Category Archives: Family Blog Posts

The Osborn’s of Brooklyn

Another family with Brooklyn roots has written a family history for us to display on the site.  Anybody related that finds this page should contact the author directly.

England to New York

Robert and Sophia Osborn were both born in 1799 or 1800. They were both from England. They moved to Wales, had a daughter Mary Ann Osborn on August 21, 1830. The family immigrated to America in 1837. They went to Brooklyn to set up house. When they got to America Sophia had another daughter and they named her Anna Maria. I found Mary Ann living in a boarding house in 1850, she was 18. Soon after this she met and married a Mr. Rupert, I have never found anything about him. On September 18, 1858 Robert Osborn Rupert was born in Brooklyn, NY. Shortly after a sister, Elizabeth Rupert was born. I do not have any information about other than her nickname was Libby. She married a man with the last name of Cox they had 2 children, Rupert(whom they called Purty) and Lewis.

Robert Osborn Rupert married Kathryn Leighton Phillips born in Jersey City, NJ on June 3rd, 1859, on June 3, 1884 in Brooklyn, NY. Robert was born at 158 High Street in Brooklyn.

They had a son, Robert Osborn Rupert, Jr on August 6, 1885. Sometime after this the family moved to Indianapolis, IN. Robert married my Great Grandmother, Hazel Fern Trees b. in Warrington, In October 25, 1889 on March 6, 1909 in Indianapolis, IN. They had 2 children. Winifred Jeanette Rupert was born January 16, 1910 and Robert Theodore “Ted” Rupert born June 6, 1911.

The original Robert Osborn that came from England died September 21, 1854, he is buried in Greenwood Cemetery, Brooklyn NY. he was living at 266 8th Avenue, New York He died of Bilious Fever.

Sophia married a Tunstill sometime after Robert died. She was living at 70 Jackson Street, Brooklyn, NY. She died July 4th 1888 and is buried at Greenwood Cemetery, Brooklyn, NY.

Mary Ann Osborn Rupert ended up marrying a Ewing. She died December 15, 1886 and is buried in Greenwood Cemetery. Her last known address was 268 Nostrand Ave., Brooklyn, NY.

The rest of the family all lived out their lives and died in Indianapolis. Except for Anna Maria, she married a Leonard Huking. They are both buried in Greenwood Cemetery. Anna had all her Osborn Family buried in her mother-in-law’s lot.

Ginger Hipszky,

Old Family Photo’s

The Coney Island Express
A photo from an unknown year on the “Coney Island Express”


The “Coney Island Express” Family Photo Mystery

A few year’s ago I was able to locate surviving family members of a recently discovered branch of my grandfathers side of the family. From that came the above photo, with names written on the back, passed down to a distant cousin from a cousin of my grandfather to her daughter.

Attempting To Date An Old Photo

First off, this photo is a goldmine for me as it is the one and only photo I have ever seen of my great grandfather William “Billy Murray”, the shorter man on the left side of this photo. When trying to place a date on this photo I had several clues, mostly surrounding the apparent age of the people in the photo.

First we have William Murray born 1883. Next, his brothers widow Margaret, born 1884, Margaret’s sister, Pauline, born 1882 and Pauline’s husband, John, born 1878.

Next, I need to know the years this subway car would be in service and available to have a photo taken on it. That is when I found this incredible photography blog, from which I learned that this train was subway car #983, built by The American Car & Foundry Co in 1935.

Clue #3 in this case is that fact that my great grandfather passed away in September of 1937. Assuming the car was not in service during a summer until 1936, that gives me the window of 1936 or 1937.  This make the approximate ages of these folks to be 53, 52, 54 and 58.  They somehow all look younger then that to me.

Coney Island History

Although I do not believe the photo is taken upon the actual train car, I do imagine that the new car to Coney Island would have been a big deal, and I have to assume this canvas backdrop behind a railing would have been the type of thing that families would get a photo on the same way families might have a photo taken at a staged setting in a modern amusement park. This type of thing would probably be staged by some local photo studio, so if anybody happens to have any info on that, I would be interested in hearing it.


Cone Island History
Walter Arnold Photography

Here Comes Brooklyn

We always welcome and Brooklyn or Genealogy related guest posts on the site.  Enjoy the following:

My grandfather, Murray Fox, fell in love with Edie Zebrak in the summer of 1947. Newly home from the war, Murray and his friends spotted Edie, a friend of a friend, at one end of Coney Island Beach with tuna fish sandwiches. My grandfather promptly went back for seconds, and the rest as they say is history.

I started recording music under the pseudonym “Here Comes Brooklyn” in 2011. According to an infamous family story, my grandma Edie’s cousin used to say at the sight of my grandfather, “Ay! Here comes Brooklyn!” in her low, scratchy, Yiddish ridden accent. My grandfather always found it vaguely irritating, but the story has since become an integral part of the Fox-Tepper family oral history, and has resonated with me ever since.

As three of my four grandparents are from Brooklyn, I find myself living an eerily parallel existence to my grandfather in his 20’s. Originally from Rockville, MD, I moved to New York for college and soon found myself attending concerts in the deep end of the dried McCarren Park Pool where my grandpa Murray and grandma Edie swam in as children.

I wrote the song “Bluebirds” using a very repetitive, circular musical phrase to represent the circular nature of generations, specifically my parents growing up, becoming adults, having children of their own, and watching their children, my sister and me, grow up.

After the song was finished, my mom found old reels of 16mm film in our basement and realized they were long lost home films dating from the late 40’s to 1963. My grandma Edie died of lung cancer when I was only five and, as those were the days before Facebook, Instagram, and iPhones, I had not seen real film footage of my grandmother at any age or of my grandfather as a young man. I had at least pictures of my mom and uncle as children, but up to that point only grainy black and white renderings of my grandparents.

Eventually I took the film and cut it up to “Bluebirds,” superimposing the song on a generation earlier so the boy and girl depicted at the beginning were my grandpa and grandma, and their kids my mom and uncle. Out of everything I’ve done as Here Comes Brooklyn, this is the most personal.

My grandfather grew up on Siegel Street where his family owned a housewares store called Fox’s Trimmings, and my grandmother on McKibbin Park where her father was the neighborhood’s kosher butcher. While my grandmother sadly is no longer with us, my grandfather at 85 has not matured a day since his goofball days in Brooklyn.

I hope you enjoy this little slice of my family.


Alex Tepper/Here Comes Brooklyn


1915 New York State Census Leads to Breakthrough

Like most of you, genealogy is a hobby of mine. I think we all would like to have more time to build our family tree, and we would like to more easily track down our ancestors. With recently updating their 1940 U.S. Census to make searchable Brooklyn, New York City and in fact all of New York State, we have just had our job made much easier.

That was something we had been expecting, and waiting for. What was not expected, was the release of the 1892, 1915 and 1925 New York State Census’s. As I am sure most of you can relate to, I have a branch of my family tree that has remained a mystery for years. When I hear has indexed the 1940 census I immediately type in that same name I have typed in a hundred times before – John N Murray, Born 1882 in Brooklyn, Kings County, New York. The results this time however, were very different. There was no immediate match in 1940, but at the top of my search results, right next to my saved records from 1900, 1910, and 1930 were 2 perfect matches that I had never seen before. The 1915 and 1925 New York State Census Reports.

There has been a New York Police Census of 1890 out for many years, but it is basically useless, this State census is however, the opposite. Including such information as address, names of all family members, ages and profession, this report is every bit as informative as the U.S census, and in fact appears to be modeled after it. It includes everything you would expect to find, except the birthplace of each parent (which I have found is incidentally not included in the 1940 U.S. census).

In this specific case of John N Murray Sr, Born 1882, I knew who he was married to in 1910, a Miss Catherine Twyford, a clothing store saleslady from the same Red Hook neighborhood (I have spent many hours searching all her siblings descendants) and I know they had 3 children, 2 of which were boys with the very common names of William and John, and the oldest, a female named Agnes. These 3 children were my grandfather’s cousins. I also had a very likely match for him in 1930, living with a different wife, Anna, and a young daughter, Mildred. I used the fact that he was exactly the right age, holding the same profession as an Iron Worker, and having both parents birthplaces of Brooklyn and Germany being correct as the “proof” needed to make this match.

The new 1925 census confirmed the same household at 285 Himrod St, Brooklyn, including wife Anna Murray (nee. Scholl) and 3 year old daughter, Mildred. No earth shattering revolution there, but as any genealogist knows, a 2nd source to back up every detail from a person’s name, to their age, is very important when searching for ancestors.

1915 New York Census

The real break came from the 1915 census. Before finding that I had the 1910 census and then the WWI Draft Card, badly damaged, for John N Murray. This WWI card from 1918 has his oldest sister listed as his nearest relative, not his wife, Catherine, leading me to believe that the couple had either divorced, or John was widowed. I could not find a trace of John, Catherine or any of the 3 children in the 1920 census (and still have not). What the 1915 census did was to finally provide clarity on this case, and also provided me with the names of 2 new children, born between 1910 and 1915. One was Theresa, born 1912 and Robert, listed as 47 days of age on census date on June 1st, making his birthday about April 12th, 1915. The clarity I mentioned came from Johns marital status as a widow. Rarely in genealogy do you get so lucky as to find out from a census exactly when somebody died, but with a child being 47 days old and the father being a widow, you have that 47 day window for the death of the mother, which is very necessary when searching a common name like “Catherine Murray”.

A quick search of New York Birth, Marriage and Death records provides me with a perfect match, a 34 year old Catherine Murray from Kings County, that died 2 weeks after Robert was born.


Holy Cross Cemetery

Searching Holy Cross Cemetery provided me with her gravesite.

Sometimes the biggest source of genealogical discovery is burial information with the other names on an ancestors tombstone being the children, or other unknown family members. This can provide you with much needed dates of death, and married names of daughters. This is invaluable when you have no clues for ancestors with common names. The bad news in this particular case was that there was only one other person in that grave, Robert, her 47 day old son who did not live very long, dying at 6 month of age on November 15th, 1915. connection

About a month ago I received notification that somebody was saving some of the same records I had saved on I looked at this persons’ family tree, and saw that they added my John Murray section of the family, but not a lot of the information matched. One of the discrepencies was that there was a sister named Theresa. Also, the first born of the family was named Ruth, and not “Agnes”, as in my John Murrays family. After e-mailing this person and asking why they thought our families were a match, she explained that her father had told her he remembers a “Willie” and a John (which are match’s), and that “Ruth” was the Jewish name of the converted Agnes Murray, after marriage. WOW! What seemed to be the case of another member jumping the gun, turned out to be an actual match, and the Great Granddaughter of my John N. Murray.

When I said earlier that there was no match for these children of John Murray in the 1920 census, I kinda lied. There are matches, in Orphanages, and “Asylums”. I never gave those much consideration, because I knew with 95% certainty that their father was living with another wife and raising a daughter born in 1921, in 1930 census. How could he have 4 children between the ages of 8 – 16 in orphanages in 1920’s census, and in the meantime I have his marriage record to Anna Scholl on June 20th, 1920!? The family lore provided from my new cousin on is that Agnes, or “Ruth” did infact provide that she and her siblings were raised in orphanages for a period of time. It appears my John Murray either had his children taken from him, or he possibly abandoned them.

R.C. House of Good Shepherd

House of the Good Shepherd, home to Agnes Murray in 1920.

My source did not have much information on brothers William and John, but if her father remembered them, then they had to have lived until the 1950’s at least. Knowing that, and the new details of their childhood, I can begin to find them in the 1920 census and beyond. 16 year old Agnes is located easily as an “Inmate” and a machine Operator in the Roman Catholic “House of the Good Shepherd” located on Hopkinson Ave, in East New York. She was in the Pacific Street Wing, which was the “Juvenile Delinquent Reformatory”.

I hope for the best as I research these 2 brothers. Whatever I find though, I realize that none of it would have been possible whithout the 1915 New York State Census.

A Brooklyn Kid in Normandy

Like many of you, I have a few ancestors in my family tree that have served our country during WWII, and are a great source of pride to our families, as well as our country.  On this day though, there is one particular ancestor of mine that comes to mind due to his death in Normandy.

My great uncle, James Murray was born In Brooklyn, New York, in 1919.  He can clearly be found as 7 months of age in the 1920 census, the youngest of 6, and the first male child of his parents that would live past infancy.  You can find the family again in the same Red Hook apartment in 1930, this time with a younger brother (my Grandfather) and sister.

Sometimes I think about these 2 brothers, both serving their country. One that lived until old age, and the other taken way too soon.  I think about the fact that, as I do some quick math, there are no less then 50 of us descended from my Grandfather, and 0 from his brother.  A young Brooklyn Kid of 23 years when he joined the Army in 1942, PFC. James J. Murray, as he would become, never had a chance to begin a family.

According to military records, my great-uncle enlisted at Camp Upton, in Yaphank New York, on February 19th 1942.  The next 7 months are a mystery, but I know that his unit, the 508th P.I.R (Parachute Infantry Regiment) was founded at Fort Blanding Georgia in October, 1942 and they spent the next 14 month conducting Airborne Training there, and at Camp Mackall, North Carolina.  After a short 2-day liberty pass to visit family while in New York, the unit was called to action on Christmas Day, 1943, and the unit soon sailed from New York, to Belfast, then Glasgow en route to Wollaton Park, England.  It was there that they waited almost 3 months until June 6th. Shortly after 2am they participated in “Operation Overlord” and jumped at 300 feet into Normandy with the objective of capturing Sainte-Mère-Église, as well as securing several river crossings in the area.

Unfortunately, this is where the mystery begins again. As most know, the airborne operation, although eventually successful, was a complete disaster. Many of the paratroopers never lived to see their feet hit the ground. Some landed and drowned in the rivers, some became hung up in trees or on the sides of buildings, and some were shot dead while waiting in line to jump from their plane. Of those that did manage to land safely, almost none were where they were supposed to land, and even fewer landed with their own unit. Because of this, and without a first hand account of his whereabouts, it makes it difficult to know what James Murray would have been doing until his death 10 days later on June 16th. I do know that his company, F (Foxtrot) Company, 508th P.I.R, was on a mission to secure the entire peninsula west of the beachheads. On June 16th the unit was in the small town of Saint-Sauveur-le-Vicomte, and on that day, he died. The record from a 508th PIR website shows us that James J Murray was indeed a member of F Company, and was in fact “Killed in Action” on June 16th.

But as we often find in genealogy research we do not know for sure the circumstances surrounding his death. All we can do is assume that he was with his assigned unit and in action the day he died. The K.I.A classification lets us know that he was alive and fighting on that day, and then died as a result of enemy action, as opposed to dying from wounds or injuries that would have occurred at an earlier time. This, combined with the information on his units maneuvers on that day give us a probable scenario surrounding his death. He was probably somewhere around Saint-Sauveur-le-Vicomte with F Company, 508th PIR on June 16th, and died as a result on gun fire or an explosion. Until the time in my life comes when I can dedicate some real time into finding better information, these details will have to be enough.

Photo Mystery

Ike speaks to Easy Company, 502nd PIR on June 5th, 1944.

You’ve seen this famous photo of General Eisenhowser speaking to troops on the Eve of D-Day, in England. A few years ago I heard of the family tale that James Murray is actually in this photo. He is claimed to be the man in the center of the page, his head right above Ike’s hand. This is the type of thing I would be thrilled about, but a quick bit of investigative work raises some doubts. We already know that my Great-uncle was killed on June 16th and was a member of F Co. 508th PIR, which was part of the 82nd Airborne Division. The unit in this photograph is E Co, 502nd PIR, part of the 101st Airborne Divison. I can not see a scenario that has him changing units between June 5th and June 16th, when they obviously had much bigger things to worry about then transfer orders. Also, the soldier has stripes on his left arm indicating he was higher rank then the “PFC” that James Murray was. I don’t know where this rumor came came originally, but at first glance, it appears to be untrue.

After Normandy

A mention in “The New York Sun” tells me that my grandfather returned to New York aboard the “Aquitanina” from Europe in September of 1945. I don’t know when he learned of his brothers death, but that was not the only death of a close relative he had to deal with. In fact, his mother passed away in September of 1944, and then right after Christmas, her father, died at age 84. They all lived a few blocks apart in that same Brooklyn neighborhood. These 3 deaths combined with the horrors of fighting the Nazi’s must have made this 18 months of his life incredibly traumatic.

Many people have experienced time at war, and everybody will suffer the loss of loved ones, but I think few will ever have to endure what my grandfather did between 1944 and 1945.

I will spend the next 10 days the way I always spend June 6th – 16th. Using my genealogy time towards investigating my Great-Uncle. Searching for anything new that might have found it’s way onto the internet in the attempt to better paint a picture of his last days on earth. RIP PFC Murray.

Civil War Soldier Discovery

If somebody was to begin searching for a Genealogist in Brooklyn, I would expect them to find pretty early in their search, but as luck would have it, Nicole found us without even realizing her ancestors ever lived in Brooklyn. Once we realized there was a Brooklyn connection it didn’t take long to uncover articles from the “Brooklyn Daily Eagle” that included her ancestors. If she had asked us to trace any remaining ancestors in Brooklyn and New York City, we would have been in the unique position to provide her with that information faster than other Genealogy services. Nicole was kind enough to write the following for us:

coney-isle-2A few months ago, I didn’t even know that my great, great, great grandfather was a Civil War hero!
That’s Peter Simonson you’re looking at. He was so dedicated to the cause, that he joined the army in 1862 at the ripe old age of 40! Not only did he help the Union win the war, he was also a part of history. In the last year of the war, Peter was a Full 1st Lieutenant, in charge of a brand new Colored brigade – Company H, U.S. Colored Troops 23rd Infantry Regiment. Peter actually led former slaves, as they fought their way to freedom! By the time he left the Army, Peter was a Full Captain, the Civil War was over, and America was piecing itself back together – forever changed by people just like Peter. As soon as I saw Peter’s picture, I was so glad that I had done some research on my family tree!
I had always wondered about the stories lingering in my family tree, but, for years, I never got around to researching it. I always wondered how much information an ancestry expert could really get ahold of. After all, there were no computers, cell phones, or email back then. But, now that I’ve done some digging, I’ve discovered that genealogy is pretty awesome! In fact, it only took the experts at Brooklyn Ancestry about 8 hours to uncover all sorts of information about my family tree…you can’t ask for much better than that!

Search Civil War Records - Fold3

After just a little ancestry research, I’ve been given copies of Federal census cards dating back to 1840 (all handwritten, of course!) . I’ve got a copy of my great grandfather’s draft card from World War I. I’ve got copies of pension slips and tax records. I never knew that I had relatives who lived in Brooklyn, so imagine my surprise when I got to read a few articles about them in the “Brooklyn Daily Eagle”. I have gotten details about my family tree and about relatives that I never even knew existed!
I find it amazing that stories like Peter’s never get passed down over the years. For example, I had always heard that this side of the family hailed from Minnesota. However, I never knew that my family also called Atlanta, Illinois, and New York home over the years. I never knew that my great, great grandfather fell in love with, and eventually married, a pretty young girl from Brooklyn in the 1850’s. I also never knew that my great, great uncle-in-law used to own acres and acres of land all over Brooklyn – but had to auction all of it off (too bad…that would have been nice to own today!)
I’ve got stories I will cherish forever…What will some simple research turn up about your family tree?