A beautifully told story with colorful characters out of epic tradition, a tight and complex plot, and solid pacing. -- Booklist, starred review of On the Razor's Edge

Great writing, vivid scenarios, and thoughtful commentary ... the stories will linger after the last page is turned. -- Publisher's Weekly, on Captive Dreams

Sunday, August 2, 2015

The Long Line

TOF, for the amusement of his relatives, who number as the grains of sand in the desert, has created a visual family tree by scanning images of husband-wife couples, as often as possible at the same or similar ages. (For two couples, he had to juxtapose individual shots made at the same time.) These he connected with what PowerPoint amusingly calls "connectors" running from the center of the parental picture to the appropriate side of the next generational couple. The nature of powers of 2 is such that the further back in time, the more they spread out horizontally and so spacing becomes an issue. Fortunately, or not, the photographic evidence doesn't go back very far. The two oldest images are photographs made by a third cousin of paintings kept by his great-aunt.
This inspired a bit of ruminations on the pictured individuals and their families.

Singley/Schwar/Riess/et al.

Now, the singular thing is how much TOFian ancestry springs from a single pair of villages in the Rheinland: to wit, die Gemeinde Oberhausen und Niederhausen, which are today unified in the single town of Rheinhausen, whence came virtually all his maternal ancestry.

The Oberhausen/Niederhausen contingent supplied the Singley (Zängle), Schwar (Schwär), Riess (Rieß), as well as other families, not photographically captured (Metzger, Kresch, et al.) and other families on the South Side of Easton not directly related: Deck, Keck, Smull, Raisner, Breiner, Albus, u.s.w. Hence, the moniker "German Hill" for the locale. Since one family on the more eclectic paternal side was also German (Ochenfuß), TOF's mother took delight in pointing out to his father that TOF was more German than Irish. To which Pere responded that a single Irish bloodline was sufficient to cancel all the rest.

As you might expect from this narrow gene pool, one of TOF's 4th cousins is... TOF!

Joseph Schwar
takes the chair
Francis Joseph Schwar is half of the first "couple photograph" in this family, although his father, Joseph Francis Schwar appears to the right taking the chair from his daughter-in-law. (Schwar rhymes with chair due to a now unused umlaut over the ä.) The wife, Frances Hungrege will be mentioned shortly. His grandfather, Johann Sebastian Schwar (m. Theresa Kresch) emigrated from Baden around 1854 in a ship supposedly named the William Scott. His wife, Theresia Philip, and her parents came also. (The Philips were Alsatians, which means they were Germans under French rule.) The proximate cause was a famine in Baden following the unsuccessful Revolution of 1848. They settled in Nockamixon Twp., Bucks Co. PA, but the records in Baden take the family back to one Martin Schwör (1643-1723) at the butt-end of the Thirty Years War. The Schwars were stone masons for many generations, and their work can be seen on South Side all hereabouts (which was called "Schwar-Town" for the obvious reason.

Harry Singley, known as "Guv," appears in the tree in his AEF uniform, going off to fight... the Germans. He married Helen Schwar, daughter of the above. TOF has no photographs for earlier generations of Singleys; but hope springeth eternal. Harry's father Anthony (m. Sarah Metzger) was killed at Bethlehem Steel, his grandfather Anton (m. Margaret Weaver [Weber]) emigrated with his mother at about the same time as the Schwars and settled also in Nockamixon. His father bore the multitudinous designation of Franz Josef Anton Zängle (m. Maria Elisabeth Maier) and so on back to a Martin Zenglin (m. Jacobea Hebingen) contemporary with Martin Schwör. (Was everyone named Martin back then?)

Magdalena Riess came over on her own in 1852, probably during the same famine in Baden. TOF has her passport from the Grand Principality of Baden, which, because there were no passport photos in those days, describes her in words. Her reason for going to the US was listed as "to visit friends." Very good friends, apparently, as she never went back. She married here Conrad Hungrege (q.v.) The Riesses run back with various spellings to Franz Georg Rys (m. Maria Humbaher) in the late 1600s.


Johann Konrad Hungrege was 16 years older than Magdalena Riess. He was born in Istrup (now part of the City of Brakel) in Kreis Höxter, Westpfalz. He was, the story goes, a steamboat captain on the Rhine. He settled in Nockamixon with the Baden crowd and married Magda in 1862, so he was over here before then. The Census tells us that he worked as a canal boat captain on the Delaware Canal, which is not as glamorous as steamboating on the Rhine. TOF knows little else about him or his family than that he had a beard grandiose enough to adorn a Civil War general. Ho ho.

On TOF's paternal side there was also a German line:


Matilda Ochenfuss has the honor of bearing the most diversely spelled of all the TOFian ancestor names. TOF's Reader may amuse himself thinking of all the various ways to spell something that sounds a bit like Ochenfuss. Be warned: "Ackofoose" is one of the actualized potencies. The name may have originally been Ox-foot (Ochsenfuss). All we know of this family is that her grandfather had been born in Baden (but not which town), that he worked on the Lehigh Valley Railroad in South Easton, and attended TOF's home parish. Matilda met Daniel Flynn in Newark NJ, where he (and maybe she) were working in a shoe factory. They were married there at the recently demolished St. Peters and moved afterward to Phillipsburg, NJ, where a plentitude of Flynn can be found to this day.


John Thomas Flynn came to the US from Loughrea, Galway, Ireland, sometime before 1865. He settled in Washington Twp., Warren Co., NJ, where he worked in the railroad repair yards. He met there and married Anne Elizabeth Lynch, with whom he had seven children before he was tragically crushed to death between two coal cars. The Flynns had originally come to Loughrea (and Killeenadeema) from Ballinlough in Co. Roscommon after the Cromwell wars, when the old Gaelic order was broken up. The O'Floinn had been an important chieftain in the old Kingdom of Connaught. However, direct information on specific ancestors cannot be found prior to John's parents, Martin (another Martin!) Flynn and Honora Mahony. (Martin also emigrated after his wife's death, but died himself shortly after arriving.) From this John Thomas came Daniel Joseph→ Francis Thomas→ Joseph Francis→ Michael Francis→ Dennis Michael. 

The photograph is of a water-damaged painting kept by one of John's granddaughters.


Anne Elizabeth Lynch was born in Burlington VT, two days after her parents (Daniel Lynch and Bridget Barry) reached America. The timing and locale suggests they sailed to Canada and crossed into the US via Lake Champlain during the Know Nothing era. (The really-truly Americans were trying to keep Papists out of the country, so Anne's parents likely qualify as wetbacks.) The family worked its way south and wound up in Washington Twp with the Flynns, Donahues, and others in the railroad shanties. After being widowed, she moved to Trenton, with her daughter and her younger sons. She always remembered how handsome her husband looked (like all Flynns) as he led the St. Patrick's Day parade one year from atop a white horse.

Lynch had come from Stradbally, Co. Waterford in 1845, the first year of the Famine. Supposedly, from a townland named Bannalynch, but this has never been verified.


The other Irish line is that of Mary McGovern (b. 1852) who came to the US in the 1880s from Co. Cavan, where she had been a schoolteacher. This was a period of great hardship in that region with many evictions by the landlords. This may have been the reason for her emigration to New York in 1888. She married first a man named Louis Dieda, and there is a picture somewhere of her and her brood a-settin on the front porch of a wooden shack in Harker's Hollow, Warren Co., NJ. After Dieda's death, she married Fernand Cantrel (q.v.) and produced another brood.

Terrible Terry
She was said to be a cousin of Terrible Terry McGovern, the bareknuckles boxer called "the greatest featherweight of all time." But this is unconfirmed.

The McGoverns had been lords of Tullyhaw in West Cavan and after the land was parceled out by the Elizabethans, the remote region known as "The Glan" (a/k/a The Kingdom of Glan, a/k/a Glangevlin) accessible by only a single footpath over the mountains was assigned to the McGoverns. This eventually became the last Gaelic-speaking region in that part of Ireland. The Glan was said by one author to be "inhabited principally by a primitive race of McGoverns and Dolans" who married one another and annually elected one of the McGoverns as "King of the Glan." Did TOF mention that Mary McGovern's parents were Matthew McGovern and Catherine Dolan?
The history of the Clan Dolan includes a colorful account of "Blind Terry" McGovern and Bryan Dolan and a feud of three generations standing. Hatfields and McCoys, fer shure. TOF believes the Glan was akin Eastern Kentucky/West Virgina and was chock full of moonshiners and hillbillies. This impression is reinforced by a photograph he has seen of Mary McGovern Cantrel aiming a shotgun at the camera. Mary was also a midwife and once, when the doctor could not make it to her house because of a snowstorm, delivered her own baby. Good thing women were demure, submissive pearl-clutchers back in those days.


Fernand Ernst Octave Cantrel was born 1861 near the Belgian border in Quoeux, Pas-de-Calais, France. (now merged with Haut-Maînil.) His parents were Louis Philippe Cantrel and Phillipine Julie Elise Toulouse. TOF also has the names of his grandparents: Francois Theodore Cantrel and Philippine Euphroisine Neuville and, on the maternal side, the multinomial Jean Philippe Louis Joseph Toulouse and Julie Flavie Denoyelle, which puts the narrative back to the time of the Paris Uprising featured in Les Miserables.He was a 2nd Cannon Conductor in the 12th Regt. of Artillery, Tonkin Gulf Expedition, which served in the Bac Ninh campaign in the First Brigade (de l'Isle) and the Lang Son and Tuyen Quang campaigns in the Second Brigade (de Négrier).  De l'Isle and de Négrier, considered heroes by their men, were dissed at the Bastille Day parade of 14 July 1886, much to the dismay of the veterans. Whether or not his experiences in Vietnam influenced him, he emigrated to American shortly after, in 1888. He worked as a tailor in a silk mill and as a volunteer fireman.
Interestingly enough, all of TOF's ancestors were "in place" before Ellis Island opened for business. The federal government did not assume control of immigration until 1890. Previously, immigrants arriving in New York City had been processed by State officials at Castle Garden Immigration Depot in Lower Manhattan.


The ancestors of the Incomparable Marge beat that, because they were all in place before there was a United States at all. The Hammontrees appear in Virginia in the 1600s, presumably from England; but the family name appears nowhere in any list of surnames, and all Hammontrees in the US can trace back to the same original Jonathon Hammontree. There is some suggestion that the name was originally Hamondre and they were French Huguenots who had gone to England. The oldest photographs of Hammontree are the Marge's mother! (She has some of her grandmother, Ora Vanora Harris, but none of her grandfather.) Two Hammontrees (remote uncles) were at Valley Forge, and one died there. The other was killed by Indians later on the Virginia frontier. Some Hammontrees moved to western North Carolina, then went over the mountain into East Tennessee about 1800. There was a Hammontree with Andy Jackson at Horseshoe Bend, and another with Sherman in the Atlanta Campaign. After the Civil War her ancestors went first to Arkansas, then to Indian Territory (now Oklahoma). They were pretty much all farmers all the way.

The Harris family of Margie's grandmother followed a parallel track from Harlan County, KY, where Greenberry Harris was a neighbor of the Lincolns, and went with the Lincolns to Spencer Co., IN, then when the Lincolns continued to Illinois, the Harrises went by way of Missouri to Indian Territory. Like the Hammontrees, they were all farmers.


The only ancestral photographs are of Margie's father, Claude Lee White, who was born in Bonham, TX, to Jasper Moses White and Maggie Jam. The Whites trace back through George Washington White to Ransom White in Tennessee and North Carolina, farming all the way. (There is an Internet image that purports to be the aforesaid George Wasington White.) So it would be fair to say that the Hammontrees, Harrises, and Whites traced parallel paths across the country pretty much in synch from the Upper South to the West, and while TOF's people were the Urban Industrial Immigrants, Margie's were the Colonial and Covered Wagon folks.

Her father always told the Incomparable Marge that he had named her after his own mother, who had been part Choctaw. Nothing is known yet of the Jam (or perhaps James) family, though the 1910 Census has her and her two sons living in Ft. Towson, in Choctaw country. The earliest emigrant on this branch of the tree came over about 20,000 BC, across the Bering Land Bridge.

1 comment:

  1. This is unrelated to the post but I thought you might want to dive into this:


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