Friday, April 14, 2017

More photos~David O'Donnell & Elizabeth VanBilliard

David and Elizabeth O'Donnell, original in the possession of author

Back again with photos and stories about my family. This is a photo of my paternal grandparents, David O'Donnell and Elizabeth VanBilliard. We have very few photos of my grandfather and I knew there was a resemblance to my dad from the other photos, I did a real double-take when I saw this for the first time the other day. I thought it was my dad at first it looks just like him! I am not sure but I think my dad could be the baby my grandmother is holding. 

David William O'Donnell was born 8 March 1898 in Hazleton, Luzerne, Pennsylvania to Cornelius O'Donnell and Cecilia Fitzpatrick. He was baptized 13 March 1898 in St. Gabriel's Church. David was 19 in May of 1917 and I remember my grandmother saying that he had lied about his age to serve in WW1. The first indication of this was when I took a photo of his military headstone and noticed that his birth year was 1889 instead of 1898. Looked like they had a dyslexic engraver. I asked my dad about it and he said he had never noticed it. I even called the veterans association. They said they get the information from the death certificate, but the death certificate had the correct date! When the applications for military headstones and compensation files came on Ancestry I had my answer. He had lied about his age and it was different on all these forms. His age on entering the Army was anywhere from 21 to 28. But he did serve and he was discharged 28 Feb 1919. This photo always hung in my grandmother's living room.
David O'Donnell, original in possession of author
After the service he drove trucks for a living. On 6 November David married Elizabeth VanBilliard in Bethlehem, Northampton, Pennsylvania. In 1930 David and Elizabeth and their 4 children moved to Philadelphia.  Living in Philadelphia David drove truck for The Bulletin, a Philadelphia newspaper. The family had 2 more children after moving to Philadelphia, the last in 1941. David died 26 April 1947 and is buried in Holy Cross Cemetery in Yeadon, Pennsylvania
Elizabeth VanBilliard, original in the possession of author
 This is Elizabeth VanBilliard. Elizabeth was born 1 November 1900, to George VanBilliard and Susan Haas. She was second to the youngest of 9 children with her sister Margaret born about 18 months after Elizabeth. Her brother Irwin was a couple years older than she was but he died the same month Margaret was born, he was 3 years old.

VanBilliard family, original in the possession of author
This is a photo of George VanBilliard with his daughters Elizabeth and Margaret. In this copy of the photo Elizabeth wanted all to know which one was her having put an arrow and"me" printed over her head.

When Elizabeth married David William O'Donnell it was in the rectory of Holy Infancy Church in Bethlehem. David was Catholic but Elizabeth was not and in those days the wedding could not take place in the church which is why it took place in the rectory. Elizabeth did convert to Catholicism and she was a very devout Catholic.  They moved to Philadelphia in the later part of 1930. While taking care of her family she did take on extra jobs. I have a ledger of her's where she kept track of Laundry she did for people. She also did house cleaning for people after David died. She later worked for Merkel Medical Supply, a store in Center City Philadelphia, cleaning the store. They loved her there and she worked there into her 70's. Another strong woman, like her mother-in-law, who took care of her family. Elizabeth died 15 May 1985, a little over 5 months from her 85th birthday. She is buried with her husband in Holy Cross Cemetery in Yeadon, Pennsylvania. I would like to close this with a funny story my Aunt Marie told  a few years ago. We all heard the stories growing up that our grandfather made beer in the bathtub but Aunt Marie told of the time that Elizabeth was mad at David for something and she threatened to pull the plug in the tub! I just love that. She was little but mighty!

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