Thursday, January 28, 2010

Great-Grandpa went to....Allentown???

Don't get me wrong, I don't have anything against Allentown, PA. I've never been there that I know of, I'm afraid my only familiarity comes out of the Billy Joel song.

I don't have any ancestors that lived in Allentown (that I'm aware of), or even in the near vicinity! And this particular family I'm going to talk about was mainly concentrated in Chicago and northern Indiana. So you'll understand my confusion!

Here is the deal:

My great-grandfather was William Domelle. He emigrated from a town in what was the Austro-Hungarian Empire (now contained within the boundaries of modern Romania). I've written of this before.

He arrived at Ellis Island on October 4, 1911 on the Kronprinz Wilhelm. His info on that manifest is as follows:

Name: Vilmos Domele
Age: 28
Point of Departure: Bremen
Ethnicity: German
Born in: Hungary

Here's the manifest showing William and his younger sister Lena arriving in 1911:

And here's the other side of the line in the manifest, showing that they were both heading out to Chicago:

On a side note, he lists his closest relative as his wife, Magda, who is living back in Duleo, Hungary. So, uh, yeah, huh. He is supposed to have married my great-grandmother sometime in 1912 and as we all know, her name is Elizabeth Obendorfer (or so she says). I wonder if a divorce with the first wife actually happened?????? But that's another day's post...

So yes, he did travel on to Chicago from there and several Domelle siblings and cousins settled down in Chicago and northern Indiana.

His naturalization papers all confirm this.

Now, as part of my new year's genealogy resolutions, I've been in an organizing frenzy for the past few weeks. This means I've not been doing much research, but lots of reviewing of what I have. For instance, I keep lots of notes in my genealogy software for each person on info that I've found. I transcribe census records, certificates, etc. rather than just refer to them. It's labor-intensive, but really so handy when I print out my reports because all the info is right there.

In organizing this data (I decided to re-arrange it in order by year it happened), I came across something odd. His naturalization papers note that he was in the US once before: in 1907, he was in "Allentown, PA". For whatever reason, this hadn't jumped out at me before.

So, it turns out that William Domelle, a.k.a. Vilmos Domele, came through Ellis Island twice! It's always been family legend that his mysterious wife Elizabeth Obendorfer (whom I'm now convinced must have been a predecessor to Mata Hari) came over twice, but no one ever mentioned William doing it.

But the information matches!

The name is Vilmos Domele, the arrival date is 21 August 1907, which is 2 years, 10 months before the arrival date listed above. This Vilmos is German, born in Hungary with an age of 24.

(On the subject of age, I really wish that no one ever asked your age, but only your birthdate! People seem to be pretty subjective on what age they give in all these records.)

Anyway, back to the 1907 Vilmos - he arrived at Ellis Island from the port of Fiume on the ship Slavonia.

On the manifest, he states that he's going to Bethlehem, Pa. Again, his closest relative is his wife back in Gataja (see my 03-Jan-2010 post for a previous mention of Gataja). Her name doesn't appear to be "Magda" as in the 1911 manifest, if anything it looks like a form of "Vilmos". Maybe he gave her name as Mrs. Vilmos Domele? I'll have to figure that out later.

I looked it up and Allentown and Bethlehem are only a few miles apart.

But the manifest doesn't say WHO he was going to visit!! Stupid manifest!!!! ARGH! :-D

Because I have NO IDEA why he would have gone to Allentown/Bethlehem.

It crossed my mind to review the 1900 census for Allentown to look for familiar last names, but that's a whole 7 years prior to the date William was there. So that may not be helpful to me. After reviewing wikipedia, it seems that Allentown might have had around 40,000 people in 1907 and Bethlehem around 10,000. Not too big, but definitely not a small town.

It's a mystery! Yet another to add to the whole Domelle/Obendorfer mystery pile.

My only hope is Vilmo's brother Miklos (a.k.a. Nickolaus, a.k.a. Uncle Nick).

Now, Nick came over in June of 1907, but the first census I find him in is 1920 and he's living in Philadelphia with his wife and 2 1/2 year old daughter.

Like a good Domelle though, he does eventually move his little family out to Chicago/Indiana because it couldn't have made sense to have this outlier Domelle family all the way over on the East Coast.

But maybe, Just Maybe, Nick made his way from Ellis Island to Allentown, and then on to Philadelphia.

His name is definitely not spelled typically in any 1910 census because I've not yet been able to find him. But that is my only glimmer of hope at the moment.

Wish me luck!

1 comment:

  1. My great-grandfather came from Germany, through Ellis Island, and on to the Allentown/Bethlehem area. There he met and married my great-grandmother Cecelia around 1916.

    On his naturalization papers (1936, he was widowed by then) he lists a wife "Mary" back in Germany.

    I have no idea who this lady is, or why she is listed over the wife of his children.

    Just one of those things.