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Archive for the ‘Colbert’ Category

The Museum of the City of New York has a wonderful collection of photographs, maps and prints many of which are now available online.

I thought I would see if there were any pictures which showed what Harlem might have been like when our Colbert family lived there.

John Colbert arrived in the U.S in 1843 and was in Harlem by 1850 – he lived on East 119th Street, near Avenue A (now Pleasant Avenue). After his marriage he lived on 116th Street and Avenue A.

He died in 1865 and his widow, Mary Coleman Colbert, leased a lot on East 121st Street, between Avenue A and 1st Avenue. She had a one story framed house with a store, possibly the same house John had built on 116th Street. The Colberts had a horse and wagon and possibly a cow and other animals. They were milk dealers.

Did John Colbert’s horse and wagon look something like this?

This picture is in the Museum of the City of New York, but not online. I took it in 2008 at the exhibit on the 200th Anniversary of the Archdiocese of New York.

This picture is in the Museum of the City of New York, but not online. I took it in 2008 at the exhibit on the 200th Anniversary of the Archdiocese of New York.

Here are some pictures I found online – you can see the animals wandering around.

Harlem squatter settlements in 1858.

The Colberts lived on 116th Street at this time. Is this what their area looked like? There were so many hogs in  Harlem that the area around 125th Street was called “Pig’s Alley”

Squatter Settlement in Harlem

116th Street and 4th Avenue

This is the south east corner of 116th Street and 4th Avenue in 1889. Our family lived at 116th Street and Avenue A (Pleasant Avenue), about 4 blocks east of here from about 1855 to 1865.
[South east corner of 116th Street and 4th Avenue.]
This is the south west corner of 116th Street and 4th Avenue in 1895.
[South west corner of 116th and 4th Avenue.]

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This is for all those on the Facebook group – Ryans and Roches of Commonealine, County Tipperary.

The file is too big for Facebook. Click on the picture and you will see the chart and then zoom in. I only include information to my parents’ generation, because of privacy.

Descendants of Michael Roche and Mary Wallace

Descendants of Michael Roche and Mary Wallace

This may not be up to date, it’s the one I posted when I started the blog:
Family Group Sheet Ryan Roche

Check out the other posts in this blog – I have other information on the Ryans and the Roches.

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Merry Christmas

Merry Christmas 2012

Christmas 2012

Christmas Past

Bessie Shanley O’Hara and Annie Shanley Whelan

Colbert Christmas tree – 1939 at 525 West 182nd Street.

Christmas003

Grandma and Grandpa's tree

Grandma and Grandpa’s tree

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My father’s family moved a lot. They lived in different types of houses, old tenements, old wood frame house, basement apartment, apartments with no indoor plumbing, but in 1938 they settled down.

They moved to 525 West 182nd Street – The Invermark. Here is a picture of the building and the floor plan from Apartment Houses of the Metropolis which can be found in the New York Public Library and on their website. Click on the picture and you can zoom and look at it more closely. Which apartment did the Colberts live in?

The Invermark, northeast corne... Digital ID: 465689. New York Public Library

In 1901 New York city passed a new law regulating tenements. They had to have bathrooms inside each apartment and they had more light and ventilation. Builders started designing the new buildings which came to be called “New Law” Tenements. These were often built on multiple lots or on corner lots. Often they were given names. One of these was the Invermark, built on the corner of West 182nd Street and Audubon Avenue.

They advertised that they had telephone service, but the Colberts didn’t have one in 1940. I’m  not sure when they finally got a telephone.

The Colberts moved in around 1938 or 1939. In 1940 they paid $42.00 a month rent.

Not long after they moved in Uncle Joe acquired a camera and starting taking pictures, so we have a good idea of what the apartment looked like when the Colberts lived there, almost 30 years after it was built.

Uncle Jackie looking out the window of 525 West 182nd Street.

The family had a lot of gatherings there and Uncle Joe documented them. Here’s one of my father on Christmas Day, 1939.

My father has a little fun before Christmas dinner is cooked.

Grandpa in the kitchen. “A candid shot.” snapped by Joe Colbert

Uncle Mike

The relatives came over too.

Front: Larry, Jane, Joan Colbert, Jim Rogers
Back: Peggy Rutan, Aunt Addie, Aunt Elsie, Bernadette Rutan and Josephine Wunderlich

The Invermark wasn’t far from Highbridge Park.

Frances and Larry at Highbridge Park.

Joan and Jack Colbert swimming at Highbridge Park.

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No, it’s not a typo. On November 7, 1918, the country celebrated the end of the World War.

The Evening World, November 07, 1918, Final Edition. Library of Congress, Chronicling America

My father had a great memory. One story he told was about being a very young child and watching, in amazement, as his parents went crazy. His mother ran out of the house, leaving the door open, and his father kissed his mother on the stoop.  In later years he realized it had to be the day the war ended.

Larry and Joe Colbert. Taken around Spring 1918.

I figured it would be easy enough to find out how the people of New York City reacted to the end of the war. After all, I knew the date – November 11, 1918 was Armistice Day.

But I was wrong. The celebrations took place on November 7th – all because the United Press Association reported the armistice had been signed, when it hadn’t.

The Evening World, November 07, 1918, Final Edition. Library of Congress, Chronicling America

The papers knew pretty quickly that the story was false. New York Tribune, November 8, 1918 Library of Congress, Chronicling America

Everyone knew the armistice would be signed soon. On November 11th, the country celebrated again and this time it really was over. No wonder my father remembered the day so well.

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My father used to talk about how his father, William Colbert, drove a coal wagon pulled by a team of big work horses. Grandpa worked for Burns Brothers Coal Company at their place on the Hudson River and 135th Street. When he finished his route he would stop by the  house to pick up my father and my Uncle Joe who were pretty young at the time. They would go back to the stable and help him unhitch the horses and feed and groom them.

Coal wagon – 1918 – Did Grandpa drive a truck like this?
From Library of Congress

My great grandfather, John Colbert, was also a teamster. He worked for his brother in law, George Grossman. From what I can tell, they not only delivered coal, but supplied horses and drivers for a variety of heavy work. A few years after George died his wife closed the business and sold all the equipment. The advertisement gives an idea of the kind of equipment they had. I suspect that my grandfather worked for the  George Grossman Company too until it closed.

Horses and equipment are sold. Note the double harnesses and all the different types of coal trucks.

My grandfather loved the horses and the way they could pull a heavy load of coal up the steep hills of upper Manhattan. He was not happy when his employer Burns Brothers Coal Company decided to convert to motorized trucks. The story is that he told them to call him when they came to their senses and brought the horses back. Needless to say, they never did.

Grandpa was not a very big man. When he registered for the draft in 1942 he gave his height as 5′ 7″.  He would have been dwarfed by the work horses he drove.

Grandpa around the time he was driving the coal truck – pulled by work horses. The two little boys are Larry and Joe. Imagine them helping with the horses.

Yesterday, I went to the Dutchess County Fair to see some draft horses for myself. No wonder Grandpa loved them. They are huge, beautiful, and powerful. It’s hard to tell from a picture just how big they are. Seeing them up close and watching them I realized why grandpa loved the horses and why he had such confidence that the team he drove could and would pull anything.

Waiting for the competition.

The team is ready for competition.

Two Belgian work horse harnessed to pull a heavy load in competition.

Unfortunately for Grandpa, Burns Brothers started to buy motorized trucks as early as 1913 and by the 1920s the horses were gone.

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I always wondered why the Colberts rented for so long. As far as I knew my father, Larry Colbert, was the first in the family to own a home.  Actually another Larry was the first.

Lawrence Coleman, or Larry as he was called, arrived in New York in 1851 and lived with his sister Mary Coleman Colbert and her family until he married. The Colberts and the Colemans all lived on East 121st Street in Harlem. Larry seems to have worked mainly as a laborer, sometimes as a driver. He and his wife Julia Sullivan opened up an account at the Emigrant Savings Bank in 1875 and saved until they had enough money to buy a house.

On October 27, 1885, Larry and Julia purchased the house at 106 East 121st Street for $4,750.00. The building was wood framed and 2 stories. It looks like there were 2 apartments and Larry and Julia rented out both of them and lived in an apartment a few blocks away.  They may have had a mortgage, but in those days people often put down as much as 50%. By 1900 when they moved in to one of the apartments, they owned the house free and clear.

106 East 121st Street

Larry died in 1906, two years after his wife and left no will. Letters of Administration were issued to his son, Lawrence F. Coleman. According to the paperwork the son filed, Larry’s house was valued at $8,000.00 and he had personal property of $1400.00. Lawrence Jr.  must have sold his father’s house. When he died a year later he had no real propety, but he did have personal property of $11,000.00.

Larry Coleman’s real property was valued at $8,000.00

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