About the Laabs and Fitzpatrick Families
THE LAABS COME TO AMERICA
Our first Laabs’ ancestor to come to America was Max Alfred Albert Laabs, an optometrist from Berlin, Germany. When he came is unknown, but probably in the 1890’s, Max being about 20 years old at the time. He married Bessie Granville, from St. Catherines, ON, near Niagara Falls. Bessie’s father, Thomas, was from Halifax, NS (1881 census says his ancestry is Irish) and her mother, Mary Curtin, was an immigrant from Dublin, Ireland. The couple had one son, Edwin, after which they divorced. In 1908, Max married again, to Nellie Hughes of NY. Max and Nellie had five children and lived in Southbridge, MA. One of the children, Max jr., followed his father into the optometry world as a machinist at American Optical Co. Most of the descendants of Max & Nellie have remained in the New England area.
After her divorce from Max, Bessie Granville Laabs married Edwin Forster of Ontario. Edwin Laabs’ WWI draft card gives his address in Ontario, with his mother, so we assume the family lived there, although they were U.S. citizens. Edwin Laabs eventually moved to Rochester, NY where he was a machinist. At some point in time he lived in Detroit, where he met Edna Fitzpatrick whom he married. Edna bore two sons and then died of influenza in 1928, along with her infant son Richard. Edwin handed off his other son to Edna’s mother for raising, as he felt inadequate to do so by himself. Edwin went on to marry two other women, but had no additional children.
THE FITZPATRICK FAMILY
Edna’s parents were Edward Fitzpatrick and Christie James, both of Canada. Edward was born in Cornwall, ON and met Christie in Meldrum Bay, ON. The couple moved to Michigan’s Upper Peninsula, where Edward worked in the logging industry. After his death, Christie moved downstate to Detroit, living with her children and raising the young Laabs boy.
Edward’s immigrant ancestor was Peter Fitzpatrick, from Smithtown, County Meath, Ireland and member of the King’s Royal Regiment of New York which fought in the Revolutionary War. After the war, he settled down in Canada with his wife, Catherine Warner. Peter’s son, William, married Mary Casselman, daughter of Cephranus Casselman, a Loyalist leader during the War who became enshrined as a character in the famous novel, “Drums Along the Mohawk” (our ancestor was a fictional character!). The Casselman family ancestry goes back to Germany and Switzerland. (More fictional ancestry: Peter Fitzpatrick's homeland of County Meath was also the homeown of Scarlett O'Hara's father George, in "Gone With the Wind;" the plantation Tara being an ancient site in Meath.)
Christie James’ paternal grandparents, Thomas James and Elizabeth Groves, immigrated from Shilleleigh, County Wicklaw, Ireland in the early 1800’s to East Wawanosh, ON. Christie's maternal grandparents, Dougal Black and Christina Welsh, were both immigrants from Scotland.
A famous descendent of William Fitzpatrick/Mary Casselman was Frances Gumm, aka actress Judy Garland. Judy’s beloved grandmother was Eva Fitzpatrick, a great-granddaughter of William & Mary.
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