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Who was Albert Emerson Askew?

Albert’s uncle, Charles Thompson Askew, the subject of my earliest posts on this blog, led me to find Albert and his family. The 1883 Woods’ Baltimore City Directory, which I referred to in an earlier post about him, lists Charles T. Askew, salesman, at the corner of Lafayette and Gilmor, along with Thomas S. Askew, clerk, and Isaac Emerson, apothecary. (There’s that Emerson name again, hmmm.) I also know that Charles and Thomas are brothers. How do I know that? In addition to wills and other evidence, which I won’t go into right now, here they are in the 1870 federal census for Wake County, North Carolina:

1870 NC Wake Askew William copy

I was unable to find Thomas in the 1880 census. However, I did find him in another Baltimore city directory in 1893. The listing reads:

ASKEW & CO (Thos S Askew, Albert W Young) druggists, 501 N. Carrollton

It seems he rose from being a clerk in a drug store to a druggist in his own business. This was the last evidence I could find for Thomas in Baltimore. An 1894 city directory for Wilmington, Delaware, listed “Askew TS, druggist.” At first, I wasn’t certain whether or not this was, in fact, the same person. Some evidence I discovered recently, however, proves it was. Where did Thomas go after that?

Legal documents pertaining to his father’s estate indicate that by 1888 he has a wife named Sadie. Using that as a clue, I found him in Pennsylvania. Here they are in the 1900 federal census for Philadelphia:

1900 PA askew t s copy

It shows that they have been married for 14 years and that he is a drug salesman. They have two sons who were born in Delaware: Albert E., born in May, 1891; and Frank L., born in May, 1897.

I haven’t had any luck finding a birth record for Albert, but I did find one for Frank. He was born in Wilmington, Delaware on May 1, 1897. It also shows his mother’s maiden name is Sadie Young. Could she be related to the Albert W. Young listed as a druggist at Askew & Co. in the 1893 Baltimore directory mentioned above? It seems likely, but I don’t know for certain.

Askew Frank L

Searching Delaware records, I also found that Thomas and Sadie had a daughter who died at age 2. According to the death certificate, her name was Edith Young Askew. She was born in Baltimore, Maryland. She died on June 17, 1890 of meningitis.

For some reason, I haven’t been able to find this family in either the 1910 or 1920 federal census. This meant turning to other sources for clues to their whereabouts. Once again, books available online in digital format provided answers. Just as I found clues about Charles Askew by searching in publications about his occupation as a paper salesman, I turned up valuable information about Thomas in pharmaceutical materials. A publication titled Practical Druggist and Pharmaceutical Review of Reviews, Vol. 21-24, pg. 585, which I found at http://www.books.google.com, in the section dated December, 1908, lists Thomas S. Askew as a registered pharmacist, having passed the New Jersey Board of Pharmacy exam in October.

Now that I knew where (and “when”) to look, it was easy to trace the family in city directories. A city directory for Vineland, New Jersey lists Thomas as a druggist and Albert as resident manager at 712 Grape Street. In 1910, the whole family appears in the Camden city directory. Their address is 835 N. 2nd. The 1915 Camden city directory shows that, by then, the family had moved to 419 State Street. Albert is listed as a drug clerk.

Albert seems to be following in his father’s footsteps in the pharmacy business. Perhaps seeking new opportunities apart from the family business, Albert takes over the management of a pharmacy in Trenton, New Jersey, according to this article published in the Trenton Evening Times on October 6, 1915:

Askew takes over Davidsons drug store copy

On June 5th of 1917, Albert registered for the draft. His registration card lists his age as 26 and date of birth as May 4, 1892. (This differs from the 1900 census, above, by one year.) His home address is 145 State Street, Camden, and he now works as a pharmacist for J. T. Kelly in Hammonton, New Jersey. He is married. He is tall, with blue eyes and black hair. The Camden city directory for 1917 shows that Thomas and Sadie continue to live at 419 State Street.

Exactly one year later, his brother, Frank, registered for the draft, too. His registration card lists his age as 21 and date of birth as May 1, 1897. His home address is 418 N. 2nd, Camden, and he works for the Electro Dental Company of Philadelphia. He is medium height, with light blue eyes and brown hair. Interestingly, he lists his mother as his nearest relative. Also, he reports his middle name as “Young,” although it is shown as “Laplace” on his birth record. Why the change, I wonder?

We know what happens to Albert later in 1918. In fact, the address where his funeral was held is the same as the address that Frank lists as his home address on his draft registration. Albert’s widow, Florence, moved to San Francisco after his death, and appears there in the 1925 city directory.

Something happens to Thomas between 1917 and 1920, but I’m not sure what it is. He may also have died of the Spanish flu, but I have been unable to find a death record for him. The 1920 Camden city directory lists Sadie, but not Thomas. She is living with Frank. One day I may be able to solve this mystery in the New Jersey archives.

Are there any living Askews from this line? Albert and Florence had no children. I have no record of Frank after 1923. So, for now, it seems the story of my great-great-great uncle Thomas and his family has come to an end.

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Posted by on February 15, 2013 in Askew, Uncategorized

 

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Askew Among 675,000 Dead from Flu

Between the start of “flu season” and the middle of October, nearly 7000 people in Camden, New Jersey fell ill with the flu. By October 19th, 615 of them were dead. Across the river in Philadelphia, the death toll climbed quickly past 700. No epidemic of this magnitude has been encountered before or since. One unfortunate victim, Albert Emerson Askew, succumbed to the flu on October 23rd, during the Spanish flu pandemic of 1918. He was 27 years old.

According to his obituary, published in the Philadelphia Public Ledger on October 25, 1918, he was survived by his wife, Florence Patterson Askew; his father, Thomas Askew; and his mother, Sadie Askew. A funeral service was held at the home of family friend William E. Comley, 418 N. 2nd Street, Camden. Interment took place at Riverview Cemetery in Wilmington, Delaware.

In 1918, the Spanish flu caused an estimated 675,000 deaths in the United States alone. The worldwide death toll may have been as high as 50 million people. It killed rapidly, often overnight, as infected people suffocated when their lungs filled with fluid. Some reports indicate a bloody froth spilled from their mouths. Secondary bacterial pneumonia infections were common. Those in the age range of 20 to 50 had the highest mortality rate, which is somewhat unusual for the flu. At the time, Philadelphia’s population numbered approximately 1.7 million. By October 25th, 150,000 cases of the Spanish flu had been reported there. The city morgue, designed for 36 bodies, overflowed with more than 500 dead stacked in the halls. Burials couldn’t keep pace. In Philadelphia, as well as in Newark, New Jersey, and other cities, the dead were sometimes buried in mass graves.

Some of the first reported case of the Spanish flu in the US occurred among a group of sailors in Boston at the end of August, 1918. By October 1st, the number of reported cases in Massachusetts exceeded 75,000. In New Jersey, more than 150,000 cases were reported, and by the end of October more than 4,400 people were dead. By contrast, this year Boston’s mayor declared a state of emergency when the number of confirmed cases of the flu reached 700 and 4 people had died.

Public response to the Spanish flu epidemic seems to have been mixed. In some cities, public gathering places such as schools, theaters, and churches were closed, and people were encouraged to don gauze masks. Not everyone agreed with this policy, however. One Philadelphia newspaper accused authorities of trying to “scare everyone to death,” and relegated news about the flu to its back pages, despite the mounting death toll. Ultimately, Philadelphia had the highest number of deaths of any US city with over 12,000 reported. Most of these occurred within four weeks during the peak of the flu season.

Still, many more people lived through the pandemic than died. Unfortunately, Albert E. Askew wasn’t one of the lucky ones. The odds may have been stacked against him, though, because he would very likely have come into contact with many sick people. He was a druggist. In those days, the fledgling medical profession had neither the knowledge nor the resources to mount an effective battle against this virulent strain of flu. Also, many doctors and nurses were overseas taking care of the soldiers fighting in World War I, leaving fewer “trained” medical personnel to care for the sick. The pharmaceutical industry was in its infancy, with druggists creating and dispensing “cures” for many ailments. They were often sought out by the sick for medical advice and treatment. There was no cure for the flu, however whisky was often proscribed. Druggists were a source of supply even when public places, such as saloons, had been temporarily closed during the height of the pandemic.

Where does Albert Emerson Askew reside on my family tree? I will tell you in my next post. Hint: we are 1st cousins, 3 times removed. If you don’t remember what that means, read this post again.

Here are a few of the sources I used for information about the Spanish Flu:

The 1918 Influenza Pandemic; http://virus.stanford.edu/uda/

Pandemic Flu History; http://www.flu.gov/pandemic/history/1918/

University of Pennsylvania article; http://www.upenn.edu/gazette/1198/lynch.html

Boston flu deaths for 2012-13 season total 6 before Jan 11th according to this article. Five were over 65 years old.

 
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Posted by on February 8, 2013 in Askew, Uncategorized

 

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Charles T. Askew – Looking Ahead and Looking Back

Bringing the Charles Thompson Askew family into the present day requires more research than I am prepared to do. Because of privacy concerns, the information available online for people presumed to be still living is somewhat limited. And rightly so! Here is what I know of the rest of this story.

We know from her obituary, that Charles’ daughter Bertie (from his first marriage to Leila Skinner) and her husband Daniel Henderson had a daughter named Ruth, who was attending Swarthmore College at the time of Bertie’s death in 1935. Ruth’s engagement to H. Woodward McDowell, two years after her mother’s death, was announced in the New York Times:

New York Times; published May 2, 1937.

 

Although I have some clues about Ruth and H. Woodward McDowell from news articles which suggest they had two daughters named Nancy and Ann, I cannot prove it at this time.

We know from Charles’ obituary that he married a woman whose first name was Edith and that they had a son named Charles. The 1920 federal census record for Sierra Madre, Los Angeles county, California, shows Charles T. Askew, head-of-household, age 61, born in North Carolina; Edith M. Askew, his wife, age 48, born in England; Charles E. Askew, his son, age 19, born in New York. Given all the evidence I have already presented about Charles T. Askew, I have concluded that this record must pertain to him and his family. The last record I have for Charles Thompson Askew is the obituary, published just 3 years after this census was taken. His wife’s maiden name may have been Matthews. The California Death Index lists Edith Matthews Askew, born November 12, 1870 in “other country” and died February 19, 1957 in Los Angeles.

His son, Charles E. Askew, can be found in numerous records. The 1930 federal census record for Sierra Madre, Los Angeles county, California shows Charles E. Askew, head-of-household, age 30, born in New York, father born in North Carolina, mother born in England; Freeda I. Askew, his wife, age 24, born in California; Helen E. Askew, his daughter, age 4, born in California; Betty J. Askew, his daughter, age 6 months, born in California. This census also asked for “age at first marriage.” In this case, it gives us some very important information. For Charles, his age at first marriage is reported to be 21 – approximately 9 years earlier. For Freeda, however, her age at first marriage is reported to be 23 – just one year earlier, and too soon to be the mother of Helen who is 4 years old. I suspect that Freeda is his second wife. Can I prove it?

The California Birth Index, which I found on Ancestry.com, lists Helen Edith Askew, born in Los Angeles county on July 25, 1925. Her mother’s maiden name is recorded as Vanblack. The California Death Index, also found on Ancestry.com, lists Helen Edith, born July 25, 1925 in California and died May 7, 1996 in Los Angeles county. It records her mother’s maiden name as Vanvleck, her father’s surname as Askew, and her full name as Helen Edith Pennington. Despite the different spellings of her mother’s maiden name, which could easily be due to a transcription error, these records appear to match each other and are consistent with the 1930 census record. Could Vanblack (or Vanvleck) be the maiden name of Charles E. Askew’s first wife?

After much searching, I hit pay dirt! In a family history published on Ancestry.com (the complete source for this record is listed at the end of this post) here is what I found:

Child of Frank Abram and Eliza B. (Stanbery) Van Vleck: Helen Janette Van Vleck (adopted), born Feb 2, 1904; died at the birth of her only daughter; married in Sierra Madre CA April, 1922, Charles Askew. Child Helen.

It appears that Charles E. was married first to Helen Van Vleck and second to Freeda (last name unknown.) Helen apparently died in childbirth. So sad . . .

In census records I found Frank Abram, Eliza and Helen. That information together with the Van Vleck family history led me to the book The History of Cerro Gordo County, IA, 1910, which has quite a bit of information about the Stanbery/Stanbury family. It reports that Frank Van Vleck and Eliza Belle Stanbury are living in Minot, ND and that she is the daughter of Dr. and Mrs. William C. Stanbery. The Iowa connection led me to an article published in the Mason City Globe Gazette on October 17, 1957 about a lawsuit that the local power company was bringing against many people who had an interest in land located in the Stanbury Addition, Mason City, Cerro Gordo county. The defendants included Charles E. Askew and Irene Askew, husband and wife, and Helen Edith Askew Pennington!

One detail that I have yet to prove is the maiden name of Charles E. Askew’s second wife. The census records list her name as Freeda or Freida I. Askew. Given that the name listed in the news article is “Irene,” I think that may be her middle name.

Old high school and college yearbooks are increasingly available online. Here is a photo I found in the 1945 Pasadena Jr. College Yearbook for Helen Edith Askew.

What else do I know? From his military registration card, I know that Charles E. Askew’s middle name is Emerson (keep that in mind, it is a name you will see again) and that he had blue eyes and brown hair, and that his birthday was August 18, 1900. He may have served in the US Air Force as a pilot and may have been a volunteer fireman in Sierra Madre, according to various records I have found but that I can’t prove pertain to him. I have not found a death record for him. The California Death Index lists Freida I. Askew, born October 17, 1905 in California, died September 10, 1975 in Los Angeles. I haven’t been able to find any records for their daughter, Betty.

Next, we will return to the east coast at the end of the 19th century and follow one of Charles T. Askew’s brothers.

There is always “more to the story!”

 

Source:

Ancestry.com. Ancestry and descendants of Tielman Van Vleeck of Niew Amsterdam : with some descendants of Benjamin Van Vleck and Marinus Roel [database on-line]. Provo, UT: The Generations Network, Inc., 2005. (Original data: Van Vleck, Jane,. Ancestry and descendants of Tielman Van Vleeck of Niew Amsterdam : with some descendants of Benjamin Van Vleck and Marinus Roelofse van Vleckeren or Van Vlack. New York: unknown, 1955.)

 
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Posted by on October 19, 2012 in Askew, Family Photos, Uncategorized

 

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