The family of George HEAD

A History in Progress

George Dewey Head, as a young boy. George Dewey HEAD (1898-1976) was one of three children of George Head and Ann Maria BERESFORD.

George was a carpenter (a trade he learned from his father) and a sheet metal worker who provided a good life for his wife and family.
George Dewey Head, probably in his 30s
George Dewey Head, as a young boy.   George Dewey Head, probably in his 30s

George Head, the elder George's parents, George (1868-1918) and Ann (1876-1929), gave their son his middle name, Dewey, in honor of naval hero Commodore George Dewey, who had won a decisive victory during the Spanish-American War just months before George's birth. George was named for his father -- who also had been named for his father. Ann Maria BERESFORD
George Head   Ann Maria Beresford

George was a theatrical carpenter and scenery builder; he worked in the theaters, including the Hippodrome and at the Metropolitan Opera House until 1902, when apparently an illness left him unable to do his job. (His daughter Hilda said that at some point, he was bedridden for 3 or 4 months with rheumatism.) He took a job as a janitor at School No. 3 (now Lincoln School) at Kearny Ave/Midland Ave. in Kearny. He and Ann also ran a tavern known as "Head's Oyster & Chop House" on 4th Street in Harrison (NJ) in 1905. The family lived above the store.

Somewhere around that time, according to a newspaper account,
"A narrow escape from death by fire was averted by a woman's bravery. Boys had started a bonfire and a burning brand was thrown into a group of children, of which little Hilda Head, five year old daughter of Mr. & Mrs. George Head of 20 Duke St., was one. It struck the little girl and instantly her dress was in flames. Hearing the child's shrieks and noting the cause at a glance, Mrs. Head grasped a tablecloth and hurried to the scene. Wrapping the child in the cloth she beat out the flame with her hands, sustaining severe burns on the face and arms in so doing."

George died in 1918. His wife did what she had to do to get by, according to a newspaper account of the time:

"Mrs. George Head was appointed by the Kearny Board of Education to fill out the unexpired term of her late husband as janitor of School No. 3 at a salary of $572 per year."

Left on her own to care for herself and four children, Ann ran a boarding house in addition to her job as school janitor.

Ann died in July 1929 at Mountainside Hospital in Montclair, never knowing that she would have three grandchildren.

Ellen Hartung

George Dewey Head married Ella (who preferred "Ellen") HARTUNG (1904-1993). They and and their three daughters (Virginia, Catherine, and Janet) lived at various addresses on Chestnut Street in Kearny, NJ.

Alice ROBSON Head, and Hilda Head George's grandfather was also named George HEAD (1833-1905). He and his wife, Alice ROBSON (1834-1914), believed in large families -- they had six children in addition to George. (His sister Hilda is pictured at left with mother Alice.)

The 1870 US Census places George in "Kearney Township" in Hudson County, NJ.
Alice ROBSON Head, and Hilda Head  

The eldest George Head is said to have been born in Newcastle-upon-Tyne, England. Newcastle is said to be the ancestral seat of the Head family, and perhaps it is; there are a lot of Head families living there today.

His wife, Alice, was also a British subject; according to family lore, they met and married in England and had four of their seven children there. It's said that they sailed from England in 1868; if that's so, Alice was most likely pregnant with her son George.

Our research hasn't yet located George in the British records, nor do we know just when he and his growing family came to the US -- but the digging goes on.

More to come...

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