Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Grandparents lost, grandparents found, Part I

     Driving from Virginia to New York for our 1st Zweighaft family reunion at Lake Lauderdale, I stopped at the Staten Island cemetery where Mom's parents, Axel and Anna Strom, are buried.  They died in Brooklyn within 5 months of each other, in 1953, after 55 years of marriage.  At the time of their death, the cemetery was called Valhalla Burial Park, but has since been renamed Ocean View Cemetery (, 3315 Amboy Rd., Staten Island 10306, 718-351-1870; section Ideal, row/range #3, grave #8).  Anna and Axel both died in Brooklyn (Axel at Maimonides Hospital and Anna at their home at 102 72nd St.).  I'm speculating that Mom decided to bury them in Staten Island where we lived at the time, both so visiting would be easier and probably as it was less expensive than Brooklyn choices.
     Ocean View is a very sprawling, lush,  peaceful spot, with a most unusual office - an old Lutheran church with leaded stained glass windows and lots of beautiful old woodwork. 

 The last picture shows a grave for Arthur J. Paterson (section Ideal, row/range #33, grave #17), and is something of a mystery.  When asked if I were interested in finding any other relatives,  the only person the office staff came up with was an Oscar Strom whom they recorded as having died April 21, 1969.  The 1900 census lists a brother, Oscar, living with Axel, Annie and one year old Julia in Jersey City. For some unknown reason, an Oscar Strom is buried in the same grave as Arthur Paterson.  I'm not convinced that this Oscar Strom is indeed our long lost grand uncle, as, assuming the 1969 cemetery death date for Oscar is correct as well as the 1900 census birth date of 1863, Oscar would have died at the ripe old age of 106, somewhat implausible for the time period.  However, old records are notoriously inaccurate (indeed, the 1900 census entry for Anna and Axel has 2 known errors:  Annie's country of birth as Sweden and the last name as Strong, but I've confirmed that it is indeed our grandparents' family by the address which matches Axel's naturalization papers).  An interesting discovery this morning - reviewing the 1900 census again, I see that the neighbors of Axel and Annie in 1900 in Jersey City was a Paterson family.  No Arthur listed, but that's an unusual spelling of the name, so it makes me wonder if, by golly, Arthur Paterson was a family friend of Oscar's.  But until further corroborating evidence is uncovered, the Oscar Strom-Paterson mystery will remain just that. 

By the way, Mom says she never knew that Axel had brothers, but the 1900 census record, plus the Swedish formal photo of Axel with 3 other young men, most likely brothers, seems to indicate otherwise.

Axel Strom in Sweden, with brothers?


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