Tuesday, September 28, 2021

52 Ancestors - STEPS: Cousin Elmyra

I am always drawn to the photos of my first generation Irish-American relatives. This one of my granny Julia Walsh Slade with her cousins sitting on the steps is a favorite.

Grace Christian, Julia Walsh, Elmyra Christian
probably around 1917-1919

Apparently it was taken during one of many trips my great-grandmother Mary Theresa Sheehan Killeen Walsh made to visit family. The Sheehan sisters emigrated from County Limerick, Ireland in the late 1880s and settled in New York City. When my great-grandmother was widowed, she left her sisters to join her in-laws in Portsmouth, Virginia. Mary Theresa remained close to her sisters through letters and visits.

Julia and Elmyra
Elmhurst (Queens), NY

Elmyra and Julia with Elmyra's brother
probably Raymond
I would love to know what was torn out!

I don’t know why, but Elmyra has always intrigued me. Something about that face. I searched Ancestry, FamilySearch, and 3 newspaper subscriptions, and I found a few tidbits.

from the Brooklyn Daily Eagle 8 Oct 1913

Elmyra was a good student named in the honor roll list for PS #13 in October 1913.


from the Brooklyn Daily Eagle 19 May 1919

In May 1919, she performed in a piano recital in the Pouch Mansion on Clinton Avenue, Brooklyn.


Pouch Mansion 

In 1930, Elmyra’s engagement to Godfrey Stamm appeared in the newspaper.

from the Brooklyn Daily Eagle 29 Jun 1930

I wondered if they ever married because the 1940 census shows Elmyra as SINGLE, living with her parents. Likewise, Godfrey was living with his mother and was enumerated as SINGLE. However, his World War II enlistment records of 1942 state he was divorced with dependents. Since neither Godfrey nor Elmyra shows any children with them in the 1940 census, the dependent was likely Godfrey’s mother. In 1942 Elmyra married Edward T. Zarek and they had 2 children.

The last two mentions of Elmira in the newspaper are in the funeral notice for her husband Edward Zarek 

from the Daily News New York, NY 9 Mar 1978

and her own obituary in 1996.

from The Journal News
White Plains, NY
31 Mar 1996

I gasped at the last statement in which the family requested memorial donations for the Dominican Convent in Blauvelt, NY. That is where Elmyra’s cousin – and thus my granny’s cousin as well – Sadie Byrnes had been a member.

This photo of my granny with Sadie might have been taken during that same trip from Virginia to visit the aunts and cousins in New York.

Julia and Sadie

Amy Johnson Crow continues to challenge genealogy bloggers and non-bloggers alike to think about our ancestors and share a story or photo about them. The challenge is “52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks.


© 2021, Wendy Mathias. All rights reserved.


  1. You always get my attention with "Sheehan" posts! But since I had friends and relatives living in Rockland Cty, NY for many years, I especially enjoyed reading this post.

  2. Elmyra sounds like such a mysterious name.

  3. How thoughtful to remember her cousins' convent all those years. Thanks for sharing.