken either before or after the great turkey carving, Dad Westfall looks comfortable now. The large photograph on the wall behind him is of his daughter Marie. See below for information on the photo on the left.

Though it is not certain that the photo on the right was taken at the same time, it does show Mabel and Marie peeling potatoes. All the photos were scattered among different pages and even different albums.

It's uncertain if this below is Harry in more casual clothes and without glasses or someone else. Definitely the children are wearing the same clothes as when they were seated around the table. Note the photos on the wall can also be seen in the second turkey carving shot. The woman in the portrait is identified as Mabel's mother, Anna J. (Coughell) Smith. The identity of the infant in the photo on the left is unknown, but was possibly little Tommy shown here in the white shirt and suspenders on his brother's lap.

This digital image was cropped and enlarged from the photograph of Dad Westfall seated in his chair (It can also be seen behind the photo of Harry at the table.) Judging from what can be ascertained from this blurry image, I am taking a guess that it is a photograph of Lawrence's mother Margaret (Pfeffer) Westfall with her four surviving children, Bertha, Lawrence, Albert and Francis. Margaret's other two children and her husband were killed in a railroad crossing accident in 1927. The whereabouts of this photograph today is unknown. *Update: A digital copy of this photograph was recently sent to me by a descendant of Bertha's (who contacted me via this blog). Turns out, I had the identities correct.*

Friday, November 24, 2017

Family Friends Friday: Recent History on the Kamuda Name

You know how as a youngster, you might hear of or see people in your family that you assume are somehow related in one way or the other, but you never ask for specific information on the connection. You just take for granted they are part of the family and leave it at that. It can be even worse when it's your in-laws and you can't keep track of all the ins and outs of a large family. Following is a story of names and people who I have had heard about over the years in my (ex) husband's family but never took the time to question until now. It is more recent history then I usually research. 

Uncle Mike (David) Westfall sent me the notice of Aunt Marie's husband Robert Rebbeor's funeral via email the other day. I asked about the identity of Clint named as Robert's grandson in the obituary. I was curious as it did not name any child surviving, only a grandson. Mike said that Bob and Marie adopted Kim Kamuda and Clint was her son, although she had other children as well.

I asked who Kim Kamuda was as I understood there was some relation to Nina (nee Swift) Westfall who was married at one time to Mike's oldest brother. Mike reported that Kim was a daughter from Nina's brother-in-law, Joe or Steve Kamuda, but was not sure which one Nina was married to.

I attempted to do some research online on the Kamuda name but was not having much luck. I mentioned this to Uncle Mike and he suggested I talk to his brother Ken about the family as Ken used to hang out with Butch (Steve) in Buffalo and that they "worked on the road with the vans for quite some time." Uncle Ken used to work for United Van Lines as did his brother (my former father-in-law Gerry). I met Butch myself a time or two when they would come down to Florida.

Using the clue of Buffalo as a place of origin, I was able to find several more things online and piece some of the family story together as follows:

Mel Steven Kamuda was Butch. He was born 26 July 1947 and died 1 April 2008. Uncle Mike Westfall said he was the brother-in-law of Nina (nee Swift) Westfall Kamuda, although Nina's daughter Annette called him her cousin in Butch's online obituary guest book.

Looking up the surname Kamuda on the website of old newspapers, I found more information. In 1958, according to the Buffalo paper, when Joe Kamuda Jr. was 16, he admitted to police that he knifed and beat an old woman who owned a neighborhood store because he hated her and wanted to get back at her for turning him out of the store at an earlier time. When police first searched for Joseph, they found him hiding "behind a fence at a foundry where his father worked."

I first guessed that this Joseph Kamuda, Jr. was Nina's husband. He was born about 1942 and closer in age to Nina. Although if Joe Sr. was her husband, Butch would then have been her daughter Annette's cousin and not Annette's uncle. This turned out to be the case after all. Joe Jr. and Mel were sons of Joseph Kamuda and his wife Faye P. (nee Thompson). According to Faye's obituary, they also had daughters:  Ramona, Linda, Karen, Ruth and Kim. This Kim is likely the Kim Kamuda who was adopted by Bob and Marie (Westfall) Rebbeor. This information also matches Mel's obituary that says he was survived by one brother and five sisters. Faye was born about 1921 and died 1 April 1960 in Buffalo. Her obituary lists her maiden name as Thompson but states she was the daughter of Mrs. Rosalee Gross. An obituary of Max H. Gross who died in Franklinville, NY in 1997 lists the late Faye (late Joseph) Kamuda as his sister; this could have been a half-sibling relationship. Max was also a member of the VFW Post in Cuba, NY.

Joseph Kamuda Sr. was born in New York about 1915 and was 21 years older than Nina. He was living with his parents Matthew and Stella during the 1940 census in the 6th ward of Buffalo. His occupation was that of a molder helper in a foundry (which coincides with Joe Jr.'s father working at a foundry in 1958). I don't know what happened to Joe Sr. or Joe Jr. There was an obituary of a Joseph J. Kamuda who died in Illinois in 2002 at the age of 58 (placing year of birth at 1944). This is not likely the right family as Mel's obituary stated he was survived by his brother. I think it is likely that Joe Sr. made his way down to Franklinville/Cuba/Rushford area because of his brother-in-law Max Gross. The Social Security Death Index shows a Joseph J. Kamuda born 22 August 1941, died in Erie County, New York 5 March 2009 but nothing further has been located. Nina is listed as Mrs. Nina Kamuda of Rushford in her father's obituary when he died in 1969. Another Joseph Kamuda from the Social Security Death Index has a birth date of 15 June 1914 and death date of 1 January 1996 in Lancaster, Erie Co, NY. This is likely Joseph Sr.

Having known Ken and Gerry since I was twelve years old, I recalled a man named Butch that used to be with Ken a lot when we'd see him down in Florida. In a later conversation, Mike also said Ken used to work at the foundry in Buffalo with Joe Kamuda years ago. When I asked Mike where the foundry was, he called Ken up and confirmed that it was called the Fillmore Foundry on Clinton and Fillmore Streets in Buffalo. Mike also mentioned that Butch was married to one of Ken's old girlfriends, Pat Brehm, from Protection (a small hamlet in the town of Sardinia in southern Erie County according to Wikipedia) and that Butch even named one of his sons Ken.

The parents of Joseph Kamuda, Sr, Matthew and Stella Kamuda, were immigrants from Galicia, Poland and came to the United States in 1913 according to the 1920 New York state census. They were listed under the surname "Karomada" and lived in the rear of 568 Howard Street along with their children Julia, Joseph, Stella and Bertha. Also in the household was a 31-year-old boarder by the name of Brownie Katkowski who also immigrated from Poland in 1913. Both Brownie and Matthew worked for a radiator company as laborers.  "Pa" was written under the naturalization column for both, possibly indicating that they had completed papers for the naturalization process as opposed to be listed "Na" for being naturalized citizens.

Joseph's brother Stanley S. Kamuda enlisted in military service from Buffalo in 1941. The military record stated that he was born in New York in 1916, although Stanley was not listed in the 1920 census. It is possible the name and sex of the daughter Stella was listed erroneously. The family could not be located during the 1930 census. There was a Tadeus and Stephania Kamuda with children Julia (born about 1912) and Jozef (born about 1914) indexed in the 1915 New York state census that was probably the same family.

An obituary of Mary Kubas nee Kamuda who died in June 1959 lists her as the daughter of Stella Zabriel and the late Matthew Kamuda. Her siblings were listed as Jewel Hejza, Berniece Pelosene, Helen Beard of California and Joseph, Stanley and Walter Kamuda. An obituary of Andrew Zabriel who died in May 1968 lists him as the beloved husband of Stella Kamuda Zabriel nee Imiolo and stepfather to Mrs. Chester (Julia) Heiza, Joseph Kamuda, Stanley Kamuda, Mrs. Don (Bernice) Palaseno, Walter Kamuda, Mrs. Helen Beard and the late Mary Kubas. Stella Zabriel is listed in the Social Security Death Index with a birth date of 7 November 1885 and a death date of February 1975 in Erie County, New York. Matthew Kamuda 1888-1940 is listed in the St. Stanislaus Roman Catholic Cemetery in Cheektowaga, Erie Co, NY.

That's as far as I have been able to get, but I wanted to get the details down for potential future research. 

Thursday, November 23, 2017

Thankful Thursday: Jennie Hayes, wife of Rollie Backus

It would seem Thanksgiving is when I explore my former mother-in-law's family. I am not sure what made me look the family up again recently, but I did. So I share my finds and add to what I had explored last November. Completing blog posts about my research as I go offers a very handy way to easily see where I left off.

It was back in November 2016 when I provided an update on Jennie Hayes, the wife of Rollie Backus which can be found here. I had found quite a bit on Rollie's ancestry and added a series of posts on that. There was certainly still more to explore on the Hayes line, but I left it alone until now.

Initially, I had discovered a George B. Hayes listed in the 1900 census in the town of Yorkshire, Cattaraugus County, NY with his parents, Erwin and Mandana Hayes, and two sisters, Nancy and Jennie. This was perfect as I thought I found the Jennie Hayes I was looking for. The only problem was this Jennie at age 9 appeared too young to be the right one. And where was her sister Iva? Fortunately I did find Iva listed with William E. and Mandana Hayes during the 1905 state census so I was inclined to believe I had the right family with just some discrepancies in census data. I also found the parents living alone in Yorkshire during the 1910 census but that was about all I uncovered at the time.

Living on Lake Road in 1910, I noted that William and Mandana had been married for 37 years and that she was the mother of ten children, five living. He and his parents were born in New York and the same was true for her.

Mandana is an unusual name, which can be helpful for researching. Using that as the key search term in, I found the earliest mention of the family in Yorkshire during the 1875 state census. This would have been the first one where William was head of household if the 1910 census was correct and they were married in 1873. There is no reason to doubt this. Certainly they were married at least by 1874 when their son George was born.

I also found the family there in the 1880 federal census. William is listed as Err Hayes. Their son George was 6 and followed by siblings Emma J. age 3 and David age 2. (It is interesting to note that Jennie Hayes Backus gave her son Herman, born in 1905, the middle name of Err.)

Also under Err Hayes, the family was listed during the 1892 state census. In addition to the older three previously named, four more children are listed in the household: Johnnie age 11, Jennie age 7, Nancy age 5 and Ivy age 1. This puts Jennie's year of birth at 1885 which corresponds to later census records with her husband Rollie Backus. The 1900 census listed her month of birth as June.

Mandana Hayes even popped up in a cemetery record. Both she and William E. are listed in the McKinstry Cemetery located in the town of Delevan in Cattaraugus County, NY. The information for William includes a complete birth date (7 September 1844) and birth place of Attica in Wyoming County, NY. He died in Yorkshire in 1923. Mandana's year of birth is listed but no death date was ever chiseled into her stone.

Courtesy of Find-A-Grave

A few others with the Hayes surname are listed in McKinstry Cemetery, including that of David Hayes 1878-1909 and his wife Elsie (1878-1912). There appeared to be earlier generations of Hayes buried there as well. Could I find a connection? I picked the name Amos B. Hayes (3 August 1820-28 December 1896) to put into a google search for three reasons. One, because he would have been the right age to have had a son born in 1844; two, Jennie's brother had the middle initial of B; and three, because it was the first male listed in alphabetical order in the cemetery.

Bingo! A family tree came up in showing the connections of Amos B. Hayes to his parents James and Selectra Hayes. It also showed that he and his wife, Orpha Delight Brodich, were the parents of W. Earnest Hayes born about 1844. The Hayes lineage is traced back to the first James Hayes born in 1605, the father of Nathaniel Hayes born about 1629 in Stratford, Fairfield Co, CT.

Find-a-grave provided me with further information on both Amos B., his wife and as his parents who often lived with them. From there, I was able to trace the family's movement from Attica, Wyoming Co, NY in 1850 (where their oldest son was listed with the name "Earl"), to Yorkshire by the time of the 1855 state census and there consistently up through their deaths.

An obituary for Amos was even found online. The transcript indicates that he was born in Darien, NY August 3, 1820. It further stated that "In 1832, he removed to the farm where he died, and where he resided constantly for forty-four years." Subtracting 44 years from his death year of 1896 yields 1852 which is more consistent with census records. These records indicate he moved from Wyoming County to Yorkshire between 1850 and 1855. The 1855 state census even states they had been residents of Yorkshire for two years at that time.