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.
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.
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.
|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.
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