All posts by imhoffdj

Capelonga’s and Welch’s

Story from Elizabeth Capelonga, who’s great-great grandfather, Thomas was the brother of my great-great grandfather.  Our common ancestor would therefore be the father of Thomas and Luke Welch.

The original Welch settler from Ireland, Thomas Welch, had a brother named Luke. Thomas Welch and his wife Jane had a son also named Luke. He was born in 1869 in Oneida County New York. He was married to a woman named Nora Hannan and they had several children, among them a daughter named Dorothy. Dorothy was an unmarried teenager when she became pregnant with my father. When Dorothy was three months pregnant, her father Luke Welch committed suicide by hanging in Jordanville New York. Apparently he was a blacksmith and an alcoholic who had lost his business and was estranged from his family. I have a newspaper clipping that details that he went for a walk and two weeks later on March 24, 1922, he was found hanging, “frozen stiff” in a barn (Oneonta Daily Star, March 24, 1922).

Dorothy gave birth to my father who was named at birth Max Francis Welch, on September 18, 1922 (father not currently known) and at six weeks of age Dorpthy’s mother Nora surrendered my father to the Sisters at the St. Joseph’s Infant Home in Utica. He was there until he was 18 months of age when he was a adopted and taken to Brooklyn New York where he was raised.

Before I did Ancestry I had all the information regarding my father‘s birth name place of birth and detailed information about Luke and Nora and their family from an extensive adoption record I received from the agency through which he was adopted, which is still in existence. Because my father was born and adopted before the adoption records were sealed in the state of New York, they were able to give me the full record. When I joined ancestry and had my DNA done, I was able to find out more from other people’s family trees etc. and that’s how I became hooked up with Joe Pryor.

Interestingly I also found that my father‘s mother Dorothy, eventually married and in 1932 gave birth to a daughter Elizabeth. I found that out through a census records search. Last year I was contacted by someone who matched me as a first cousin on ancestry. I knew that she was on the Welch side because of our mutual matches.She had absolutely no information about herself except for her birth name which was Nora Salisbury. The last name Salisbury,  I knew was the last name of the man that my grandmother had married and had a daughter with. The first name, Nora, was my great grandmother’s name, the woman who gave my father up for adoption. Apparently, my grandmother’s daughter Elizabeth had also given birth to a baby out of wedlock, and this woman who contacted me was that baby. This is all been a very interesting journey and while some of the story regarding my father‘s family of origin is very dark (there are some details I did not include here for the sake of brevity) it is truly a fascinating story and has captivated me from the moment I found out about it.

– Elizabeth Capelonga


DNA Results

After a number of years of contemplating whether or not I should have my DNA tested, I decided to pursue testing in an effort to break through some research barriers as well as try to connect to relatives in Germany and Ireland.  The reservations I had centered mostly on the lack of law governing the use of DNA once it has been acquired as well as the security of this data. A decent outline of the pros and cons of DNA testing for genealogical purposes can be found HERE if you are interested in this topic.

Ultimately, I decided the benefits of what I might learn from these results outweighed the risks and I had my DNA tested by and  Once I received the results, I additionally uploaded the raw DNA to myFTDNA.

The results I received were largely what I had anticipated, with one notable exception. Prior to the testing, I had assumed my genetic makeup would be largely Western European (German) and Western European (Irish). What was unexpected was how little German DNA I had and how much stronger the Western European DNA was.  In particular, I was surprised by the prevalence of English family connections.

Below are the heritage estimates of the three various services:

Results from


Results from My


Results from myFTDNA

Naphtha Launch


In 1915, John F. Imhoff purchased a Naphtha Launch named ‘Alice’ from a private party. The transaction appeared in the newspaper: “Hardcastle Brothers had sold their naphtha launch “Alice” to John Imhoff of 103 1/3 Erie Street, Utica”.

Within a box of photographs I received from my father, Richard J. Imhoff, I found a photograph that appears to show this launch dated June 26, 1915.  The Photograph indicates that it was taken at a location called Murphy’s Landing.

I found a reference to a Murphy’s Landing in the Annual Report of the Superintendent of Public Works of the State of New York – 1903 and this reference indicates that is is on the Erie Canal between Rome and Utica. I have sent a copy of the picture to the Oneida County Historical Society and the have agreed to research its location.









Utica & Immigration


The Imhoff’s arrived in Utica some time between 1840 and 1849. This date is approximate and is based on the fact that Caspar Imhoff, the first known Imhoff to arrive in the United States, signed naturalization documents in 1854. At the time the interval between arrival and naturalization eligibility was five years, so his arrival could not have been subsequent to 1849. The ships manifest of the New Republic lists a Caspar, who is 40 at the time of the ships arrival in New York on 3 June 1840. Although Caspar’s headstone lists his date of birth as 1792, it is not uncommon for there to be discrepancies. However, research on the records of Caspar’s immigration to the United States continues.

At the time of Caspar’s arrival in Utica, NY, the city’s population is approximately 20,000, larger than Detroit,Chicago or Cleveland at that time. Caspar married Walburga Langgartner (date unknown) and settled in Utica’s Westside. The 6th ward of Utica, NY largely comprises the Westside of Utica, New York. Historically, this ward was made up of German immigrants who came to the city in large numbers beginning in the 1840s, escaping the revolutions of Europe and often fleeing prosecution for their
participation in demonstrations conducted in their native lands. The early German immigrants are sometime referred to as ’48’ers’ as March of that year was the beginning of the German revolutions of 1848 and 1849. By the early 1900s, Germans comprised the largest minority group in Utica, making up approximately 17% of the city. This influx in German immigration gave rise to many prominent cultural institutions such as a German Catholic Church (St. Josephs – 1852), the Bavarian Aide Society and Maennerchor’s annual Bavarian Festival (1865).

Utica’s high water mark for population was 1930, when the city reported 100,740 residents. Utica maintained it’s population over the next three decades (40’s, 50’s and 60’s) before steadily declining between 1970 and 2010. By the end of the millennia, Utica’s population had fallen to 60,523 – an almost 40% reduction over a 70 year period.
The exodus from the city was spurred primarily due to the loss of jobs as, first, the textile industries moved to southern states and were soon followed by the defense and electronics industries – most notably, General Electric and Lockheed.

In recent years, Utica has begun to reverse the population trend and there has been a 3% increase in Utica’s population with the majority of the new arrivals being immigrants. It is interesting to note that, even today, Utica is largely comprised of recent immigrants. In fact, 17% of the city’s population arrived in Utica within the previous five years. Utica has the largest immigrant population of any other Upstate New York city. Today’s immigrant’s hail not from Germany, Italy or Ireland, but from Bosnia, Kenya and Tibet.

The neighborhoods of Utica that the first Imhoff’s called home have fallen into sharp decline in the decades since the 1960s. Some alarming statistics specific to the 6th ward in West Utica are as follows:

  • 64.9% of the children here below the federal poverty line, this neighborhood has a higher rate of childhood poverty than 96.8% of U.S. neighborhoods
  • The median real estate price is $51,265, which is less expensive than 97.8% of New York neighborhoods and 97.8% of all U.S. neighborhoods.

While Utica’s recovery has been slow, the City is being targeted by a NY state program called “Nano Utica” that will result in an investment of 1.5 billion into attracting employers to the greater Mohawk Valley region (for a 1.5 billion they might well have come up with a better name than ‘Nano Utica’). The program will be centered in Marcy, NY and its objective is to attract chip and semi-conductor manufacturers to the region

There are several agencies and institutions working with the city’s recent immigrants, such as the Mohawk Valley Resource Center for Refugees and Saint Joseph’s / Saint Patrick’s Church. One notable and exceptional agency is the Westside Kitchen. This church sponsored soup kitchen provides ~3,000 meals per month to the people of Utica. This immigrants are from a different geography and time, but there stories are very much similar to the German, Irish and Italian immigrants who called Utica their home before them.

I encourage anyone reading this to visit Westside Kitchen and, if you are so situated, please make a donation in the memory and spirit of our Italian, German and Irish ancestor immigrants.

Main Post Article

Last week I contacted the Main Post in Germany seeking to place an add to solicit individuals in the Frammersbach area to contact me if they had any information pertaining to Caspar Imhoff. Caspar emigrated from Germany in about 1840 and while I have evidence that he came from Frammersbach, I continue to work on corroborating these facts.

Well, last Friday, I was was contacted by Marcus Rill who offered to write an article about Caspar and my search for relatives in the Frammersbach area. Today, that article was published! I am hopeful that I will make new contacts and further the research into the Caspar/Frammersbach connection.

Thank you Marcus and the Main Post!

You can access the article (in German) HERE


Pryor Family Reunions

The Pryor family settled in the Kirkland area of upstate New York in 1853. James Daniel Pryor and Margaret Robinson came to America from Ireland and settled in the Kirkland area. James Pryor was born in Ireland on March 16, 1830. James Daniel Pryor and Margaret Robinson had eight children, all born in the United States, between 1855 and 1877.

By 1919, 66 years after coming to the United States from Ireland, James Daniel Pryor is 89 years old. Margaret Robinson has been deceased for 21 years, having passed away in 1898, but Margaret and James Daniel’s descendants have prospered and have moved into many of the neighboring communities such as Newport, Middleville, Herkimer, New Hartford, Utica, Whitesboro, Sherill and Clinton.

The children of James Daniel Pryor and Margaret Robinson were:

1. Thomas J. was born 27 Apr 1855; Died 15 Jul 1930
2. John was born 13 Aug 1856; Died 14 Mar 1904
3. William Christopher was born 27 Jul 1859, Died 15 Jun 1930
4. Margaret E. was born 04 Nov 1863, Died 13 Mar 1958
5. Edward Patrick was born 08 Sep 1870; Died 18 Oct 1871
6. Daniel Henry was born 20 Apr 1872, Died 15 Sep 1953
7. Emma was born 10 Apr 1876; Died 26 Nov 1877.
8. Mary Elizabeth (Minnie) was born 13 Oct 1877, Died 27 Dec 1950

In the Summer of 1919 the first Pryor Family reunion is held on August 17th at the home of Thomas Pryor and his wife, Harriet Crane. Thomas Pryor was the eldest son of James Daniel Pryor and Margaret Robinson and in 1919 owned a farm on Pryor Road off the Seneca Turnpike in Kirkland NY. 80 guests attend this first reunion and, given the account provided to the newspaper, the weather was ‘inclement’ on this day. The guests were served dinner in the ‘dancing hall; and were entertained by a Victrola and vocal solos by Miss Veronica Pryor, a Violin and Cornet duet by Stanley and Mrs. Autenrith, Piano solos by Mrs. Lawrence Seavey and several vocal solos by Master Terence Autenrith. The Autenrith’s were related through the marriage of James Daniel Pryor’s sister, Mary Pryor, to Jacob Autenrith in 1860.

The next reunion covered in the local press is the 7th annual Pryor Family reunion reported in the Clinton Courier, Wednesday, August 12, 1925. The 7th Pryor Family reunion was held at the home of James Pryor, the youngest son of James Daniel Pryor and Margaret Robinson. By this time, James Daniel Pryor is also deceased, having passed away four years previous on October 16th 1921 at the age of 91 years. The newspaper account indicates that there were 100 guests in attendance and that they came from Clinton, Utica, Kirkland, Sherrill, Newport, New Hartford, Norwich, Herkimer, Rome, Syracuse, Middleville, Whitesboro, Mohawk and New York City. Dinner was held on the lawn and the following officers were elected: President, Thomas Jones; vice-president, Mrs. Arthur Peterson: secretary, Miss Florence Caraher; secretary. Jacob Autenrith: and Miss Margaret E. Pryor, chairman of the flower committee. Three deaths and one birth were reported for the year. Rita Mary Sheridan, daughter of Mr. and Mrs. John Sheridan, received a prize as the youngest person present. Agreement was reached to hold the eighth reunion at the home of Mrs. John Pryor on College street n Clinton.

The eight Pryor reunion, despite plans to hold at the home of Mrs. John Pryor in Clinton was held instead at the “Pryor Athletic Fields” (thought to be located on Pryor road just off of the Seneca Turnpike near route 233) on Sunday, August 15th 1926. Articles about the reunion appeared in the Wednesday August 19th editions of the Clinton Courier and the Waterville Times.

Newspaper accounts indicate that about 100 individuals attended and the following were amongst the guest: Miss Margaret E. Pryor, Clinton; Mr. and Mrs. Daniel Pryor and family, Clinton; William Pryor and Miss Theresa Pryor, Clinton; Mr. and Mrs. John E Pryor and Family, Clinton; Mr. and Mrs. Thomas Pryor, Clinton; Mr. and Mrs. Vincent Pryor and Family, Clinton; Mr. and Mrs. Charles Pratt and family, Utica; Mrs. Martin Caraher and Family, Utica; Donald Dolan, New York; Neal Pryor, Whitesboro; Mr. and Mrs. James J. Dwyer and family, Utica; Mr. and Mrs. William Pryor, Kirkland; Mr. and Mrs. Jacob Autenrith and family, Newport; Miss Catherine C. Connelly, Port Richmond; Mr. and Mrs. Peterson and family, New Hartford; Mr. and Mrs. O’Toole and family, Utica; Mrs. Stanley O’Toole, Utica; Miss Anne O’Toole, Utica; James Pryor, Bridgeport Connecticut; Mr. and Mrs. Matt Kernan and family, Rome; Mr. and Mrs. William Autenrith and family, Middleville; Miss Amelia and Miss Minnie Autenrith, Middleville; Mr. and Mrs. Louis Remmer, Utica; Mr. and Mrs. Thomas Jones and Family, Utica; Miss Mattie and Miss Anna Pryor, Utica; Mr. and Mrs. John Sheridan and family, Clinton; Mr. and Mrs. Francis Feeney, Utica.

The ninth annual Pryor Reunion was held again at the Pryor Family Athletic fields on Pryor road on Sunday, August 21st, 1927. An article from the Tuesday, August 23rd edition of the Utica Daily Press indicated that 100 individuals were present at the reunion.

The 10th annual Pryor reunion was held on Sunday August 19th, 1928 at the home of Daniel Pryor on Kirkland Hill. An account of the reunion was contained within the Wednesday, August 22nd 1928 edition of the Clinton Courier. The Clinton Courier article intend that approximately 80 individuals were present at the reunion and that attendees were present from Newport, Herkimer, Utica, Clinton, New Hartford, Kirkland, Rome and Syracuse.

The 11th annual Pryor reunion was held Sunday August 18th, 1928 at the home of Daniel Pryor on Kirkland Hill. A description of the event appeared in the August 22nd 1929 edition of the Clinton Courier. The article indicates that nearly 100 individuals attended and that “the weather was ideal and that tables were set up on the spacious lawn”. At noon, a “bountiful” dinner was served after which a meeting was called to order by the president, Edward O’Toole of Utica. The first order of business was to elect officials for the following year’s reunion. Officers chosen were: President, Edward O’Toole; Vice President, Thomas Jones of 1015 Churchill Avenue; Secretary, Mrs. A.N. Peterson of New Hartford; treasurer, Jacob Autenrith of Middleville. The present reunion’s entertainment committee was composed of Mr. and Mrs. William Pryor, Kirkland; Mr. and Mrs. John Sheridan, Clinton and Miss Florence and Harold Caraher, Utica. The sports program was in charge of Edward O’Tool, Thomas Jones and James Dwyer.

Prizes and awards were: Secret time race for women, Mrs. Julia Alien, Sauquoit; marshmallow race, Mrs. Daniel Pryor, Kirkland Hill; peanut race, Mrs. John E. Pryor, Clinton; time race for men, John Tooney, Utica; running race for men, William Pryor, Kirkland; little girls’ race, Rosemary O’Toole, Utica; little boys’ race, Lysle Pryor, Clinton; prize for youngest baby, little Ann Feeney, Utica.

Report was given of one death, two births and two weddings. Guests were present from New York City, Bridgeport, Conn., Newport, Middleville, Herkimer,Utica, Whitesboro, Clinton, New Hartford, Rome and Syracuse.

The next reunion was planned to be held in Newport and the following committee was elected to plan the 1930 reunion; in charge of the entertainment: Mr. and Mrs. Stanley Autenrith, Mr. and Mrs. William Autenrith, and Mr. and Mrs. Jacob Autenrith. James Dwyer was re-elected to have charge of the sports. Members serving on the flower committee were also re-elected.

The 13th annual Pryor reunion was held at the home of Daniel Pryor on Sunday, August 16th 1931. A basket picnic was served. In the afternoon a meeting was called by the president, Daniel Pryor, and the following officers were elected: President, Daniel Pryor, Kirkland; vice president J. E. O’Toole, Utica; treasurer, J. B. Autenrith, Newport; secretary, Katherine L Jones Utica. Races were run and prizes were awarded to Maureen O’Toole, Mrs. Frank Pryor, Eunice Volmer, Harry Pryor. Donald Pryor and Francis Feeney. One death and one birth was reported during the year. It was voted to hold the reunion next year at the same place. Miss Mattie Pryor was appointed head of the flower committee and Mrs. James Dwyer has charge of the prizes.

The 14th annual Pryor reunion was held at the home of Daniel Pryor on Sunday, August 21st 1932. A luncheon was served at noon. In the afternoon a meeting was conducted and the follwjg officers were elected: President, James J. Dwyer, Utica; Vice President, Mary E. Pryor, Utica; Secretary, Kathryn Jones, Utica and Jacob Autenrith, Newport. Others elected were: Entertainment Committee: Mr. and Mrs. Louis Remmer and Mr. and Mrs. James Dwyer; Sports Committee: Edward O’Toole and Thomas Jones; Prize Committee: Mrs. Dwyer. Prizes were won by Stanley Autenrith, Mrs. Vincent Pryor, Rita Sheridan, Alice Volmer, Shirley Volmer, Harold Pryor and Harry Pryor.

The 16th annual reunion of the Pryor family was held at the home of Daniel Pryor in Kirkland Sunday afternoon, August 18th 1934. The following officers were elected for the coming year: President, Daniel Pryor; vice president, Roy Caraher, Utica; secretary, Miss Kathryn L. Jones. Utica; treasurer, Jacob B. Autenrith, of Newport. The reunion of 1935 will be held at the home of Mr. and Mrs. J. B. Autenrith, Newport.

The 18th annual Pryor reunion was held at Newport Grove on August 16th 1936. Two Utica’s were named officers – Roy Caraher as Vice President and Mrs. Kathryn L. Jones as secretary. Daniel Pryor, Kirkland, was named president, and Miss Margaret Pryor of Kirkland, historian: Jacob Autenrtth., Newport, treasurer. Plans were made to hold the 19th reunion at the home of Daniel Pryor in Kirkland on August 15th 1937.

The 20th Pryor reunion was held at the home of Daniel Pryor in Kirkland on Saturday August 27th 1938. Forty guests were present. The following officer were elected for the following years reunion: President, Daniel Pryor; Vice President, Thomas Jones; Treasurer, Jacob Autenrith; Secretary, Florence Caraher and Historian, Margaret Pryor. This was the last reunion cover by the local newspapers and I have found no evidence that reunions were held subsequent to 1938.