• Mary Krakow posted a status
    52 ancestors, week #1 The theme for week one of 52 ancestors in 52 weeks is Foundations. I decided to write about my maternal grandfather this week because his line is the one that hooked me on genealogy research. I never met my maternal grandfather. As a child, everything I knew about him was contained in a spring-loaded 5x12 inch black leather case. The hard case was kept in the cupboard next to the fridge. I thought of it as a sort of shrine. I was allowed to look, but I couldn’t take anything out. Blue velvet lined the interior and cradled dental instruments. My grandfather was a dentist. He lived and practiced in San Francisco where my mother was born. During the depression, he often found vegetables or other goods on his back porch in payment for his services. He was widowed when Mom was a girl of seven. That was the extent of my knowledge. Richmond John Tormey (1884-1951) is where my genealogy journey begins. My mother’s half-sisters had lots of information on Mom’s mother’s side, but Mom was Richmond Tormey’s only child. If I wanted to know anything about his side of the family, I would have to discover it for myself. When I was in my twenties, Mom developed an interest in researching her family tree and sent for her father’s birth certificate. That’s when I discovered he was born in Arizona Territory. This made no sense as much of Mom’s family centered around San Francisco. I tucked that information away until I caught the genealogy bug upon my retirement. Richmond John Tormey was the son of Irish immigrant Peter Tormey and California-born Ida May Pearson. He was named after Ida May’s father, Richmond C. Pearson. Early life 1884-1900 Richmond J Tormey was born in Tucson, Arizona Territory on 29 April, 1884. His parents came to Tucson to expand Richmond C. Pearson’s saloon business. As far as I can tell, Peter met Ida May when he was working in Pearson’s saloon on Main St in Los Angeles, California. They married in 1879 and by 1881 were living in Tucson where Richmond’s older brother Bernard (Ben) was born. Peter Tormey ran the Fashion Saloon Restaurant at 24 Court Square. Because Richmond Tormey was a child, I tracked his whereabouts through his father (Peter Tormey) using voter registers, city directories, and census records. Between 1886 and 1896 the family seems to have bounced back and forth between Los Angeles and San Francisco, possibly related to the family business--saloons. In 1898 the family moves to San Joaquin County to manage Jackson Baths, a mineral spa and resort. They stay for two years then move back to San Francisco in 1900. 1900-1930 The next 20 years are a bit of a mystery. The 1910 census confirms Richmond was living with family. By this time his parents had divorced and mother remarried. The 1910 census shows him living with his brother-in-law Abe Barnwell in San Bruno, but he also appears to be living with his youngest sister Ella, mother, and her new husband in San Francisco. In both entries his occupation is listed as upholsterer. I suspect that the 1906 earthquake displaced many family members from the City, and he may have been in a state of flux. San Francisco Directories of 1914-1917 list Richmond’s profession as ‘mattressmaker’ address 1112 Ellis. This was the boarding house of Mary Elizabeth Schlessinger nee Hawthorne who later became his wife. Richmond’s WWI draft card dated 12 Sept 1918 lists his occupation as student and next of kin Mary Elizabeth Tormey (my grandmother). They were married sometime between his birthday, 29 April, 1918 and his enlistment, 12 Sept 1918 (age 34). Mary Elizabeth had two girls from a previous marriage. She was widowed when the youngest was an infant. I’ve seen photographs of Richmond Tormey in uniform but I don’t have any information regarding his military service. The 1920 census lists his occupation as dentist. Apparently, the Hawthorne family didn’t like the idea of their daughter marrying a lowly upholsterer, so they urged him to become a doctor and may have even helped financially! Dr. Tormey’s dental practice was in the prestigious Flood Building in San Francisco. He lived at 1112 Ellis and later moved to fashionable Borica Street where my mother spent the first seven years of her life. Dr. Tormey’s daughter Marjorie was born 7 June 1924. 1931 1931 was a tragic year for Richmond Tormey. On 31 August his beloved father Peter, died. He had been living in an old age home. Later that year on Thanksgiving day, Richmond’s auto was hit by a drunk driver. His wife sustained fatal injuries and died on 2 December 1931. His wife and father are buried in the same plot at Holy Cross Cemetery in Colma, California. After his wife’s death, Richmond left his daughter in the care of his brother James while he recovered from his wife’s death. He was said to have had a nervous breakdown and I seem to remember hearing that he lived briefly in Southern California but have not yet found any documentation to confirm.

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