Sunday, July 16, 2017

James C. Palmer and Martha Peterson

James C Palmer was born in April 1814 in New York. He married Martha Peterson (1815–1882) around 1836; they are my 4th-great grandparents. Our previous post focused on Martha's father, Samuel Peterson, and on his descendants.

I know very little about James Palmer, as the earliest record I have found online that identifies him is the 1860 U.S. Census. He appears in four of the U.S. Census records (1860, 1870, 1880, and 1900), three state census records (two for New Jersey, and one for New York), and about 16 city directories, so we know that he was born in New York state (the minority of records say New Jersey), that he worked as a shipwright, like his father-in-law, and that from 1871 forward, he and his family lived in Jersey City, New Jersey.

The family's first documented appearance was in Washington, Middlesex county, New Jersey, in 1860, according to the U.S. Census. The household in that record included Martha's father, niece, and nephew. Sam Peterson died in 1862, and in 1865, the remaining Palmer family (plus two Petersons) lived in Brooklyn, New York, according to that year's State Census. By 1870, they were in Jersey City, and all of the subsequent records show James living there.

James and Martha had four daughters, spread out over 19 years. When Martha died in 1882, at age 66, James lived on his own for about ten years, but eventually went to live with his second-youngest daughter, Sarah Decker.  He died in 1904 at the impressive age of 90.

I. Mary Elizabeth Palmer (1837–1889)

Jacob E. Opp, about 1910
Sources are pretty evenly split on the subject of where Mary was born; most records say New York, a few say New Jersey. As with her father, the earliest record I have that lists Mary is the 1860 U.S. Census. She appears three times in the U.S. Census (1860, 1870, and 1880) and once in the New York State Census (1865). The only other records I have is of her death, in the New Jersey, Deaths and Burials Index, 1798-1971.

Mary Elizabeth married Jacob Edward Opp (1842–1913) about 1867. (They are my 3rd-great grandparents.) Jacob was a Civil War veteran and railroad engineer from North Dansville, Livingston county, New York, and his pension record from the National Archives was very helpful to me when I began researching this branch of the family. I'll talk more about him and his ancestors in future posts.

Mary and Jacob had three children, two daughters and a son. They raised their family in Paterson, Pasaic county, New Jersey, but also appear to have been close to the Opp family in Dansville. After Mary died in 1889, Jacob relocated from Paterson to his daughter's home in Newark, but still appeared in the U.S. Census in his mother's household in Dansville on the 1900, as did his daughter's family (the Freys).

The records imply that Jacob never stopped working as an engineer, driving trains right up until his death from pneumonia on 17 July 1913.

     A. Lillie May Opp (1868–1881) died young, only aged 13 years 6 months. She is buried in Green Mount Cemetery in Dansville, Livingston county, New York.

     B. James Henry Opp (1870–1941) married three times, and had a total of eight children. Because marriage and birth records were sparse, I can't be sure that I correctly associated children with the correct mother, so please let me know in the comment section at the bottom of this post if I need to make any updates.

James was born in Dansville on 11 March 1870, and grew up in Paterson. His first marriage was on 14 July 1889, when he married his cousin, Evelyn Stevens (b. 1870). His mother died in September of that year.

James and Evelyn had two children together, but did not stay together for very long. Evelyn remarried in 1900, and we will discuss her later in this post.

     1. Richard Dana Opp (1890–1944) was born 11 August 1890 in Jersey City, and married Helen Platt (1886–1965) in 1913. A few years later, he joined the New York National Guard in 1917, where he served in the 7th Infantry as a corporal. A couple of years later, he joined his father in relocating to Elmira, New York, where he worked for the Aluminum Ware Manufacturing Company.

I don't know when they were married, but in 1920, he was listed in the U.S. Census with his second wife, Anna S Klein (1890–1973), and in 1922, Helen Platt Opp took her father-in-law, James H. Opp, to court over an unspecified debt.

     a. Richard Dana Opp Jr. (1917–1991) was born on July 22, 1917, in Bronx, New York. He entered the Naval Academy at Annapolis in 1937, and would eventually retire from the U.S. Marine Corps at the rank of Lt. Colonel. He and his wife, Ruth O'Connor (1913–2002), had one son and one daughter, both of whom are still living. He died on February 13, 1991, in Fort Belvoir, Virginia, at the age of 73, and was buried in Arlington, Virginia.

     b. Edna Mae Opp (1920–1993) was born on March 28, 1920, in Elmira, New York. She worked in a credit union until World War II broke out, and she then enlisted in the Women's Army Corps (W.A.C.). After the war, her arthritis forced her to move to a hot, dry climate, and so she relocated to El Paso, Texas. She lived there with her mother until Anna's death in 1973. Edna died on June 2, 1993, in El Paso, Texas, at the age of 73, and was buried there.

     2. Lillian Elizabeth Opp (b. 1893) married William Corwin Johnson Jr (b. 1888) in 1916, and we know they had a son (possibly still living), and two daughters: Charlotte Elaine Johnson Bloch (1917–1989) and Lillian Joy Johnson  Franklin (1921–2003).
James married his second wife, Lillian Jones (1871–1915), on 20 January 1896.  James worked in New York City, and the family lived in Newark, New Jersey. In 1900, James's company, Opp & Grundy, went into bankruptcy. Still, he worked hard and eventually got back on his feet.

They had five children before Lillian's death in 1915.

     3. Julian Theyer Opp (1899–1978) was a mechanic who lived in Union county, New Jersey. He married Charlotte L Jacques (1913–1997) around 1930, and they had two daughters, who may still be living.

     4. Lucinda Opp (1901–1902) died before her first birthday, and was buried in the Sleepy Hollow Cemetery in Westchester County, New York.

     5. Emily A Opp (1904–1917) was born on 23 February 1904 in Kings county, New York. She died just over a month before her thirteenth birthday on 15 January 1917, and was also buried in Sleepy Hollow.

     6. Stanley Walter Opp (1912–2001) was born in New York City, and grew up in Newark, where he met his wife, Eleanor Bertha Ficke (1915–2004). They married around 1937, then lived in Denville, New Jersey, from 1944 until 1973. He was a warehouse supervisor at Bendix Corp. in Teterboro for 29 years, retiring in 1971. They had two children, one son, Stanley Charles Opp (1938–1993), and a daughter, still living.

Stanley and Eleanor then moved to Tuckerton, New Jersey, where he was a licensed optician. They lived there from 1973 until 1989, and retired to Mount Bethel, Pennsylvania. He received his optician degree from Camden Community College in 1980. He also owned and operated, with his late son, the Stanley Shell, later known as Stanley's Sunoco, in Denville.

     7. Dorothy Opp (b. 1915) remains a bit of a mystery; her brother Stanley's 2001 obituary mentioned her (as "Dorothy Campbell") and said she died previously, but did not say when. And she appeared in the 1940 Census in her younger brother James's household in Hillside, New Jersey, where her surname looks like "Comboy" (possibly a mis-hearing of "Campbell").

After the 1915 death of Lillian, James H. Opp's third marriage was to Jessica Viola "Jessie" Owens (1896–1987). They had one son in 1917, and then about a year after that, in 1918, James and his business associates took over the Aluminum War Manufacturing Company headquartered in Elmira, New York. James and his family all relocated to Elmira, and James purchased the famous Glove House there.

James's oldest son, Richard D., worked for him at this company, and James soon took over as president of the company from his partners. But within a couple of years, questions over the company's finances led to the Opps giving up control of the company, and moving back to New Jersey. It isn't clear that anyone did anything wrong, but the newspapers of the time implied that this was a local controversy.

     8. James Henry Opp Jr (1917–2010) married Shirley Cole (1920–1986), and they had two children: a daughter, still living, and a son, James Michael Opp (1956–1989). The family lived in Southern California from the mid-1950s, and James and Shirley are buried in Pierce Brothers Valley Oaks Memorial Park, Westlake Village, Los Angeles county.

     C. Emily Amelia Opp (1871–1913) married Emil C Frey; they are my 2nd-great grandparents, so I will cover their family in more detail in future posts. I told much of Emil's story here on the blog a few years ago in Love and Loss in Old New York (and New Jersey).

II. Emily M. Palmer (b. 1842)

Emily married Alexander Charles Radcliffe (1819–1900)  on November 5, 1871, in Jersey City, New Jersey. They had one son, Loder B Radcliffe born and died in 1873. After Alexander's death, Emily was living in Philadelphia, where she was last seen in 1912. I have not found any record of her death.

III. Sarah D. Palmer (b. 1854)

Sarah was born in May 1854 in New Jersey, and she married James L W Decker (b. 1858) on October 9, 1884, in Jersey City, New Jersey. They had four children in 11 years. They appeared together with their children in the 1900 and 1910 U.S. Census, and on birth and death records for the three younger children; there is also a marriage record for them in the New Jersey, Marriage Records, 1670-1965 database.

I don't know precisely when Sarah or James died, but she is listed in a U.S. City Directory at their home on Graham St. in 1918 as "wid. Jas. W." - and she appears in the 1930 Census in the household of her son-in-law, John T. Denmead.

     A. Theresa Decker (b. 1885) last appears in her parents' home on the 1910 U.S. Census, where they lived on Graham St. in Jersey City. She is single and 25 years old, with no listed occupation.

     B. Gordon Thayer Decker (1888–1952) married Marie Augusta Harnisch (1892–1972) on 21 December 1915, and they lived in the house on Graham St. with his parents. Gordon and Marie soon had their daughter, and they moved to East Orange around 1920. Gordon worked as a machinist and engineer until the 1940s, when he and Marie appear to have retired, either to San Diego, or to New York. Marie appears in both New Jersey and San Diego on the 1940 Census; in New Jersey, she lived with Gordon and her elderly parents, and in San Diego, she lived with her daughter and son-in-law.

Gordon died 8 April 1952, and was buried in San Diego, and Marie died there in 1972.

     1. Lois Decker (1917–1977) married Robert Edward Cullmer (1911–1968) of Montclair, New Jersey, probably in 1935. They moved to San Diego, California, where their son was born: Robert Morrison Cullmer (1937–2001).

     C. Grace P Decker (1889) died in June 1889 at five months of age.

     D. Caroline C Decker 1897–1993) was born on March 10, 1897, in Jersey City, New Jersey. She married John Tennant Denmead, Jr. (1894–1939) about 1921. They had six sons between 1922 and 1939, when John died. One son is still living.

Caroline remarried Julius Leo Briegel (1898-1977), and lived in Netcong, New Jersey, for many years. She was an assistant librarian at the Netcong Library from 1957 to 1967. She was a member of the Netcong Board of Education from 1950 to 1967, and served on the Juvenile Conference Committee of Morris County Juvenile Court from 1960 to 1965. She was a World War II Gold Star Mother and a past president and member of the Veterans of Foreign Wars Lakeland Post 2347 Ladies' Auxiliary of Netcong.

She died in 1993 in Passaic, New Jersey, at the age of 96, and was buried in Netcong, New Jersey.

     1. John T Denmead III (1922–2013) was born in Jersey City, New Jersey, and lived most of his life in the Netcong/Stanhope area. He served in the U.S. Army Air Corps. during WW II as a water survival instructor in Fresno, California. After the war, Jack worked as a salesman for Vita Frost Frozen Foods until it closed. He then worked as Superintendent of Building and Grounds with Lenape Valley Regional High School for over 25 years before retiring in 1987.

Jack was well known in his community for his historical knowledge of lakes Musconetcong and Hopatcong. He conducted water safety instruction for the Sussex County American Red Cross, certifying lifeguards in the area.

Jack married Patricia Jane Black (1923–1993) in 1943, and was survived by his brother, three children, four grandchildren and two great-grandchildren.

     2. Donald R Denmead (1923–1943) enlisted in the Army Air Corps, and served as a ball turret gunner on the B-17 #4230872, 'Ole Puss,' which collided with another aircraft on 16 December 1943. The plane crashed into North Sea, and Sgt. Denmead was lost with the rest of the crew.

     3. James G Denmead (1928–2013) James served in the Marine Corps during World War II, and married Doris Louise Tobin (1923–2002) on 11 October 1952. He worked for Fablock Mills in Berkeley Heights, New Jersey, as a computer data and construction manager. He was a member of the Warren Township American Legion Post 293. In his spare time he enjoyed oil painting, and sang with  the Hounds for Harmony Barbershop Chorus in Plainfield, New Jersey.

James and Doris are survived by their daughter.

     4. Bruce P Denmead (1933–1991) was born on June 12, 1933, in Dover, New Jersey, and lived in Phillipsburg, New Jersey, much of his life. He was a dispatcher at Jersey Central Power & Light Co. in Phillipsburg for 28 years before retiring in 1986. He was a member of Westley United Methodist Church in Phillipsburg. He also was a Cub Scout Webelos leader for Pack 62 in Budd Lake.

He died on January 20, 1991, at the age of 57, and was buried in Easton, Pennsylvania. He is survived by his wife, a son, four daughters, and seven grandchildren.

     6. Harry Wadsworth Denmead (1939–2008) was born on April 21, 1939, in Dover, New Jersey. He married Mary Ann Parliment (1940–2013) on 24 October 1958 in Vance, North Carolina, and enlisted in the U.S. Army from 1963-1965. They resided in Netcong prior to moving to the Budd Lake section of Mount Olive Township, New Jersey, in 1965.

Mary Ann was a nurse, working for many years at Dover General and Karen Ann Quinlin Hospice. Harry retired in 1998 after 38 years as a production planner with Westinghouse in Randolph. He was a life member of Stanhope United Methodist Church in Stanhope, and he was a member of the Barber Shop Harmony Society for 50 years.

Harry died on Wednesday afternoon, Oct 1, 2008, at St Clare's Hospital, Denville, after a short illness. MaryAnn died on Friday morning, April 19, 2013 at her home in Netcong after a long illness. They were survived by a son, two daughters, and two grand-children.

IV. Carrie W. Palmer (b. 1856)

When Carrie Palmer married Charles H Stevens (1840–1921) on October 8, 1879, in Jersey City, New Jersey, she was 22 years old. He was a boot & shoe maker with two children from a previous marriage. They had two more children.

Carrie's new step-children were William A. Stevens (b. 1866) and Evelyn Stevens (b. 1870). She is the Evelyn Stevens who married her step-cousin, James Henry Opp (1870–1941). After they divorced, Evelyn remarried George W. Gifford (b. 1868) on 11 August 1900.

Carrie died in 1931 in New Jersey at the age of 75, and was buried in Morristown, New Jersey.

     A. Charles H Stevens Jr. (1882–1923) married Jeannette "Jennie" Kalshoven (1886–1979) in 1908. He worked as a bank clerk, and died at only 41 years of age. They were survived by a son, Charles H Stevens (1910–1985).

     B. Clara R H Stevens (b. 1892) married William Fredrick Wing (1889–1942) on 22 December 1912, and they appeared together in her parents' household on the 1920 U.S. Census - but by 1922, William was no longer listed in Jersey City with Clara. He seems to have remarried by 1925. The last record I have of Clara is her listing in the 1922 U.S. City Directory for Jersey City, living in her parents' home on Grant St.

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As you can imagine, this is a very time consuming project! I'm planning to continue, but it certainly won't be a weekly exercise.

If you're a relative of any of the people named here, I am always eager to hear from cousins - especially if they can help me fix any mistakes I might have made in the course of my research.

If you've had your DNA tested through, look for me in your Matches; you can reach me through my "callintad" Gmail address (listed there on my profile, too) or you can drop a comment below.

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