Tag Archives: New York

House History: The owners

The 1894-5 Buffalo city directory shows only one house on our block, and it wasn’t ours, which makes sense because our house was supposedly built in 1900. The 1900, 1910 and 1920 US Censuses list the owners of our house as George A. and Carrie L. Rowe. George was a physician in Buffalo (the 1902-3 Buffalo city directory shows his office at 60 Niagara Street), born in 1854 in Ohio. He married Carrie, who was also born in Ohio in 1865, in about 1887. The 1910 census asks each woman how many children she had and how many were living. Carrie never had any children.

Each year they had a servant and/or boarders living in the house with them. In 1900, they had a boarder named Louise Otto, a 15-year-old girl born in New York in 1885. They also had a servant named Mrs. A Rahler or Kahler, a 19-year-old woman born in England in 1880. She was married, though her husband is not listed in the household, and she had been in the United States for 19 years, immigrating in 1881.

In 1910, they had a different servant, Mabel Ellsford, living in the house. Mabel was a 34-year-old widow who immigrated from England only four years earlier in 1906.

The 1920 census shows one “roomer” living in the house with Dr. George and Carrie. She was Marie B. Moreland, an unmarried 41-year-old woman born in New York. Interestingly, her occupation is listed as secretary in a physician’s office. There were plenty of doctor’s in Buffalo at the time, but could she have been Dr. George’s secretary? How awkward would that have been?!

Sometime between 1920 and 1927, Dr. George died. The 1927-8 Buffalo city directory lists “Rowe, Carrie L (wid Geo A)” living in the house. The 1930 census also lists Carrie as a widow with three single women boarders. They were Helen Maxam (age 35, born in Michigan), Henriette Conrad (age 40, born in New York) and Marjorie Mahoney (age 50, born in Michigan). All three were stenographers: Helen worked for N&E Power Company (not sure what N&E stands for yet) and Henriette worked for an insurance company. Marjorie doesn’t list where she worked. Interesting details in this census include the fact that the house had a radio set and it was valued at $8,500, the lowest on the block which ranges from $8,500 to $20,000.

Carrie is still listed as the owner in the 1933 Buffalo city directory, but she probably died sometime in 1933 or 1934. Subsequent city directories from 1934 to 1967 list other residents. They are:

  • Mrs. Maritta C. Sanders, 1934 (listed as owner)
  • Mrs. Agnes C. Mutchler, 1936 (not listed as owner)
  • VACANT, 1937
  • Mrs. Eliz Spencer, 1938-1946 (not listed as owner, 1938-1941 indicate she was living alone)

The only other Buffalo city directory available online was for 1956. It lists Mrs. Eliz Spencer as the owner, but I’m not sure at what point she actually purchased the house. Looking at the ownership, I’m wondering if the house was foreclosed on sometime between 1934 and 1936 during the Great Depression, and Eliz Spencer finally bought her home of about 10 years once the depression and World War II ended.

House History, Part 1

A few weeks ago, I was poking around the top floor of our new home, and found a bit of history that we hadn’t noticed before. In a closet just inside the door on a section of wall where the old wallpaper had come off was some writing in pencil:

Paper hanged by C. W. Brayman 1900 Niagara Street, City March 7, 1922

Paper hanged by C.W. Brayman
1900 Niagara St. City
March 7, 1922

Blane and I bought a 110-year-old house in Buffalo, New York, last month. It’s the type of house I’ve fantasized about owning–a house with history, and one where we can do a little bit of restoration work. The people we bought it from have been in the house for about 35 years, and they told us they had purchased it at an estate sale when the original owner died. This would make us the third owners of a house that has been alive for more than a century!

My first thought when I saw this inscription on the wall was how I could have missed it for so long. We’ve both been up on the third floor several times. It looks like it has only been used as storage space for many years, but is finished with three bedrooms and a hall closet. The wallpaper in the hallway is fabulous! There are bits of old furniture that were left behind, so we’ve been exploring and dreaming about what we could do with the space.

My second thought was wondering who C. W. Brayman could have been, and started thinking about the history of our new home. I immediately logged on to Ancestry.com and started searching for C. W. Brayman in the 1920 US Census. I very quickly found Charles W. Brayman, age 20, living with his parents, Charles A. and Louise Brayman, and step-sister, Catherine Werle [?], in an upper flat of 1920 Niagara Street, Buffalo, NY.

Isidore Silber

I just pulled out the death certificate for Isidore Silver that I have (mentioned in today’s other posting) because I hadn’t packed it with my stuff to take to Poughkeepsie (glad I decided to blog before leaving), and found another piece of evidence that makes me REALLY believe that this is the same Isidore Silber that I’m looking for. There are actually three reasons I think that this is the right person, despite the huge discrepancy in the parents’ names.

  1. Isidore and Sarah Schwartz Silber were living in New York City at the time, which is where this Isidore Silver died. I have census records that confirm this. All census records have their last name spelled as “Silver” which is understandable. Their children match my mother’s recollection of her aunt’s and uncle’s names, so I’m confident that the census records are a match.
  2. This Isidore died during the right time period, and a search of the New York City Death Index doesn’t give any other possibilities.
  3. Despite dying in New York City, the death certificate says that Isidore Silver was buried in Poughkeepsie. Most of the Silbers and Schwartzes (from my family anyway) lived in Poughkeepsie at the time.
  4. The most compelling piece of evidence, though, is something I discovered only yesterday. Isidore Silver was living at 342 East 80th Street at the time of his death, according the the death certificate. His wife’s older brother, William Schwartz, lived at 341 East 80th Street, for more than 20 years–just across the street!! (I found William in the census yesterday after going through some old letters in preparation for today’s trip, and finding a letter that said that “Uncle Willie” had a barbershop on East 79th Street and a son named Mac [who turns out to be Max in the census]).
I was looking forward to this weekend’s trip to Poughkeepsie, but I’m really excited now! I feel like there will be some big finds, and everything is falling into place right now!

On the road to Poughkeepsie

I’m off to Poughkeepsie this morning for my first New York genealogical expedition. For the past year, I have done a LOT of genealogical research, but it has all been online in my apartment. I went to the New York Public Library once in the first few weeks after arriving in New York City, but was quickly intimidated. I’m very familiar with the Family History Library in Salt Lake City, but this was all new, and I was still a bit intimidated by New York City in general. I spent a few minutes aimlessly wandering and looking, then left. (I actually just happened to run across the library on a walk around midtown, so I went in. I didn’t have any notes or my computer with me, so I wouldn’t have been able to do much anyway. However, I haven’t been back yet.)

So, anyway….I digress.

I’m jumping on Metro-North this morning to go to Poughkeepsie this weekend to find family graves. I know the cemetery where my great-grandparents, Josef and Jolan (Julia) Schwartz Silber, are buried, and I know that my great-great-grandfather, Ignatz Schwartz, is also buried there. Last September I emailed the genealogist at Congregation Schomre Israel in Poughkeepsie, Sam Wexel, and gave him some basic information. He emailed back two weeks later with obituaries and grave locations, and even pictures of the grave markers. So, finally I’m going up to see them for myself.

My hope for this trip is to find other family members, and answer a few questions. The number one question at the moment involves my great-grandmother’s sister, Sali (aka Zoli, aka Sarah) Schwartz, and her first husband, Izrael (aka Isidore) Silber. Isidore died sometime between 1910 and 1920, and I have a possible death certificate for him. However, as the story goes, Isidore was my great-grandfather’s (Josef Silber’s) brother. I have, however, marriage registrations from Hungary for both Josef and Jolan, and Izrael and Sali. The parents listed on Josef’s and Izrael’s registrations are different.

I have two documents for each “brother” with their parents names. I have a marriage registration and social security application for Josef that both say his parents were Samuel Silber and Cziczilia (aka Tilly) Kupferstein (Cooperstein). I have a marriage registration and birth registration for Izrael that say that his parents were Saji Silber and Terez (aka Teri) Kupferstein. The New York City death certificate that I have says that Isidore Silver says that his parents were Joseph Silber and Gertie Schwartz–way off!

So, I’m hoping that Poughkeepsie will provide some answers for me, or at least open up some new paths for exploration.