There are no straight roads to follow on the genealogy trail, just endless twists and turns. What I thought would be a pretty straight-forward introduction to the sender of this featured postcard, turned out to be quite a lengthy scratch ‘n’ dig session to bring proper clarity. As a result, I have uncovered enough information that has brought me to decide that I will break it down into two separate blogs.
The following resources have used to generate the information which I am sharing with you: Family Bible records, family clues given via handwritten photo identifications, vital records (births, marriages, deaths), church records, Immigration and Naturalization records, and US Census records.
This particular blog will primarily outline “Lena” the sender of my featured postcard. At the moment, my unanswered question remains…was her real name Lena, Helen or Helena? Over the course of my digging, I managed to find documentation under each name. My grandmother’s handwriting on the back of family photos seems to favor the name “Helen”.
Correspondence side of postcard
This postcard, addressed to Mrs. George James, was sent to my grandmother’s step-mother (my mom always referred to her as Gramma James) by her sister “Lena”. It was postmarked October 13, 1911 from Wrentham, Mass. My great-grandfather, George L. P. James (1869-1926) and Susan Mary Henrich (1878-1956) were married on October 12, 1899 in Plainville, Mass.
The message on the postcard reveals that Lena was sending this greeting to recognize their anniversary. Seemingly, Susie (Henrich) James fondly knew her sister as Lena. The members of this Henrich family commonly changed names from one document to the other so it took me some sorting to come to the best conclusions I could and there is still room for further research on my part.
There are more postcards that Susan received from other siblings and they also have “pet” names that differ from what is found within official records. In the future, I may share some of these other postcards.
Their parents, Fritz C. Henrich (sometimes found as Frederick) and Frances C. Schlosstein (sometimes found as Fanny) were married in 1872, in Newark, New Jersey. The maiden name for Frances has a different spelling for every record that I found, no two had it spelled the same way, but the best conclusion seems to be the name Schlosstein.
Fritz was born May 17, 1848 in Germany and immigrated from Hamburg to New York in 1866. He became a Naturalized citizen of the US in 1896. He worked in the jewelry field.
His wife, Frances, was born in October 1854, in Newark, New Jersey. According to US Census records, her parents were both born in Germany.
This picture was taken about 1891 at the family home, Bacon Square, in Plainville, Mass. Siblings: Tillie (standing) about age 11, Lena (Helen) sitting on the step at about age 4 and the boy in the horse rocker is Frank a little over a year old.
According to the 1910 Census record, Fritz and Frances had six children born but only five of whom were living in 1910–I need to conduct more research to determine any information about the additional child. In 1910, the family was living in Plainville, Mass., on Bacon Square.
By this time their daughter, Susan Mary Henrich (Gramma James), was no longer living in the home as she was married by then to my great-grandfather. Susan was born in 1878, in Providence, RI and died on May 3, 1956, in West Warwick, RI. Prior to marrying, she had been a jeweler in Plainville, Mass.
The remaining Henrich children are listed below, all living at home in 1910.
- Ottillie Henrich (also known as Aunt Tillie), was born on April 23, 1880 in Pawtucket, Rhode Island. In 1910, she was a chain maker in a jewelry shop. She died at the age of 84, in December 1964.
- Helen Ernestine Henrich (also known as Helena or Lena, she was the sender of the postcard), was born on June 17, 1887 in Attleborough, Mass. The birth record lists her name as Lena. In 1910, she was a chain maker in a jewelry shop.
- Frank Vincent Henrich, was born in June 1890, in Mass. He was a bench hand in a jewelry shop in 1910.
- Christian F. Henrich (also known as Christie), was born in July 1892 in Mass. In 1910, at the age of 17, he was a driver for a butcher shop.
In the next blog post I will explore these siblings further but as of now will turn my attention to “Lena”.
In researching marriage information for Lena, my grandmother (Gra Gra) left me great clues written on the back of a photo. Most pictures Gra Gra had of “Lena” were listed as Helen Henrich on the back with an additional note saying “mom’s sister Helen”. One of the latest pictures I have, identifies her as Helen Henrich Strople-Roessler. This lead me to believe that she had been married twice, which was correct.
According to her first marriage record, on June 16, 1910, Helena Ernestine Henrich married Leon Edward Strople, in Plainville, Mass. Leon was listed as a painter, living in Wrentham, and was born in 1885, North Derby, Vermont. His parents were Robert B. Strople and Ella J. Persons.
Of this marriage, one daughter was born on November 11, 1911, her name was Frances Ella Strople.
By the 1920 US Census, Lena was listed as divorced. She and daughter Frances were living at Bacon Square, Plainville, in a home with her mother Frances Henrich age 65 and her sister Tillie age 39. Both Lena and Tillie, at the time, were working in a jewelry shop. Their mother, Frances, was listed as widowed, so it is assumed that Fritz Henrich died sometime between 1910 and 1920 (more research needed on this).
Pictured in this photo is my own mother, Marian Watts as a baby and Lena (Helen) standing and holding her. It looks like the photo was taken in winter 1921-1922.
By 1930, Lena had married for the second time to Albert C. Roessler and they were living at 28 Elm Ave. in Plainville, Mass. He was a bench hand in a jewelry factory. According to his WWII draft registration, he was born in New York City on June 18, 1889. Albert’s father was born in Germany and his mother was born in New York. In 1942, Albert’s employer was listed as McNally News Bureau, in North Attleborough, Mass.
At the moment, this is what I have to share about Lena. In the next blog, I will continue with this family and give a few more details about the other siblings and anything else I might be able to find in the meantime for Lena and this family. If you wish to read more about my grandmother’s background (Gra Gra) please read my previous blog entry Intro to Gra Gra & Volunteering at Kent Hospital.
In keeping with this month’s Halloween theme, my featured postcard is “A Hallowe’en Castrophe” No. 860. The card was published by the F.A. Owen Publishing Company, of Dansville, New York.
My source used for the following information was the website for the Dansville Area Historical Society.
This publishing company was founded by Frederick Augustus Owen (1867-1935). He was a teacher that started off publishing a small magazine and grew into a large company that over time published many books and postcards.
Mr. Owen married Grace Fenstermaker and they had two daughters, Helen and Mary.
In researching family history, genealogy, things do not always turn out to be as simple as they appear to be at first glance. So it was, for me, after taking a little time to explore deeper into the correspondence between Lena and Susie, I found that the complications of their family ties began to unfold–more to follow in the near future.
Until next time…