Tuesday, June 2, 2015

Catholic Burial Records in Frederick, Maryland

This once in every 20th blue moon post is inspired by a superb book I was given during a recent trip to Frederick, Maryland. My Catholic in-laws have lived in Frederick for centuries. And been buried there. I regularly visit their graves at St. John's Cemetery when I am back for a visit. And wonder. For many of the Smith and Jamison kinfolk there died decades before the cemetery was created. The skeptic in me has questioned whether the markers were memorial stones or actually marked their graves.

A dedicated group from St. John's and the Frederick County Historical Society answered this and several other questions tumbling about in the back of my mind in the book Burial Records St. John the Evangelist Church Frederick, Maryland From 1779 Through December 31, 2000. It turns out the Smiths and other early Frederick settlers were moved from their original graves at the Jesuit Novitiate graveyard when the Jesuits left Frederick in the early 20th century. Which FINALLY explains how Leonard Smith, who died in 1794 is buried in a cemetery that opened in 1845. 

The book is drawn from church records recording deaths rather than actual burial records. As such, it includes people who were buried from St. John's but not at St. John's. It also includes at least two men not yet buried - my father-in-law and uncle, whose ashes await their very strong and long-lived wives. Long may they wait. 

The book costs $25 and is available privately. I, of course, no longer have the name of the gentleman selling the book (you can find it on the board near the entrance to the cemetery) but contacting the church or historical society bookstore should yield contact information. 

Monday, April 28, 2014

52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks: Frank Popp (1889-1966)

Frank Popp was another of my grandfather's cousins who emigrated to the United States. He was a storied cousin to my father and his siblings, living a glamorous life in Los Angeles and sending photographs to them of beaches and Rose Bowl parades.

Several years ago I was fortunate to be able to talk to Frank's daughter and get some information about his life beyond the pictures. After our conversation she sent me this photo of her parents and brother taken sometime after his birth in 1913.

His daughter knew very little about his life or family in Europe. He was born Ferencj Pap, in a Carpathian mountain village, either Drahova or Berezovo (now in Ukraine). She thought he was about 20 years old when he came to America. She thought he came through Ellis Island and then went to the mines in Pennsylvania. He may have gone to stay with another cousin, Joe Popp. Her mother, Mary Burjosky, came with her family as a child. They settled in Wyoming. 

Frank left the mines as soon as he could and went to Chicago where his cousin and my great-aunt, Mary Popp Hricak was living. He learned to barber there, then left to work near, but not in the mines. He went to Wyoming where he met and married his wife, and then to Washington State where his son was born in 1913. By 1917 they had moved to Miami, Arizona (another mining community) where their two daughters were born. By 1920 they had moved to Hollywood, where Frank bought a barber shop on Hollywood Boulevard and even cut a few movie stars' hair. 

Frank lived the rest of his life in California. He died there in 1966. I don't believe he ever came to New York, but he did visit the Hricaks in Chicago. My aunt and uncle met him as adults when they were in California. 

I don't actually know how Frank and my grandfather are related. They were clearly close, but whether they were first cousins is open for discussion and further research. The documentation I have found supports the information his daughter shared (with the exception of the 1930 census which lists his son's birthplace as the District of Columbia, rather than Washington State). I have yet to find immigration documents that I can absolutely assign to Frank. He was not the only Ferencj Pap leaving those mountains at the turn of the century. 

Written for Amy Johnson Crow's blogger challenge 52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks.

Photo Source
Frank Popp family portrait, c. 1914; digital image, privately held by Susan Popp Clark, [ADDRESS FOR PRIVATE USE,] St. Louis, MO. 2006. 

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks: John Popp (1886-1959)

My grandfather, Stephen Popp (Stefan Papp) was part of the tide of Austro-Hungarian immigrants that came to United States in the early 20th century. Like many others, he followed his family and neighbors. In addition to his siblings, three of his Popp cousins came to America from two small villages at the eastern edges of the Empire.

I grew up in Connecticut near the family of one of the cousins, John Popp. John died when I was a toddler, but I knew his widow and son's family. John had a certain stature in the family stories. He was dearly loved, a successful business man in Bridgeport, owned a car (this was a big deal), and was active in the immigrant church and cultural societies in the United States. He and his wife even hosted my aunt and uncle on their honeymoon in 1947, providing a sleeper sofa in the living room for the newlyweds. My aunt made it clear that they stayed a few days, then headed off to someplace more private for a traditional honeymoon. The notices that appeared in The Bridgeport Post following John's death don't mention the car or honeymoon hosting, but they more than illustrate his stature in the community.

EASTON, Sept. 14 -- Services will take place Thursday for John Popp, 72, of 10 Palmer place, former operator of a liquor store on Arctic street, Bridgeport, who died yesterday in his home.
The will be conducted at 8:30 a.m. in the Adzima funeral home, 591 Arctic stret [sic], Bridgeport, and at 9 o'clock in St. John the Baptist church, Mill Hill avenue. Burial will be in St. John's cemetery, Stratford. Panahedeon services will be conducted at the funeral home tonight, Tuesday and Wednesday at 7:30 o'clock.
Mr. Popp was past president of St. John the Baptist Carpatho Russian Greek Catholic church on Mill Hill avenue and supreme past president of the American Russian Sokols of the Greek Catholic Brotherhood, and a member of the Fathers' club, St. Basil's society and St. Nicholas' society.
A native of Czechoslovakia, Mr. Popp resided in Bridgeport many years before moving to Easton three years ago.
He is survived by his wife, Mrs. Elizabeth Wargo Popp; a son, George Popp, operator of the Appliance Center on Main street, four grandchildren and several nieces and nephews.

EASTON, Sept. 18 -- Services for John Popp, 72, of 10 Palmer place, were conducted yesterday in St. John the Baptist Carpatho-Russian Greek Cathoic church, Mill Hill avenue, Bridgeport. Burial was in St. John's cemetery, Stratford.
His Grace, Archbishop Benjamin, of Pittsburgh, officiated.
Celebrant of the Mass was the Rt. Rev. Andrew Slepecky, administrator of St. Clair, Pa.; co-celebrants, the Very Revs. John Kivko and Joseph G. Simko.
The Very Rev. Hrista Vasilescu, the Rev. John Shunda, the Rev. Victor F. George, the Rev. Alexander Kovachi, and the Very Rev. Stephen Antonuk were seated in the Sanctuary.
Father Simko assisted by Fathers Slepecky and Kivko, read the committal services.
Delegations from St. Basil's society, A.R.S. 3; St. Nicholas' society, and the Fathers club attended.
Bearers, all church officers, were Michael Tarasovich, Michael Hritz, Michael Soltis, Jr., Richard Kopchyak, Peter Liscinsky and George Komtos. 
John was born on 22 Dec 1886 in Drahovo, Maramoros, Austria-Hungary to Ivan Papp and his wife, Ilka Papp. Today Drahovo is in Ukraine. He came to the United States in 1903 with his mother. His father was working in Johnstown, PA, and paid for their passage. He had two surviving siblings who remained in Europe, Anna Papp and Stefan Papp. John's parents ultimately returned to Drahovo. While I cannot document the relationship between John and my grandfather, their children believed them to be first cousins through John's mother. If so, then Ilka Papp was a sister of my great-grandfather, Ivan Papp, and a daughter of Stefan Papp and Anna Stajko.

Written for Amy Johnson Crow's blogger challenge 52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks.


"John Popp, 72, Dies; Ex-Head of Sokols," The Bridgeport Post, 14 Sep 1959, p. 34, col. 8; digital images, Ancestry.com (accessed 22 Apr 2014), Newspapers & Publications. Cit. Date: 22 Apr 2014.  

"Obituary John Popp," The Bridgeport Post, 17 Sep 1059, p. 2, col. 9; digital images, Ancestry.com (accessed 22 Apr 2014), Newspapers & Publications. Cit. Date: 22 Apr 2014.  

"Ellis Island Ship Manifests," online images, EllisIsland.org (www.ellisisland.org : accessed 22 Apr 2014), manifest, S.S. Finland, 6 Oct 1903, Ilka Papp and Ivan Papp, lines 7 & 8. Cit. Date: 22 Apr 2014.  

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks: A Mystery Aunt

Well, well, well. A mystery has unfolded.

I was roaming through Ancestry's shaky green leaves a few weeks ago and found a copy of this photograph on someone's tree. A photograph of my 2nd great-aunt Barbary Sawyer Proffit  I posted on the blog back in 2010. I assumed it had been taken from the blog, but when I checked, the woman who posted it had labeled it as being Liney Huffman Howlett Evans, Barbary's older half-sister. She had gotten the photo from a cousin. When I asked her about the identity she was unsure, having based the identification on her cousin's information.

As am I.

My photo is labeled on the back in my aunt's handwriting. She never knew either woman, but labeled the photograph based on interviews with her aunts. The problem is her aunts never knew Liney and only barely knew Barbary. I never have been able to figure out who the F.L. Evans is sitting next to Barbary. BUT, if the picture is Liney, then it is probably her husband James A. Evans. It would be lovely if the photograph included a studio name or location. Barbary lived in Cocke and Greene counties in Tennessee. Liney moved to Arkansas and then to Oklahoma. No studio. That the women might look enough alike to be mistaken for one another makes sense. They are sisters.

Last week I found the photo on another Ancestry tree belonging to one of Liney's descendants. This time I know the owner of the tree. He is a thorough and generous researcher who has shared his work with me about Liney and her life after leaving Tennessee. I am inclined to trust his information, even if the source of the photograph is not given. Unfortunately the email address I have for him is no longer valid and he has not responded to messages through Ancestry.

So, who is this? Another one of my Sawyer mysteries. A photograph of one of my great-grandfather Gee Sawyer's older sisters. With a man named Evans. My bet is Liney, but then again, my aunts were no slouches when it came to research either.

Written for Amy Johnson Crow's blogger challenge 52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks.

Saturday, March 29, 2014

Wormhole Genealogy

Last night I had one of those out of body, out of time genealogy adventures. In the end it was more fiction than science, but what a ride! 

I began by revisiting my great-aunt Mary Kathryn's mysterious husband, Heiskell (now Hascal) McKenzie. I knew he was a devastatingly handsome man "from" Lenoir City (Loudon County, TN), that they married when my mother was a teenager (1940s) and that he died soon after from alcoholism. I have never found a marriage record for them and decided to see how Ancestry's search feature would work with the elusive Mr. McKenzie. 

Sometime later (on FamilySearch) I found him in the 1900 census living with his grandparents in Cocke County, TN. This was a revelation to me, for I had no idea he had local roots. I was even more surprised that his mother's parents were Abe and Jane Dawson, part of a large Dawson clan that contributed many in-laws to my Sawyers and Conways. 

I wandered a bit further and discovered that Jane Dawson, Hascal McKenzie's grandmother, was born Jane Precilla Ren in January, 1837 which is when Mary Kathryn's grandfather, Archie Sawyer was being hauled into court to support an illegitmate child born to Scintha Ren. This was when my brain took off and the ride become more carnival roller coaster/side show than actual research. I leapt, wondering if she was the child (probably not). I found a Priscilla Ren living with Jane in 1850 and suspected she was the errant Scintha, neglecting to notice she was in her sixties in 1836. I discovered that Jane's purported father Joel Ren was married to an Elizabeth Killion, prompting visions of Archie's sister-in-law marrying into the other woman's family and raising his spawn. 

At which point I decided I'd best go to bed.

Today, after sleep and copious amounts of caffeine I realize that I don't know if Archie and Scintha Ren's child was a boy or a girl. I don't know if the child survived. I don't know what happened to Scintha Ren. I have yet to find a record that I can confidently tie to Scintha. I even wonder now if Archie and Sallie's son Andy could have been Scintha Ren's son, for I have no marriage record for Archie and Sallie. 

What I do know is that Archie and Sallie's FAN club has grown, giving me lots more to work with. Joel Ren was born in North Carolina. Did he migrate with the Killions? Did he know the Sawyers before landing in Cocke County? Who is the Priscilla Ren I was so eager to label as the other woman in Archie's life (wouldn't that have been an accomplishment)? Is Elizabeth Killion Ren one of the tickmark daughters of David and Barbary Killion? 

I also know that falling into those wormholes is tremendous fun. I started looking for a 20th c. in-law and landed back in the 19th c. hills circling near my favorite mystery grandfather. 

Photo Credit
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