Wednesday, November 1, 2017

Ed Wood Wednesdays: The Wood Poughkeepsie Odyssey, Part Five by Greg Dziawer

Wed Woods: Ed Wood's parents, Edward and Lillian, tied the knot in 1923.

Save the Date

Submitted for your approval: an item from the Saturday, December 1, 1923 evening edition of The Kingston Daily Freeman.

Married on a Wednesday: Ed Wood's parents.
Miss Lillian Charlotte Phillips, daughter of Mrs. F.J. Phillips of 10 Columbia street, Poughkeepsie, and Edward Davis Wood, son of Mr. and Mrs. Bryan Wood of Stone Ridge, Wednesday evening, were married at the parsonage of the Hedding Methodist Church. The ceremony was performed at 7:30 o'clock by the pastor, the Rev. George H. Chesebro. The bride wore a gown of gray satin with over dress of canton crepe, a blue hat with gray trimmings and her flowers were white roses. Miss Ina Wright attended the bride as bridesmaid. She wore a blue cantou crepe gown with hat to match and carried pink roses. Philip Depew was best man. Following the ceremony, a reception was held at the home of the bride which was attended by about twenty-four guests, relatives and intimate friends of the couple. The couple have received a number of wedding gifts. After a wedding trip, they will make their home at 10 Columbia street, Poughkeepsie.

That modest announcement details the matrimony of Edward Davis Wood, Sr, and Lillian C. Phillips. They are—you are quite right—the parents of Edward Davis Wood, Jr, born 93 years ago in Poughkeepsie, New York, on October 10, 1924.

Kingston, New York, was 20 miles or so north of Poughkeepsie, just over the Hudson on the western side. The article no doubt appeared here owing to this area, West by northwest of P'oK across the river and over the bridge, being the patriarchal ancestral home of the Wood family after settling in Ulster County on the west side. His maternal ancestors hailed from the east side of the river, just north of Poughkeepsie. Ulster was known for its fertile farmland and rich limestone quarries. 

Poughkeepsie was an early urban center as Dutch settlers flocked there, as they did a generation before in Ulster County (the first explorers having landing there in the 1640s), and west across the Catskills and north into Quebec. As early as 1680, Dutch immigrant land barons were granted deeds from Native Americans, and in 1692, the first house was built in Poughkeepsie, just on the the edge of the river on the east side of town, half a dozen or so blocks north of the home in which Ed's parents first resided. 

I had previously mentioned that Ed's parents were married in 1922. Seeing this article, that was clearly wrong; they were not married until 1923. Within mere months, Eddie was conceived, likely at the residence mentioned in the article, 10 Columbia Street. Columbia ran and runs perpendicular to the river, and—I don't know if this is the building that stood there or not—the street corner today crossing a narrow street, with a narrow sidewalk on the residential side toward the river, in a vicinity sparsely populated by homes. On the southeast edge of P'oK is the exclusive Hudson Pointe, now (houses selling in the range of $300-400K, the corner of 10 Columbia St in front and to the right of the development's entry sign, looking across the river). 

In late 1923, when the young married Woods moved in with Frances, Eddie's maternal grandmother, the river was a stone's throw away. I haven't ascertained, just yet, exactly where Eddie's parents were living when he was born in late 1924. Half a dozen years later, Ed, his younger brother Howard (commonly known as William) and his parents were still living with the mother-in-law (Frances J. Phillips) at 44 Conklin Street. Until he joined the Marines and left Poughkeepsie in the spring of 1942, Ed and his family moved around—half a dozen or so addresses—within a narrowly circumscribed radius of a dozen or so blocks. Over time, doubtless impacted by the Great Depression, his family resided in increasingly spartan digs. 

Ed's maternal great-grandfather Samuel Phillips married his great-grandmother, Martha Emory. The Phillips side of the family hailed from the east side of the Hudson, just north of Poughkeepsie, where his mother Lillian is now buried. 

Eddie's maternal grandfather Frank Phillips, born in 1871, married Frances, his maternal grandmother. Ed's mother Lillian Charlotte Phillips was born in 1901. The reputed influencer of his transvestism, she lived until 1989. 

The marriage announcement incorrectly names Eddie's paternal grandfather Byron as "Bryan," married to Emily. Byron passed in 1925, so it's unlikely Eddie had any remembrance beyond family photographs and anecdotes. 

10 Columbia Street (as seen in this interactive map) was, in 1923, half a dozen or so blocks south, closer to the river than any other residence of Ed's in P'oK, of the soon-to-be-constructed Mid-Hudson Bridge. Columbia runs right into Franklin St, moving east, the oft-cited place of Ed's upbringing. 

When Ed was born, the beginning of the Mid-Hudson bridge project was 6 months away, and not completed until 1930. Ed's ancestral roots, lying tantalizing close just across the river, remained remote as his consciousness dawned. South of Albany, in 1923, there was no vehicular crossing of the Hudson.

Far to the west, Hollywood must have seemed a long way off.
Additional images for this week's article, including the original marriage announcement for Eddie's parents, are available at the Ed Wood Wednesdays Tumblr. Enjoy.