I love these two pictures of my 3rd great-grandmother Martha (Cole) Odell. In the first she looks annoyed while her granddaughters goof around and pose, but in the second I think her true self comes through. In light of the second picture, I wonder if the look in the first is one of faux-annoyance and she was goofing around just as much as they were, we just can’t see the eye-roll in a still picture.
I’m not exactly sure of the date these pictures were taken, but there are a few more taken that same day in the same place of Martha’s daughter Susan and husband Julius Henry Frost (my 2nd great-grandparents). I estimate 1918 based on the ages of all the people across the photos. In 1918 Martha would have been 80, so perhaps the family had gathered to celebrate her birthday?
Martha was born about 1838 in New York, one of eight children born to John and Hester Sophia (Martine) Coles. At some point between 1840 and 1843, the family moved to Newark where Martha met Reuben Odell. They married 10 August 1856 in Newark and had eight children.
Martha died on Christmas day, 1921 and is buried in the family plot, Fairmont Cemetery, Newark.
My grandfather and his three younger brothers all served in the military during the World War II era. The youngest brother, Douglas Kingsley Frost, was an Army paratrooper that enlisted in January of 1944.
Doug was born in Brooklyn, NY, 21 October 1925. He was married twice, first to Ruthie (unknown maiden name) with whom he had one son, David Duane, born in 1960. In 1976, David died in Miami at just 15 years old. Doug married his second wife, Dorothy [she went by Jody] (Rouleau) on 28 July 1973 in Miami. On Halloween, 1978 Doug died in his sleep probably due to a heart-related issue, he was 53 years old.
This picture is of my grandmother, Justine (Fusco) Frost with her husbands’ grandmother, Minnie Smith. The picture was taken in Minnie’s garden at 51 Hammond St. in Bridgewater, MA, probably in the summer of 1941 when Justine was “with child”. I plan on doing a more in-depth post on Justine later, but I just came across this picture and had to share it.
Minnie is the woman of many names mentioned in the post on Leon Petralis, her first husband, so far I’m up to 10 different names used on various records.
My 2nd great-grandfather Leon Petralis (or Petrolis) is still a bit of a mystery. I have multiple documents on two events that he was involved with, his marriage and the birth of his daughter (my great-grandmother). Beyond that I have a family story about how he died, a possible death record and a potential passenger list entry from when he came to America, but those are speculative and naturally, the names aren’t all the same. I’m guessing that most people with Eastern European ancestry run into the near constant changing of names. I have so far documented 10 different names for Leon’s wife, Petrusia.
This passenger list shows a Lewen Petralis leaving Hamburg, Germany for Boston on 7 May 1889 aboard the ship Coblenz. He is a native of Rademanz, Russland, as is the passenger directly above him, Michal Aschzin who is also traveling to Boston. The dates fit both the age and arrival of Leon, but I’m not sure if this is him.
The Marriage Certificate
This baptismal certificate was obtained by my great-grandmother in 1952 and lists her name as M. Helen Petralis. After Leon died in the late 1890’s, Petrusia married a man who went by John Frank Smith. Helen grew up thinking he was her father and didn’t find out he wasn’t until later in life. She went by Helen Smith, but did occasionally use different last names.
Civil Birth Record
This Greenfield, New Hampshire birth record has no first name listed for the child, but lists Wilno, Poland as the birthplace of Leon and Petrusia. This is the same date as Helen’s birth, 31 Aug 1894 and most of the details match the Massachusetts Birth Record below.
On this Massachusetts Birth Record for Helen, it lists her first name as “Lena”, place of birth as Greenfield, NH and says the parents (Leon and Bertha? Petralis) live at 104 Garden St in Lawrence, MA.
The family lore about Leon’s death was that he was killed in an accident with a runaway horse when his daughter Helen was just 2 years old. These two records certainly are about the same person, but I’m not sure if it’s my Leon. The date of this Leon’s death, 19 Feb 1896, fits with both the family story and the birth of Helen’s half-sister Mae in 1898.
This Leon is the right age, is married and is from Russia. The mother’s first name is the same as the marriage record (Mary) but the father’s is different: Michael here, Mathew on the marriage record. Of course, Leon wouldn’t have been the one providing the information for the death record, so an inconsistency is not surprising. He died of Typhoid Fever and Peritonitis.
Leon does not appear in any other city directories that I can find and his widow is not listed in any later Worcester, Massachusetts directory. In fact, if this is my Leon, these would be the only records that I’ve found that show him in Worcester.
Nashua, Lawrence and Worcester are not all that far apart and as a laborer he likely just went wherever the work was. Also, all 3 cities had strong Lithuanian/Russian communities at the time. If this is Leon, then his mother’s last name is possibly Balcute, which would be a new name to me and another line of possible investigation.
I’m hoping I have a cousin from the old country that knows all about “Cousin Leon that went to America”, are you out there?
As I mentioned in an earlier post about my 3rd great-grandfather John Frost, his wife Catherine’s surname was unknown. Recently Ancestry.com added records from the New York, New York Marriage Indexes 1866-1937 and I found the entry for John and Catherine’s son Frederick, who married Augusta Kiem in 1886 at the German Evangelical Church in Brooklyn [where Augusta’s family lived]. I ordered the original from the NYC Department of Records and 6 weeks later the photocopy arrived in the mail. It’s not always the case, but this one included quite a bit of information, including his mother’s maiden name!
The name could be spelled Dixheimer, but based on some preliminary searching I think Dexheimer is the proper spelling. Her first name is also spelled with a K on this record, but C is used on every other record I have for her, I’m pretty sure K is the more traditional German spelling.
Because John and Katherine lived in Newark, NJ, I checked Ancestry.com for records of other Dexheimer’s in the area and found one that is particularly interesting. Frederick Dexheimer was born around 1829 in Hesse Darmstadt and is a barber in the 1861 Jersey City directory. Katherine was also from Hesse Darmstadt and was born around 1818, so they could be siblings, but what’s really interesting is that he’s a barber. Katherine’s sons Julius [my 2nd great-grandfather] and Frederick [possibly named after his uncle?] were in the barber supply business for many years. I’ve often wondered how they got involved in that business, perhaps it was Uncle Fred?
Interesting how answering one question leads to so many more, the investigation continues…
References: Ancestry.com. New York, New York, Marriage Indexes 1866-1937 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., 2014.
Original data: Index to New York City Marriages, 1866-1937. Indices prepared by the Italian Genealogical Group and the German Genealogy Group, and used with permission of the New York City Department of Records/Municipal Archives.
Ancestry.com. U.S. City Directories, 1821-1989 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., 2011.
Newspapers are one of my favorite sources, where else can you get stories like the one below? This particular article comes from the January 5th, 1895 edition of “The Press” from New York, NY and features my 3rd great-grandfather Reuben Odell. I found it on the Old Fulton NY Post Cards website.
He Ran Away With His Child
And Then Hid Behind a Coffin in a Morgue
Frank W. Drake tried to abduct his infant child on Thursday. The child and her older sister were in the oyster saloon of Reuben Odell, at 55 Bleecker street, Newark. Odell is Drake’s father-in-law. Mrs. Drake left her husband a week ago, his treatment of her having become unbearable. Thursday she went back to her husband’s home on Pine Street, South Orange, to remonstrate with him.
During her absence he went to her father’s place. There were hot words between Drake and his father-in-law. Then there was a fight, and Drake was hurled to the sidewalk, bruised and bleeding. By and by he came back again. Odell was in a back room.
Drake saw his little girl sitting on her grandmother’s lap and asked the woman to let him kiss the child. He pleaded with tears in his eyes, and finally the little one was placed in his arms. Then he bolted out of the door and sped away down Washington street. Odell gave chase, Drake dodged into Mullin’s morgue and hid behind a coffin. Odell followed him in.
“Give me the child.” he said.
Drake hesitated a moment, and then placed the infant in its grandfather’s arms. Then he darted out of the morgue and made good his escape.
Mrs. Drake is Martha Odell, sister of Susan Odell Frost. The story does have a happy ending as far as I’m aware, Martha and Frank did reconcile and had four more children.
93 years ago today [19 April], my 2nd great-grandmother Susan Carolyn (Odell) Frost passed away at the age of 62. I’m fortunate to have a few pictures of her, including this one taken around 1919 in Newark, New Jersey with two of her children and her granddaughter.
She is buried in the family plot in the Fairmont Cemetery in Newark. Which I understand is now in a “not so nice” area, but I’d still try to visit next time I’m in New Jersey.
A cousin sent me the records from the cemetery, which includes the names, ages and dates of death of the 22! family members buried in the plot, including Susan’s parents, grandparents, various aunts, uncles and cousins. Truly a genealogical goldmine of information.
Susan Carolyn Odell was born 24 April 1858 in New Jersey to Reuben and Martha (Cole) Odell, she was the eldest of their seven children. In June of 1880, she married Julius Henry Frost, a young entrepreneur that had started a Barber Supply business with his brother Frederick.
They had five children:
Julius (1885-1956) [my great-grandfather]
Last week I mentioned my great-grandmother Helen Frost’s two half-siblings and went into detail on Mae Smith Chambers. This week I’ll share what I know about her half-brother, Arthur Smith. Art was born around 1899, probably in Connecticut, but much like his sister I’ve yet to find any birth record.
Mae and Art’s father went by John Frank Smith, but that’s not his real name and I’m unsure of when he changed it. The first record I have of John is the 1930 census when he was about 65. John was born in Poland according to the that census1, Russia according the 1940 census, but was Lithuanian ethnically. I speculate that when both Mae and Art were born John was still using his original name or some variation, which makes the records difficult to find.
Art was a career U.S. Navy man and as you can tell from this photo he was a young man when joined.
The next record I can find for him is the 1940 census, living in San Diego with his wife Mary. He is a Chief Radioman for the U.S. Navy2. This photo was probably taken around that time.
In 1960, Art and Mary are living in San Dieguito, CA and he is working for Convair Astronautics3, a division of General Dynamics that was working on the Atlas rocket that eventually launched the Mercury astronauts into space.
My great-grandmother Helen thought highly of Arthur, so much so that she named one of her son’s after him. It would be great to find that he and Mary had a child or two during the years where I can’t find them.
This post is 10th in the 52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks challenge series.
 Ancestry.com. 1930 United States Federal Census [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations Inc, 2002. 1930; Census Place: Bridgewater, Plymouth, Massachusetts; Roll: 938; Page: 10A; Enumeration District: 0005; Image: 590.0; FHL microfilm: 2340673. Frank Smith household. Original data: United States of America, Bureau of the Census. Fifteenth Census of the United States, 1930. Washington, D.C.: National Archives and Records Administration, 1930. T626, 2,667 rolls.
 Ancestry.com. 1940 United States Federal Census [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., 2012. Year: 1940; Census Place: San Diego, San Diego, California; Roll: T627_448; Page: 34A; Enumeration District: 62-17. Arthur J. Smith household. Original data: United States of America, Bureau of the Census. Sixteenth Census of the United States, 1940. Washington, D.C.: National Archives and Records Administration, 1940. T627, 4,643 rolls.
 Ancestry.com. U.S. City Directories, 1821-1989 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., 2011. Title : San Dieguito, California, City Directory, 1960 Pg. 44 Entry for Smith, Arthr J.
Since I’ve had some luck connecting with new cousins lately, I thought I’d post about a line where I’m not aware of any living descendants, but would love to connect if there are any.
My maternal great-grandmother Helen had a half-sister and brother, Mae Smith and Arthur J Smith.
Mae married William Benjamin Chambers on 1 July 1916 in Bridgewater, MA.
According to the town record of the event1 she was born in 1898 in New Haven, CT and was a telephone operator. Her parents are listed as Charles Smith and Minnie Stankiewicz. In most records her father went by John or Frank (sometimes both) and her mother went by so many names she will be the topic of another post.
Mae and Bill lived at 118 Plymouth St in Bridgewater, MA for about 25 years, then Brockton, MA for the next 10. At some point in the 1960’s they moved to Duarte, a small community outside of Los Angeles, CA. Mae died 1 Dec 19662, her husband Bill a year later.
They had one son for sure, William A Chambers, in 1917. There is another son that is listed in the 1940 census with the family [Edward], but I haven’t been able to find any other records of his relationship.
Son William was known as Billy Boy in the family. He also ended up in California and died 1 March 1988 in Carlsbad3. I’m not sure if he had a wife or any children, but if you or someone you know is connected, please contact me!
 Births, Marriages and Death. Ancestry.com Massachusetts, Town and Vital Records, 1620-1988 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., 2011. Record of Marriage Intentions, Town of Bridgewater. Mae Smith and William Benjamin Chambers, filed 26 June 1916, issued 1 July 1916.
Original data: Town and City Clerks of Massachusetts. Massachusetts Vital and Town Records. Provo, UT: Holbrook Research Institute (Jay and Delene Holbrook).
 Ancestry.com. California, Death Index, 1940-1997 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations Inc, 2000. Place: Los Angeles; Date: 1 Dec 1966; Social Security: 013109570. Ancestry.com. California, Death Index, 1940-1997 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations Inc, 2000.
 Ancestry.com. California, Death Index, 1940-1997 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations Inc, 2000. Place: San Diego; Date: 1 Mar 1988; Social Security: 031036503. Ancestry.com. California, Death Index, 1940-1997 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations Inc, 2000.
My great-grandfather Jules was a car guy. Nearly every picture of I have of him in his younger years also prominently features a car. So I really wasn’t surprised when I came across a patent application that he filed in April of 1922. A year later his patent was granted for an automobile lock.1
Julius Henry (Jules) was born in Newark, NJ on 19 Mar 1885 to Julius and Susan (Odell) Frost. He was the third child of five: May (1881-1930), Edward (1883-?), Charles (1890-?) and Frederick (1891-1957).
On 11 Nov 1913 he married Helen Catherine Smith in Bridgeport, CT and they had 9 children, including my grandfather Robert (1919-1987) and my wonderful grand-aunts Ginger and Priscilla. He died 11 Nov 1956 in Miami, FL.
My 2nd post in the 52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks challenge is my 3rd great-grandfather John Frost. He was born around 1822 in Germany and married Catherine sometime around 1845. Catherine was born in Hesse Darmstadt, Germany around 1818, I’m not sure of her maiden name.
John, Catherine and daughter Elizabeth came to America and lived in Newark, NJ. By 1860 they had two sons as well, Frederick (1855-?) and my 2nd g-grandfather Julius Henry (1857-1934). In the 1860 census, they family is enumerated living on Camfield Street (based on comparisons of neighbors and later city directories), John’s occupation is listed as Saloon and he had a $500 valuation of personal belongings. Frost is misspelled as “Froas”.
John was listed in the 1861 and 1862 Newark Directories as a harness maker on Camfield street but is missing from 1863.
In the 1864 directory, wife Catherine is living at 8 Maiden Lane, no mention of John. In 1865 Catherine is listed as his widow. I haven’t been able to find a death record for John or any record of military service that might have taken him away from New Jersey, so exactly when and how he died is unknown to me.
Back in April 2012 I received my AncestryDNA results and wrote about my surprise at seeing Scandinavian and Persian/Turkish/Caucasus in my Genetic Ethnicity results. I’ve had some recent results that possibly shed some light on both question marks in my, and hopefully others, genetic ethnicity as AncestryDNA sees it.
At the time of my DNA test, the most popular theory was that the Vikings were lovers as well as fighters and that most of my Irish/English heritage is shown as Scandinavian. Back in August I connected with a cousin from my Stanhope line (Hi Susan!) and she pointed me to the website of Michael Stanhope, which seems to support that theory.
Michael, with the disclaimer that the information is“…what might have been rather than what definitely was”, documents the Stanhope line back to “…Halfdan Olafsson, Jarl of Vestfold, Ringerike, Hadeland, and the Opplands.” around the year 700 in Norway. The line supposedly goes from Norway to Normandy to England to America. That could certainly account for some of my Scandinavian ethnicity but it’s all but unprovable from a genealogical perspective. I was hopeful for something more concrete.
My Irish/English and Stanhope ancestry is on my paternal side, so every time I saw someone with Scandinavian listed as our “Shared Ethnicity” on Ancestry DNA, I automatically looked for surnames and locations from that side of my tree. Turns out I was being shortsighted.
My maternal grandfather’s parents are German and Lithuanian and although my grandfather is no longer here, his wonderful sister Jane is. My great-aunt Jane took the DNA test in December and yet another surprise when her results came in: 64% Eastern European, 36% Scandinavian.
When I look at the matches we have in common, it turns out that on many of them the Shared Ethnicity is Scandinavian and the Shared Birth Location is Germany.
Most of the matches have no obvious Scandinavian heritage (surnames or birth locations). Some matches have Central European ethnicity as well, which is where you’d expect German heritage to show.
So, it seems that some German ancestry shows as Scandinavian in the Ancestry DNA system. Perhaps these people originally were from Scandinavia and the test is picking up that deep ancestry or perhaps it’s just an error in the way the system works. Any readers with Scandinavian in your DNA results where you expected German?
My maternal grandmothers parents are both from Quindici, Avellino, Italy, which is a small town near Naples. You’d expect them to show as Southern European in my ethnicity, but I don’t have any. I recently found a DNA match where the persons grandmother was a Manzi and our only shared ethnicity is Persian/Turkish/Caucasus.
Legend has it that my Fusco’s from Malden, Massachusetts are cousins of the Manzi’s from Lawrence, Massachusetts but I have not been able to find documentation of the connection yet.I’ve sent a message to the match to see if we can find a connection, I’m hopeful we will.
Are you seeing a similar or contrary pattern in your AncestryDNA results? I’d love to hear about it, please leave a comment.
I’m a numbers guy. I like to know how I’m doing against my goals and track statistics to see trends. I have an app on my iPhone that tells me how many cigarettes I haven’t smoked since I quit 6 months ago (3500-ish) and how much money I can redirect into my genealogy habit as a result (about $1000!!). I have apps to track my weight, my money, etc… It’s probably one of those things that has bled over into my personal life from work where “if you don’t measure it, you can’t manage it”. There’s something Pavlovian about it for me.
The one area that was for the most part safe from statistics was genealogy, until I read Crista Cowen’s “What’s Your Number?” post. I mean, I know about how many people are in my tree (5070 as of today), but that doesn’t really say anything about how I’m “doing”. What does that even mean in this context? I’m not doing any of this just to collect a bunch of names and dates. I want to know who I come from and where they came from, so I can go there and walk where they walked and hopefully eat some delicious desserts (to immerse myself in the experience, of course). But, I like this statistic, lets check it out.
As Crista outlines, in 10 generations each of us has 1,022 direct-line ancestors. Count up how many you have documented in each generation, add ‘em up and divide by 1022 to get your percentage. So how am I doing?
Not too bad, 10.6% overall. On my maternal grandmothers’ line I can’t get past my great-great grandparents (yet) so that takes quite a few possibles out very quickly. Fortunately, my paternal grandmothers’ family have been in America for around 300 years and left a nice document trail. The great thing is I now have a renewed focus and motivation to work on the lines that are sparse. Sometimes I get caught up in peripheral lines (making the tree wider, rather than deeper), which isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but this is a number I’ll keep looking to improve.
Out of curiosity, I ran the numbers for my wife’s line and it came out slightly better at 12%. Her paternal French-Canadian lines are fairly well documented (Berube and Michaud). Her maternal lines are more recent (mid-to-late 1800’s) Irish immigrants, thus a little harder to track down.
I’d also highly recommend reading The Legal Genealogist’s entertaining blog post “More lost than found” on this same topic. So, what’s your number?
Source: Crista Cowan, “Family History All Done? What’s Your Number?,” Ancestry.com Blog, posted 16 Aug 2012 (http://blogs.ancestry.com : accessed 29 Aug 2012).
Around 1908, my great grandfather Julius (Jules) Frost started a Forestry business.
In 1914, the business was advertised in the Bridgeport Connecticut Directory and several photographs were added to the family photo album.
Jules brother Fred was involved in the Forestry business as well. He later became a plumber.
Assuming that these guys worked for the company.
By 1925, Jules had moved to the Bronx and in the New York census that year he listed his occupation as “Piano Company”. He was likely moving Pianos, as he eventually owned a moving company for many years.
This is the tombstone of my great-grand uncle Frederick Charles Frost and his wife Nita Conner. They are buried in Section 31 at Arlington National Cemetery, to the right of the Women in Military Service Memorial.
Fred was a plumber and served in the U.S. Marines Engineering Battalion, Fifth Company in that capacity. He reached the rank of Sergeant and was stationed at Quantico Marine Base in Dumfries, VA.
He was discharged honorably in Apr 1923.
Fred was born 11 Nov 1891 in New Haven, CT, the youngest child of Julius H and Susan (Odell) Frost. He married Nita in 1919 and after retiring from the Marines, they lived in Washington DC where he continued working as a plumber.
Their daughter Oritha (Rita) married Joseph H Miller around 1940. She died in Georgia in 1994. I have not been able to locate the four grandchildren mentioned.
If a stranger were to peruse my collection of old family photos, he or she might assume that we owned a car company in the early 1900’s. We did not, but cars are in so many of the pictures, sometimes just the car and no people, that one can safely assume some of my ancestors were obsessed with autos.
I am going to try to post a picture/car a week, I should finish when I’m 150 or so.
Aunt Mae (Frost) Hotchkiss was my great-grandfather Jules’ sister. Polly (Pauline) and Jackie (John) were his kids (my grandfather Bob’s sister and brother). Mae and her husband Nelson lived at 10 Cross St, West Orange NJ in the 20’s. If you look closely through the octagonal window, you can see Jules’ wife Helen. The plate on the car says NY 1924. Based on the clothing, license plate and ages of the kids, it’s likely this is summer 1924. Note the dent on the fender behind Jackie’s head.
This car shows up in a few more photos taken in 1923 and 24, so best guess for the year of the car is 1919-1923. Near as I can tell it’s a Cole Aero-Eight Sportsedan, or a Model 878 as it was known. The unique octagonal rear windows help to confirm the make and model.