News From Terre Haute, Indiana


November 23, 2013

GENEALOGY: Continuing to look at records of Dreiser siblings

This week is a continuation of the Dreiser siblings.

Mary Theresa Dreiser was born Aug. 3, 1864, in Terre Haute and was baptized in St. Joseph’s Church. She went by her middle name. Theresa moved with her mother and siblings to Chicago around 1883. There, she reportedly married Edwin Davis (I couldn’t confirm this on the Illinois statewide marriage index, though). On October 22, 1897, she was hit by a train and killed. She was buried in the St. Boniface Cemetery in Chicago, where her parents and brother Paul Dresser lie.

Cecilia Dreiser was born in 1865 in Sullivan. She was known as “Sylvia.” In the mid-1880s, her mother Sarah had moved much of the family to Warsaw to live on some land that Sarah’s father, Henry Schnepp, had left her. Sylvia was flirtatious and promiscuous, and she became pregnant out of wedlock. Her lover deserted her. In 1888 she gave birth to a son, Carl Dreiser. Carl was cared for by various family members. His uncle Theodore Dreiser often cared for him as a baby. Carl, age 12, can be found living with his aunt Mary “Mame” Dreiser Brennan in Rochester, N.Y., in 1900. He had moved to Chicago and got a job there by 1907. Carl died on March 29, 1915, in Chicago. Sylvia dabbled in song writing. She married a Japanese immigrant, Choichiro Kishima. They can be found on the 1920 federal census and the 1925 New York state census living in Manhattan, N.Y. Choichiro was a photographer and salesman in art goods. In 1940 the widowed Sylvia was living with her sister Mame in Queens, N.Y. She died on Sept. 20, 1945 in Queens of heart disease.

Alphons Joachim Dreiser (“Al”) was born January 1, 1867, in Sullivan. He married Margaret May Steinman on June 28, 1894, in Chicago. Letters in the Theodore Dreiser collection show Al living in Chicago from 1896 through 1906. In 1910 Al and May can be found living in Los Angeles, California. His occupation is a salesman/musical agent. At that point the trail goes cold. He reportedly had died by 1940 in Stevens, Skamania County, Wash.

Clara Clothilde Dreiser was born in 1868 in Sullivan. She was known as “Claire” or “Tillie.” She married Thomas Dowd, a miner, date and place unknown. They had a child who died young. Clara next married Henry V. Gormley (“Harry”), in Chicago about 1902. They were living in Schenectady, N.Y., in 1910, with a son Paul, age 7. Harry was living off his “own income.” Claire Dreiser Gormley died of cancer on May 30, 1918, in Schenectady. Harry was still living in Schenectady in 1920 with their son Paul, a 17-year-old student. The son, Paul Dresser Gormley, was born on Oct. 15, 1902, in Schenectady. On the 1930 census, still living in Schenectady, he is married to Ruth, a public school teacher, and they have a daughter Ruth. Paul’s occupation was a newspaper reporter. Paul died on June 18, 1976, in Ventura, Calif.

The second-to-last child in the Dreiser family was Theodore. He is arguably the most famous of the family and will be discussed next week.

The last and 10th surviving child of the Dreiser family was Edward Minerod Dreiser (“Ed”), born on June 27, 1873, in Terre Haute. He married Mai V. Skelly in 1899 in St. Patrick’s Cathedral in New York City. Ed worked in the silk import industry. He can be found on the1920, 1930, and 1940 censuses of Manhattan. Mai’s mother, Margaret Skelly, and her aunt, Anna Kelly, lived in Ed’s household for years. In 1945, Ed was the informant for his sister Sylvia’s death record. He was residing in Far Rockaway, Queens. Ed and Mai had one daughter, Vera Dreiser, born May 11, 1908, in New York City. Vera married Alfred E. Scott, and she died in a nursing home in Macon, Ga., in 1998. Ed Dreiser died on Jan. 29, 1958, in Queens.

Continued next week.


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