Write what should not be forgotten - Isabel Allande

Month: March 2016

Ed and Ida Part I

Ida and Ed

Edmund and Ida Marshall Pfundstein were my mom’s parents and my grandparents. Although I never met them, I have heard so many stories over the years from my siblings and cousins that I feel like I did.

Ed was born in Brooklyn, NY on September 14, 1892 to Conrad and Catherine Harrer Marschall. He had one older brother,  Frederick. Fred and Ed 🙂 were first generation Americans, both Conrad and Catherine were born in Germany and emigrated to the US. Ed was baptized Philip Edward but his name was Edmund Philip.

Ida was born on November 25 1894 also in Brooklyn, she was 3rd child and first daughter of Adam and Theresa Eich Pfundstein.  Ida had 12 siblings!

Ed and Ida met in Brooklyn. Ed’s mother took in the Pfundstein’s laundry.  They were married on June 5, 1917 at St Leonard’s Church. Ed was 24 and Ida 22. Uncle Fred was in the wedding party as were several of Ida’s siblings.  I love the picture of the wedding party – the flowers were massive!

Ida Ed Wedding (1)

Their first 2 children, Claire (1920) and Lillian(1922)  were born in Brooklyn Their only son, Edmund was born in 1926 in Batavia, NY, as were daughters Teresa in 1927 and daughter Kathleen (my mom) was born in 1933 when Ida was 38.  This seems to be kind of a pattern in our family!

Ed and Fred were both Tool & Die makers.  In 1925 Ed and Ida moved from Brooklyn to the other side of New York State, they settled in Batavia, NY.  They came here for work, Ed spent his career working for Doehler Jarvis.

Doehler Die Casting

  1. H. Doehler moved his Doehler Die Casting Company from Brooklyn in 1921. Mr. Doehler had chosen Batavia because it was near the Kodak plant in Rochester, one of his customers. Mr. Doehler got his start making aluminum parts for gas masks during World War I. The next year Mr. Doehler bought factory buildings installed brass casting machinery. All the original Evans Street buildings were rebuilt to make them fireproof, and later they were reinforced for use in the manufacture of munitions.. Reflecting the expansion of the company in 1944 it became the Doehler-Jarvis Company, Inc. when Doehler purchased the W. B. Jarvis Company of Grand Rapids, Michigan, a company that made automobile trimmings, furniture and appliances. Two earlier purchases had brought the number of Doehler-Jarvis plants to four. In 1952 National Lead of New Jersey purchased all plants of the Doehler-Jarvis Company and the Batavia plant became the Doehler-Jarvis Division of National Lead. The plant employed 1,500 men in the busy years.By 1980 there were only about 150. The numbers continued to decrease until the plant finally closed in 1981.

Ed worked at at Doehler during it’s heyday.  He was out of work during the Depression and they were considering going back to Brooklyn but just before they were going to go, he was called back to work. Other families also came from Brooklyn to work at the factory.  One of their close friends eventually had a son-in-law who introduced my parents to each other.  While looking up information I recognized several serving platters and candle sticks that were made at the factory and given to employees from time to time. They were used by my mom.  They also would give diamonds to employees for anniversaries. My grandfather had them added to Ida’s engagement ring, it made for a beautiful and unique ring.

Like most women of her day Grandma’s job was the care and raising of their 5 children.  They lived in a Doehler house, the house still stands today and it always makes me smile to drive past.  It isn’t the biggest house and had to be crowded with 7 people living in it!  My mom would say that their brother had his own room and the girls has to share.  During the summers they would send their brother Ed to the attic so that the girls could spread out.  The Marshall siblings stayed close throughout their lives. I imagine it was lonely for Ida sometimes being so far from her siblings.  They visited each as often as possible. All 7 of them would pile in an unreliablel car and make the 5+ hour trip to Brooklyn.  Grandpa didn’t like to stop and I can’t even imagine what that ride was like!!  We barely make a trip across town without the radio or DVD player going – or without someone fighting about something!!

Ed and Ida made every effort to make sure that their children were educated – especially their only son!  Ed went to Notre Dame University and studied Engineering. He went on to do some pretty cool things in the Navy, the aerospace industry and even worked at NASA at the time of the first moon walk. The girls were also educated and worked in the medical field, banking, and education.

My grandparents lived at 234 Bank St and my family lived at 134 Bank.  My brothers and sister were lucky enough to be able to visit them often.  When they would visit my sister was very well behaved but my my brothers were a different story.  They played hard – one day Grandpa sent them out to play in the driveway because they were too wild inside. He gave them a ball and told them to throw it against the house.  My brother immediately broke a window!!  Grandpa wouldn’t yell but instead would start talking in a low voice –  sometimes in German!  

My mom would talk about how upset her parents, especially her dad were when the US entered WW II.  He was upset at what was happening in Germany and worried about all of the boys who would be sent off to war. He rarely spoke about his family.

One of my cousins remembers Grandpa being fairly stern but that she always felt loved by them both.  They spent a lot of time with their grandchildren and as the older ones headed out into the world they were always available for a talk and advice.  One my favorite items that I have is Ida’s address book. She wrote all of the older grandchildren’s addresses written down and every time they moved she faithfully updated the information.

The History of Genesee County NY 1890-1982″ Holland Purchase Historical Society 1985. (n.d.). Retrieved March 24, 2016, from

Luck of the Irish?



“Being Irish, he had an abiding sense of tragedy, which sustained him through temporary periods of joy”   -William Butler Yeats

I have taken this as my life’s quote… life is good, please don’t think I am complaining. I am very grateful for all that I have.  However – we have some stories to tell and usually when things go wrong they go big.

The month of March is particularly difficult on the whole family.  Both of my parents died at the end of Feb/beginning of March, my second son was born in March (which was awesome) and then he needed life saving open heart surgery 2 days later (which was beyond terrifying).

In a good March the worst thing that happens is that expensive things break, in a bad March well…  The first 2 weeks of this March have already been rough – even by our standards!  In my little family we have had 3 ER visits – all for different people, oral surgery and a whole lot of antibiotics! My brother and my niece have also been fighting health issues at their houses. My dear friend sent me flowers the other day and the card just read “you win”.

I have mostly been researching my German side and really for the most part things went along well for them.  I’m sure they had the same day-to-day frustrations that we all deal with, but overall things seemed to generally go their way.  Then there is the Irish side of the family… their stories read like a Greek tragedy and I haven’t even dug very deep.  I only knew one person on my Irish side, everyone had died before I was born.  For many of them death didn’t come easy.  There was typhoid, TB that took several of them very young, including children.  One relative was hit by a train just days after the birth of his first child. One was badly injured and died from an explosion in her own kitchen. I am almost afraid to keep looking!!

Even with all of the bad luck March seems to bring – we still love to celebrate on St. Paddy’s day and I have always wanted to meet the Irish relatives from my dad’s side. One of my main goals when I started researching was to connect with living relatives from my 4 main branches, Pfundstein, Marshall, McGee, McVay.  The Pfundstein’s and Marshall’s have been more than generous!! The Irish side not so much… until today.  I have connected with my first McGee relative and could not be more thrilled!! I think that is pretty cool that we got in contact around St. Patrick’s day.  Maybe that is our ancestors saying – persevere, keep digging. Maybe it is just coincidence  – either way I am pretty happy!  The coolest part is that the relative I connected with today is that he is the son of someone who has fascinated me for years.  She and I share the same name, first and last name as did her mother!  Not only that her daughter, and granddaughter also share the same first name. The crazy part is that I wasn’t named for anyone!  My first name is Mary Ellen – not all that that common.

So while March is still my least favorite month – I have brand new life in my search for Irish ancestors!!

Erin go Bragh! Happy St. Patrick’s day to all my Irish and non-Irish relatives!!












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