|image courtesy of photobucket.com|
I recently spoke with Mona to set up an appointment to research the Society’s collection. I explained that some of my ancestors, were interred at Old Calvary Cemetery. I wanted to know if the Society had copies of their burial records. I had recently spoken with Clancy D’Angelo, Director of Cemeteries for the Diocese of Monterey. He said the Society had provided the Old Calvary Cemetery ancestor database on the Diocese of Monterey Catholic Cemeteries website.
I also told Mona that the National Archives-San Bruno had referred me to the Monterey County Superior Court in Salinas regarding my great grandfather's naturalization records. Mona said that the Society had some naturalization records and that the court system was still processing the rest. Mona asked me to document our conversation and send her an email. She would see what she could do to help me.
A few weeks later, Barbara Brown responded to my email with a table of information similar to the one on the Old Calvary Cemetery ancestor database. “It should be the same listing as the diocese web site,” she had written. “Great,” I thought ‘another dead end.” As I looked at the table again, I realized Barbara had included some additional information about my great grandparents, Nellie and Vincent Massera that was not listed on the Old Calvary Cemetery ancestor database. After reviewing my genealogy records, I realized she included their “ages at death” and their “burial dates."
Now, that I had Nellie’s burial date, I thought I had a good chance of finding her obituary and her death date—my toughest “brick walls” yet. I checked the Salinas Public Library website to see if they had any historical newspapers. I guess it was my lucky day! The library’s local history section had a number of historical newspapers, mostly on microfilm, dating back to the 1870’s.
I recently traveled to Salinas to see if I could find Nellie’s obituary. I thought it would be easier than ordering the microfilm through inter-library loans. The historical newspaper collection is housed at the John Steinbeck Library, which holds the majority of the Salinas Public Library collection. Thankfully, at least one of the library’s microfilm readers was working that day. After several attempts, I was able to thread the film through the machine. There was no index. I searched page by page until I figured out how the newspaper was organized. Within an hour, I found two articles regarding Nellie’s final rites. The first was published on November 3, 1928 in the Salinas Index-Journal. It is transcribed as follows:
Mrs. Massera’s Funeral Set For Monday Morning
The funeral of the late Mrs. Nellie Olive Massera, wife of Vincent Massera, who died yesterday morning in the University hospital, San Francisco, has been set for Monday morning at 9 o’clock from the Muller mortuary, East Alisal street. Mass will be in the Sacred Heart church at 9:30, and burial in Calvary cemetery.
The second article was published on Monday, November 5, 1928 in the Salinas Index-Journal. It is transcribed as follows:
Services Are Conducted For Late Mrs. Massera
Mass in the Sacred Heart church this morning marked the final rites for the late Mrs. Nellie Olive Massera, wife of Vincent Massera of this city, who died recently in a San Francisco hospital. Scores of the deceased woman’s relatives and sympathizing friends were present and the floral tokens of esteem were abundant. Rev. Father P. Gerald Gay officiated of the mass. At the graveside in Calvary cemetery the commitment services were conducted by the Rev. Father Albert P. Carroll.
Acting as pall-bearers were Simon Lanini, Arthur Ferrini, Rollin Vierra, James Black, S. C. Breschini and Arthur Davies.
After reading these articles, I learned some new information about my great grandmother, Nellie Olive Lyons Massera.
|Massera Family Plot|
Calvary Cathoic Cemetery
© 2011 Barry D. Fraser
Calvary Catholic Cemetery
© 2011 Barry D. Fraser
She died on November 2, 1928, four days before Herbert Hoover won the U.S. Presidential Election. I felt incredibly sad when I realized she was only 44 years old. In addition to being the wife of Vincent Lawrence Massera, she was the mother of John G. Massera and Rena L. Massera of Salinas. I can only imagine how sad that must have been for my great grandfather “Pa,” my Uncle Johnnie and Grandmother.
She must have been quite ill as she died at the University Hospital in San Francisco. Now I know why the Monterey County Recorder-County Clerk’s office did not have a copy of her death certificate. I plan to obtain a certified copy of her death record from the City and County of San Francisco.
As her final rites were held at Sacred Heart Catholic Church, she was probably a member of the parish. The church is minutes from her family’s former home on Soledad Street.
Finally, I believe Nellie was loved and cherished as “scores of the deceased woman’s relatives and sympathizing friends were present and the floral tokens of esteem were abundant.”