Friday, January 5, 2018

52 Ancestors – Week 1 – Start

Harry J. Nunn and Mary (Doyle) Nunn
It was not difficult to decide how I would start my 52 Ancestors challenge. It was in 1997 that I felt I had to learn more about my grandfather, Harry J. Nunn.  Little did I know at that time what an incredible journey he would take me on.

I first wrote the New York City Municipal Archives for my grandparent’s marriage certificate. He stated his father was Joseph Nunn, his mother Katherine “Stiebert.” I then spent years looking for a Nunn-Stiebert connection. It wasn’t until the 1910 census came online, and I had a little more experience under my belt, that I noticed there were “Nunn” children living with their brother-in-law, Louis "Seibert." This was my aha moment. My grandfather had stated on his marriage license that his mother’s maiden name was actually the married name (spelled wrong) of his oldest sister, Elizabeth! But his doing that, although it wasted years of my research time, provided the crucial piece of information to tie my grandfather to his siblings.

My research took me to the streets of Manhattan in the year 1900, when eleven children had been born to Joseph Nunn and Catherine (Kurtz) Nunn, then to St. Josephs Home in Peekskill, New York where my grandfather and his siblings were sent after their father died, and their mother was sent to the Manhattan Psychiatric Institution in June 1900.

I wrote againt to the NYC Municipal Archives for his birth certificate to confirm his parent’s names. I sent another request for one of his siblings, Emma, to make sure they were siblings. And they were, even with the same midwife.

My grandfather received a good education at St. Joseph’s Home, and he did well in his life. He passed his civil service test with flying colors (NYT article), and worked his whole career as a City of New York auto engine man. He had also driven trucks, and so I believe the family lore is true that he was a chauffeur for Mayor LaGuardia—I think that at least on one occasion my grandfather drove the mayor somewhere during my grandfather's twenty-plus career with the City of New York. What bragging rights that would be for a poor family from the Bronx.

I have written a monograph on Harry Nunn and His Family, so there is much, much more to this story. One fact is that his birth name was not Harry, but Ignortz. By 1900 he was listed as “Henry.” But we knew him as Harry, and better known as our “Pop.”

Love you, Pop. Thank you for taking me on this incredible journey.

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