Monday, December 29, 2014

Day 3 -- William J. Donnelly, 35, of 35 Lakewood Terrace, Bloomfield died yesterday ...

In 2006, I took my first genealogy research trip to New Jersey.  My partner and sidekick for that trip was my first cousin, Jeffrey Karl.  Jeffrey is the son of Vic and Joan Karl.  Joan is my mother Nancy's younger sister.  As Jeffrey and I were making our way south down the Garden State Parkway, we saw a sign for Bloomfield.   This prompted Jeffrey to say that our parents had been living in Bloomfield when our maternal grandfather, and their dad, William J. Donnelly, Jr, had died.  He died just two months shy of his 35th birthday and 6 days before my mother's 10th birthday.

From Newark News dtd. 9 March 1944 --
William J. Donnelly, 35, of 35 Lakewood Terrace, Bloomfield, died yesterday at St. Vincent's Hospital, Montclair, after a short illness.  He was a draftsman employed by Eastern Aircraft, Bloomfield.  Born in Newark Mr. Donnelly lived in Bloomfield for eight years.  He was a member of the Holy Name Society of St. Thomas the Apostle Church, Bloomfield.  Besides his wife Mrs. Marie Remmele Donnelly, he leaves four daughters, Marie, Nancy, Joan, and Clair, a son William III, all of Bloomfield, his parents Mr. & Mrs. William Donnelly of Newark and two sisters Miss Mary of Newark and Mrs. Frank Bolen of Nutley.  
Four daughters with their father Bill Donnelly, Jr., (Daughters from left to right Marie, Clare, Nancy, Joan)

I started a family genealogy website in 2005 --  I documented my 2006 trip to New Jersey under the title:  Eureka!  Discovering our Roots in North Jersey.  Here is a excerpt from that story:
On to Bloomfield . . . and to the house where I lost the grandfather I never knew. . .   
“Mom,” I said on the phone.  “I’m with Jeffrey and we’re headed off to Bloomfield.  Jeff and I are going to see your old church and house.  Do you know . . .”   Before I could finish the sentence my mom said:  “35 Lakewood Terrace.  Knock on the door and see if they’ll let you in and ask to see the attic.  Your grandfather finished off the attic in knotty-pine and I handed him every nail.”  Eureka moment #3.  I learned something again that I did not know.  I told my mother I would knock on the door and off we went.  
We found the house at 35 Lakewood Terrace without any problem.  I knocked twice and unfortunately no one was home.  I could see that attic windows on the front of the house and I thought for a moment that I could see the adoring smile on Nancy’s youthful face as she passed every nail to the father that she loved and lost in the same home.  And in the image I held in my mind was the overwhelming feeling of wanting to be there in 1944.  What I would have given to have known my grandfather.  
For the last eight years I have regretted not reaching out to the family residing at 35 Lakewood Terrace.  My goal on this trip was to visit eight cemeteries, document the grave locations, visit a few I recently discovered, and to research a few other graves that I had not yet found.  I had no intention to go to Bloomfield, but I found myself passing it twice over two consecutive days.  Coincidence? I think not.  Operating from principle that "there are no coincidences,"  I decided to exit the Parkway and swing by my mother's old home.  It was my last day in New Jersey and I thought -- I might not get this chance again for some time.

As I drove through Bloomfield I started to reflect on my grandfather's untimely death ... Who was my grandfather?   What were his dreams ?  How did he become the man that he was?   What made him fall in love with my grandmother Marie?

Again, I find myself in deep gratitude for my Uncle Bill Donnelly, III, and son of my grandfather Bill Donnelly Jr., who documented in quite significant detail, our family's ancestral biographies in his 1996 genealogical compilation simply entitled: Our Family.
Bill Donnelly, Jr., was born 6 May 1909 in Newark, NJ.  He was christened at St. Antoninus, in Newark.  By occupation he had been an engineer and food salesman.  
 As a youth, he went to Sacred Heart, in Vailsburg, after moving from South 9th Street to Mountain View Place.  He made a homemade radio from a Quaker Oats box wrapped in wire when radio was just starting up.  
Bill Jr.,  attended Central High School in Newark, where he was the starting center on the football team.  The team was considered the best in the state from 1926-27.  He played both offense and defense.  
Bill Jr., attended Newark Technical School at nights for four years receiving an associate engineering degree.  He worked for the city of Newark until the depression forced reductions in force.  He was introduced to his wife Marie, by his future brother-in-law, Joseph P. Remmele, who also was a Newark engineer.  
Bill Jr., married Marie Marguerite Remmele on 7 June 1932 at St. Ann's in Newark.   
During the depression he worked in the wholesale food sales area.  He handled Hormel and Land of Lakes among other products.  He also worked for the Eastern Aircraft Plant during WWII in Bloomfield.  
And then I contemplated Bill Jr.'s death from my mother's perspective ... What's it like to lose your father six days before your 10th birthday?  What memories did my mother have of  him?  What was it like for my grandmother Marie to tell her five children that they lost their father?   All these questions were playing in my mind as I pulled up to 35 Lakewood Terrace.

I noticed how beautifully landscaped and well maintained the home looked and how much the neighborhood itself had undergone a transformation and improvement since my last visit.  I knocked on the door and no answer.  Even though there was  a car parked on the street and one in the driveway, I realized that my holiday timing was not the best.  Disappointed, I drafted a note and left it in the mailbox for the homeowners.  The note told the story of one of my mother's enduring memories of her late father -- that of helping her dad finish the attic in knotty-pine.   I relayed that my grandfather had died in Bloomfield in 1944 when my mom was just 10 years old.  I told them that my mother was now 80 and that if the attic was still finished in knotty pine -- that she would be forever  grateful for a few photos of the attic.  I said a prayer, dropped the request in the mailbox and hoped for the best.

A few days went by and I got nervous.  Again, I found myself asking the good Lord for an intervention and some help.  And two days ago, I was pleasantly surprised to receive both via text and email the following note:
Hi Bob, I received your note ... My husband and I read your family's story.  We haven't done much to the attic since we bought the house 10 years ago as you can see.  Hope this helps -- Nadia and Marlon Richards.  
I am always humbled by the generosity of people - especially those I don't know and Nadia and Marlon are no exception.  I shall remain for ever grateful to them for these wonderful pictures of an attic finished in knotty pine more than 70 years ago:

As you can see, the attic is still very much finished in knotty-pine.  My grandfather's work lives on ... and my mother's connection to him abides.

This from my Uncle Bill:
William John Donnelly, Jr., suffered from scarlet fever as a boy and developed a rheumatic heart.  At the time of his death his heart was severely enlarged. It was also thought he was exposed to polio as a child.  
Everybody always remarked that Bill Jr., was a really nice guy and a wonderful father. His favorite song was "Paper Dolls" song by the Mills Brothers.   Take a listen.  (may not work on apple devices.)
Bill Jr., rests alongside his parents in Holy Sepulchre Cemetery, Orange, NJ.  May he rest in peace.

Sunday, December 28, 2014

Day 2 -- A morning visit to my Irish Maternal Great Grandfather, William P. Donnelly

I drove an hour south from Haverstraw, NY, jumped on the Garden State Parkway and headed to North Arlington, NJ.  I was on my way to visit the grave of my maternal 2x great grandparents, William P. and Mary Cottrell Donnelly.

One of the things you learn quite quickly in genealogy -- which wasn't self evident when I began my family research -- for each generation you go back in your family tree -- the grandparents you have double.  By way of example -- we each have four grandparents.  Those four grandparents each had two parents -- so our our great grandparents total 8.  Our 2x great grandparents total 16 -- our 3x great grandparents total 32... I'm not a math major like my twin brother Bill, but even I can understand the math.  When I go back to my 4x great grandparents -- my ancestor's tree looks just like an NCAA basketball tournament bracket.  Wow.

Now that I understand the math -- researching and knowing my 2x and 3x great grandparents seems to provide enough curiosity and intrigue to keep me occupied for awhile.  But it is quite remarkable that Aunt Clair has documented 8 generations of maternal ancestors in the Remmele tree.  It's daunting to think about going back that far -- but in reality that's only back to the 17th Century. Remember what I said about genealogy never providing an definite 'X' to mark the spot on a treasure map?  I suppose we all get back to Adam and Eve at some point -- but I'd be happy to get back 2-3 generations.

I'm most curious about the ancestors who made the decision to leave everything they knew in Ireland or Continental Europe and start a new life in America.  What would compel someone to do this?  Were things so bad at home that they had no choice?  Were they living in poverty or famine, fighting wars or a vassal in some feudal system?  I want to find that decision point where flight won out over fight or opportunity of the new world won out over sticking with what you know.  What did they know about America?  Where did they find the courage to strike out on a new path?  I want to know what inspired them to act courageously and chance everything.

After stopping at a bakery in nearby Kearny (there are no bakeries like this in Georgia!), I headed over to Holy Cross Cemetery, a cemetery established in 1915.  The Holy Cross is a universal symbol of Christianity -- a sign of Redemption, not of suffering and death.  "The Holy Cross assures us that death has been replaced with life, eternal life.  The Cross also bears witness to love, and through the Cross we understand that love is not easy, it has both joy and sorrow."

Not to be outdone by the famous folks buried in the cemeteries of the Milani's, Alois Faller and John J. Halloran, there are 15 famous graves in Holy Cross, including a Medal of Honor winner, two mobsters (it is NJ after all), three notable singers -- 2 opera and 1 rocker, 4 major league baseball players, a silent film actor, a senator, a congressman and a mayor, and an American folk hero.  

William P and Mary Cottrell Donnelly were not the first of their Irish family to come to America -- both of their parents were the first. William P's father was Patrick Donnelly, my 3x great grandfather.    He was born in Ireland in 1826 and died in Elizabeth, NJ on 30 Sep 1873.  By trade he was a horseman - a groom.   It is unknown why or when he came to America.   Curiously, he would have been 35 at the start of Civil War and reports 3 Patrick Donnelly soldiers from New Jersey.  More research ....

Mary Cottrell's father was John J. Cottrell.  He was born in Ireland and was one of the Irish famine passengers arriving in the US in 1850.  This is a EUREKA moment for me -- as I now understand one of my 32 -- 3x great grandparents' motivations for coming to the US!

William P was born in 1850 in Elizabeth, NJ.  In a 1979 interview with Uncle Bill, Aunt Catherine Bolen  recalled that William P was a cabinet maker by trade and had once built a hook and ladder fire engine that was on display at Newark Museum.  He was small in stature and quiet.

Mary Cottrell was born in 1853 in New York.  She married William P.  about 1876.  William P and Mary had five children and sadly, one of the five, Julie, had burned to death as a result of jumping over a fire.  Aunt Catherine described Mary as kindly, even tempered, and had a ready smile or chuckle.  She was  good cook and enjoyed fun and company.

William P and Mary had Sunday dinners at their house frequently.  William P died at the age of 73 and Mary would die 10 years to the exact date of her husband's death.  His funeral was held in his residence at 306 South Clinton St., East Orange pictured here as it looks today:

May they rest in peace.

On to Holy Sepulchre Cemetery.

Saturday, December 27, 2014

Day 1 -- An afternoon visit to John J. Halloran at Gate of Heaven Cemetery, Hawthorne, NY

Just before noon, I left the Bronx and headed north to Westchester County, New York, to Gate of Heaven Cemetery. The cemetery sits right at the apex of two thoroughfares converging in Hawthorne -- the Taconic and the Sprain Brook Parkways.  I was in search of the final resting place of my paternal Irish great grandfather John J. Halloran, my father's namesake.  Time flew by and before I knew it, I was exiting the highway into the hamlet of Hawthorne.  As I traversed the rolling hills and winding roads, a vista opened up to reveal a beautiful expanse of land with thousands of marble and granite headstones populating the valley and surrounding hills. Beautiful!

In researching Gate of Heaven Cemetery - I found this historical summary at  
The land for Gate of Heaven Cemetery was purchased by the Trustees of St. Patrick's Cathedral in 1916 and an initial Gothic design replicating Saint Patrick's Cathedral was accepted for the property; cemetery development began immediately. Development was sufficient for John Cardinal Farley, Archbishop of New York, to consecrate this cemetery on July 14, 1918. 
Over the course of its existence, Gate of Heaven Cemetery has interred over 190,000 Catholics and members of their families in graves, private family and community mausoleum crypts, and cremation niches located within the community mausoleum complexes. Today the cemetery averages over 2,200 interment services each year.
 Sixty acres of the cemetery remain to be developed to accommodate the burial, entombment and inurnment needs of Catholics and members of their families throughout the greater New York area.
Find a Grave reports 63 famous people buried in Gate of Heaven Cemetery including:
  • George Herman "Babe" Ruth, Baseball Player — Section 25
  • Billy Martin, Baseball Player and Manager of the NY Yankees -- Section 25
  • The Mara Family, owners of the NY Giants
  • James Cagney, Actor — St. Francis Mausoleum
I noticed that Babe Ruth died when he was 53 ... my current age! 

The grave site of Billy Martin -- very cool!  

One thread keeps emerging from all this research -- the Milani family ancestors kept good company -- if not in life then certainly in death:  Babe Ruth and Billy Martin's graves are just two sections above my great grandfather's.
The story of finding John J. Halloran is very similar to that of Alois Faller.  John J. married Alois' granddaughter, Mary (aka Nonie) Haack.   Mary Haack Halloran is buried in Madonna Cemetery in Ft. Lee alongside Alois' wife, Clara Faller, and their daughter Ida.  Nonie was the daughter of Ida Faller and John Haack.  The Haack family is also buried in the same family plot at Madonna Cemetery.   When I found Clara Faller in the Madonna Cemetery plot -- I realized that Alois was not buried there-- which I covered extensively in my last blog post.  Similarly,  Nonie Halloran was found in the Madonna plot but her husband John J. Halloran was curiously absent.

Much like Alois I had been searching for John J. Halloran's grave site since 2006.  Seven years of bad luck and then I caught a break.  A second cousin, Kelly Halloran, who I didn't even know existed found me through my genealogy website:   A little more than a year later, another 2nd cousin Gabrielle Gerhard reached out to me as well.  Both were descendants of John J. Halloran's only son, Herbert.   Herbert and his wife Adelaide had two children:  John and Gertrude Halloran.  
Pictured above is John J. Halloran (seated) and son Herbert Halloran in their plumbing office believed to be at the address sited in the 1920 New York City Business Directory as 261 West 126th Street in Harlem.

In conversing with Gabrielle, I realized that she not only knew where John J. Halloran was buried, but she had a deed to the family plot and regrettably, had just buried her brother, Victor Gerhard, III, in the Halloran family plot.

John J. Halloran had arrived in New York as a two year old in 1869.  (My Aunt Nancy believes he was from County Mayo, Ireland.)  John J.'s naturalization certificate states that his father was John O. Halloran was a naturalized US Citizen in 1874.  

The marriage certificate for Nonie Haack and John J. Halloran list the groome's father as John Halloran, and mother, Margaret Meaney.  Unfortunately John J.'s parents remain elusive figures.  The 1880 U.S. Census lists a John Halloran with six children, but no Margaret.  Some of the children's names are consistent with other family recollections -- but there are as many questions as answers from the 1880 US Census document.  Much more work to do here.  

I knew that John J. Halloran was a successful New York City plumbing contractor.   A 1914, New York City business directory shows the Halloran Plumbing located at 241 West 125th Street.   I Googled the address and even though the business address no longer exists -- the building still does and it is RIGHT NEXT DOOR TO THE APOLLO THEATRE in HARLEM!!   How  'bout that?  

John J.  ran a very successful plumbing contracting business and was 'well to do.' My Aunt Nancy recalls Nonie telling her about John J. losing $80,000 gambling in Cuba. Nonie had to wire him money so that he could pay his debts and leave the country.  

The Halloran's maintained a residence at 294 Wadsworth Avenue in Washington Heights. John J. Halloran died eight days after his 62nd birthday and 4 months before the 1929 Stock Market crash.  My father, born two years later.  He told me that Nonie lived on the bottom floor of the residence and he lived on the second and third floor with his parents.   
294 Wadsworth Ave.

There is so much more to tell -- but I would be turning a blog into a book - and that's not what I started out to do.  This was a fun day filled with excitement, anticipation and JOY!   This was an incredible first day and I can't wait for tomorrow when I go start meeting my ancestors on my mother's side!  


Day 1 -- A midday visit to Alois Faller at Woodlawn Cemetery, Bronx, NY

It's about 11am and I am driving through the concrete jungle of the Bronx looking for Woodlawn Cemetery.  I see it up ahead -- an oasis perched upon a hill overlooking a major highway.  A winding road takes me past the cemetery entrance and up the hill.  My curiosity and excitement are piqued.  Large towering oaks and sycamore trees dot the landscape.  Only the leaves on the trees are missing on this beautiful sun shining warm winter day --

Is this really the Bronx?  I can't believe it.  The Woodlawn website calls the cemetery "...a veritable outdoor museum."  I cannot disagree.  The website goes on:
Woodlawn has been an active, 400-acre, non-sectarian cemetery from its inception in 1863. The cemetery was designated a National Historic Landmark in 2011 by the National Parks Service. Its celebrated lot owners comprise artists and writers, business moguls, civic leaders, entertainers, jazz musicians, suffragists, and more, including Herman Melville, Joseph Pulitzer, Fiorello LaGuardia, Celia Cruz, Duke Ellington, Irving Berlin, and Elizabeth Cady Stanton. The cemetery’s unrivaled collection of monuments—including over 1300 mausoleums– were designed by legendary American architects, landscape designers, and sculptors. (Click here to see some of the famous people and monuments in the: Woodlawn Image Gallery.)
Back in 2006, I discovered that my grandfather Andrew Milani was buried in a plot at Madonna Cemetery, Ft. Lee, NJ, with a huge German cross bearing the names Haack and Faller on its surface. 

This is 2006 picture taken of the Haack Faller Cross at Madonna Cemetery, Ft. Lee, NJ.
I knew of the Haack's (my 2x great grandparents) but I had never heard of the Fallers.   After a census search I found an Alois Faller, his wife Clara and daughter Ida in the 1860 U.S. Census.  They were  residents of Warsaw, Illinois.  Alois owned more that $20,000 of farm land -- a rich man for his time.  A quick cemetery record search revealed that Clara Faller -- my 3x Great Grandmother and her daughter Ida were buried in Madonna Cemetery along with the Haack's -- but no Alois.  Where was Alois?? ... for the next 7 years I searched in vain.  Alois -- oh Alois -- where art though Alois?   Still no Alois.  On a whim, I decided to contact the New York City Office of Public Records.  I got lucky ... I found the death certificate for Alois and on it was his place of interment:  Woodlawn Cemetery.  EUREKA!  Pretty much as good as it gets in genealogy.  I contacted Woodlawn and after extracting $54 out of me they confirmed that he was in an unmarked grave in the Hauselt family plot.  

Who the hell was Hauselt?  Glad you asked.  Nice segue.  I decided to pair the two names of Hauselt and Faller together while doing internet searches and BOOM -- I was off to the races.   It turns out that Alois was a refugee from the 1848 German Revolution.  

The Hauselt Plot (12 graves sites encompass this area with only 4 of the 12 filled.)  Alois Faller rests in an unmarked grave in the grassy area just  inside the intersection of the two footpaths.)  The Hauselt monument is approximately 12-14' high.

What German revolution in 1848??  That's what I said! Click here for the website that explains  the 1848 German Revolution in quintessential German detail: The 1848ers -- (I took some liberty with the quotes -- inserting parenthetical quotes of my own marked 'REM' or from other articles on this website into the quote below to give it more context and clarity.)
The first half of the nineteenth century witnessed the arrival on American shores of a vast number of German immigrants, who gained a most significant place in American history: "the Men of 1848."
... Having taken such a heroic part in this gigantic struggle for liberation (against Napolean REM), the people had hoped for the establishment of constitutional governments, in which they might have part. But this justified expectation was sadly deceived. (Germany before 1848 was fragmented and retained much of its feudal system.  It was a place of many large and small principalities, many of the ruled by absolute sovereigns; it seethed with territorial  rivalries and conflicting interests.)  The rulers, forgetful that the people had saved their thrones, denied it such right, and opened instead a long period of reaction, which manifested its triumph in dark acts of oppression and tyranny. Dissatisfied by the ingratitude of the sovereigns, many patriots, detesting violence, turned their backs on the land of their birth, hoping to find in America new fields for their abilities. Others, unwilling to submit to the petty tyranny of the rulers, -resolved to resist and became leaders in a bitter struggle for liberty, which, dragging along for many years, culminated in the revolutionary outbreaks of the year 1848. The symbols of that sanguinary year were chosen and denote all those Germans and Austrians, who took part in the long struggle, though their participation dated back to earlier years. Among those men were thousands who had reached the highest pinnacle of intellectual development, men with ideal inspirations, who became in America successful promoters of the ethical, moral and material welfare of the people, and gained also widespread influence in the direction of affairs in our federation of States.
....In all, Germany lost during the so-called "Reaktionszeit" more than one and a half million of her best citizens.
Germany's loss meant for the United States an invaluable gain, as so many hundred thousands of highly cultured men and women came into this country. While the former German immigration had consisted essentially of farmers, workmen and traders, now scholars and students of every branch of science, artists, writers, journalists, lawyers, ministers, teachers and foresters came in numbers. The enormous amount of knowledge, idealism and activity, embodied in these political exiles, made them the most valuable immigrants America ever received. As they accepted positions as teachers and professors at the schools and universities, or filled public offices, or founded all sorts of newspapers and periodicals, learned societies and social clubs, these men inspired the hitherto dull social life of America, that it gained a much freer and more progressive character.

So what does all this mean?  Trust me -- it's not easy to figure out.  But the gist of it is this: -- Alois Faller was a revolutionary.  He and the revolutionaries were seeking such basic rights as freedom of the press, trial by jury and constitutional systems of government in the states, as well as the unification of Germany into one nation state.  He lost and was either forced to leave Germany or left in fear of his life.

Oh it gets better!  I found a German newspaper, Der Deutsche Correspondent, dtd. 18 August 1882 in the Library of Congress with Alois Faller's obituary.  It was written in old German script and I had to have a neighbor, Karen Daurie, who is fluent in German translate it for me  (click here to see the original German Newspaper):

Dr. Alois Faller passed on August 16th, 1882 in the city of New York. Dr. Alois Faller was one of the outstanding members of the local “Rechtschutzverein” (Legal Aid Society) and a well-known and honorable citizen. He was born on January 7th, 1812 in Höhlensteig near Freiburg, Baden, more specifically in the well-known “Zum Sternen” Inn (owned by his father). He had five siblings – all of who he survived.  After completing both Latin School and High School in Freiberg, he consecutively attended the Universities of Giessen, Göttingen and Heidelberg, where he completed his legal studies and earned a Doctorate “cum summa laude”. He then dedicated himself with great success as an attorney in Freiburg, during which time he married Ms. Klara Margarethe Weigel, the niece of Privy Professor Mittermaier in Heidelberg. He later became a court lawyer and University Representative/Officer in Freiburg.  The Freedom Revolution of 1848 and the “Sieg der Reaktion”  took him and others to America. With initial intentions to go west, he first settled in Mascoutah, St. Clair County, Illinois, from where he then proceeded on to Warsaw. Later, in 1860, he settled in New York City, where he worked as a lawyer and notary until his death.  In the last years of his life, Dr. Faller fully dedicated himself to the Legal Aid Society and helped many people attain their rights. His cause of death was a heart attack. 

Oh it gets even better!  I then found mention of Alois Faller in two books.  The first was a compilation of distinguished German-American citizens and reprints the obituary above.  The second book, was the definitive book on the Revolution of 1848 entitled:  Refugees of Revolution, by Carl F. Wittke, University of Pennsylvania Press, Philadelphia, 1952, and it contains the following quote: 
Dr. Aloys Faller, a doctor of law summa cum laude from Heidelberg, settled first in St. Clair County, Illinois, as a "Latin farmer," and in 1860 moved to New York City, to return to the legal practice.18
18  Hildegard, Binder Johnson:  “Hans Reimer Claussen,” in  The American-German Review, X, 30-32
A Latin Farmer was reference to a German intellectual -- refugees from the revolution -- steeped in the 'Latin Classics' who took up farming in their new country because they could not find work in their primary area of training and education.

As mentioned in his obituary, Alois would eventually leave Illinois and move to New York City where he practiced law.  I found this interesting mention of Alois' work at the German Legal Aid Society in a University of Michigan publication entitled:  The lance of justice; a semi-centennial history of the Legal aid society, 1876-1926, Maguire, John MacArthur, 1888-  

From pages 46-47: short order it became apparent that one man could not handle the Society's business. Little argument is needed to prove that a one-man lawyer's office is an inefficient office. Every time the lawyer goes to court he has to lock his door and the reception of clients is suspended. Every time he writes a letter his mind and energies are distracted from true legal work and wasted upon mechanical detail. Hence the directors early came to the conclusion that the Attorney must have a messenger and an assistant. The first assistant attorney, Alois Faller, began to serve gratuitously in October, I879. He continued his work as a labor of love for about sixteen months. In I88I the directors voted that from the first of February in that year he should receive a salary of $50 a month.
 ...In 1882 Mr. Faller, the generous and competent assistant attorney, had died.
So who was Hauselt?   Charles Hauselt had been director of the Legal Aid Society.  So Alois knew Hauselt from the German Legal Aid Society!  When Alois died, he must have offered Clara, Alois' wife, one of his 12 family plots in Woodlawn Cemetery!  Alois would be the first to be buried in the Hauselt family plot.

Charles Hauselt's obituary from the New York Herald, 9 February 1890:
....Mr. Hauselt was born in the province of Frauken, Bavaria, May 20, 1828.  He came to this country when twenty one years old as the agent of Doerr & Reinhart, leather merchants, Worms, Germany, and, it is said, the young man's sole stock in trade was one case of leather samples.  He had very little money and this led him to be very lenient toward penniless immigrants when he became an Emigrant Commissioner.  By close application to business, and owned at the time of his death, one of the largest leather houses in New York.  His estate is estimate at over half a million.  ... He was also Director in the Germania National Bank, the Chatham National Bank, the German Legal Aid Society ...

And then I found another New York Herald article on Charles Hauselt.  His funeral was attended by over 2000 people--
On the lid of the casket was placed the decoration bestowed upon Mr. Hauselt in 1886 by Emperor William.  ... The honorary bearers were Carl Schurz, ...
Emperor William and Carl Schurz??  Are you kidding me?  Again from the website German Heritage (click here for the entire article German Revolution of 1848/49)
Carl Schurz remains one of the best-known German immigrants to America. He fought in the 1848/49 revolution as a young man (including Baden where Alois Faller hails) and again fifteen years later in the American Civil War. He was a skilled orator and an ardent supporter of Lincoln, who appointed him Minister to Spain afterbecoming president. Resigning to take up a military career, he fought at Chancellorsville as a division commander in May 1863; in July of 1863, he assumed command of the 11th Corps in Gettysburg. After the war, Schurz became a prominent political figure. He was sent by President Andrew Johnson on a tour of the defeated South, on what would today be called a fact-finding mission.Serving a term in the United States Senate, he advocated a conciliatory policy toward the South. He served as a cabinet minister in the administration of Rutherford B. Hays and late in life took up political journalism. 
It would not be much of a stretch to believe that Schurz and Faller ran in the same circles.

So bringing it all home --

On its surface  my visit to Woodlawn Cemetery seemed a casual affair.  For me though, it was the fulfillment of more than eight years of research to come to know a man lost to history.  I cannot adequately convey my emotions as I stood at the foot of his unmarked grave -- knowing that I had found this great man.  It then dawned on me that he hadn't had a family visitor in more than 100 years!.  I think I made Alois Faller a happy man today.  No man should be forgotten -- it falls to us the ancestors to remember and pray for the dead.  I prayed the Catholic prayer for the dead for Alois.

Epilogue:  It was sad to realize that my 3x Great Grandfather -- and such an imposing historical figure lies in his final resting place without any marking of his grave.  I made a promise to Alois to buy him a headstone -- he will not be forgotten.  Woodlawn Cemetery has a biography program for each of its interments.  I will be providing Alois' obituary for the permanent record.

Day 1 - A morning visit to the graves of Guiseppe and Alma Milani at Old St. Raymond's Cemetery, Bronx, NY

My Dad's side of the family had Italian, Irish and German ancestors and today, I will visit the graves represented by all three --  

After an uneventful, but early flight (6:45am) from Atlanta -- to LaGuardia Airport, I found myself in NY by 9am.  I had decided to rent a car.  This decision had been causing me considerable anxiety as the prospect of driving through the Bronx was anything but appetizing.  I survived the short but tortuous trip to Balcom Avenue to Old St. Raymond's Cemetery.  I was on a mission to find Guiseppe (Joseph) and Alma Milani, my paternal great grandparents who emigrated to Tate, Georgia, in 1891, to work as a marble cutter in the quarries of North Georgia.  

 After Joseph left Georgia in the mid-to-late 1890s, he arrived in NYC sometime around 1900 and became a naturalized citizen.  Joseph and Alma had four children -- two girls and two boys -- the youngest boy was my grandfather, Andrew Nicholas Milani.  The oldest boy, George, would become a renowned surgeon and chairman of the Bronx Medical Society.  His sister Lillian, was a milliner or hat maker, working for Lilly Dashe, the famous hat fashionista reported to have said:  "Glamour is what makes a man ask for your telephone number.  But it also is what makes a woman ask for the name of your dressmaker."  Family legend has it that Lillian was the personal milliner for Eleanor Roosevelt -- but like most legends -- its probably more fiction than truth.

Guiseppe Milani with a cigar in his hands ... a man after my own heart!  

St. Raymond’s Cemetery is the only Catholic Cemetery in the Bronx and is one of the busiest cemeteries in the United States with nearly 4,000 burials each year. Famous burials in this cemetery include the brother of St. Elizabeth Ann Seton, Jazz singer Billie Holiday and Fr. Frank Duffy of the "The Fighting 69th" Infantry Regiment (portrayed by Pat O'Brien in the movie of the same name.)   Ironically just a month ago we were staying in Times Square hotel and right out the front door is a Father Duffy statue.  

The Cemetery of St. Raymond has been active since 1842.  The entire cemetery complex is 180 acres and when filled will be a holy and prayerful burial site for more than half a million people.

I had no trouble finding the cemetery and apparently neither did any other Wop or Mick as the place was full of 'em.  A New York Catholic Cemetery  full of Italian and Irish folks-- who knew?   

S10-R45-P42-G1/2.   I found myself reciting the grave site location and after about 10 minutes of roaming around I finally found Joseph and Alma -- and Lillian and her husband Amos Delmonte in this grave.  

My Catholic faith teaches me that we should pray for the dead and that the dead who are saints in heaven can in turn pray for us.  I like that.  I said the Catholic Prayer for the Dead -- and found myself repeating the prayer several more times today at other cemeteries and family graves.

My Stay in Haverstraw, New York

I knew my cemetery searches in New York would take me up the Hudson River Valley.  I had no clue where to stay.  I knew that I didn't want to stay at a regular non-descript hotel.  Boring!   My internet searches led me to a number of bed & breakfast options and I settled on one in Haverstraw, New York.

Before I left on this trip I had never heard of Haverstraw, a small Hamlet on the west bank of the Hudson River, just north of Nyack and the Tappan Zee Bridge.  Across the Hudson to the east is  Sleepy Hollow, the village known for the Legend of Sleepy Hollow, a short story by Washington Irving.  

Passing through Nyack and driving north along the Hudson River, I could see large rock excavation equipment in the distance.  As I emerged from the west side of Hook Mountain -- the excavation of raw stone materials was in full view -- and honestly, when I saw the pile of millings from the stone excavation, my heart sank.  The beautiful Hudson River Valley is obscured by this eyesore.  I found myself concerned that I had made a poor decision in my place to stay.  But I was pleasantly surprised -- because just beyond the quarry is the wonderfully quaint village of Haverstraw.  There is a reason for all the rock excavation equipment -- this from the Haverstraw website:
Immense clay beds along the Hudson's shores and beneath its surface formed the raw material for this huge industry.  Between 1771 and 1941, Haverstraw was the greatest center of brick production in the nation if not the world.
The highlight of my trip was a stay at the Bricktown Inn.  Michelle and Joe Natale run this bed and breakfast and do it well.  I stayed during the holiday season and the decorations were beautiful and the house warm and inviting.  I enjoyed two breakfast meals and both were excellent ... home made scones, banana bread, omelettes cooked to perfection and French Toast to die for.  And all the coffee and fresh orange juice I could drink.  The other guests were fun and engaging -- the conversation lively and extended. My room had all the conveniences of a hotel -- WiFi, a comfortable bed and chair, and a private bath.  Truly my stay was the type of experience you imagine in old home B&B -- and I was not disappointed in the least.

Haverstraw is a wonderfully diverse town with the Dutch as its earliest European settlers.  English and Scotch Irish followed, the French Huguenots came at the beginning of the 19th century.  Irish and German immigration dominated the middle of the 19th century (that why I'm here!).  The 20th century welcomed the addition of settlers from Canada, Austria, Hungry and Italy.  African Americans and Hispanics also found their way to Haverstraw to work in the brickyards and the quarries.

I went to Mass at St. Peter's Roman Catholic Church - a beautiful church founded in 1848.  I believe the current church was built in the late 1890s.  The apse was simple but artfully rendered.  

I love military history and found these interesting facts from the Haverstraw website:

Haverstraw is also proud of having three Medal of Honor recipients:

Richard Smith, 95th New York regiment, Civil War
Nick Erickson, Navy, Spanish-American War
Michael A. Donaldson, 69th New York, World War I

The location of Haverstraw was important to the defense of the colonies in the Revolutionary War because of its place on the banks of the Hudson, the main artery of trade between New York City and Albany and the dividing line between New England and other colonies.

The Shore Guard was organized in Haverstraw to repel British or Tory landings along the Hudson. The Shore Guard lit signal fires on top of High Tor to warn neighboring communities of danger.

In 1780 Haverstraw played a major role in a plot, which if it had succeeded could have changed the course of the Revolutionary War. American General Benedict Arnold, a hero of the battle of Saratoga, had persuaded George Washington to give him command of the fort at West Point. Washington was unaware that Arnold was involved in treasonable negotiations with the British.

During the night of September 19th and 20th, the English Emissary, Major John Andre, was rowed from the sloop-of-war, Vulture, to a beach below the Long Cove in the Town of Haverstraw. The negotiations to sell the plans to West Point were not completed by dawn and Arnold and Andre traveled to the home of Joshua Het Smith on the grounds of what is now Helen Hayes Hospital. The house became known as Treason House and was unfortunately torn down in the late 1920's.

The plot was foiled by Andre's capture in Tarrytown on his way back to British lines. Arnold fled to the British. The captured Andre traveled through Haverstraw once more on his way to his trial and subsequent execution in Tappan. 

Take some time and visit Haverstraw -- and New City just to the west -- you'll have a great time!

Friday, December 26, 2014

The Big Trip

Hello folks, it's Bob ... the Milani family genealogist.

Three weeks ago I realized that before years' end, I needed one more flight to retain my Delta Airlines Medallion status, and facing no further business trips, I decided to book a personal trip to New York and visit my relatives -- the dead ones of course.  I mean, you know, who want to visit the living ones?  

Determined to discover my roots -- I have invested an enormous amount of time and money into my family history.  My discoveries have fueled more curiosity and discoveries -- and I have found that genealogy is like being on a treasure hunt, but each day you get a new map with new clues -- sometimes taking you in a completely different direction. There never seems to be a definitive 'X' to  mark the spot where the treasure is buried -- but I have learned that genealogical treasure is more about  those special moments where all the hard work and frustration of research come together into a massive epiphany -- a "EUREKA' moment.  That is my 'X' -- my treasure!  These  transcendent moments -- where the past is the present and my ancestor is speaking to me -- make genealogy worth every minute and dollar of investment.  But this transcendent moment is always fleeting -- always producing more curiosity and questions.  One day I hope to actually find the portal to the past -- to have my own time travel moment like Marty McFly.  But I digress ...

I recently had a few EUREKA moments and happily, I'm about to commune with the granite headstones and marble statues -- those last resting places of several of my great grandmothers and fathers buried from the Bronx up north to Hawthorne, NY -- and then across the Hudson to North Arlington, NJ and down to Newark.

Yes ... I have the ignominious distinction of being born in New Jersey.  This doesn't make me from Jersey -- even though my parents are both from there.  I was born in Jersey on the way to Alfred, New York.   I thank the U.S. Army for moving my dad from Ft. Benning, Georgia, one week before my birth and giving me a life sentence to all the famous negative New Jersey stereotypes -- you know how New Jersey smells like a dump or that everyone with an Italian last name is connected to the Mob, etc, etc.  I tell my Georgia neighbors that I was 'conceived' in Georgia -- which always gets a good laugh.   That said, I'm proud of my Jersey roots -- but I do have hard time saying I'm from there -- especially when I lived in Georgia for the last 20 years and spent two years of my Army career (and 8.9 months of conception!) in Georgia!

So tomorrow I leave for a three day whirlwind tour -- and to say I'm excited would be an understatement.  This blog will chronicle for the curious - (okay ... I freely admit that I might be the lone member of the curiosity club) -- my adventures and misadventures discovering my ancestors.

This journey started back in 2004, when I discovered that my Italian Great Grandfather emigrated from Carrara, Italy, to Tate, Georgia (that's right I DO have roots in Georgia!!) to work as a marble cutter in the marble quarries of North Georgia.  It was hard for me to comprehend that just 35 miles up the road from my Georgia home, my great grandfather, Guiseppe Andrea Milani (the old guy pictured in the margin of this blog) started his American Dream.   Who knew??  Since then I have discovered up to 7 generations of family members of German, Irish and Italian roots.

I fly out tomorrow to La Guardia and then off to the Bronx to visit Old St. Raymond's Cemetery and Woodlawn Cemetery.  Then it's up to Hawthorne, NY and then a bed and breakfast stay at The Bricktown Inn in Haverstraw, NY.   I'll keep you posted.