STRANGER ON THE SHORE
April In Paris & Athens
Four weeks from today as I write this (March 1, 2007) I will hopefully be sitting outside a French cafe in Paris, sipping coffee, eating a real Napoleon or some other French pastry and watching the river flow. It will be the first time I've been abroad in 37 years which seems like another lifetime. And in reality it truly was ..... My first passport in 1970 was issued in my birth name of Kenneth Charles Joseph, it carried a photograph that is outlawed in todays post 911 world. That of both myself and my first wife Susan together. (When I mentioned that to the passport agent he said he had never seen one like that ) My new one which is in expedited processing mode and will hopefully be in my hands this time next week will be in the legal name I have had since 1979, Kenneth Spooner (the middle name was dropped)
Anne and I are planning to spend our first four days in Paris, where we will be joined by our son Erik who is coming from Berlin. I haven't seen Erik in almost a year and will be looking forward to that. His mother saw him off to Germany from Washington, DC in July of 2006. From Paris we will be traveling on to Greece with both Anne's sister Claire and Mother Mary. What a great way to see the country of my wife's heritage. Though Anne has been to both countries before, actually having lived in Greece, I have only been to England, the home of my paternal grandfather Walter John Joseph.
It's pretty exciting time around here in Nashville to say the least. This past weekend when Anne mentioned some of the sights of Paris she wants to take in, I quipped that I promise not to spend any time looking for whatever happened to Sylvia T. Knapp. ( Which is where I lost track of her in 1930's) Anne said " OMG I hadn't even thought of that!" and then true to the sharing person she is, volunteered that there are some amazing graveyards in Paris, not unlike the incredible Greenwood Cemetery in Brooklyn, NY where Sylvia's former in laws Joseph F. Knapp, his wife Phoebe, her ex sister in law Antoinette and more of the patriarch Knapp family are laid to rest save for her ex husband Joseph P. Knapp (North Carolina) and her two children Claire & Dodi (Southampton, LI) .
Though I am only a historian of the Knapps, many who visit this website think I must be related to them ..... but aren't we truly all of one family? That of the human race, although there is far too much evidence throughout history to suggest we don't always act that way. I can truly say that in studying the Knapps over the past seven years. I have learned more about my own family, if only because I learned how to study genealogy. And for that lesson I feel much richer.
For example only a year ago I learned that my Great, Great Grandmother, Sarah (on the Spooner side) whose maiden name I still do not know, came from France to America in the 1830's marrying a carpenter who also came to America from Germany in the 1820's named John Schaub. Among the four children they had together in Pennsylvania that I know of was their daughter Amelia (my Mothers name) born in April 16th, 1855 who a month shy of her 16th birthday in 1871 would marry a "gentleman" named George Schlagel who ran a fancy goods store according to the 1880 census. She would have ten children with him including the last but not least my semi famous grandfather, John Jack Spooner in 1886. She divorced George and then in June of 1893 she would marry a man named Fred Howard Spooner and move to Toledo, Ohio. They had one child Fred Jr who drowned at the age of 4. Most of her surviving Schlagel children took the Spooner name. Fred H. Spooner, was born in Maine in 1862 and seemed to be a colorful character doing some auto racing in 1907 which according to the family bible is about the time he "left home". My grandfather had already left three years prior to that joining the US Marines at 15 and going to the Phillipines. His mother Amelia lived the rest of her life in Ohio passing away in 1928 at the age of 73. As for Fred Spooner who was also 73 when he passed away in 1935, his last known occupation was that as a manufacturer of auto polish.
So what's this got to do with a trip to France & Greece you ask? Nothing and everything I suppose .... and that's why I GLOB rather than just BLOG....
But getting back to Sylvia, who I know from J. P.'s talking about her in the late 1940's and possibly as late 1950, was still alive and living abroad. What follows might be the documentation on the last time she ever visited America which was November 4th 1925 when her ship the S. S. Paris docked in New York. It was Anne who thought outloud last weekend "Wouldn't that be something if during the four days we were in Paris , that you find out by accident what happened to the mother of Claire & Dodi... Sylvia T. Knapp.
I thought wouldn't it be something if I found out both about Sylvia and Sarah!
S. S. Paris
Sylvia who was born in 1863, shaved over a decade off her age in 1925 a practice not uncommon then but probably impossible in todays security world. The US address she gave was that of The Guaranty Trust Co. where her ex husband was a director. She came to America to visit her newly wed daughter Claire who had homes in Yaphank and South Carolina and her son Dodi in Mastic Beach and reportedly brought many fine antiques and gifts with her. It may of been her importation of those which led to her not coming back.
Seven Days On The High Seas From Havre, France to NYC.... This was in the NY Times Nov 5, 1925
And the reason she may of never set foot on US soil again was This Little Miss Understanding That Took Four Years To Sort Out. I believe some of the stuff she brought with her was in the Knapp Mansion in Mastic Beach when her son sold it in 1940.
Did she stay a stranger to our shore after 1925?
or sail on