"Let me see generation times, will we hear children singing rhymes? Sweet memories gone by..."

30 August 2012

The Other Campen Family

Now all you young fellas, when for marriage you go
Examine your true love from the top to the toe
And if you don't do that, like me you'll be sold
To a damsel not nineteen, but a ninety-year-old
-- "Only Nineteen Years Old" (Traditional)

Not long ago, while browsing through the 1940 Census for family members, I came across the record for the family of Henry Campen.  Henry was the older brother of my great-great-grandfather, Louis Campen.  Henry died in 1927, but his widow Louise and two daughters were still living in Baltimore City in 1940.  At first glance, the record is somewhat unremarkable.

The circled X next to Louise's name indicates that she was the one who gave the family's info to the census taker.  She reported that she was 68 years old, and her daughters Teresa and Laura were 35 and 33 years old... except that they weren't.  Not even close!

Now, I've come across many, many census records where ages weren't right, but normally, they're still in the ballpark.  And Louise and her daughters have a history of distorting their ages in every census record going back to 1900.  But in 1940, Louise just outright lied:  she was born in 1856, so she would have been 84... not 68!  And not only that, Louise lied about her daughters' ages as well.  Teresa should have been 61 (not 35), and Laura was 57 (not 33).  This time she was off by more than 20 years!

Dating back to brothers Henry and Louis, there was a split in the Campen family.  According to family lore, they jointly inherited their father's canning business after his death, but Henry tricked Louis out of his share.  Louis died in 1901, aged only 44 years, leaving behind his wife Mary and six children.

Aunt Jean once wrote to me about the Campens:  "Henry's family were well to do.  They had a chauffeur and went to Florida in the Winter.  The story is that one of Louis' grown daughters talked with one of Henry's daughters on a street car and suggested that they get together and Henry's daughter indicated that they were not interested.  After all they were first cousins."

Ancestry.com has several travel records for Teresa and Laura from the 1950s.  They went on a few cruises, and visited England twice.

The divide in the family can also be seen in where Henry and Louis were buried.  Louis and his wife are buried at the old Baltimore Cemetery in unmarked graves, but Henry's family were buried at the better-known Green Mount Cemetery, in a plot just down the hill from Johns Hopkins' family.

On the other hand, though, neither of Henry's daughters ever married (whatever their ages were!), so his family line died out, while Louis has dozens of descendants alive today.

28 August 2012

Vital Statistics

In the morning we built the city
In the afternoon walked through its streets
Evening saw us leaving
We wandered through our days as if they would never end
All of us imagined we had endless time to spend
We hardly saw the crossroads and small attention gave
To the landmarks on the journey from the cradle to the grave
-- "Ballad Of Accounting" by Ewan McColl

Today marks the 144th birthday of my great-great-grandfather, Dr. Charles Lawrence Siegel, though he himself only lived to be 34 years old.  Earlier this year, on the anniversary of his death, I posted a video about him on Facebook.  For those who missed it, here it is again:

His short life started me thinking about lifespans and such in my family tree.

When Pop Pop & Mom Mom were married, they were ages 24 and 16, respectively.  Mom Mom died at age 53, but Pop Pop lived to be 85 years old.  Among their children and children-in-law (my uncles and aunts), the average age when they got married is 22.5 years;  for the men it's 22.9, and the women it's 22.1.  Among the grandchildren (my cousins) who've married so far, the average age is 27.4 years old.

But I wondered, going back in time through my ancestors, how things might have changed.  So I put together a spreadsheet to work out the math.

Of my four great-grandparents, their average age when they first got married was 23.5 years.  Of my eight great-great-grandparents, their average age was 20.9.  And of the fifteen great-great-great-grandparents for whom I have dates, the average age was, surprisingly, 23.  It went back up!

Now, looking at my 3rd-great-grandparents closer, it was the men who skewed the average higher.  For them, their average age was 26.1 years, versus 19.4 for the women.  One of my 3rd-great-grandfathers, Bryan Thomas, didn't get married until 1849, when he was about 35 years old - the oldest of my ancestors.  And that was just his first marriage;  his wife died young, and Bryan married a second time five years later, to my ancestor Leonora Silence.

The youngest to get married was Mary Ann Hammon, my 2nd-great-grandmother, who was just 15 years old when she married John Edwards in 1884.

Now on to average lifespans... of my four great-grandparents, their average age 75.1 years;  three of them lived to be at least 80 years old, but Walter Dotson died fairly young at the age of 42.

Of my eight great-great-grandparents, their average age was 62.8 years.  And, as happened with the marriage age, the average for my great-great-great-grandparents rose, this time to 68.7 years.

Of all of these, Dr. Charles Siegel (from the video above) was the youngest at age 34 in 1903.  My longest-lived ancestor was Lucy Jane Swindall Dotson, my 2nd-great-grandmother, who passed away at the age of 92 in 1949.

The overall average of everyone together was 67.5 years old;  65.3 years for the men, and 69.9 years for the women.  About half died of "old age" (my mother the nurse rolls her eyes whenever that actual phrase is written on a death certificate).

I can't reliably go back to my 4th-great-grandparents for statistics, as I'm missing a few names and many dates for this generation.  Plus, one particular ancestor, Elizabeth Swindle, never married at all.  Of the thirty-two individuals, I have estimated or confirmed birth and death dates for half of them, and accurate wedding dates for only six couples.  But, for whatever it's worth, their average marriage age was 21.8 years, and average age when they died was 73.9.

In conclusion... there is no real conclusion, since it certainly doesn't prove anything.  But I thought it might be interesting.  Food for thought, I guess.  So there ya go!

05 August 2012

1940 Census, part 2

A miner's life is like a sailor on board a ship to cross the waves
Every day his life's in danger, many ventures being brave
Watch the rocks, they're falling daily, careless miners always fail
Keep your hand upon your wages and your eye upon the scale
-- "A Miner's Life" (Traditional)

In my first blog post back in May, I wrote about trying to find ancestors in the newly-released 1940 U.S. Census.  At the time, the only relatives I'd found were those whose addresses I already knew.  Four months later, Ancestry.com has just completed its index of every single state, with 134 million names.  So with this new search tool, I've found a few more...

I quickly found my great-great-grandparents John and Louise Gallo, living at 570 Roosevelt Street in Trenton, New Jersey.  At the age of 75, John was still working, listed simply as a "laborer" - ten years prior in 1930, his occupation was "farm laborer". 

(Full-size image here)

Next on the list was Clarence Campen, whom I discovered staying at the veterans' hospital at Perry Point in Cecil County, Maryland.  An interesting tidbit on this record:  instead of giving a person's 1935 residence, the hospital provided the patient's date of admission.  For Clarence, he was admitted on June 28, 1933.

(Full-size image here)

With a bit of hunting, I was able to find my great-great-grandmother Lucy Jane Dotson.  She was living with her daughter Sophronia's family in Letcher County, Kentucky.

(Full-size image here)

Which now brings me to the most difficult person to find - Pop Pop!  The prior year, in 1939, Pop Pop's father had died from his injuries after being struck by a car.  My great-grandmother Savannah was left with five children to raise on her own.  From what I've found, it looks like the family was split up.  First I found Pop Pop's older sister, Aunt Fay, with husband Willie Freeman, their daughter Sheila, and Aunt Jackie, living in Pike County, Kentucky.

(Full-size image here)

Next I found Pop Pop's brothers Otis and Walter Jr. living with Savannah's brother Arthur, also in Pike County, Kentucky.  Like Willie Freeman, Uncle Otis and Arthur were working as coal miners.

(Full-size image here)

Alas, Pop Pop, his mother Savannah, and Savannah's then-future husband, Beecher Ramey, are all still playing hide-and-seek.  I'm hoping their names are just indexed some weird way - I've seen many creative renderings of Datson, Dotsin, etc.  At least I now have Pike County to focus on, fingers crossed!

03 August 2012

Wedding Anniversary

Smaointe, ar an lá I think of the day
Raibh sibh ar mo thaobh That you were both at my side
Ag inse scéil Telling stories
Ar an doigh a bhí Of how things were
Is cuimhin liom an lá I remember the day
Gan gha's gan ghruaim Without want and without gloom
Bígí liomsa i gconaí Be with me always
Lá's oích Day and night

-- "Smaointe..." by Enya
(Read by my mother at Grandpop's funeral)

Seventy-one years ago today my grandparents were married.  In their memory, my mom wrote this blog post about them (with some help from her siblings!)...

Mom and Dad, Rose Paparella and Angelo Picarello, were introduced via mutual friends and family.  Uncle Don, Mom's brother was going out with Aunt Nina and she is a cousin to Dad.  They were married 8/3/1941 at St. Joaquim's Church in Trenton and honeymooned in Atlantic City (on the way, the car broke down!).  For a while they lived with the Paparella's in Chambersburg.   MaryAnne was born the next year.  They later moved to "the country" - Lawrenceville, New Jersey - really just a few miles away.

Not long after they were married, Pearl Harbor was bombed on 12/7/1941.  Mom talked about this, saying they were on their way to the shore at the time, then heard about the Pearl Harbor bombing by radio reports and turned around to go home.  Angelo was drafted into the service in 1944 and chose to serve in the Navy.  He never left the country, but spent time in San Diego, and St. Louis, where Rose and MaryAnne joined him with the Beewig family.  He was discharged in 1946.

They bought a piece of property across the street from Grandmom and Grandpop Picarello at 41 Altamawr Avenue and Dad started to build a house in 1947, pouring the foundation on the day that Joe was born.  Dad always said that the rear foundation was a little crooked because he had to leave while they were pouring to go to the hospital.  They moved into their new Cape Cod and eventually added to their growing family.  Angela arrived in 1952, Rosalie in 1958, and Annette in 1964.

The block was really a family block as Uncle Frank (Dad's older brother) and Aunt Bert lived right next door to Grandmom and Grandpop, Aunt Helen (Dad's older sister) and Uncle Francis lived 2 houses away just up the street.  Aunt Jo (Mom's older sister) and Uncle Rudy built a house right next door to Mom and Dad.  Aunt Sue (Dad's younger sister) and Uncle Vince lived about a half mile back up the street, but eventually moved to a new house 3 doors away.

Rose was always busy with us kids.  She liked to crochet and sew and made a lot of her own clothes.  Before they were married, she worked in a dress factory and a doll factory.  Angelo liked to fish.  We spent many weekends at the Jersey shore, usually Island Beach State Park.   He would fish while Rose and the kids would all relax and play on the beach.   Angelo also liked to bowl and he was in a league that included other family members, Uncle Don, Uncle Frank, Uncle Mike and a friend Joe DiOrio.  They also occasionally got together for card games.  Angelo made his own wine, most often plum and raisin wine.  He worked at General Motors after the war until he retired at the age of 58.

Rose passed away at the age of 77 in 1998 and Angelo passed away at age 90 in 2009.