Tuesday, January 15, 2013

MaMa, How Old Are You?

     It isn't polite to ask a lady her age and I don't mean to be rude but how old are you?  The family always thought you were born in 1920.

     My maternal grandmother, Eleanor was born on June 2nd to Samuel and Josephine Davis.  She was the eldest of five children but what year was she born?  MaMa's death certificate shows her year of birth as 1920.  We all know that this vital record is only as accurate and reliable as the person supplying the information.  Well, I found out that the information was wrong when I saw my grandmother listed as a 12 year old in the 1930 U.S. Federal Census and 2 years old in the 1920 census.  When the 1940 census was released last year I was so excited and couldn't wait to find my grandmother.  and there she was...  a 22 year old grown up young lady living in Brooklyn, NY.
     The U.S. Federal Censuses have MaMa's year of birth as abt 1918 and the 1925 New York State Census has the year 1917.  I finally accepted the year 1918 and totally disregarded the year 1917 until I stumbled upon a church record which had me doubting 1918.
     I don't remember how I found this German Genealogy Group site but it's great.  germangenealogygroup.com This is a site for those interested in researching their Germanic ancestors.  Among the naturalization and vital records databases for New York City, there are a few church databases.  St. Leonard's of Port Maurice R.C. Church in the Bushwick section of Brooklyn is the church that my mother and grandmother attended.  They also attended St. Leonard's elementary school.  This site that I discovered has baptism, communion, and marriage indexes.  It  has the years 1872 to 178 for baptism and marriage records and 1920 to 1978 for the communion records.  I found baptism and communion records for my mother and aunt and then I struck gold.  I found a baptism record for an Eleanor Davis born June 2, 1917.  Even though the year of birth is listed as 1917, I know that this is my grandmother because the middle name shown is actually MaMa's confirmation name and the year of this sacrament was 1931 making her 14 years old.  I'm guessing this record should have been in an index for the confirmation records and not the communion records.
     St. Leonard's is no longer in operation as a church or a school.  It was demolished and the records were transferred.  The school records are held with the Roman Catholic Diocese in Brooklyn and the sacramental records are at St. Joseph Patron of the Universal Church in Brooklyn, NY.  I already ordered MaMa's school records and will soon order the sacramental records.  When I ordered the school records, I wrote the year of birth as 1918 or 1917.
     I'm sure now that MaMa was born in 1917 because I took another look at the 1920 U.S. census which asked for the place of abode on January 1, 1920.  MaMa is listed as 2 6/12.  She was two and a half years old on January 1, 1920 so she was born in June of 1917.

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