As I mentioned at the end of my post last week, my family's history in California is fairly recent. One of my Devol ancestors married a Capt. George Littlefield who I know visited San Francisco during a voyage and died somewhere between there and Hawaii in 1850. But it would be another 69 years before any ancestor put down roots there. Before 1919, you would have to go all the way to Utah (or perhaps Panaca, Nevada, where ancestor John S. Haslam settled for a short time before returning to Salt Lake City) to find any of my family.
That said, this is a good week to talk about why my great-grandparents John Joseph and Mary Josephine (Hickey) Carey and later three of my grandparents and two more of my great-grandparents came here.
John and Mary (called Mae after she married) were first-generation Americans. Each of their parents were born in the counties of Tipperary and Limerick in Ireland. John was born in a working-class Irish neighborhood in Chicago, near where Mrs. O'Leary's cow allegedly kicked over the lantern (the fire went the other way, fortunately). Though the Hickeys lived in Chicago usually, Mary's father found work on the railroad, so she was born in Colorado. Education and improvement was important to these hard-working families to whom opportunities had been so long denied. And so John and Mary were encouraged and were able to move up and find respectable work at Marshall Fields department store. Mary was a cashier, a very lady-like job in those days, and John became a credit manager. They married in 1908 and had two sons in Chicago, John Joseph and Thomas Ignatius.
|Mary Josephine (Hickey) Carey|
|John Joseph Carey|
Things were looking good for the Careys until the store owner's son changed it all. My mother wrote: "John's strong ties to Chicago were broken when John got into a disagreement with Marshall Field, Jr., and John 'told off' Marshall Fields, Jr. John was effectively blackballed in Chicago, and had to look outside the area for employment. He found work in San Francisco, and the family moved there. Before they left John was able to watch the homebound troops march down State St. at the end of World War I." That was in 1919 and the next year, Grandpa James Aloysius Carey was born, the first of my family born in my home state.
|John at the Palace of Fine Arts|
in San Francisco, a place with which I,
as a Bay Area native, am very familiar
|Grandpa James Aloysius Carey|
The first of my family born in California
John continued his work as a department store credit manager, first at City of Paris in San Francisco, then Schlesinger's in Oakland, then again at City of Paris. They lived in San Francisco, then in Berkeley. John is remebered for his good sense of humor. He loved loved photography and building radios. Some of his photos can be seen in this online Carey family photo album.
|John and son Tom, Lake Michigan|
|John in a pith helmet|
|John and Mae at my grandparents' wedding|
Mae was president of the Berkeley City Women's Club, president of the parish branch of the Ladies Aid Society, and State Secretary of the Catholic Daughters. She knew Robert's Rules of Orders from cover to cover, crocheted, loved elegant hats and clothes, and smelled of lavender, according to her grandchildren.
|Mae in a kimono|
|John and Mae|
|Mae and one of her awesome hats|
|Mae in furs|
The 1919 move brought part of my family to the San Francisco Bay Area. The next part of my family, the Boyds, would come ten years later in 1929. It was the year that saw the start of the Great Depression and my great-grandfather William Henry Boyd (born William Henry Richardson) was out of work. The mines had been “all mined out” and began to close down. No other work could be found in Arizona where he and his family lived. Will hadn't paid property taxes on some oil land in New Mexico and lost that, as well. The Boyds owned a small store that was attached to their house in Phoenix but it didn't produce the income to make up for the losses. Like many others, the family began to move to California.
|The Boyds, from top to bottom:|
Will and Bertha
Frank Willis (Katie's husband) and Katie
John and Antonette (John's wife)
Ruth (Jim's wife) and Jim
Mary and Julia
Ruthie (Mary's daughter) and Frank
They did not come all at once. I know that daughters Katie and Mary were there by the time son Frank (my grandfather) arrived. Great-Grandma Bertha (Brown) Boyd drove to their new home with my seven-year-old grandfather and her seventeen-year-old daughter Julia in a 1928 soft top Dodge touring car. The trip took a week. They went to Marysville, California first, where Bertha worked at the Del Monte cannery in Gridley. Will and his son John, in the meanwhile, worked and lived in Oakland. Eventually, wanting to keep the family together, Bertha brought Grandpa to Oakland.
The next to come was Grandma Florence Rose Mahler in 1945. She was then engaged to Grandpa Boyd who had met her as an Army surgical technician in training at a hospital near her hometown, Denver, Colorado, during World War II. During leave, he and a friend went to the skating rink, where they met a “nice girl, innocent, clean-living, pretty.” Their engagement was not received well by her family, however, and things became such that she decided to leave home. She went to the Bay Area and was taken in by Grandpa's parents.
|Frank and Florence (Mahler) Boyd|
Soon after, she took a train to North Carolina (where Grandpa was then stationed), went over the border to South Carolina (where there was a short wait period for marriage licenses), and married at the first town they encountered (Marion). She returned to California and waited for him there. He was discharged in early 1946 and they settled in the East Bay.
It was also in about 1946 that the last of my grandparents arrived. Grandma Beulah Green had grown up in Salt Lake City, Utah, but with the end of the war, jobs and opportunities were far more plentiful than they had been before. Grandma wrote: "I came to California when I was 25, so that Aunt Velda and Uncle Blondie could come here and go to school. I had the car, and they wanted to go to the University of California. I applied for jobs at the unemployment office in Oakland. I applied for four jobs, and got five offers...I took the job at Bank of America as a traveling secretary."
|Beulah (Green) Carey|
|A Bank of America party|
Jim is in the back row, far left. Beulah is in the back row, fourth from left.
It was at this job that she would meet a veteran named James Aloysius Carey. At first, she thought he was a happily married man with about three children, but soon discovered otherwise. After two years, the quiet Jim asked her out.
And the rest is, well, my family history. So now you know how I ended up calling California home!
Next week's challenge from No Story Too Small: "Week 10 (March 5-11) – Stormy Weather. This is the time of year that the northern hemisphere starts to see severe storms. (As if the blizzards in New England this winter haven’t been bad enough!) What ancestor endured a particularly severe storm? It could be something like a tornado or blizzard or it could be a “storm” of bad things." You've had a chance to see how my family got to California this week. Next week, you will learn how the first of my family came to America. That tale will take us back to a storm at sea in 1620 that nearly cost an ancestor his life.