|Green-Wood Cemetery, Section 17, Public Lot 14888, grave 1617|
1903 passenger List of the SS "Cymris" in New York City, Line 13:
Heiestad, Ralf Sigfried, 19 y/o, single, Christiania, Norway, staying with uncle Johan Anderson at 300 East 32 St, New York
|Census of the United States, 19 April 1910, Brooklyn, NY|
|September 12, 1918, WWI Draft Card|
All these various addresses for Ralph Haystead and Anna Hansen hint on a degree of instability in their lives; this is not to say that they had turbulent relationships with their respective families. No, on the contrary, if you were to plot them all on a map, you’d notice that although in span of ten years between their arrival and marriage they constantly changed their place of residence, both Anna and Ralph stayed within the same community, populated mostly by the Scandinavians.
The Sunset Park neighborhood is currently populated by the Chinese and the Hispanics, giving rise to such communities as “Little Fuzhou” (along the 8th Avenue) and “Little Latin America” (along the 5th Avenue). But in early 1900s, this area which is only a walking distance from the Green-Wood Cemetery, was an attractive destination to many immigrants from Norway and Sweden. This was primarily due to the expansion of an industrial complex known as the Bush Terminal: “At one point, the site employed as many as 25,000 workers in shipping, warehousing and manufacturing for the textile, automotive and machinery industries, among others.” Only few place names today, such as the Leif Ericson Park and Square, remind us of this neighborhood's past but the predominant make up of immigrants from the Northern European countries in the beginning of the last century could have easily given this area such a name as "Little Scandinavia".
|Anna Sofie Haystead's Petition for Naturalization, 1929|
With the advent of automobiles, the streets of New York City in the 1920s were roaring and it was a perfect period for the Haysteads to establish themselves. While renting a room from Mrs. Veit, Ralph was working as machinist in an auto-industry. His skills as iron-worker could have easily be transferred to building, or fixing, cars. Perhaps it was a job at the Bush Terminal or even a private garage (the number of which in Brooklyn alone have risen to thousands by the end of the decade), and wherever it was, the savings were enough for the Haysteads to move into a house of their own. By 1925, Ralph, Anna and Florence were living at 926 54th Street in Brooklyn; this was a house where Ralph would spend the rest of his life.
Their new home was too big for one family, so the Haysteads leased one of the floors to the Nelsons, as the 1925 New York State Census shows. Albert Nelson was of Finnish descent and came to America in 1902. He worked as bartender for number of years until sometimes after World War I, he became owner of a boarding house at 6002 New Utrecht Avenue known as Nelson's Hotel. He married Rose in 1907 and in 1911 they had a daughter whose name was Dorothy. Al would eventually loose the ownership of his hotel, but he'd always find a job as bartender. By 1940 he was again working as bartender, now most likely in Terino Damareo's restaurant.
|1925 New York State Census, household at 926 54th Street, Brooklyn, New York|
On 7 May 1929, Anna Sofie Haystead became a naturalized citizen of the United States of America. A mere four months later, on September 4, the stock prices crushed and with that the American economy, and thence the entire world's, crushed too. With the Great Depression many of the automobile industries around the country ceased to exist turning the roar of the 1920's to a hum. Ralph Haystead had already turned to his old trade as ironworker by 1925, which helped him weather the great depression with some ease.
|1904 November 12, The Standard Union, front cover|
When on 27 April 1942, Ralph Haystead filed his draft card, he stated that his place of employment was "Bay Ridge Iron Works". It is just as likely that Ralph was actually owner of this business, as this company saw many proprietors and various places of operations in Brooklyn in the past two decades. On 4 January 1946, Ralph Haystead and his wife, "subscribed, sealed, published and declared " their last wills and testament in the presence of each other and that of Mr. and Mrs. Johnsons. The Haysteads named each other the executors of their wills, and in case they both perished simultaneously, their daughter, Florence A. Ekberg was to inherit everything. Ralph died at home of "Natural Causes" on 29 May 1947. After her husband's death, Anna went to live with her daughter and her son-in-law at 361 81st Street in Brooklyn. She died on 4 December 1951 at Shore Road Hospital.
Florence Haystead was born on 8 September 1918 in Brooklyn, New York. She married Ragnar K. Ekberg sometimes after 1940, but before her parents wrote their wills in 1946 as Florence was mentioned in those records by her married name. The story of Ekbergs will continue in the next post and I shall end this one with some unanswered questions.
What was Alf Frithjof Haystead's wife's name? After all his death records note him to have been married at the time of his death. Did his marriage produce any kids? Why did Ralph married Anna a month after his brother's death? 15 December 1916 vs 17 January 1917? Was the wedding planned so far ahead that it could not be canceled? Or was there some other reason that is yet to be discovered? Did Alf and Ralph have any other siblings? Why were they the only one who came to the United States?
Perhaps these and many other questions will be address in my next post. For now, here are copies of some of the records mentioned in this post.
|Schedule B of the SS "Cymric", 27 March 1903, bound to New York|
|Total number of Third Class and Cabin Passengers on the SS "Cymris" on 27 March 1903 at the port of Liverpool|
|Passenger List of the SS "Cymric" at the Port of New York, 7 April 1903, Line 13: Heiestad, Ralf Sigfried|
|1910 Census of the United States, Lines 82-85: the Andersons and Ralph Haystead|
|1920 Census of the United States, Lines 26-32: households of the Haysteads and the Veits|
|Passenger List of the SS "United States" at the Port of New York, 26 June 1905, Lines 14 & 15: the Hansen sisters, Christine and Anna|
|Anna Sofia Haystead's Petition for Naturalization, 1929|