|Ray Jerrems, Family Sleuth||
An Author, a Sailor, a Connecticut Connection, a Mystery
In my early research on the Jerrems family I tried to get as much information as possible by using Google. Some of the most intriguing results I got were references to books written by Jerrems C. Hart. I will call him Jerry because that was how he was known (sound familiar?). But who was Jerry? Would he open up a whole new area of research on the Jerrems family in the US?
Continue reading, for a story of “mystery and intrigue”. It is also a story, typical of my genealogical research on the Jerrems family, of a trickle of information turning eventually into a flood.
At the “trickle” end of the scale he appeared to have written 2 books on the subject of boating in the Caribbean and the Bahamas. One was published in 1976 and was titled “A Cruising Guide to the Caribbean and the Bahamas: Including the North Coast of of South America, Central America and Yucatan”. The other book was on a very similar subject (or it could merely have been a revision of the first book), and was first published in 1982, titled “Cruising Guide to the Caribbean and the Bahamas”.
Jerry was the sole author of the first book and co- author with William T Stone of the second book. The second book was reprinted a number of times in hard cover, with about 570 pages, and there was possibly a soft-covered edition by Penguin.
The number of bookshop websites listing the books showed that they were very popular.
A further website referred to him as being a foundation member of the American Yachting Club, formed in 1967. He was in illustrious company, another foundation member being the actor John Wayne, better known for galloping across the prairies in Wild West films. The club’s headquarters are on Marcos Island, Florida. I emailed the Club to see if they had more information on him but received no reply (not unusual).
He called himself “Jerry”, according to a research team interested in locating old shipwrecks.
Further delving by me a few years later revealed that his middle name was Chamberlain, that he was born in Litchfield, Connecticut in about 1911, and that he died in 1993 in Vero Beach, County of Indian River, Florida.
Over this period I had been surmising as to where he fitted into the Jerrems family. I had not previously located any other Jerrems connections in Connecticut so I hoped that perhaps he might open up a whole new vista of research on the Jerrems family! For instance it is not uncommon for sons to be given their mother’s maiden name (or an earlier relative on their maternal side) as a Christian name. Examples in the Jerrems family are Richard Jerrems Rizzo and Armand Jerrems Duvannes.
It therefore occurred to me that perhaps his mother or grandmother was a Jerrems.
Leila Menzies, one of our readers, did some sleuthing work. Leila and I “met” through a genealogical website, she is related to Mary Bell who married Alexander Nicholl Jr., but that is another story (her photo was in the Christmas 2005 edition of our Newsletter).
Thanks to Leila this is when the trickle of information turned into a flood.
Leila’s research showed that our mysterious Jerry’s parents were Walter Henry Hart and Louise Chamberlain Hart and he had a brother Valentine and sister Virginia. His father’s parents were William H and Martha E (born in the 1830s) and his mother’s parents were Valentine B Chamberlain and Anna. His mother had 7 siblings. All these people were born in Connecticut.
Not a “Jerrems” to be seen! Clearly he was not therefore named after an earlier family member.
Back to the drawing board.
Adding to the flood of information, Leila also discovered that Jerry lived with his parents in 1920 and 1930 in New Britain, Connecticut and that his parents and grandparents had lived there since the 1880s (as a minimum). She also found a cryptic reference to a Reata K Hart who died in Vero Beach, Florida in 1986 (possibly Jerry’s wife). Jerry was listed in a 1954 Watertown (Connecticut) City Directory with her. He was described in it as a salesman.
My mind cast back to other possible sources for the name “Jerrems”. Possibly Jerry’s father worked for Jerrems Tailors somewhere and named him after the firm. One of our Jerrems family in the US related to me an account of how a storeman employed by Jerrems Tailors had done this.
Not as silly as it sounds when you remember how James Jerrems acquired the name Jerrems His Polish grandfather worked opposite a Jerrems Tailors store in Chicago, giving him the idea that he would change his surname to Jerrems.
Or perhaps Jerry’s father bought his suits by mail order from Jerrems Tailors and wished to show his appreciation (just joking).
The basic problem with these theories was that at that stage I had not found any “Nicoll the Tailor” stores (later taken over by the Jerrems family) or Jerrems Tailors store in the State of Connecticut. But some time later I turned up a number of trade cards on eBay referring to a “Nicoll the Tailor” store in Hartford, Connecticut (ominously, the store was in Asylum Street). In fact that store had been very prolific in the number of different cards issued. New Britain is only 15 km (10 miles) by rail from Hartford. This raises the distinct possibility that Jerry’s father had worked for the Jerrems family (commuting daily from New Britain to Hartford) or the family had formed a close friendship with a member of the Jerrems family.
If Jerry and Reata had had a family they may know the origin of his first Christian name. Probably they would be the only people who would know. But the surname “Hart” is very popular (there are over 20 in Vero Beach alone), making searching for his children laborious.
So, in conclusion, there is more “mystery” than “intrigue” about Jerry. We have obtained an interesting array of information but ultimately it has come to a dead end for the purpose of finding an explanation for his name. But at least I have established that his family does not trace back to the Jerrems family.
I bet Jerry is up there in that great boat marina in the sky having a good laugh. Would he say that we are “all at sea” about his name?
Ah, such is life for a family researcher who lives in far off Australia! Perhaps one day something will show up, as has often happened for me before.
|Donald Jerrems, Quizmaster||
Results from Last Month's Quiz
1. From Edition 5, October 2005: What is the Jerrems Spur (named after famed explorer Ray Jerrems)?
In the mountain range west of Nowra, which is on the coast about 100 miles south of Sydney. 12 correct
A western-styled saloon on Main Street in Hobart. 0
Mountain lodge and resort on north side of Mount Hoodwink. 0
Everyone got this one correct.
2. From Edition 6, November 2005: Who visited a second hand clothing store in Chicago and saw a very nice suede jacket. When he looked at it more closely he saw from the label that it had been made by Jerrems Tailors in Chicago.
Dan Jerrems (son of Jeanne) who found it. But did he buy it? 4 correct
Donald the Third, when he was in town and needed to dress up for a party. 0
Kim when she was trying to find a Christmas gift for Steven. 8 incorrect
The correct answer is Dan Jerrems. We still do not know if he purchased the coat.
3. From Edition 6: Who is the belly dancer featured in the poster of Dark Odyssey (1957)?
Rosemary Torri as Helen Vassos 4 correct
Jeanne Jerrems as Niki Vassos 5
Marilyn Monroe as herself 3
Sophia Loren as ChaCha Mama 0
The correct answer is Rosemary Torri. Jeanne laments that her image didn't make into the film poster, even though she had the starring role.
4. From Edition 7, Thanksgiving 2005: A total of four generations of Jerrems families (spanning over 140 years) lived in these two places, the particular significance of this being that most Jerrems readers trace back to those families.
Sydney and Chicago 8
Gainesville and Stowe-by-Willingham 1
Gainsborough and Willingham-by-Stowe 3
The intended answer was Gainsborough and Willingham-by-Stowe; however Sydney and Chicago would almost qualify, but the migration didn't begin until the 1890's, so the span is not 140 years.
1. The January issue was fun for me. I was at the funeral with Mary, of course, and I recall a lovely dark- haired girl, taller than I, silent, who did not cry (I did, not having been brought up on Arthur's stiff upper lip theory of life). I had forgotten about Leonore's being an established painter! Beautiful stuff! Love to all, Caty/Jeanne
2. Good quiz.
Surprise Email from a Distant Relative
This past week I received the following email:
Wollensak Ancestors Date: Tue, 20 Feb 2007 23:38:17
Dear Mr. or Mrs. Jerrams,
I found your interesting and funny Jerrams family newsletter on the Internet. In one edition, you mention that Donald Edwin Jerrams III has information on the family tree of Rosalind Wollensak born March 27, 1882 in Illinois.
I was just wondering if you could tell me Donald Edwin´s e-mail so that I can contact him or forward my e-mail to him. I would like to find out if his Wollensak ancestors are related to mine. My Wollensak relatives in the Chicago area originally came from Vollmaringen in Germany.
Many thanx and friendly regards,
Berlin, Germany ================================
We exchanged a few emails during the week. Here is a composite:
I live in Berlin, Germany. I am an ophthalmologist. It would be very interesting which Wollensak branch your ancestors were from. Did they maybe come from Chicago, Watertown (WI), Albany (NY) or Iowa? There were several branches.I would need more details.
I think I found Rosalind Wollensak. I guess she was the daughter John Florian Wollensak b. in 1847 and his wife Josephine Hoerber. His grandfather Moritz W. b. in 1777 was the brother of my ancestor Conrad W. b. in 1773. Wow, so we would be connected if this is correct. Could you please check your Wollensak data and let me know. Hopefully we can exchange further data so that our family trees become more complete.
I am looking forward to your answer.
With friendly regards, Gregor Wollensak ================================
I finally found the paperwork in the closet. I received this family tree information in 1969 from out of the blue. The man, Gerald F. Hoerber, who prepared the research was from Delta, British Columbia, Canada.
I will give you a brief summary from the several pages I have from his research.
The Descendants of John Leonard Hoerber I (b. Oct 24, 1821 - July 3, 1898) who married Theresa Susbauer Oct 7, 1824 - August 22, 1884.
They had seven children, including Josephine Wollensak July 11, 1851 - Sept 9, 1945 who married J.F. Wollensak.
Joseph and J.F Wollensak had three children, although only two (Florian and Walter) are shown on one page; it appears a third child Rosalind is a sibling. Florian and Walter changed their name from Wollensak to Wallace.
Rosalind (birthdate unknown, died 1941) married Donald Edwin Jerrems I (died 1930). The Jerrems tree is well documented by our family genealogist, Ray Jerrems from Sydney, AU.
I would be pleased to send more if it would be of assistance to fill in any gaps.
Huntersville, North Carolina
I am glad you found the papers. Thanks a lot.
Sure, now that I know we are connected I would like to obtain more information and would also like to be added to your subscription list.
I can give you your Wollensak tree back to around 1660 if you are interested.
My questions would be:
-Why did Walter and Florian adopt the name Wallace? Did maybe Josephine Hoerber marry another husband after John Wollensak died on Apr 4 1911 because she died only on Sep 9, 1945? Was his last name Wallace?
-Could you give me the line of your Jerrems ancestors as far as you got back?
-Do you know where the Hoerbers came from ? Their name seems to be German.
-How far can you trace back your Wollensak ancestors? I would especially be interested if you know whether the father of your ancestor J.F. Wollensak II. b. in Albany, NY on 9/6/1847 , namely John Florian Wollensak I. b. on 4/28/1813 in Vollmaringen , Germany, was married twice. First to Philippina Waechter in Albany NY on 7/19/1838 and later to Pauline Wolff in Illinois in 1855?
I am not 100% sure if the John Wollensaks that were married to Philippina Waechter and Pauline Wolff are really identical but I think so because they were both born in Württemberg in 1813, both emigrated to the US in 1832 and both were locksmiths. This information would be very important for me in case you know something about this connection.
-Do you have any information on the fate of the descendants of the siblings of your John Florian Wollensak II i.e. for example the descendants of Adolphus Charles Wollensak b. in Albany on 9/2/1841?
Do you know if Rosalind has anything to do with the so-called "Wollensack" building in Chicago which was built in 1892? There are many different spellings of the Wollensak name. For example Wollensack, Wallensak, Woolensack or in older times Wollensagg or Wollensackh. Woolensack is the name of the Chicago building.
-Yes, I would like to have contact with your genealogist in Australia.
I wish you a nice Sunday. Many thanks in advance.
With friendly regards, Gregor
|Ray and Laurel||
Sorry, No We Can't!
Neither Ray or Laurel have been able to definitely identify anyone, Yet Laurel's mother had it in her glory box (so it must relate to Laurel's family somehow). Unfortunately we don't remember you, but thanks for the thought.
Editor's Note: I increased the size of the image. It is hard to figure out who the wedding couple is. Most of the men have a healthy hairline, unlike the current Jerrems line. I do not see Old Ray, the Family Ghost; he must not have crashed this gathering.
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