|Ray Jerrems, Investigative Reporter||
Shocking Misbehavior and Disregard for the Law
Recently Editor Donald sent me a newspaper article which he had found on fultonhistory.com dating back to November 1910. The article referred to a Miss Helen Jerrems of Chicago, who had been fined for not paying import duty on some clothing she had brought back from overseas. He asked me if I knew who she was. There was little in the article for me to go on, but I knew of two people named Helen Jerrems, one aged 7 in 1910, the other one aged about 43.
Then I came across the following article about the same event: LEARNS CUSTOM RULES ARE SERIOUS
NEW YORK. Oct. 28. The lesson that the government customs regulations are to be "taken seriously" was learned at considerable expense this afternoon by Miss Helen Jerrems, who gave her address as the Hotel Metropole, Chicago. Miss Jerrems, arriving from Europe with her mother, declared $220 worth of dutiable goods, but inspectors found, in addition, gowns and presents intended for friends valued at $928. Miss Jerrems was asked if she had read the warning that forfeiture of goods and imprisonment were the penalties for failure to make a proper declaration.
"Yes, I read that: but really, I did not take it seriously." She said. "Besides, the voyage was rough and I was seasick most of the way over."
Surveyor Henry ordered the undeclared goods seized, disallowed the usual $100 exemption for free entry, and fixed the duty and penalties that Miss Jerrems must pay at $1800.
Donald's article attributed a different statement to Helen, who "When arraigned before Special Deputy Burveyor Smyths, blithely declared that she "didn't think the regulations meant anything serious."
Wow! The authorities had certainly taken a dim view of Helen's little peccadillo. The sum of $1800 payable by her was an enormous sum (possibly $200,000 in today's terms). Maybe the authorities thought that if the generous Helen could afford to spend over $900 on clothes and presents she could afford to pay $1800 to the Government. It also seems that she would not have got the seized items back.
Helen had obviously travelled in style also. Her ship was the "Oceanic". At 17000 tons the ship had been the world's largest liner in 1899-1901.
Donald's article indicated that the authorities were having a crackdown, so perhaps Helen was a little unlucky getting caught.
In her casual approach to the law Helen had something in common with her sister-in-law Genevieve, who had been fined for speeding some years earlier. Readers may remember that an equally impenitent Genevieve was fined for speeding in the town of Glencoe north of Chicago, however she was only fined seventy dollars. (JJ Edition#1, June 2005)
Who was Helen?
But who was this Helen? Although her correct name was Hellen most of the records refer to her as Helen, so for the sake of simplicity I will call her Helen also. It was obvious that the seven year old Helen could be ruled out, but there was still a possibility that Helen was someone I had not previously located. However the reference to Miss Jerrems returning from Europe with her mother (absent from the article located by Donald) gave me a valuable lead. I looked up the Passenger Records for arrivals in 1910 at Ellis Island, the entry point at New York. I found that Helen Jerrems had returned from Europe in 1910, and a Mary Jerrems was on the same ship. The Helen I knew of had a mother named Mary, so this confirmed the identity of Helen.
So what do we know about Helen/Hellen? She was born in Sydney, Australia in 1870, with the middle name Elizabeth. Her parents were William George Jerrems (born in Gainsborough, England in 1843 and Mary (nee Nicholl, probably born in London in about 1847). Unlike her siblings (William George, Alexander Nicholl, Arthur Wallace, Mae, Annie Letitia and Donald Edwin) she never married, dying in 1943 in Orange, near Los Angeles.
Helen's Early Years
Helen spent some of her childhood years in Australia and England before the family finally settled in Chicago in the early 1880s. Her father took over a sizeable portion of his father-in-law's "Nicoll the Tailor" empire, a very lucrative enterprise. Her parents quickly settled into Chicago society and became prominent in that society, frequently giving parties (known as "receptions") and attending dinners. Helen's father belonged to a number of clubs, also.
No doubt Helen, as the eldest daughter (by a considerable margin, Mae and Annie were 9 and 12 years younger) would have assisted her mother at the receptions and other functions. Her younger sister Annie attended a "School for Young Ladies" (known as a finishing school) so it is very likely that Helen had previously done likewise in the late 1880s. Helen's brothers also became prominent.
In the 1890s William George and Arthur Wallace featured in the social scene, belonging to many clubs, and Alexander Nicholl became famous as a gridiron player. The family spent the summer holidays in fashionable places like Green Lake and Lake Geneva, where Helen's father owned a house.
How do I know all this? I took out a subscription to a website (genealogybank.com) which, like fultonhistory.com, has an enormous number of newspaper records. However it covers a wider area, including Chicago. I obtained about 1160 hits for Jerrems, a number of which were from the social pages, covering every facet of Chicago social life in minute detail. I soon found the problem that Helen was named "Helen", "Nellie" or "Miss Jerrems", but later when her sisters were in their teens the references were to "Misses Jerrems". This left it to me to guess whether Helen was included in that term. One particular reference to Helen surprised me. In 1895 she took part in a fund raising function organised by St Agatha's Womens Guild, dressing up as an English woman. Google tells me that this is a Catholic Church (still existing) founded in 1893. The reason for my surprise was that her father belonged to the Masonic Club and in 1892 was a parishioner of Reverend William White Wilson (a Protestant title).
Helen's Later Years
Helen dropped out of sight in the late 1890s and the early 1900s. She seems to have alternated between living in Chicago and in Pasadena (near Los Angeles) with her younger sister Mae. Her father died in 1905 and her mother died in the late 1920s so it is likely that when she was in Chicago she mainly lived with her mother, particularly after her father's death. Helen received a larger proportion of her mother's large estate than her siblings, possibly indicating that she helped look after her mother in her later years.
Helen's disingenuous statement that she did not take the regulations seriously could have led a casual reader to assume that she had not travelled overseas before. But in fact she had travelled extensively. Here is a list of her known travels:
(a) 1890 Seven months travelling in Wales and the Continent by Helen,
(b) 1891 Four months tour on the Continent by Jerrems family (presumably including Helen),
(c) 1892 Winter at Alexandria and Cairo, followed by time in the summer resorts of France, England, Wales and Scotland, by Helen,
(d) 1893 Trip to England by "Misses Jerrems" (presumably including Helen),
(e) Trips to the Bahamas (1906) (probably a stopover on a Europe trip), England (1907 and 1910), and France (1922).
(f) In addition, it is likely that she travelled to England on earlier unrecorded occasions with her family to visit her mother's siblings.
For Naughty Nellie the moral to the story was, no doubt, that she should have taken the regulations a little more seriously. Little did she know that almost a century later her story would catch the eye of a distant relative (the great grandson of her Uncle Charles) and form the centrepiece of an article in the Jerrems Journal.
We do not have a photo of Helen yet. Perhaps, one of
our readers will send one in to us. No mug shots,
In Their Resting Place
In June Sandra and her daughter Sarah visited the vast Forest Hill Cemetery at Utica (an hour's drive from where they live) and made an amazing discovery.
They located a large family plot (there are 17 related graves in it) which appears to have been purchased by James Jerrems at about the time his first wife (Ann) died. In the photo we see Sandra next to the grave of the long lost Civil War veteran Jesse Jerrems. I had suspected for some years that Jesse had died soon after the Civil War. Sandra's discovery of his gravestone now confirms to my satisfaction that he died in 1866, solving one of the great Jerrems family mysteries.
Readers may recall from the article about James in the July Journal that Jesse was the son of James, who was in turn the brother of Sandra's great great grandfather Joseph. Jesse was therefore Sandra's great great uncle (don't try to work this out, take my word for it).
Jesse's gravestone and an unrelated gravestone in the background are marked with Stars and Stripes national flags placed by the Veteran's Association, a touching tribute to the memory of these veterans (Sandra had taken a flag to put on Jesse's grave but found when she got there that the gravestone already had a flag).
Sandra's search of the plot and subsequent research at the cemetery office brought to light a lot of information, some confirming or correcting our previous guesswork, and some raising new mysteries.
From Sandra's perspective the fact that at least one of the children of her great great grandfather Joseph and his wife Sarah had been buried in the "James" plot confirmed two important points. The first was that our assumption that James and Joseph were the same people as the brothers Sandra had located in Wappenham in England was correct. The second was that James and Joseph (and their families) had been in touch with each other after they had migrated from England. Sandra does not have much information about Joseph, so items like this could help her in her research.
An interesting coincidence is that Sandra's daughter is named Sarah, which we now know was the name of Sandra's great great grandmother (the wife of Joseph). Naturally Sandra and her husband knew nothing of Joseph and his wife at the time their daughter was born.
I will write further about the results of Sandra's research, but at this juncture I will leave our readers to reflect on the sylvan setting shown in the photo and to join me in a heartfelt wish to the numerous Jerrems ancestors in the plot "may they rest in peace".
|Angie, The Jerrems Family Guardian Angel||
Keeping Track of What's Going On
In January I was appointed the Guardian Angel for the Jerrems Family. My office is Up There.
Your family is my first appointment as a GA. The Jerrems Family account is a small one, so I will be able to give you personalized service. According to my GA handbook, my mission statement is: "Don't let them do anything incredibly stupid."
I am pleased to report that I have been able to meet my objectives with one exception.
For most of the year, I have been able to contain that
pesky family ghost, Old Ray. He is really hard
to keep up with because he is so wispy and
Past Editions of the Jerrems Journal ©
Back to Jerrems Home