Back to Al Pleau for a Minute!

It figures that as soon as I complete my posts on Al that I would discover something completely new about him!

I read that Genealogy Bank just released some newspapers from the San Francisco area for the time period that Al was there. Always curious to learn something more, I checked it out. More performances, more comedy, and a tiny blurb in the August 12, 1928 issue of the San Francisco Chronicle, saying “PLEAU – In this city. August 9, 1928. Albert Pleau, a native of New York.”

Wait, what happened in this city? Click on the image, find the name, see what column this is under…”Deaths”. I thought Al died after 1940, since he was on that Voter Registration List. Maybe they never took him off the list? (I know that some are thinking, “Maybe another Al Pleau?” Could be. But this would explain why I could never find him on the 1930 and 1940 censuses.)

So I looked on the microfilmed California Death Index on FamilySearch. Sure enough, there was Al Pleau, died in San Francisco on August 9, 1928 at the age of 50 (which would be his exact age). And even though I’ve been checking Find a Grave forever, I checked it again and found two entries (seems that one is a duplicate which appears to be deleted now) at Holy Cross Catholic Cemetery in Colma, CA (which is on the San Francisco peninsula). One of the entries notes how he was a veteran of vaudeville. New York + 50 years old + Catholic + vaudeville = gotta be my Al!

California Death Index, 1905-1939; FamilySearch

California Death Index, 1905-1939; FamilySearch

Of course, I requested a photo of his gravestone on Find a Grave.  A contributor who works this cemetery contacted me and told me that sadly, the section that Al is buried in is for the indigent and there is no individual stone for him.  There is only a statue that marks that section of the cemetery.

Now that I know that Al died in 1928, this makes me think of the impact on his family. He died before my great-grandfather George did, so surely George would have heard of Al’s death while he was living in Baltimore. I wonder how it impacted George, even though he hadn’t seen Al in nearly a decade. I wonder if he spoke of it to my grandfather, who wasn’t even six years old yet. If he did, I’m certain that my grandfather did not remember much about it, based on what little he was able to convey to me about his father’s family.  I also wonder how Al died at such a young age.

In any case, finding Al’s burial site has enabled me to find the last of where this family is buried.  I’ve been able to reunite him with his family on Find a Grave and in my virtual cemetery there.  I’ve felt a sense of resolution or completion in all of this.  However, I am not done posting about this family!

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The Genealogy Event Recap

Author's collection

Author’s collection

Today was DNA Day at The Genealogy Event, which I opted not to go to, since I’m not just ready to leap into that in my research yet.  I still covered it the best I can via my  RebelMouse page, so be sure to check that out.

Meanwhile, I thought I’d reacap my experience and impressions of the third Genealogy Event.

What I liked:
  • Where it was located: 1 Bowling Green is in lower Manhattan, practically at the tip of the island.  All I had to do was take the train down to Grand Central, then the 4 or 5 line straight to Bowling Green.  No searching for the subway station, no transfers;easy-peasy!  Best of all?  Starbucks was right across a not-too-busy street!
  • The venue itself:  The Alexander Hamilton US Customs House is an absolutely gorgeous late 19th/early 20th century building.  The architecture inside and out was stunning, as well as beautiful artwork painted on the ceilings of the most public areas.  I could have spent all day looking at it, but that is not why I was there!  So I’ll just have to satisfy myself with this link  that our NARA tour guide recommended.  By the way, this is a new office for NARA in New York City and it still  doesn’t house their entire collection!  To learn more about NARA in New York City, click here.
  • Enclosed rooms:  In the past, the Genealogy Event sessions were merely curtained off in a large, kind of echoing room.  This year sessions were in separate rooms with doors that closed.  It was so much easier to hear the speakers!
  • Advanced Sessions:  After last year’s little advanced break-out sessions, it was discovered that there was a big demand for more advanced offerings.  I went to three of them:  Reading Old Documents, Understanding Our Families, and Passenger Manifests.  I learned even more than I expected to at each.
  •  New Topics for the General Sessions:  Some of the topics that I especially enjoyed were Lineage Societies, Old Fulton NY Postcards, and Caring for Keepsakes. It was nice to have new offerings and new speakers this year.
  •  Lunch for VIP’s:  One of the biggest reasons I signed up as a VIP this year was to have lunch on-site, which was in the Learning Center at NARA.  It was a great place to eat, socialize or just to hang out if there was a long time between the sessions I was interested in.
  • Social Event:  This was at the Fraunces Tavern, where George Washington gave his farewell address to his soldiers at the end of the Revolutionary War.  There is a museum here that I did not get to see, but now I know about it!  Anyhow, it was nice to unwind and talk genealogy with others that share that passion!
  • Meeting the Speakers and Other Attendees:  Yes, I got to be a bit of a fan girl with some of the big names in the business!  It’s a small enough venue where you can actually have a real conversation with the likes of Michael J. LeClerc, Maureen Taylor, Ron Arons and the ladies from Family Tree Magazine (and others, of course).  I even had a family connection:  Denise Levenick (aka The Family Curator) is very distantly related to me through our ancestor, Roger Williams.  I made some new friends and finally met up with a fellow #genchat tweep:  Molly Charboneau of  Molly”s Canopy.
What Could Use Improvement:
  • Exhibit Hall:  The exhibit hall was kind of scant this year, though I do understand it’s probably due to limited space in the hallway.  I wonder if there may have been another meeting room to stick this in?  I especially missed Maia’s Books from last year, although my wallet is probably grateful!
  • Temperature in the Auditorium:  The general sessions were held in the auditorium felt, quite honestly, sub-arctic.  Even though I attended several general sessions in a row, I had to step out between sessions just to warm up a little.
  • Handouts Available On-Line Ahead of Time:  Several times, speakers would say “in your handout”, though there was none (yet).  Perhaps having a special place so sign in and download (maybe with a code that comes on your paid ticket?) would be good.
  • Wifi was Spotty:  We were in the basement, so I don’t think a lot could be done about it.  It just kept me from updating RebelMouse as quickly as I would have liked, but it was not impossible.

As you can see, I did enjoy myself overall.  I want to thank everyone for following along on RebelMouse; there have been over 700 views!  I am humbled and flattered.  I think one of the biggest things that I learned this weekend was that genealogists come in all sorts of shapes and flavors.  Such a variety of skillsets and workstyle preferences!  Even outside the classroom, I have been given a lot to think about.

The Genealogy Event: Are You Going?

This Friday starts the third Genealogy Event in New York City, and I can’t wait! There is a Starbucks nearby, the venue is stunning and historic, and I’ll be meeting people I know only virtually! Best of all, of course, I will be immersed in genealogy with like-minded people.

Venue for The Genealogy Event.  Photo courtesy Wikimedia Commons.

Venue for The Genealogy Event. Photo courtesy Wikimedia Commons.

Some of the lectures I will be attending are:

  • Reading Old Documents (Michael LeClerc)
  • Understanding Our Families (Ron Arons)
  • Lineage Society (Shannon Combs-Bennett)
  • Passenger Manifests (Phyllis Kramer)
  • DNA & Pop Culture (Blaine Bettinger)
  • Caring for Keepsakes (Denise Levinick)

And a few others as I am so led.

If you cannot attend the Genealogy Event, feel free to visit the Rebel Mouse page that I’ve set up, capturing the tweets and pictures of the conference. I’ll do my best to keep it as “live” as possible. If you haven’t visited Rebel Mouse pages before, I’ve found them to be very helpful in capturing the flavor of a conference; almost like being a fly on the wall!

Of course, I’ll be writing a blog post afterwards to reflect on the whole experience. I hope to see some of you there!

Great-Great Uncle Eugene Jule Pleau: A Career for a Lifetime

Unlike his older brothers, I’ve found no record of Eugene writing his own music. However, he did enjoy a long career in music and acting.

The 1905 New York Census listed his occupation as playing piano. Apparently this was a lifelong love, because he played piano and the solovox (a keyboard instrument) in 1947 in Florida nightclubs and even on the radio.

Eugene, like his brother Al, took part in many blackface minstrel shows throughout New York State. In 1912 and 1913, he took part in and even directed a benefit for Fairport Lodge 476 in Fairport, NY.

One of Eugene’s unique talents was dancing. In 1917 he performed a “scarecrow dance” in Cato, NY. In 1925 he danced along with “monologuing” at the Masonic Hall in Sandy Creek, NY. And in 1928 he was lauded as a “stylish stepper” at a show put on at the Church of the Blessed Sacrament right in his hometown of Rochester.

Finally, Eugene spent many years acting in comedies aside from vaudeville acts. Two of the acting troupes I know of were the Jack Lynn Stock Players (in 1922) and the Bunny Strickler Players (1927). Among some of the plays he took part in were: “My Mother’s Rosary,” “Other People’s Money,” “Why Women Divorce Men,” “Judy O’Grady, or When Dreams Come True,” and “Scrambled Wives.”

It seems to me that whenever and wherever Eugene was, he was able to use his talents to do what he loved: entertain people.