Great-Great Aunt Ella Jane (Pleau) Britenstool

Ella Jane Pleau was born March 10, 1988 in Rochester, NY. Although she was the second to last child born to George and Emma Pleau, she became the baby of the family after the death of her younger sister Lucy in 1895.

Ella worked as a clerk in a photograph company, which I assume was Eastman Kodak. On December 27, 1911, she married Chester B. Britenstool in Rochester, NY (more on that in a minute) by clergyman R.R.M. Converse, witnessed by Elizabeth Foster (perhaps a friend?). Chester, the son of Julius Britenstool and Ella Bryant, was a tailor and later a clothing designer.

The couple lived with Chester’s mother at 93 Prince Street, then at other locations in Rochester. They moved to Buffalo, NY in 1917 and back to Rochester in 1929. Eventually they moved to Webster, NY by 1944 and lived there at least through 1965. They appeared to have returned to Rochester by the time Chester died in June 1970.

Ella died November 16, 1980. Ella’s funeral, like her sister Evelyn’s, was at St. Boniface Church. Both Ella and Chester are buried at Mount Hope Cemetery in Rochester, next to Chester’s parents.

Grave of Chester and Ella Britenstool.  Author's collection.

Grave of Chester and Ella Britenstool. Author’s collection.

As I conclude this outline of my great-grandfather’s siblings, I’d like to return to a scene from Ella and Chester’s wedding reception. I discovered an article in the Rochester Democrat and Chronicle, and found it to be the most intimate look at the family. Following is my transcription of the article, with my comments in brackets:

New Year’s Wedding Reception

On New Year’s eve at the home of the bride, No. 609 North street, there was a wedding reception for Ella J. Britenstool, youngest daughter of Mr. and Mrs. George Pleau, who on Wednesday last became the bride of Chester Britenstool. [I wonder if they took a short honeymoon before returning to celebrate.] The bride wore white serge and carried roses. The dining room was decorated with holly and wedding bells, and the table with ferns and pink carnations. [This tells me that George and Emma shelled out some money for this, if they got flowers and greenery in the middle of a Western New York winter! And doesn’t this sound pretty and festive?] There were musical selections by Miss Florence Weber, Mr. and Mrs. Charles Weilert, Albert[,] George, Jr., and Eugene Pleau. [First, I am concluding that they must have had a piano in the house. Second, what a musically talented family! And what a joyous time they must have had!] Mr. Britenstool is a son of Ella M. and the late Julius Britenstool, of No. 93 Prince Street.

A modern view of 609 North Street, Rochester, NY.  Courtesy Google Earth.

A modern view of 609 North Street, Rochester, NY. Courtesy Google Earth.

I can only imagine the scene, with snow on the ground outside the home, but music and laughter coming from the inside; the entire family together in celebration.

Great-Great Aunt Evelyn L. (Pleau) Weilert

Evelyn L. Pleau was born in February 1883, I presume in Rochester, NY.  She had an eighth grade education.  Like her father and most of her brothers, spent some time in the shoe industry, working as a shoe stitcher in 1990.

Evelyn married Charles W. Weilert on February 12, 1902 in Rochester, NY.  Charles seems to have started out as a wood finisher, but spent most of his life as a driver.  By 1940 he was unable to work.

The Weilerts had no surviving children.  They had a stillborn child in October 1902, which was buried in Holy Sepulchre Cemetery, and at least one other child that died before 1910.

Both Evelyn and Charles had some musical talent; having performed with her brothers and niece Loretta Webber at her sister Ella’s wedding reception.

Throughout my research of the Weilerts, it seems to me that they were generous with their home.  Evelyn’s parents George & Emma lived with them till the ends of their lives in 1915 & 1918, respectively.  Her brothers George and Eugene lived with her & Charles at various times; in particular, George lived there when separated from his first wife, Agnes.

Charles’ generosity also was demonstrated by contributing to a fund to help Anna Hasman & her children, who suffered malnutrition & the effects of coal fumes in December 1928.

Charles died in December of 1947, and Evelyn moved to Webster, NY by 1948.  I wonder if she lived with Cordelia and Leonard?

St. Boniface Church.  Courtesy Google Earth.

St. Boniface Church. Courtesy Google Earth.

Eventually, she moved back to Rochester, where she died on November 29, 1965.  Her wake was held at MJ Miller’s Son Funeral Home the next day, and funeral was held at St. Boniface Church in Rochester on December 2,  Her death notice in the paper mention her survivors as sister Ella Britenstoool, niece Florence Webber, “and two nephews.”  Although unnamed, I know that they are George Albert Pleau (brother Charles Pleau’s son) and George Edmund Pleau (brother George’s son and my grandfather).  I wonder if they ever knew this aunt, although I can say my grandfather didn’t seem to be able to recall her specifically when I asked about his father’s family.

Like much of the Pleau family, Evelyn and Charles are buried at Holy Sepulchre Cemetery.

Charles + Evelyn Weilert grave.  Author's collection.

Charles + Evelyn Weilert grave. Author’s collection.

Great-Great Aunt Cordelia (Pleau) Webber

Typical of most genealogical research, I have less information on the women of the Pleau family than the men. However I do feel compelled to include them and their families in their own articles.

Cordelia Pleau (sometimes called Delia), the oldest daughter of George Pleau and Emma LeClair, was born January 1874 in Rochester. Her education ended after seventh grade, and I assume that she went to Our Lady of Victory School like her brother George.  As an adult she worked as a tailoress in Rochester until a couple of years after being married.

On September 17, 1895 Cordelia married Leonard F. Webber*, a carpenter.  Leonard was the widower of Barb Baetzel, who died five years prior.  He and Barb had a daughter, Loretta (or Lauretta) A., born in December 1888.  It wasn’t long before Cordelia had a daughter of her own; five months later, Florence Emma was born November 9, 1895.  (Not so coincidentally, Barb was five months pregnant when marrying Leonard.)

Probably the most significant thing I found on this family was a newspaper article that claimed on October 21, 1896 Leonard ” punished Gregory Liebeck with his fists”.  Leonard claimed that this was a case of mistaken identity and had a lawyer to defend his case.  I don’t know the outcome of the case at this time.  I assume that the outcome was positive, but without court records I can’t know for sure.

The Webber family lived in various places in Rochester, then Leonard used his carpentry skills to build a new home at 458 Electric Avenue, where they lived from  1914-1936.

458 Electric Avenue, Rochester NY.  Courtesy Google Earth.

458 Electric Avenue, Rochester NY. Courtesy Google Earth.

Leonard retired from carpentry in 1936 and the family moved to nearby Ontario, Wayne County, NY.  Meanwhile, Loretta and Florence worked various clerical jobs; Loretta as a bookkeeper and Florence as a secretary.

After about another ten years, they moved to nearby Webster, NY. Leonard died of a heart condition on September 23, 1949 after being rushed to the hospital.  Cordelia remained in Webster and passed away there on November 4, 1952.  Both are buried in Holy Sepulchre Cemetery in Rochester.

Graves of Leonard and Cordelia Webber.  Author's collection.

Graves of Leonard and Cordelia Webber. Author’s collection.

Loretta and Florence seemed to have moved back to Rochester, and neither of them ever married.  Loretta died December 22, 1966; Florence died June 12, 1995. Both buried next to Leonard & Cordelia at Holy Sepulchre.

Florence Webber's grave.  Author's collection.

Florence Webber’s grave. Author’s collection.

Seeing Florence’s death date on her gravestone made me regret not pursuing genealogy sooner.  I married a Western New Yorker in 1992 and we often passed through Rochester on the way to my in-laws.  If I had only known of Florence, I could have made the effort to meet her before she died!

*Leonard spelled his last name Weber until 1914.