Great Great Grandma Sarah -- What were you doing during the Great Depression?For ancestor number 11, I picked Sarah Drake with the focus being on placing her in an historical event or time frame. I decided that I'd try to figure out what she was doing during the Great Depression from October 1929 when the market crashed through the more of less "official" end of the depression which was in December of 1941 when the Attack on Pearl Harbor pulled the US into World War II.
Sarah Drake is my 2nd Great Grandmother on my father's paternal line. She was born in December of 1865 in or around Amenia, Dutchess, New York to Charles Drake and Annagusta West. She spent her childhood in Dutchess County where she met and married George H. Haskins on January 13, 1887 in Pawling, Dutchess, New York. They had their first two children while they were living in that part of New York State. They eventually moved with Sarah's parents to the Rochester, NY area where they had their third child, my great grandfather, Frederick Haskins.
Sarah had a difficult life - her only daughter Julia died at the age of six from a tragic brush fire accident. She was estranged from her husband by the time of her daughter's death. She spent most of her life living with either her parents, her sisters or her children as they got older.
Through my research I have been able to follow where Sarah found herself every 5 to 10 years depending on the available census information but Sarah seems to disappear and can't be found in 1940.
The records indicate that she was somewhat of a ping-pong ball which aligns with stories I've been told that are vague and not full of detail.
It is a fact that in 1930, based on the census, she was living with her son Darwin on a farm close to the corner of Greenleaf Road and Beach Avenue near Lake Ontario in Charlotte, NY. I am told that this land is now part of a golf course. The census indicates that they had three lodgers living with them; they were Charles Clark, a 60 year old widower from England - occupation listed as farming. Lester Putman, a single 32 year old from New York - occupation listed as farming and Helen Anderson, a divorced 19 year old from New York - occupation none.
In 1931, Sarah and Darwin are no longer listed in the city directory as living here. The stories that I have heard is that Darwin could not maintain the farm and had to leave it. I have also been told that they moved back to Wayne county where they stayed with family. However, in The Daily Record from November 28th 1930 there in a notice of a deed from Benton D. Cartwright to Darwin Haskins and another for $1.00 for a home in East Bloomfield. In that same paper there is notice of a mortgage between Darwin and another with Benton Cartwright for $3500.
In 1932 - there is a notice of a chattel mortgage made by Sarah and Darwin Haskins with Caroline Gawryak. She pays Bronislawa Wielkowna $1125 on April 30, 1932. On May 11 of that same year, there is notice that they deed the East Bloomfield property to Caroline Gawryak for $1.00.
In 1933, Darwin is listed in the Democrat and Chronicle as having his home burglarized while living at 251 South Goodman St. in Rochester. It was determined that it was broken into by a Colgate Divinity student/ assistant pastor of the First Baptist Church that was suffering from a series of nervous breakdowns. He was hospitalized at the psychiatric center. It is unclear if Sarah was living with Darwin at this time his home was robbed. There is a court notice of foreclosure between Darwin and Sarah Haskins on a property in Monroe County on Maple Street. It was auctioned on March 6, 1933. In 1934 Darwin and Sarah are taken to court again and it is found in favor of Bronislawa Wielkowna for $1244 for deficiency related to their foreclosure.
Darwin reappears in the Rochester City Directory in 1937. He is now married to Erma and is living at 251 Goodman Street. It claims that he has a trucking business. Family folk lore explains that this trucking business was given to him by his brother and he ran it into the ground in a short time period. I have been told that he got the trucking business and Sarah but she is not listed as living with him in 1937. It appears that Darwin and Erma's home was foreclosed on and sold at auction during this year. She is living with him in 1938. In 1939, Darwin is now working as a typewriter worker and has moved to 394 Clinton Ave South but Sarah is no longer there. There is another family story that claims that Sarah went blind after a work accident involving carbon that got into her eyes. Could she have also worked as a typewriter worker and this is where her injury happened?
I guess my next steps will be to try to obtain the court documents, deeds and mortgages that are made notice to in the newspapers that I uncovered to see if I can find some more details to the story. At any rate it looks like Darwin and Sarah found themselves both moving around a great deal and struggling like so many to keep the American dream alive. One fact that I found is that it is estimated that in 1933 approximately 1,000 home loans were placed in foreclosure by the banks every day.