My resolution for 2019 is to continue posting once a week “52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks.” Now that I have completed 2018, I feel it is important for those of you who are interested in family history to have a more complete understanding of who our ancestors are, where they came from and how they lived.
The truth is I have boxes and boxes of papers and photos and I will be scanning these documents to store on my computer rather than the closet, spare bedroom and garage.
If this topic is of no interest to you on a weekly basis or at all that is fine. Many people have no interest in ancestral history, but occasionally you may have a question or perhaps one of your children may be curious. Just contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org to answer any questions.
My intent is to have the information available to share and accessible as a digital archive and my blog is the easiest way show you what I have.
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Thanks for following me for the last twelve months and I wish everyone a very happy and prosperous 2019!
My husband’s aunt, Frances Elizabeth McMahon had a profound effect on my life. Settling in to a new family after getting married and leaving my home to live in St. Louis, Missouri was difficult. Aunt Francie was the type who never had time to listen to your complaints and woes, she lived in the here and now and was always encouraging you to move forward.
Aunt Francie had what I think was a very interesting life. Born in 1913, she was the oldest of three girls. Her father died when she was 13 years old.
Obviously a strong and independent woman for that time, Francie entered Harris Teacher’s College in St. Louis, graduating in 1934. She left St. Louis to teach in Hawaii.
Francie was the ultimate educator, she received her post graduate honors from Duke University and continued teaching as a reading specialist until her retirement. She never married.
She came to visit us when we lived in Colorado and we took her to the mountains to drive some of the jeep trails. On one very narrow road we had to come to a full stop to allow a bicyclist to ride around us. His wheel slipped on some rocks and he went down right next to the 4 wheel drive we were in and Francie reached out the window to help him up then offered him a marshmallow to feel better.
In all her words, in all her actions, Aunt Francie was a kind woman who loved life and everyone she met. She was a positive influence in the lives of her nieces and nephew and their children. She would engage everyone in lively conversation.
She died in 1994 after suffering a traumatic head injury when hit by a car. She donated her body for research, a gift for educating students.
To find a naughty ancestor isn’t easy! However the first ancestor that comes to mind would be my husband’s father, Samuel Brener Singer. I never met the man, he died in 1966 and I didn’t meet John until 1967. I don’t think my husband considers himself to be like his father, but the stories I have heard over the last 50 years certainly provide me a clear picture of a link between the two.
Sam Singer was born April 9, 1915 in St. Louis. He graduated from Soldan High School and was provided the opportunity to attend college but unknown to his father, decided instead to go to Washington D.C. where he served as an aide to a Missouri Congressman for several years.
After returning to St. Louis, Sam and his brother Bill started the Royal Novelty Company which sold slot machines using his political and business connections to develop a wide web. Sam married and divorced during this time, later meeting Rosemary McMahon, converting to Catholic and marrying October 26, 1941 in Union, Missouri.
Sam and Rosemary started their family with the birth of daughter Mary Ann in 1944, John in 1947 and Sally Frances in 1952.
Sam and his brother Bill went on to start Apex Photo Finishing, a film developing company which became the largest of it’s type in the mid-west.
As Apex continued its success, Sam and Rosemary traveled to Europe, visiting the Pope in Italy. In England Sam purchased the very large set of Wedgwood dishes for Rosemary that I have come to love. They cruised frequently to Acapulco and Cuba. They loved to entertain.
Not adverse to taking risks, Sam always had a strong interest in the latest inventions and gadgets.
Sam died suddenly of a heart attack in 1966 when he was 50 years old. Rosemary later re-married Art O’Hare and died in 1988 after a number of years suffering from Alzeimers, She was 67.
How two sisters and a brother became two Sisters and a Brother
Seated are Edna Munsey Godfrey and husband Stephen W.J. Godfrey. Standing are Jane Elizabeth Godfrey, Robert James Godfrey and Ruth Mary Godfrey.
When my husband was born he was given a middle name of Godfrey. A strong family name from his Irish immigrant great grandfather David Godfrey.
Stephen Godfrey, pictured above, was the oldest child of David Godfrey and David’s second wife Elizabeth Ellen McNamee who were married in 1879 in St. Louis just after the death of David’s first wife Honora. David and Honora had immigrated from Ireland in 1872 with baby Patrick born in 1871. Two children were born in St. Louis after their arrival, Mary Margaret born in 1873 and John Aliyious born in 1875. David and Elizabeth’s marriage added Stephen born in 1881, Bridget born in 1884, John Thomas born in 1888 and Frances Theresa born in 1890 (John’s grandmother) and Joseph Leo born in 1892. Elizabeth Godfrey became ill and died in February 1893 and baby Joseph Leo died in March 1893 at 4 months old.
It fell to daughter Bridget to help her father raise the younger children. David Godfrey died in 1909 and Stephen became the head of household. All the Godfrey children had grown to young adults, maintained a deep Catholic faith and strong work ethic.
By 1911 Stephen married Edna Munsey and they started their own family with the birth of David in 1912, Ruth Mary in 1915, Robert James in 1918 and Jane Elizabeth in 1921. Stephen owned and worked in a clothing factory in St. Louis to support his children’s educational and religious training. He was also a partner in Manchester Hardware Company as Secretary/Treasurer with his older half brother Patrick Godfrey as President.
Left, Ruth Mary Godfrey; right, Jane Elizabeth Godfrey, the two sisters who became Sisters of Loretto.
Left, Sister Ellen Mary Godfrey S.L. Right is Sister Jane de Chantal Godfrey S.L.
Sister Jane was the first to enter Sisters of Loretto in 1941 and professed her vows in 1946. She earned a Bachelor’s degree from Loretto Heights College in Denver, a master’s degree at University of Notre Dame and her Doctorate at University of Southern California. She taught for 40 years. She was the Education Department chair at Loretto Heights for 7 years and at Berea College for 12 Years.
Sister Jane Godfrey
Sister Ellen Mary Godfrey graduated in mathematics from Webster College in St. Louis and received her masters degree from Catholic University. She pronounced her vows in 1944. She also taught at Holy Family in Denver, St. Mary’s in Colorado Springs and schools in New Mexico and Illinois. After her teaching years she became known as a catalyst of the Lorretto Investment Committee and a pioneer in the investment community.
Sister Ellen Mary
And then there was Brother Bob. Robert Godfrey entered the order of the Society of Mary in 1936 and took his vows a year later . He received a bachelor’s degree from the University of Dayton, Dayton, Ohio and a master’s degree from Marquette University in Milwaukee.
Brother Godfrey taught math and science at the old Coyle High School in Kirkwood Missouri, and became principal. He was also principal at McBride High School in the 1950’s and 1960’s. He was assistant superintendent of schools for the archdiocese of St. Louis for 8 years before moving to San Antonio to become superintendent.
Brother Bob Godfrey S.M.
And there you have two sisters and a brother who grew up to be two Sisters and a Brother.
Jacob Singer was born in Leeds, England, to Russian Jewish parents and moved with his family to the St. Louis area at the age of three. Dr. Singer was the brother of my husband John’s grandfather, Morris Singer.
After graduating high school in 1896, Jacob began to save up money to attend Medical School, believing that medicine “offered a field for which my qualifications seemed best suited… these are my love for science, my desire to help those in distress, and my willingness to devote years to attain the goal.” He enrolled in Washington University Medical School in St. Louis, where he worked closely with Dr. Evarts A. Graham, a Bixby Professor of Surgery at Washington University. Graham had established “the first modern chest clinic” at Barnes Hospital in St. Louis, where Singer treated many sufferers of tuberculosis including several family members as well as his mother who died from tuberculosis in 1907 at the age of 45.
Dr. Singer and Dr. Graham performed the first pneumonectomy (removal of an entire lung) of a lung cancer patient in 1933 and wrote a textbook together called “Surgical Diseases of the Chest” in 1935. Dr. Singer was also a tinkerer, experimenting with new technologies to better identify and diagnose lung diseases. He patented his own “Singer Stethoscope” (resonating stethoscope) in 1915 and pioneered devices for illuminating photographic negatives (X-rays). Dr. Singer also constructed many of the tools still used today in thoracic surgery.
In 1937, Singer moved to Los Angeles to teach medicine at the University of Southern California and was hired by Cedars of Lebanon to serve on its medical staff. He soon became the city’s leading lung specialist and served as the President of the Tuberculosis Section of the Los Angeles County Medical Society.
Dr. Singer and staff with Georgia Governor “Ed” Rivers.
In 1942, Dr. Singer was appointed as Medical Director at the City of Hope, helping both Cedars of Lebanon and the JCRA’s Sanatorium to becoming national leaders in the fight against tuberculosis. He helped to transform the way both institutions treated the disease.
Unfortunately, Dr. Singer suffered a heart attack just months after the discovery of streptomycin, a viable cure for tuberculosis, and had retired from medicine before the curative regiment had been perfected. He died in 1954 and was honored at a memorial ceremony at Cedars of Lebanon Hospital.
In the beginning of my research for my husband’s ancestors we visited a Jewish cemetery in St. Louis. John was wise enough to advise me to take pictures of all the surrounding gravestones because it was possible they could be related and I would have the photos to study. Indeed that was the case. One gravestone in the group was for Sarah Grossman, not a Singer or a Silverblatt as all the others in the group and I became very curious about this young lady who was only 28 years old when she died.
What really peaked my interest was the picture of Sarah on the gravestone. Although the photograph was blurred from weather and time she appeared to be a very pretty young lady. My challenge became who is she, where did she come from and why is she here?
The script on the gravestone, written in Hebrew tells me that Sarah’s father is Tzvi Hirsh Silverblatt. Tzvi Hirsh or Harris is buried in the row in front of Sarah, he died in 1904 at age 40 of tuberculosis. The grave next to Sarah is her mother Lizzie Rudner who died in 1907 at age 39 of tuberculosis.
After several years of study I found the answer to all my questions and here is the story of Sarah and her siblings travels. With the 1900 census information I was able to learn Sarah was born in 1888 in Friar’s Point, Mississippi, Bessie in 1894, Louis in 1895 and David in 1901. Friar’s Point is a small city on the Mississippi River.
In 1902, the family including Sarah, her sister Bessie and brothers Louis and David moved to San Antonio, Texas to open their own mercantile store. Sister Ruth was born in 1903 in San Antonio. When their father died in 1904 Lizzie and the children stayed in San Antonio and managed the store. Lizzie, their mother died in 1907 and the children went back to Friar’s Point under the guardianship of their uncle William Silverblatt. The 1910 census only lists Louis and younger sister Ruth living with William Silverblatt. After a lot of census searching I found Bessie in Memphis, Tennessee living with their mother’s sister and her family while Louis and Ruth stayed in Friar’s Point and David was sent to a Jewish orphanage in New Orleans. More details were revealed in the will of Lizzie Silverblatt. Lizzie had a life insurance policy valued at about $4100.00 when she died. Her brother-in-law was paid $10.00 per month as guardian for her children. Lizzy specifically requested her diamond earrings to go to Sarah.
The Mizpah monument at Denver’s Union Station 1908. The “Welcome” on one side and “Mizpah” on the other. Sarah would have taken a train from Memphis to arrive in Denver in 1908 and been welcomed by this structure.
Sarah, being 20 years old in 1908 left Memphis when she contracted tuberculosis and came to Denver, Colorado. In 1910 the census shows she boarded at a house on Hooker Street near Colfax. In 1911 Sarah married fellow boarder David Grossman. According to her death certificate, Sarah’s cause of death was pulmonary tuberculosis with contributing influenza at the beginning of 1917 and she died a month later, 31 January 1917. Sarah and David had no children.
Bessie stayed in Memphis, married and divorced, then married Sam Florman. They had two children, He owned several mercantile stores in Tennessee and Arkansas. David left the orphanage at 18 years old and moved to Arkansas to work in one of Sam and Bessie’s stores. David married Nancy Hughes and they had two children. Louis married Irene Wiggington and they lived in Trenton, Tennessee, they had two children. Ruth stayed with William Silverblatt’s wife, Matilda, after he died in 1919. Matilda was hit by a car and killed in St. Louis in 1942. I never found Ruth after the 1930 census.
Cemetery records show Bertha Wyner, daughter of Fannie Silverblatt Singer (William, Beckie and Harris’s sister), purchased all the plots at Chesed Shel Emeth Cemetery and kept everyone together. Two other graves for William, Beckie, Harris and Fannie’s parents Samuel and Jennie Silverblatt are located nearby and according to the clerk at the cemetery the records are in an old Russian Hebrew dialect and at this time no one is available to translate.
Living in the 21st Century medical assistance is something most of us take for granted to be nearby and instantly obtained. However, in 1895 living in Vernon, Colorado, a small rural town ten miles south of Wray, Colorado, professional medical attention was “So Far Away” for my second great grandfather Jacob Foreman.
Early picture of Denver General Hospital. The building on the right is the original Arapahoe county Hospital pre- 1904 which was the year Denver became a county.
According to the Colorado State Archives Patient Register for Arapahoe County Hospital (known to most of us as Denver General Hospital), Jacob Foreman, age 54, was admitted February 9, 1895 and treated for multiple neuritis. He had lived in the county for 7 years, immigrating to Colorado in 1887. Was born in Ohio and married. He was patient number 176 and was discharged on March 4, 1895 his condition being “improved” after three weeks. The entry also notes as a contact John Baxter at 1420 S. 13 Street in Vernon. Mr. Baxter was the neighbor who provided the ‘ride’ to Denver. The term multiple neuritis describes an inflamed nerve causing pain in the body.
In a letter from Jacob to his brother living in Time, Pike County, Illinois Jacob regrettably requests $100.00 to pay for the hospital and 354 mile round trip by wagon and team to Denver.
Jacob Foreman was born in 1840 in Highland County, Ohio and moved to Time, Pike County, Illinois as a young man. He served in the Civil War in the 28th Regiment of the Illinois Infantry, Company E. Jacob Foreman married Sarah Elizabeth Watt in Pittsfield, Pike County, Illinois on March 17, 1867. The family moved from Illinois to Kansas in 1877 but were unable to find a suitable home and settled in Coloma, Carroll County, Missouri in 1878 near several of Sarah’s brother’s and their families.
Vernon Park – center of town.
In 1887 the family moved to Vernon, Arapahoe County (now Yuma County), Colorado. Jacob paid a $10.00 fee to homestead 160 acres under the government Homestead Act as well as an additional 160 acres under the Timber Culture Act. The government requirement was to work the land for 5 years and then title would be transferred to the homesteaders name.
Left – Town of Vernon in 1900. Right – Close up David Foreman’s home next to Christian Church where he and Jacob were ministers.
Jacob sold his homestead in 1906 and he and Sarah and son George moved to Mustang, Oklahoma near Jacob’s brother Robert Allen Foreman. By 1920 Jacob and Sarah returned to Vernon to be near their children, living in the town of Vernon. Jacob died in 1923 and Sarah died in 1928.