Saturday, February 22, 2014

Nettie (Lamb) Baisley [52 Ancestors in 52 Wks]

Nettie (Lamb) Baisley c. 1940

My great-grandmother, Jennette Lamb was born about 6 Oct 1873 in Montrose, Westchester, New York. She was the third child and only daughter of Jacob and Emily (Outhouse) Lamb. Along with her parents, two older brothers, Winfield and Alonzo, and a younger brother, Stewart, in 1880, she was living in Cortlandt, Westchester County, New York [1], where the Lamb family had deep roots.  Jennette’s great-grandfather, also named Jacob Lamb, was a veteran of the American Revolution.

Not much is known about the early years of Jennette Lamb. By 1900 “Nettie” was married to Jacob Baisley, a man almost 10 years older than she, the son of James and Caroline (Scoutin) Baisley, and four children were living with them [2]. Although I have been unable to locate any marriage record, they were apparently married around 1889-1891.  A child “Fannie” was enumerated with them in 1900 having a birth of July 1889; but no birth record for Fannie (or other name variation) has been located, neither has any death record for a person of that name been located. I did find a birth record for a son, Alonzo Van R. Baisley, born 3 Jun 1891 to them [3]. He was known by the nickname of Van Allen or “Vannie.” One theory is that this “Vannie” is the “Fannie” enumerated on the 1900 census, even though the sex of the child was incorrect. On that census, Nettie is the mother of 4 children all of whom are living, and all four are accounted for.

1. Fannie/Alonzo Van R.  “Vannie,” born 3 Jun 1891 in Oscawana, New York;
2. Edna, born 26 Dec 1892 in Crugers, New York [4];
3. Florence, born 21 May 1895 in Montrose, New York [5];
4. Franklin, born 25 May 1897 in Montrose, New York [6].

I cannot find the family on the 1905 New York state census, but in 1906, Jacob and Nettie Baisley are named on a Westchester County deed [7] for the distribution of the estate of Nettie’s father-in-law. Also in 1906, Nettie’s brother, Alonzo, married Jacob’s sister, Carrie Baisley, which may have caused some family tension considering that the deed is the last document where Jacob and Nettie are named as husband and wife. Sometime between 1906, where they are named on the deed, and 1909, when another son, Raymond, is born, Jacob and Nettie split up.

In Ossining, New York, on 27 Oct 1910, Nettie married James Baisley[8], the son of Jacob’s brother, George. On this marriage certificate, Nettie states this is her first marriage; yet she has four children from her previous marriage living with her and her new husband on the 1910 census[9], as well as two additional children:
5. Bessie, born about 1901 in New York;
6. Raymond, born 9 May 1909 in Peekskill, New York [10].
The census also states that Nettie was the mother of 7 children, 6 of whom were living. This again brings up the question of a missing child. Is this missing child the Fannie named on the 1900 census? (If so, where was Van Allen, who was born in 1891, and not enumerated with them?) Or was there a child born between the births of Bessie and Raymond who didn’t survive? According to family tradition, there is no “Fannie” and Bessie is the daughter of Jacob Baisley and Raymond was the son of James Baisley, but I have no documentation for any of them. It is clear that Raymond was born before Nettie and James were married so my next step would be to obtain both his birth certificate and Bessie’s to confirm their father.

Nettie’s second marriage must have strained family relations and caused a family scandal. At any rate, it seems this second marriage of Nettie’s caused a rift in the Baisley family that resulted in estrangement lasting even to present time. My father knew nothing of his grandfather, Jacob Baisley, and it appears that even Jacob’s own daughters never visited him or attended his funeral when he died in 1943.

James and Nettie Baisley raised three more children, all born in Peekskill over the next few years, where they lived through most of the 1930s:

7. James, Jr. born 28 Mar 1911;
8. Elsie, born 2 May 1913;
9. Dorothy, born 31 Dec 1917 [11].

Baisley Farmhouse c. 1940
By 1940, the family had moved to Wappinger’s Falls, Dutchess County, New York [12] and established a farm. My father remembers visiting this farm many times throughout his early years. He remembers helping buck bales of hay and seeing all the farm equipment and the acres of crops. The family had a truck with the name “Baisley & Sons Produce” printed on the side in which they trucked their farm goods into town. I have several family photos of the big white farmhouse where all the Baisley clan gathered. Nettie was known to be quite strict, very old fashioned and very religious. She loved being surrounded by all of her children. Not only did she raise 9 children by two husbands, she also helped in raising her son Raymond’s children and her daughter Dorothy’s children [13].

The year 1943 was a year of loss for Nettie. In February, her ex-husband, Jacob Baisley, died, and in October, her husband, James Baisley, died. Nettie outlived them both by 11 years. She died on her 81st birthday, on 6 Oct 1954 in Cold Spring, Putnam, New York. She is buried next to her husband, James Baisley, in Hillside Cemetery, Cortlandt Manor, New York. [14]

[1] 1880 U.S. census, Westchester, New York, population schedule, Town of Cortlandt, enumeration district (ED) 92, p. 37 (penned), 179-A (stamped), dwelling 317, family 394, Jacob Lamb household; digital images, ( : accessed 7 Jan 2010); citing National Archives and Records Administration microfilm T9, roll 945. 
[2] 1900 U.S. census, Westchester, New York, population schedule, Town of Cortlandt, enumeration district (ED) 57, sheet 39-B (penned), dwelling 638, family 790, Jacob Baisley household; digital images, ( : accessed 15 May 2012); citing National Archives and Records Administration microfilm T623, roll 1,174. 
[3] Town of Cortlandt, New York, birth certificate no. 3178 (1891), Alonzo Van R. Baisley; Town of Cortlandt, Town Clerk's Office, Cortlandt Manor.
[4] Town of Cortlandt, New York, local birth certificate no. 3634, (1892), Edna Baisley; Town of Cortlandt, Town Clerk's Office, Cortlandt Manor.
[5] Town of Cortlandt, New York, , local birth certificate no. 4056 (1895), Florence Baisley; Town of Cortlandt, Town Clerk’s Office, Cortlandt Manor.
[6] Town of Cortlandt, New York, local birth certificate no. 4475 (1897), Franklin Baisley; Town of Cortlandt, Town Clerk’s Office, Cortlandt Manor.
[7] Westchester, New York, Deeds, 1768: 409, Charles W. Baisley and others to Harriet B. Foster, 12 June 1906 (recorded 15 Aug 1906); digital images, Westchester County Clerk, "pre-1967 Deeds," Westchester County Records Online ( : accessed 6 Jun 2012). 
[8] "New York, Marriages, 1686-1980," digital image, FamilySearch ( : accessed 30 Apr 2012), marriage record no. 5472, James Baisley and Jeanette Lamb, 1910; citing New York Department of Health, Division of Vital Statistics, Albany. Microfilm of original records at the Municipal Archives of New York, New York City. 
[9] 1910 U.S. census, Westchester, New York, population schedule, Peekskill, enumeration district (ED) 10, sheet 18-A (penned), dwelling 284, family 383, James Baisley household; digital images, ( : accessed 14 Apr 2012); citing National Archives and Records Administration microfilm T624, roll 1090. 
[10] Elsie Mattingly (Whittier, North Carolina) to Karin Coppernoll, letter, 27 Apr 1993; privately held by Coppernoll; Mrs. Mattingly is the daughter of James and Nettie Baisley. She spoke from personal knowledge about her immediate family.
[11] Mattingly, Elsie, letter to Coppernoll, 1993, Coppernoll Family Papers, Baisley file, information for children of Nettie (Lamb) Baisley, Mrs. Mattingly's mother. 
[12] 1940 U.S. census, Dutchess, New York, population schedule, Wappingers Township, Hughsonville, enumeration district (ED) 14-108, sheet 1-B (penned), household 30, Raymond Baisley household; digital images, ( : accessed 9 Aug 2012); citing National Archives and Records Administration microfilm T627, roll 2,525. 
[13] Mattingly, Elsie, letter to Coppernoll, 1993, Coppernoll Family Papers, Baisley file, information for description of Nettie (Lamb) Baisley, Mrs. Mattingly's mother.
[14] Doris Smith (1033 Oregon Road; Peekskill, New York) to Karin Coppernoll, letter, 19 Apr 1993; privately held by Coppernoll, [STREET ADDRESS FOR PRIVATE USE]; Doris Smith is the secretary of Hillside Cemetery and wrote the names and dates of burial of the Baisley's interred there.

Sunday, February 9, 2014

Genealogy Lessons Learned

As a self-taught genealogist, everything I’ve learned, I learned through trial and error in bits and pieces. Citing my sources became more of a habit after learning about and reading Evidence Explained by Elizabeth Shown Mills. But analyzing sources?  Wasn’t I analyzing a document when I decided if it belonged to my ancestor or not? I didn’t even know what I didn’t know! So I decided to become a participant in a study group for the book, Mastering Genealogical Proof by Thomas W. Jones.

In the last couple of years, I had been toying with the idea of becoming a certified genealogist. For years, I’ve been dabbling in family history research, but I began to realize my research was not up to professional standards. This study group seemed like a good idea. Let me tell you, it’s kicking my butt. I thought I understood original and derivative records; primary and secondary information; and direct and indirect evidence. Working through the exercises in this book has shown me how little I understand these concepts. So, in order to keep them front and center in my mind, I decided to blog about what I’m learning. These are not my ideas–they are the result of knowledge gained through reading Mastering Genealogical Proof by Thomas W. Jones.

One of the notions I’ve learned is the importance of framing my research through appropriate questions. While I sort of had questions about my ancestors like, “Who was Jacob’s father?” “Were these people his siblings?” “Where was he living in 1880?” I never formally wrote them down. These kinds of questions point me toward sources where I might find answers and information that will lead to evidence. The questions need to be framed about a person whom I already have known or “documented” information about and then ask questions about their relationships, identity, and activities. The questions I’ve asked about my ancestors seem right on target, but I don’t write them down or make sure they are about a documented person.
The sources I consult are also an important part of my research. Sources can be original (those created at the time of an event) or derivative (those created based on other records). Original records are usually more credible and the records I strive to find. A new thought for me was that indexes and databases are not considered sources because they are finding aids that help locate sources.

Sources contain information that is either primary (first-person account) or secondary (hearsay). They can also be indeterminable which means I have no idea who gave the information. Of course, I really want information that is primary, but sometimes I have to settle for secondary. My great-grandfather’s death certificate gives me primary information about his death. Presumably his niece, who was the informant, handled the funeral arrangements and knew about his death, as well as the physician who attended him. But the birth information contained on that certificate is not primary information because his niece wasn’t there when her uncle was born. She only knew about it because he told her when to celebrate his birthday. And his death certificate reflects that because she didn’t know exactly the year he was born or how old he was. Even though this is secondary information, it does give me clues about his birth and helps narrow my research field.

And then there is the evidence that is either direct, indirect, or negative, which is where my research question comes into play. In the case of my great-grandfather’s birth, his death certificate is an original record that contains secondary information, but it directly answers the question of when and where he was born, so it is direct evidence of his birth. Evidence is not something I can touch or see; it is something I create in my mind based upon my interpretation of the information in a source. What a new thought! In the past, I would have considered my great-grandfather’s death certificate as evidence.

So how will studying this chapter change my research? Well, for starters, I’m going back to my grandparents and making sure I have all my information backed up by actual original sources and not just the word of my parents. I will begin with appropriate questions and start analyzing the sources I have. As difficult as I’ve found this chapter, I’m excited to be expanding my knowledge and applying it directly to my research. If you want to bring your genealogy up a notch, I strongly encourage you to delve into this book. It will change your research.

Friday, February 7, 2014

Genowefa Stefanja Dabrowska (#2 - 52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks series)

Grandma and her brother, Joseph Dabrowski, c. 1935

I always called my maternal grandmother "Grandma." My paternal grandmother died years before I was born, so Grandma was the only grandmother I knew. I have several photos of myself and my brother visiting with her and my grandfather, but my memories are few. As sometimes happens with families nowadays, they move away and spread out. Sometimes they grow apart due to misunderstandings or biases from the previous generation. For us, my family moved from New Jersey to Idaho just before I started high school. I only saw my grandparents twice before they died. I was lucky enough to become interested in genealogy as a pre-teen and had the foresight to interview both of them many years ago. I still know very little about their families except for what I gathered from that interview long ago.

For a long time, that information sat in my files. Because my grandparents were Polish, I was somewhat intimidated, so I spent time researching my other family lines. It wasn't until the 1920 census came out that I pulled out those Polish records and tried to find them. Even though I knew they should have been in Connecticut, I could not find them. I got discouraged and put the files away again.

My grandmother died this summer at the age of 96. This event renewed my interest in the Polish side of my family. My grandmother was a first generation American. She was born in Stamford, Fairfield, Connecticut in 1917, but her family went back to Poland when she was 3 years old. It wasn't until she was 17 when she came back to the United States, alone. I remembered her telling me how Grandpa was the one who met her when she arrived in New York, but otherwise she didn't talk much about her family.

Armed with renewed interest and a smattering of details, I began to research what I could find out about my grandmother, who I knew as Jean (Americanized from Eugenia) Chrzanowski, born 2 March 1917. Her maiden name was Dabrowski. The following narrative is a working version of the results of my research.

Genowefa Stefanja Dabrowska was born on 28 Feb 1917, in Stamford, Fairfield County, Connecticut. She was the second child of nine born to Frank Dabrowski and Stephanie Gorska. [1]. She joined an older brother who was also born in Stamford. During their brief time in the United States, Frank and Stephanie Dabrowski became friends with the Chrzanowski family, who were also living in Stamford. They, too, were immigrants from Poland. As my grandmother conveyed to me, some family emergency had happened in Poland and her family had to return there. This must have happened around 1920 because another son was born in Stamford in 1919 who died in Poland about 1921. This was the reason I could not find them on the 1920 census; they were either enroute or already in Poland.

I don't know much about what happened while they were in Poland. Poland's politics were in unrest during the 1920s. The family owned land and during this time agrarian laws were enacted distributing land from the rich to the poor. I don't know if they received their land during this time or owned it prior–family lore says they were szlachta (upper class) and owned a large farm in Karwowo. The Polish-Soviet War was going on, which made sense to me since my grandmother had told me Russian soldiers came uninvited into their home. Poland also went from a democracy to an authoritarian government during this time. In 1933, Hitler seized power in Germany. In the following years, many anti-Jewish laws were passed in Germany, but by 1934, anti-Jewish violence was widespread.

Because she was a U.S. citizen, the decision was made to send my grandmother back to America. It was generally understood in our family that her older brother accompanied her, but according to the ship manifest of the SS Pulaski, Genowefa Stefania Dabrowska arrived alone in New York on 27 June 1934. She was going to live with a cousin, Stela Sokolski, in Stamford, Connecticut. [2] Unfortunately the manifest doesn't say who met her at the ship–Grandma always told me it was my grandfather, which is how they met.

My grandmother loved to dance and went to many dances with her older brother. She was a beautiful woman and she had her choice of escorts, but on 23 Jan 1937, she married Walter Chrzanowski in Jersey City, New Jersey. [3] They made their home on Woodlawn Avenue [4] and lived there for a number of years. Jean was employed as an operator in the cottons industry and was an excellent seamstress. One of my mother's memories is that my grandmother made almost every outfit she and her sister wore. She sewed money into the lining of clothing which she sent to her family in Poland to help them come to America.

Walter & Jean Chrzanowski, 1937

After raising two children, Walter and Jean moved to Upper Saddle River, New Jersey, in a house they lived in until Walter was moved into a nursing home in his senior years. Jean became a widow in 2003 and continued to live in her house for several years. She and Walter had been married for 66 years. I remember her telling me stories of the trips they went on. They loved to cruise and traveled the world. She made many trips to visit her family in Poland, some of which were extended stays for months at a time.

I remember spending a week with my grandparents one summer when I was just a kid. My grandmother was always well groomed and well dressed. She and my grandfather followed many of the old Polish traditions, were devout Catholics, and often spoke Polish together, especially when they didn't want me to understand what they were saying. I learned a few naughty words in Polish that way. Their house seemed very grown up to my child's eyes; white carpets and fancy furniture that children were not allowed to play around. My brother and I had to obey strict rules and watch our manners at the formal dining table. One of my fond memories is of my grandfather teaching me how to make "big pancakes" and Grandma showing me how to slice a grapefruit for breakfast and sprinkle it with sugar and place a cherry on top.

I only saw them twice after we moved to Idaho. On one visit, my grandmother went hiking and fishing with us. It was the playful side of her I rarely saw and the only time I saw her wearing jeans. She was a strong woman, having conquered breast cancer and having had a double mastectomy. Her childhood was also a difficult one; she didn't talk about it much. The only story she told me was the time after they had returned to Poland. Grandma remembered her mother saying the rosary while she rocked her little brother who was very sick. My grandmother remembered him reaching out for his mother while he died in her arms. She also had a younger sister who died at age 11. Although she visited them frequently in Poland, her parents never immigrated to the United States and rarely visited. They remained in Poland where they died and are buried. It must have been difficult to live so far away from them.

Grandma lived alone well into her eighties. Sometime around 2009, she moved into an assisted living facility in Connecticut, where her sisters and extended family lived in and around New Britain. When she could no longer live alone, she was moved to St. Patrick's Nursing Home in Framingham, Massachusetts, where she could be closer to her youngest daughter, Stephanie and her family. My grandmother lived out the remainder of her life here, and died on 8 Aug 2013, at the age of 96, having outlived all of her doctor's expectations. She is buried next to her husband in Sacred Heart Cemetery, in New Britain, Connecticut. [5]

Genowefa Stefanja Dabrowska and Walter Frank Chrzanowski had two children, both daughters, one who lives in the northeast and one who lives in the northwest. They each have spouses and two children.


[1] Fairfield, Connecticut, birth certificate no. 319 (1917), Genovefa Dombrowski; Stamford Town Clerk, Stamford. The birth certificate is notable for the numerous given name and surname mispellings which were crossed out and rewritten.

[2] "New York Passenger Lists, 1820-1957," online images, ( : accessed 11 Sep 2013), manifest, SS Pulaski, 27 Jun 1934, p. 204 (stamped), Genowefa Stefanja Dabrowska, age 17, Gdynia, Poland, to New York, New York; citing NARA micropublication T715, roll 5506.

[3] Walter Chrzanowski (Upper Saddle River, New Jersey), interview by Karin Coppernoll, 3 Sep 1994; transcript privately held by Karin Coppernoll, Monroe, Washington; Walter, the interviewer's grandfather, spoke from personal knowledge about his family.

[4] 1940 U.S. census, Hudson, New Jersey, population schedule, Jersey City, enumeration district (E.D.) 24-129, sheet 6-A (penned), p. 1325-A (stamped), household 110, Jean Chrzanowski in Walter Chrzanowski household; digital images, ( : accessed 1 Aug 2012); citing NARA microfilm T627, roll 2,404.

[5] Obituary, "Jean Chrzanowski," The Record/Herald News, 17 Aug 2013, online obituaries ( : accessed 19 Aug 2013).