• Kristin Wenger

Parentless and Penniless (#52Ancestors week 50: Naughty)

Updated: Dec 11, 2018


At first glance, I felt a bit uncomfortable with the next two weeks’ prompts: Naughty and Nice. I understood the reference, of course.


He's making a list and checking it twice Gonna find out who's naughty and nice Santa Claus is comin' to town [1]

I just wasn’t feeling this topic, though. Eric and I never did the whole Santa or Elf on the Shelf thing with our kids. And honestly, who am I to judge and label someone’s life “naughty” or “nice”?


In a moment of writer’s block, I googled the meaning of the word “naughty.” Much to my surprise, I learned that the word originally had an entirely different meaning.


NAUGHTY
In the 1300s, naughty people had naught (nothing); they were poor or needy. By the 1400s, the meaning shifted from having nothing to being worth nothing, being morally bad or wicked.
By the 1600s, “naughty” also had a gentler meaning, especially as applied to children: mischievous, disobedient, badly behaved. [2]

You learn something new every day, right? With the original definition of naughty in hand, I decided to take that angle (poor or needy) for this week’s story. In this case, the twin specters of economic crisis and fatal disease collided to leave six young children with absolutely “naught.”


Those six siblings were Ethel, Ida Mae, Elmira, Joseph, Nellie, and Caroline Norbeck. [3] They were Grandma Lucy’s first cousins. If my grandma was still alive, I would ask her so many questions.


My grandma, circa 1930, in Philadelphia. Her cousins lived in the same city. [4]


  • Did you ever have the chance to know these cousins?

  • Do you remember their father, your Uncle Joseph? Did you attend his funeral?

  • Did you know what happened to your cousins after the years of 1931-1933 wreaked havoc on their family? Was it possible to stay in touch with them?

Since I can’t ask my grandma those questions, I’ll tell as much of the story of her uncle’s family as I can.


Joseph and Edna

Hugh Joseph Norbeck was born 26 August 1889 in Philadelphia, PA, where he lived all his life. [5] He was a younger brother to my great grandfather, Harry Norbeck. [6] Joseph's wife, Edna P. Jones, was also born in Philadelphia, and was 6 ½ years his junior. [7]


Edna (Jones) Norbeck [8]

Unfortunately, I have not found a picture of Joseph (yet).


The young couple had a quick start to their family with daughters Ethel (born in May 1916) and Ida Mae (May 1918). [9] These girls would have been the perfect playmates for my grandma, born in July 1917.


In 1919, Joseph and Edna officially tied the knot. [10] The little family rented a home at 2317 Thompson Street in Philadelphia. Joseph worked as a helper for an asbestos pipe coverer.[11] They were not rich by any means, but they were doing okay.


Joseph and Edna's first home (the brick one on the left), courtesy of Google Maps.


The Family Grows

During the 1920s, Joseph and Edna added four more children to their family: [12]

  • Elmira (1922) [13]

  • Joseph, Jr. (1924) [14]

  • Helen (Nellie) (1926) [15]

  • Caroline (1928) [16]

I imagine their young family brought them lots of joy. But trouble was looming on the horizon.


Tough Times

By the end of 1929, Joseph and Edna were faced with two impending crises. The stock market crash quickly thrust the United States into the Great Depression. [17] Like many others, Joseph lost his employment and the family’s only source of income. [18]


This 1930 census image indicates that Joseph was unemployed. [19]


Several months prior to the stock market crash, Edna began experiencing symptoms of tuberculosis. After two years suffering from the disease, this mother of six died at the age of only 35. [20]



Somehow, her husband was still able to pay the bill for her funeral expenses. [21]


Left with Naught

Unfortunately, things were about to get worse. Joseph had also contracted tuberculosis. [22] His illness, combined with lack of work due to the Great Depression, led the family into a downward spiral. They were left with nothing and had to rely on charitable organizations for their survival. [23]


The Philadelphia Family Society, which assisted Joseph and his children, was overwhelmed with needy families during the Great Depression. According to the page below, “tens of thousands of families half starved through the summer months” of 1932. [24]



Less than two years after his wife's death, Joseph succumbed to tuberculosis in March 1933.[25]


Notice that Joseph’s death certificate was signed by Miss C.R. Clark of the Philadelphia Family Society. [26]


The bill for Joseph’s funeral expenses was also given to the Philadelphia Family Society. [27]


Orphaned Children

After the death of their father, Joseph and Edna’s six children were true orphans. In the midst of the Great Depression, they were the original definition of “naughty” – left with absolutely nothing. I wondered what had become of my grandma’s first cousins in such desperate circumstances?


Social services stepped in and arranged for placements. Because of differences in age and gender, only the two youngest girls were kept together. [28] For example, eldest daughter Ethel was eventually sent to nursing school in New York City.[29]


Ethel (Norbeck) Bogart [30]


What a beautiful young woman! Ethel's photograph made me think of my grandma’s days as a model in Philadelphia. These cousins were gorgeous.


Her cousin Lucy during a photo shoot on the beach in her teen years.


I have not found youthful photographs of any of the other children, but I do have records that tell some of their stories.


Joseph, Jr., the only boy in the sibling group, was sent to St. Francis de Sales Industrial School. [31]

A photograph of the imposing building [32]


Nellie and Caroline, the two youngest girls, lived at St. Vincent’s Orphan Asylum.[33]

St. Vincent's [34]


A group of girls in 1933. [35] Nellie and Caroline are quite possibly in this photo.


All six children overcame the challenging experiences of their youth and went on to adulthood. [36] The youngest, Caroline, just recently passed away in 2016. [37] Her daughter shared this photograph of her in 2015.


Caroline (Norbeck) Hogan [38]

Doesn’t she look like an absolute dear? I think my grandma would have loved her! If they didn’t have the chance to know each other on earth, I’m sure they are making up for lost time in heaven. These cousins have lots of catching up to do!


Two of the Norbeck cousins from Philadephia: Caroline and Lucy




Read more #52Ancestors stories



Sources:

[1] Haven Gillespie, “Santa Claus is Comin’ to Town.” For more information on the lyricist and the song, see Jeff Suess, “Our History: Covington Lyricist Penned Classic ‘Santa Claus is Comin’ to Town,’” 20 December 2017, Cincinatti.com (https://www.cincinnati.com/story/news/2017/12/20/our-history-covington-lyricist-penned-classic-santa-claus-comin-town/960844001/ : accessed 5 December 2018).


[2] Judith Herman, “11 Words With Meanings That Have Changed Drastically Over Time,” 22 December 2015, Mental Floss (http://mentalfloss.com/article/61876/11-words-meanings-have-changed-drastically-over-time : accessed 5 December 2018).


[3] 1930 U.S. census, Philadelphia County, Pennsylvania, population schedule, Philadelphia City, Ward 23, Block no. 310, Enumeration District [ED] 51-893, p. 26B (penned), dwelling 152, family 152, Joseph Norbeck household; digital images, Ancestry (http://www.ancestry.com: accessed 6 December 2018); citing National Archives microfilm publication T626, roll 2107, image 836.


[4] Ibid. For Lucy’s Philadelphia residence, see 1930 U.S. census, Philadelphia County, Pennsylvania, population schedule, Philadelphia City, Ward 46, Block no. 386, Enumeration District [ED] 51-523, p. 13A (penned), dwelling 193, family 204, Harry Norbeck household; digital images, Ancestry (http://www.ancestry.com: accessed 18 January 2018); citing National Archives microfilm publication T626, roll 2141, image 189.


[5] Pennsylvania Department of Health, Certificate of Death no. 22178, Joseph Norbeck, 4 March 1933, Philadelphia County; viewed at "Pennsylvania, Death Certificates, 1906-1966," database with digital images, Ancestry (http://www.ancestry.com : accessed 6 December 2018); citing Series 11.90: Death Certificates 1906 -1966, Record Group 11: Pennsylvania Department of Health, Pennsylvania State Archives, Harrisburg.


[6] For Joseph’s parents, see Ibid. For Harry with same parents, see 1880 U.S. census, Philadelphia County, Pennsylvania, population schedule, Philadelphia City, Ward 23, ED 23, p. 368C (penned), dwelling 312, family 335, Harry Norbeck household; digital images, Ancestry (http://www.ancestry.com: accessed 6 December 2018); citing National Archives microfilm publication T9, roll 1167, image 156.


[7] Pennsylvania Department of Health, Certificate of Death no. 47570, Edna P. Norbeck, 23 May 1931, Philadelphia County; viewed at "Pennsylvania, Death Certificates, 1906-1966," database with digital images, Ancestry (http://www.ancestry.com : accessed 6 December 2018); citing Series 11.90: Death Certificates 1906 -1966, Record Group 11: Pennsylvania Department of Health, Pennsylvania State Archives, Harrisburg.


[8] Undated photograph, Edna P. (Jones) Norbeck, contributed by Ancestry user Eileen Baranowski (granddaughter of Edna), Ancestry (https://www.ancestry.com/family-tree/person/tree/73407570/person/30273156718/facts : accessed 6 December 2018).


[9] Find A Grave, database and images (https://www.findagrave.com : accessed 06 December 2018), memorial page for Ethel E. Bogart (21 May 1916–4 Feb 2009), Find A Grave Memorial no. 50114170, citing Holy Cross Burial Park and Mausoleum, East Brunswick, Middlesex County, New Jersey, USA. Find A Grave, database and images (https://www.findagrave.com : accessed 06 December 2018), memorial page for Mae O'Donnell (1918–1995), Find A Grave Memorial no. 144353760, citing Saint Mary's Catholic Cemetery and Mausoleum, Sacramento, Sacramento County, California, USA ; Maintained by MockingbirdTales (contributor 46817308) .


[10] "Pennsylvania, Philadelphia Marriage Indexes, 1885-1951," database with images, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:JVCY-XXH : 25 September 2017), Hugh J Norbeck and Jones, 1919; citing license number 397512, Clerk of the Orphan's Court. City Hall, Philadelphia.


[11] 1920 U.S. census, Philadelphia County, Pennsylvania, population schedule, Philadelphia City, Ward 31, Enumeration District [ED] 1048, p. 8A (penned), dwelling 156, family 156, Joseph Norback [Norbeck] household; digital images, Ancestry (http://www.ancestry.com: accessed 6 December 2018); citing National Archives microfilm publication T625, roll 1635, image 711.


[12] 1930 U.S. Census, Philadelphia Co, PA, pop. sched., Philadelphia City, ward 23, block 310, ED 51-893, p. 26B, dwell. 152, fam. 152, Joseph Norbeck household.


[13] United States Social Security Death Index," database, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:VS21-747 : 20 May 2014), Elmira Baker, 08 Feb 2002; citing U.S. Social Security Administration, Death Master File, database (Alexandria, Virginia: National Technical Information Service, ongoing).


[14] "United States Social Security Death Index," database, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:JP65-7Q7 : 20 May 2014), Joseph Norbeck, Jul 1984; citing U.S. Social Security Administration, Death Master File, database (Alexandria, Virginia: National Technical Information Service, ongoing).


[15] "United States Social Security Death Index," database, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:J2QW-Z6L : 19 May 2014), Helen Mullusky, 28 Aug 1996; citing U.S. Social Security Administration, Death Master File, database (Alexandria, Virginia: National Technical Information Service, ongoing).


[16] Find A Grave, database and images (https://www.findagrave.com : accessed 06 December 2018), memorial page for Carolyn V Norbeck Hogan (24 Aug 1928–31 Mar 2016), Find A Grave Memorial no. 180460631, citing Holy Sepulchre Cemetery, Cheltenham, Montgomery County, Pennsylvania, USA ; Maintained by EMB (contributor 48825466).


[17] “Stock Market Crash of 1929,” History.com (https://www.history.com/topics/great-depression/1929-stock-market-crash : accessed 6 December 2018).


[18] Ibid.


[19] 1930 U.S. Census, Philadelphia Co, PA, pop. sched., Philadelphia City, ward 23, block 310, ED 51-893, p. 26B, dwell. 152, fam. 152, Joseph Norbeck household. For more on occupation codes in the 1930 census, see “1930 Occupation Codes,” IPUMS USA (https://usa.ipums.org/usa/volii/occ1930.shtml : accessed 6 December 2018). Also, Stephen P. Morse, “Deciphering Occupation Codes Appended to the 1930 Census in One Step,” SteveMorse.org (https://stevemorse.org/census/ocodes.htm : accessed 6 December 2018).


[20] PA Department of Health, Certificate of Death no. 47570, Edna P. Norbeck, 23 May 1931, Philadelphia County.


[21] “Pennsylvania and New Jersey, Church and Town Records, 1669-2013,” database with images, Ancestry (https://search.ancestry.com/search/db.aspx?dbid=2451 : accessed 6 December 2018), path: PA-Philadelphia > Philadelphia > Cemetery or Funeral > Warren E Titus Funeral Director > image 226 of 598; citing p. 368, funeral number 12347, Edna P. Norbeck.


[22] PA Department of Health, Certificate of Death no. 22178, Joseph Norbeck, 4 March 1933, Philadelphia County.


[23] Ibid.


[24] “The Annual Report of the Family Society of Philadelphia: 1932,” digitized at GoogleBooks (https://books.google.com/books?id=0Ys4AQAAIAAJ&lpg=PA32-IA9&ots=5R0T4uIJ8R&dq=%22philadelphia%20family%20society%22&pg=PA32-IA5#v=onepage&q=%22philadelphia%20family%20society%22&f=false : accessed 6 December 2018). For more on unemployment relief in Philadelphia during these years, see Bonnie R. Fox, “Unemployment Relief in Philadelphia, 1930-1932: A Study of the Depression’s Impact on Voluntarism,” The Pennsylvania Magazine of History and Biography (Philadelphia : Historical Society of Pennsylvania, January 1969), 86-108; digitized by Penn State University (https://journals.psu.edu/pmhb/article/viewFile/42473/42194 : accessed 6 December 2018).


[25] PA Department of Health, Certificate of Death no. 22178, Joseph Norbeck, 4 March 1933, Philadelphia County.


[26] Ibid.


[27] “Pennsylvania and New Jersey, Church and Town Records, 1669-2013,” database with images, Ancestry (https://search.ancestry.com/search/db.aspx?dbid=2451 : accessed 6 December 2018), path: PA-Philadelphia > Philadelphia > Cemetery or Funeral > Warren E Titus Funeral Director > image 403 of 598; citing p. 152, funeral number 4755, Joseph Norbeck.


[28] 1940 U.S. census, Kings County, New York, population schedule, Brooklyn, New York, Enumeration District [ED] 24-285, p. 3A (penned), dwelling 71, Ethel Norbeck, lodger in Abner W. Walker household; digital images, Ancestry (http://www.ancestry.com: accessed 6 December 2018); citing National Archives microfilm publication T627, roll 2553. 1940 U.S. census, Philadelphia County, Pennsylvania, population schedule, Philadelphia City, ward 50, ED 51-2175A, p. 6B (penned), dwelling 160, Elmira Norbeck, lodger in George J. Kronbar household; digital images, Ancestry (http://www.ancestry.com: accessed 6 December 2018); citing National Archives microfilm publication T627, roll 3754. 1940 U.S. census, Bucks County, Pennsylvania, population schedule, Bensalem, ED 9-9, p. 3B (penned), Joseph Norbeck, age 15, inmate in Saint Francis Home; digital images, Ancestry (http://www.ancestry.com: accessed 6 December 2018); citing National Archives microfilm publication T627, roll 3744. 1940 U.S. census, Philadelphia County, Pennsylvania, population schedule, Philadelphia City, ward 50, ED 51-2175A, p. 6B (penned), dwelling 160, Elmira Norbeck, lodger in George J. Kronbar household; digital images, Ancestry (http://www.ancestry.com: accessed 6 December 2018); citing National Archives microfilm publication T627, roll 3754. 1940 U.S. census, Philadelphia County, Pennsylvania, population schedule, Philadelphia City, ward 41, ED 51-1696, p. 1B (penned), Nellie Norbeck, age 13, and Caroline Norbeck, age 12, inmates in St. Vincent Orphans Asylum; digital images, Ancestry (http://www.ancestry.com: accessed 6 December 2018); citing National Archives microfilm publication T627, roll 3739.


[29] 1940 U.S. census, Kings Co., New York, pop. sched., Brooklyn, New York, ED 24-285, p. 3A (penned), dwell. 71, Ethel Norbeck, lodger in Abner W. Walker household.


[30] Undated photograph, Ethel Norbeck, contributed by Ancestry user pambogart10 (daughter of Ethel), Ancestry (https://www.ancestry.com/family-tree/tree/28822973/family : accessed 6 December 2018).


[31] 1940 U.S. census, Bucks Co., PA, pop. sched., Bensalem, ED 9-9, p. 3B (penned), Joseph Norbeck, age 15, inmate in Saint Francis Home.


[32] "St. Francis' Industrial School (Catholic Charities and Social Welfare)," digital image, Catholic Historical Research Center of the Archdiocese of Philadelphia (https://chrc-phila-org/wp-content/uploads/2010/04/Industrial-School-Catholic-Charities-and-Social-Welfare.jpg : accessed 6 December 2018).


[33] 1940 U.S. census, Philadelphia Co., PA, pop. sched., Philadelphia City, ward 41, ED 51-1696, p. 1B (penned), Nellie Norbeck, age 13, and Caroline Norbeck, age 12, inmates in St. Vincent Orphans Asylum.


[34] Photograph opposite title page taken from Rev. Francis Xavier Roth, History of St. Vincent’s Orphan Asylum, Tacony, Philadelphia: A Memoir of its Diamond Jubilee, 1855-1933 (Philadelphia, PA : Nord-Amerika Press, 1934); digitized by Internet Archive (https://archive.org/details/historyofstvince00roth/page/n5 : accessed 6 December 2018), image 6 of 168.


[35] Photograph from Rev. Francis Xavier Roth, History of St. Vincent’s Orphan Asylum, Tacony, Philadelphia: A Memoir of its Diamond Jubilee, 1855-1933 (Philadelphia, PA : Nord-Amerika Press, 1934), 132; digitized by Internet Archive (https://archive.org/details/historyofstvince00roth/page/132 : accessed 6 December 2018).


[36] Find A Grave, database and images (https://www.findagrave.com : accessed 06 December 2018), memorial page for Ethel E. Bogart (21 May 1916–4 Feb 2009), Find A Grave Memorial no. 50114170, citing Holy Cross Burial Park and Mausoleum, East Brunswick, Middlesex County, New Jersey, USA. Find A Grave, database and images (https://www.findagrave.com : accessed 06 December 2018), memorial page for Mae O'Donnell (1918–1995), Find A Grave Memorial no. 144353760, citing Saint Mary's Catholic Cemetery and Mausoleum, Sacramento, Sacramento County, California, USA ; Maintained by MockingbirdTales (contributor 46817308) . United States Social Security Death Index," database, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:VS21-747 : 20 May 2014), Elmira Baker, 08 Feb 2002; citing U.S. Social Security Administration, Death Master File, database (Alexandria, Virginia: National Technical Information Service, ongoing). "United States Social Security Death Index," database, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:JP65-7Q7 : 20 May 2014), Joseph Norbeck, Jul 1984; citing U.S. Social Security Administration, Death Master File, database (Alexandria, Virginia: National Technical Information Service, ongoing). "United States Social Security Death Index," database, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:J2QW-Z6L : 19 May 2014), Helen Mullusky, 28 Aug 1996; citing U.S. Social Security Administration, Death Master File, database (Alexandria, Virginia: National Technical Information Service, ongoing). Find A Grave, database and images (https://www.findagrave.com : accessed 06 December 2018), memorial page for Carolyn V Norbeck Hogan (24 Aug 1928–31 Mar 2016), Find A Grave Memorial no. 180460631, citing Holy Sepulchre Cemetery, Cheltenham, Montgomery County, Pennsylvania, USA ; Maintained by EMB (contributor 48825466).


[37] Find A Grave, database and images (https://www.findagrave.com : accessed 06 December 2018), memorial page for Carolyn V Norbeck Hogan (24 Aug 1928–31 Mar 2016), Find A Grave Memorial no. 180460631, citing Holy Sepulchre Cemetery, Cheltenham, Montgomery County, Pennsylvania, USA ; Maintained by EMB (contributor 48825466) .


[38] Photograph, Caroline (Norbeck) Hogan, contributed by Ancestry user Eileen Baranowski (daughter of Caroline) on 27 April 2015, Ancestry (https://www.ancestry.com/family-tree/person/tree/73407570/person/30273155214/facts : accessed 6 December 2018).

© 2020 by Roots & Wings Research, LLC