Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Posts Tagged ‘Colbert’

“The Book” is progressing and on schedule. I finished the citations and now I am scanning, and locating photographs, illustrations, maps, and charts.

Task List - Book

Going through the photographs is enlightening. The Whelans, probably Aunt Nan or Uncle Jimmy, had a camera in the 1920s. There are a lot of snapshots and they are in pretty good shape.

WS Vincent Peggy and Thomas

Vincent, Peggy, and Thomas

WS the kids

“The Kids” – Billy, Thomas, Vincent, and Babsie

My grandmother took the children for studio portraits to send back to her mother in Ireland.

WS Angela Communion

Angela – First Communion

The Colberts didn’t take studio portraits. There is only one – of my father’s First Communion. It’s possible they took pictures of the other kids, but they didn’t survive.

They didn’t have a camera, but someone took pictures and gave them copies. There are a few snapshots, but they are in bad shape.

Colbert 053

Joe and Larry, around 1918.

Micky, Joan, Jackie and friends

Micky, Joan, Jackie and friends, around 1930.

In 1939 my Uncle Joe bought a camera and loved taking candid shots, writing detailed information on the back of each picture.

Colbert_0125

Joe – around 1939

Colbert_0126

Joe went to the fair with his brother Larry, and their cousins Bill and Jim Rogers.

Nan Whelan went on to become a photographer and in the 1940s she took a lot of family pictures and printed them out herself, usually on 8 x 10 paper.

In December of 1942 Uncle Vincent, who enlisted in the Army right after Pearl Harbor, came home on leave. He’d gone through almost a year of training and was going overseas.

Nan took pictures of him, in uniform, with as many family members as she could.

 

WS Bill Annie Vincent and Jimmie

Billy, Vincent, and Jimmy with their mother, December 1942

 

WS Vincent and Peggy Anne 164

Vincent and Peggy Anne

It never hit me until scanning them that she, and the rest of the family were worried that  he might not come back. He did, but he never saw his father or brother Jimmy again. He returned in April on compassionate leave because of the death of his father, only to learn after he arrived home that his brother had died a few weeks earlier.

 

 

Read Full Post »

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.

Read Full Post »

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.

Read Full Post »

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.

Read Full Post »

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.

Read Full Post »

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

Read Full Post »

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

Read Full Post »

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.

Read Full Post »

I recently searched land records in not one, but two counties: New York and Dutchess.

New York – 66 John Street

I went back to 66 John Street to get more information about the lot that Mary Coleman Colbert leased. She was quite the fighter. She did not give up on her right to the 15 year lease she had obtained in 1865. The plaintiff, Cornelia Austin, did not give up either and kept appealing decisions that did not go her way. The property was finally sold at auction in late 1877, with Mary’s case still open. The other tenants were apparently paid costs out of the sale. I don’t know what happened with Mary’s costs, but she seems to have been able to stay until the end.

The property where Mary Colbert lived was sold at auction in late 1877.

Her grandson, John Grossman, first child of Mary Colbert and George Grossman, was born in his Grandmother’s house  in September 1879.  Mary’s lease ended on April 1, 1880. A few months later, in June 1880, the family is living in Bronxville, Westchester County.

When they returned to the city they lived at 421 East 12oth Street. Not only was this right in back of their old place, it was the lot that had been leased by Charles Spear, one of the other tenants named in the lawsuit! Curious. Spear gave a description of his house in his testimony, so I’m going back to the Old Records Room to check  it out.

I was also able to find that Mary Coleman Colbert’s brother owned a house in Manhattan, also on East 121st Street, but  several blocks west. He bought it in 1885, but didn’t move there until 1900. Maybe he rented it out?

Lawrene Coleman and his wife Julia bought this house in 1885.

Dutchess – 22 Market Street, Poughkeepsie

In New York you usually look up the block and lot number – after all, New York is divided into a grid. In the Dutchess County Clerk Records Room you search using the grantor/grantee books and look for the name. I found what I was looking for quickly and then went straight to the liber to see the deeds. These libers are heavy, and I believe the ones on the bottom row are heavier!

I have to admit  the typed deeds are much easier to read, but it was interesting to read the handwritten property description in one deed. The property was transferred in 1835 in Amenia and was a farm. The description went on and on – a very long page with very small handwriting. Here’s how it starts:

…end of a stonewall  North of the road and north west of the house of Noah Brown thence south eighty three and one half east twelve chains and nine links to stake and stones thence north ten and one half and five chains and fifty links to stake in the wll thence south…

I gave up at that point.

I looked at another deed (typed). This one was from 1926 for property in the City of Beacon and had an interesting clause. I think it may have been carried over from a previous deed. What do you think?

…Occupants and servants at all times to freely pass and re-pass on foot, or with horses, cattle, beasts of burden, wagons, carts, sleighs, carriages, or other vehicles whatsoever to and fro, over said right of way as above bounded and described..

This did  have cars by 1926 and the horses and sleighs were almost a thing of the past. And just how long did people keep cattle in Beacon?

Read Full Post »

When I found the description of Mary’s house (see: Mary moves her house) I wanted to know more. Why was the house sold? Just who was William Austin? I always wondered how long the Colberts had lived on 121st Street and why they moved – to Bronxville in Westchester County.

Land records can be found at 66 John Street so I went there. I knew the block and lot number (1808 – 41) so I was able to find the old records pretty quickly. As I went through them, I found them confusing – referees and people selling and selling back to each other – what was going on?

There was a nice map in the beginning of the book and I could see that Mary’s lot straddled two old farms that had been overlaid with the new Manhattan Grid that had been established in 1811.

In the 1850s the properties were being “lotted” and partitioned and sold but there was plenty of open land.

Mary's lot was number 41. Lots 40, 41, 13, and 13 1/2 were under dispute. The names are of the owners of the farms that were there at the time the grid was created.

I decided to go to google books and check out some of the names I had found. Up popped Austin v Ahearne et al. As I read the case I saw the names of the “et al” – the tenants of Ahearne. They were : Spear, Wright, Hickman and COLBERT!

The case was full of legal terms, like “attornment” and “ejectment”. What had happened?  Was there more information?

Yes – in the New York County Clerk’s office, Old Records Division. They have the original case file, folded and wrapped in a ribbon, unopened for at least 100 years. Fragile pages crumbled as I opened them. I had to take digital pictures because the records were too fragile to photocopy.

Mary's lawyer wrote "exceptions" to the findings of the referee.

So what had happened? I’m still trying to sort it out, but basically – two women, Cornelia Austin and Margaret M. Ahearne (no relation to us) each owned 1/2 of an undivided interest in property that Margaret had leased to 4 tenants: Charles Spear, Amelia Wright, Nicholas Hickman and Mary Colbert. In 1869 Cornelia filed a lawsuit to eject the tenants. That seems to have been settled when they “attorned” – acknowledging her as their landlady. I still can’t figure out if they had to pay more rent. I do know she wanted to raise Mary’s rent to $100.00 a year, from $30.00 a year.

My great great grandmother resisted these efforts. I know this because the New York Tribune said so in an article called ” The Referee System Illustrated” on June 24, 1872:

…Margaret M. Ahearne executed leases of these lots to four tenants, and that she and her tenants refused to acknowledge any rights of the plaintiff, Austin in the premises. She accordingly began suits of ejectment against Mrs. Ahearne and the tenants, two of whom recognized her claim and became her tenants also, while a third, Mary Colbert, who had resisted her demand, was nevertheless allowed, from motives of humanity, to remain….

After the ejectment case was worked out, Cornelia filed another lawsuit to partition the property. The court seemed to say that it was too complicated to partition and that it should be sold.

I wonder what it was like for my great great grandmother – she could not read, although her daughters and her son-in-law could.  She had to hire an attorney to fight the ejectment and then the partition. In one document, her lawyer, Abram Wakeman, told the court that she was infirm and had no way to support herself without her house. It’s possible that Mary had hoped to buy the property when she’d saved enough money. If it went to auction she wouldn’t have a chance.

Mary's lawyer represented her in court.

The case eventually went to the New York State Court of Appeals. In the end, the lots, including the houses, sold at auction for $250.00 – the buyer? William Austin, a relative of Cornelia’s.

Newspaper ad for the sale of the properties. Note Mary Colbert is mentioned in the last sentence.

When Mary’s lease ended on April 1, 1880, she had to move – but why Bronxville?

Probably because her next door neighbor, Nicholas Hickman, also caught up in this lawsuit and whose lease ended a few months earlier, had moved there.

The Colberts didn’t stay long, but returned to New York, not far from East 121st Street, by the fall of 1880. But something had changed: From 1865 to 1880 city directories and the census show that Mary and later her sons and son-in-law were in the milk business. After they returned to New York there is no more mention of milk. Now my great grandfather and his brother are usually shown as drivers and their brother-in-law as a truckman, expressman, or stevedore.

Read Full Post »

Older Posts »