Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Not To Be forgotten: Adella Kent

Pictured here from the left is Adella Kent, her sister Etta (Kent) Dewey, her great nephew, Dix, Myrtle (Schmitt) Dewey and great niece Dorothy Dewey. According to a note on the back of the picture, it was photographed on 27 August 1922. The note was written by Etta (Kent) Dewey. Although little is known about Adella, I feel I must write about what I know about her so she can be remembered. Adella was my great grand aunt.

Adella Kent was born the youngest daughter of Abel and Maryetta (Snedeker) Kent on 26 March 1865 in Susquehanna County, Pennsylvania. The family called her Della. By the time Della was born her eldest sibling Theresa Kent was 16. At the tender age of 3 Della's mother died and by the time she was 14 years old Della was an orphan upon the death of her father in 1879. The 1880 census showed Della was living with the family of her sister Amelia (Kent) Meeker in Bridgewater, Susquehanna County, Pennsylvania where Della attended school. Della never married or had children, she never owned property and because of this she left very few records. The paper trail we all leave behind us that may tell more about our journey through life was very sparse for Della, however, census records and Binghamton, New York City Directories have allowed us to get a brief glimpse into her life.
By 1900 Della had moved in with the family of her brother John in Binghamton, New York. Della was working as a "servant" then. In 1903 the widowed John married a new wife. This may have changed the living situation for Della because the 1903 Binghamton, New York City Directory showed Della living at 39 Broome Street and working as a furrier. She would work at a dry goods store as a furrier until her retirement many years later. This change in position would have afforded her a better life and was a fairly good position for a woman during this era. After 1903 she lived in various rooming and boarding houses. The census records and city directories showed she moved often. Of course, we know from the photograph on this page she traveled to Elgin, Illinois to visit her sister in 1922. Since the majority of Kent siblings lived in Binghamton, New York, I am sure she visited with her sisters there also. Sometime between 1930 and 1935 Della moved into the Fairview Home For Aged Women in Binghamton, New York. The 1940 census shows her living there then, and the Binghamton, New York City Directory of 1944 shows her at the same address. The 1944 city directory is the last evidence I can find of her. It is currently unknown when she died, however in 1944 she was 79 years old so it is safe to say she lived a long life.

Thursday, January 1, 2015

Joseph Maiola: A Hollywood Story

The movies have a long history dating back to the 1890's when the first short films were made. During the silent film era the "movie star" was born. By the early 1920s it was a profitable booming business. Young men and women began flooding Hollywood in the hopes of becoming the next big star seeking fame, fortune and adventure. In 1921 a film came out titled "The Kid" starring Charles Chaplin and a very young boy named Jackie Coogan. The film was huge and as a result, mothers everywhere began bringing their children to Hollywood in the hopes of their child becoming the next young star.
This film inspired members of my own family. Frank Maiola was my father's uncle. He and his wife Anna (Bova) Maiola had 4 children. Their first child named Joseph was born on 10 October 1918, followed by a daughter they named Natalina on 7 August 1920. Anna became pregnant with their third child but two months into her pregnancy the six month old Natalina died. That September she gave birth to a baby boy named Frank Jr., however, six months later, he died also. 1925 saw the birth of the last child of Anna and Frank whom they named Robert. Both Robert and Joesph lived well into adulthood, married and had children.
Before the birth of Robert, and after the deaths of Natalina and Frank Jr. Anna and Frank packed up their son Joseph bound for Hollywood hoping to make young Joe a child star. The photograph shown here was taken in Hollywood of Anna, Frank and young Joe to mark their trip. You can see in the photo that young Joe had a haircut very similar to the style Jackie Coogan wore in the popular 1921 movie The Kid. According to family stories I heard, the family stayed in Hollywood for a few months. Young Joe never got his big break or a movie. But as this photograph clearly shows, the young family had a wonderful adventure in Hollywood which was relived many times by telling the stories of their adventures in Hollywood during a very exciting time of the young budding industry. Although I recall many stories being told of this adventure, I do not recall enough details to retell them.