Leier Family Chart
Leier Family History
Children of Charles
& Louise Nowasky
Children of Lawrence
& Amelia Leier
Causes of Death
Children of Lawrence & Amelia Leier
According to census records, Lawrence and Amelia had a total of 12 children. I have been able to document only nine of them. They are Louisa (1884), William (1886), Amelia (1889), Bertha (1890), Emma (1891), Charles (1892), Minnie (1895), Annie (1896), and Albert (1897). Emma and Annie each died a few months after being born.
Louisa Leier – born September 2, 1884 in South Greenfield, a hamlet in the Gravesend section of Kings County, New York, later to become part of the city of Brooklyn. Louisa was 19 years old and 6 months pregnant when she married Ciro Lanzaro on September 27, 1903. They had nine children, five of whom lived to adulthood. The family moved to a farm in Morganville, NJ, in 1914. Louisa contracted tuberculosis in 1919 and was confined to a sanitarium in Scotch Plains, New Jersey, where she died more than a year later on July 16, 1920. She was 35 years old. She is buried in St. Joseph’s Cemetery in Keyport, NJ, along with Ciro and their last 3 children who died as infants.
For more information about Louisa, click on "Louisa & Ciro" and "Louisa's Letters" in the panel on the left.
William Leier – born June 26, 1886 in the Parkville section of Flatbush, a town in Kings County that would eventually be incorporated into the city of Brooklyn. After his father died in 1899, 2 days before his 13th birthday, William was forced to drop out of school to help his mother support themselves and his six siblings. He found work as an office boy. Several years later, he was hired as a printer in a print shop. In fact, by 1910 he was operating his own printing business from the home at 941 Newkirk Avenue called “Modern Job Printing Company.”
William married Susan Halbert, the grandniece of Nathaniel Currier of Currier & Ives fame. She was born in Brooklyn on November 16, 1888, the daughter of Canadian-born Thomas Urban Halbert (1845-1916) and Hannah E. Currier (1851-1924). Susan and William married on her 24th birthday, November 16, 1912. On August 16, 1913, their son, William Thomas Leier, was born.
Unfortunately, the marriage did not last. By June of 1915, the couple had separated. William moved back home with his mother, Amelia, while Susan took baby William and moved back with her parents who were living at 97 Remington Avenue in Jamaica, Queens. At the time, Susan was pregnant with their second child, and on August 19, 1915, Dorothy Leier was born.
On September 12, 1918, at the age of 32, William filled out a World War I Draft Registration Card, as he was required to by law. He describes himself as a tall man of medium build, with brown hair and blue eyes. He was employed as a carpenter with C. Knickerbocker at 737 Newkirk Avenue in Brooklyn. He was still living with his mother at 941 Newkirk Avenue.
William and Susan officially divorced on August 23, 1922.
On December 18, 1924, Susan remarried, to John Ernst. They lived in Jamaica, Queens, and later at 125 Avenue U in Brooklyn. In 1925, when young William, who was now known as Bill, was 12 years old, he developed appendicitis and had to have his appendix removed. There are indications that Bill was causing problems with his mother and step-father and was sent to live with his father. He confided to those who knew him later in life that his father beat him and eventually sent him to an "orphanage" in Monsey, New York. Another story has his mother taking him from the home in Jamaica to a boarding house in Rockville Center on Long Island. There, he met another boarder named Carl Oslander. Later, both were sent to the Herriman Farm School in Monsey, located about 40 miles northwest of Queens.
By 1930, 14-year-old Dorothy was living with her mother and step-father and step-sister Arline Ernst in Queens. Young William was at the Herriman Farm School. Much of what I know about Susan and the children comes from information provided by Jo Ann Moffat, Arline Ernst's daughter-in-law.
John Ernst was born in Middle Village on Long Island, New York on February 12, 1892, the son of John Ernst, Sr. and Theresa Engst. John worked for the New York City Board of Transportation. Specifically, he was an air brakeman for the Brooklyn-Manhattan Transit (BMT) corporation. He stood 5' 4" and weighed about 140 pounds, with blue eyes and black hair and a light complexion, and he wore eyeglasses.
According to the 1940 Federal Census, Susan had been confined to the Creedmore State Psychiatric Center in Queens since at least 1935. The facility provided services for severely mentally ill patients. Arline was sent to live with her step-sister Dorothy, who had married Herman Bosch in 1935. They lived on Queens Avenue in Queens.
John was only 52 when he died of Chronic Cardiovascular Renal Disease at Greenpoint Hospital in Brooklyn on December 15, 1944. Susan was still institutionalized at Creedmore when she died on November 17, 1963. She was 74 years old. She had been at Creedmore for nearly thirty years. John and Susan are buried together at Lutheran All Faiths Cemetery in Middle Village, Queens.
After Bill and Carl Oslander left the school (or orphanage) in Monsey, Carl found a job in Philadelphia. He wrote Bill to join him and they worked together for a while. From 1934 to 1942 Bill worked as an elevator operator. This was around the time that his mother was sent to Creedmore Psychiatric Center. There is no evidence that he ever reunited with her. In 1942, he was earning $13 per week operating an elevator at Kings County Hospital and back living with his father and his father’s second wife, Lillian at 634 Franklin Avenue.
In October of 1942, when he was 29 years old, Bill enlisted in the Army Reserve Signal Corps. According to his military documents, he was 5 feet 10 inches tall, weighed 153 pounds, had a 31-inch waist, medium frame, brown hair and eyes, and a dark complexion. Another source says his eyes were green. He was single and had no dependents.
He was also suffering from a condition called “dorsal kyphosis” or curvature of the spine. One can only conjecture that, in 1942, the Army was enlisting anyone who could walk into the recruitment office.
His immediate assignment after basic training was with a medical detachment. In any case, he lasted only 14 months in the service, long enough to earn an honorable disability discharge due to his worsening physical condition. He was discharged on December 22, 1943 and moved back to Brooklyn.
Around 1959 he moved to Herlong, California, a small town near the Nevada border, about 50 miles northwest of Reno. He found work as a civilian at the nearby Sierra Army Depot. A retired employee of the depot once told me he remembers Bill in 1964 as an older gray-haired fellow who was quite bent over and worked as an operator at the depot’s water treatment plant. Others who knew him at that time have also confirmed that he was known as "Bill" Leier.
According to his ex-landlady, Audrey Chamberlin, Bill lived in a trailer in a park near the depot. He had no tv or telephone, but he did have a cat. He rarely talked and pretty much kept to himself. Although he owned a car, a Ford Pinto, it was usually not in running condition. His landlord would drive him to the veterans clinic in Reno (a 2-hour round trip) on those occasions when he needed medical care. For a more complete history of Bill's life in Herlong, click here.
After retiring from the depot, Bill moved to the nearby town of Susanville. He was suffering from chronic lung disease. Shortly after entering the Lassen Community Hospital for treatment, he developed pneumonia and died there on August 23, 1988, a week after his 75th birthday. His obituary states there were no known survivors. Another source indicates he never married.
He is buried in the veterans section at the Diamond Crest Cemetery in Johnstonville, California, a small town just southeast of Susanville.
Dorothy was 19 years old when she married Herman Bosch on June 19, 1935, in Queens, NY. Herman was working as an automobile mechanic when he enlisted in the army in 1943 and served as a Staff Sergeant during World War II. I have no evidence that they had any children. When Dorothy's mother Susan was sent to Creedmore Psychiatric Hospital around 1935, 10-year-old Arline was sent to live with Dorothy and Herman.
Dorothy and Herman were living in Dix Hills, Long Island, NY, when Dorothy died on October 10, 1976. Herman died December 30, 1982. Both are buried at the National Veteran's Cemetery on Long Island.
William and his mother Amelia continued to live at 941 Newkirk Avenue until she accidentally died from inhaling illuminating gas from the outlet wall fixture in her bedroom on June 25, 1931. She was 65 years old. She is buried with Lawrence at Evergreens.
According to her will, Amelia left an estate valued at $6500, primarily the value of the property at 941 Newkirk Avenue. For some reason, she left $1 each to her two surviving daughters, Mettie and Birdie, with the remaining estate to be divided evenly between her two surviving sons, William and Albert.
On October 15, 1931, four months after his mother died, William married his second wife, Lillian Ruth Foell, who was already living with him at the family home. Lillian, known more familiarly as Lillie, was born in Brooklyn on August 12, 1892, the youngest of 14 children born to John George Foell (1843-1926) and Julia M. Hamm (1847-1918). Lillie was 39 years old when she married William. It was her first marriage.
Around this time, William sold the house at 941 Newkirk Avenue to Raymond and Anna Nicholson for $4,750. In 1933, Albert sued William for his half of the inheritance. I don't know why he had to do that, or how it turned out.
By 1935, William and Lillie were renting an apartment at 634 Franklin Avenue in Brooklyn. Living with them was Lillie's spinster sister Julia Foell. The year before, on May 5, 1934, Lillie gave birth to their only child, Robert W. Leier. William struggled to care for his new family, often unemployed during the Great Depression.
On April 27, 1942, at the age of 55, William again registered for the draft. He had finally found employment with the Works Projects Administration (WPA), a work relief program funded by Congress that provided jobs and income to the unemployed during the Depression. He lists Robert Foell as a reference, one of Lillie’s brothers.
They were living at 367 Crescent Street in Brooklyn when Lillie died on November 14, 1948. She was 56 years old. Cause of death was coronary occlusion (heart failure due to blocked arteries). She was cremated at Fresh Pond Crematory. William was still alive at the time and 62 years of age. Robert was 14.
I have never been able to locate Robert. In 2017, I thought I had found a record of William's death in 1957, but it turned out to be the wrong William Leier.
Amelia Leier – born March 1889 in Gravesend. She was known to us as Mettie. She married John (Jack) Kazalski on November 18, 1909, in St. John the Evangelist Roman Catholic Church in Brooklyn, a day after Jack turned 20 years of age. Jack was born in Libo (possibly Lida), Poland on November 17, 1889, the son of John Kazalski and Catherine Dimbinski. Conflicting sources have him arriving in America in either 1892 or 1896.
Initially, the couple lived at 267 46th Street in Brooklyn, where Jack worked as a sporting goods dealer. On his World War I Draft Registration Card, dated June 1917, he is listed as being a tall man of medium build, with grey eyes and brown hair.
Mettie and Jack had five children: John C. Kazalski born in Brooklyn on February 14, 1910, Bertha W. Kazalski May 17, 1912, Gladys M. Kazalski February 1, 1914, Dorothy F. Kazalski March 23, 1916, and Florence L. Kazalski January 9, 1919.
By 1920, the family was living at 277 West Street in Brooklyn. Jack was now working as a foreman for the American Can Company in Brooklyn. Living with them was Mettie's sister Bertha, known to the family as Birdie, and her baby daughter, Ruth. Birdie's husband, Lawrence Hunter, was serving in the Navy.
By 1930, they were living at 1574 East 51st Street in Brooklyn, a home that they owned and valued at $6000. Jack was still working as a foreman for the American Can Company, while 20-year-old John (also called Jack) was a clerk for the electric company. Bertha was 18, Gladys 16, Dorothy 14, and Florence 11. Bertha, who was called "Birdie" like her aunt, died on March 20, 1931 during a series of tuberculosis epidemics that would also kill her 17-year-old sister Dorothy two years later on June 30, 1933.
Tuberculosis was responsible for claiming the young lives of Mettie's sisters, Minnie (1919) and Louisa (1920), her brother Charles (1926), and her daughters Birdie (1931) and Dorothy (1933).
Sometime between 1930 and 1935, the family moved to Queens. They owned a house at 216-15 111 Avenue, valued at $5000. Jack's occupation was now "machinist". Gladys worked as a policy writer for an insurance company, while Florence worked there as a typist. On the 1940 Census, Jack's annual income was listed as $1800; Gladys $884; and Florence, $780.
At some point the family changed their surname from Kazalski to Berry. On his World War II Draft Registration Card, dated April 1942, Jack was now calling himself John James Berry. He and Mettie were still residing at the same Queens address, but they were actually living, perhaps temporarily, in South Connellsville, Pennsylvania. This was way out in the western portion of the state, about 50 miles south-east of Pittsburgh. Jack was working for the Anchor Hocking Company, a manufacturer of glass products, at their new plant in nearby Connellsville. Why was Jack the machinist working way out there for a glass company? For one thing, the company also had a plant in New Jersey. For another, the company was now using sophisticated (for the time) machinery to make various glass products, and would need machinists to maintain them.
The Draft Registration Card had a few puzzling anomalies on it. Polish-born Jack's birthplace is listed as "Brooklyn, New York". While he had grey eyes and brown hair in 1917, he now has blue eyes and blonde hair. The 1917 card lists his date of birth as November 17, 1890 while the 1942 card shows November 17, 1889. In 1942, he was 52 years old. His height is listed as 5' 11 1/2" and weight 175 pounds. The document also states he had a scar and a mole on his right arm. To see these differences for yourself, click on "Documents" in the panel on the left, scroll down to John J. Kazalski (Berry), and click on "Military".
Jack and Mettie's son, John C. Berry, served in the Army, prior to WWII (1940-1941), then again when he re-enlisted in 1943 and served until the end of the war. He later became employed as a bookkeeper for Con Edison in New York, retiring from them in 1955. At some point he moved to Manasquan, New Jersey, and was living there when he died on June 25, 1991, at the age of 81. He is buried at Saint Catherine's Cemetery in Sea Girt, New Jersey.
Mettie's favorite holiday was Christmas. She continued the German tradition of having real lit candles on the tree and the tree was never put up until after the children went to bed Christmas Eve. She also did wonderful needle work, especially quilting, producing many "masterpieces." Every Christmas she would make new doll clothes for the girls' old dolls.
Gladys was administrative assistant for the American Automobile Association in Florham Park for 20 years, retiring in 1976. Born in Brooklyn, she lived in Queens and Florham Park most of her life until she retired to Newton, New Jersey in 1976. My father once told me that Gladys dated Victor Wenzel (1911-1996), the son of Leona Blanck Wenzel (1890-1974). Leona's second husband, after Victor's father died, was Joe LaMura (1888-1962). This is of interest to me because Gladys and the LaMura's were my cousins.
Gladys was married to William H. Schmidt. The family called him Harry. He died in 1950. Gladys was living in Newton when she died on May 10, 1993, at the age of 79. She is buried at Saint Catherine's Cemetery in Sea Girt.
Florence was employed as a statistical typist at the American Iron and Steel Institute in New York City, before her retirement. Born and raised in Brooklyn, she married John (Jack) Gittens on June 17, 1951. They lived in Queens Village, Florham Park, and Atlanta, Georgia before moving to Manasquan, New Jersey in 1990. In 2003, they moved to Sea Girt, New Jersey. They were living in Sea Girt when Florence died at home on June 4, 2005. She was 86. Like her sister and brother, she is buried at St. Catherine's Cemetery in Sea Girt.
Mettie died in October 1969. Her husband Jack died on August 10, 1981 in Asheville, North Carolina. They are both buried at Gate of Heaven Cemetery in East Hanover, NJ.
Bertha Leier – born February 12, 1890 in Gravesend – known to us as Aunt Birdie. On Christmas Eve, 1918, 28-year-old Birdie married a 22-year-old sailor from Massachusetts named Laurence Burton Hunter. Laurence was born in Quincy, Massachusetts on March 23, 1896, the son of George Hunter (1858-1944) and Charlotte Holden (1858- ). The marriage took place at the Dutch Reformed Church on Flatbush Avenue. On her marriage certificate Birdie listed her age as 24. Witnesses to the ceremony were her sister Minnie and brother-in-law John Kazalski. Minnie was only a few months away from marrying her sailor.
I only know of one child, Ruth Evelyn Hunter, known as Ruthie, born August 9, 1919 in Brooklyn. Shortly after Ruthie's birth, Birdie and the baby were living with her sister and brother-in-law, Mettie and John Kazalski, at 277 West Street in Brooklyn, while Laurence was serving aboard the U.S.S. Columbia in the Caribbean. Laurence was honorably discharged from the Navy in April of 1920, after serving three years.
By April 1925, Birdie, Laurence and Ruthie were living in Westerly, Rhode Island, on Mountain Avenue. I have no idea why they ended up in Westerly. Perhaps it had something to do with Laurence's experience with the Navy, as Westerly is a coastal town. Whatever the reason, this is where Birdie would spend the rest of her life.
Another mystery: Birdie's brother Charles died in Westerly on November 11, 1926 of Tuberculosis. The place of death on his death certificate is Mountain Avenue. Was Charles living with Birdie and Laurence? It seems quite improbable that a highly-contagious person would expose themselves to others. Ruthie was barely 7 years old.
On the 1930 Federal Census, dated April of that year, Birdie and Ruthie were living at 189 High Street in Westerly, a short walking distance from Mountain Avenue. Birdie's marital status is listed as married. Around this time, though, Birdie and Laurence divorced because, on October 20, 1932, 42-year-old Birdie married 66-year-old widower, Hobart Clarke Saunders, in Westerly. Hobart, a cabinet maker, was born in Westerly on March 12, 1866, the son of Elisha Clarke Saunders and Mary Smith Stillman.
Around the same time, Laurence had moved back to Massachusetts and married Adrienne Manuel. By 1935, they were living at 49 Perry Street in Weymouth, Massachusetts. Weymouth is 5 miles from Laurence's birthplace of Quincy. He worked at the Fore River Shipyard as a crane operator. Around this time, he described himself as 5' 10 1/2" tall and weighing around 210 pounds, with brown eyes, gray hair and a ruddy complexion.
From Weymouth, Laurence and Adrienne moved to nearby Whitman, Massachusetts, and eventually to Florida. Laurence died February 25, 1973 in Tarpon Springs, Florida at the age of 73. Adrienne died in February of 1982. They are buried together at Fairmount Cemetery back in Weymouth.
In January of 1935, Birdie, Hobart and Ruthie were living at 14 Spruce Street in Westerly, less than a mile south of Mountain Avenue. This is where Birdie and Hobart would live until their deaths. On March 12, 1941, Birdie died of Tuberculosis, the same disease that took her brother Charles. In fact, this was the disease that also claimed the lives of her sisters, Minnie (1919) and Louisa (1920), and her nieces Bertha (1931) and Dorothy (1933) Kazalski.
At the time of Birdie's death, Ruthie was 21 years old. Two years later, Hobart died, on April 7, 1943. Hobart and Birdie are buried at River Bend cemetery in Westerly, along with Hobart's first wife, Alice (Allie) Stannard Saunders who died in Westerly on January 4, 1930.
Sometime around 1953, when she was about 44 years old, Ruthie married Paul G. Martasian, a reporter and writer for several local newspapers and radio stations. Paul was also a writer for the Audubon Societies of Massachusetts, Rhode Island and New Hampshire. In 1968, he was named assistant public affairs officer at the Atlantic Fleet Command of Naval construction battalions. They lived in Providence, Rhode Island, located about 40 miles northeast of Westerly. A few years later, at the young age of 52, Paul died, in June of 1972. At some point, Ruthie moved 10 miles south to 29 MacArthur Drive in Warwick, Rhode Island. This is where she was living when she died on November 15, 1987 at the age of 68 years.
Emma Leier – born March 4, 1891 in Gravesend. She died a few months later on July 27, from Cholera Infantum, also known as “Summer Complaint ”. She is buried in the Old Gravesend Cemetery in Brooklyn.
Charles Leier – born November 3, 1892 in Gravesend. Charles was a tall, slender man with light brown hair and blue eyes. He worked in a butcher shop, then later worked on his sister’s farm in Morganville, NJ. He died in Westerly, Rhode Island on November 11, 1926, at the age of 34. Cause of death was listed as "Pulmonic Filithisis" - a fancy name for Tuberculosis. He is buried with his sister Minnie in Evergreens Cemetery.
Minnie Leier – born January 24, 1895 in Gravesend. On February 22, 1919, Minnie married Otto Fretz in a ceremony held at her mother's home at 941 Newkirk Avenue. Otto was serving as a cook with the U.S. Navy. He was born in Kaiserslautern, Germany on January 17, 1891. His parents were Christian Fretz and Juliana Haeberle. Otto and his parents immigrated to America when he was just six months old, in July of 1891.
Sadly, Minnie contracted tuberculosis a few months after the wedding and died at her mother's home on September 12, 1919. She was only 24 years old. She is buried at Evergreens Cemetery with her brother Charles.
Four years after Minnie's death, Otto remarried, to Anna Plaul, on August 18, 1923. He described himself as being 5'10" tall, with brown hair and eyes, with a ruddy complexion. He was living in East Northport, Long Island, when he died May 29, 1974 at the age of 83. He is buried at the Long Island National Veterans Cemetery in Farmingdale, Long Island.
Annie Leier – born January 17, 1896 in Gravesend. She died shortly after on March 26, 1896 from Periostitis, an inflammation of the membrane surrounding the bones, brought on by a severe asthmatic attack. She is also buried in Gravesend Cemetery.
Albert Leier – born February 17, 1897 in Gravesend. Known more familiarly as Ollie or Allie, Albert was a slender man of medium height, with light brown hair and blue eyes. He worked as a horseshoer in a blacksmith shop, a subway conductor for the Brooklyn-Manhattan Transit Corporation, known as the BMT, and as an elevator operator. He married Miranda Hettrich on January 26, 1927. Miranda was born in Brooklyn on October 12, 1904, the daughter of George W. J. Hettrich (1875-1955) and Jane (Jennie Victoria) Kennish (1884-1911). Albert and Miranda lived at 456 Lexington Avenue in Brooklyn.
Albert was 78 years old when he died of natural causes on August 1, 1975. Miranda died a year later on October 29, 1976. They are buried together in Cedar Grove Cemetery in Flushing, a town in the borough of Queens, which is situated north of Brooklyn.