The Washerwoman’s Genes

October 23, 2006


Filed under: Story — by WWG @ 12:29 pm

I have Josephines, but I also have Rachels. The first Rachel that I know of for sure is Jannette’s daughter, born about two years before my great-great grandmother Josephine. I have a suspicion, however, that Jannette may have had a sister named Rachel, on the basis of some bits and pieces I have seen on the web. Since Rachel is carried on in Josephine’s family going down at least two more generations, I believe my great-grandmother Josie and her sister Rae were close. But I haven’t been able to find out much about Rachel.

She appears in the 1860 census with her parents, age 11, “attends school,” and in the 1865 NY census (“Rachel A 15”). But in 1870, she is not living at home with Jannette: only Josephine 18 (“app. dressmaker”) and William 14 (“cook on boat”) are still at home. Josephine’s apprenticeship is significant: the next reference I can find to Rachel is an entry in the Brooklyn Lain’s Directory for 1878: Burger, R. A. dressmkr h 301 Degraw.

By this time, many of the Burger siblings are in Brooklyn. Josephine is married and living with Walter. Rachel herself marries William, Walter’s brother, in 1878, and in 1880 the couple is living on Court Street. Rachel is still a dressmaker. But she fades from view after this.

Josephine names her first daughter for her sister Rachel in 1884. Her second daughter is my grandmother Josephine, who grows up and has two daughters, also Rachel (“baby Rae”) and Josephine. Baby Rae dies in childhood, but her aunt Rachel marries and has a son and a daughter, whom she names Josephine. Rachel is listed as “Rae” in the 1920 census, so that seems to be the usual nickname for the Rachels. But then, as my information moves toward the middle of the twentieth century and the databases close up, I can’t tell if there were any more Josephines or Rachels.


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