Monday, March 31, 2014

52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks #11 Millicent Wiedrich

Millicent Wiedrich –Growing Up in Batavia

She was born Millicent Arlene Wiedrich in Batavia, NY on May 15, 1928. From a young age she was called Midge. Many people say they grew up poor but in fact most just didn’t have that they would have liked or as much as the neighbors. My mom grew up poor although there were others who had even less than her family had. Her dad had various jobs like ice man, farmer, wood gatherer, junk man, plow
Ed Wiedrich delivering ice.
factory worker. Her mom had her leg amputated up to the hip as a teen but could still help with the family finances by selling handiwork like crochet items and operating her own doll hospital where she repaired beautiful china dolls. While she was still in primary school the family moved to a small family farm on the Creek Road just outside of Batavia. She often recounted happy stories about roller skating in the attic, playing games and more. One thing she didn’t enjoy was going to the creek at the back of the farm to swim. She was severely afraid of the water even though her three sisters loved to swim. Summers they would go to the Coby
Coby Farm
farm to “camp out”. She described it as fun but I’m sure her dad was helping with the harvest when he wasn’t working at his regular job and her mom was working cooking and canning for everyone. The foods they ate much of the year were things canned during the summer and fall. My grandfather would also go to the factory that produced dried beans after work hours and sweep the floor. He would bring home the sweepings and the children would play a “game” of picking out any bean from the refuse to supplement the family food. They ate a lot of beans and it was a good thing mom liked them. In fact it was one of her favorite foods throughout her life. She went to a one room school. She and her girlfriend, Arlene Cook were the only two students in
Creek Rd School, Batavia, NY 1935
her grade. She often took a potato to school and put it on the potbelly stove to bake for lunch. A special treat was when Arlene’s mom brought a pot of spaghetti for all the children to share. Some of the children were very poor and had only black bread and lard sandwiches to eat. The teacher not only had to teach but made sure there was firewood and made a fire in the stove in the morning. Once when my mom was playing baseball and was running the bases her teacher started to run after her and was slapping her on the head. It turns out the teacher had been burning caterpillar nests in the trees and a spark fell on my mom’s head starting her hair on fire. The teacher was only trying to put the flames. Things took a turn for the worse late in the 30s and they lost the family farm.

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks #10 Helen Faith Ludlam

Helen Faith Ludlam
What I remember best about my Aunt Helen is spending the weekend at her house in Egg Harbor City, NJ. Technically she was my cousin but since she was married and had children older than me she became “Aunt” Helen. About once a month my mom, dad, brother and me would drive down to her house on a Friday or Saturday and spend the night and return home later the next day. She and Uncle John would spend the evening playing cards with my mom and dad or they would go out for the evening. In the morning she always made a great breakfast. Her pancakes were terrific. She made them with orange juice and the taste was wonderful. Uncle John had a cast stone business behind the house and it was fun to explore what was there including playing with the adding machine in the office.
Helen was born in Pennsylvania on August 14, 1918. She was an infant when her mother died and she went to live with her maternal grandparents in Harrisburg, PA. In 1922 her father married my Aunt Caroline Moore. Her grandparents, who I’m sure loved her very much, were reluctant to return her to her father who could now provide a home for her. There was a legal procedure and she was returned to her father and stepmother in Gloucester City, NJ. By the 1940 Census she was married to John Kenneth Rupp and living with her in-laws in Galloway Twp., Atlantic County, NJ. At that time she was working as a radio examiner for RCA.
She and Uncle John would have three children and make their home in Egg Harbor City, NJ. She worked at Wheaton Glass for many years until she developed lung problems from the coating process for the glass. She was a member of the Eastern Star of NJ and served as Worthy Matron for her chapter. Uncle John, a Mason, would be her Worthy Patron.

I remember her as a strong and loving woman. What a great role model. She died on November 21, 2000. I cherish great memories and always think of her when I make orange pancakes.

Monday, March 17, 2014

52 Ancestors #9 Richard Sperry - Protector of Regicides

Richard Sperry – Protector of Regicides

Richard was born on February 16, 1606 in Thurleigh, Bedfordshire, England to John and Mary Sperry. Thurleigh remains a small village today in the southeast of England. He arrived at the Massachusetts Bay Colony town of Boston on June 26, 1637 aboard the ship Hector. He was part of a group of colonists headed by Reverend John Davenport & Theophilus Eaton ( who later became the English Colonial Governor). The following year, Rev. Davenport led his group of Puritans, including Richard Sperry, to the New Haven Colony. This group followed strict adherence to Puritan beliefs and behavior. On Jan1, 1643 he was granted a tract of land in the colony. He was made a "freeman" on July 1, 1644. This may not refer to indentured servitude but instead to church membership. In 1648 Richard Sperry was the first settler in Woodridge & built his home on the west side of Amity Road.  This is the year he married Denise Goodyear. Stephen Goodyear, upon his death left land to Richard.

England was experiencing political upheaval around 1660.The monarchy had been overthrown in 1648 when Charles I was executed. Oliver Cromwell had then established a commonwealth but when he died in 1658 the monarchy was restored to Charles’ son Charles II. Men who had signed the execution order of Charles I fled England. Two, Colonel Edward Whalley - cousin to Oliver Cromwell - and his son-in-law, Colonel William Goeffe, came to the New Haven Colony. They hid in what became known as Judge’s Cave near the home of
Richard Sperry. In 1896 a plaque was placed at Judges Cave which reads: "Here May fifteenth 1661 and for some weeks thereafter Edward Whalley and his son-in-law William Goffe, members of Parliament, signers of the death warrant of King Charles First, found shelter and concealment from those officers of the Crown after the Restoration. "Opposition to tyrants is obedience to God." Each day Richard or more likely his son left food on a stump near the cave for the fugitives. Richard’s son was just a small boy and would not have been under such watchful observance by the king’s men that Richard was under. Had they been caught they would have received a sentence of hanging or beheading for aiding these men.

Sperry falls in Connecticut is the site of what was once called "Sperry's Pool" where the waterfalls gave power to Richard's saw mill, grist mill, and fulling mill. Sperry Park, on the road of that name, was given in 1907 by the heirs of Enoch & Mary Atlanta Sperry - descendants of Richard, on the site of their home, and in their memory. It overlooks the gorge where those mill wheels turned hundreds of years ago.
Richard died about 1698 and Denise in 1707. Their children were: John, Mary, Richard, Esther, Nathaniel, Ebenezer, Thomas, Daniel and Joseph.

Monday, March 3, 2014

52 Ancestors #8 Charles Shoemaker Moore Jr.

Charles Shoemaker Moore, Jr.

            I love my grandfather. That’s not very remarkable since most of us love our grandfathers. But I never met my grandfather. In fact he died over fifty years before I was born. My only emotional connection was listening to my father and aunt speaks of their father. Theirs was a child’s view since he died before they were grown but they also had their older sister to tell about their father. That sister was twenty-six when their father died so she was able to share her memories. I wish I had asked more questions before my dad died, not the facts type of questions but more about his personality, what was their relationship and how did he look, talk, hug and more. So I’m left with the love that was handed down to me from my dad.
Charles was born on Dec. 4, 1869 in Camden, NJ to Charles Shoemaker and Fannie Elizabeth Moore. He had an older brother Franklin Thomas who was born in 1867. His father died 1874 leaving his mother to struggle raising two young boys. The boys went to live in a children’s home in Camden. She remarried a few years later. The curious thing was after she married, Charles came to live with her and her husband William Burns. Franklin went to live with William Burn’s parents. I wondered how this affected them. A few years ago I made contact with Franklin’s granddaughter. She described her grandfather as a mean man. Not being the one chosen to live with your mother may have that effect.
In the 1890-1 Camden City directory he is listed as a waterman and living at 1239 S. 2nd St. How my grandparents met I don’t know but on November 16, 1891, Charles married Margaretta Virginia
Mackin. They were married by W.H. Brinell and Margaretta’s mother, Mary was the witness. At this time Charles was living at 1017 Federal St. and Margaretta was at 1013 Linden St. In the 1893-94 city directory Charles is listed as a blacksmith for the Camden Iron Works and lived at 1102 Cresson Rd. In the 1897 directory Charles and Maggie Moore live at 211 Sycamore St. and Charles was a laborer. He was back working as blacksmith according to his son’s birth certificate in 1897. Wilson, Harbison Co. listed him as an engineer in 1900. He was a master mechanic with the Snare and Triest Co. in 1905. He eventually was a master mechanic for a company whose parent office was in
Jersey City. At his death his occupation was stationary engineer.
            He had seven children. Caroline Grover was born on May 11, 1893. Marie Robinson was born on June 18, 1894. Charles Shoemaker, III was born on June 28, 1897. Thomas Henry was born on April 17, 1902. Franklin Thomas was born on Aug. 2, 1909. Margaretta Virginia was born on Oct 23, 1910. Earl Mackin was born on Nov. 24, 1913. Marie and Franklin both died as infants.
            Charles became a Mason in 1905. He was a member of Fernwood Lodge No. 543 in Philadelphia. He completed all degrees through Master Mason during that year. Other affiliations were Tall Cedars of Lebanon No. 5, Lodge of Moose No. 111 and Engineers Union Local No. 506 of Philadelphia.
            On Apr. 16, 1919 he died of bronchial pneumonia. Although this was after the Spanish Flu epidemic of 1918 I have always wondered if his condition could still be from that virus since he was a healthy man of just 49 years. His residence at this time was 1450 or 1451 Mt. Ephraim Ave. in Camden, NJ. He was buried in the New Camden Cemetery, Camden, NJ in Section B Lot 337.

            For me his lives on in those inherited memories, pictures and other documents. When my aunt was in her nineties and living in a nursing home because of Alzheimer’s, I brought her a framed picture of her dad to put on her dresser. As soon as she saw it her face lit up and she said, “That’s my dad. Charlie Moore they called him.” The joy she showed in that moment affirmed that he was a great dad and would have been a wonderful grandfather to me.