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Posts Tagged ‘Colbert’

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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Ancestry now has a lot of new New York State records.They are supposed to be free, but if you don’t have an Ancestry account it’s best to go directly to the special website address – Ancestry New York.

THE RECORDS:

  • 1940 U.S. Federal Census, NY NEW!

  • NY State Census, 1915 NEW!

  • NY State Census, 1925 NEW!

  • NY State Census, 1892 NEW!

  • Albany, New York State Census, 1915

  • Menands, New York, Albany Rural Cemetery Burial Cards, 1791-2011

  • New York Marriages, 1600-1784

  • New York Military Equipment Claims, War of 1812

  • New York, Census of Inmates in Almshouses and Poorhouses, 1830-1920

  • New York, Town Clerks’ Registers of Men Who Served in the Civil War, ca 1861-1865

  • New York, World War I Veterans’ Service Data, 1913-1919

  • New York, WWII Enlisted Men Cards, 1940-1945 NEW!

  • Salina, New York, Records, 1805-1969

  • U.S. Census Mortality Schedules, New York, 1850-1880

  • U.S. Census Non-Population Schedules, New York, 1850-1880

  • U.S. Federal Census – 1880 Schedules of Defective, Dependent, and Delinquent Classes

Of course, I had already found many of those records the old fashioned way. I went to the New York Public Library, got the microfilm, cranked the wheel until I found the record and then tried to take a decent picture.

This way is much better and easier.

I’m going to post the census records for my parents’ families. Neither of my parents was born in 1915, but their parents were married. My father’s oldest brother was a baby. There were four kids in my mother’s family in 1915.

1915 Census

COLBERT

The Colberts in 1915 at 85 Old Broadway. Uncle Joe was only 120 days old. My grandfather’s brother Jim was living with them.

1925 Census

COLBERT and RYAN

The Colberts and Ryans both lived at 112 Lawrence Street in 1925. Uncle Jackie was a month old. Naturalization information for Lawrence Ryan is wrong. He  became a citizen in 1888.

1915 Census

WHELAN

My mother’s family. They lived at 390 Columbus Avenue. Note the name is spelled Whalen. Aunt Bessie (Elizabeth Shanley) is living with them, she married a few years later.

1925 Census

WHELAN

They are living at 35 Douglass Street. They rented out two apartments and lived in the third. The whole family is there. Of course, there is a mistake. James Whelan was naturalized in 1898, not 1900.

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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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I found my father – he was still in New York, working as a mechanic in aviation. I know he was working for Brewster Aeronautical  in Long Island City at the time. Sometime in 1940 or early 1941 he moved to Baltimore.

My grandfather provided the information to the census enumerator. He was a carpenters’ helper for the Railroad – that would be the IRT. He had been hired by them in 1932. Uncle Joe and Uncle Mike worked for a laundry. I wonder if that was the same laundry where my father had worked before he went to Stewart Technical School for aviation mechanics? Aunt Joan, or Johanna, was 13 and so there’s no information on her in the last columns because she was under 14 years old. She, Uncle Jackie, and Aunt Frances were all in school.

Of course, it took a bit of effort to find them because they were not home the day the census enumerator came to the house and went through the building. He had to come back. They are listed on page 63A. For repeat visits, the enumerator was instructed to use new sheets at the end of the listings and to start with page 61A.

My grandfather, William Colbert, in 525 West 182nd Street. He provided the information to the census enumerator.

The Colberts at 525 West 182nd Street

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On April 2, 2012, we will be able to see the 1940 U. S. Census.

My grandparents and my parents and the whole Colbert and Whelan gang should be there. My parents weren’t married yet, but they were dating – they met in 1939.

What did they say they did for a living? how much did they make in 1939? What was their education?

Who provided the information to the census taker? Grandma Whelan for the Whelan gang, I’ll bet. But who was home when the census taker came to the Colberts? Was Aunt Frances still in school or had she started working? What about Uncle Mike? Uncle Jackie and Aunt Joan were in school, I’m sure. Was my father already in Baltimore? Was Mom working as a dental hygienist? Will there be any surprises?

20 days to find out!!

June 1940 - That's my father and his cousins Bill and Jimmy Rogers - hope they filled out their census forms before they went to jail (at the New York World's Fair) - picture taken by Uncle Joe.

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