Let’s not forget the women

I find a lot of times when I’m researching my family tree that I tend to focus more on the men than the women. This isn’t some subversive attempt to undermine my gender; rather, it’s a commentary, I think, on the kinds of records available. Men held office. They voted. They had jobs and signed up for wars and left a paper trail miles longer than their female counterparts. Most of the things I know about my female ancestors that I can’t learn about from family, I learned from censuses: housewife, spoke English, attended school, gave birth to 8 children and only 5 survived. Sometimes you get lucky and discover a newspaper article or two, but (at least in my case) those tend to be of the marriage announcement, obituary, what she wore to the Friday night social variety. There just isn’t as much information.

In my never ending quest to make sense of the 1940 census, I stumbled upon my great great grandmother, Adelaide (Garrison) Jeffreys, living at her home on 341 Little Clove Rd. Want a picture of great great grandma Addie? Look no further than my blog’s header. That’s her beautiful face right in the center.

And what a picture it is, hm? Addie’s in the center, holding her son, William. Seated in front of her is Robert. The girls standing are Edith (back) and Lillian (front), my great grandmother. The boys standing are Frederick (back) and Henry (front).

A distant cousin said the picture was taken late 1896, early 1897. It definitely looks it by the way they’re dressed. I’ve talked about this before (coincidentally in a post about Adelaide’s father), but I love searching pictures for the family resemblance. I look at Adelaide’s face and I see my Pop Pop, her grandson. It’s faint, but to me it’s there.

Here she is again, but much younger in 1875, all of  10 or 11 years old.

On the 1940 census, Addie is living at the home with son Henry, daughter Adelaide (not pictured above – she wasn’t born yet), son in law Robert Perry, and four grandchildren. Her husband, Henry, died only 4 months prior to the census taking.

Here are the two of then, Henry and Addie, sitting on the steps of the gazebo he built in the back of their home on 341 Little Clove Rd, Staten Island. This was taken around 1935. Don’t they look happy?

The census doesn’t tell me much about Addie. She had an 8th grade education, didn’t have a job. She wasn’t in the CCC (shocking!). Her and Henry owned their house for $6,500, which blows my mind a little bit. Imagine owning a house in New York today for that little!

I wish I knew more about her, but I suppose that’s the curse of the genealogist. The further back you go, the harder it is to find someone today who knew any of these people. Still, despite all the unanswered questions, I look at her face at the top of my blog and think  I might have liked her, given the chance to know her.

Looking very stern around 1925 with her grandkids, Charlie and Albert Jeffreys (Pop Pop’s cousins!).

It’s a family thing, I guess.

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