Friday, February 29, 2008

James Pester

Thursday, February 28, 2008

Pester & McCaffery

Robert Pester and his second wife Elsie interred in Westminster Cemetery.
Robert Pester Jr. is interred in the same section as is his father Robert Pester (above). Also interred in the grave is his wife, Eleanor House Pester. However, his son James Pester who died December 31, 2007 is interred right next to this grave. As of today's date, there is no grave marker for James Pester.
John Edward McCaffery was the son of Columbia (Collum) & Catherine McCaffery. He was the brother of Catherine, Anna McCaffery Pester (first wife of Robert Pester Sr. above) and Coll McCaffery. He was the nephew of my great grandfather, John McCaffery. Interred in this grave with him are his father Columbia (Collum) McCaffery, his sister, Anna McCaffery Pester, his wife Gertrude and a child, John Edward McCaffery Jr.

It should be noted that all four of the McCaffery children; Catherine, Anna, John and Coll died relatively young of cancer. Catherine died at age 20y. Anna died in her 30's. John died at age 49y and Coll died at age 70y. It should also be noted that their mother, Catherine died relatively young.

The trend continued when Robert Pester Jr. died at age 59y and then his son James Pester died at age 61y.

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Site Of The 1876 Centennial Exposition

Memorial Hall located in Fairmount Park. Today, the hall
is undergoing renovations for the Please Touch Museum.
Gates that lead to Memorial Hall and the site of the 1876 exposition. The Exhibition was held to celebrate the 100th anniversary of the Declaration of Independence. For more information, click

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

41st & Parkside

Once upon a time, these were the homes of the well-to-do Philadelphians located just north of the Philadelphia Zoo and directly across the street from Fairmount Park. Today, many of these homes are converted into apartment dwellings.

I wonder what it would have been liked to live in one of these houses a hundred years ago?

Sunday, February 24, 2008

Did You Ever Wonder Where William Proud Was Interred?

He was interred in St James the Less Cemetery/Chruchyard.
William Proud was once the superintendent at Laurel Hill Cemetery. The records of my grandmother Marie Weleski, Uncle Earl Schroeder and great grandfather Charles Schroeder indicated that William Proud was in charge of their interments in 1939 and 1945. It should be noted that the grounds of St James the Less were once property owned by Laurel Hill Cemetery. In addition, the superintendent of Laurel Hill also was in charge of the burials at St James the Less. That is probably why my great grandfather, Charles Schroeder was a grave digger at both cemeteries in 1945.

Friday, February 22, 2008

Czarna Woda in 1890

"What is your country of citizenship?" It is important to note that the first two of these answers could have more that one meaning each. In the latter part of the 18th century, Poland was divided up and taken over by the three great surrounding powers: Austria, Russia, and Prussia (Germany). After the completion of this division in 1795, there was officially no longer a country named Poland. However, as can be seen on the 1890's ship records, many people still responded that their country of citizenship was Poland. Interestingly, these responders were probably 3-4 generations later than their ancestors who had been alive when Poland’s breakup was completed 95 years earlier. Obviously, a strong nationalistic message was making its way down through the generations. (Of the 96,699 immigrants that make up this index, 60% said "Austria", 39% said "Poland", and 1% said "Galicia"). The "Poland" response could imply that they came from three different regions of the original country: Austrian (southern) Poland, a region also known as Galicia; Russian (eastern) Poland; or Prussian (western) Poland. "Austria", on the other hand, could mean Austria itself, Austrian Poland (Galicia), or other parts of the Austrian Empire (Bohemia, Moravia, Bukovina, Transylvania, etc.).

In the case of the Wislocki family, they listed their country of citizenship as Austria though the town they are from is considered in Poland today. Interestingly enough, Eva Wislocki Bednarski listed her country of citizenship as first Galicia then Austria only. Clearly, the Wislocki clan ancestry once was from what was considered Poland before the three super powers of its time took over in 1795 because our ancestors spoke the Polish language and were Catholics.

The question now is "why did the Wislocki clan leave Czarnawoda?" Was there political unrest in the region as there was in Germany? Was there a water shortage as indicated in some research articles that stated water was disappearing from the lakes causing a severe water shortage in the Czarnawoda canal? Why would an entire family consisting of brothers & at least one sister leave behind their homeland in search of a new unfamilar homeland so far away where their language was not spoken?

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Getting A Little Closer

His name at birth was Lekis Wislocki. His last residence in Poland was Czarnawoda. He had at least one sister, Eva Bednarski and five brothers, Sylvester also known as Stephan, Johann also known as John, Thomas and Petro also known as Peter. All six immigrated to Philadelphia by way of a port in Austria. They may have had another sibling known as Andrew.

As far I can see from various research articles, these were the siblings who immigrated to Philadelphia (Manayunk) between the years 1890 and 1905. I discovered that Lekis (Lewis) Wislocki (Wisloski/Weleski) worked at Pencoyd Iron Works. It appears his brothers may have worked there too. When John, Sylvester and Peter immigrated to Philadelphia, they had their brother Lekis Wislocki written down as their contact here in America. When Thomas and Eva immigrated to Philadelphia, they had their brother Sylvester listed as their contact here in America.

Little by little, the pieces of this puzzle come together. All the Wislocki siblings, with the exception of Andrew lived in Manayunk. I have a feeling if I can locate the graves of the sibling brothers, I may come across my great grandfather, Lekis Wislocki's burial spot. As indicated in earlier posts, my great grandfather was not interred in the same cemetery plot as my great grandmother, uncles, aunts, ect. Lekis died before his wife. Supposely, he did something to disgrace the family and the children ended up being raised by their mother, Eva. It was a known fact that none of the family members were allowed to ever mention his name. I have checked the records at Westminster Cemetery and could not locate any records on the burials of these brothers even though Lekis's wife, Eva and sister Eva Bednarski are interred there along with some of his children and their spouses.

Though, I do not know the terrible family crime/secret, I do know that the youngest child of Lekis and Eva was also considered a disgrace, when she married outside the catholic religion. This was the child known as Julia (Julie).

The Wislocki's spoke the Polish language and were devoted catholics. At some point, the spelling of their name was changed from Wislocki to Wisloski, then again when my grandfather, John changed it to its current spelling of Weleski though not all members of his extended family went along with the new spelling.

Today, we have family members with both spelling variations of the name.

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Three Generations Of John Hess Mervine

John Hess Mervine was born to Alexander (1830) and Sarah(1832) Mervine in February of 1868. On November 21, 1898, John married Anna E. Morrissey (1873) daughter of James (1850 Ireland) and Mary (1853 Pa.) Morrissey. Anna was one of four siblings, Thomas (1875), Mary (1878) and Joanna (1879).

John Hess Mervine was born on March 23, 1900 to John Hess and Anna E. (Morrissey) Mervine. He died in October 1974 in Williamtown, Gloucester County, New Jersey. He married a woman named Mary.

John Hess Mervine was born on January 20, 1928 to John Hess and Mary Mervine. He died May 23, 2002 and is interred at Arlington Cemetery in Pennsauken New Jersey. At the time of his death, he resided in Merchantville, Camdan County, New Jersey.

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Children Of Alexander & Mary Ann Hughes Mervine

William Mervine (1884) married Ada. In 1918, they resided at 2916 Welkers Avenue. In 1930, they resided at 2916 W. Gordon Street. They had no children.

Caroline (Carrie) (1886) Mervine married John Thurston. Children born to Caroline & John were John E. (1905), Joseph W. (1907), George H. (1909) & Carolina (1910). In 1910 Caroline & John lived at 2619 W. Gordon Street. In 1920, Caroline was listed as living at 2602 N. 26th Street with her two youngest children Joseph W. (known as William) and Carolina. Her husband John is presumed deceased. I cannot find Caroline in 1930. However, her son William is listed in the residence of her sister Mary Mervine Schroeder.

Mary Mervine (1889) married Charles Schroeder. They had fifteen children. (see schroeder link for details) Mary Mervine Schroeder died in 1979.

Anna Mervine (1891) married Howard Stites. In 192o, they resided at 2424 Dakota Street with their two children, Ethel (1912) & Alice (1916). Also residing in the house was John Thurston, son of Anna's sister Caroline. Anna Mervine Stites died in 1972.

Of note, Alexander Mervine was married three times. He had children with wife #2 (Sarah) and wife #3 (Mary Ann Hughes). The children listed above are his children with Mary Ann Hughes. His first wife was Mary Ann McCarty and died in the early 1850's.

Marie Schroeder Weleski, daughter of Mary Mervine & Charles Schroeder, granddaughter of Alexander Mervine & Mary Ann Hughes. The baby in the picture is Marie's daughter, Lillian Marie.

Of interest, today my grandmother, Marie Schroeder Weleski will be dead 63 years. She was 38 years old when she died in 1945, two days after the birth of her third child, John. I often wonder how my life would have been had I known her. She was known as a caring gentle soul who loved her family. Since Marie, every female born in the Weleski family line has had the middle name of Marie. Starting with Lillian Marie, her daughter, Patricia Marie (myself), Regan Marie (John's daughter), Barbara Marie (my half sister), Alexis Marie (John's daughter) and my own granddaughter, Ava Marie. This has become an unspoken family tradition and one I hope continues on down the family line.

Monday, February 18, 2008

Mervine Manuscript Collection At The Historical Society Of Pennsylvania

The story was: Philip Mervine, when a boy, arrived in Philadelphia from Frankford-on-the-Main Germany, in the year 1725. He was the only survivor of the family which consisted of father, mother, and 10 brothers, they having died of fever that broke out on board the ship. The crew and passengers numbered 350 when they left Germany, of which nearly all died of fever and while making the Cape of the Delaware, the Captain and Mate were washed overboard, the vessel dismasted, and after drifting about at the mercy of the waves for some time, the vessel was driven ashore on Long Island and only 9 of the number escaped a watery grave. Phillip succeeded in gaining the shore on a part of the wreck with the loss of every article belonging to his parents except his father's Bible, which is in the possession of his only surviving son, Andrew Mervine, who is now 93 years of age and residing at Roxborough PA on the tract of land on which his father settled." (newspaper 1843)

Folklore or Fact, you decide.

Philip and Mary Mervine had seven children, Andrew (1750), Sarah (1753), John (1755), Philip (1757), William(1760) , Jacob (1762) and George (1765).

Philip's date of birth is questionable. There are records that indicated he was born in 1702 and then another record that indicated he was born in 1724.

Philip lived in Roxborough, Philadelphia Pa and died in 1787. His wife Mary (Maria) was born in 1724 and died on February 6, 1766.

According to folklore, the family bible was passed down through the eldest son Andrew. Andrew continued to live in Roxborough until his death on October 21, 1845. His exact birthdate was November 30, 1750.

I have found records that indicated that three of these brothers fought in the War of Independence. They were Andrew, Philip and Jacob. It should also be noted that the spelling of Mervine is found spelled Marewine and Merwine.

Of Note; How does Alexander Mervine (1830-1905) fit in this family tree? That is the puzzle I am in the mist of right now. One of these sons of Phillip Mervine is the grandfather of my great great grandfather Alexander Mervine but which one? I can rule out Jacob because his line left the Phildelphia area. I spent alot of time researching Andrew because I really thought he was the connection. Now, I am not so sure. John is a possible choice because Alexander named his son, John. Currently, I am at a stand still. But for those who are of the Jacob Mervine line;

Jacob (1762) had a son Peter (1783) who had a son George (1816) who had a son Edwin (1848) who had a daughter Idella(1889).

I have the military records of Andrew, Philip and Jacob which I will share later. I also have 1790, 1800 and 1840 Census records of Andrew, Philip and George. In 1830, there is a younger Andrew (possible son of Andrew), who lived in the same section as my ancestor, Alexander Mervine and was a butcher as was Alexander. This is why I thought Andrew was my connection. Evidence is lacking at this time, but I am sure if I dig deep enough I will find my answer.

Stay tuned. I have more to post. In the meantime, I have a few fun facts; in 1930 the Schroeder's rented the 3909 Ridge Avenue property for 40 dollars a month. This was a five bedroom, three story house. In 1930, William Mervine rented the 2916 W. Gordon Street property for 20 dollars a month. In 1930, the family that lived in my house where I live today paid 8,000 dollars to buy it. The owner of the house was employed as a meat cutter in a chain store. In 2006, I paid 250,000 dollars for the same house.

Sunday, February 17, 2008

Helen Schroeder Rodgers Celebrated 100 Years

This is my great aunt, who is sister to my grandmother, Marie Schroeder Weleski.

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Thursday, February 07, 2008

Moyne Abbey

Located in County Mayo, a place littered with old abbeys from years long past.Moyne is one such, and Franciscan too... It lies snug in a cleft in the shore of a deep estuary, between Killala and Ballina. As you drive down the lane, between flower-strewn hedges, even with the clutter of modern bungalows, there is an ancient feel to the countryside. The small hills look terraced.

History tells us that Moyne Abbey was consecrated in 1462. Then burnt down by the British governor of Connaught a hundred years later and the Franciscan monks persecuted. However, some monks managed to survive there until the 1800's.

Moyne Abby lies across a series of farmer fields, and the farmer blocks the path with a secure gate, and a sign that says. "BEWARE OF THE BULL" and "NO TRESPASSING"

Tuesday, February 05, 2008

Today On My Way

To Joe & Jackie's house, I drove on a cobblestone road and made a stop at a local bakery that is known for its tomato pie where I was greeted at the door by the elderly baker of Italian ethnicity before I crossed the street and entered a neighborhood corner market where I was greeted by the owner who was of Polish ethnicity.

I could not help, but to think at that moment, that this is exactly how this neighborhood was a hundred years ago in the days of my own ancestors, right down to the cobblestone road..

Saturday, February 02, 2008

Ballina County Mayo Ireland

Ballina is in County Mayo in the West of Ireland.

Ballina, (gaelic Béal an Átha) home of the famous River Moy, is Mayo's largest town. There is a rich variety of pubs, restaurants and nightclubs in the town, which is famous for its hospitality and excellent accommodation base. Among Ballina's key visitor attractions are the ruins of Moyne Abbey, and Rosserk Friary dating back to the 15th century and the impressive St Muredach's Cathedral stands imposingly on the banks of the River Moy.
Population from Census
10,056 (2006)
9,478 (2002)
6,852 (1996)

The River Moy is internationally acknowledged as an exceptional salmon fishery, producing several thousand salmon to the rod annually. The famous Ridge Pool, the salmon anglers paradise, is located in the heart of the town.
Ballina is, of course, the home of the past President of Ireland, Mrs Mary Robinson, and the favourite fishing retreat of the Republic of Ireland's ex Soccer Manager, Jack Charlton.
Each year in July, Ballina ignites into a frenzy of activity with its annual Festival. Over the past four years it has developed into one of Ireland's major festivals, providing a week long feast of free entertainment for the entire family - music, song, theatre, art, heritage, culture and novelty events. Foreign visitors view and experience what is best about Mayo during this spectacular week.