Friday, April 5, 2013

A to Z April Challenge: E is for Elmira


This is Day 5 of the A to Z April Challenge.  My theme is women with unusual names although I must cheat now and then or I’ll have a name and no story.



is for Elmira.  I first became aware of Elmira last year when I was looking – REALLY looking – at a photo album that had belonged to my great aunt Helen Killeen Parker.




Julia Walsh Slade and Elmira Christian about 1919
Julia Walsh Slade
Elmira Christian
about 1919


The picture was captioned “Julia and Elmira.”  At the time I focused on “Julia” because that’s my Granny Slade.  I had no idea about Elmira.

But that pretty face of Elmira kept flashing into my mind’s eye.  She was begging to be discovered. 

I pulled out some old notes that I had taken when I was quizzing my aunt about my dad’s side of the family.  There was a list of my great-grandmother’s sisters:  Josephine Sheehan Burns, Sarah Sheehan Burns, Delia Sheehan Christian. 

But where did they live?  The best guess was New York because some of the pictures in Helen’s album reflected trips to New York.  Also that is where Mary Theresa Sheehan Killeen Walsh had lived when she and her sisters emigrated from Ireland. 

I put both FamilySearch and Ancestry to work and got a hit with Delia Christian.  There she was - Elmira (Elmyra). 

Elmira was the daughter of William and Delia Sheehan Christian.  In 1910, they were living at East 90th Street in Manhattan, New York.  William was a shipping clerk and Delia was caring for their 2-year old daughter Elmira. 

In 1920, the family moved back to William’s home state of New Jersey where he took to farming.  Elmira, age 12, was the oldest of 4 children:  Grace 8, Raymond 5, and William Jr. 1. 

Adventures in farming didn’t last long.  In 1925 they were back in New York, renting an apartment in Brooklyn where William worked as an importer-exporter and Delia was helping to support the family as a stenographer.  The children were all in school.

By 1930, William operated a dry cleaners.  And like George Jefferson, they had moved on up, now the proud home owners of 493 Stratford Road in Brooklyn.  Elmira followed in her mother’s footsteps working as a stenographer for a publishing house. 

House on the left is 493 Stratford Rd.
from Google Maps

At age 32 in 1940, the still unmarried Elmira was living at home with her parents, as was William Jr.  The 1940 census was interested in how the Depression had impacted people’s lives, where they lived, how they worked, and so forth.  Therefore, I can tell that Elmira’s father had maintained his dry cleaning business full time while Elmira herself had been unemployed throughout 1939.  However, she had recently found work as a clerk-typist for a tea company. 

That’s the sum total of what I know of Elmira – just what the census records reveal.  I found a small family tree for her sister Grace, but most of it is Private, and the submitter has not been active on Ancestry in over a year.  Nevertheless, an email is in order to learn more of Elmira’s story. 

Elmira and my granny seem to have been as close as cousins can be.


Maybe Grace Christian, Julia Walsh Slade, Elmira Christian
Left to right: Unknown (maybe Grace Christian),
Julia Walsh Slade, and Elmira Christian

This picture might have been taken in New York.
Elmira and Julia
Maybe this is William Jr.


If you want to Explore more E subjects, Exit this blog and Enter A to Z April Challenge.


21 comments:

  1. Fascinating stuff. I love doing family history work and learning about all of my ancestors. Elmira is a pretty name :)

    Keep Calm and A-Z
    An A-Z of learning English
    Round the world from A to Z

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks for visiting. I'm on my way to return the favor.

      Delete
  2. That is a neat name and how cool is that it's apart of your family.
    Thanks for sharing.
    ~Summer
    My A-Z

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks for visiting. I will return the favor.

      Delete
  3. I'm always in awe of your sleuthing skills. I hope that person who might have some answers for you responds to your email.

    Have a great Friday. Thanks again for your comments on my poems. :)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. You're kind. And yeah, I hope to hear from a distant cousin.

      Delete
  4. Elmira is a pretty name and I like it spelt with the 'y'. Fascinating family history and a great job in finding out what you can about them. I love the house.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I LOVE it with the "Y." In fact, I had to keep editing myself to use the "i" like in the census. I'm really not sure which is correct.

      Delete
  5. We live about 2 1/2 hours from Elmira in NY. I never realized it was a woman's name!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Funny you should say that - for fun I Googled "Elmira Christian" and kept getting churches in Elmira, NY.

      Thanks for visiting!

      Delete
  6. Excellent research and reporting on what was available on Elmira. Will be interesting if your email reveals more. Oh where does it end and where do we draw the line? We've talked about that before, and I think we agree that our 'ancestorial need to know' will keep us from drawing any lines until we reach The End of The Line!
    Sue~CollectInTexasGal
    AtoZ LoneStar Quilting Bee

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I need a cat's 9 lives to give me enough time!!

      Delete
  7. I love that you have found the houses today!
    Can you imagine wearing those big bows in your hair?!
    My mom was born in 1918..I love to see photos from that era.
    Happy A-Z April!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Those bows were something else. I guess today's equivalent is the flower on a stretchy headband and multi-loop gross-grain bows.

      Delete
  8. Great detective work Wendy! The first photo with Elmira and that big bow in her hair is too fun. But I'm wondering...how did she put on that hat she's holding in her hand with that huge bow in her hair?

    It's so cool that you found a photo of the house they used to live in too. Awesome job Wendy!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Good point - the hat and bow had to be a bother.

      Delete
  9. The beginning of your post today caused me a double-take: my husband's family tree includes, by marriage, a Helen Killeen, too. Not a Parker, though, so must be just a coincidence!

    ReplyDelete
  10. Wow, you go girl. This information is so cool.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks -- I love this post because I love those pictures of Granny and Elmira.

      Delete
  11. It's amazing what you can discover about personal relationships from old photos and documents. This is truly very fascinating research and lots of fun to read.

    ReplyDelete