Monday, July 21, 2014

Helena A. "Lena" Van Cauwenberge (52 Ancestors - #29)

Helena A. "Lena" Van Cauwenberge was born on the 9th of September, 1889 in Belgium.  In May, 1913 she married Joseph Thomas Stephan.  Helena died at age 29 on December 23rd, 181 in Boston, Massachusetts.

Helena (also "Alina" and "Lena") arrived in America with her mother and siblings in 1904, following her father who had come to Boston in 1903. She was raised in London, where the family lived for a few years after leaving Belgium, and then in Chelsea and South Boston. In May 1913 she married a Massachusetts-born accountant, Joseph Thomas Stephan, before a priest, Fr. R.J. Johnson of the Gate of Heaven Catholic Church in South Boston. Helena's surname was mis-spelled on the marriage record as "Van Corwenberge". (Her mother's maiden name was also given as "LaSalle", while elsewhere it was reported as "Filler".) Joseph's parents were listed on the marriage record as John J. and Katherine (Sexton) Stephan. 

In May 1914 residing on Holworthy St., the couple welcomed a son, John Joseph Stephan. Joseph's 1917 draft card shows Helena's husband living at 117 Almont St. Boston, working as an auditor for the Old Colony Trust Company, and supporting his wife, one child, and his mother. 

According to her son's obituary, John Joseph Stephan was the couple's only child, and Helena died in the flu epidemic of 1918. Helena's death record (MA VR 1918 deaths v. 3, p. 405) shows she died of "lobar pneumonia" after 13 days; the death occurred in her home at 119 Almont St. in Boston. Whoever provided the information for the death certificate
had trouble with spelling Belgian/Dutch names or perhaps just had poor handwriting that was typed up badly: Helena's maiden name was given as "Causenberg", and her mother's maiden name as "Falla").  Helena was buried at St. Joseph's Cemetery in West Roxbury by the T.J. Mahoney and Sons Funeral Home. Helena's parents were buried there when they died decades later, perhaps in a family plot. 

The 1920 and 1930 censuses, Helena's son, listed as a boarder, was in the household of her parents, Emiel and Wilhelmina Van Cauwenberge. 

No 1920 census listing for Helena's widower could be located, but around 1924 he married again, to Enid Sampson. Joseph and Enid had several children: Virginia, Muriel, George, Richard, and Robert, all present on Fuller St. in Dorchester at the 1940 census, at which time Joseph was working as a salesman. He could no longer work as an accountant, having been convicted of bank embezzlement in 1926; according to newspaper reports he was sentenced to 3 years in prison (but apparently served less). Helena's widower, Joseph Stephan, died in 1955; his wife Enid died in 1977. The 1914 birth record for her son, John Joseph Stephen, misspelled her maiden name as "Van Convenburg"; that spelling was preserved in his 2004 obituary.

All credit for this story goes to Liz Barnett, my friend and professional genealogist (2013).


Martha Dauwer - The Mother They Never Knew (52 Ancestors - #28)

Growing up motherless must have been tough for two little girls and two little boys whose lives were uprooted by their mother's sudden death.  I often ponder this when I think about my father-in-law and his siblings who lost their mother when she was just 24 years old.  Because they were so young when she died they had little or no memory of her.

The few whisps of stories I have about Martha is that she brought her purse to the hospital, according to my father-in-law, but never left the hospital alive.  

Another brief story I heard was that she was a very loving sister.  Martha made sure that her little sister Alice had a gown for her prom according to Alice's daughter Sandee.

When Martha Dauwer was born on August 24, 1908, in Boston, Massachusetts, her father, Camielle, was 30 and her mother, Marie, was 29. 

Oscar W. Bruynell and Martha married on November 15, 1924, in Boston, Massachusetts. Together they had five children by the time she was 23, one of who died before their first birthdy. Alice sadly died on September 11, 1932, in West Roxbury, Massachusetts, at the age of 24.

Martha must have been the love of Oscar's life as he never re-married after her death.  Sadly we have no photos of Martha.

Monday, July 7, 2014

Lillian Amanda Snow (52 Ancestors - #27)

Lillian Amanda Snow was my Canadian paternal great grandmother.  Lillian was born on June 1st, 1867 to Winthrop Snow and Elizabeth Bethel in Port LaTour, Shelburne, Nova Scotia.   Just shy of her 18th birthday, this young spinster met and married fisherman Smith Swain Nickerson who was also from Port LaTour, Nova Scotia.

Lillian and Smith had their first child, a daughter Elizabeth, in December, 1885.  Lillian went on to have an additional eight children.  Her second to last child, Charles "Savol" Nickerson was my grandfather.  

On February 28th, 1934 she passed away from complications due to Diabetes and was buried in Yarmouth Nova Scotia.

Those researching genealogy should keep track of what illnesses or diseases start forming a pattern.  For instance, my dad and my brother both are diabetic however, until my research, we didn't know where in the family the disease originated.  My maternal grandfather, according to his death certificate, died from a form of liver cancer.  Since his death some of his daughters either have or are carriers of hemochromatosis which can be genetic and in some forms can cause liver cancer.  We all wonder if he may have had hemochromatosis and if they knew then what doctors know now maybe his death could have been prevented.  Another interesting pattern that emerged through my research was that all my maternal grandmother's family died of some form of heart disease (ranging from heart attacks to congestive heart failure).  All my maternal grandfather's family died from some form of cancer (except 2 - 1 sibling died from a burst appendix and another lived until 106 and passed naturally).  There is lots of thyroid issues in my mom's family as well, however, my paternal grandmother died from complications to chronic thyroiditis.  My point about this paragraph is that genealogy can help you try to avoid illness.  I've been tested for hemochromatosis (and happy to report I'm not a carrier), my heart is good, no cancer, but I am pre-diabetic right now and thyroid issues continue to run in the family.  So I just have to work harder to try to avoid becoming diabetic.  You might be able to help other family members if you see a pattern of disease develop in looking back at your ancestors.

I'm hoping to see a photo of Lillian someday.  Hopefully someone will have a picture of her!!

Johannes "John" Van CAUWENBERGE (52 Ancestors - #26)

Researching my husband's Belgian ancestors feels like a challenge to me because of the language barrier and my inexperience with researching ancestors from other countries.  Thankfully some of the mystery became a little clearer with the help of professional genealogist and friend, Liz Barnett.  It would be wonderful to be able to find the Belgian records of Johannes and Adelaid.  Here is what we know about my husband's x2 great grandfather.

Johannes "John" Van CAUWENBERGE
 b. at Belgium
+. Adelaide VANDERHOOTEN

His name and that of his wife were given in the death record of their son, Emil Van Cauwenberg of Boston, MA. Emil's son, Frank Vann, reported that "John Vann" and his wife, Adelaide Vanderhooten were born in Belgium. No other written record was found showing Emil's parents or where they lived. Although the relationship to Emil is not proven, data from another Belgian-born cigar-maker who may be his brother sheds some light on the Van Cauwenberges origins: When he married Mary Ann Webb in London in 1897, Camille Van Cauwenberge, born around 1867, also gave the name Johannes as his father. This Camille, like Emil, was in the Hackney section of London at the 1901 census (mis-indexed as "Pamil Van Conwenberge"). Unlike Emil, this Camille stayed in London, where he died in 1936,although he did travel at least once to the US: at the 1911 UK census his wife, Mary Ann (Webb) Van Cauwenberge, reported that he was "in America". Happily, before doing so, she wrote on the census form all his age, occupation, etc., and his place of birth: Grammont, Belgium. Since this is the same place that Emil's son, Frank, later gave as his own place of birth, it seems very likely that Emil and Camille were brothers, and both from Grammont, nowadays more commonly called by its Flemish name, Geraardsbergen, in East Flanders. Gramont (or Grammont ) was a well known center of the cigar-making industry. London saw an immigration of such highly skilled cigar makers from Belgium and the Netherlands; some later moved on to Boston and Manchester, NH.

When he married in 1897, Camille Van Cauwenberge reported his father was deceased. Further research might reveal proof of the connection of both Emil and Camille, and possibly other Van Cauwenberges in the US and UK.

As you can see, Liz gives me great direction on where to concentrate my research, especially clarifying the relationship between Camille and Emil.  It is on my "to do" list!  

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Her name was Anty, Anty Boudreau (52 Ancestors - #25)


This family blog would be incomplete if we didn't tell you about Frances Anty Boudreau (1874-1968).  Although I never met Anty I always heard stories of her from the time I was young.  Knowing that my cousin Pat (Sweeney) Cloutier did know her I asked her to write a story for our blog (well she actually offered).  This is Pat's second story in my blog and again she outdid herself and this is what will make this blog a treasure to our future generations.  Thank you so much Pat and here is the story of Anty as told by my cousin:
I begin the tale of my grandmother's sister, Anty, I need to begin with the previous generation. And by the way, Anty is truly her given name, not a play on auntie!

Anty's father was a ship captain, Charles O. Boudreau who resided in Tusket Wedge, Nova Scotia, Canada. He was born in 1843. Sadly, he led a very short life. He died of a brain tumor while he was a patient at a Halifax Hospital in 1886, only 42 and a half years old.

Anty's mother, Johanna, Johanna's brother Robert, and Johanna's father were all emigrating from Ireland when Johanna was only a baby, a matter of months old in about 1857/1858. We do not have  accurate numbers because records were not very specific and nobody was ever very sure about Johanna's age. Johanna's mother died on the way from Ireland to Canada.

This is where Johanna's story gets cloudy. However, since the story was told by Johanna to Anty, Johanna's oldest child, we assume it is fairly accurate. Johanna's father and brother disappeared from the picture. There is conjecture that her brother, Robert, was adopted by a Massachusetts family but we know nothing of the father.  Even a membership to Ancestry.com was unable to find any trace of him.

Since Johanna was just a baby she was placed in the care of nuns at an orphanage. When she turned 16 the custom dictated that she should find work and be able to support herself. She was sent to keep house for the priests in Tusket Wedge.  (Years later the name of the village was changed to Wedgeport.) That is where she met her future husband who was fourteen years older than she.  Together they raised seven children. Besides Anty, there were Mary Alice who became my grandmother and mother of eleven children. There was Jeanne born in 1877 about whom we have no information. It's quite possible that she died in infancy. Next was Henry who died at age 24 while fishing off the coast of Maine. Anty's other sister Emma (Ursula Aimée)  died during the flu epidemic in Virginia where she was a nurse. There were two younger brothers, Robert who lived his entire life in Wedgeport and had nine children, and the baby, Terrence who was born and lived in Wedgeport for many years but eventually moved to Meteghan River, several miles up the coast, to be close to his sister, Anty, and his son, Delisle.

Johanna Sheehan and Charles O. Boudreau were married in January of 1873. St Michael's Church, Wedgeport, NS.  Church records show that she was the daughter of Maurice Sheehan and Mary O'Dea. Charles' middle name was Onesippe which was the name he was known by. (“Onesippe” is pronounced own-a-sip, not one-sippy as it looks!)  Sometimes it was written Onesiphore.

Anty, their first born, had a long, interesting and at times difficult life. Her first marriage was to Capt. (Narcisse) Jeremy Pothier. I'd like to inject here that everyone seems to have used their middle names instead of their first name!  They were married May 26, 1897. He was known as Jeremy. He was the thirty-two year old captain of the brig St. Michel and he and all hands were lost in April 1898 (see Narcisse Jeremy Pothier blog from week #22). They were bringing a cargo of salt from the Islands to Argyle (I take “the islands” to mean the Caribbean). Anty was left with an infant son who was only about 3 months old when he died.

Her second husband was Edward Comeau. They were married August 4, 1902. 

Her third husband was Amedee (nicknamed Eddie), brother of Edward. They were married January 29, 1912. He fought in WW1, was wounded and sent to recuperate at an English estate that became a rehabilitation hospital for the  recovery of the needy soldiers (Does that sound familiar to Downton Abbey fans!?).
Amedee and Anty's Marriage Certificate of 1912
She was very well known in the County of Clare, NS. She was the Innkeeper of the old Riverside Inn in Meteghan River for many years. She did all the cooking and “ran a tight ship.” In the summer she took in some of her sister Alice's children. She was responsible for her niece, Grace, attending College in Halifax.

One of the most interesting stories about Anty was the fact that she became friendly with many of the “rum runners” that stayed with her at the Inn. In Prohibition times, the rum runners were the folks who kept busy illegally transporting liquor, mostly from the French-owned islands of St Pierre and Miquelon off the coast of Newfoundland to the Atlantic coast. The same thing was happening from the islands in the rum trade. The illegal liquor trade began after WW1 in the twenties and continued until 1939, just before the beginning of WW2. They had lots of money to spend and Anty had no compunction about hostessing them! “Rum Runners”, that is another story about Nova Scotia in earlier times. I'll save that for another blog story.

In the late forties and early fifties, I remember Anty coming to the Boston area and NH to visit her nieces and their families. She wanted us to save our mending for her when we knew she was coming. She would contentedly sit and sew, humming as she rocked. She did all of us in my generation a huge favor. We got to know a wonderful ambassador of her generation. She regaled us with tales of the “old days”. In fact, she supplied me with extensive information on past generations. I can still see the two of us, sitting at my kitchen table, while she talked late into the night. I not only listened but questioned and scribbled everything for 5 or 6 generations. Thanks to her our family now “knows”relationships and humorous yarns! 

One more thing, about the same time, she and Uncle Eddie spent their winters in Florida. You would wonder if I was dreaming if you knew how frugal she was. They actually traveled there for many winters but always were employed while there. Anty worked as a seamstress in the famous Burdine's Department store. I have no recall about what Uncle Eddie did.
Anty last visited in Mass and NH when she was about 90 years old. She came by bus! She died in her beloved Meteghan River at the age of 94 and was buried in the next town of Saulnierville in the area of Nova Scotia known as the French Shore.

Sunday, June 15, 2014

Casimir Bruyneel vs. THE Sam Gompers (52 Ancestors - #24)

Bud had a great grandfather, Casimir Bruyneel, who we feel was a fascinating family member.  He was married to his paternal great grandmother, Emily VanCauwenberg.  
Casimir Bruyneel was born on December 26, 1882, in Belgium.  We are not sure if he was the only child of his parents Alois and Rosalie. It is not quite clear as to when he immigrated from Belgium to the United States.  One of the first things of interest about Casimir is his last name.  It is unclear if he was born with the name Bruynell or Bruyneel.  My father-in-law, Ken Bruynell, says the last name was Bruynell when he arrived here from Belgium, but due to Casimir's inability to speak clear English whomever the customs officer was either spelled his name incorrectly or one of the "L"s in Bruynell was written small and it was interpreted as a small "e" and therefore the name became Bruyneel.

Shortly after his arrival here is the U.S., he had to marry and underaged Emelie A. VanCouwenberghe and they had one child, Oscar Bruyneel, together in 1905. Like many Belgian men of that error, he was a cigar maker.  We are not sure what transpired, however before Oscar turned 5 years old Casimir had moved on.

In looking at border crossing records it seemed that Casimir made many trips to Canada.  He then married Theresa Mary Batsleer and they had one child together in 1912.
In the process of Casimir building his home, apparently he was unaware he was supposed to use union workers because he worked for the cigar union at the time prior to becoming a poultry farmer. Well, apparently Sam Gompers did not take too kindly to this action and fined him $50. This was a lot of money back in 1915!
Information about Bruyneel, Casimir 1915 Source: Google Story about Casimir vs Sam Gompers

He died on December 30, 1947, in Goffstown, New Hampshire, at the age of 65.

Note:  If I could have just one conversation with Casimir, I would ask about his family, did he have siblings?  Would he tell me why he decided to leave his first family?  Did he arrive in New York or in Boston when he first came from Belgium?  What was going on in Toronto?  Do we have unknown family up there? 


Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Baby Audrey Nickerson (52 Ancestors - #23)

Many times when we hear various family stories it is all about people who have had long, interesting, robust lives.  Those who briefly brushed our lives deserve mention as they shape some of our family tree.  Growing up my dad often mentioned his sister Audrey.  We heard various stories as to her fate...she was three and died, she fell and died.  He just loved to mention that he had an older sister.  Last Saturday evening we were all out celebrating my milestone birthday and he actually toasted to his sister Audrey who he had never met.

My dad must have heard about his sister from his mom.  When my family tree was first being built Audrey was one of the first ancestors I decided to research because I had heard stories about her.  To my surprise everything I heard was just lore other than the fact that she had died as a young child.
Audrey's birth certificate with her actual foot prints
Audrey's obituary
Audrey was born in Boston, MA on February 11, 1933 and didn't even make it to the first flower blooming in spring as she died a little more than a month later of pneumonia.  Her parents were most likely grief stricken at the loss of their only little girl.  No one ever forgot her!