Life in Words
I've summarized some of the info that I found on the 1940 Census as it applies to one generation back from my parents... I wondered what I could find about the next generation back. Who was still living in each family group and what were they doing.
Ages in the 1940 Census:
Occupations (where provided):
Primo Osto was the head of his household in 1940, but it was Pauline/Palmira, my Noni, who answered the questions of the census taker. They lived on Somerset Street in Bridgewater New Jersey and rented their home for $20 per month (about $405 in 2022 dollars). There were four family members; Primo, Pauline, Gloria their daughter and Lawrence (Felio). Primo was 38 years old and Pauline was 24. She reported that both she and Primo had an elementary education. I don't know what kind of education either of them had in Italy, but I know that my Noni never learned to read or write English; I don't know if she could read or write Italian.
Primo was listed as a Dye Operator at a Chemical Factory. In 1939 he earned $1400 a year (about $28,370 in 2022 dollars) and he worked 52 weeks of the previous year. Both Primo and Noni were passionate gardeners and one story I heard about Primo was about the grape arbors he build to grow grapes and make his own wine.
As I was digging into the 1940 Census to bring out more details and stories from the information provided in the Census, it dawned on me that having a "cross-family" summary might be cool. What kind of living situation did each branch of the family have? What were the occupations and the education levels and in what parts of the country were they located.
Where was our family in 1940?
Ages of Family:
Occupations and Income (where provided):
According to the 1940 Census, the Fred Younggren family lived on a farm they owned in St. Croix County, Wisconsin. He estimated the value of the farm to be $15,000 (about $304,000 in today's dollars) They lived in the same place in 1935. There were 6 members of the household: Fred; his wife Mildred; their twin daughters Lois and Lorraine; Arthur Younggren, Fred's brother and; Harrison Lee a hired hand.
Fred was 67 years old, Mildred was 54, the girls were 14 years old. Fred had an 8th grade education, while his wife had 4 years of high school. Fred and his daughters were born in Wisconsin while Mildred was born in New Mexico. I am very curious about the journey Mildred's family took to get from New Mexico to Wisconsin, but I have few details on that story.
Fred's occupation was farmer and he had worked 48 hours in the last week of March 1940... wow, at 67 years old! He didn't list his income from farming, income was just listed as "other sources."
Here are the newspaper clips that came out after Lois and Lorraine were born. They are from the La Crosse Tribune and the Chippewa Herald-Telegram
Pasquale Marotto was my grandfather. He married Rose C. Matthews and had 4 children (the oldest of which, Michael, died as an infant. Pasquale Junior, Marie (my Mom) and Madeline were their other children (though Madeline was not born at the time of the 1940 Census.)
The family lived on Elizabeth Avenue in Franklin, New Jersey. Franklin was a small town with a population of about 4000. They owned their home and it was valued at $2500, about $47,500 in today's dollars. Pasquale was 30 and was the head of the house; Rose was 28. Pasquale had an 8th grade education and Rose had a high school education and training as a Licensed Practical Nurse. Rose worked as a nurse in a hospital; Pasquale was a Chief Operator at a paint factory. The family had a maid named Eleanor Wade who also took care of the children. My mother had wonderful memories of how loving Eleanor was to them.
According to the Census, Pasquale made $1248 (about $23,712 in today's dollars), interestingly Rose's income is listed as 0 although she had an occupation, at which she had worked 48 hours in the last week and the family had a maid so she could work... so $0 income. Weird.
Here are a few photos... again, some come as screenshots from Super 8 video so the quality is terrible.
My great-grandfather on my mother's side, George Washington Matthews, died when he was only 48 years old (1888-1936) and didn't make it to being recorded in the 1940 Census. At the time of the 1940 census his widow, Eva Isabell Johnson Matthews was 56 years old and living with her daughter Georgia (who I think my mother always called Peggy...) in Seaboard North Carolina. She worked in a sewing room for the Works Progress Administration earning about $330/year (about $6,270 in today's dollars). She rented her home for $5 a month, about $95 in 2022 dollars. She and her daughter both only had a 4th grade education. Eva was born in Virginia; her daughter in North Carolina. I have only a few photographs of Eva. Some are snaps from some Super 8 videos we have from the Marotto family.
George and Eva Matthews had 5 children: Rose, Hettibelle, Arthur, Rufus and Georgia. Arthur died as an infant. Rose/Rosa is my grandmother and the only child who left the North Carolina area and came north to New York and eventually New Jersey to have a family.
While these are not from the 1940 timeframe, I was able to find a couple of newspaper clippings about Mr. and Mrs. George Matthews (1911 and 1916.)
For Ancestry geeks like me there's nothing more fun than finding new, real, pertinent information about your (or someone else's) ancestors. The Census records are an amazingly good way to get information about your ancestors. The Census records are only released 72 years after they were taken, this is for privacy reasons of a sort... by time 72 years have passed most of the people who answered the census have passed on and the details of their lives can be disclosed without consequences to them.
So, let's take a walk through a census record.... This one is an example from my dear husband's family tree.
The family lived at 1710 West Pine Street in Coal Township, Pennsylvania. They owned their home and it was valued at $3000 (about $57,000 in 2022 dollars). Marie was the one who answered the Census-taker's questions and she also gave herself as the head of the family. If you knew her, you could imagine her doing this!
Marie was 3 years younger than Joseph, her husband. She had a high school education and he had 3 years of a college education. She was born in Illinois and in 1935 lived in the same house she was currently living in. Joseph was listed as an "unpaid family worker" in a family business. They owned a small grocery store that was in the front rooms of their house on 1710 West Pine Street. His income was $1200 per year, which in current dollars is a little over $24,000.
The 1950 Census is being released in a couple of days. I don't know what information will be immediately available on Ancestry.com and how long it might take them to index all the information available, but I am SO excited! Recent (this century) Census records are only released every 10 years!
Just for fun, here are some Newspapers.com stories I found about the Marcineks in the early 1940s. These are from the Shamokin News-Dispatch newspaper. A little backstory. John Marcinek was the father of Joseph Marcinek and Anna was his wife.
My Noni, Pauline (Palmira) Savio Osto was an immigrant to the United States from Borgoricco, Padua, Venice, Italy. She arrived in March of 1928, having just turned 16 years old. She came alone because her parents, who had had 2 sons in the United States since their own immigration, sent for her. The ship she arrived on was called the Conte Grande and it departed from the port of Genoa, Italy. She could not read or write (never did learn) and she arrived with $25. Which, I guess, back then was a fairly large sum (my guess is based on the rent that she and Primo paid for the house they were renting in 1940.)
I think it's interesting that the column next to nationality (Italian) is for "race or people" the Italians were divided into Northern and Southern Italian. As a child I didn't recognize what an important difference this was; I have Italian grandparents on both sides. However, on my mother's side, they are all Southern Italians from the Naples area and on my father's side, they are all Northern Italians from the Venice area.
A story I didn't know until I was nearly married was that Noni grew up thinking that her Aunt Virginia Borlini, was her mother. When they told her that her parents were sending for her to go to the United States, she hid in the barn for three days to try to avoid having to go. I wonder too about her parents.... Noni was born in March of 1913. Caterina Borlin Savio and her husband Riccardo Savio arrived in the United States in December 1913. This means that they abandoned their first-born at the age of 9 months. My Noni lived her early life thinking her aunt was her mother. Why would a couple leave their so very young child behind?
By the time of the 1930 Census, Noni was living with her parents, two brothers and a boarder in their home named Primo Osto. She was 17 years old and working as an operator in an asbestos plant. She could not read or write, nor did she speak much English.
I found another interesting story about her in Newspapers.com. Apparently, when she was 18 years old she had been sent to live with her Uncle Luigi Borlin. Unhappy with this, she convinced her cousin Lena Borlin to run away with her. Here are two newspaper articles that talk about the runaways. I love the line in the longer one that had these gems:
Pauline stated to the officer that she had been punished at home and it was because of resentment that she decided to leave.
She was rather handicapped however.... knows but little English, but is quite proficient in the Italian.
For those who knew her, can't you just imagine the flood of indignant Italian that must have flowed forth following being "caught" by the police.
Spirited and unconventional Noni's story gets more interesting when it comes to her children, but that's a story for another day. Noni married Primo Osto, the boarder in her family's home in New Jersey; he was also working as a dye operator in a local factory. He was 15 years older than she was.
By the 1940 Census they were renting a house of their own and had two children; my aunt Gloria and my Dad (Felio) He's listed on the Census as being named Lawrence. My Dad had many names, but that's also a story for another day. They lived in the house next door to Noni's parents.
Noni raised her three children primarily on her own; since Primo was much older than she was and was at some point injured at work. He left his family here in the US and returned to Italy and died in the mid 1970's.
Noni was an avid gardener and her gardens were everywhere around her house on Finderne Avenue in Bridgewater, New Jersey. One of the stories she told was that when she was pregnant with my Dad she helped her husband bring in stone for the foundations of the house. My uncle Leon still lives in that house.
Whenever we would go to visit, we always set up a table outdoors. In fact the only time I can remember eating indoors at my Noni's house was when we went there for Thanksgiving Dinner.
Growing up, I heard two "main" story-lines about my grandmother, Rose (Rosa) Cornelia Matthews Marotto. The first was about her having sold her cow to move north.
The story goes that she wanted to move north to become a nurse, but her grandfather wouldn't give her the money, so she sold her cow to afford to move from North Carolina to New York.
The other story was about the DAR (Daughters of the American Revolution). My mother attended a DAR tea with a friend of hers and was sooo impressed with how lovely it all was (white gloves and all). My grandmother, Rose, told my Mom "You could belong to the DAR too. We have ancestors who fought in the revolution." More on this later... I will write on how I finally found the connection that allowed us to become members of the DAR. But on with the story of Rose's Cow....
I headed to my favorite resource, Ancestry.com, and started digging. According to the 1930 Census, Rosa was living at home at the age of 18 (her younger sister, Hettibelle had already, at the age of 16 years, married and moved out.) That was another story....
that Hettie Belle had married the man Rose wanted, Claudie Rose. But then her name would have been Rose Rose. At any rate, at the time of the 1930 Census, Rose was still living with her parents in Roanoke Township, North Carolina (street address: Jackson and Gum Fork Road). Our next touchpoint is the 1940 Census where Rose shows up as married with 2 children.
The story gets a little more interesting when we add in my DNA results. Turns out I found two people, who I had never heard of before. They each showed up as a "close relative" of mine. Not understanding how such a thing was possible, I started to dig a little deeper into the tree of this "close relative." I looked at the tree that was posted online to try to find some family connection, but there was nothing.
Finding no connection except that Robert Sandman was born in New Jersey, I took a leap and reached out via email to Robert's daughter to ask if her father was adopted and she said Yes! That her father found out after his mother's funeral that he was not her biological son. So, he lived his whole life not knowing, and when he did find out, the one person who could have given him information, had passed away. Robyn and Robert searched all over New Jersey to find a birth certificate, but there wasn't one. They only found his birth recorded in a registration book. So, we don't have any "paper proof" that would stand up to scrutiny, but we have the DNA results, the interesting timing of Rose's move north and the timing of Robert's birth.
So, Is that why her grandfather wouldn't give her money to come North, because she was already pregnant with Robert? We don't have any way of knowing the truth, but what an interesting story DNA can tell us!
I want to be happy; you too?
It's seems like I've been seeking all my life for what will help me to feel happy. This blog post is simply a compilation of those resources that help me to re-direct myself from despair to happiness. Enjoy!
The video below was sent to me by a dear friend (Nancy Opgaard). I think it explains some of the reason that the "pursuit of happiness" can be a fast track to nowhere and that the pursuit of gratitude and compassion can lead us directly to happiness.
I can't remember when I first came across this video or even who recommended it to me, but I LOVE it and return to it periodically when I need a reminder of simple steps to being more happy.
Yale University's Dr. Laurie Santos has a course on Coursera on The Science of Well-Being that is excellent and FREE.