During the second and last phone conversation I ever had with Claire Knapp's granddaughter Sibby, back in the fall of 2001, I asked her "What ever happened to Marion"... Her answer was "Gee I don't really know, she just kind of disappeared" Sibby whom I found to be very open and cordial, and I'm sure was telling me all she knew then, because she was most likely only a child the last time she probably saw Marion. Which was probably when Marion buried her husband Joseph F. Knapp aka "Uncle Dodi" in October of 1952. Sibby was about 6 then. She recalled going to his house once or twice as a child and that's about it. She wasn't even sure which house she went to, Hampton Bays or Ft. Lauderdale.
Well I've known for a some time and it's been on the website for well over a year or more that Marion remarried a fellow named Stanley L. Conley about 1953 or 54 because she sold the house in Hampton Bays that Dodi died in. The names on the deed from July of 1954 appeared as Marion H. Conley (formerly Marion E. Knapp wife of Joseph F. Knapp deceased)
Initial on and off searching for Marion and Stanley L. Conley yielded little more than their New York City address in the 1950's phone books. She was still listed as Mrs. Joseph F. Knapp (Marion H.) in the 1954 Fort Lauderdale City Directory and I assume she hung on to that place for many reasons the least not being that Dodi died in the Long Island house. And speaking of initials .... the interchange between E & H in everything I had found on Marion,in both legal documents like deeds or newspaper accounts like obits, only led to the confusion of was she formerly Marion Emma, Elizabeth, Eugenie, Howell, Harrington, Henke etc OR WAS she Marion Helga, Harriet, Hildergarde, Evans, Eisenhower, Einstein ????? Ponderous For Sure. In Other Letters : What was her maiden name and what was her middle name? M. E. H. or M. H. E. ...Anyone who has ever tried to do a genealogical search knows what I was up against. The fact that I saw her as Marion H. in most newspaper items led me to believe that might be the first letter of her maiden name.
However slowly and piece by piece it has begun to sort itself out and with my recently coming into possesion of a piece of Marion H. Knapp's personal property, a book of fine art lithographs and etchings. I thought it was time to add this page. It was very inspiring to find something (without ever looking for it ) in very fine condition btw, that Marion once owned and probably was a gift to her from her husband Joseph F. Knapp in 1939. And it was equally inspiring, to hear the story from two other people of whom Marion was, before Dodi came into her life and what happened when they met. Their story, like the book from her library was pretty amazing if only to me.
Remember John Fogerty and Credences version of that Motown chestnut? John would pronounce Heard like Hoid. Now what's a guy from California doing singin' in Brooklyn eesse and what has that got to do with Marion ...ZIP...but remember I've been a songwriter and musician for most of my soon to be 57 years ( a week from today as I type this, BTW its my brother Butchie's 60th birthday today Tuesday May 4th ) ..... so HUMOUR me a little or a lot and what would you say if told you .... I hoid and also have read that Marion's maiden name was ................
She was born Marion Elizabeth Hurd on December 18th, 1906 in New Haven,Connecticut to Ida Mary Louise Clarke Hurd and her husband Harry Meigs Hurd. (my son Erik went to Meigs Magnet School here in Nashville BTW 7 degrees of separation?)
In the 1920 federal census, the Harry M. Hurd family of New Haven, Ct. was enumerated with six people. Ida and Harry , their daughter, 20 year old Effie M. who was married to a 22 year old Clifford P. Kerr who was living there too. 13 year old Marion E. and two younger daughters Gertrude C. age 10 and Dorothy S. age 5.
By age 15 Marion was married and living on Long Island in the tiny hamlet of Southaven (near Brookhaven & Bellport ) in Brookhaven Township. Her husband was Milton Murdock, an auto mechanic by trade and a sort of notorious character, if only so far because of whom his father was. I think 1930 might be pre J. F. Knapp for the Murdocks. Gardner Murdock is still talked about today by the hamlet old timers mainly for "the bear incident" that happened at Murdock Inn and boarding house in the 1933. Gardner's place was also the residence of Marion & Milton and their six year old daughter Shirley Murdock in 1930, but there is a lot more to the Murdocks story Gardner's, Milton's and Marion's than that.
Now how Marion wound up in Southaven I do not know, but I do know this, it is not where she wound up, just a stop along the way in her 79 and a half years on this earth. How I found this out and the rest of her story (so far) is a story in itself and this may be a good place to tell that....still with me? Ok here we go.
Regular or longtime readers of this website should know that there is really three separate, yet related books going on here. The original was the Buzz & Pee Wee, Butchie & Me . These are personal short stories of my childhood in Mastic Beach NY. It's because of those stories that I often criss cross from one book to the other to make a point or a point out degree of overlap.
Well one of those first stories about playing in the abandoned Knapp Mansion, led me to start looking into who the Knapps were. That was initiated by one Mike Knapp in California who read it online in Jan 2001 and contacted me with just enough information about his family and their lost mansion in New York that his grandad told him about, to set me off down the wrong road for a good six months or more. Of course that led me to discover (aided by my son Erik) one Joseph F. Knapp the real owner of the mansion that I originally wrote about. And just like so much of this saga, Mike Knapp's reaction to my discovery and also what I found out about his family and their relation to one Joseph F. Knapp down in Fort Lauderdale is another story by itself. Mike didn't take my findings well. (Almost as volatile as the "Real J. F. Knapp's family" reaction to my poking around in their family history" ) But Mike Knapp's story is one for another day and also one I will most likely never pursue further ......unless it too drops in my lap..... So Long Mike Knapp and good luck on your search for what ever happened to your family fortune....still with me? Good let us press on with an "Isle Of Palms" Knapp story that did drop in my lap last February 2004.
Started in December of 2000, the Buzz & Pee Wee stories of my adventures as a kid soon were vastly overshadowed by the many other things, I was discovering about the Knapps. This led to the official kickoff of the website known as "The Knapps Lived Here" in September of 2001. Of the roughly 25,000 + visitors who have stopped by to eyeball it over these years, I have had some e mail , regular mail and phone calls that have been real eye openers, some will be published here and some will not.
This one started off totally in a different direction. But are there really different directions? or just circles that sometimes cross with one another. The major spin off if you will was my nostalgic / historical look back into the town of Mastic Beach and the colonial roots it emerged from. I was particularly interested in the Mastic areas transformation period of the 1920's & 1930's when it was still primarily private estates and one of them being Knapp's. That is now developing into the third book "The Mastics... From Blue blood to blue collar"
It seems the more I wrote, the more I would hear from long lost friends, acquaintances, school mates and some other people who lived there, that I never knew. That was probably all it took to for me to carry on with it. It certainly wasn't financial rewards, still isn't. They may come to my family someday or "legal issue" (a term I learned from reading Joseph Palmer Knapp's last will and testament a fellow in the UK sent me unsolicited!) , but for now I'm quite content to just press on.
Well one of those contacts who got in touch
has been acknowledged in my musings before and will probably be
acknowledged many more times, because he certainly has been a
tremendous help this year in many ways. He is Marty Van Lith,
a former classmate of mine and one who quite frankly I hardly
knew in the 6 years we went to Floyd together other than to say
hello to and receive the same without any trouble . Marty hung
out with different kids than I did and then again I was hardly
ever there (physically in school that is) to "hang out"
with anyone. However that said, perhaps it was a few circles around
the sun for both of us in the 40 years that followed that threw
us into kindred orbit in the year 2003. It started out simply
enough with an e mail that said.... Hey Ken This Is Marty Van
Lith remember me? I've been enjoying your website. .... I answered
back but would hear no more for several months. Now however it's
a rare day that goes by without a e mail or two , sometimes a
phone call or for example an act like last Saturday Night. I had
written to Marty that I finally found the location of Claire Knapp's
house in Yaphank and sent him a map. On Sunday morning in my e
mail were a set of digital photos of it ! You get the point.
There are others too like Gary Messinetti , from Pat & Mike's saga or Greta Tucker owner of Schulte's or Kenny Vitellaro the original Tangier kid who have contributed much more than I can say here, but then again this is supposed to be a story of what ever happened to Marion H. Knapp isn't it ...so .... back to my story....
Marty who is somewhat of a local historian and has given a talk or two at the Mastic Shirley Library, set up an interview with me with one Frederick J. Gillespie of Brookhaven that went in directions a novelist couldn't dream of. Fred is the 87 year young son of the late Michael Gillespie. Fred's birth certificate says he was born in October 10, 1916 at Tangier LI. Fred J. is named for his fathers employer, Frederick J. Quinby, the very colorful president of the 1910 "development of the century" that never developed, but was known as Tangier (the original name for the town now known as Shirley, LI ). Well I had chronicled this place and Quinby and the millions of dollars that just disappeared, but had never met anyone who even heard of Quinby much less was connected to him.
And so last February here I was talking with Fred, who is in great health I might add and was listening to him tell me about an entire life spent in the area with the exception of WWII. He was born in a house that was right by the plaza that Quinby was planning to put that grandiose Rail Road Station at. Its where the Mastic Shirley station is today. At the time of Tangier there was an artificial stone company there that Quinby was planning to use on many of the manor homes he had planned along the 215 foot wide Tangier Blvd. that went from the Railroad tracks south to Smith Point connecting to a grand bridge that would lead one to hotels . and casinos Atlantic City style on Fire Island.
Well Fred's Dad, Michael who was a construction engineer from Ireland, built the road Tangier Blvd now known as William Floyd Pkwy (with horse plows) and the original "temporary wooden bridge" across Smith's Point in 1911. All he seemed to get for it was a judgment against Quinby (like many others) that would not be satisfied until Walter T. Shirley came along after WWII and paid off many of Quinby's liens so he could take title and develop the area into Shirley LI. Quinby must of patched things up with Mike though because Mr. G named his son for him. The Tangier area never developed however and the Gillespies moved to a farm in Brookhaven about 3 or 4 miles from Tangier soon after Fred was born.
WOW ! after I hung up I called Marty to tell him what a great interview Fred was .
Well now I had another name to look into MURDOCK! and I found all kinds of stuff on Gardner Murdock who's long ago actions with the Edey Family in Bellport in the early 1900's lit up the national papers as did the "bear incident" in 1932 when a 12 year old boy was killed at the Murdock by Gardners pet bear. I still didn't know what the E or H stood for in Marion's name. That was finally cleared up by her last married name Conley and the Social Security administration.