Remembrance Day: Thomas Foy

poppyIf the saying that “war is hell” is true, then the Battle of the Somme in World War I was the perfect example of this hell. On the first day of the battle, 1 July 1916, there were 57,000 casualties, and the battle would drag on until 18 November 1916. Within a week, the battle was at a standstill with Germans, French and British forces grinding it out in a maze of trench warfare.

It was at the end of the first week that the Monmouthshire Regiment was thrown into action as a pioneer regiment, which meant that they were to create the trenches and defensive positions used by the fighting force. Monmouthshire, Wales was a mining region, and the engineering skills of the miners-turned-soldiers made them well suited for the task. In this regiment was Thomas Foy, a 37-year old sergeant who had been called to serve.

Thomas was the brother of my great great grandmother, Bridget Foy Groucutt. While Bridget and several siblings immigrated to the United States, Thomas remained in England. On 5 June 1915, with the war well underway, he embarked to France with the 3rd Battalion, Monmouthshire Regiment.

They found themselves at the Somme in July 1916 under withering artillery fire. On 7 July 1916, on the front lines, Sergeant Foy found himself just a few feet from his company’s commanding officer, Captain J. Merton Jones, who wrote in the casualty report:

I believe [Thomas Foy] was killed as I saw a shell (believed to be a 5.9) pitch, as it appeared to me in the night,  full upon him. I was about 2 to 3 yards from him and a minute previously had been [?] to him. Sever others pitched in the same spot afterwards and then getting away the wounded, I could not find Foy then, nor afterwards, neither did any man or stretcher-bearer help him to any Dressing Station. I therefore believe he was killed.

 

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My third-great-uncle Thomas Foy was killed at the Battle of the Somme on 7 July 1916, one of over 95,000 British soldiers to die on this French battlefield. He is buried at the Mill Road Cemetery in Thiepval, France.

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Source:
“British Army WWI Service Records, 1914-1920,” images, Fold3 (https://www.fold3.com/image/510132225 : accessed 13 Nov 2016), record for Thomas Foy, 3rd Monmouthshire Regiment, page 325; National Archives of the UK, London, England.

Photo of the Day – March 23, 2015

I can’t put a specific date or location on this photo, but my grandmother Jean Groucutt Lowry and her mother-in-law Margaret Pepperney Lowry look to be on a road trip. They probably stopped for gas or a quick bite to eat and one of their husbands asked for a quick photo. Neither looks particularly happy to be posing for the camera.
Source:
Mary Margaret Pepperney Lowry (1902-1980) and Jean Groucutt Lowry (1924-1986), photograph, taken at unknown location, in late 1940s; digital image, photocopy of original, scanned in 2013 by Joseph Lowry; privately held by Mary McCaffrey, [address for private use], Canton, Ohio. Two women standing in front of a restaurant. Provenance is Charles Lowry to Mary McCaffrey.

Photo of the Day – January 15, 2015

This is my grandmother Jean Groucutt Lowry around 1940.
This is post number 200 to my blog. Thanks for reading!

Source:
Jean Groucutt Lowry (1924-1987), photograph, taken at unknown location, in about 1940; digital image, photocopy of original, scanned in 2013 by Joseph Lowry; privately held by Mary McCaffrey, [address for private use], Canton, Ohio. Portrait of woman in white shirt with wide collar. Provenance is Charles Lowry to Mary McCaffrey.

Photo of the Day – January 9, 2015

According to news reports, gladioli and larkspur graced the altar for the wedding of my great-aunt Kathleen Groucutt and Bob Sullivan on 13 Jul 1946. Kathleen’s sister, my grandmother Jean (Lowry), was maid of honor. Bob’s friend Phil Welsh served as best man. Kathleen and Bob were married at Saint Columba Cathedral by Rev. James Malone. Fr. Malone would become bishop of the Diocese of Youngstown in 1968.

Sentimental Sunday – Healthcare News

This story was written by my uncle Chuck Lowry and shared with his siblings. It’s published here with permission.

I thought with all the healthcare news around, I would offer three pieces of healthcare trivia from the Groucutt clan.

* Uncle Dickie was in the army, though I was a very small child at the time. I recall that Mother and Daddy Groc had a picture of him, in uniform, on a table in their living room on Elm Street, an apartment I think most of you will not remember. A bunch of the aunts and uncles were around, and I looked at the picture and said, “Oh, Uncle Dickie was in the army. Where was he shot?” That occasioned a great deal of hilarity. I don’t know any more about Dick’s military service now than I did then, but he didn’t get shot, thank God. In my defense, who was the only soldier I knew at that time? Dad. Who did get shot.

* It was in that same apartment on Elm Street that mom (Jean Groucutt Lowry) fell, heavily, when very pregnant. I’m not sure which baby she was carrying at the time, but if I had to guess, I would say Mary or Joan. We were there on a late Sunday morning or early Sunday afternoon, and mom went upstairs to use the bathroom. The stairs, as I recall, were somewhat winding and were linoleum-covered. On her way downstairs, she tripped or slipped or something two or three steps from the bottom and broke her shoulder. I remember seeing her lying on the floor in a black and white maternity dress. Isn’t it amazing what you remember? Anyway, the ambulance came and took her to St. E’s, where her shoulder was tended to. Does anybody remember that?

* If my Latin is good enough to read a simple inscription, I can tell you that St.Columba Cathedral was destroyed by fire (incendio destructa) in 1954 and rebuilt (reaedificata) in 1956. Daddy Groc was a volunteer bookkeeper at the cathedral. At some point before the fire–because I remember that it was at the old cathedral, not the new one–he tripped going down the stone steps and broke his kneecap. He was in the hospital for a couple days and walked with crutches for some time after that.

Ah, the memory bank.

Sources:
Charles Lowry, Brooklyn, New York, [e-mail for private use], to Lowry Family e-mail, 2 Jul 2012, “Heath Care Notes,” Local Folders: Genealogy : Bloggable!; privately held by Joe Lowry, [e-mail &address for private use], Sterling, VA, 2012.

Newspapers.Com Is Newest Tool In My Toolkit!

I’ve been pretty quiet on the blog lately, but that’s because my genealogy research has been moving along at full steam and I can’t find the time to write! I recently obtained a subscription to Newspapers.com and have spent countless hours searching their vast archive of newspapers. Included in that archive are over 100 years of New Castle, Pennsylvania papers and several decades of East Liverpool, Ohio papers. As my paternal family spent many years in or around those two cities, I’m finding great articles covering births, deaths, baptisms, birthday parties and weddings. The Groucutts, in particular, were a very well written about family.
For the last two years, I maintained a subscription to GenealogyBank.com. GenealogyBank is also a newspaper archive site but had very little material for the regions of the country where my ancestors lived. In fact, in going through my saved records, I can find only two GenealogyBank articles of any use. Meanwhile, I searched for the surname ‘Groucutt’ and located almost 525 records in Pennsylvania newspapers alone. Most of those are from New Castle and almost exclusively the mentions belong to my ancestors. 

Over the next few months, I’ll try and do a regular feature with some of the newspaper articles I’ve located. Some include content that would never pass muster in today’s news. Thanks to modern journalistic standards and medical privacy laws (such as HIPAA), I doubt any legitimate newspaper would publish an article detailing a nervous breakdown of someone, let alone someone who is 14 years old as Mary Groucutt was when this article was published:

Sources:
“Rogan Groucutt Wedding, October 22”, New Castle [PA] News, 13 Oct 1913, page 3; online index and digital image, Newspapers.com (http://www.newspapers.com : accessed 24 Nov 2014), Newspaper Archives, 1700s-2000s.

“Ms. Annie Connor”, New Castle [PA] Weekly Herald, 1 Jun 1904, page 2; online index and digital image, Newspapers.com (http://www.newspapers.com : accessed 24 Nov 2014), Newspaper Archives, 1700s-2000s.

“Social News”, New Castle [PA] News, 6 Apr 1914, page 3; online index and digital image, Newspapers.com (http://www.newspapers.com : accessed 24 Nov 2014), Newspaper Archives, 1700s-2000s.

Those Places Thursday – A Geography of the North Side

This story was written by my uncle Chuck Lowry and shared with his siblings. It’s published here with permission.

When Chris was a babe in arms, we moved to 607 [Mansell Drive]. Here is my recollection of the distribution at that time.

Barbara and Dave Roberts lived at 135 New York Avenue, in a house I remember for its back stoop. I can remember Aunt Barbara sitting on that back stoop shelling peas. I must have been seven or eight years old. The front porch had a pole in the middle of it. I suppose it might have been a support for an awning, but I cannot be sure. I remember two of their neighbors, the Ash family and the Judge family.

Dorothy and Bob Schell lived at 81 Saranac, They were right down the street from the Elm Beverage Shop, on Elm Street near Saranac. Grandpa used to go there, and the proprietor was named Jack Daley. Jack had a container of pretzels on the counter, and whenever I went in there with grandpa, Jack gave me two pretzel rods. I believe Jack was killed in a robbery. [Ed Note: Jack Daley owner of Elm Beverage, was lucky enough to die a natural death.] One year someone in the Schell family got a small peep at Easter time. Now they are mostly dead or given away in a week or two, but not this one. By the end of the summer it was huge. I don’t recall what happened to it. Across the street from the Schells lived Sally Lowry, who was in my class every year at St. Ed’s, it seems. We were not related but she ended up working a couple summers at the custard shop.

Ruth and Joe Callahan lived on Madison, between Bryson (Ursuline) and Elm Street (fire station, which was the main fire station until they built the one downtown in (I vaguely recall) the early 1960’s. Uncle Joe worked on the railroad. After Ruthie and Joe (two children, each one named after a parent) moved out, Ruth and Joe moved to Elm Street, between Tod Lane and Benita.

Virginia and Johnny Naples lived on Florencedale, I think not far off Thornton, toward the north. They then moved to Fifth Avenue, two houses (when they moved, but soon three houses) north of Mansell Drive. They had a dog named Mickey, and the Eidelmans, who lived next door toward Mansell, had a dog named Prince, and Mickey and Prince fought occasionally but not always. Sylvan Eidelman, Jackie and Jimmy Naples and I used to sit around and discuss the Untouchables, with Robert Stack as Eliot Ness. It was on at 10:00 on Wednesday nights and took some maneuvering to watch because it was late on a school night. We were eventually joined by Jeff and Jay Martin whose family moved into the house next to Eidelmans, next to the corner of Mansell Drive. Jimmy Naples was a year older than I was. Jeff Martin was his age and Jay was a year younger than I was, the year between Pat and me. On the northwest corner of Mansell and Fifth lived the Gross family. Each year they walked to the synagogue on Yom Kippur.

The Sullivans, of course, lived in Cleveland. I do not recall where, except that it was Christ the King parish. For decades, whenever I saw anyone wear a Calvin Klein cap, I wondered if they were from the Sullivans’ parish. When we would go to baseball games in Cleveland (it was rare; because of Daddy Groc and Uncle Dickie, Pittsburgh was a more frequent destination for baseball), I always begged to be able to stay for a couple days at the Sullivan house. The answer was usually no, but it occasionally became yes once I was old enough to have Uncle Bob put me on the train from Cleveland to Youngstown in a form of captivity known as “conductor’s care.”

Uncle Dick got out of the army and went back to live with Mother and Daddy Groc on Elm Street, just south of Bissell Avenue, near the park. Daddy Groc used to love to walk in Wick Park, every day, and always in a white shirt and tie, even after he retired. After Louise stole Dick’s heart, Mother and Daddy Groc moved to Cordova, just across from Harding and Rayen. Mother Groc hated to stay alone, so after Daddy Groc died (April 1967) the families took a week at a time sending someone to stay. There was a roll-away cot in the living room. You would just be getting off to sleep when you would be doused with a splash of holy water–Mother Groc blessing the four corners of the room.

Source:
Charles Lowry, Brooklyn, New York, [e-mail for private use], to Lowry Family e-mail, 27 Nov 2014, “My Forgetful Self: A Geography of the North Side,” Local Folders: Genealogy : Bloggable!; privately held by Joe Lowry, [e-mail &address for private use], Sterling, VA, 20165.

The Tragic Deaths of William Pepperney and William Groucutt

Two little boys who lived just 50 miles apart. The same age and sadly, the same cause of death. These two death certificates tell of the very sad deaths of William A Pepperney and William Groucutt Jr. 
William Groucutt and William Pepperney were born a few months apart. They were both no doubt the apple of their parents eyes. They were the first son in each family, expected to carry on the family name. Sadly, it was not meant to be. After a brief illness, both died from what is today a very manageable disease – pneumonia.
William A Pepperney was born on 26 December 1919 to Andrew and Magdalena Pepperney. He is my first cousin, three times removed. The Pepperneys lived, ironically, on Lowrie Street, in the Troy Hill neighborhood of Pittsburgh. Andrew was a pipe fitter and Lena kept the house. William was their second child, following a daughter Savilla three years prior.
At just 15 months, Andrew contracted pneumonia. It probably started as bronchitis or influenza however this was before antibiotics could have provided any relief. Antivirals and vaccines to treat or prevent the flu did not yet exist either. According to the death certificate, Wiliam Pepperney was attended to by Doctor J.F. Thomas from 29 March until his death on 31 March. He had probably been ill for days prior but it finally reached a severity where his parents felt the need to contact a doctor. At 2:30 p.m. in 31 March, 1921, little William died of complications from pneumonia. This no doubt was devastating to his family. He is buried in Most Holy Name Cemetery in Troy Hill.
Just 50 miles away in New Castle, Pennsylvania lived the Groucutts. William and Tillie Groucutt had two daughters before William Jr was born on 29 February 1919. William Jr is my first cousin, twice removed. William Sr. worked in the steel mills while Tillie was a homemaker. Tragically, William Groucutt would not live to see his first birthday. Sometime in late January he probably contracted influenza or bronchitis. By 2 February, his symptoms were so severe as to warrant a doctor’s attention and Doctor Davis was called. Sadly, on 3 February he too would die of pneumonia.
William was buried at Saint Mary’s Cemetery in New Castle on 5 February 1920. He was only 11 months old.

Source:
Pennsylvania Department of Health, “Pennsylvania, Death Certificates, 1906-1944,” database, Ancestry.com (http://www.ancestry.com: accessed 19 Oct 2014), entry for William A Groucutt, record 20022 (3 Feb 1920).

Pennsylvania Department of Health, “Pennsylvania, Death Certificates, 1906-1944,” database, Ancestry.com (http://www.ancestry.com: accessed 19 Oct 2014), entry for William Pepperney Jr, record 23020 (31 Mar 1921).