Monday, October 10, 2011

The Dornbergs

The Salem (Ohio) Daily News,  March 13, 1896

Woodland Park, Columbus, Ohio 
George Alfred Dornberg, Sr. was born in New York state in March 1857. He was a lifelong railroad employee. He was a chief lineman on the Pittsburgh, Cincinnati, Chicago & St. Louis (PCC & StL) line. A family story says that George was actually born with the surname Inghram and was adopted by the Dornbergs in New York. His father supposedly was a fur trader from England, and his mother was named Elizabeth and was of Irish nobility. I found both Inghrams and Dornbergs in Oswego County, New York, so that may be where he is from, but I could not make any positive connections to George's parents.

Mary Frances, nee Pursel was born in Franklin County May 4, 1861. She was the daughter of Zephaniah Pursel and Louisa (nee) Pursel. She and George married in about 1889. Helen and George had five children, Inghram, Helen, George Jr., and Martha who all would have grown up in the house.

784 Fairwood Avenue
Ingraham Louisa, the eldest child was born in Pennsylvania on October 14, 1890. Inghram was her paternal grandmother's maiden name. Inghram married Joseph F. Diebel in about 1917. In 1920 they lived at 2053 Waldeck Avenue and Joseph was a manager of a tool and die company. In 1930 they lived at 784 Fairwood Avenue with their five children: Harriet, Martha, Barbara, Joseph Jr., and Mary Ellen. Joseph was a then secretary (officer) of the tool works. Inghram lived in Columbus until her death on July 26, 1977.

Helen Elizabeth, born May 13, 1893, married William Anthony Wishon in about 1913. I don't believe that they had any children. They moved to Cleveland before 1920 and they lived at 1741 Wayside Road. Helen traveled by ship to Bermuda in 1953 and Ireland in 1956. William died in 1964 in Murphy, North Carolina. Helen died July 12, 1988, also in Murphy.

In 1900, both Inghram and Helen were sent away to boarding school, the College of Ursuline Sisters in Tiffin, almost 100 miles away from Columbus.

George Jr., born in May 1896 was described as an "idiot" in the 1910 Census. Hard to say exactly what that meant at the time, the Census specified that he did not speak English, read nor write and did not attend school. Obviously he had some challenges. In the book Mount Calvary Cemetery (Columbus, Ohio) by C.L. Miller, I discovered his final resting place, with his maternal grandparents. It is interesting that the caption on the photo in that book states that the Dornbergs were Pittsburgh residents.

I went to Mount Calvary myself to see if I could find the headstone. Not hard to find, it's the only one of its type, a large, flat, slab of white marble, about six inches thick, set up on a sandstone base of about 7-8 inches, very near the center of the cemetery. When I say large, I mean, large slab of stone. Maybe about five by seven feet. Unfortunately weathering and lichen have made the inscriptions harder to read than when Miller took his photo for the book.
Grave of George Albert Dornberg, Jr. and his maternal grandparents at Mount Calvary Cemetery.
Martha J. was born in February 1898, so she would have been around 6 years old when the family moved into the house. She married Ronald Edward Van Tassel of Oceana County, Michigan (b. 1898) in about 1926 and they had two children, Joan (1927) and Ronald E. (1928). They lived in Bloomfield, Oakland County, Michigan in 1930 and Ronald died in Flint, Michigan in 1952. Martha died July 1, 1969 in Los Angeles, California. 

Mary, the youngest, was born in May 1900. By 1920 she had moved to Cleveland and is a boarder with the Lehman family at 980 Evangeline Road. Mary is working at a clerk at an electric plant office, which seems to be the same place her sister, Helen is working.

Another tenant in the house in 1910 was Mary's mother, Louisa Pursel. Louisa was a Central Ohio native born in July 1830.  In 1910, supposedly only two of Louisa's six children were still living. She died May 23, 1912.
1896 Columbus City Directory

Unique mantle with cabinet
George is listed in the 1886 Columbus City Directory as rooming at 23 E. Chestnut St. George and Mary did not marry until September 17, 1889. George purchased lot 32 in the Mt. Venon Subdivision in June 1888.

George lived at 389 Lexington Avenue from 1887 until moving into the new house in Woodland Park. I also found George listed in the 1888 Pittsburgh City Directory, residing at 19 Church Avenue and in the 1890 directory at 79 Boyle. I imagine that the Dornbergs specified the fixtures and details in the house, including the fireplace mantle in the master bedroom, an unusual style featuring a built in cabinet.

George and Mary sold the house in the spring of 1920. I wonder if it was hard for them to leave the house and the city they had called home for more than 35 years. From what I gather, they retired and moved to Cleveland, living with their daughter Helen and son-in-law William Wishon. Mary died on April 18, 1935 and George died in 1938.

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