Sophie was born in December 1909 in SyracuseLevine, Sophie - 1926 - HS picture in yearbook-crop-crop to Chaneh (Harry) Levine and his wife Rachel (Rose) Katz Levine.  I have written briefly about this family earlier (here).  Although they had started out in Syracuse, where Harry’s siblings had settled, they moved to Detroit sometime in the early 1910s.  The family was still enumerated in Syracuse for the 1910 census, but there are city directory listings for Detroit showing a Harry Levine boarding with others from 1909.  He may have traveled back and forth for some period of time, figuring out where to move the family to and gaining work.  Of course, there was more than one Harry Levine in the Detroit directories for that time period, so he may have stayed in Syracuse until the whole family moved.

By the 1920 census the family was all together in Detroit and stayed there for the rest of Harry’s life and through Sophie’s education.  She graduated from high school in 1926 and then worked for several years to earn enough money to go to college.  She told me that she went to the University of Michigan and graduated with a degree in biochemistry.  The 1930 census shows her as a 19 year old, living at home and working as a lab technician at a “sanatorium”.  It is possible that this was a TB sanatorium.  Although she talked disparagingly about her father in her late years, her interest in the sciences may well have come from him.  She described him as liking to read a lot and much of it about science.  By 1940 she had graduated from college (I haven’t yet found a record for her college career), was again living at home and was reported to be working in a clinic as a bacteriologist.

I think she told me that she had met her future husband, Eduardo Mayea, at the University at some point.  He was a Cuban diplomat from before Castro’s time, and must have been the consul in Detroit during those years.  They married in 1946, and sometime shortly thereafter were posted to San Francisco.  They lived in San Francisco, then Spain, and finally Paris.  I was interested to discover that Sophie traveled on her husband’s passport and citizenship.  Since he was a citizen of Cuba, and in the U.S. as a diplomat, there would have been no question of his naturalizing.  I have not yet discovered whether she was required to give up her citizenship legally or whether she did/had to because of his diplomatic status.

In the Fall of 1961, they decided that they could no longer support the Castro regime and defected.  Eduardo was dishonorably discharged by the Cuban government for his relations with the U.S.  Sophie and Eduardo returned to the U.S, and spent some time in Detroit, probably to see Sophie’s siblings and mother.  They then moved to Miami in the mid 1960s and Eduardo became a U.S. citizen in 1967.  He then prepared to take on a role for the United Nations in Ecuador.  The sad end to their marriage was that he suffered a stroke while they were flying to his new post, and he died in June 1968.

Eduardo was buried in Michigan and Sophie moved back to the Detroit area, to live with her older sister who was also a widow.  They lived together for the rest of Mary’s life.  Sophie lived another 31 years remaining active socially and politically until just before her death in December 2012 after her 103d birthday.

..

I’m running behind (February is a short month!) and struggling with cabin-fever, snow anxiety and cold-nose syndrome.  So this is going to be short.  (To get started, I have to go back up my computer files: it’s the first of a new month already!)

1.  I will clean up and finalize the Denman will transcript.

2.  I will make a draft of the wedding family tree with the pictures I now have.  I will start a plan of how the final sharable-CD will look.

3.  I will write at least one short sketch of one of my female ancestors in honor of  Women’s History Month.  I’m thinking about my great aunt Susan who was a nurse and served in WWI.

4.  If I need more to do (!) I will start transcribing the Michael Marten will.

Denman, Bricena - 1922-1923

I’ve written in the past about my paternal grandmother, Carrie Boothby, and about my maternal grandfather, Lyle Denman.  So now I want to write a little about my maternal granmother, Bricena Snow.  This picture shows how she looked as a young mother.

Unlike Carrie, I knew my Grandma Cena.  There were visits (mostly they came to visit us) and cards and letters and presents.  Grandma was a consummate homemaker.  She cooked and baked and canned and put up food from their garden.  She sewed; a lot.  She made all of her own clothing for most of her life and all of my mother’s until Mom left as a married woman.  She taught my mother to sew, and Mom passed that on to both me and my sister (and to my brothers to a lesser extent).

From the time I was very young (and I’m sure before I was old enough to remember) she made clothing for me and my sister.  There were dresses and coats, often meant for Christmas or for Easter.  And we grew up with lots of her recipes, or those she had inherited and used and then passed on to my mother.  The sugar cookies we cut out at Christmas were her recipe, as were the pinwheel cookies.  And when we just wanted to cut out round cookies we used the cookie cutter that Grandpa Lyle had made in a shop class.

Bricena was born in Elyria, Ohio almost nine years after her older brother Frank.  Her father, Clemon Hastings Snow or C.H. as he was commonly known, was a farmer and civil engineer/surveyor and the family lived in Elyria from the time Bricena was born.  From at least the time of the 1900 census on, the family lived in a house they owned on Cleveland Street.  She was schooled there and graduated from high school in 1909.  By that time her brother was married and pursuing his own education in Montana,

By the time she graduated, Bricena’s mother was ailing and in need of extra help, so she stayed home to take care of her parents.  I’m not sure whether she had any desire to go on with her education, but she didn’t.  I suspect that she did not expect to go on with any higher education.

As a young woman, in high school and especially before her mother became very sick, Bricena must have had various social activities but I have no knowledge of what they were.  The family belonged to the M.E. (Methodist Episcopal) Church in town, and C.H. was very active civically.  My imagination says that she went on walks and rides and picnics, and to various church events (sort of like Meet Me in St. Louis).  In those years Elyria was a small town with a population between 5000 and 10000.  There were parks and recreational areas as well as churches and a variety of social and civic groups.

Lyle&CenaI know she went to dances or parties, since that was how she and my grandfather, Lyle Denman, met.  He described that in 1914-15, as a college student, he would go home to parties or dances and take his cousin Mildred.  Mildred was a friend of Bricena’s and she was invited to some of these dances  and that is how my grandparents originally met.  At the time Bricena was known to be engaged to someone else.  However, by the summer/fall of 1916 her engagement had been broken off and Lyle started to call on her.  They became engaged in May of 1917, just before Lyle registered for the World War I draft, and they were married the next April.  Bricena had declared that she wanted to be married before Lyle went into the military so she cuold come visit him in whatever camp he was in.

As a family, Lyle and Cena lived almost exclusively in Ohio moving around the state with various jobs.  In retirement they moved to southern Texas to be closer to their son and his family.  Bricena died 2/14/1971 in San Antonio.

snow Jan 2015Lots of snow here in Massachusetts, keeping me indoors even more than the cold does, and therefore I am more likely to be doing something genealogical.  I have been working on one of my small projects and started another which is bigger than I had originally thought (isn’t it always the way?).

I have been filling in a spreadsheet of my direct Salt ancestors with their vital information (dates for birth, death, etc.) and marking those which I have good sources for.  I continue to be surprised at the close-to-me ancestors (like my maternal grandfather for example) for whom I have no good source for birth.  Since he was born in 1896 in Ohio, I would expect that there should be a birth registry for the county but so far I have had no luck finding it.  Come on, familysearch.org!!  As part of the spreadsheet I am also tracking what records have been entered in Clooz which is where I want to track documents and sourcesalt vitals sheets.  Green in a cell shows I have documentation (or it is a “yes”) and red shows I still have work to do.  I already see too many red cells, but it makes it easier to see what work I have to do.  As soon as I finish filling in the spreadsheet I will go back and start entering the rest in Clooz and work on creating a list or spreadsheet of what I need to look for and where.

I also have started on a new family tree for a wedding in the spring.  One of our nephews is marrying and I want to create a family tree for the newly created family as a wedding present.  I did something like this last summer for another nephew and had a lot of fun.  Likewise, this time around is being fun and I am both learning more about the two families but also about an unsuspected connection between the bride and one of my mother’s family lines.  In addition, one of the delightful benefits to doing this sort of project is meeting and interacting with the bride’s mother (so far in cyberspace) and discovering that she too is the family historian.  Small world sometimes.  I will be working more on this project in February and looking forward to many more exciting discoveries.

My last goals for February include finalizing the transcript I have drafted of the will of William Denman made in 1738 originally, which I found at The Keep in September.  I will also start work, and hopefully finish, transcribing the other will I found.  This one is for Michael Marten and connects him to a William Denman and a Samuel Denman both of whom are described as sons in law.  If I can find the direct link, this William would be the father of my migrant ancestor William Denman.  So I’m excited to get this will transcribed.

The day after our adventures in Ditchling the cousins graciously took us to The Keep so I could explore a little.  This was particularly kind since I was the one out of the four of us who really wanted to spend a little time there, getting to see the collections and trying to find family records.  I got a morning of research with some help from a number of people, including my cousin; the others were quite good about doing a little wandering and then sitting and talking over a cup of tea.

The Keep is a new repository and building, opened in the Fall of 2013, which is a partnership of the East Sussex Records Office, the Royal Pavilion & Museums Local History Collections and the University of Sussex Special Collections and puts all of these records in one place.  I thought I had taken a picture of it as we arrived but apparently I didn’t.  So here is a picture, courtesy of the Wikipedia Commons.  The Keep

This building also houses the library of the Sussex Family History Group, which is staffed by volunteers of the Group.  It was in their library that we started and I was lucky enough to find Judy and Colin Excell on duty that day.  They were both very helpful in finding me places to start my searches in, and I came away from them with copies of several pages from a book about the Ditchling church group and several references for transcribed wills to send for; I also took an application to join the Group (which I did as soon as I returned home).   One of the record sets available to members (I’m not sure about non-members) is a collection of transcribed wills and probate records.  With the information from Judy I was able to request and have emailed to me two wills from the early 1700s.

I spent the rest of my time getting oriented to the microfilm collection and looking for several specific wills.  I was thrilled to find two of the ones I was looking for (William Denman of Cowfold in Sussex, 1738, and Michael Marten of Fragborrough in the parish of Ditchling in Sussex, 1750), and was able to get digital images of the pages which I downloaded to my thumbdrive (I came prepared!).  I think I paid The Keep 10p per image for this service.  On a quick skim on the microfilm reader I could see that William Denman mentioned sevWilliam my eldest soneral children, including his eldest son William, who we think is the father of my emigrant ancestor William Denman.  I also found that Michael Marten mentioned two of his daughters (perhaps the only two children still living when he wrote the will), both of whom were married to Denman men.  One of them, Ann Marten, was married to a William Denman ason in law Williamnd we think this is the same son William from the William Denman will.  This is the place in the search where a knowledge of very local geography and social history is so important and where my new-found cousin is particularly helpful.  Now that I’m home again and the winter holidays are behind us, I am starting work on transcribing both of these documents.

Unfortunately, the William Denman who married Ann Marten does not seem to have left a will.  It would have been so convenient if he had and had mentioned his son William who went to America!  If memory serves, my fourth great grandmother’s (Ann Boorman’s) father did leave a will naming her and that she had gone to America.

All in all, I left The Keep well satisfied and excited to follow up my finds.  As is often the case, I was left with questions and thoughts about how to follow up.  I think there are new English record groups in my future.  I wish I lived a shorter plane flight from this new repository.  I would happily spend at least a week visiting it daily to research.

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