Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Lunch with the cousins

You know the old saying; "you can choose your friends, but not your family."  The best of both worlds is when you can choose to be friends with your family, and they, you.

My particular family has centered around three places in New York State.  There are, of course, many other places that have significance in our genealogy but for my generation of LaRocks, the preceding and following generation, three places are paramount.   They are Ogdensburg, Morristown and Rochester New York.  The stand-out figures in these communities are Aunt Nellie Montroy, (actually my great aunt, being she was a sister to my grand father, Frank C. LaRock.) who resided her whole life in Ogdensburg New York and it was this homestead that all returned to annually to touch goal so-to-speak.  So then, Ogdensburg is the place where this microscopic view of my ancestry begins.  The second community/home of importance is Morristown, NY and the central figure there would have to be Frank C. LaRock, my paternal grandfather.  Thirdly, we migrate to the city of Rochester and the main character there is undisputedly, Hellen LaRock Mahoney, daughter of Frank C..  For this narrow glimpse of our family history, these people and communities are the weave, warp and weft where we all intersect.

Let's go back a couple of years to the weekend of June 22nd and 23rd, 2013.  Arrangements had been made for a get-together between myself, living in Morristown, NY, and three cousins from Rochester, NY.  The purpose of the visit was to acquaint the cousins with their "beginnings," their roots.  They visited Ogdensburg; the homestead that was Aunt Nellie's and Uncle Ed's place, the French catholic church, and the French cemetery.
The following day I showed them around the small village of Morristown.  The LaRock family moved around a lot; story has it that they were poor and had to move. I don't know if that's true, but that was the story.   We saw the house where uncle Tom, father to two of my visitors (Mary Kay and Barbara) was born, the double house where the family lived when my dad was born and where the family photo was taken on the porch there-of.  We visited the lot where the last house they lived in was located before it was torn down a few years ago.  This is the house where, so the story goes,  Uncle Fran would look out a bedroom window, facing the cemetery, and say "goodnight Mrs. Dake."
Mrs. Dake was the wife of Henry Dake who bought the general store from Frank C.and had died recently.  Aunt Hellen told this story every time she came to visit us in Morristown. Of course we checked out the post office that had been our grand father's general store from circa 1915 to 1925.  This was also the place were our grandmother died, in the apartment over the store, in 1923.  My dad was 3 years old at the time.  We also visited the home shared by spinster, and Morristown librarian Ethel Ackerman and her mother.  Frank C. married Ethel after his wife, Mary, died.
Mary Kay and Barbara, mentioned above, are my first cousins; both were raised in Rochester, NY.  Later their family move to Ohio where Barbara and her family still reside.  The third person in the trio of visitors was Janet, granddaughter of Aunt Hellen LaRock Mahoney.  She also was raised in Rochester and resides there still with her family.
It's unclear to me, or if I knew, I've forgotten, why more than a few of my relatives moved from Ogdensburg/ Morristown to Rochester, but the fact that they did is undisputable.  I suspect the underlying factor was economic as is the case so many times. 
Aunt Hellen was born in Philadelphia, Pa. in 1908.  By the time she was 2, the family was living in Ogdensburg, where her brother Francis was born.  They may have returned to Ogdensburg earlier, I don't know.  She would have been 7 when Frank started operating the general store on Main St. in Morristown in what is now the post office.  In 1925, Hellen graduated valedictorian from Morristown high school.  When she relocated to Rochester, I do not recall, but she married William Mahoney on July 1st, 1929 at St. Bonaface church in Rochester, N.Y..  She remained in Rochester for the remainder of her life raising here immediate family of three children and surrogate mother to a number of her siblings.  A stated above, her mother died in 1923.  Her dad died 1933.
Just as Aunt Nellie and Uncle Ed (they had no children of their own) served as the center of family life in the Ogdensburg/Morristown area, Aunt Hellen was the focal point for the extended family living in Rochester.  Hellen's husband, Bill, died in 1939, leaving her a single mother to raise three children; Bill, 6 years old, Tom, 3 years old, and Eileen, 1 year old.
Bill, Tom, and Eileen lived, married and raised their own families in Rochester.
And that, my friends, is where this story begins. 



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