Tuesday, September 18, 2012

School Boy Billy

Uncle Billy at Greer School, early 1940's

     My maternal grandmother Eleanor had three younger brothers.  MaMa lived with her grandmother in Brooklyn, NY.  I ordered her school records from the diocese.  Her brothers Daniel and Samuel lived with their father in Poughkeepsie, NY.  I was unable to get their school records.
     MaMa's youngest brother, William was sent to the Greer School.  I thought that this school was located in Millbrook, NY but found out that it was actually in Union Vale with a Millbrook mailing address.  I had called the Millbrook town hall and was advised of Union Vale so I then called the town hall in Union Vale.  The woman I spoke to told me that the school records would be at The Fountains, a senior community which is now on the grounds of the Greer School.  The Greer School was not just a school building.  It was a residential school with cottages, a chapel, a farm, etc.  It was a community for children and now it is a community for seniors with some of the original buildings still there.  I drove through the community a few years ago with my mother.  It was an unplanned drive that day so I didn't have my camera with me to take a picture of the chapel.  I called The Fountains at Millbrook to inquire about Uncle Billy's school records.  The woman who answered the phone was fairly new and just as puzzled as I was as to why the school records would be at the senior community.  She took my name and telephone number and promised to call back.  I already have a typed sheet with grades for William Davis that I found among my great-grandmother's papers.  His date of birth is incorrect on that paper.  Uncle Billy was a 13 year old boy living at the Greer School in 1940 according to the U.S. Federal Census.  I don't know how old he was when he was admitted but I'm sure he was there until he graduated.  A few years ago I was contacted by a man who went to school with Uncle Billy.  I had written a letter addressing the alumni and asking if anyone remembered my uncle.  I sent this letter along with a photo of Uncle Billy in his navy uniform to the alumni newsletter.  The man who wrote to me said that he remembered Bill to be a very friendly and likable fellow.  He didn't keep in touch with my uncle but thinks he moved to Delaware after graduation and worked for a car dealership.  Uncle Billy's friend also sent me a photo of a young Bill Davis in school.
     The woman who works at the Fountains called me back to advise that all the school records were destroyed.  What?  Why would they destroy the records of this school instead of donating them to the local historical or genealogical society?
     I find it interesting that Uncle Billy went to work for a car dealership in Delaware after his high school graduation and his father was an auto mechanic in Poughkeepsie, NY.
     Uncle Billy joined the navy and served three years.  He returned and attended college on the G.I. Bill. He graduated with a B.S. in Industrial Engineering and got a job with the Chrysler Corporation.  He retired from Chrysler after many years of employment.
     William Howard Davis did not have a happy, loving childhood.  He was sent away to school, away from his family at a young age.
     Uncle Billy made the most of the education he was given and created a better life for himself.

 >>pics of the school  http://greerschool.org/paplaces.html

Friday, September 14, 2012

The Davis School Boys

     My maternal grandmother, Eleanor Davis lived with her maternal grandmother in Brooklyn, NY when she was a 12 year old girl according to the 1930 U.S. Federal Census.  I don't know when she moved in with her grandmother but if I had to guess then I would say it was after the death of her 3 year old sister just three years earlier in 1927.  I did not find any of the Davis boys in the 1930 census and they weren't living with their sister in Brooklyn, so maybe they were in Poughkeepsie with their father.
     MaMa graduated St. Leonard's Catholic School in Brooklyn, NY in 8th grade and I'm still looking for her high school.  I think sh attended St Aloysius.  I ordered her St. Leonard's school records from the Diocese in Brooklyn because the school itself is no longer there.  St. Leonard's closed in the early 1970's and was demolished in 2001.
     I contacted the Poughkeepsie city school district which is basically the board of education.  I thought they would be able to tell me which school Uncle Danny and his brother Sammy attended. Was it Poughkeepsie High School?  Was this school in existence in the mid-late 1930's?  I thought so.  The woman I spoke to was unable to assist me and connected me to Poughkeepsie High School.  The woman I spoke to at the high school told me that this school was built in the 1960's and they only have records going back as early as those students who were born in the 1940's.  She said that if the student lived on S. Cherry St. back in the late 1930's and early 1940's then he might have attended a school called Morris.  When I looked up Poughkeepsie High School online it looked like it was much older.  Someone's information is wrong.  The woman at the high school suggested I call the public relations person at the admin building and she gave me the telephone number.  I called the admin building and connected back to the high school.  I spoke to Mary who is in charge of the 12th grade.  Mary told me that I can only get my own school records with photo identification.  Mary sounded like I was bothering her.  She did not want to hear anything abut genealogy research.  I asked her if this was her school's policy.  I am ordering school records for another person who attended school in Brooklyn.  Mary told me that this is the superintendent's rule and they don't give copies of records to anyone other than the actual student.  My grandmother's brothers are Dead so why would it matter?  I didn't let Mary ruffle my feathers.  I'll call the superintendent myself and ask.  So far, it's a dead end regarding school records for Uncle Danny and Uncle Sammy even thought those men are dead.  Well,  Daniel Davis is definitely dead and I'm sure that his brother Samuel is as well.  I have no idea whatever became of Uncle Sammy.  He's a brick wall and probably a dead brick wall.

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

School Days

     It's that time of year again when the young scholars return to school for more book learning.

     My son started kindergarten yesterday.  I would have posted this yesterday but we went out to dinner to celebrate.  Gregory was so excited and couldn't wait to go to school.  His school day starts at 8:30am and ends at 3:30pm but he can be dropped as early as 7:30am and picked up as late as 4:30pm.  Greg goes to a private school.  He attended this school last year when he was in pre-k and the year before as a pre-schooler.  Greg loves this school so I chose to keep him where he is rather than save my money and send him to public school.  Gregory had a great first day of school in a new classroom with new teachers and new friends.
     I wrote about the schools my ancestors attended in last September's blog post so I won't repeat my stories. This yer I think I will try to get school records.
     My 2nd great-grandmother Teresa's cousin, Anna graduated from a teachers college in New Paltz, NY in 1911 then started working in a one room schoolhouse in Rifton, NY.  Anna worked in this school, The Rock School, for close to 50 years until a new school was built and named in her honor.  The Anna Devine school has a large portrait of Miss Devine on the wall of the main hallway and it is the first thing you see when you walk through the front doors.  I tried getting Anna Devine's school records but had no luck.  Nobody seems to know where the records are located.  She graduated in 1911 so do these records no longer exist?  I'll try again.  I'll make some more phone calls.  Anna Devine was my 2nd great-grandmother's cousin on my maternal grandmother's side.  I had more luck with her father's side of the family.
     My maternal grandmother, Eleanor's father, Samuel Davis was born in OH.  The 1900 U.S. Federal Census shows 15 year old Samuel attending the Lancaster Reform School in Lancaster, OH.  I couldn't believe my eyes so I looked up this school on the internet and was directed to the Ohio Historical Society's website which had a listing of the students.  I ordered a copy of my great-grandfather's school record. This historical society is wonderful.  The record arrived fairly quickly and was accompanied by a history of the school.  I found out that my great-grandfather was admitted to this school for incorrigibility.
     My maternal grandmother attended St. Leonard's Catholic elementary school in the Bushwick section of Brooklyn, NY.  I don't know what high school MaMa attended but she had written in her autograph book from 8th grade that she would be attending St. Aloysius.  I haven't confirmed that yet.  I tried getting my grandmother's school records a few years ago but was unsuccessful.  This was before I was really serious about genealogy and before I found out that MaMa was actually born in 1918 and not 1920.  St. Leonard's was closed in the 1970's.  I don't know where the records were sent if they still exist.  I never followed up on my inquiry but now that I'm serious about genealogy I will make phone calls and write letters if necessary. I will track down MaMa's school records if they're out there somewhere.
     I called St. Barbara's, the school that my mother attended for a year after graduating from St. Leonard's before going to Christ the King High School.  The woman who I spoke to at St. Barbara's was very nice and told me that the records for St. Leonard's had been transferred to St. Joseph's.  I called St. Joseph's and told that they only have sacramental records.  I was referred to the Roman Catholic Diocese of Brooklyn and given their telephone number.  Why didn't I think of calling the Diocese to begin with?  I had a major headache and wasn't thinking.  I spoke to Mark in the archives department at the Diocese who offered to email a form to fill out and return with a $10. money order or personal check.  My mother is away for a few days so I can't call her with questions about my grandmother's schooling.  Did MaMa go to St. Aloysius as she wrote in her autograph book?  I'll try to find out.
     MaMa's mother, Josephine attended the Institution for the Improved Instruction of Deaf Mutes on Lexington Avenue in Manhattan, NY.  According to the 1900 and 1910 U.S. census records, Josie was a student from the age of 5 until she was a teenager of 16 or 17 years.  This school is no longer in operation in Manhattan.  It is now the Lexington School for the Deaf located in Queens, NY.  I called the school and spoke to a very helpful lady who advised me to email her my name, address, name and birth date of student and my relationship to student.  She told me that she'd look through the old records and mail me a copy.
     and now I wait.....