Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Jerome’s Day at the Lake, 52 Ancestors 52 Weeks #3

Great Grandfather Jerome W. Wilson with daughters Ida, Genevieve, Beatrice and Ella at the lake
I have to say this is my favorite picture of Great Grandfather Jerome W. Wilson. The girls are doing the paddling while he stretches out with a smoke. Of course, this was well before anyone knew about the unhealthy effects of smoking. My best guess is this snapshot was taken in the 1920’s.

Jerome Walter Wilson was born April 17, 1873 in Port Jervis, Orange County, New York to Walter S. Wilson and Mary M. Peck. He was the 5th child born in a family of seven children.

Walter Wilson, Jerome’s father, settled the family in Goshen, Orange County, New York by June 1875. When Jerome was 16 years old, he worked as a delivery clerk in Goshen.

By the time he married my great grandmother, Grace Lee Clark, on March 29, 1897 he was employed as a fireman for the Erie Railroad. Their first daughter, Ella Mae, was born March 5, 1899.

About 1902 Jerome, Grace and Ella Mae relocated to Hartford, Connecticut. My grandmother, Viola Lillian Wilson, was born in New Britain (Hartford County) February 3, 1904. Grace died shortly afterward in June leaving a husband and two small daughters. Jerome wasn’t able to care for two little ones so Grace’s family cared for Ella Mae and Viola. (Viola would later live with Jerome and his 2nd wife.)

After Grace’s death Jerome remained in Connecticut working as an engineer for the railroad. He met and married Isabelle Cosgrove about 1905/6. Isabelle, known as Belle in the family, was the daughter of John and Ellen Cosgrove born July 19, 1886 at Danbury, Fairfield County, Connecticut. Their first daughter, Marion was born November 1906 followed by Ida around 1912, Genevieve about 1913 and Beatrice in November 1916.

By 1910 Jerome had left the railroad and was employed as a state engineer for Connecticut with his home at 112 Oak Street in Hartford.  He worked at the Connecticut State Library at Hartford in 1917.

The family moved to Bridgeport, Fairfield County, Connecticut for a few years (approximately 1920 to 1924) then back to Hartford from 1925 to 1929. These were the years leading up to the Great Depression and difficult financial times were felt by all—including Belle and Jerome. They were living in Bridgeport in 1930 and Hartford was home April 1935. A 1939 city directory reveals Jerome’s home was Barkhamsted, Litchfield County, Connecticut while the 1940 federal census finds the Wilsons in New Hartford (Litchfield County) with a 64 year old Jerome employed as a road construction WPA laborer. The WPA or the Works Project Administration was part of the New Deal created by President Franklin D. Roosevelt to give jobs to millions of unemployed Americans by financing the construction of public buildings and roads.

The Saturday, September 21, 1940 issue reported Jerome’s death (Sept. 20, 1940)

   Jerome W. Wilson of New Hartford died Friday at the Bristol Hospital. He leaves his wife, Mrs. Belle Cosgrove Wilson, six daughters, Mrs. Ray Simpson and Mrs. Roy Douty, both of Middletown, N. Y., Mrs. Douglas Plumley of Stamford, Mrs. Charles Smith of Baltimore and Mrs. Wilbur Jensen and Mrs. Beatrice Bancroft, both of Hartford, a sister, Mrs. William A. Johnson of Hartford, a niece, Mrs. Anna Bradley of Bridgeport and 12 grandchildren. The funeral will be held Monday at 2 p.m. at the Ahern Funeral Home, 180 Farmington Avenue. Burial will be in Mt. St. Benedict Cemetery.

Note: Mrs. Roy Douty should be ‘Mrs. Roy Doty’—my grandmother Viola Lillian Wilson. Mrs. Ray Simpson was Ella Mae Wilson. Mrs. Douglas Plumley was Jerome and Belle’s daughter Marion. Mrs. Charles Smith was the former Ida Wilson and Mrs. Wilbur Jensen must have been Genevieve Wilson. And lastly there’s Beatrice.

An earlier post titled GRACE'S WEDDING features Grace and Jerome’s marriage. 

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