1886: The Birth Of Gertrude Wrann

June 26, 2008 by

On October 15, 1886 F. Gustav Wrann and his wife Mary Paulmann Wrann had their third child Gertrude.

Following is her birth record. Click on it to enlarge.

1886 Birth Record For Gertrude Wrann

State Of New York – County Of New York – City Of New New York

Birth Return

1. Name Of Child: Gertrude Wrann

2. Sex: Female – Date Of Birth: Octo 15, 1886

3. Place Of Birth (Street and Number): 435 E 81 St

4. Name Of Father: Gustav Wrann

5. Full Name Of Mother: Mary ” ”

6. Maiden Name Of Mother: Paulmann

7. Birthplace (Country & State) Of Mother: German Age: 24 Years

8. Birthplace (Country & State) Of Father: German Age: 33 Years Occupation: Cigar Maker

9. Number Of Child Of Mother: 3 How Many Of Them Now Living: 3

10. Name and Address Of Medical Attendant or Other Authorized Person, In Own Handwriting: Signature: H. Mendolsohn Address: 528 E 82 St

11. Date Of This Return: Oct. 27 1886

I’m not 100% certain whether her name is GerDrude or is actually GerTrude. Both names were traditional German female names and it’s difficult to tell for sure what it was based on the two documents I have with her name.

We can tell from this document that the family has moved uptown from their Pitt St. address seen on earlier documents.


1885: The Birth Of Lillian Wrann

June 18, 2008 by

This was an interesting discovery!

The woman many of us know or knew by the name Lillian Wrann was actually named Elsa at birth.

Following is the birth record for Ferdinand Gustav Wrann and Mary Paulmann’s second child – Elsa/Lillian. Click to enlarge.

1. Name Of Child: Elsa Wrann

2. Sex: Female Date Of Birth: August 7, 1885

3. Place Of Birth (Street & Number): 137 Pitt Street

4. Name Of Father: Gustav Wrann

5. Full Name Of Mother: Mary Wrann

6. Maiden Name Of Mother: Paulmann

7. Birthplace Of Mother: Germania Age: 25 Years

8. Birthplace Of Father:Age: 35 Years Occupation: Cigarmaker

9. Number Of Child Of Mother: 2 How Many Of Them Now Living: 2

The certificate is dated August 18, 1885 and is signed by the midwife E. Herschell who lived down the block at 55 Pitt St.

I’ve only ever seen a handful of photos of Lillian taken late in her life. Not sure if any from her younger years still exist.

1885: The Wrann Family Is Back In NYC

June 16, 2008 by

The same day I discovered my Great Great Grandfather’s listing in the 1884 Buffalo, NY directory I found him listed in the New York City directory for the following year – 1885.

The entry indicates his job is “packer” – as in Cigar Packer and the family is now living at 137 Pitt St.

Following is the entry in the 1885 New York City Directory.

1885 NYC Directory - Gustav Wrann

I imagine it must have been difficult moving from Buffalo to NYC with a newborn son in tow!

Below you’ll find a navigable Google Map of 137 Pitt St. in NYC.

April 21, 1884: The Birth Of Gustave Wrann

June 15, 2008 by

Knowing that my grandfather Gustave Wrann was born in Buffalo, I sent $20 to the City Clerk and requested a copy of his Birth Record. Unfortunately the filing of birth records in NY State in 1884 was not a widespread practice and several weeks later I received a letter stating they were unable to find the record.

After a few months of gathering additional records I submitted a request to a website called Random Acts Of Genealogical Kindness asking for someone to look up Gustave Wrann in the genealogy section of the local library. While they were unable to find anything for me they DID find something in the local governments Inactive Records Office. There in an old ledger was an entry for the birth of Gustave Wrann. The volunteer took digital photos of the entry and emailed them to me. Below are the pictures tacked together. Click on the image to enlarge.

The birth entry indicates the child’s name is Gustave Wrann. He was born on April 21, 1884 to Gustave and Mary Wrann who are both from Germany and who live at 32 Lemon St. The occupation of the father is “Cigar” (obviously meaning he was in the CIgar trade). Gustave’s father is 33 and his mother is 22. He is their first child. The midwife who delivered the child was M. Wolf.

This child would eventually marry Florence Parker and they’d have four children; Helen, Florence, Willard, and Virginia.

Unfortunately we have no marriage record for Gustav Wrann and Mary Paulmann. We have no idea if they were married in Germany and came to the States together or if they met in the U.S. and were married here. I’ve had several searched done in Buffalo for a marriage record and I’ve searched the Municipal Archives in NYC myself for one but have yet to come up with anything.

My second cousin Dennis sent me a copy of a letter his Grandmother (my Great Grandmother) Florence Parker Wrann sent to him when he had inquired about family history. The letter is dated Sept. 20, 1975 – one month prior to her death. In the letter Florence says:

“Grandpa Wranns name was Gustave and I don’t know Grandma Wranns before she was married. Grandma changed her name from Vronn when she came to America from Germany.”

Based on the letter we can assume that Great Grandma Florence believed that Gustav and Mary were wed prior to their arrival in the U.S. and that their last name had been changed from Vronn. Unfortunately I have yet to find any evidence in records supporting these beliefs. Quite possibly the biggest frustration from a research standpoint has been discovering if our last name REALLY was Vronn (I’ve not found ANY Vronns EVER in Germany but have found many Wranns) and figuring out where Gustav and Mary were from. It’s entirely possible that Florence was 100% accurate and the onus is on us to verify her claims. It’s also understandable that their Gus and Mary’s past is clouded due to the nature of Gustav’s death in 1895….but that’s a story for another post.

1884: Shuffle Off To Buffalo

June 13, 2008 by

After Ferdinand Gustav Wrann signed his Declaration Of Intention in New York City in 1882 we have no documentation of his activities or whereabouts until 1884. When I first spoke to my Uncle Willard about the Wrann history he had indicated that his grandfather Gus (Ferdinand’s son) was born in Buffalo, NY. At the time I knew next to nothing about genealogy so I decided to check out the Godfrey Memorial Library in Middletown, CT. This library is about a mile from my home. I’d never visited it because I thought it only dealt with Connecticut history. I couldn’t have been more wrong! I noticed it’s stacks were divided up by State. In the NY section they had some very old Buffalo, NY City Directories. These were books used prior to the widespread use of the telephone and indicated who lived where in the city. I picked up the oldest one on the shelf, went to the “W” section and found the entry for my Great Great Grandfather! I was astounded. To be holding a book over 120 years old and seeing my ancestors name in it was pretty exciting.

1884 Buffalo City Directory

1884 Buffalo City Directory w/ Gustave Wrann listing.

As you can see in the listing the name Ferdinand is not used and Gustav ends in an “e”. Since he spelled his name without the “e” on his Declaration Of Intention I’m going to use his spelling of it in future articles despite the occasional appearance on various documents of the “e”.

From Gustav’s listing we can see he was employed as a cigar packer, worked at 454 Main St. and lived at 32 Lemon St.

A cigar packer was the person at a cigar making shop who took the rolled cigars, put the paper ring on them and packed them in the boxes prior to shipping.

Following is a section of a map of Buffalo from 1894 – 10 years after The Wranns lived there. Click on it for an enlarged view. I’ve added a red arrow pointing to the dwelling they lived in.

1894  -32 Lemon St. Buffalo, NY

Following is a modern satellite view of 32 Lemon St. where the Wranns lived.

You can see the neighborhood has changed quite a bit in the last 120 years!

In the back of the directory were addresses for local businesses and I noticed that the business at 454 Main St. was M. Breitweiser and Brothers of Buffalo Cigar Co.

My father-in-law Jerry is a cigar ephemera collector and was able to find an associate who had a vintage Breitweiser Bros. cigar box. Following is a scan of the cigar box label from it.

Breitwesier & Bros Cigar Co. Cigar Box Label

At the time, Buffalo was a major transportation hub and there were a few railroad lines that went from NYC to there so chances are that the Wranns got to Buffalo via railway.  It’s also a possibility they got there on boat via the Erie Canal.

How long would the Wranns stay in Buffalo?

1882: Ferdinand Gustav Wrann’s Declaration Of Intention

June 11, 2008 by

I had always thought my Great Great Grandfather’s name was simply Gustav Wrann. All of the records I found concerning him bore only that name.

One of the biggest mysteries concerning Gustav was his arrival in the United States. It had always been said he was from Germany but the family genealogists had never been able to narrow down an arrival time nor were we able to find an old ship’s passenger list in existing online databases with his name on it indicating a port of arrival, date, or country of origin.

Fortunately I was able to track down his Declaration Of Intention document. This is the earliest record I’ve found for him. A Declaration Of Intention was the first of three steps an immigrant was required to complete in order to become a U.S. citizen in the late 1800’s. It’s essentially their declaration that they wish to become a citizen and are renouncing citizenship of their country of origin. Many immigrants did this shortly after arriving in the U.S.

While their isn’t much in the way of detail this document is important because it tells us that Gustav Wrann’s full name was actually Ferdinand Gustav Wrann and that he was indeed from Germany.

Following are photographs of microfilm images from the courthouse ledger containing Gustav’s name in the index as well as the actual Declaration Of Intention containing his actual signature. It was quite something to be able to view his signature…especially considering the document was signed over 125 years ago.

The first image is the index at the front of the ledger created by the court clerk. It lists the names of the immigrants who submitted their Declaration Of Intention and the page number the signed document was on.  Click image to enlarge.

SOURCE: New York Court Of Common Pleas (New York County Courthouse, New York, NY). Declaration Of Intentions 1881-1882, Ferdinand Gustav Wrann (1882); FHL microfilm 953867.

The next image is a photograph of the microfilm image showing a portion of page 43 from the Declaration Of Intentions ledger. Ferdinand’s document was the last of three declarations on the page (each page contained three D.O.Is from three different immigrants).  Click image to enlarge.

SOURCE: New York Court Of Common Pleas (New York County Courthouse, New York, NY). Declaration Of Intentions 1881-1882, Ferdinand Gustav Wrann (1882); FHL microfilm 953867.

As I noted earlier, the Naturalization process of the time required three steps before citizenship would be granted; Step 1 was the Declaration Of Intention – also known as “First Papers”, Step 2 The Petition For Naturalization which could take place only after the immigrant had lived in the U.S. for at least five years, Step 3 was the Certificate Of Naturalization and The Oath Of Allegiance – also called “Final Papers”.

Of historical interest is the fact that the document specifies the “Emperor Of Germany”.  At the time this would have been William I, King Of Prussia whose reign ended in 1888.

Would my Great Great Grandfather eventually become a citizen of the United States?