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.

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.

Pennsylvania Department of Health, “Pennsylvania, Death Certificates, 1906-1944,” database, ( accessed 19 Oct 2014), entry for William A Groucutt, record 20022 (3 Feb 1920).

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

Treasure Chest Thursday – Death Certificate of Bridget Foy Groucutt

Sometimes you need to search long and hard for a great record, and sometimes you just need to click on a Shaky Leaf. uses ‘shaky leaves’ to indicate that someone in your tree has a hint, or possible match to a record in their vast collection of databases. I had basically exhausted all of the hints in my direct ancestors so I was very excited to see a new shaky leaf appear on Bridget Foy Groucutt.
Bridget Foy Groucutt is my 2nd great grandmother and this shaky leaf hint indicated that a death certificate match may have been automatically made. Of course I review all of these hints meticulously. There are often useless record hints for a person you know isn’t your ancestor. On more than one occasion, has suggested a possible match of a record for someone who lived or died 100 years from when the record was created.
This death certificate was a legitimate hint however. It told me quite a bit about Bridget and her life. At the end of her life, Bridget was at living at 1026 Huey Street in New Castle, Lawrence, PA with her husband George and daughter Sara, who was the informant on her death. She died of carcinoma of the large bowel after being sick for 6 months. An infection one month before her death and surgery just two weeks prior no doubt made for a difficult last stage of life for both her and her family.
Her death certificate tells us that she was born on 2 February 1862 in England, the daughter of John Foy and Sarah Coyne, likewise born in England. She was a house wife who tended to her home and large family. At the time of her death on 14 October 1925, she was 62 years old. She is buried in Saint Mary’s Cemetery in New Castle.

Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission, “Pennsylvania, Death Certificates, 1906-1944,” database, ( accessed 8 Oct 2014), entry for Bridget Groucutt, File 101333 (16 Oct 1925).

Treasure Chest Thursday – The 1871 England Census for Noah Groucutt and Family

Click to enlarge
The undermentioned Houses are situated within the Boundaries of the…
Township of Bilston
Parliamentary Borough of Wolverhampton
Town of Bilston
Improvement Commissioners District of Bilston
Ecumenical District of St. Martins
Traveling down to No. 9 Engine Lane, we find the Groucutt family…
Noah Groucutt, Head. Married, Aged 40 years. A miner of coal. Born in Wellington, Salop. Not Deaf or Dumb, Blind, Imbecile or Idiot, Lunatic
Sarah “ , Wife. Married. Aged 40 years. Born in Dawley. Not Deaf or Dumb, Blind, Imbecile or Idiot, Lunatic
Joseph “ , Son. Unmarried. Aged 17 years. Born in Pensnet, Worchester. Not Deaf or Dumb, Blind, Imbecile or Idiot, Lunatic
Noah ” , Son. Unmarried. Aged 15 years. Not Deaf or Dumb, Blind, Imbecile or Idiot, Lunatic
Edward, ” , Son. Unmarried. Aged 13 years. Born in Walsall Staff. Not Deaf or Dumb, Blind, Imbecile or Idiot, Lunatic
George “ , Son. Unmarried. Aged 8 years. Scholar. Not Deaf or Dumb, Blind, Imbecile or Idiot, Lunatic
Sarah ” , Daughter. Unmarried. Aged 3 years. Born in Bilston. Not Deaf or Dumb, Blind, Imbecile or Idiot, Lunatic
Of note, it appears that there are open quotes for occupation for Joseph, Noah and Edward, indicating they worked in the same occupation as their father – coal miner. I can’t imagine that Britain in 1871 was very forward thinking in it’s child labor laws so it’s possible that even as young as 13 they were coal miners as well.


1871 England Census, digital images, Bilston, Wolverhampton, p. 2, household 9, Noah Groucutt household; ( : accessed 31 October 2013); citing RG10; Piece: 2950; Folio: 102; Page: 2; GSU roll: 836422.

Wordless Wednesday – Mom and Grandma

As indicated by the winter jacket and possible red bow on the door, this is a Christmastime photo of my mother Becky Lowry and her mother-in-law Jean Groucutt Lowry. This was taken around 1984-1985 in Jean’s living room on Mansell Drive in Youngstown. I’m pretty sure that is my winter coat on the bannister. I’ve got a photo of me wearing it around here somewhere.

Memorial Day 2013 – A Visit to Calvary Cemetery

I took some time out this Memorial Day to visit Calvary Cemetery in Youngstown, Ohio. Calvary is the ‘home’ cemetery, and countless relatives are buried there. My Lowry great grandparents and grandparents’ graves are just inside the gate in Section 55, so they were first stop. Last year or so, my aunts planted several Hosta plants, which have grown nicely around the grave.

My aunt Chris and I were just talking yesterday that there was no flag on my grandfather’s grave, and I confirmed that today. A quick visit to the cemetery office, which was open on Memorial Day to handle the crowds, rectified that situation. Chuck served in D Company, 28th Infantry Regiment, 8th Infantry Division during World War II, and was awarded the Purple Heart for injuries sustained in the Battle for Brest, France. He took home part of a German grenade in his leg as a souvenir. You can read more about his military service on my other blog, The Wartime Letters of Private Charles Lowry, U.S. Army.
After leaving my grandparents, I wandered over to my grandpa Howard Witt’s grave. It was harder to find than I remembered, so I made a second visit to the cemetery office. He’s buried in Section 47, Lot 552, Grave 2, directly behind my aunt Renee Witt and her dad, John Santorilla. I was probably about 10 feet away the first time I went, but found it immediately after I stopped by the office. Howard’ grave also lacked a flag. Another trip to the cemetery office, a chat with the clerk about coming back to Youngstown, and back to the grave I went. At all the graves, I spent a few minutes of cleaning grass clippings, wandering around to read the other names before it was off to find my great grandpa and grandma Witt in Section 45.

My great grandparents Francis and Helen Witt are buried together with their daughter, my great aunt Helen Witt. I was fortunate to know two of my great grandparents, and Francis was one of them. He was always sitting in his recliner in his house on Osborne Ave when we walked in, would point his cane at me and say, ‘Hey, I know you!”. I’m sure he did, but with probably 40 great grandkids by the time he died, he just wasn’t quite sure of my name! When his daughter, my great aunt Helen, passed away in 2009, she was cremated and her remains are buried above her moms. She has a flower vase in her memory.

Next time I go, I’ll have to better prepare. Some basic gardening tools would have helped clear the grave markers a little better. There were a few older graves to the left of my Witt great grandparents that are almost completely lost to Mother Nature. A quick sprucing would save them from disappearing under the grass. I’ll add this to the list of things to do when I’m home this summer.

Wedding Wednesday – Groucutt-Roberts Rite is Solemnized

Appearing in The Vindicator on October 9, 1949, is the marriage announcement of my great aunt Barbara ‘Babs’ Groucutt to David Roberts. They were married the day before at Saint Columba Cathedral by the future Bishop of Youngstown, James Malone.
Saint Columba Cathedral as it would have appeared in 1949. (Wikipedia)
“Groucutt-Roberts Rite is Solemnized,” Youngstown Vindicator, Section C, Page 5. October 10, 1949, accessed May 7, 2013.

Treasure Chest Thursday – 1924 Birth Certificate of Jean Groucutt

I, J.E. Plummer, Chief, Division of Vital Statistics, do hereby certify the following to be a true and correct copy of the CERTIFICATE OF BIRTH OF
Mary Jean Groucutt


I posted this one before, back in December 2012 but wanted to revisit it because I basically posted the original without giving it a thorough look. My grandmother’s birth certificate is in incredibly awful condition. It has been taped and folded repeatedly. It’s currently laying flat, but it’s one of those documents that I’m glad I could digitize because it may not survive it’s next examination.
There are a few fascinating points to this birth certificate. First, it was issued on September 27, 1930. You will notice my grandmother’s date of birth is December 23, 1924. It was not uncommon for those born before 1940(-ish) to only obtain a birth certificate when it was needed for another purpose, such as the start of schooling. Second, this birth certificate indicates that my grandmother had a sibling who died before she was born. The birth certificate reads:
Number of children born alive to this mother, including this child (if born alive): 6
Number of this mother living, including this child (if born alive): 5
My dad, aunts, and uncles have never spoken of an aunt or uncle who may have been born and died at a young age. My research has likewise not turned up this child. All of my grandmother’s known siblings survived into adulthood, and when she died in 1987, my grandmother was thought to be the first to pass away. Obviously, I have some digging to do.

Document of the Day: Jean Groucutt’s Birth Certificate

Happy birthday, grandma! My grandma Mary Jean Groucutt Lowry was born on December 23, 1924 in Brookfield Township, Ohio. The sixth of eight children, she was the last one born at home, with younger siblings Barbara and James born in the hospital. Her birth certificate, not on good shape at all and taped ten ways to Sunday, was signed by J. Plummer, Chief, Division of Vital Statistics, Ohio Department of Health on 27 September 1930, nearly six years after her birth.