Thursday, January 27, 2011

William G. Mossey, My Maternal Grandfather

1942--William G. MOSSEY-B&W, touched upGrampa Mossey was known as William G. by my mom and others who knew him but I find it interesting that he was actually baptized as George William (Georgius Gillelumus) in St. Peter’s Catholic Church on 31 January 1878. I often wonder why someone would give their child one name, but call them by another. I understand nicknames and childhood names, but giving him two names then reversing them makes me curious. His godfather was named George LaFossé, hence the given name George as this is often the practice in the Catholic Church. The child receives the given name of the sponsor. So maybe it was out of respect and love for the godfather who was named George. At any rate, he was known as William G. as far as my mom ever knew. I do not know what he was called by his friends and family (aside from Dad and Grampa), but in the 1880 US Census in Plattsburgh, he is enumerated as Willie, a 2-year-old.

Although my grandfather was born in the 19th century, most of his adult life was spent in the 20th century. And, although I did meet him, I, sadly, know little about him.

I do know that my mother adored him. I think I asked her once what made him so special, but her comments were pretty non-descript—he was nice, she loved him, he was her father…  Pretty much what many of us would say about our dads.

Grampa’s heritage was French Canadian even though he and his father were both born in Plattsburgh, New York. Mom told me that he spoke fluent French and would greet people in French as they walked down the streets of Springfield [Massachusetts] together.

Several things I know about him, thanks to my mom, I have been unable to prove as yet. First, she told me he worked as a cook on a boat [presumably on the St. Lawrence River as Plattsburgh is located on that river]. Secondly, he worked for the WPA during the Depression. Both of these facts are verifiable, just have to find the records to do it.

Mom said they would walk to mass on Sunday and when they returned home, Grampa would have a delicious breakfast waiting for them including Boston Baked Beans. I have the recipe here:



  1. French Canadian - that explains it. They use so many name variations. Baptised one (ususally based on Godparents name) called another by family when a child then a different name as an adult... I have several French Canadian ancestors that have a number of name variations. I just document the names various with their source. good luck!
    Theresa (Tangled Trees)

  2. Boy, do I understand that! One of these times, I'll post how my second great granduncle was born Maxim Lazar Latour dit Forget and ended up Joseph Gilbert. With these kinds of changes, it is hard to keep all the relatives straight.

  3. Welcome to the Geneabloggers family. Hope you find the association fruitful; I sure do. I have found it most stimulating, especially some of the Daily Themes.

    May you keep sharing your ancestor stories!

    Dr. Bill ;-)
    Author of "Back to the Homeplace"
    and "13 Ways to Tell Your Ancestor Stories"

  4. One of the best things I did was link my blog to geneabloggers. For the first time, many more people were readers besides family members. I love the background you chose for your blog. Welcome aboard.