08 October 2013

Tombstone Tuesday: Joseph Wilson

Yosef ben Zelig
Died 13 Adar 5737
DIED MARCH 3, 1977

My maternal grandfather, Joe Wilson, is my only grandparent who lived into my adulthood, and, therefore, the one about whom I have the most memories. For some reason, we never called him "grandpa" or any other honorific. To us he was just "Joe."

Joe was born 9 October 1889 in Kasan, Russian Empire (today, Kozyany, Belarus). He was the second child and the first son of Saul and Hoda Wilson. He, his mother and siblings arrived at Ellis Island on 1 June 1897. [1] The family lived for several years upstate in Hudson, New York, where, I suspect, Joe and his younger brother, Ben, got their start in the sweater business, first as salesmen, then as jobbers and, finally, as manufacturers.

Oakdale Knitting Mills, Inc., Joe's women's sweater factory in Brooklyn, New York, was a family business. Joe's son, Ira entered the business after finishing New York University Law School and my father Bernie, Joe's son-in-law, joined Oakdale in the mid-1950s. 

For reasons only known to him, Joe was coy when asked about the origin of the Oakdale name. It was many years later, upon perusing maps of Hudson, NY, that I discovered that one of the lakes in Hudson was Oakdale. Perhaps the factory name was Joe honoring his childhood home in upstate New York.

The family always referred (lovingly, I guess) to Oakdale Mills as "the place." 

Joe married Tillie Liebross in Manhattan on 31 May 1917. [2] He and Tillie had two children: Ira Howard Wilson (19 May 1918 - 22 January 2004) and Norma Circe Wilson Garber (6 April 1921 - 23 March 2003).

Joe's grave is in Section 5, Block H, Lot 36, Grave 1 in Knollwood Park Cemetery (now part of Mt. Carmel Cemetery).

1. "New York Passenger Lists, 1820-1957," digital images, Ancestry.com (http://www.ancestry.com : accessed 7 September 2009), manifest, Pisa, Hamburg to New York, arriving 1 June 1897, list 7, Josef Wilensky; citing National Archives Microfilm Serial M237, Microfilm Roll 579.
2. New York County, New York, Certificate and Record of Marriage no. 31607 (31 May 1917), Jos. Wilson and Tillie Lebross [sic], New York City Municipal Archives, New York.

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