Sunday, August 21, 2016

Itty Bitty Envelope

Today’s installment of “what the heck is this” is an Itty Bitty Envelope that I found in my grandmother, Loraine Gunzendorfer Levy’s, things.


I’ve glanced at the envelope in the past, and maybe even looked inside briefly, but today I decided to look at everything carefully and see what I might learn.

Inside there were some photos and quite a few newspaper “clippings” folded up.

Envelope contents

Of course the first thing I saw was a few photos from New York Gallery, 25 Third St, S.F.  But, sadly, there is nothing identifying these mystery people.  More on that in a minute.

I slowly started opening up the clippings to see what was so important to keep in this itty bitty envelope. 

May 4, 1944

Okay, this makes sense.  My great grandfather, Abraham Gunzendorfer, died on May 4, 1944.  So, I wasn’t surprised to see stories about his death, most of which I have from other sources, in the envelope.

In case you’re interested, here are the others from San Francisco, or nearby cities, who died at that time.  Interesting to see that Mark Schwartz died on May 3.  My great grandmother’s (and Abe’s wife) maiden name was Schwartz and while I have never seen the name Mark associated with any of the family, is it just a coincidence?.


There was an article about the services to be held on Sunday, which would have been May 7, 1944.

Services Sunday

I must have really had a scotoma when I saw the article below.  I’ve looked at it in the past, looked at it today as I sorted through things, scanned it, opened it up, cropped it, and it wasn’t until I saved it onto my computer that I noticed something very peculiar.  Do you see it?

Abraham Gunzendorf

GUNZENDORF?  Where is the ER at the end???  Have I been missing something all these years or did the newspaper just make an error?  Of course, I immediately pulled out his death certificate to confirm – yep, GunzendorfER.  And he did not die on Wednesday night – he died at 12:30 a.m. on Thursday morning, May 4, 1944.  I’m chalking it up to an error by the newspaper because I’ve been researching this family for a long time (and they are the reason I started this journey in the first place) and I have never, ever seen any of them referred to as Gunzendorf.  But that could have been their name, I guess, when they first immigrated to America.  I’m keeping that in the back of my mind to pull out again on a rainy day.

Here’s an interesting story.

Long Tenancy Ended

My mother, who I typically tried to prove wrong my entire life, told me when she was visiting for Christmas in 2010 that Bertha and Abe had rented their home in Monterey for over 40 years.  I didn’t want to forget that so I actually wrote it down and added it to my family tree.  And look at this, while my mom was off by a few years, she was right! 

How I wish I had the date of this article about four of the Civic Club Founders.

Monterey Civic Club

When the Monterey Civic club honored its founders and pioneer members with an informal program of reminiscences and a tea last Friday afternoon, the four ladies pictured above, who were present at the club’s first meeting 31 years ago, were the guests of honor.  They are, reading from left to right:  Mrs. Amy B. Hooke, Mrs. A.B. Gunzendorfer, Mrs. Vinnie B. Barber and Mrs. Mary Carmody.

After a quick google search, I learned that the first meeting of the Monterey Civic Club was held on March 15, 1906 so this article must have been published in about 1937.

Back to the photos I found in the itty bitty envelope.  I have to think that these photos were people who, in some way, were friends or family of the Gunzendorfers .  The New York Gallery at 25 Third Street, San Francisco operated from about 1869-1887.  The fashions seem to be from about that time but since there is nothing identifying any of them, all I can do is wonder who they are.

Unidentified Woman
Unidentified Baby

Unidentified Boys

While the last photo gave me some clues, it really doesn’t mean much to me.  I’m hoping one day I find some more clues about J.M. Lowe.

JM Lowe 8_5_17
JM Lowe Back

Stanley?  I have no idea who Stanley could be.  Did someone keep a photo that was meant for someone else?  If only photos could talk……


Sunday, August 7, 2016

Hello Neighbor Excursion

I ran across another random photo today.

Interesting group photo – wonder who all these folks are?  Here’s my grandfather’s note on the back.

Hello Neighbor Excursion
Promoted by Fresno Republican
Sig Levy in charge
to create good relations with our valley cities
Away back about 1914
Fresno’s most prominent citizens aboard
So who would the most prominent citizens have been in 1914-1915?

There are some other notes on the back of the photo that lead me to think that this was used for some sort of “rememberance” because the date Jan 27, 1967 is stamped on the back.

I didn’t find too much information about it but I did find an article from the San Francisco Chronicle, 20 Oct 1915:

So my grandfather was a year or two off but it sounds like this is it.  And the photo shows Santa Fe, too!

Of course the first thing I did was scour the group looking for my grandfather – he’s not too difficult to pick out of a crowd since he was so short.  Here’s a close up – can you guess which one he is?

If you guessed the man 5th from the right, you win!  And no, I’m quite sure the other men were not standing on a step. 

Sunday, July 31, 2016

SNGF: Female Ancestors' Age at Death

This week’s Saturday Night Genealogy Fun (okay, so I’m a day late) from Randy Seaver is to review your pedigree chart and determine the age at death of your female ancestors back at least 5 generations.  You can read about it HERE

What’s interesting about this exercise is that I’ve actually given it quite a bit of thought as when my mother died at the age of 84, I thought back to her mother, and her mother, and her mother and I thought they were all about the same age.  It made me realize that I’d really like to go from age 83 to about age 85 and just bypass those ages altogether. 

So an added exercise for me was to identify the ages of those women, in addition to five generations.

My mother, Geraldine (Martin) Levy, died 15 days before her 85th birthday.  So 84 years old.

Her mother, Clara (Fitzgerald) Martin Hunter, died at the age of 84.  Uh-oh.

Gerry & Clara
Geraldine (Martin) Levy & Clara (Fitzgerald) Martin Hunter
Clara’s mother, Mabel (McAboy) Fitzgerald, died at the age of 83 years, 5 months.

Mabel McAboy 1
Mabel (McAboy) Fitzgerald
Mabel’s mother, Rebecca (Waller), died at the age of 83 years, 2 months.
Rebecca Moriah Waller 1920
Rebecca (Waller) McAboy

See?  I’m turning 83 and then poof – I’m gonna be 85! 

Okay, so back to the original exercise.  Some of my math might not look correct as I took into account the age at their last birthday.

Geraldine (Martin) Levy – 1928-2013 – 84 years

Clara Maxine (Fitzgerald) Martin Hunter – 1903-1987 – 84 years
Mildred Loraine (Gunzendorfer) Levy – 1896-1982 – 86 years

Great Grandmothers
Mabel Viola (McAboy) Fitzgerald – 1883-1966 – 83 years
Frances Maria (Brooks) Martin – 1860-1936 – 75 years
Bertha (Schwartz) Gunzendorfer – 1872-1950 – 78 years
Goldie (Benas) Levy – 1864-1926 – 62 years

2nd Great Grandmothers
Rebecca (Waller) McAboy – 1845-1928 – 83 years
Julia (Horgan) Fitzgerald – 1849-1886 – 37 years
Sarah (Miller) Brooks Anderson – 1836-1923 – 86 years
Rebecca (Steen) Schwartz – 1848-1918 – 70 years
Fannie (Goldstein) Gunzendorfer – 1848-1910 – 62 years
Fredericka (Wilzinski) Benas – 1840-1915 – 75 years
Millicent (Moore) Martin – 1827-1884 – 56 years
Unknown ( ) Levy

3rd Great Grandmothers
Rebecca (Parker) Waller – 1814-1845 – 30 years
Margaret (Finley) Miller – 1812-1884 – 72 years
Monima (Williams) Brooks – 1801-1867 – 66 years
Hannah (Plotzkey) Steen – 1828-1909 – 80 years
Margaret (Callahn) Horgan – Unknown
Sarah (Frankel) Goldstein – 1838-1897 – 59 years
Sarah (Mann) McAboy – 1825-1910 – 85 years
Margaret (Cullen) Fitzgerald – Unknown
Amelia (Jackson) Wilzinski – 1816-1902 – 86 years
Elizabeth (McDaniel) Moore – 1808-1867 – 59 years
Tabitha (Rodgers) Martin – 1800-1860 – 60 years
Unknown x 5

The female ancestor to live the longest was Sarah Jane (Miller) Brooks Anderson at 31,586 days.  Sarah’s first husband (and my 2nd great grandfather) was killed in the Battle of Fredericksburg and at one point she moved across country from South Carolina to California – what stories she would have had!

A close runner-up was my grandmother whom I’ve written so much about, Mildred Loraine (Gunzendorfer) Levy at 31,519 days.  Besides my parents, I probably know more about her than any other ancestor.

The ancestor to live the least amount of time was Rebecca (Parker) Waller, my 3rd great grandmother.  Rebecca died at the age of 30, within days of giving birth to my 2nd great Grandmother, Rebecca (Waller) McAboy.

The average age of the 23 women I know the age for at the time of their death was about 70 years old.

It sure is hard to see how many of these women died at an age younger than I am today.  But I’m not dwelling on that, at least not until I get to be 83 years old!

Sunday, July 24, 2016

Revisit to Copper King Mine

One thing I do NOT lack is old newspaper ‘clippings’ that my ancestors have saved over 100 years or more.  Sometimes they’re interesting to me, sometimes not so much.  And while I have no idea which ancestor to thank for this, one article from The Fresno Bee (December 3, 1961) really caught my eye.

Fresno Bee 12_3_1961 page one

Why this one in particular, you might ask.  Easy!  Because the young man the newspaper interviewed for this story, Edward Fitzgerald, was my great grandfather! 

In the photo above, it states that Edward was the sixth man from the right but after blowing it up the quality is so poor I can’t be sure.  But I do have a photo of Edward from 1907 which is about the same time period so you can see him.

Edward Fitzgerald 1907

And here’s how he looked in 1961 when he was photographed for the article.

Edward Fitzgerald

The article is awfully long so I won’t transcribe it all but here are some interesting excerpts.

“Snorting steam engines sent echoes bounding through the foothills east of Fresno as they chugged downgrade toward Clovis dragging heavy wagons loaded with copper bearing mother rock of the Sierra.
These snorting behomoths of another day always traveled the Pittman Creek Road by night because the horses which drew the stages to the mountains bolted whenever they saw one approaching.
This is how it was in 1900 when a young man named Edward Francis Fitzgerald applied for a position at the Copper King Mines, Ltd., as an engineer, but landed, instead, a  job on the end of a shovel.”

How did I never, ever know that he worked in the mines?  I was nearly 14 when he died but I have no recollection of ever hearing about it.  Did he not talk about it?  Did he talk about it and I didn’t listen?  Or, did he talk about it and I listened but don’t remember it today?  Thankfully, my packrat ancestors have, once again, helped me out.

“In its heydey in the 1890s the mine had a working force of about 150 men who took turns burrowing deep into the earth extracting copper ore.
The same road over which traveled the steam engines, or the two horse phaetons, still is in existence but unless you have the keys to one of five padlocks on gates barring the roadway the chances you’ll ever get to the Copper King are slim.”

I can’t imagine what it must have been like to “burrow deep into the earth”.

And the second part of page one:

Fresno Bee 12_3_1961 page one A

Here’s some of the buildings of the old mine.

Mine Buildings

What it must have been like to peer down the main shaft of the mine.  The thought of actually veturing down into that black hole makes me squeamish!

Glory Hole

And look at the dump and loading lines.

Shipping Point

And on to the next page.  I love this page as it describes Edward’s early life and then with his wife, and my great grandmother, Mabel McAboy Fitzgerald.

Fresno Bee 12_3_1961 page two copy

I’d read in his obituary that they had honeymooned at a cottage at the mine but it still makes me smile to read about it here.  Not just read about it but actually see a picture of it!

Honeymoon Cottage

They were married November 18, 1901 so the mine would have been in full swing at that time.  I can’t imagine they let that bother them, though.

Once again, I’m thankful for my packrat ancestors.  That is, until I try to organize everything they left behind.

Sunday, July 3, 2016

Photo Booth

I ran across something today that piqued my interest – what appears to be an early photograph from a photo booth.  Could it be?

Levy Brothers c1898

The strip is pretty small (about 1”x4”) but the first thing I noticed (even without my glasses) was the older gentleman in the light picture on the right.  I think that is my great grandfather, Herman Levy.  The youngest son, Ben, wrote an autobiography and in it he showed a picture of his dad.  Pretty clear it’s the same guy.

Herman Levy c 1906

Is it possible that there were photo booths before the turn of the century?  According to Wikepedia, there were!
The patent for the first automated photography machine was filed in 1888 by William Pope and Edward Poole of Baltimore. It probably was never built. The first known really working photographic machine was a product of the French inventor T. E. Enjalbert (March 1889). It was shown at the World Fair in Paris in 1889. The German born photographer Mathew Steffens from Chicago filed a patent for such a machine in May 1889. These early machines were not reliable enough to be self-sufficient. The first commercially successful automatic photographic apparatus was the "Bosco" from the Inventor Conrad Bernitt of Hamburg (Patented July-16-1890). All these early machines produced ferrotypes. The first photographic automate with negative and positive process was invented by the German Carl Sasse (1896).
Since Herman and Goldie (Benas) Levy had four sons (one of which was my grandfather, Sigmund) it didn’t take long to guess that the four kids in the photos were my grandfather and his brothers.  So I decided to zoom in and take a closer look.

Levy Brothers c1898 Take 1

How cute are these boy in their hats?  This would be Leon (1886-1962), Herbert (1884-1952) on the top and Ben (1892-1965) and Sig (1888-1968) on the bottom.  While I love all of their hats, I really love the conductor looking hat that my grandfather was wearing – although maybe I’m just a bit biased.

Here’s a cute pose.  But the best part is Ben’s little sailor suit. 

Levy Brothers c1898 Take 2

A little more traditional – I love how they always seemed to line up by age.  Makes figuring out who is who much easier, although I’d know my grandfather anywhere.

Levy Brothers c1898 Take 3

Dad jumped in for the last pose – thank you, thank you, THANK YOU for that!  Who doesn’t love to see photos of their great grandparents from their younger days?

Levy Brothers c1898 Take 4

Even after I darkened up the photo it’s still hard to see the two older boys but there is my grandfather looking cute on the right! 

Another gem I found in the box was what I believe to be the older three boys in their swim suits.

Levy Brothers c 1892

If I’m right that would be Sig on the top, Leon on the left, and Herb on the right.  Ben had either not joined the family yet or was too little to sit for a photo.

I have so much to go through but I always seem to find new gems when I least expect them.

Sunday, June 19, 2016

Happy Father’s Day - 2016

I hate this day and have decided that it is the hardest day of the year for me.  Sure, it’s a time to celebrate the dads in our lives but there will always be that very special dad who is missing, except in our hearts. 

This morning as we were doing our weekly grocery shopping, we walked by the card section and even that early in the morning, there were people pouring over the Father’s Day cards.  Typically not being ones to procrastinate, we commented that those folks were sure waiting until the last minute to find that perfect card.  Then it struck me – at least they had someone to buy that perfect card for. 

So as I’ve done several times before in 2015, 2013 and 2012, I’ll take a moment to remember that special man, Gordon Levy, in pictures.

Here’s Dad on his 2nd birthday, February 11, 1929 (thanks again for labeling so many photos, Grandma).  I love his little friend!

Gordon February 11 1929

By 1931, Dad was ready to drive.  And look how he’s sporting that cute hat! 

Gordon Levy 1_5_1931

1936 brought a trip to Vancouver, British Columbia.  I’m not sure where else they might have visited on their vacation but they did stop for a photo.  And look, another cute hat!

Gordon Levy Vancouver BC August 1936

Off again in 1937 – this time to New York.  There they visited Jack Dempsey’s restaurant which opened in 1935 and closed in 1974.

Jack Dempsey Restaurant

Wikipedia states “most nights would find Dempsey's famous proprietor on hand to greet guests, sign autographs, pose for pictures, and hold court with people from all walks of life.”  And look at that – he posed for a photo with Dad!  I seem to remember seeing this photo hanging on the wall at Grandma and Grandpa’s house in Fresno.

I’m going to guess this photo is from 1943-1944 when Dad was in his final years of school at Fresno High School.  He’s got the pose of today down with his hand on his hip.

Gordon Levy c1944

Mom actually wrote on the back of this photo – Stanford Grad 1949. 

Gordon Levy Stanford Grad 1949

After completing his Bacehlor’s and MBA at Stanford, Dad went on to have a successful career at Dean Witter & Co where he became Manager, General Partner, and Vice President.  I think this photo might have been a ‘marketing’ type photo from the early 1960’s.

Gordon Levy c 1960

Dad went back to New York in 1963 – hey, I just realized that I was there, too!  And on July 29th, he was back at Dempsey’s posing with a special someone.

Gordon_Jack Dempsey July_1963

One thing Dad never shied away from was a photo op with a celebrity or anyone who might become a celebrity and since one of his favorite things in the world was sports, it’s no surprise that I found this photo of him with John Wooden, famed UCLA basketball coach, in 1986.

Gordon_John Wooden_1986

But through it all, I think Dad’s proudest achievement was his children, and later grandchildren and great grandchildren.  While he didn’t tell us often that he was proud of us, he sure seemed to tell other people.  And deep down we knew how much we were loved. 

This photo seems to capture his feelings well – I just wish we had a similar pose after little brother had joined the family.  Although I’m sure if I give it time, I’ll run across one.  I’m not sure of the date but since brother wasn’t with us and Mom wasn’t pregnant, I’d guess this to be about 1959-1960.  A time when there was so much to look forward to – a growing family, a successful career, and a life full of happiness.

Gordon_Gerry_Cary_Debi c1960

My dad was one of a kind and while I miss him every day, Father’s Day is the day I miss him most.  Well I do!

Sunday, June 12, 2016

The Owl – June, 1908 – Society

I took a detour for a bit but am now back to documenting The Owl, Fresno High School’s yearbook.  I last wrote about The Commencement Number from June, 1908 here.  There are so many photos from this edition that I’m breaking it down into small pieces. 

Next up – Society


I love reading old newspapers – typically no horrible events were listed but if you wanted to know who was visiting who, newspapers were THE source of information!  And, apparently, the Society section of The Owl followed in those footsteps.

I love the first paragraph, but that might because my grandfather’s older brother, Leon Levy, was mentioned. 

Society p 72a

I’ll bet that dance was fun, especially since when you were tired of dancing you could go out on a boat.  I’d never heard the term terpsichorean before so I looked it up – found in Greek mythology, Terpsichore (“delight in dancing”) was one of the nine Muses and goddess of dance and chorus.

Photo from Wikipedia

It amazes me at times when I’m blogging or researching something and the facts I come up with are today’s date and this was no exception.

Society p 72d
It’s fun to see what the students had planned after high school – I sure wish we’d done that at our high school as there were so many of us who left school never to be heard from again.  Although Facebook has changed that!

Society p 73a
Society p 73b
Society p 73

And a small section of The Owl was this.

Just for Fun

I now officially know where my dad’s brother, Robert Levy, got his corny jokes.  He always had a joke to tell and more often than not, they were really groaners just like these.

Just for Fun 1
Just for Fun 2

Next up is Athletics with lots of team photos!