The People of Pancho

At Play In The Archive

Leo’s Northeastern Tour, 1913

Hello, People. I’m heading to Napa Valley this coming weekend to visit my friend Maren, and to accomplish what I hope will be a ton of translating. I have a scrapbook chock full of postcards sent to my great-grandfather Franz Georg Leopold Lessiack (a.k.a. Pollo in Germany, a.k.a. Leo in America), and  I hope they will reveal some additional clues about his life in Germany before he emigrated in October of 1912. Stay tuned.

I do know that once great-grandpa Leo arrived in the U.S., no moss grew on that guy. Today I share some photographs from trips he took through several Northeastern states in 1913. At first I was puzzled as to why his sister Emmi Lessiack Keil, with whom he stayed when he arrived, doesn’t appear in any of these images, but later I realized that she must have just given birth (or was about to give birth) to her daughter, Wally Keil, when Leo arrived. While I haven’t been able to lay hands on a birth record for Wally Keil (presumably named after Leo and Emmi’s sister, Wally Lessiack) just yet, other clues suggest that she was born in either October or November of 1912.

So, with that theory of Emmi’s absence in hand, let’s take a look at Leo’s early travels in the Northeast. As always, please keep in mind that my conclusions are only a best guess based on lots of puzzling, comparing faces, clothing, and very limited annotations to determine context — please do your descendants a favor and label, People.

First, great-grandpa Leo got all duded up. This novelty photo, taken when Leo was 22 years old, cracks me up every time I see it. I wonder if the top hat was his, or a loaner from the studio.

"New York, February 1913"

Noted on the back in Leo’s handwriting: “New York, February 1913”

The next image is labeled “Matamoras, Pennsylvania, Febr. 1913” on the back. I have to wonder if Leo is friends with the chicken farmer, or if he is just really, really interested in feeding those chickens — enlarging the photo revealed that both his fists are stuffed with chicken feed. City boy that he was, he clearly reveled in exploring country life.

"Matamoras, Pennsylvania, Febr. 1913"

Noted on the back in Leo’s handwriting: “Matamoras, Pennsylvania, Febr. 1913”

The next image is also labeled “Matamoras, Pennsylvania, Febr. 1913.” I don’t know what he’s hunting, but the weather looks mighty cold to this Bay Area wus.

"Matamoras, Pennsylvania, Febr. 1913"

Noted on the back in Leo’s handwriting: “Matamoras, Pennsylvania, Febr. 1913”

The next image shows great-grandpa Leo working his magic with his hunting dog — I’m always touched by pictures of Leo with one dog or another; love for these wonderful creatures definitely passed down through the generations from Leo, to my grandpa Bob, to my mom, to me.

"Matamoras, Pennsylvania, Febr. 1913"

“Matamoras, Pennsylvania, Febr. 1913”

The next image is labeled “Fort Washington Park, New York, Febr 1913.” Check out the size of that fern!

"Fort Washington Park, New York, Febr 1913"

Noted on the back in Leo’s handwriting: “Fort Washington Park, New York, Febr 1913”

I didn’t know anything about Fort Washington Park, so I looked it up. Here’s what the park’s website had to say:

“Known to history buffs as the namesake of a Revolutionary War structure built for the rebels and seized by the British; known to children as the site of Manhattan’s only lighthouse, the Little Red Lighthouse, the protagonist in a popular children’s book; known to aesthetes as an ideal lookout spot onto the Hudson River and the Palisades, Fort Washington Park is a valued part of the Washington Heights community. Located along the Hudson River, Fort Washington Park also offers spectacular views of the new Jersey Palisades and the George Washington Bridge along its 160-acre ribbon of dramatic cliffs, meadows, and wooded areas.”

Wooded area. Check.

The next image is labeled “New York, April 27, 1913.”  I have no idea who the two ladies are, except that they are not Emmi.

"New York, April 27, 1913"

Noted on the back in Leo’s handwriting: “New York, April 27, 1913”

The next image is labeled “Miss Maier mit Bosco, May 1913.”

"Miss Maier mit Bosco, May 1913"

Noted on the back in Leo’s handwriting: “Miss Maier mit Bosco, May 1913”

Miss Maier appears again in a second photo mit Bosco and some other mystery children who are apparently in need of a nap or sunglasses, or both. Bosco, stop breathing on that baby.

"May 1913"

Noted on the back in Leo’s handwriting: “May 1913”

I don’t know anything more about the Maier family, but because I have a later image in which Emmi, Wally, and Bosco appear together, I assume that the Maiers and the Keils were fairly good friends. I do know that great-grandpa Leo absolutely loved children, and that children invariably sensed his inherent playfulness and sweet humor and adored him right back. Such was certainly the case for me and my friends, when Leo would come to the Canal Zone for a visit.

The next image is labeled “Eagle Rock NJ May 4th, 1913” in Leo’s handwriting. I don’t know who these beautifully gloved ladies are, but I do know that Leo made friends easily and everywhere. I’m also fascinated by the unusually-shaped border on this photograph–it’s not a style I’ve come across before.

"Eagle Rock NJ May 4th, 1913"

Noted on the back in Leo’s handwriting: “Eagle Rock NJ May 4th, 1913”

The next image was also taken in Eagle Rock, NJ, according to the writing on the back. I don’t know the identity of the young woman, but she appears in several other images. Whether she was a friend or something more to Leo will have to remain a mystery. They’re kinda sorta holding hands.

"Eagle Rock, Orange, New Jersey, May 4th, 1913"

Noted on the back in Leo’s handwriting: “Eagle Rock, Orange, New Jersey, May 4th, 1913”

The annotation on the next one was a little hard to make out due to some damage that did not, thankfully, affect the front of the image too much. It says “…ingnac/Paterson May 11, 19….” Leo is dressed much as he is in the image above, so I went ahead and grouped them together, even though the date is different. I assume “Paterson” is Paterson, NJ.

"...ingnac/Paterson May 11, 19..."

Noted on the back in Leo’s handwriting: “…ingnac/Paterson May 11, 19…”

Here’s the same woman, relaxing among the trees. I’m assuming that this picture was also taken in Paterson, because the date is the same. Hard to imagine tromping through the woods in a long skirt, isn’t it?

"May 11, 1913"

Noted on the back in Leo’s handwriting: “May 11, 1913”

Here are some stern-looking friends — the image says “Eagle Rock NJ May 18th, 1913” on the back.

"Eagle Rock NJ May 18th, 1913"

Noted on the back in Leo’s handwriting: “Eagle Rock NJ May 18th, 1913”

This one is also annotated, “Eagle Rock NJ May 18th, 1913.” Maybe if you poured a few beers into this guy he was a lot of fun, all appearances to the contrary.

"Eagle Rock NJ May 18th, 1913"

Noted on the back in Leo’s handwriting: “Eagle Rock NJ May 18th, 1913”

Here’s another image where the annotation was damaged. Does anyone recognize this New Jersey location? What’s left of the annotation says, “West…, NJ, June 8, 2013.”

"West-something, NJ, June 8, 2013"

Noted on the back in Leo’s handwriting: “West…, NJ, June 8, 1913”

This looks like the same place to me, but I can’t be sure. I don’t know the identity of the young lady, either; Leo didn’t seem to suffer any shortage of female companionship, did he?

TBD

Maybe also “West…, NJ, June 8, 1913” ?

This image didn’t offer much information on that back, but because the man is coatless and the tree behind him is bushy, I assume that the weather is warm and that the photo was taken sometime in the summer or fall.

1913 (1)

Noted on the back in Leo’s handwriting: “1913”

This one says on the back, “Niece of Mr. Hermt, Cologne Rh., Brooklyn, NY, 1913.” That name doesn’t ring any bells for me, at least not yet. Apparently the woman’s name didn’t ring any bells for Leo either.

"Niece of Mr. Hermt, Cologne Rh., Brooklyn, NY, 1913"

Noted on the back in Leo’s handwriting: “Niece of Mr. Hermt, Cologne Rh., Brooklyn, NY, 1913”

Here’s an undated, unannotated picture of some horseplay, possibly a game of leapfrog. I have no evidence that it belongs with this series, but it seemed to fit with the country theme, so I went with it.

Undated

Here’s Leo with yet another lovely young lady. Does anyone recognize the building in background? I assume that it’s somewhere in New York, New Jersey, or Pennsylvania. The back of the photo offered no clues.

Undated (3)

Here’s Leo splitting a log somewhere out in the country. He doesn’t really look dressed for the work to me; those are some serious city slicker shoes, and his shirt is waaay too clean.

Undated

Finally, here is a curious image of a desk in an apartment at 214 East 20th Street, New York City, which (thank you, Google maps) is about halfway between the Flatiron District and Stuyvesant Town. I don’t know whose apartment it is, but an address is an interesting place to start sleuthing. I tried magnifying the pictures on the desk to see if I could make out who they portray, but the images quickly became so pixelated that they were impossible to make out. I admit that I was hoping to see teeny tiny meta-referential versions of actual photographs in my collection, but it didn’t happen that way. So, another mystery to solve.

"214 East 20th Street, New York City, 1913"

Noted on the back in Leo’s handwriting: “214 East 20th Street, New York City, 1913”

Wish me luck this weekend in my quest for further clues, and thanks for reading, People.

20 comments on “Leo’s Northeastern Tour, 1913

  1. Cathy Meder-Dempsey
    February 20, 2015

    Good luck on the translations!

    Like

    • Pancho
      February 20, 2015

      Thanks! Might be something, might be nothing, but I gotta find out.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Lew
    February 20, 2015

    Hola Chica,
    Was the desk lamp wired to NYC code at the time? Looks like some of my early work in the Margarita house. And is the cat a figurine, suggesting a memento other than Leo’s?

    Like

    • Pancho
      February 20, 2015

      Who knows! That looks like a “don’t touch the doorknob and the lightswitch at the same time” situation to me. I’m agree about the cat–doesn’t quite fit for Leo.

      Like

  3. Joe Hanneman
    February 20, 2015

    I love the top hat photo. Gives the illusion of a table full of Leos playing poker. A very sharp dresser was he!

    Like

    • Pancho
      February 20, 2015

      Me too, Joe. It’s one of my favorites, along with the Hamburg roller rink shot from a few posts back. Thanks for stopping by!

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Amy
    February 20, 2015

    I LOVED these photos AND your commentary. You made me laugh out loud with the beer comment. I bet those photos were taken in West New York, New Jersey, which is right on the Hudson River. Just a guess, but could be. I really love these photos. I said that already, didn’t I? Maybe it’s because my grandparents were living in NYC during this era, so seeing the clothes and the settings was particularly meaningful. Thanks for sharing them.

    Have a great trip!

    Like

  5. Maryann Barnes
    February 21, 2015

    Wonderful old photographs, and a great blog post connecting the images! I loved Eagle Rock as a child when we would picnic there. You could see the skyline of New York City. I wonder if it could be West Orange, NJ, since that town sits next to Eagle Rock. There is a Cannon Street in West Orange. Most of the NJ side along the Hudson River sits on high ground. The Great Falls on the Passaic River in Paterson was a favorite sightseeing spot in the early 20th Century. There is also West Paterson. Good luck, and thanks!

    Like

    • Pancho
      February 21, 2015

      Thanks so much, Maryann. I don’t know that part of the country very well, so the clues are super helpful. Thanks for stopping by!

      Like

  6. Chips Off the Old Block
    February 25, 2015

    You have such wonderful images here. A real treasure, and it’s especially wonderful that some are dated or in some way labelled.

    Like

    • Pancho
      February 25, 2015

      I agree–every little clue helps!

      Like

  7. thegenealogygirl
    March 3, 2015

    I hope you got the info you were hoping for! You have some great photos here.

    Like

    • Pancho
      March 3, 2015

      Thanks–I got some, but we didn’t get through them all (the postcards, I mean). More to come!

      Liked by 1 person

  8. Mom
    March 5, 2015

    I think the two photos you refer to as the people looking “stern”, one with a gal and a guy and the other below it of a guy sitting on a bench, are the same guy — that doesn’t help in terms of who he is, but they look like the same person. And, yes, no one looks like much fun in these pics. The whole set of photos is such a treasure!

    Like

    • Pancho
      March 7, 2015

      Yes, I agree they are the same guy, and I’ve since found a few more shots of him. I wonder who he was! Also, thanks for pointing out the dating errors–I am fixing those right now.

      Like

      • Mom
        March 9, 2015

        The interesting thing about your dapper great grandfather Leo is that in his later life, when you were a little girl, he was all about khaki pants, short-sleeved plaid shirts and thick-soled white or tan sneakers. Also, did you know he was color blind?

        Like

      • Pancho
        March 9, 2015

        I did not know that! Maybe that’s why he kept his look basic–fewer chances to screw up.

        Like

  9. Pingback: Baby Wally Joins Team Keil | The People of Pancho

  10. Pingback: Leo and Margaret Picnic with the In-laws | The People of Pancho

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