Unfortunately, it doesn’t appear that my immediate family wrote things down – no diaries, memoirs, or journals to provide interesting facts and family anecdotes. If you’re lucky enough to have some of these or old family letters, treasure them! I do however have an electronic copy of the memoirs of Sara (Caskey) Breithaupt and I’ve referred to them in earlier posts about the Breithaupt family, cousins of my wife.
Sara Caskey married my wife’s second cousin twice removed, Louis Orville Breithaupt, in November 1919 (Louis and Sara are pictured on their wedding day above left). Louis went on to become a very public figure in his hometown of Berlin, later Kitchener, Ontario – first as an alderman, then mayor and Member of Parliament, and finally as the vice-regal Lieutenant Governor of Ontario. Although Sara was not a ‘blood’ relative, she also lead an incredibly interesting life, one that is interesting to research for at minimum some of the historic connections in it.
Sara was born in Youngstown, Mahoning County, Ohio in 1894. She was able to trace her maternal family roots back to a second great grandfather, George Scott, a cousin of Sir Walter Scoot, the famous Scottish novelist and poet. In 1841, George’s daughter and Sara’s great grandmother, Sarah Ann immigrated to the USA with her husband William Bonnell and the eldest three of seven children (the youngest four children were born in the USA). Their arrival in New York City on March 8th, 1841 ended a difficult six week voyage according to family stories. Eventually the family found its way to Youngstown where successive generations found prosperity.
Sara Caskey’s father, Herbert served as the General Secretary of the YMCA and in that position was asked to move his family from Youngstown to Philadelphia, Pennsylvania in 1901. In 1908, Herbert left the employ of the YMCA to work with the Presbyterian Board of Foreign Missions in New York City. However, in 1909, Herbert was asked to help the church in Toronto on a temporary basis. When this assignment took on a permanent form, Sara, her mother and brother joined Herbert in Toronto where Sara attended the Havergal private girls school. Sara completed a college education in Ontario before she and her family moved back to New York City in 1916.
In New York City, the Caskeys lived in a Central Park West apartment and Sara enjoyed the cultural life that the city offered at the time, particularly opera at the Metropolitan Opera House. The apartment building the family lived in “formed a three sided courtyard where singers and musicians would come to perform and the tenants would throw coins down to them.”
“One day a man sang several songs and Mother remarked about his beautiful voice, said he deserved more than the usual sum. I do not know how much she threw him, but we were amused the next day to read in the paper that a friend of Caruso’s had dared him to try it – said he wouldn’t be able to make a living. Mother was glad she had been of help!”
By this time, the United States had entered World War 1 and shortly before the war’s end, Sara became engaged to an officer-in-training, Ogdon Purves. Following the armistice, Sara “found Ogdon much less interesting out of uniform” and so their engagement ended.
Church work returned the Caskeys to Toronto in 1919 and not long afterwards, Sara married a former college acquaintance Louis O. Breithaupt and began a new series of life adventures.