Ancestor Challenge Week 29: Musical

This week’s blog prompt from Amy Crow Johnson’s series 52 Ancestors 2015 Edition is: Musical. I am choosing to write about three members of the family who were musical, Florence Wassmer, Michael Stanzione, and Hazel Jagdfeld.

First, Florence Wassmer is my great Aunt on my mom’s side of the family. She was born in 1885 in Illinois to Thomas and Christine Wilkins. Her older sister, Alpha, is my great grandmother. Their parents died in 1895 (Thomas) and 1897 (Christine) and since Florence would have only been 12 when her mom died, I suspect her half-sister Tess McLean took her in. I caught up with Florence in the 1905 New York census living with Tess’s daughter, my great grandparents and several other family members. She can also be found in the 1920 and 1930 US census living in New York. This is where Florence worked as a movie house piano player. She played in the age of silent films and the story goes, she would at times play off key just to have some fun with the audience. Florence moved to California to live with her half-sister Tess as found on the 1940 census. I don’t know when Florence passed away but I do know that I have family that visited her in California in the 1950s.

Michael Stanzione

The second musical person is my husband’s grandfather, Michael Stanzione. He was born in New Jersey in 1920. Michael played the violin and mandolin and would even play songs with spoons. As a teenager he received violin lessons and was self-taught on mandolin. Before he was married he would play violin at local weddings for free meals. He married in 1945 to Matilda and worked as a firefighter.

Hazel Jagdfeld 16 years old

The final musical person is my paternal grandmother, Hazel Jagdfeld. She was born in 1897 in Minnesota and grew up in Fond du Lac, WI. Hazel took piano lessons and I found a newspaper clipping from the Fond du Lac Reporter, July 2, 1913 of a recital she was in. She played an ensemble for two pianos, Wagner-Liszt, Bridal Song from Lohengrin. After she married and moved to Chicago, Hazel bought a Kimball piano and later, it was moved to the last home she lived in which was Arizona. I remember when I had just learned to read music and would spend SaturdaySCAN0013 afternoons with her. She would show me where middle C was and I would plunk out a tune with one finger. Sometimes, after I was finished, she would open the piano bench, pull out some music and play for me. What a treat that was.

SCAN0014 Grandma passed away in 1985, but her piano remains and is now in my home where my daughter practiced on it when she took lessons.

Hazel’s Kimball piano

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