My mother’s paternal grandmother was Charlotte Ann McCormick, aka Daisy, aka Goggy, a name she got when her granddaughter couldn’t pronounce Grandma. She was born in Manhattan on 6 August 1878 but shaved a year off of that at some point, telling people it was 1879 as eventually appeared on her death certificate. Charlotte was the daughter of Irish immigrants Peter McCormick and Alice Heginbotham, the eldest of two surviving children. Their first child died at birth in 1876. Her younger brother Charles Thomas McCormick was born November 1881. Given the similarity of their names, they were probably named for someone specific but who is a mystery; their grandfathers were Thomas and Patrick.
Charlotte and her brother Charlie were raised in different religious traditions. Our undocumented family legend is that Peter (Roman Catholic) and Alice (Protestant) agreed to raise sons in his faith and daughters in hers. True or not, they had one of each and their children were so raised. I am a descendant of the Protestant daughter; my godfather was the grandson of the Catholic son. Charlotte was confirmed on Good Friday 1892 in St. Andrew’s Episcopal Church in Harlem, three blocks from their home.
The McCormicks lived on the Upper East Side of Manhattan when Charlotte was born, later moving up to Harlem and still later, to Hunts Point Road in the Bronx. Peter was a stone mason and builder and their family was well enough off to afford having a servant. Alice’s father lived nearby. Charlotte completed eighth grade and received a diploma from the Harlem Young Women’s Christian Association in June 1897, certifying her proficiency in stenography and typewriting. As far as we know, she was never employed to use those skills and it was a bit of a surprise to the family to discover that she ever had them.
Charlotte’s father Peter died in December 1898 at their home in the Bronx. Following his death, her mother Alice took in boarders, including the recently widowed William John Flanders and his 8 year old son Lester. William married the landlady’s daughter one year later on 7 December 1899. He called her Daisy. Charlotte was 13 years younger than her husband and 13 years older than her step-son.
The new family lived with Alice in the Bronx in the 1900 census but by 1905 had moved across the Hudson River to Newark, New Jersey. Their son William Charles Flanders (my grandfather) was born in October 1900 in Belleville, where most of Alice’s Heginbotham relatives lived. In 1908 the family moved the short distance to 916 Lake Street in the quiet Forest Hill residential suburb, near the cousins and only blocks from the train which William took for his work as a gentlemen’s wear salesman. Charlotte lived in this house until her death in 1967.
Charlotte’s household was multi-generational, as were most households of the time. The 1910 census shows that her new 5-bedroom house held Charlotte, her husband and their son, her step-son Lester, her mother Alice, and her brother Charlie. These were the days before Social Security, when families formed the safety net. The women in my family didn’t work and had no real marketable skills, but they could care for a home and help raise children. And in this generation, the women outlived their husbands by many years.
Although her husband traveled for business, Charlotte wasn’t lonely with a number of cousins within a short walk from her home, including her cousin Edith Karr just two blocks away. The family regularly attended St. Mark’s Episcopal Church near their home. Her husband William Flanders, who was born in England, became a United States citizen in January 1920. He died of cancer on 29 April 1925, leaving 47 year old Charlotte a widow living with her son – and still her mother, who passed away two years later.
Charlotte’s son married in March 1927, bringing his bride Marion Cooke home to live with his mother in the home where he grew up. Charlotte controlled the kitchen and cooked all the meals until World War II, when she couldn’t figure out rationing. Her granddaughters grew up with their grandmother in residence, in the same way her son grew up with his grandmother there. She outlived her daughter-in-law, who died in 1960.
Goggy was in her 80’s when I was growing up and she was always old. She wore plaid cotton housedresses with pearls, earrings, and either a cameo or diamond bar pin, all of which were gifts from her late husband. Her hair was soft white and curled, and she never seemed to do much, but then, at that age she didn’t have to. She enjoyed her drinks on Friday evening, and every evening for that matter, and was cared for tenderly by her son. She fell on her birthday in 1967 and died shortly later from complications of a broken hip. She is buried at East Ridgelawn Cemetery in Passaic, New Jersey, with her husband and mother.