Thursday, February 1, 2018

Ernest Alfred Olesen

United Kingdom Birth Records 
     I am slowly working my way through my Olesen Family.  It appears I have not spent any quality time researching my paternal great granduncle, Ernest Alfred Olesen.  He was the youngest child born to Christian Invart Olesen and Ferdinanda Weiss Olesen.  Ernest was born on April 19, 1891  in West Hartlepool,  Durham County, England.  He joined five other children in the Olesen family.  One brother, George Invart Olesen, died in 1888, three years before Ernest was born.  Ernest was still a baby when his father died in 1892.  He was raised by his mother, a single parent.

Northern Daily Mail, West Hartlepool, England
Friday, August 17, 1894, page 3

      I have no idea how Ferdinanda paid for her family's living expenses during the 1890's while her children were still young, although children did work in England during those years.  There is a newspaper article dated August 17, 1894 that gives me a peek into the family life.  Ernest's oldest brother, Frederick, attacked his mother, Ferdinanda and was sent off to two months hard labor.  At that time, Frederick had not worked for two years, so he was not providing for the family and during the inquest, in a question and answer session, Ferdinanda says she is working; however, the occupation is not given. Various newspaper articles show that  Frederick Olesen was a occasionally in trouble in West Hartlepool before and after he joined the army in 1898.  His attestation papers list that he was employed as a laborer and continued to make his home with his mother.  Ernest grew up in a family with an older brother who was causing havoc in the family and community.

1901 United Kingdom Census
Durham County, West Hartlepool, All Saints Parish

     The family suffered a loss on January 24, 1901 when Ernest's brother, Adolph Heinrich Weiss Olesen died at age fifteen.  Later that year the 1901 UK census for the family shows that the Olesen family is making their home at 7 Bolton Street.  The family has been at 7 Bolton since Christian's death in 1892  Ernest is age 9 and probably in school.  An older brother, William, age twenty one, is working at a sawyer (a person who saws wood) and his sister, Emily, age seventeen, is apprenticed as a dress maker.  My paternal great grandmother and Ernest's oldest sister, Elizabeth Ferdinande Olesen Hughes, was married and raising a son, my paternal great grandfather, George Henry Hughes, in West Hartlepool.  Frederick is not at the house for the enumeration and could be still serving in the army.

     In 1906, Ernest's sister, Elizabeth Olesen Hughes, and her family immigrated to the United States. I have no knowledge as to the reason why my paternal great grandmother and her family left West Hartlepool for the United States; however I am sure the move across the ocean to a new country was met with hope and anxiety for both the Olesen and Hughes families.  Ernest would have been age fifteen.  Unbeknownst to the Olesen family all but Frederick would follow Elizabeth in the upcoming years.

     In 1910, Elizabeth Olesen Hughes crossed the ocean to West Hartlepool.  At this time, William (Bill) Olesen decided to immigrate to the United States and he accompanied his sister back to Elizabeth's house on the South Side, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.  I do not have any records to show whether Bill stayed in the US or if it was a visit; however, he is not enumerated on the Olesen 1911 census.

     The Olesen family was making their home at 73 South Parade in West Hartlepool by the 1911 United Kingdom Census.  They have a page all to themselves and Ernest provided and signed the report.  Ernest is age twenty and is working as a clerk in an estate office.  Also on the census is his sister Emily and her husband, Rowland Richards.

     Another family member left West Hartlepool in 1914, Emily's husband, Rowland Richards, immigrated to the US and stayed with the Hughes Family in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.  Certainly in the West Hartlepool Olesen family a seed has been planted that life was better in the United States and conversation around the dinner table undoubtedly revolved around that issue.

     I have digressed a bit from the story of Ernest Alfred Olesen to provide insight into the family and the family dynamic he was living in as a child and young man.

 This photo was identified in an  album, by my paternal grandmother, as a photo of "Uncle Ernie World War I".  Uncle Ernie, Ernest Alfred Olesen, was her husband's uncle and would have been known in her family as Uncle Ernie.  She would have been able to identify him as she had met him and his wife, Annie.  

     From 1914 to 1920 Ernest had several life changing events.  Between 1914-1915 he enlisted the 22 Manchester (7th City) Battalion during England's participation in World War I.  I found a Manchester Batallion website that listed the soldiers number and Ernest's falls within those that fought with the battalion called 7th City.  His record shows he was a private, saw military conflict and received a silver badge for his service.  Shame on me, I found him also listed as a Lance Corporal; however, I did not save the website.  I will add it if I ever find it again ;-)  I do not know how many years he served with the 22 Manchester.


      In 1915, Ernie married Ann Wanless in a ceremony at Christ Church, West Hartlepool, England.  Ann, also known as Annie, was born on February 16, 1890 in West Haartlepool, England,  She was the daughter of Robert William and Annie Wanless.  The actual date of the marriage I have not been able to find; however, it was in the last three months of the year.  Whether Ernest was on leave from his military service or had mustered out is also unknown. 


     The couples only child, a son, Oscar Ernest Olesen, was born on September 28, 1916 in West Hartlepool, England.  The date of his birth has been taken from his United States records; however, the record in England lists that his birthday fell during the last three months of the year.

1920 Olesen Immigration Records

     On February 26, 1920, Ernest, Annie and Oscar boarded the SS Baltic in Liverpool, England.  They sailed tourist class and their passage was paid by the shipping broker, Simpson, Spence & Young, where Ernest would be an accountant.  The SS Baltic, also known as RMS Baltic, was one of four the big four ocean liners of the White Star Line.  I found an SS Baltic video on YouTube which shows numerous photos of this ship that primarily sailed between Liverpool and New York City. 

     On July 24 1920, Bill Olesen returned to the United States with his mother, Ferdinanda Weiss Olesen and his sister, Emily Maud Olesen Richards.  The final portion of the family traveled aboard the Cunard ocean liner, SS Aquitania, from Liverpool, England to New York City.  YouTube has an interesting video of the history of the SS Aquitania.  I have no idea if Bill Olesen returned to England to pick up his mother and sister or if he had returned years earlier and was living with them.

891 East 14th Street, Flatbush, New York in 2018
This may have also been the first home to the Ernest Olesen Family in 1920

     The immigration record lists the intended destination, of the final three Olesens,  is brother and son (Ernest) who was in 1920 was living in an apartment located in the neighborhood of Brooklyn, 891 E 14th Street, Flatbush, New York.

     Although the immigration record shows that the family of Ernest Olesen planned to be in the US for only six months, I believe that they came and stayed. The only US records for them from their arrival until a vacation cruise in 1924, is that they made their first home in Flatbush after they arrived.  I have not located any documents of Ernest becoming a US citizen.  In the 1930 and 1940 US census, Ernest and family do list 1920 as the year they immigrated; however, there is no NA (naturalized) after the date.  Instead, there is an AL, "AL: The immigrant had not yet naturalized or even begun the process.  Not every immigrant naturalized."  (Family Search United States Naturalization and Citizenship)  Perhaps they lived in the US until their deaths, but never became citizens.  I have also not located any US passport applications, which would probably make sense if they never naturalized. 

     Sometime between 1920 and 1924 the Olesen's purchased a home at 228 Broadway, Lynbrook, New York.  From searching on Google maps, it appears that the house no longer exists or has been renumbered.  The family lived at this address from 1924 until 1933 taken from a 1925 New York Census, the 1928 New York City Directory, the 1930 United States Census for New York and several passenger lists from cruises and vacations out of the country.

     During the period of time from 1924 to 1933 there were eight passenger records for either Ernest alone or for the family.  These records have proven invaluable.


    On October 4, 1924 the Olesen family sailed aboard the ocean liner, SS Fort St. George, from Hamilton, Bermuda arriving at the port of New York City on October 6, 1924.


     1.  On March 23, 1925 Ernest Olesen returned to New York City from a trip to Hamilton, Bermuda.  There is no other information as the first page of the passenger list is missing. 

     2.  On September 25, 1925 the Olesen family sailed aboard the ocean liner, SS Fort St. George, from Hamilton, Bermuda arriving at the port of New York City on September 26, 1925.

     3.  On November 11, 1925 the Olesen family sailed aboard the ocean liner, SS London Mariner, from New York City to London, England.  The London Mariner was a ship owned by Furness, Withy & Company.  Ernest gave his address in London as the office of Furness, Withy & Company.  The family left London, England on the SS London Commerce arriving at the port of e York City on December 4, 1925.  The name and addrsess of Ann's mother was given on the incoming passenger list  Perhaps the Olesen's traveled from London to West Hartlepool to visit with family during their trip.

     The Olesen family took a cruise on a Furness ship in 1924 and It appears that by 1925 that Ernest Olesen had left the shipping broker Simpson, Smith & Young and joined the British transport business of Furness, Withy & Company as an accountant.  The address given as a person in the United States who knew Ernest on the 1925 Bermuda trip is the address of Furness, Withy & Company and the family sailed on Furness, Withy & Company ships to and from England along with going to the firms office in London.  Oddly, the company began in Hartlepool, England and I would assume that Ernest was well acquainted with it before he left for the United States in 1920.


     On September 10, 1927 the Olesen family sailed aboard the ocean liner SS Fort St. George from Hamilton, Bermuda arriving at the port of New York City on September 12, 1927


     On September 24, 1929 Ernest and Annie Olesen sailed aboard the ocean liner SS Bermuda from Hamilton, Bermuda arriving at the port of New York City on September 26, 1929.


     On July 11, 1931 the Olesen family sailed aboard the ocean liner SS Fort St George on a cruise to Halifax, Nova Scotia and St. John's, Newfoundland arriving at the port of New York City on July 23, 1931.

     On March 1, 1933 Ernest Olesen sailed aboard the SS Monarch of Bermuda from Hamilton, Bermuda arriving at the port of New York City on March 3, 1933.

1930 United States Census Report cropped
     The first United States census report for the Olesen family is 1930.  They continue to live at 228 Broadway, the village of Lynbrook, in Nassau County, New York.  Ernest owned his home with a value of $12,000.00.  I was able to calculate the cost of the house in 2018 using DollarTimes which factors in inflation and came up with a little over $171,000.00.  An interesting article, The 1930 Census in Perspective, gave me some insight into a few of the new questions found on the census.

     The family owned a radio.  A question that was added as a consumerism and mass communication question.  Ernest lists his father as having been born in Denmark and his mother as having been born in Germany--two facts that I already knew; however, it is confirmation.  All three family members are listed as having immigrated in 1920 and are still aliens.  Ernest is the only family who is employed and he works as an accountant with a shipping company.  This census asked if anyone was a veteran of a war and which one.  Ernest lists World War I.

     I would like to momentarily digress to compare Ernest's lifestyle with his siblings who were at that time living in two different cities in Butler County, Pennsylvania.  His sister, Elizabeth Olesen Hughes, brother Bill Olesen and mother, Ferdinanda Weiss Olesen were living together in a Jones and Laughlin company house located in Aliquippa, Pennsylvania renting it for $35.00 a month.  Bill was supporting the family as a locomotive engineer with the J&L steel company.  The inflation factor computes $35.00 per month to $501.00 in 2018.  Ernest's other sister, Emily Maud Olesen Richards and her husband, Rowland Richards owned a home in Monaca, Pennsylvania valued at $5,000.00 which would be valued at a little over $71,000.00 in 2018.  Rowland was a laborer at a steel mill.  Both households did own a radio.

     Ernest's mathematical ability as an accountant with a large international shipping company afforded him a much more comfortable lifestyle than his siblings.

1940 United States Federal Census cropped 

     The primary record for the family during the 1940's is the census report.  

     The Olesen's moved to a new house at 316 Broadway, in the village of Lynbrook sometime between 1930-1935.  Basically they moved a couple of blocks down the street. They owned the house and the cost was $7,000.00 which translates to 2018 value as $123,000.00.  The house still stands today and is pictured on Google map.  It was built in 1920 and is a lovely two story home on a residential street.  Zillow lists the current price, if it was for sale, would be almost $488,000.00.

1942 World War II Draft Record for Ernest Alfred Olesen

     The records and documents from 1940 on are somewhat limited.  I would imagine that the Olesen's continued to travel outside the United States.  There is a World War II draft document dated 1942 for Ernest showing his employment, still with Furness Withy and living at the house pictured above.

     I have not intentionally ignored my paternal great grandaunt, Ann (Annie) Wanless Olesen; however the records I have found are either for her husband or the family.  In the late 1940's I have several for her.   

     Rummaging around in my "baby box" I found the little card above signed by Great Great Aunt Ann.  I was born in 1947 and was the first great grandchild of Ann's sister in law, Elizabeth Olesen Hughes.  I am going to digress here to share a difference in nomenclature.  Ancestry calls Ann my great great aunt, while searching in Google, I have found great grandaunt.  I have decided to use great grandaunt and uncle.

     In June 1949, Annie traveled to Canada, perhaps alone.  I located a Boarder Crossing document for her crossing from Canada to Detroit on June 22, 1949.  Of interest:  Ann is listed as a British citizen.  I was also excited to have a photograph of her.

     I have two photographs of Annie that were identified by my Aunt Faith, who is pictured with Annie in one and another of Annie with her sister in law and my paternal great grandmother, Elizabeth Olesen Hughes.   Faith's relation to Annie Olesen would be her grandaunt.  I would like to mention that when I interviewed my Aunt Faith her comments regarding Ann Olesen were, " Ann Olesen, wife of Ernie Olesen. Aunt Ann was a fun lady.  Class lady.  She had a lovely British accent.  Faith remembers that she visited in Florida and visited in Avalon."   

1952 New York Death Record for Ernest Alfred Olesen

Obituary for Ernest Alfred Olesen
Hartlepool, England

     On January 12, 1952, at age sixty one, Ernest died at his home in Lynbrook.  I was, once again, fortunate to have access, for a brief time in 2016, to the newspapers of the UK and found an obituary for Ernest Alfred (Ted) Olesen in the Hartlepool newspaper.  It was interesting to find that he was nicknamed, Ted.  To date I have not located an obituary in the United States or where he is buried.

     In October 1966, Annie Wanless Olesen died in Lynbrook, New York at the age of seventy six.  As with Ernie, I have not , to date, found  her obituary or burial place.


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© 2018, copyright Linda Hughes Hiseree


  1. Hi Linda! First and foremost can I just say what an absolutely wonderful job you have done in researching your Olesen branch of the family. I came across it while trying to help a good friend of mine from New York State find out a little about her Grandfather - Oscar Ernest Olsen. She would love to hear from you - her name is Connie and I have sent her a link to your amazing site!!! I hope she is in touch soon. All the very best, Tim Cole.

  2. Oh, and Connie says that Oscar Ernest came back to the UK during WW2 and served in the RAF! Cheers, Tim