When I first started delving into my family, perhaps my most elusive ancestor was my great-grandfather, George Edmund Pleau. I knew that he was my great-grandmother’s third husband and that he died when my grandfather was just a boy. Both my grandfather and father were named for him and supposedly were all part of a “long line of George Pleaus”, according to my grandmother. My grandfather had almost no information on his father’s family.
My aunt Cherie (known to our family as Cheryl) managed to determine that George was from Rochester, Monroe County, New York. Since my in-laws live close to that area, I had offered to do any on-site research for her. She adamantly refused my offer. At this point, I think she felt quite possessive about this family line, so I left it alone until after her death.
Once she had passed away, however, I began my pursuit, as I explained in About. The following is a basic outline of George’s life, based on my best information:
- Born on December 27, 1875 in Rochester, NY to George Pleau and Emma LeClair, who were originally from Quebec.
- He was the third child and second son in the family. His older siblings were Napoleon Charles and Cordelia. His younger siblings were Albert Joseph, Eugene Jule, Evelyn L., Ida (who died during childhood), Ella Jane, and Lucy (who also died during childhood).
- His family moved often within the heart of Rochester.
- Attended Our Lady of Victory parochial school, where he began to perform in musical plays.
- Worked primarily as a shoemaker like his father and sometimes as a musician; particularly playing the piano.
- Married Agnes Jeanette Kowiak on July 19, 1899 in Rochester.
- Between 1900 and 1910, two children were born to him and Agnes and subsequently died.
- In December 1910, he and Agnes bought a home at 17 Lochner Place in Rochester, which does not seem to exist anymore.
- As of 1918, he had dark hair and brown eyes.
- In 1918, he and Agnes appeared to be separated. He lived with his sister Evelyn.
- Moved to Lynn, Essex County, Massachusetts in 1919. The 1920 Census shows that he was a shoemaker boarding at Catherine Beard’s house at 41 Buffum Street. My theory is that, after the death of both his parents and in the face of his failing marriage, he probably felt he needed to get away from Rochester. I know that Lynn was even bigger in the shoe industry than Rochester, so perhaps it had more job opportunities.
- Sometime before early 1921, he met widow Bertha (Colomy)(French) Spratt.
- On November 22, 1921, his son (my grandfather) was born to him and Bertha.
- In June 1922, he sold the deed to the Rochester house to his wife Agnes.
- On July 22, 1922, he and Bertha were married in Bath, Sagadahoc County, Maine. She claimed it was her second marriage, and he claimed it was his first.
- In October 1922, the Supreme Court in New York issued a final decree of divorce in favor of Agnes, the plaintiff. (Yes, you are reading this timeline correctly!)
- By June 1925, George and his little family moved to Brooklyn, Kings County, NY. He worked as a shoemaker.
- In 1927, they moved to Baltimore, Baltimore City, Maryland. He worked as a shoemaker and then as a salesman.
- On the afternoon of March 4, 1932 he was struck by a car while walking at the corner of Harford Road and Glenmore Avenue, not far from where he lived on Mary Avenue.
- On March 15, 1932, he died from his injuries in St. Joseph’s hospital.
- On March 18, 1932, his funeral was held at E.I. Fanning & Son, with religious services at Church of the Messiah (an Episcopal church). He was buried in Baltimore Cemetery without a gravestone.
As you can see, I found a lot of information on George, primarily thanks to online city directories, census information and newspaper articles. What I don’t know is what he was like as a person. Was he funny? Did he sing tenor or bass? (My guess is bass, based on my grandfather’s voice.) Did he love his family? Maybe I’ll find out someday.