Somehow, I managed to avoid the genealogy “bug” when it originally went through our family a few years back. My Aunt spent a great deal of time researching my Mother’s side of the family (the Places and the Martins). She documented all the relations and put together reams of information. My brother-in-law spent a lot of time researching and documenting my husband’s side of the family (the Floracks and the Witters). He also put together massive amounts of information. In the back of my mind, I always wondered about my Dad’s family (the Fords and the Furness’s), but I never wanted to take the time to wade through all the information to try to figure it all out. I never had the bug, but recently I felt the need to start looking around.
I was always told my Grandmother (my Dad’s Mom, Gertrude Furness) and her family came from the Black Forest in Germany. I always wondered what city in Germany they came from. No one seemed to know. My Dad has been dead 25 years this year. I wish I had asked more questions about his family and relations while he was still alive. I knew his parents were older when he was born, and he was an only child. I vaguely remember my Mom telling me there was another son, but he didn’t live. He was named Charles. My grandparents then had my Dad and named him Charles, too. I guess they were determined to use the name Charles.
Charles \ch(ar)-les\ as a boy’s name is pronounced charlz. It is of Old German origin, and the meaning of Charles is “free man”.
My Dad was named Charles (Charles Ford, Jr.). His deceased brother had been Charles. My Dad’s Father was Charles (Charles Ford, Jr.). [My Dad should have been Charles Ford III (or IV)]. My Dad’s Grandfather was the original Charles Ford. I also discovered that my Grandmother’s Father was also Charles (Charles Furness). I am seeing reference online to Charles Furness and Charles Furness, Jr. – I am not sure if they are the same person or not. My son is Matthew Charles. I told him to wear the name proudly. It’s been in the family a great many years. [On a similar note, I discovered there was also a Mathias Florack (born in Germany) on my husband’s side of the family. He “Americanized” his name to Mathew when he emigrated. Therefore, my son is not the first Matthew/Mathew Florack].
|Castle in the Black Forest in Germany|
My Dad’s father died when I was only 8 days old. I was told that my Grandmother was making his lunch (as she did every day), and when she went in to take it to him, he had had a heart attack and passed away in his chair. I was a newborn baby so my Mother could not go to my Grandmother’s aid. My Aunt went instead.
My Dad’s mother died when I was 2 or 3. I have no memories of her at all. My cousin Carole (who is a year older than me) remembers her. I really wish I did. I do remember that my Dad had an Aunt Carrie and an Aunt Minnie. Aunt Minnie was my Grandmother’s older sister. Aunt Carrie was a boarder (according to the census reports) who lived with the family at one point. My Grandmother’s oldest brother (Leo) married a lady named Carrie. I suspect it is the same lady. I met one of my father’s aunts (I can’t remember if it was Carrie or Minnie). I don’t remember how old I was, but I do remember going to this lady’s house, and she had canaries that she raised. I would guess I was older than 3 but probably younger than 7.
I was able to discover that my Grandmother was born around 1888 in this country. She had a sister (Minnie) and 2 brothers (Leo and John). The oldest brother (Leo) was the only sibling actually born in Germany. The family emigrated when he was 2. Every census report that I have found that mentions my Great Grandfather (Charles Furness) lists him as “widowed”. I recently found some old Rochester city directories that list a Charles Furness who was married to a Fanny Mundell. I do not know if Fanny was Gertrude’s Mother, stepmother or some other relation. I also have not been able to discover where in Germany the family came from so my original question (and reason for searching) is still unanswered.
Genealogy is interesting; it can also be a lot of useless information. It is nice to know where people are from, but without photos or without personal knowledge of these relations, it can get a little confusing. There are many names that are similar, and there are several people with the same name but with different birth places. There are also occasions where you know you have the right person, but the dates listed are different from one census to another. There’s no one to ask if you have the right ancestor so it can get a little discouraging, too. Also, having access to U.S. information only takes you so far. To dig further and find out where in Germany my family is from I will have to pay additional to access the International records. I have not yet decided whether it’s worth it or not just to have a city name.
During my searching, I did find my sister. On the Monroe County website where they have the Mt. Hope and Riverside Cemetery records, I found the records listing her gravesite. She is listed on December 29, 1949 as Infant Daughter of Charles Ford. Her age is listed as -1. Cause of Death is Prematurity. She was born at St. Mary’s Hospital (same place my brother and I were born). I now have a location, and I will try to find her grave. I don’t believe she had a headstone. I had not originally gone looking for her, but I found her anyway. Funny how that worked out.
I know this is of little interest to anyone other than me. I understand now why people spend so much time on researching their ancestry. It takes a great deal of time to sift through and make sure you have it right. I have figured out some bits and pieces that I did not know, but I have a long way to go before I get it right.