Sunday, January 22, 2017

George Henry Connell 1865 - 1902 (part 1 of 2)

A fifth post in a series on the descendants of Johanna Cussen and George Connell of Lodi, Wisconsin.

George continued the Connell exodus from Lodi to Chicago. Last recorded in Lodi as a 15 year old school boy in 1880, he married Nellie McCabe in about 1890 in Chicago. I had a hard time finding any information about Nellie. She (10 years old) and three of her siblings - Anastasia (8), Owen (8) and John (6) - were living in St. Joseph's Orphan Asylum in Chicago in 1880. (This is now the Cardinal Meyer Center.) One historical account of such institutions claims that most children in orphanages in the 19th century weren't actually orphans, but rather from single parent families in financial crisis. (Read the Chicago Historical Society's excellent article about the history of Chicago orphanages.) One record indicates that Ellen's father was Pat McCabe, but I haven't found any records of their family.  Nellie and George had three children in Chicago: Tessie (b. 1891), George (b. 1894) and John (b. 1897). In 1900, George was operating a saloon. [This may be a clue to Nellie's family. A Pat McCabe who ran a saloon in Chicago died in 1890, the same year that Nellie married George.  Perhaps they took over her father's bar? Perhaps his wife passed away in the late 1870s and a single barkeeper could not take care of four children under the age of 5, and brought them to the orphanage, expecting to remarry and retrieve them? I'll need more information to figure this out.]  George and Nellie and family lived near the stockyards. In 1902, George passed away.  Spouses dying and leaving widows/widowers with young children to raise seemed to be a macabre pattern in the family: George's father in 1877, one or both of Ellen's parents in the late 1870s, Catherine's husband in 1896, Maggie's husband in 1898, and now George.

Nellie raised the kids in Chicago. It looks like they moved into a smaller home in the Chicago stockyards area, south of the city, shared with meat workers.  The kids were working in 1910: 19 year old Theresa was getting paid to play the piano in "the park" (don't know if this was a park, or the name of a bar?), and 15 year old George was an office boy in a meat packing plant. 13 year old John was still in school. In 1913, Theresa married Daniel Bross, a clerk at Wells Fargo recently transferred (?) from New York City.  In about 1914, George married Hungarian-born Mary Sedlak. And in 1917, John married Josephine Huntscha, daughter of German immigrants Emanuel and Agnes Huntscha. By 1917, George and Mary had moved to their own apartment, but the grandchildren had been arriving at home. The family needed more space and, probably with the help of Daniel's while collar pay, could afford to move down the street.

By 1920, the kids were all raising their own families. Daniel was now keeping books for a meat business. Big changes had taken place in the "express" business (I "express" means fast transportation of people or things, a major part of Wells Fargo's business in the early '20s.) I don't completely understand,  but the US government forced the consolidation of the many express businesses in 1918, for some sort of war-related need. I believe that Wells Fargo had to close many, perhaps thousands of express business offices across the country, and Daniel may have lost his job there.  Nonetheless, their still fairly new quarters was now principally the Bross home, housing Theresa and Daniel, their three children - 5 year old George, 3 year old Helen and nearly 2 year old Bernadette - and Mom/Grandma, 49 year old Nellie. Sadly, young George passed away later that year. Three more kids arrived in the '20s: Daniel, jr. (b. 1921), June (b. 1923) and Loretta (b. 1928). By 1930 Daniel and Theresa had bought a house in the rapidly growing suburb of Homewood. Daniel was now doing clerical work in a dentist's office.  Whether working in the suburbs or riding one of the many new commuter trains into the city, I don't know. Two days shy of her 62nd birthday, in 1931, with 12 grandchildren, Nellie passed away. The Depression hit Homewood very hard, many losing their jobs and some their homes. Many lost their savings when the local bank closed suddenly in 1932. With few passengers to transport, the commuter trains to Chicago dwindled to just a few a day. The Bross family had moved back to Chicago and was renting a home there when Daniel passed away in 1938. In the last available census record, 1940, Theresa and all five kids, ages 11 to 23, are together.  The older kids were probably helping to pay the bills: Helen, Bernadette and Daniel, Jr. were all working in dental offices. Mom/Theresa took care of the home and June and Loretta, (16 and 11), still in school. Theresa passed away in 1978. I have little detail, and don't wish to post names of living children on line, but I do know that all five Bross kids married and have passed away.  All but Daniel, Jr. remained in the Chicago area.  Helen Bross Hattendorf passed away in 1981; Bernadette Bross Kissel in 1989, Daniel in 1995, June Bross Kosmos in 1989, and Loretta Bross McCaffery in 2004.

To be continued ....

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