Tuesday, January 24, 2006
Monday, January 23, 2006
Laurel Hill cemetery was founded by a man named John Jay Smith and designed by an architect by the name of John Notman in 1836. By the early 19th century church grave yards had become overcrowded. Alternative places to bury the dead were needed so John Notman designed a cemetery in a rural section of Philadelphia with rolling hills and lush landscapes. It would be the nation’s only second largest rural cemetery of its time.
Once the estate of Joseph Sims, the property was located approximately three miles from Center City. In its early days there were so many visitors to Laurel Hill that the cemetery had to give out tickets. Visitors came to the cemetery by way of the Schuylkill River. The boat would take them to a landing right below the cemetery. Rows of steps leading up the hill from the river brought them to their destination.
Many rich and famous people are buried at Laurel Hill from Revolutionary and Civil War figures to Industrial Revolution giants. Several bodies that once were interred in other cemeteries have been reburied at Laurel Hill. The cemetery is filled with magnificent and unusual monuments ranging from the largest mausoleum of Henry Disston, Industrial Revolution giant who erected it in 1878 at a cost of 60,000 dollars to the plain headstone of Civil War‘s General George Gordon Meade which simply says, “George Gordon Meade, Major General U.S. Army, born at Cadiz, Spain Dec. 31, 1815, died at Philadelphia Nov. 6, 1872, he did his work bravely and is at rest”.
When touring the cemetery grounds, you will find that each burial site tells a story by the type of symbolic monument that rests upon its ground. For example; a symbol of an angel represents the soul being assisted to heaven. Male angels represent a Catholic while female angels represent all other Christian religions. The column (commonly seen in Victorian Era Cemeteries) symbolizes whether or not a life was cut short before its time. If the column is broken, the person died before their time. Ivy means immortality whereas the lamb means innocence. Many graves of children have the symbol of the lamb. A gun, sword, cannon or anchor means it is the grave of a military man. The torch represents a life that has ended. The urn represents a violent death. The obelisk represents an eternal life whereas the wreath represents victory.
In 1998, the cemetery was designated as a National Historical Landmark by the National Park Service and United States Department of the Interior and placed on the National Register of Historic places. It is a place of beauty and history and worth a visit.
Receiving Vault; in the days of hand digging graves, the receiving vault was used for those bodies that could not be buried in the winter when the grounds were frozen. The bodies were held in vaults such as this one until spring soften the frozen ground.
The Kane Family Vault
General George Gordon Meade and Family Burial Plot
A Typical Family Burial Plot in the 19th Century
Hugh Mercer; personal physician of George Washington in the French and Indian War; Later served under Washington in the Revolutionary War; Fought at Trenton and died at Princeton.
In order to appreciate the full architectural and historical beauty of the cemetery, click on the picture to enlarge it.
Sunday, January 22, 2006
While researching archival records at St. John the Baptist Church located in Manayunk, I came across the death records of Andrew and Samuel Wisloski. Both were listed as dying on the same day from Asphyxiation. This information prompted me to investigate the reason behind the Wisloski brothers’ cause of death. Upon further investigation, I discovered that after an evening of drinking, the Wisloski brothers’ got into a fist fight at home and unbeknownst to both of them the gas pipe above the stove was inadvertently hit by one or both of them causing the release of gas. Both were asphyxiated by the gas fumes. Andrew was 50yrs old and Samuel was 40yrs old at the time of their death. The date of death was listed as March 11th, 1938 and the funeral mass was held at St. John’s on March 16th, 1938 at 9AM. Burial was held on the same date at Westminster cemetery in lot 327, grave number two. Residence listed at the time of their death was 166 Roxborough Avenue .
The above paragraph was taken from "a journey into the past". Andrew and Samuel Wisloski were the older brothers of John Weleski. Sometime between the birth of John's second and third child, he changed the spelling of his last name from Wisloski to Weleski for reasons unknown. In addition. the house on 166 Roxborough Avenue was the family home of John and his siblings.
Saturday, January 21, 2006
and their son Earl Schroeder 1926-1939
John Weleski 1904-1954 and Marie (Schroeder) Weleski 1906-1945, daughter of Charles and Mary (Mervine) Schroeder
Friday, January 20, 2006
For years my family thought this house was haunted. When I went around snapping pictures for this blog, I never noticed anything out of the ordinary. But days later when I downloaded the pictures and enlarged the Ridge Avenue house, I saw something in the picture in this window. They say ghosts are picked up on film. See for yourself. In the meantime I am going to add script from "a journey into the past".
The marriage between John and Marie was not a happy marriage. Witnesses have stated that Marie was seen as being sad. This was especially true during the pregnancy of her third child. There are also myths surrounding the unhappy Marie during the pregnancy.
Legend has it that when Marie finished hanging baby clothes on the clothesline in the backyard of her house on 3427 Commissioner Street in the East Falls section of Philadelphia, she walked away and for a moment paused and looked over her shoulder at the clothes blowing in the wind with such sadness that the next door neighbor asked her what was wrong. Marie told her that she would never hold the baby she was carrying. On February 17th, 1945, Marie gave birth to a healthy baby boy. Soon after the child’s birth and before she could hold her child, she suffered a stroke and fell into a coma. On February 19th, 1945, Marie died. The neighborhood of East Falls fell into shock. How could a woman who was as sweet and gentle as Marie, suffer such a tragedy. What will now become of her children?
Marie was laid out at her parents’ home on 3907 Ridge Avenue. Legend states that the newborn baby John was placed in a cradle beside the mother’s coffin. During the night, Lillian, baby John’s older sister would awake suddenly from a dream were her mother tells her to check the baby. Lillian went downstairs to the Living room where the baby slept beside the casket and noticed he had his blanket wrapped around his head. Legend states that Lillian was very protective of her younger brother from that moment on.
The casket of Marie Weleski was carried from the house on 3907 Ridge to the cemetery across the street. Marie was laid to eternal rest beside her brother in Section Z, lot 504. The funeral director was listed as William Turner on 4170 Ridge Avenue and the cemetery’s superintendent was William J. Proud. Marie was laid to rest at 2:45pm on February 22nd, 1945.
When I was a little girl, I remember sitting on the basement steps at my grandparents' house watching my grandfather shoveling loads of coal into the fiery furnace. it would not be until 1969 that their coal furnace was replaced by oil heat.
Mary Boland Cafferty was the eldest child of John and Ella (Ellen) Boland. Though her parents and siblings came to America in the year 1908 through the Port of New York, I have discovered only recently that Mary and her husband Bernard came to America in the year 1901. I have searched all through the Ellis Island records and it is clear that Bernard and Mary Cafferty did not enter the country through the Port of New York. It is my opinion that they came to America in 1901 through the Port of Philadelphia.
According to the 1920 Censes, Bernard was born in 1877 and was listed as a laborer in a cemetery as was his wife Mary. In 1920, they are listed as having seven children who were all born in Philadelphia. Michael was listed as being 18 yrs old followed by Annie who was listed as being 16 yrs old. Margaret was listed as being 12 yrs old followed by Helen who was listed as being 7 yrs old. Bernard was listed as being 5 yrs old followed by Regina who was listed as being 2 yrs old. The youngest child in 1920 was Alice who was listed as being 4 months old. The eldest child Michael worked as a Bell Hop in a Hotel. No other child was listed as being employed.
According to the 1930 Censes, Bernard and Mary Cafferty had two more children. Mildred was born in 1921 and William who was born in 1923. By this time, Mary Cafferty was not employed outside the home and Bernard’s occupation was listed as being a foreman in a radio factory. The 1930 Censes also listed Bernard as being born in Northern Ireland and he became a citizen in 1906. The two oldest children Michael and Annie no longer lived at home with their parents.
In 1930 Bernard and Mary Cafferty had several boarders living in their home. They are listed as Della, Frank and Ernest Harding from New Jersey, James and Harry OKane from Northern Ireland and Cassidy Machaco from Northern Ireland. Of interest, the boarders’ occupations were listed as working in the textile and knitting mills (probably Dobson’s) and an automobile and ship building plant.
It is not surprising that Bernard and Mary Cafferty took in boarders in 1930. The Great Depression had just begun. However, the worst years of the Depression would not occur until 1932. (See original family history under William and Mary)
The 1930 Censes also listed who Bernard and Mary’s neighbors were. Do you recognize any of these names? They are Jordan, Harrison, Williams, McDonald, Myers, Marrie, Algood, Dinsdale, Owens, Dorne, Wetherford, Harwitz, Mcamary, Bruner, Davis, Hughes, Diehl, Ward, Montgomery, Schmid, Weber, and they had a servant living with them named Mary Coyle, Gallagher and Maguire.
This is the house where Daniel and Catherine (known as Aunt Kate) lived with their daughter Helen and niece (Anna Marie McCaffery). The next paragraph is taken from "A Journey into the Past".
Life with Aunt Kate was nothing less than cruel. Discipline was swift, fierce and physical. I remember having many conversations with grandmom (Anna) about her life with Aunt Kate. Her memories were very painful. She told me about a house that to the outside world looked perfect. The house on 3827 Terrace was always neat and clean with its polished table tops and fine Irish linen. Family portraits decorated the living areas. All appeared very normal. There was the father and mother and the two girls, Anna and her younger cousin Helen. They attended Catholic school. They attended Sunday Mass. But what the outside world could not possibly know is the cruelty that went on behind closed doors. Aunt Kate had severe mood swings. She also liked to have a drink and the story goes that when prohibition went into effect, Aunt Kate was known to hide her alcohol in the backyard. Whether Aunt Kate had a problem with alcohol or whether she was manic depressive, we will never know for sure but what we do know for sure it that Aunt Kate beat Anna. Most of the time the beatings took place in the basement of the house. Sometimes Anna was tied to a chair. The beatings occurred when Anna did not perform her chores to Aunt Kate’s satisfaction such as the tables were not polished correctly or there was lint on the floor.
Anna endured these beatings for the next eight years until the day she came home from school and an angry and out of control Aunt Kate grabbed Anna as she walked in the door. She beat Anna until she was covered in blood. Anna ran out the door and to a neighbor’s house. Hurt and crying she was brought into the house. From that point on, Anna lived at 3902 Terrace in the care of the Gallagher family.
Thursday, January 19, 2006
Wednesday, January 18, 2006
The plan was to take a pirate ship cruise complete with actors dressed up as pirates aboard the ship. However, on the day of our reservation, we were greeted with high surf and winds so fierce, we swore we were in the middle of an Arabian sand storm. Needless to say, the cruise was cancelled and we were faced with a very disappointed little four year old boy who had his heart set on a pirate adventure. So what was the next best thing to do? We drove out to the pier, photographed the ship then took the little disappointed darling to a nearby store and purchased two pirate shirts one for him and one for his baby brother back home.