Sunday, August 9, 2015

Follow up on Stephen Brennan

In a previous post on Stephen Brennan I mentioned he was one of my “brick walls”.  I am happy to report that there is now a chink in the wall. 

Recently released its indexed collection U.S., Social Security Applications and Claims Index, 1936-2007 which has Social Security Applications and Claims from 1936-2007.  I looked up Stephen Francis Brennan to see what I might find.  I found Steve Frances Brennan.

So I sent for the original document.  It only took about two weeks to receive it.  It confirms everything I have on Stephen to date with the only new information being his parents’ names.  Interesting to see his actual signature.

Of course, ever since I found this clue, I have been looking for William and Margaret Brennan with the known children.  I have searched every known combination with and without surnames.   Marion had mentioned that there were Brennan relatives near West Chicago, Illinois.  I found a William and Margaret in the US Census in Winfield which is near West Chicago, but am not able to confirm they are “my” William and Margaret Brennan. Another brick wall to chip away at… 

According to Marion (Stephen’s daughter) this picture is of Margaret (perhaps know as Maggie?) and her daughter Mary.

Anyone recognize them?  Please let me know!

Sunday, August 2, 2015

52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks: # 8 Benjamin Petrich and #9 Pauline Stroech

Will the real Benjamin Petrich please come forward?

I have a 3rd great uncle named Benjamin Petrich (sometimes found as Gottlieb Benjamin) who is the brother to my 2nd great-grandmother Susanna Petrich Stroschein.  He was also married to my 3rd great-aunt Julianna (sister to my 2nd great-grandfather Friedrich Primas).  Are you confused yet? He and I are related two different ways.

Benjamin has been easy to find in on-line research as he left many children and grandchildren in the USA.  The descendants’ story was that he had been married twice in Prussia before coming to the USA and marrying a third time.  My 3rd Great-Aunt Julianna (Primas) was his first wife.

Pauline Stroech was married to Benjamin Petrich and had several children with him before they immigrated to the USA.  For many years, I thought she was the second wife to Benjamin.  Working with a Petrich cousin in Germany caused me to re-evaluate this relationship.

When my great-grandfather Paul Primas came to the US in 1883 he arrived with a Benjamin Petrich, aged 40.  I assumed this was his uncle – his father’s sister’s husband (Gottlieb Benjamin from above).  Now I believe it was his uncle – his mother’s brother (Johann Benjamin Petrich).

Ship Manifest showing Benjamin Petrich and Paul Primas

I have noticed in my German ancestors they re-use names a lot as well as being called by their “middle names” in daily use.  Hence Johann Benjamin was called Benjamin and that is how I find him in the records.  Johann is only found in his baptismal record.

Based on the records I had found, I created this comparison chart:

Comparing the Benjamins

Upon further investigation I found more information to convince me that Johann Benjamin was the man married to Pauline Stroech. 

Johann Benjamin Petrich was born in Pidda (Posen Province, Prussia) on 5 July 1844, the fourth child and first son of Gottlieb Petrich (born 1812 in Turostowo Hauland, died 18 May 1853 in Pidda, Posen) and Johanna Wilhelmine Petrich (born 13 June 1818 in Pidda, Posen, death date unknown but after 1855 when she married her second husband Johann Michael Weidner).  Yes, Wilhelmine (as she is found) was born a Petrich.  I do not know how close the relationship was for the two.  The Petrich families of Posen are a topic for another time.

Benjamin had seven sisters and one brother that I can find records on.  The brother died shortly after birth.  The only sibling known to grow to adulthood is Amalie (married to Friedrich Primas). Several of the girls died as infants or children, the rest I have not found information on yet. 

Benjamin was baptized Johann Benjamin Petrich on 21 July 1844 in Schokken.

Benjamin married Pauline Stroech (also found as Ströch) probably about 1873 or early 1874.  I am still looking for Pauline’s parents and the marriage record.  I also still need to find Pauline’s baptismal/birth record.  There are many Stroech families in the area and they inter-connect with Petrich, Primas and other related families.

The couple had eight children I can find records on:
  1. Hulda born 3 Oct 1874 in Nekla; died 27 Jan 1959 in Los Angeles, California; married Henry Rausch.
  2. Wilhelm Traugott born 12 Feb 1877 in Tischdorf, baptized the same day and probably did not survive.
  3. Ludwig born 11 Aug 1879 in Tischdorf, died 11 Jan 1880 at age 5 months.
  4. Bertha Amalie (found as Mollie in USA records) born 3 Feb 1882 in Nekla, died after 1966 probably in Florida; married Otto Krueger then Richardson.
  5. Pauline Wilhelmine born 27 April 1884, baptized 3 May 1884 in Nekla – note on her baptismal record states father Benjamin Petrich went to America in Nov 1883; died 27 Sep 1966 in Rockford, Winnebago County, Illinois; married William H Struwing.
  6. Emily born 16 Oct 1886 in Chicago, Cook County, Illinois; died 13 Sep 1964 in Chicago, Cook County, Illinois; married Wiseman then William J Talbot.
  7. Edith Martha born 25 Nov 1888 in Cook, Illinois, died 7 May 1962 in Rockford, Winnebago County, Illinois; never married.
  8. Helen C born 18 Dec 1894 in Chicago, Cook County, Illinois, died 13 Feb 1919 in Chicago, Cook County, Illinois; never married.

As mentioned earlier, Benjamin left for America on the ship Kaiser with his nephew Paul Primas, leaving Hamburg on 20 Nov 1883 with stop in Glasgow.  He left his wife in Nekla with two small children and he may or may not have known about the child on the way.

Ship departure detail

Note in Pauline's birth record that father Benjamin has gone to Amerika

Pauline left Hamburg 5 Sep 1885 on the ship California with children Emilie (Bertha), Hulda and Pauline who was 9 months old.  They arrived in 21 Sep 1885 arriving in New York, stated destination is Chicago. 

Pauline departure details

Arrival details

Looking at the Chicago City Directories, it shows that Benjamin and his nephew Paul Primas are living on the same street for a time.  Benjamin is at 815 Hinman in 1888 and at 767 Hinman from 1890 to 1893.  Paul Primas is at 753 and 788 Hinman in 1890 and 1891.  After the street re-naming and re-numbering in Chicago in 1909/1911, these addresses are now on the 1700-1800 block of W 21rst Place.  It appears the original houses are still there.

Center house is probably same as when Petrich family lived there

House where Primas family rented down the block from Petrich

I believe that Pauline and Benjamin reunited in the US because they had three more daughters in Chicago – Emily, Edith and Helen.

Benjamin died in Chicago on 24 April 1899.  He is buried in Concordia Cemetery in Forest Park, Illinois.  Because he arrived after 1880 and died before 1900, there are no census or other records I have found for Benjamin.

1899 Chicago City Directory

Pauline died in Chicago on 17 May 1906.  She is also buried in Concordia Cemetery, as is their daughter Helen who died 13 Feb 1919. 

I cannot find Pauline and the girls in the 1900 census.  There would have been Pauline and 5 daughters as only Hulda was married at that time.  In the Chicago City Directory, Pauline is listed as widow of Benjamin in 1899, but disappears in 1900.  Perhaps they went to stay with relatives or the older girls found jobs working in homes (although I do not find them listed either).  In the 1910 census, the three youngest girls (Emily, Edith and Helen) are living with their older sister Pauline now married to William Struwing.

Benjamin and Amalie, his sister were three years different in age.  If they were the only children of the family to survive to adulthood, it would be reasonable to think that they remained close.  When Amalie was a young widow with a son, she might look to her brother to develop a relationship with him, since her father is already gone.   Amalie (now married to Reiter) is mentioned on the baptismal / birth record of Benjamin’s son Wilhelm Traugott.  There is a special note clipped to the record.  Because it is in German, I haven’t been able to understand what the note says at this point.

Note mentioning Amalie Reiter on Wilhelm Traugott baptismal record

Baptismal record of Wilhelm Traugott Petrich

I have requested death certificates for the members of this Petrich family that I can find documentation on.  I can also go to Concordia and find their grave markers, it is not far. I will keep chipping away to find the secrets until I find another branch of the tree to follow.

Sunday, July 19, 2015

2014 Road Trip to Poland

As mentioned in a previous post, I have been looking for my great-grandfather Paul Primas for a long time.  When I started my family history research for a school project in 6th grade, he had already been gone for over 50 years.   As a teenager I wrote to the German Consulate to ask how to find records I was looking for and was told all the records were lost in the war (World War II) and any that did survive were now behind the Iron Curtain and unavailable.  I kept looking and asking.

Paul Primas Death Certificate

In 2012 I decided I needed to go to Poland and try to find out more information about my elusive great-grandfather Paul.  I still had many questions.   Having previously used his services for obtaining documents, I contacted Dr. Lukasz Bielecki of Discovering Roots in the fall of 2013.  I engaged his services to help me plan the trip as well as conduct some research prior to our arrival.   My sister Donna and I bought our tickets in January 2014, but probably would have had a better selection of seats if we had bought them sooner.  Because of some other touring we wanted to do, we chose to fly in and out of Berlin, Germany.  From Berlin, our destination, Poznan, is a 3 hour train ride through beautiful country.

Caron at the Poznan train station

In April 2014, we traveled to Poznan, Poland to see sights related to our family history and to conduct additional research at the local archives.  We stayed at Hotel Włoski Poznań as Lukasz recommended and found it to be well-located, clean, reliable and reasonably priced.  While Donna is fluent in German (which was the language of our ancestors who lived in the Posen area during the Prussian Empire) and I can read “genealogy German” neither of us speak nor understand Polish.  Having Lukasz to interpret during our visit was very helpful!

Planning the day with Lukasz in the hotel lobby

During our three day visit Lukasz guided and chauffeured us as we made daily trips to the ArchiwumPaństwowe w Poznaniu (State Archive in Poznań) in the city and the surrounding areas specific to our ancestors. 

State Archive building in Poznań

At the Archive, he assisted us to complete the necessary paperwork to access the Archive’s materials and used his knowledge of the local geography to determine which records to access.   It was obvious that Lukasz is well known at the Archives as well as knowing his way around the resources!  The Archive’s rules are that only a limited amount of items can be accessed and at restricted times.  We were able to triple the numbers with three of us there.  Donna and I took many pictures of pages of old church records of our known ancestors and “suspect” ancestors. 

Lukasz and the records at the Archive  

Caron looking at a church record book 

Church record book with Paul Primas baptismal record

Page with Paul Primas baptismal record
Paul Primas baptismal record

During the afternoons, Lukasz used his excellent knowledge of the area and its history to take us down mostly unmarked roads to access the rural areas where our ancestors had lived.  He also used some maps from the 1980s Communist military.  He told us they were very detailed and accurate. Had we been on our own, we never would have been able to navigate the area.

Map used by Lukasz

We visited the churches where our family baptisms and weddings were performed, family cemeteries and the areas where our ancestors worked or owned mills and had their homes.   The Lutheran churches no longer exist; they have been converted to Catholic churches, community or art centers or torn down, usually with a park in its place.

Circles indicate all the places we visited

Church in Rejowiec, formerly Revier, where Friedrich Primas and Amalie Petrich
 (my 2nd great-grandparents) were married in 1857, still in use as Catholic Church

Picture of inside of the Rejowiec church

Church at Murowana Goslina, currently abandoned


Church at Nekielka, formerly Nekla Hauland, being remodeled as a music arts center

Inside view church at Nekielka (Nekla Hauland)

Church at Pobiedziska, formerly Pudewitz

Inside of the church in Pobiedziska

Church in Skoki, formerly Schokken.  It is now a community center.
It looks like they play basketball inside.

While we drove through the beautiful countryside, Lukasz related information about the general history of the villages and area. He also took us to charming local restaurants each day where we were able to taste the local cuisine.

Lunch stop in Skoki – wonderful pirogi!

Typical view from the car when there were no farms, this near Nekielka

Farm land near Glinka Panska

One road we went down did not look like a real road.  It looked like a track through a farm field.  Lukasz assured us it was a real road, it was on the map!

This is a real road!  On our way to Czerniejewo, formerly Schwarzenau

Site of Gottfried Primas’ (my 3rd great-grandfather’s) water mill at Borowo Mɫyn

There was something spiritually moving and a bit mysterious about walking on the same land that my ancestors walked on.  There was a feeling of comfort and familiarity. 

We knew many of our great-grandparents had been millers – we have “wind millers” and “water millers” in the family.  We did not see any water mills, but we did see a “wind mill” that looked like one our family might have worked.

Old windmill building in Czerniejewo on the road to Nekla

This is what it might look like new or in use

We were very pleased with our visit and would highly recommend Lukasz and DiscoveringRoots in Poland for local or long distance research and on-site guided tours in Poland.   We thought his fees were very reasonable for the flexible and personal services he offers. 

Here are my tips for a successful research trip, based on this and other excursions:
  • Plan well in advance.  For overseas, at least 3 months in advance.  Check if a visa or other special permission is needed.  None were needed for Poland, but when I checked for Russia, you needed to request a visa at least 3 months prior to travel.  Know Before You Go.
  • Travel during off-season if you can.  Because we traveled in April, we missed the summer crowds and prices.
  • Check the weather in the location you are traveling to before you pack!
  • Note any holidays in the location you will visit.  The Monday after Easter is a holiday in Germany and all the stores were closed.  We had planned to shop that day!
  • Check ahead on sites you want to visit for any special events or other changes in availability.  When we visited Wittenberg, the Luther related churches were shrouded and one was closed in preparation for the 500th Anniversary in 2017.  The only picture of the churches we got were on a postcard!
  • If you will be in a country where you do not know the language, seriously consider hiring a guide.  It will be worth the money!
  • Do advance research for the location you are going.  Know the hours and rules of any repositories you want to visit.   Can you take pictures?  Scan?  State Archive of Poznan only pulls records three times per day and only 5 records per person per pull.  No scanning or copies, but you can take pictures.
  • Have a research plan before you go.  Take any reference materials you may need.  Do NOT assume you will have an internet connection available.  I printed out family trees and family groups sheets of the families I was looking for and had them spiral bound into a book at Office Max.  I made 3 copies (me, Lukasz and Donna).  We used them!  I also had my netbook with FamilyTreeMaker loaded in case we had questions not answerable by the print outs.  We used it!!
  • Have a scanner and/or camera with you.  In our case, we could not use a scanner, but I used a camera for the records.  Donna and I both had cameras and took over 3,000 pictures between us – scenery and records.
  • Pack light.  Donna and I each took a 22-inch carry-on suitcase and a fully-loaded backpack.  That was all for 14 days!! 
    • Lay out all the clothes that you think you will need and leave half of them home.  We had a few basics in solid colors and changed it up with shirts, scarves and such.  Hotels had laundry services or equipment.
    • Dress in layers.  April in Poland/Germany was rainy and 45-55 F.  We layered turtlenecks under fleece jackets/sweaters and those under raincoats.  When we went inside or it warmed up, we could peel off a layer.  Also, remember that buildings and hotels outside of the US do not always have the same temperature control availability.  PS: I appreciated my gloves!
    • Have two pair of good walking shoes.  Wear one, pack one.
    • Unless you know you will be attending an official dress up affair, leave the fancy clothes and jewelry home.
  • Keep a daily journal of where you went and what you did.  Write it up each night before bed.  If you wait to write it up on the plane or at home, you will forget most of it!  In my case, I also noted the weather each day, as it was pertinent to our tours.

It is hard to believe it has been over a year since our trip!  I would go back tomorrow if I had the chance.

PS:  I have been writing this post since March 2015.  I keep thinking I will add more or perfect it.  I keep thinking of more items to add.  However, I have decided to address some of the other aspects of the trip in individual posts and just get this one posted!

Sunday, June 21, 2015

Dear Old Dad

On this Father’s Day I am remembering my father, Aaron Primas.  When he would call me he would announce himself by referring to himself as “Dear Old Dad."

As I was driving a very nice rental car last week, I was thinking about my Dad and how we shared an interest in cars.  He would have liked the one I was driving.  I also remembered my last visit with him before he died.

Dad was diagnosed with a brain tumor on Dec 31, 2004.  He and Mom returned to their Florida condo the next week with the plan to have Dad in hospice care.  The prognosis he was given was 6 to 9 months.  Based on my experience as a nurse, I did not think it would be that long.  

Aaron Primas - Feb 15 2005

In February 2005, I traveled to Florida to spend a long weekend with my parents.  Even though Dad couldn’t really speak at that time, he could make his needs known.  He was able to watch TV and knew what was going on around him.  One sunny day, Mom said “why don’t you take him out for a ride in Buttercup?”

Buttercup was a 1988 Rolls Royce Corniche convertible that was Dad’s pride and joy.  The pale yellow color inspired the name of Buttercup.  

Dad and Buttercup

It was too cold to put the top down, but we went for a ride.  I headed out to I-75 so we could cruise for a while.  Once on the highway, Dad kept leaning way over to look at the speedometer.  His vision was affected, so he had to really almost get in front of me to look at the dashboard.  Now you need to understand that no one in our family drives slowly.  We aren’t crazy drivers, but we appreciate the “need for speed.”   After about the third time he leaned over, I asked him “how fast have you driven this car?”  He said “eleven hundred” which I interpreted to mean 110 mph and he agreed.  At the time I was doing 75 mph as that was the speed limit and traffic was heavy.  He started waving his hand forward as if to say “go faster” and so I sped up a bit.  He still didn’t seem happy but at 90 mph I told him the traffic was too heavy to go any faster.  If I could have made it to 100 mph I would have, just for him.  He leaned back and seemed content.  So we cruised down the interstate and then at a convenient interchange, I turned around and headed back.  He didn’t say anything else during the trip but seemed to enjoy himself.  When we returned, Mom asked if we had a nice ride and he nodded and smiled.

The day I left, Mom walked me to the elevator and told me “I will bring him back to Villa Park in May” which was their usual time to return from Florida.  I just nodded as I could not speak, but I knew that I would not see my father again alive.

I drove their family car to the airport, locked it up with the key under the floor mat and made note of the parking space.  I called my sister Amy and let her know where to find the car.  She was flying down the next day and would drive the car back. 

Dad died in hospice care on March 4, 2005.  I still miss him.

Tuesday, April 7, 2015

60 Minutes to Better Genealogy at the Newberry

Join me on Saturday June 27, 2015 for my four sessions in the "60 Minutes to Better Genealogy" series.

Registration begins April 21, 2015.

Check here to register and for more details.

Day 2: Saturday, June 27
5. FamilySearch Primer with Caron Primas Brennan
9:30 – 10:30 am
We will tour the free site, reviewing its research opportunities and newer areas for sharing family trees and pictures. Additionally, we will discuss RootsMagic and Legacy Family Tree, the genealogy programs certified to interact with FamilySearch.
6. What’s New on the Internet? with Caron Primas Brennan
11 am - noon
This seminar is a tour through new and little-known resources for genealogical research and networking on the web. In addition to exploring Newberry-based offerings, we will identify useful free and fee-based local, regional, national, and international genealogical resources.
7. Primer with Caron Primas Brennan
1 – 2 pm
We will examine today’s and consider what it offers beginners as well as advanced genealogical researchers—including records and tools, AncestryTrees, and the various features available through the free site, library edition, and paid subscription choices.
8. and with Caron Primas Brennan
2:30 – 3:30 pm
This guided tour will lead you through two sister products from the family:—the web’s premier collection of original military records—and, which houses 3,500 newspapers digitized from across the country.
Caron Primas Brennan is a member of the Genealogical Speakers Guild and the Association of Professional Genealogists and blogs as “Your Cousin Caron.”

Sunday, March 29, 2015

52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks: #7 Amelia O. Primas

Amelia O. Primas:  My Paternal Great-Aunt “Millie”

According to the Primas family Bible, Amelia O. Primas was born 22 January 1891 in Chicago, Illinois.  She was the third child and only daughter born to Paul and Emma (Stroschein) Primas.  It is possible that she was named for Paul’s mother Amalia.  The Chicago City Directory for 1891 shows her father Paul listed as a Tailor.  I always knew her as “Millie” and have never found her middle name in any records or documents.

Millie had one older brother and three younger brothers.  Paul and Emma’s first child died before Millie and her younger siblings were born.  Between Millie’s birth and that of her younger brother the family moved to Menomonie in Dunn County, Wisconsin. 

Why did they move to Wisconsin?  It appears that Paul Primas’ uncle and godfather Benjamin Petrich was living in Menomonie at that time with his family.  Perhaps they were lonely or struggling.  Paul and Emma had no other family in the USA at that time.  When Millie’s brother Otto is born in 1893, Paul is listed as a laborer on the birth certificate.  When Millie’s youngest brother is born, Paul is listed on the birth certificate as a Lumberman.  In that area of Wisconsin there were several large lumber companies at the time.

By the time of the 1900 US Census, the family is back in Chicago.  Millie is enumerated on 12 Jun 1900 as Amelia, 9 years old with birth as Jan 1891 in Illinois.  She is in the household of her father Paul Primas (occupation = janitor) along with her mother Emma, and brothers Fred W age 11, Otto age 7, Waldemar age 5 and Oscar age 2.  They are living at 156 N Kedzie Avenue in Chicago.  The census shows that her parents have been married for 15 years, and immigrated in 1887.

1900 US Census: Paul Primas Head of Household

Two days after Christmas in 1906 Millie’s father Paul died.  The cause of death on the death certificate showed Chronic Nephritis.  He was 46 years old and listed his occupation as carpenter.  Millie was 15 years old.  Her youngest brother was 9 years old.  Paul was buried in Concordia Cemetery in River Forest, Illinois.

It took me a while to find the family in the 1910 US Census because the indexer interpreted the name as Thomas, not Primas.  I was able to find the family in the 1910 Chicago City Directory so I knew they should be in Chicago.  I used the address from the Directory to find the Enumeration District using Stephen Morse’s One Step process (  Then I had to page through the Census to find the family.  When I found them, I saw the name as Primas easily, but then that is my name too!

On 15 April 1910 in the US Census for Chicago, Cook County, Illinois, Millie is listed as Emilie, age 19, single, working as a clerk for a telegraph company.  The head of the household is her mother Emma, age 45, widowed along with the other children:  Friedrich, age 21, operator at a telegraph company;  Otto, age 17, a door boy at a department store; Waldemar, age 15 and Oskar, age 12.  They are living at 417 N Sawyer in Chicago.

1910 US Census: Emma Primas Head of Household

Millie is in the 1914 Chicago Directory as Amelia, a clerk, living at the same address as Emma and Fred.

1914 Chicago Directory detail

Three of Millie’s brothers were drafted and served in France in World War I from 1917 to 1919. Fortunately they all came home but I imagine Millie had to work to help the family during that time.

Postcard sent to Millie from her brother Frank in the Army

On 8 January 1920 in the US Census for Chicago, Cook County, Illinois, Millie is listed as Amelia A. Primas, age 28, single, with “none” listed for occupation.  The head of the household is her mother Emma, age 54, widow, no occupation.  Others in the household include all her brothers:  Fred W., age 31, single, a department manager for a furnace company; Otto M. J., age 26, single, salesman for an ice cream company; Waldemar F., age 24, single, salesman for an ice cream company; and Oscar R., age 22, single, salesman for an ice cream company.  Also in the household are Edward Stroschein, age 65, widower, brother to Emma Primas, born in Posen, Germany, arrived in US in 1917 with occupation listed as carpenter in a department store.  Edward’s son Ernest, age 14, single, born in England, is also in the house.  They are all living at 133 N Long Street in Chicago.

1920 US Census:  Emma Primas Head of Household

I know from other research that Edward Stroschein had emigrated from Germany to Australia.  He had been living there for many years prior to his arrival in the US in November of 1917.  He had a wife who had died there in 1908 and older children still living in Australia.  One of his sons died in July 1917 during World War I in Ypres, Belgium.  His son Ernest never returned to Australia to live after arriving in the US in 1917.  He remained close with the Primas family.

On 17 August 1928 Millie’s mother Emma died at the age of 63 years at home in Maywood.  Cause of death was determined to be breast cancer.  Emma was buried in Mount Emblem Cemetery in Elmhurst, Illinois.  The death certificate indicated she had the breast cancer for four years.  At that time there was not much treatment available for the disease.

Emma Primas with sons Otto, Oscar and Frank circa 1927

In the US Census dated 15 April 1930 for Proviso Township, Maywood Village in Cook County Illinois, Millie is enumerated as Millicent A. Primas, age 39, single, sister to the head of household and nothing listed for occupation.  The head of the household is her brother Otto M., age 36, single, a chauffeur (driver) for an ice cream company.  It also indicates that the house is owned with a value of $15,000.  Others in the household are:  Frank W [Waldemar], age 34, single, brother to head of household, and a clerk for an ice cream company; Louise J. Piel, roomer, age 69, widow and her daughter Marie, age 24 years, single, working as a bookkeeper for a wholesale druggist.  They live at 217 N. Second Ave in Maywood.

1930 US Census:  Otto Primas Head of Household

Two interesting items concerning this document:  Otto would marry Marie Piel in 1931 and Millie was arriving on the ship MS Milwaukee in New York on 15 April 1930, having departed from Hamburg Germany on 4 April 1930.  Family recollections indicate that she had gone to visit family in the Posen area of Germany (formerly Prussia) where her parents had been born.  Stories also suggest she had traveled there around 1919 with her mother as well, but I have no documentation for that.

Ship Listing for Mille's arrival in New York 1930

I also had trouble finding Millie in the 1940 Census.  I found all her brothers but not her.  I knew she was in Villa Park at the time, so I went to the 1940 Census for Villa Park, read the district descriptions and choose the one I thought she would be in.  I was correct, however once again the transcription of her surname was not correct!  No wonder I could not find her.

1940 US Census:  Amelia O. Primas Head of Household

On 21 April 1940, Millie is enumerated as Amelia O Primas, head of household at 47 S Villa Avenue, Villa Park in DuPage County, Illinois.  She is listed as 49 years old, single with a sixth grade education.  She is the operator of an ice cream shop.  It also indicates she was living in the same place (Villa Park) in 1935, but not same house.  At the same address and in the same household, there is Cora Sides, 69 year old widow and her daughter-in-law, Hazel Sides, age 38 years, also a widow.  Hazel is listed as a saleslady in a confectionary.  Both are recorded as living in Maywood in 1935. 

I knew that Millie and Hazel Sides were friends.  I found on the 1930 US Census, they lived around the corner from each other in Maywood.  Perhaps they also both belonged the Eastern Star together.

Hazel Sides and Millie, Eastern Star Event Mar 1949
Millie and niece Marilyn Primas,
Eastern Star Event Mar 1949

The building at 47 S Villa Avenue is a commercial building with several store fronts, a precursor to what we call today a “strip mall”.  I am told Millie lived in the back of the ice cream shop.  Later she moved to a house at 209 S Yale Avenue in Villa Park with her brother Fred.  They were the only siblings not married.  Fred died about three months before Millie.  Hazel Sides also lived at the house, perhaps to help care for Millie.

47 S. Villas Avenue, Villa Park, Illinois, circa 2010

Millie’s brothers established the Primas Brothers Ice Cream Company in 1934 at the 47 S. Villa Avenue location.  The ice cream was made in the back of the shop.  They started the business with a five-year contract with the CCC camps south and west of Chicago.  There was also a route that included deliveries to the Brookfield Zoo.  In the front of the building was a small ice cream store which their sister Millie managed.  The manufacturing of the ice cream was moved to 105 W. St Charles Road in Villa Park about 1940-1941. In 1943 the name was changed to Medorose Ice Cream Company. The business remained at the same location until 1959 when it was sold to Schoeps Ice Cream from Madison, Wisconsin.  All the Primas siblings lived in Villa Park while they ran the business and retired when they sold it.  

Medorose Ice Cream Company in Villa Park, Illinois.  The Primas family business.

Besides owning a business together, the Primas family spent a lot of time together.   I have many pictures of family events showing everyone together.

Primas Family, April 1948, probably Easter Sunday.

Millie and her niece Marilyn circa 1956.
They were the only Primas females of their generations.

Villa Park ladies:  Millie Primas, Hazel Sides,
Rose Dreckman, Hazel Primas, late 1940s.

My mother told me that Millie had a double mastectomy due to breast cancer before 1952.  At that time radical mastectomy was the recognized treatment for breast cancer. 

Millie and her great-niece Donna Primas in 1956.

Millie died at Westlake Hospital in Westlake, Illinois on 30 March 1961 at the age of 70 years.

AMELIA PRIMAS – Villa Park Argus, Press Publications, Mar 31, 1961
     Funeral services for Amelia Primas, 70, of 209 S Yale av., Villa Park, will be held Saturday, April 1 at 9:30am in the Johnson Memorial Home, 305 S. Princeton av.  
     The Rev. Harvey C. Lord, pastor of the Christian Church of Villa Park will officiate and interment will be in Mount Emblem cemetery.
     A 28 year resident of Villa Park, Miss Primas died Thursday Mar 30 at Westlake Hospital.  She was born in Chicago.
     Miss Primas was a 50-year member of the Order of the Eastern Star.  She was a charter member of Cleveland Chapter 698 and for 20 years belonged to Villa Park Chapter 963.

1961-03-31 Chicago Tribune (IL)  
Amelia O. Primas of 209 S. Yale avenue, Villa Park, beloved sister of Otto and Frank Primas. Services Saturday, 9:30 a.m., at Johnson Memorial home, 305 S. Princeton, Villa Park. Interment Mount Emblem. Charter member of Cleveland chapter, No. 696, and Villa Park chapter, No. 953, O. E. S.; 50 year member of Eastern Star. TE 4-6656.

Being one of three sisters with no brothers, I am not sure how Millie felt about being the only girl in the family.  She probably had babysitting responsibilities as well as household chores as a young and teenage girl.  The family moved a lot, from rental to rental, especially after the death of her father.  Her brothers went to work early in life to help support the family.  I found no evidence that her mother ever worked outside the home.  Millie may have had a close relationship with her mother and was fortunate to go to visit her parents’ families in Germany, although it may have been a little bit intimidating traveling alone. I am not sure if she learned to speak German at home.  She seemed to have many friends and was active in the Order of Eastern Star.  She was close to her family and appeared to have a good relationship with her sisters-in-law, as well as her niece and nephews.  Perhaps others in the Primas family have memories of her to share.