Sunday, August 17, 2014

52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks #27 Earl Moore

Earl Moore

My dad, Earl Mackin Moore was born on November 24, 1913 at home, 1209 Locust St., Camden, NJ to Charles Shoemaker Moore and Margaretta Virginia Mackin Moore. He was their seventh and last child. Although all six of his brothers’ and sisters’ births were registered the doctor forgot to register his. Fortunately his oldest sister was twenty-one and present for his birth. When WWII came around she swore a document to record his birth. He was baptized on February 14, 1914. He was a healthy child. Several of his siblings were not and a brother and sister died as infants. In 1919 his father died. Then in 1921 his mother and then his oldest brother died. His sister was unmarried at the time and unable to care for my father and his youngest sister. It was decided that they would go to the Pennsylvania Masonic Children’s Home in Elizabethtown to live. Unlike many orphanages in the 1920s this was a good place to live. The facilities were new and beautiful. The food was grown right on the grounds. There were sports and music. Education was in the Elizabethtown schools. When they reached high school they could choose
to continue in the public schools or go to the Patton Trade School. Patton was where my dad chose although he only remained one year. At sixteen he left the home and went to live with his sister Caroline in Gloucester City, NJ.
The 1940 census lists him as a laborer in a paper factory. When war broke out he was working in the New York Ship Yard, Camden, NJ. He applied for a commission in the Navy, was accepted but he had already received a draft notice for the Army. The Army refused to release him to the Navy. He entered the Army on May 8, 1942. He was assigned to the 1263d Combat Engineers and rose to First SGT of B Company.  He and his men accomplished such jobs and tearing down part of the Maginot line and repairing the autobahn so troops could move up. His men called him “Daddy” Moore since he was older and looked after the men. Reading an autograph book he had his men really seemed to like and admire
him. Stories my dad spoke of were more of the lighter moments in war. He was never a hunter but shot a deer and the company enjoyed venison for dinner that night. Another story was how he slept on top or a ¾ ton truck but nearly floated away in a heavy rain. Another story was crossing the Elbe to meet the Russians. He always said
“Oh, those Russian women!” They also came across a several concentration camps that had only been recently liberated.  Dad never spoke of this except to say that it was terrible things that the Nazis had done and that he could swear to the truth of those camps. After my mom died I found pictures of a concentration camp that had been hidden away. He also saw one of Hitler’s residences. He was discharged on January 29, 1946 and returned to Gloucester City.
He met my mom, Millicent who was a waitress after the war. They were married on November 16, 1948, the same month and day that his parents had been married on. Around that same time he became a patrolman on the Gloucester City Police Department. A few years later I was born. During those first years they lived in many houses that renting as apartments.  Actually it was at least seven different residences in eight years. My brother was born during those years. Then in 1956 they bought their first and only house. He was promoted first to Sergeant and then to Chief of Police about 1960.
He loved sports and “adopted” Gloucester City High School as his own. He rarely missed a football or basketball game whether home or away. That is some of my best memories since I usually went with him. He also was security for school dances and the proms. He also became very involved in Little
League baseball. He coached the Lions team for years, was LL president and later District 14 Administrator. Most nights during the season we would all pile in the car after dark to check on the field, turn off sprinklers or just make sure all was quiet. Then we would drive on to Shorty’s newsstand in Fairview to get the late evening paper. A real plus for the field was when the Philadelphia Phillies moved to Veterans’ Stadium they gave lights from old Connie Mack Stadium to the Little League. All they had to do was go over and retrieve them.  He remained active with District 14 LL right up to his death.

He was a terrific dad. He loved us so much and did things with us all the time. He wasn’t a very good disciplinarian. He never hit us and when he would holler at us he would say he was sorry afterwards. I was so lucky to have such loving parents who were people I could be proud of. 

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks #26 Mary Hayes Mackin

Mary E. Hayes

            Mary Hayes was my great grandmother but she couldn’t be more distant to me than if we no relation to each other. Her parents, Patrick and Annabell Hayes were Irish immigrants and I haven’t discovered very much about them. She may not have even been Mary since there were times she used the name Bridget, her supposed sister’s name. She was born on June 29, 1853 in Philadelphia although there’s no birth certificate since neither Philadelphia nor Pennsylvania recorded births at that time. She was born on June 29, 1853. She married Charles A. McMechen on Oct. 18, 1870 in Philadelphia. As recorded in the Philadelphia City Archives in the 1870 volume on p. 143, they were married by George Moore of S. 4th St. The records are not very clear but it appears to have been a Methodist ceremony. They used the surname Mackin.
            Their children were: Charles Mackin, born about 1870, William, born about 1872, Margaretta Virginia, born Aug. 10, 1874, Thomas H., born about 1875, and Harry Freely, born Oct. 29, 1877.
            Something about her character made her family disassociate with her. Whether that was before or after her husband’s death is unknown. . She must have done something so bad that they never spoke to her or allowed her grandchildren access to her after that. After his death in 1913, she applied for his military pension from his Civil War service.

            While living at 921 Somerset St. in Gloucester City, NJ she must have made friends with the Etherington family. Bill Etherington, of Etherington’s Funeral Home, told to Midge Moore that he thought she was his relative since she was associated with his family. While living at this address she fell in her bedroom and broke her hip. This condition eventually led to her death of endocarditic on Nov. 21, 1930. O.A. Saunders of 1700 Broadway, Camden, NJ, signed her death certificate. Her son, Thomas Mackin of 122 Crown Pt. Rd. in Westville, NJ supplied personal information for her death certificate. She was buried beside her husband in Greenwood Knights of Pithius Cemetery on Arrott St., in Phila., PA.

Monday, August 4, 2014

52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks #25 Mary Sarah Sperry

Mary Sarah (Sperry) Peck

My 8th great grandmother, Mary Sarah Sperry Peck was born on 14 March 1649 or 1650 in New Haven, CT. She was the daughter of Richard and Dennise (Goodyear) Sperry. She married Benjamin Peck on 29 March 1670 in New Haven.  She joined the New Haven First Church in August 1687. Her father’s will dated 8 April 1693 said this: “…now I give unto ye sd Benjamin Peck & Mary his wife and their heirs two acres of meadow bounded upon my son, Richards & my son Nath’lls Meadow South." She died sometime in 1730 or later and was buried in Center Church on the Green Churchyard, New Haven, CT. Their children were Benjamin, Mary, Joseph, Ebenezer, Esther, John, Desire, Lydia, Mehitable and Dinah.
1.       Edmund West, comp., Family Data Collection - Individual Records (Provo, UT, USA, Operations Inc, 2000),, Database online. Birth year: 1650; Birth city: New Haven; Birth state: CT.
2.       U.S. and International Marriage Records, 1560-1900 (Yates Publishing. U.S. and International Marriage Records, 1560-1900 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Operations Inc, 2004.),, Source number: 216.000; Source type: Electronic Database; Number of Pages: 1; Submitter Code: LCD.
3.       Yates Publishing, U.S. and International Marriage Records, 1560-1900 (Provo, UT, USA, Operations Inc, 2004),, Database online. Source number: ; Source type: ; Number of Pages: ; Submitter Code:. Record for Mary Sperry.

4.       Find A Grave Memorial #38556702, Created by: Nareen, et al, Record added: 20 June 2009. 

Sunday, July 13, 2014

52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks #24 Adopted "Uncles"

Adopted "Uncles"

Everyone probably has someone they called aunt or uncle who isn't actually a relative. There have been many of them in my life. A few of them were associated with my maternal grandparents.
“Uncle” Harold had an unusual and sad life. Harold’s family had a farm in Western New York State. One day while his father was working in the fields his mother had a mental breakdown. She sliced Harold’s hands, feet and stomach. She then put his younger brother in a trunk and lastly killed herself. Harold’s father saved him but his injuries left him a little slow witted. His brother died before he was found. The father remarried and when another child came along Harold’s stepmother lived up to the wicked stepmother character found in children’s literature. My grandparents were kind to him and when they moved to NJ and then to Florida, Harold followed them. We grandchildren were in awe of him due to his immense size. Unfortunately Harold must have inherited his mother’s mental problem because he spent a number of times in Florida’s mental institution. I never remember him being unkind or anything but gentle.
“Uncle” Jim was another unusual character. He had been in a high wire act in the circus. He had a fall and his legs were pushed up into his pelvis so he was left with an odd walk. My grandparents had met him when they lived in a trailer camp in Florida that had quite a few circus people living there. “Uncle” Jim was down on his luck up in his 80s and my grandparents took him into the family when they bought a nineteenth century Florida house. With very high ceilings the staircase was huge. They were so big that there was a small room under the stairs in the foyer. That was Jim’s room. Whenever I see the movie with Harry Potter in his little room under the stairs of his uncle’s house I think of “Uncle” Jim. Another unusual fact about Jim, he used to put a rolled up pair of socks in his pants in hopes of attracting the ladies.
While we may not be able to pick our relatives we sometimes wish we had some say in who gets to be an adopted relative.

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks #23 John Grossmick

John Grossmick

John was born on 22 July 1870 in Stockton Twp., Camden Co.,  New Jersey to Frederick and Maria Grossmick.  The 1880 census still lists their residence in Stockton. Gopsill's Philadelphia City Directory showed John and his brother Henry running a wine business in Philadelphia. They reportedly ran a bar on John or Johnson St. in Philadelphia, PA. On 27 Sept 1893 John married Stella M Van Doren in Camden, NJ. In 1900 they lived on Main St. in Cramer Hill, Camden City, Camden Co., NJ. At this time John was a day laborer. They had several children by this time, Lester, Clara, and Florence.  In 1910 he was an oil wagon driver for the Electric Light Oil Co. and they lived at 924 N. 26th St., in Camden. There had been a fire at the oil company on 1 May 1901. John was seriously burned about the head, face and hands and was taken to Cooper Hospital when he tried to stop the progress of the fire. They had moved to 1032 N. 25th St. by 1930. At this time he was a laborer in the ship yard. John died on 15 Mar 1926 in Cooper Hospital, Camden. He was buried in New Camden Cemetery.

Monday, June 16, 2014

52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks #22 Peter Praa, Jr.

Peter Praa, Jr.

My husband’s 9th great grandfather was Peter (Pieter) Praa. He was born in Leiden, South Holland, Netherlands around 1655. He was Christened in the Wallon church in Leiden on 17 March 1658. His parents had immigrated to Holland from France and from there to America in 1659. The family settled in Bushwick (Brooklyn). He was known as Captain Peter Praa since he was in Col. Stephen Courtland’s militia regiment.
Peter owned a large tract of land in Bushwick. He married Maria Hay on 15 May between the years 1682-4 in Flatbush, NY. Maria came from a wealthy family. Her father owned large tracts of land in Bushwick and Manhattan. Peter and Maria led the life of the wealthy and had 7 children. A census in 1738 lists the couple as living in Bushwick with a large tract of land and nine slaves.
He died on 5 Sept 1740 in Bushwick. The following is his will:
In the name of God, Amen. I, PETER PRAA, of Bushwick, in Kings County, "being in pretty good health."
I leave to my wife Maria, the use of all my estate while she remains my widow, "for her better support and maintainance."
I leave to my two grand-sons, Peter Praa Van Zandt and Johanes Van Zandt, my 2 dwelling houses and ground on (???) street, in the north ward of New York.
I leave to my daughter, Elizabeth Meseroll, all that tract of land and meadow which I purchased of Dirck Volkertse, adjoining the land I now live on, upon the west side, and east by the land of John Meseroll, and to run north, as the fence stands, and on the south, east, and west by ditches to the river.
After my wife's decease, then to my children.
I leave to my daughter Annettie, wife of Daniel Bodee, a piece of land and meadow on the east side of Maspeth Kill or creek, commonly called Dominie's Hook (except the little island in the piece, which I will that my old negro Jacob shall have so long as he lives to maintain himself). 
I give to my daughter, Christiana Provoost, the dwelling house and ground she now lives in; Also two houses and ground I now have by lease from Mr. John Harperdinck, for life, and then to her children.
Of the rest of my estate I leave 1/4 to my two grand-sons, 1/4 to my
daughter, Elizabeth Meseroll, 1/4 to my daughter, Anattie Bodee, and 1/4 to Christiana Provoost.
I make my two grand-sons, and John Colier and Isaac Bergen and Johanes
Albertse, executors. 
Dated August 6, 1739. Witnesses, John Vanderspiegel, Abraham Lodge, 
Bartholomew Cornell. Proved, September 5, 1740.

Passenger and Immigration Lists Index, 1500s-1900s
New Jersey, Abstract of Wills, 1670-1817
Family Data Collection – Deaths-
Millennium File -
Public Member Trees -

Sunday, June 15, 2014

52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks #21 Margaret Elizabeth Ditman

Margaret Elizabeth Ditman Wiedrich

My second great grandmother, Margaret Elizabeth Ditman is one of those ancestors that remains something of a mystery. She was born on 11 Dec 1827. One mystery is where. Whether it was France or Prussia or Hessen-Darmstadt, Germany is not clear. More than likely it was not France. Census records show her birthplace as Germany, Prussia and Hessen-Darmstadt. Her parents are unknown. Also unknown is whether she came to America alone or with her parents.
She married Henry Wiedrich, also an immigrant but from Alsace. The date was 21 Sept. 1852. They lived in Elba, Genesee Co., NY until sometime after 1870. The 1880 census has them living in Pembroke, NY as does the 1900 census. At the time of her death on 11 Jun 1907 she was living in Indian Falls, Genesee Co., NY which was probably the home of her daughter. She was buried in the Maple Lawn Cemetery, Elba, Genesee Co., NY.

The only other facts known are that she had a connection to the Methodist-Episcopal Church. Also according the census she was not able to read or write English but could speak it. Whether or not she could read or write her native language is not known. She may have been called Elizabets. Such a few small things are known about her to us today.