Sunday, August 14, 2011


My family recently inherited family documents that I had no idea existed from my mother's uncle (who was a bit of a hoarder) when he passed away. Included in the giant rubbermaid container were hundreds of pictures (mostly from the 1900s-1920s) including several of my mother's mother's mother, Bridget Theresa Healey. She was born in Ireland in 1884 and contracted tuberculosis in the early 1920's. My grandmother only had one memory of her, and never saw a picture. It's a shame she passed away before we received the container of family stuff that were salvaged from Uncle Jimmy's apartment, because there were dozens of pictures of Bridget Healey in it. Also in there were hundreds of letters written between my great grandfather (mother's mother's father) Frank Gleasure and his sisters and father in Ireland, as well as his son George, who was killed in D Day in 1944. (Frank was born Canada and moved to the United States with his parents in the 1890s. The other children were born in Natick, Massachusetts that decade. The mother (Maria Dillon) had a fall down the stairs which resulted in her death, and George Gleasure (Frank's father) moved the family back to Listowel, Ireland. Against the wishes of his father, Frank came back to the United States a few years later). My goal is to transcribe all of the letters into this blog, but we'll see how far I get with that.

To: Mr. Frank Gleasure, 56 Gardner Street, Allston, MA.
From: Pvt. Geo. F. Gleasure 31157709, C. C. 12th Inf. A.P.O. #4 U.S. Army, Camp Gordon Johnston Florida.

October 24, 1943

Dear Pa:-

I received your registered letter with money yesterday but you shouldn't have put so much in because you can use it more than I can but I got it safely anyway. I got a letter from Jimmy yesterday, he didn't have much to say and besides I couldn't read half of his handwriting in the first place. I wrote to Madeline about a month ago but as yet haven't received an answer. I also got a card from Theresa on my birthday. Things here are going along as usual except that the boat training is getting tougher all the time but it will soon be over. We were out in the boats all night once [last much?] and about 90 percent of everybody on board were sea sick, you never saw such a sorry looking bunch in your life. It didn't get me because I stood on my feet so that I could ride on an even keel, if you let yourself sway with the boat you get sick and I didn't do that so that's why it didn't effect me. It's Sunday here now and it's so hot you can't breathe. Well this is about all for now- so I'll close till I hear from you again.

Luck, George

To: Mr. Frank Gleasure, 56 Gardner Street, Allston, MA.
From: Pvt. Geo. F. Gleasure 31157709, C. C. 12th Inf. A.P.O. #4 U.S. Army, Camp Gordon Johnston Florida.

October 30, 1943

Dear Pa:-

Received your letter this afternoon and by it I see that you didn't get my last letter thanking you for that money you sent. It got here okay but you shouldn't have sent so much because you need it for things up there. What's the matter with Jimmy? One time he wants a day job another time nights it looks to me like he don't know what he does want. You say you turned in some insurance policies on me and that there is more due next October- how many policies do you hold on me altogether? It seems to me that you have been spending quite a little money for insurance. That fellow Beck that you were talking to in the Harvy Steel is a friend of mine but don't say too much to him because he is an awful gossiper, just like a woman. I dropped that friendship with that girl I used to write to because she is married so don't say anything to him about that because there would be a hell of a lot of trouble. I was thinking things over one day and decided to stop that affair before there was trouble. Things here are about the same as usual, right now the weather is very hot in the day time and very chilly at night so we have to be careful of colds. They have us down in the Gulf of Mexico every day trying to teach us to swim but I haven't gotten any place yet and I don't think I'll ever be able to swim because I haven't the strength to keep it up very long. Do you ever hear from Madeline at all? I wrote to her about three months ago and never did get an answer from her so I was wondering if things are okay out there. I received a letter from Martha the other day and a birthday card from Theresa on the 14th also I got one from Jimmy but his handwriting is so poor that I couldn't read it so if he writes again the thing for him to do is to have one of the kids in the house rewrite it so that its legible otherwise I can't read it at all. As yet newspapers haven't arrived here but should be here in a few days, anyway the postal service from Washington on through the south is very poor and unreliable so we [have?] just have to wait for things to come through. Like yesterday I got a letter that was mailed from Boston one month ago and never got here till yesterday afternoon so that's an example of the mail service down through here. Well this is about all from here for now so woill close till I hear from you again.

Luck, George

P.S. You have an error in addressing letters to me. You make it look like Johnston is a town here but it isn't, it's part of the camp's name. Camp Gordon Johnston. Florida.

To: Mr. Frank Gleasure, 56 Gardner Street, Allston, MA.
From: Pvt. Geo. F. Gleasure 31157709, C. C. 12th Inf. A.P.O. #4 U.S. Army, Camp Gordon Johnston Florida.

November 8, 1943

Received your letter today also one from Martha, she tells me that she is going for a physical to work at the Navy Yard but I doubt if she will pass because those tests are pretty stiff. It did take that registered letter about a week to get here but that's the best way to send money into this place because if it had been a money order I'd had to go one hundred and thirty miles to cash it so a few days delay isn't much as long as it got here. The newspapers didn't arrive till three days later and that is due to very poor railroad schedules down here. The railroads here have the best of engines and cars but the [spud?] is [governed?]. We have had a couple of days of rain here and its pretty cold and we had to go for swimming lessons today but the air was too cold for us to stay very long so we got out of the water after we had all turned blue from the cold and you can bet they won't get me in there again when it's cold. Well this is about all the news from here so till I hear from you again I'll close.

Luck, George

Monday, February 14, 2011

What Happened to Edith Augusta Naylor Friess (De Fries?) Newell?

As I've written about before here, one of the things that got me interested in doing genealogical research was to find out what happened to my father's father's father. Before I started, nobody in the family really even knew for sure what his first name was, let alone where he came from and where he ended up. I've been told that my grandfather never really gave it much of a second thought either, preferring to think "if he didn't want anything to do with us, we're not going to waste a minute wondering about him." I don't really know what the circumstances were behind the abandonment- I've been told that it might have started with an argument between William and Clara over an expensive coat that William had bought her when they really couldn't afford it. Nevertheless, abandoning your wife and infant son is a pretty terrible thing to do, and my interest in finding out about him has always been curiosity about the Naylor lineage rather than trying to tell his story.

That being said, I've been wondering for some time if William Irving Naylor wasn't alone in what he did. I first came across William Irving's sister Augusta in the 1910 census after I had discovered William's birth record and began to put the pieces of the puzzle together in where we all came from. The 1910 census page with the Naylor family is below.

The family appears to be living in an apartment or multi family home with several other families. The address is 23 Glendale Ave. Pleasantville, NJ. At home is William (60), Emma (49), their son William Irving (12), their daughters Margarethe (13) and Augusta Friess (22) and Augusta's son John William (1 year, 10 months). Notably absent from the household is John William's father, as I've pointed out before. I'm certainly interested in finding out who Augusta was married to and if that person died, if they got divorced, etc. John William is listed as being born in New Jersey as well as his father being born in New Jersey, but he's not in the NJ Archives online database for state births. A little closer look into the genealogy tells us why:

At the time of the 1920 census, the sons and daughters were no longer living at home with William and Emma...but John William was! It was just him (age 11) and William and Emma. In the census, he is listed as being born in New York, and his father also having been born in New York. The 1920 census record is below:

Trying to track down his birth record and finding out about his father will be a project for another time. For now, the question remains, What Happened to Augusta Friess (or her married name may also be De Fries as that is how his last name is listed in the 1920 census). After some detective work, though, I tracked her down. You see, Augusta's given first name was actually "Edith". FamilySearch keeps a database of some 2 million New Jersey births between 1660-1980 (obviously not everyone is in there). But Edith Augusta is. A further search on led me to a passport application that is shown below (both front and back) that she filed in 1920. The back side actually shows Pop Pop's Aunt (Edith) Augusta's photograph.

It states that she, Edith Augusta Newell was born on July 28, 1888 in Merchantville, New Jersey and is married to a Theodore Newell, who was born in Canton, PA and was living in Los Angeles, California. She says that she is a housewife living in Honolulu, California. A couple things on that point- I guess she has given up on her nursing career at this point even though she no longer is taking care of her son. She lists her residence as Honolulu, CA (obviously meaning Honolulu, HI). They appear to be going on quite the trip, saying she is going to Japan, Hong Kong, China, India, France, Italy, British Isles, Belgium and Spain. Perhaps this is an extravagant honeymoon?

The back of the passport application gives her physical description. She is 32 years old, 5 foot 2 1/2 inches tall, a high forehead, blue eyes, a straight nose, straight mouth, round chin, brown hair, fair complexion, an oval face and no distinguishing marks. A Francis Harris, who works at the Turkish baths in Long Beach, CA states that he has known Edith Augusta for 30 years (interesting, since she was 2? I wonder if they lived together in New Jersey and moved to California together?) and attests to her being a citizen of the United States. She gives a P.O. Box for which to have the passport sent to her, and dates the application August 12th, 1920 (interestingly enough, 3 days before her nephew William R., my grandfather, was born).

Even though the passport application is from Los Angeles, we can see from the 1920 census that just seven months prior, she and Theodore appeared to be living quite the life in Hawaii:

Theodore is listed as 62 years old, 30 years older than his 32 year old wife Augusta. And in the dwelling, they have 4 servants- 2 "yardmen", a cook and a servant. They live at 1911 Keeaumoku Street in Honolulu. They both list "none" for occupation.

3 years after filing for a passport, we have an arrival record for her, having left Honolulu on April 7, 1923 and returned on April 23, 1923. Her birthday is a few days off and for birthplace New Jersey is crossed off and New York is written in. She lists her place of residence as "Honolulu".

Interestingly, Augusta shows up twice on the 1930 census. In one, she is listed in Riverside, CA, living in a $20,000 home with Theodore (now listed as only 3 years older than he said he was in the 1920 census while Augusta is listed as 13 years old, making them now 20 rather than 30 years apart).

In addition, Augusta is in the same census at a place in Los Angeles, by herself- an apartment that is rented for 300 dollars a month. In other words, they had two residences in California- the house in Riverside and an extremely nice apartment in Los Angeles.

So what happened? Well, what we know is that sometime between 1910 and 1920, Augusta, who had a married name but was not living with the husband had a child and was living with her parents in New Jersey. At some point in these ten years, she left home and left her son with her parents, seemingly never to return (see below). She went to California (and Hawaii), married a man named Theodore Newell and planned to embark upon a trip around the world with him. She lived with him for at least ten years or more (we can find out where they are in 1940 when the 1940 census is released in January of next year).

She apparently never left Los Angeles, dying there in September, 1975 according to the California Death Index:

We'll probably never know the full story. Genealogical research only allows us to draw inferences based on public records and connecting the lines. But it certainly seems like William Irving and Edith Augusta, brother and sister, took remarkably similar and seemingly selfish paths. William abandoned the family with a 2 year old son, never to return, eventually moving himself 2000 miles away to Kerrville, Texas where he died. Augusta left her son at a young age to move herself 3000 miles away to Los Angeles, California and Honolulu, HI never to return. She did this apparently for money, marrying an exceedingly wealthy man who was 30 years her senior and stayed there until her death.

Stay tuned for the next blog post where I'll try to find out a little bit more about her first husband, how he made his money, etc.

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Jason Smith and Elmira Richardson's Marriage Record (1860)

After discovering the index for William Naylor and Emma Smith's marriage on FamilySearch and ordering that record, I found out another generation of Naylor ancestors. Today, we'll focus on Jason A. Smith and E. Elmira Richardson. They are Pop Pop's father's mother's parents. The marriage took place in Burlington, NJ on May 31st, 1860. Jason A. Smith is 22 years old and E. Elmira Richardson is 20 years old. We're also given parents names. Unfortunately there are no maiden names which will make it a little bit harder to find marriage records for the parents. But we do know yet another generation of Naylor family ancestors. Jason's parents are Jason M. Smith and Mary G. Smith and Elmira's parents are Joel and Emily Richardson. Jason's occupation is listed as "painter".

At the bottom, it states "I certify this to be a true list of marriages in the Township of Burlington from June 1st 1859-June 1st 1860 as furnished by the Clergyman and Magistrates of this Township." -Lewis E. Lippincott, Clerk of the Township of Burlington

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Willam Naylor and Emma Smith's Marriage Record (1887)

It's been quite a long time since I posted and I'm hopefully going to make it a regular thing from now on. Part of the reason was due to taking a break from genealogy for a while and part was that I really had gotten stuck and not found many more records that could give us clues to the Naylor family's past. But boy has that changed.

Today, we'll stick with Pop Pop's father's side. I do have other information on other parts of the family on both my mother's and father's side, but I guess I have focused on Pop Pop's father's side because we knew so little about it. I'll be making several postings this week on that side of the family and then I hope to branch out a little bit and talk about the Polettis, Lebers, etc.

When last we left off on Pop Pop's side of the family, we had just gotten back Pop Pop's father's birth certificate which listed his mother's and father's names. For quite a while, I searched around in online databases trying to locate some kind of record for William I. Naylor's father (William) and mother (Emma) that could help me go back an additional generation. Nothing really came to fruition until about a month and a half ago. Kathleen had tried a search for them on FamilySearch and lo and behold, there was a marriage record for William Naylor and Emma Smith in New Jersey. I know I'd searched FamilySearch before for that record, so it must have been a fairly recent addition to their database. I sent away for the record, and received it about 2 weeks later. Here it is:

The marriage took place on November 9th, 1887. It is listed as the second marriage for both William and Emma. Interestingly, Emma is listed as a widow, previously being married to a man with the last name of Brown. William's place of residence at the time of marriage was Merchantville, NJ and Emma's was Burlington. William is 38 years and 2 months old and Emma is 27. William is listed as a police officer which we knew before.

Now to the exciting part. William's parents are John Naylor, born in England, and Jane Ann Sidebottom, also born in England. Emma's parents are listed as Jason Smith, born in the United States and Elmira Richardson, also born in the United States. That would make these four my great-great-great grandparents.