Ancestor Bio – Oscar Hopfe

Hopfe Project
By Don Taylor

One of my favorite documents to find is a Naturalization Record.  I was recently researching Oscar Hopfe. Oscar was born in Germany on 12 April 1896 and came to the United States, arriving on 2 November 1911. Luckily, I was able to find a Naturalization Record for him. What a wealth of information.  The process for Naturalization has three major steps. First, a person declares an intent to naturalize. Later they petition for naturalization and finally become naturalized by declaring an oath of Allegiance to the United States.

In June, 1914, Oscar filed his letter of intent. He was barber, 5’8” tall, 138 pounds, and he had brown hair and brown eyes. His birthdate of 12 April 1896 was confirmed. He arrived in New York about 2 November 1911 aboard the “President Lincoln.”

Seven years, and World War I, passed before he filed his petition for Naturalization, on 3 February 1921.  At that time, he was a Chauffer and was living at 79 Avenue “A.” His dates aboard the President Lincoln were confirmed.  Albert Braummer (of Wantagh, L.I.) and Ernst Wolff of 3486 9 st. attested to knowing him to have lived in the United States since 1914.

Three months later, on May 10, 1921, Oscar took the oath of Allegiance.

So many questions and areas to research further. Who else was on the President Lincoln with him?  What did Oscar do during the war?  Did he sit it out or did he participate somehow?  Who were the people who vouched for him?  Were they related?

Oscar isn’t a direct-line ancestor, rather, he is the brother of a direct line ancestor. I am researching him, in particular, to see if I can find additional information about their parents, Franz and Hedwig (Hohl) Hopfe.

Hopfe Project 2019 – Brother of Ancestor #4

List of Great’s & Grands

  • Grandfather: Erdman Max Hopfe
  • Great-grandfather: Franz Hopfe
  • Great Uncle: Oscar Hopfe

Oscar (1896-DoD)

Birth

Oscar Hopfe was born in Blankenburg, Unstrut-Hainich-Kreis, Thüringen, Germany on 12 April 1896. That was same day as the German football club “Hannover 96” was founded. His parents were Franz and Hedwig (Hohl) Hopfe. He had at least two older brothers, Max and Oscar. He was living in Blankenburg when he left for the United States.

Childhood

S. S. President Lincoln

Oscar’s older brother, Herman Hopfe, emigrated to the United States in 1903. Another brother, Erdman Max Hopfe, emigrated to the United States in 1906. It appears that Herman returned to Germany and escorted Oscar to the United States in 1911 as they traveled together from Hamburg, Germany aboard the President Lincoln arriving in New York on November 2, 1911. Oscar was 16-years-old.

In June 1914, the 18-year-old Oscar decided to become a US citizen and filed a Declaration of intent. At the time he was living at 259 East 150th Street in the Bronx. He was working as a barber.

The 1915 Census finds Oscar living with his brother Max and family at 317 Central Avenue, Brooklyn, New York.

Marriage

I have found no evidence that Oscar ever married.

Adult

In June 1917, when Oscar registered for the draft, he was apparently living across the street from his brother at 314 Central Avenue. He was working as an auto Mechanic at the Leo M Car Co, 70 Albany Ave., about two miles away.

I found no evidence that he served in the war (World War I).

On February 3, 1921, Oscar petitioned for naturalization. He was living at 79 Avenue “A” and he listed his occupation as a chauffeur.

Passport photo for Oscar Hopfe

On May 24, 1921, Oscar took the Oath of Allegiance and became a United States Citizen. Within a couple of weeks he applied for a passport with intent to travel to Holland, Switzerland, Belgium, and Italy for business.  He returned the United States aboard the SS George Washington on October 18, 1921.

I have been unsuccessful in finding Oscar in the 1930 census.  He appears to have applied for a social security card in December 1936, but he doesn’t appear in the Social Security death index.

Death & Burial

I have found no record of his death.

Further Actions / Follow-up

  • The passenger list for Oscar coming to America indicates the address for his father in Germany. I’d like to try to figure out what the address is, but am having a hard time interpreting the writing.
    • Passenger List indicating Oscar’s Father name and address
  • Find a record for Oscar’s death.
  • Research the life of Max & Oscar’s brother, Herman Hopfe.


Sources

  • 1915 New York State Census, Ancestry.Com, Max Hope – ED 18, Brooklyn, Kings, New York.
  • Bremen Passenger Lists, Internet, Oskar Hopfe from (USA) travelled 18 Oktober 1921 on the ship ‘George Washington’ from Bremen to New York. http://www.public-juling.de/passagierlisten/listen.php?ArchivIdent=AIII15-18.10.1921_N&start=391&pers=&ankunftshafen=New+York&abreisehafen=Bremen&lang=en.
  • Hamburg Passenger Lists, 1850-1934, Com, Oscar Hopfe. Departure 21 Oct 1911 – Hamburg. https://search.ancestry.com/collections/1068/records/2373762/.
  • New York Passenger Arrival Lists (Ellis Island), 1892-1924, Family Search, Oscar Hoppe [Hopfe]. “New York Passenger Arrival Lists (Ellis Island), 1892-1924”, database with images, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:JJGY-MM2 : 30 January 2018), Oscar Hoppe, 1911.
  • New York, State and Federal Naturalization Records, 1794-1940, Com, Oscar Hopfe . The National Archives and Records Administration; Washington, D.C.; Petitions for Naturalization from the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York, 1897-1944; Series: M1972; Roll: 206. https://search.ancestry.com/collections/2499/records/3852025.
  • Social Security Applications and Claims Index, 1936-2007, Ancestry.Com, Oscar Hopfe. Ancestry.com. U.S., Social Security Applications and Claims Index, 1936-2007 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., 2015. Original data: Social Security Applications and Claims, 1936-2007.
  • United States Passport Applications, 1795-1925, Family Search, Oscar Hopfe – Passport Application # 42006 – Ancestry. National Archives and Records Administration (NARA); Washington D.C.; Roll #: 1628; Volume #: Roll 1628 – Certificates: 42000-42375, 26 May 1921- 27 May 1921 – Accessed 20 May 2019.
  • United States World War I Draft Registration Cards, 1917-1918, Family Search, Oscar Hopfe. “United States World War I Draft Registration Cards, 1917-1918,” database with images, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:KXY2-GB9 : 13 March 2018), Oscer Hopfe, 1917-1918; citing New York City no 72, New York, United States, NARA microfilm publication M1509 (Washington D.C.: National Archives and Records Administration, n.d.); FHL microfilm 1,754,600.

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City Directories – 2019 Update

US Census Records are essential records used in genealogical research. They are a treasure trove of information; however, they come out only once every ten years leaving huge gaps.  With the 1890 census having lost so many records in a fire, often there is a twenty-year gap in our family research.  Don’t overlook city directories as a potential source to fill in those gaps.

Many cities and counties have had directories published over the years.
They were created for salespeople and merchants to be able to contact businesses and individuals.  Every publisher had their format for information they presented, but if you find one that includes your ancestor, it can be the source for new information.

Typically, city directories give the name and address of the head of the household.  Often they give the wife’s name, usually in parenthesis, and sometimes the names of adult children living at the same address. They also typically provide the occupation of the individual.  Sometimes there is a reverse directory included which goes by street address and contains the names of the individuals living there. Always look for your ancestor in the name section, the business section, and, if included, the reverse directory to see who else might live at the address.

Sometimes a directory can provide an answer to a question or clarify what was happening.  As an example, for many years I thought a great-grandmother of mine moved from one address to another on the same street.  I thought it was odd, but not unheard of before. A city directory revealed that they renumbered the street one year. The neighbors stayed the same, but the numbers changed for all of them.

Directories often show maps, street name changes, addresses of businesses, churches, schools, cemeteries, post offices, hospitals, newspapers and the like.  Some will give a history of the city as well as the names of elected officials.

Another significant bit of information often given is if a person is a widow.  That can be key to narrowing down the year of someone’s death and provides a “died before” date.  In some occasions, the city directory may even list marriages, and deaths, including date, during the previous year.

Online Resources

Google Books is always worth a quick look to see if they have a directory you need. Go to books.google.com and then enter in the search box: City Directory [city of interest].  You may be surprised at what is available online. I noted the 1850-51 City Directory for Portland, ME, was available as a free eBook.

Probably better than Google Books is Google’s US Online Historical Directories site. A click on “Maine” shows that eight of the 16 counties have directories online and that seven Portland City Directories are available online.  Five of those directories are accessible through Don’s List, which is one of my favorite online sources for information. Check them out at: (www.donlist.net).

Another excellent source for directories is the Internet Archive (www.archive.org) and has Many Maine directories. A quick search of Directory Maine yielded 257 results including directories for Lewiston, Casco Bay, Bangor, and Portland.

One of the best sources for Directories is Family Search. After logging in, select Search – Catalog. Then under titles, enter Directory and State.  For “Directory Maine” there are 64 results returned. Be sure to look at the available directories closely. There is a directory for “Greater Portland” and directories for “Portland” which are separated by quite a bit.  Many of the directories are still only available on microfilm at various libraries but pay attention to them as they are likely to become available online soon.

Of course, Ancestry has many directories available with a subscription.  A search for “Directory” in the title with a keyword of “Maine” yielded 27 results. Several of them were city directories.

Off-Line Resources

Many libraries and historical societies have city directories in their possession. It is always worth an email or telephone call to find out if a library has a city directory. Often, they will do a look-up for you without charge or for a small fee.  Occasionally the directories have been microfilmed so be sure to speak with a reference librarian who knows the various collections available on microfilm. Sometime those resources may be ordered via interlibrary loan.

Scarborough Historical Society & Museum Collection[1]

Thomas Henley Collection, Shelf K-12

The Scarborough Museum has a small collection of city directories of Portland, including the following:

  • 1942 – Thomas Henley – K11
  • 1952 – Thomas Henley – K11
  • 1956 – (Upstairs Archive)
  • 1963 – Thomas Henley – K04
  • 1965 – Thomas Henley – K12
  • 1970 – Thomas Henley – K12
  • 1975 – Thomas Henley – K12
  • 1977 – Thomas Henley – K12

These directories are available for members to use at the museum for research.  If you cannot make it to the museum, the Genealogy Volunteers will be happy to look up a couple of names for you. Just let them know the surname and the year.

Of course, if you have a Greater Portland city directory, or another directory that includes Scarborough, please consider donating it to the museum.  We would be extremely pleased to add it to our collection.

Other Public Collections

 The Scarborough Public Library also has many city directories including Greater Portland & Surrounding Communities from 1960 thru to the current 2019 directory.

The South Portland Historical Society also has many city directories, plus it is a great museum to visit. Check it out.

Finally, both the Maine Historical Society in Portland and the Maine State Library in Augusta have substantial collections of interest to genealogists that include many city directories. Either are great resources.


Endnotes

  1.  I am a volunteer at the Scarborough Historical Society and Museum. I am using it in this article as an example of what might be available at any local historical society.

Ancestry DNA – DNA Story

One of the kits I manage, I’ll call “JS,” has received his Ethnicity Estimate and he now knows he is 88% descended from England, Wales, and Northwestern Europe, 10% from Ireland and Scotland, and two percent from Germanic Europe. Pretty cool.

Ancestry also provides some pretty maps indicating a person’s ethnicity. In his case, the three ethnicity areas overlap.

Ancestry also provides connections to “Additional Communities.” In his case, there are:

  • “Lower Midwest & Virginia Settlers,” which includes Illinois, Indiana, and Tennessee.
  • “Mississippi & Louisiana Settlers”, (Mississippi & Louisiana)
  • “Tennessee & Southern States Settlers”

From my research, I’ve learned that JS’s great-grandparents were as follows.

  • Great-grandfather was from Illinois/Indiana[i].
  • Great-grandmother was from Indiana/Michigan.
  • Great-grandfather was from North Dakota/Michigan.
  • Great-grandmother was from Michigan/Minnesota.
  • Great-grandfather was from Tennessee.[ii]
  • Great-grandmother was from Tennessee.
  • Great-grandfather was from Tennessee.
  • Great-grandmother was from Tennessee.

Six of his eight great-grandparents are from the area identified by Ancestry which is as expected. However, the Mississippi & Louisiana settlers is somewhat of a surprise, and not seeing northern Midwestern ancestors was also unexpected. But although the Ethnicity Estimates and Communities are fun and interesting to see, there has to be more. For $99 (regular price) there has to be more, and there is. DNA Matches is the next big part of the process and in my next blog, I’ll describe what to do with them.



Endnotes

[i] Ancestors with two states listed were born in the first state and died in the second state listed.

[ii] The ancestors born in Tennessee also died in Tennessee.

Montrans in the News – Week 2019-22

Montrans in the News – Discovered during week 22 of 2019

Montran Monday
By Don Taylor

Photo of Don Taylor with cat Nasi.

My grandmother’s father was John Montran. She used the surname, as a young child and again when she began in show business. The name is uncommon and most of the Montrans I see in the newspapers are her during her early vaudeville career. With a constant flow of newly digitized material, I often learn of new articles that contain the Montran name. I pay attention to the finding and try to determine it’s possible relationship to grandma Donna or her father, John Montran. Hopefully, you will find the articles interesting, This week, for Montran Monday I found the following two articles:

 This week’s first entry is from The Paterson Morning Call dated Dec 30, 1941.

Incorporations

Papers of incorporation were filed in the office of County Clerk Lloyd B. Marsh yesterday by the Bargain House of America, Inc., whose principal office at 812 Market street is in charge of Bando J. Caruso of 427 Bloomfield avenue, Montclair, as statutory agent. The corporation has been formed for the purpose of dealing and selling of motor cars, aircraft, motor boats and other articles.

 The authorized stock of the corporation is 200 shares with no par value. Ten shares have been subscribed with which to commence business. The incorporators are: Betty Schimmel, 331 Ninety-fourth street, Brooklyn, five shares; Sally Schimmel, 34½ St. Marks place, New York city, four shares; Fred Montran, 188 Warren street, Brooklyn, one share. 

I was unsuccessful finding any additional information regard a Fred Montran at 188 Warren Street. Today, that address is a 3-story walk up with 4 apartments (one down, 3 up). A search of the address found several articles regarding the address, but none referring to a Fred or a Montran. Likewise, searches for the “Bargain House of America” failed to yield any additional information. I think this was a false lead. 


 This week’s second entry is from The Plattsmouth Journal (Plattsmouth, NE dated Dec 30, 1941.  

— Nehawka —
S/Sgt. Jed Kropp left Tuesday morning for Tucson, Ariz, to spend the remainder of his enlisted time in the air corps at Davis-Montran air base. His father, Ernest Cropp accompanied him to Kansas City, where they visited relatives.

I had never heard of a Davis-Montran air base in Arizona, so I suspected an error of some sort.  A quick look confirmed it should have been reported as the Davis-Monthan Air Force Base. Clearly a newspaper typo.

No new Montran facts were discovered this week (sigh). Hopefully, I’ll find something next week.

Not the Death Record for Hannah (Bell) McAllister, Mayholland

Some days, you are completely surprised by what you find. In the Case of Hannah Bell, I conjectured that she was widowed sometime between February 1852, when her son Peter was born, and December 1855, when she married Charles Mayholland. I saw that Hannah Maholland died in 1856 and figured she died within the year. So, to confirm my speculation, I ordered a copy of the death registry record.

The death record indicates my speculation was wrong.  Hannah Maholland, who died in 1856, died at 14 days old. My first thought was that Maholland and Mayholland must have been different people. I don’t think so. Little Hannah died at High Church Street, the same location that Hannah had lived for many years. The death registry record for Hannah MaHolland reads:

  • No.      355
  • When: 25 May 1856 – High Church Street, Workington
  • Who:   Hannah Maholland
  • Sex:     Female
  • Age:     14 days
  • Prof.:   Daughter of Charles Maholland, a lawyer journeyman
  • CoD:    Premature Birth Certified
  • Inf.:      Ann Solkirt
  • When: 27 May 1856
  • Reg.     John Askew, Registrar
Death Registry Record for Hannah Maholland (25 May 1856)

Even though there is a minor name difference (Maholland vs. Mayholland), I’m pretty sure that this Charles Maholland is the husband of Hannah (Bell) McAllister. My new theory is that Hannah had a daughter that died at 14 days old and that Hannah (the mother) did not die in the spring of 1856 as I initially supposed.

This research reminded me that relying on indexes can get you into trouble.  Always get the original record to confirm the information you have.