Our Family Tree

Click on a name to read more about the person, click on an arrow to follow that branch in the tree or click for an Alphabetic List of all Names.

In 1970, after the birth of our first child, we decided to trace our daughter's family roots. We interviewed living parents, and grandparents, searched family bibles, and did research in the National Archives in Washington, DC.  All the interviews resulted only in names and a few dates up to and including most of their great-grandparents. James Bullock, whose family dates back to the beginnings of America, didn't know anything about his grandparents. He was the youngest child and never knew them.

During the next forty years, we interviewed aunts and uncles, even writing to Great Aunt Liv in Norway. We shared our information with our family, who in turn shared more stories and photos. We updated the tree whenever new information was found, but a major breakthrough didn't occur until 2010 when another visit to the National Archives found more information in the 1930 census. By this time, the internet was the main search tool and we decided to begin a new search there.  We found a book called The Pound and Kester Families complied by John E Hunt in 1904, on Google Books, which mentioned his grandparents on his father's side. This opened a wealth of information.  We then found a Marotta family tree on Ancestry.com that belonged to a very distant relative. He kindly shared his information with us which opened a flow of information from Sicily.

James Bullock had no contact with his siblings for many years and we did not know of any cousins on that side of his family. During our research of James' brother Walter, a 1940-50's Hollywood composer, we found a reference to a great nephew, voice actor Scott Bullock on the Internet Movie Database. After contacting him, we found our missing cousins!

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This tree is a compilation of the information found in books, on the net, from family stories & bibles and from many folks. Much of the information was found on free open websites. We wish to thank cousin Åse, who shared her research with us, but requested it only be accessible to family members; The National Archives of Norway; Antenati, the Italian Archives; the late Roy Clasen; John L; cousin Santo Marotta; cousin Monta for her editing; and FamilySearch.org, a free genealogy search program provided by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. We suggest you mouse over the photos to see more info about them.

For those of you who have taken a DNA test, look to see if you are related to us and let us know. We tested with both FamilyTreeDNA and 23andMe. Of these two, we highly recommend 23andMe. If you are interested in taking a DNA test, check out DNA Weekly. It will help you decide which company is best for your needs.

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James Russell Lowell Bullock was born blind on October 4, 1909 in the town of Shelburn in Curry Township, Sullivan County, Indiana. He was the youngest of nine children born to John Thomas Bullock and Loretta Inman. They sometimes named their children after famous people and Jim was one. James Russell Lowell was a popular American poet of the nineteenth century. This was just six years after the Wright Brothers’ first flight and one year after the first Ford Model T’s began production.

In the summer of 1915, when Jim was only five years old, he began his musical career with the Chautauqua Circuit and was billed as a child prodigy. This was an organization that put on travelling shows that set up large tents, for a week at a time, and provided educational lectures, musical performances and various other types of culture. These were very big events in rural areas. There must have been a piano at home for Jim to develop this ability.

On October 1, 1915, when James was just turning six years old, he began his first term at the Indiana State School for the Blind (pctured below right) along with older his sister, Mary who was also blind and had attended the school since 1913. Here he continued his musical education and developed lifetime friendships with Manford Skinny Sumner, Ray Dinsmore, Bill Nottingham and Fletcher Smith. Twice in April and once in May of 1916, the Sullivan newspapers reported Jim played in what was billed as the Shelburn Sunday School Chautauqua.

In March of 1920 the local Sullivan and Farmersburg newspapers printed: “The following feature story concerning James Bullock, son of Mrs. Loretta Bullock, of Shelburn, recently appeared in an Indianapolis paper:

‘Hats off to James Bullock, 10, little sightless student at the State Blind institution, who patiently practices his lesson on the piano, and in spite of his physical deficiency has won a. reputation as a musical student.
James wants to 'become a famous musical man.’ He has studied the piano only two years, but is considered by his teachers as one of the most apt pupils. The boys and girls at the blind institute believe he will rise to a high position in the musical world.
He has been at the institution four years. His sister, Mary 15, is also an excellent student of piano and violin.
From the raised dots and the 'printed' language of the blind. James has mastered the fundamentals of music on the piano. He is a ready "sight-reader" of up to date and classical music on the piano.’

On June 1, 1922, Jim played piano in a Brass Quartette for the Indiana State School for the Blind’s Closing Concert. Later that same year on December 29, The Sullivan Daily Times reported, “Miss Mary Bullock, and her brothers, James and Walter Bullock, who formerly resided in Carlisle, are to give a musical concert in the school auditorium tonight . . .and the three have a wonderful reputation as good musicians.” On June 2, 1924, he again played piano in a trio with his sister Mary on violin for her Graduating Closing Concert at the Indiana State School for the Blind.  Jim left the school prior to the 1927-28 term beginning and did not graduate, so his education ended when he was seventeen. We don’t know what he did during this time, but part of it was probably playing piano for silent movies, which we know he did at some time. Since he could not see, he would have someone whisper in his ear what was happening on the screen and he would play the appropriate background music. Since 1925, Loretta was living in Indianapolis.

On the 1928 Indianapolis City Directory, Jim is living with his mother and sister Marie at 510 East North St in an apartment. His occupation is listed as lab (directory abbreviation for laborer). In mid 1928, he and older brother Walter heard that Indianapolis radio station WFBM was holding auditions. They never thought they would get the job, but decided to go on a lark and sing an off-color song, something like Dirty Gertie. To their great surprise they passed the audition, probably because of their sense of humor and outgoing personalities, not to mention their considerable musical abilities. Of course, they could not sing songs like that on the air. Radio was starting to come into its own. Jim and Walter soon had a regular show in which they played and sang live – recorded music was still fairly rare. The Jim and Walt radio show was a great success and in 1929 they had several shows a week with varying formats. (Mouse over photo left.) They featured many of their own compositions and also wrote new words for popular songs. There was also quite a bit of patter and comedy in which they would impersonate and parody popular radio stars. The Great Depression hit the country in October, but that did not seem to affect them much. Then and throughout their radio career, they did numerous live appearances at theaters and other venues. There were many newspaper articles about them. Jim was known as the blind king of the ivories. On April 22, 1930, they released a record on the Champion label.  Side A was I’m Satisfied With My Girl and side B was He Man Chew Tobacco.

In 1930, the US census shows them living at home in Indianapolis with their mother and two sisters with their occupations listed as singers on radio. The 1930 Indianapolis City Directory has Jim, Loretta, Mary and Walter living at 2233 North New Jersey St., a single-family house community. Jim’s occupation is listed as broadcaster and Walter’s as asst adv mgr (assistant advertising manager). The 1931 city directory has them all living at 2225 N Ala, which presumably is North Alabama St., in another single family area. Jim, Walt and Mary’s occupations are listed as musician. On May 5, 1931, Jim and Walt moved on to radio station WLW in Cincinnati, Ohio, and had a show there. WLW was one of the pioneers of radio and had the highest power of any station in the country. Very soon after they started there, they were inundated with fan mail from many states and also were in great demand for public appearances. Their personalities were as much a part of their act as their music. One time, with Walter directing, blind Jim drove Walter’s convertible Buick Sedan to the station – a distance of about 2 miles! Sometime around then, Jim married a woman named Zelda. (Mouse over image right.) In the 1932 Cincinnati City Directory, Jim is living with his wife Zelda, brother Walt and their mother Loretta at 3910 King Place, a four bedroom house in the north side of Cincinnati. Jim and Walt are both listed as vocalists in this directory.

Jim and Walt did so well at WLW that they caught the attention of NBC and were hired for a show on WJZ in New York City in August of 1932. It seems that something happened there and Jim and Walter left after only a month. It may have had to do with Jim’s marriage to Zelda, who caused much friction in the family. She was described as contentious and overbearing, alienating the rest of the family and keeping Jim to herself. In 1933, Zelda and Jim are listed in The Boston Directory “For the year commencing August 1, 1933” living at 1164 Wash, which presumably is Washington Street, in a large apartment building. His occupation is listed as Musn (musician). The rest of the Bullock family is not with them. That same year, they are also listed in Polk’s Indianapolis Directory, living at 1945 Ruckle St, which is in a residential area with detached homes. Living there is Jim with Zelda, sister Marie and Walt. Jim and Walt are both listed as radio entertainer. Being that these directories were created by canvassers going house to house, it is not known if they were in Boston before or after Indianapolis.

The last time Jim and Walt were known to have worked together was on station CKTB at St. Catherines in Canada near Niagara Falls from December 23, 1933 to January 17, 1934. Walter began a career as a songwriter and screenwriter, which brought him success in Hollywood. He is first credited as a songwriter in the 1929 film, Blue Skies and he moved to Hollywood for good in 1934.

Jim connected with Ray Dinsmore, a fellow alumnus of the Indian School for the Blind. They formed a trio in which Jim played accordion and Ray played tenor guitar. The third member was a saxophonist – probably either a man known as Skinny (Manford Sumner) or possibly Ron Lampard. Ray, being partially sighted, was the leader of the group. This was during Prohibition and they played at New York speakeasies as well as weddings, receptions and the like. They also got a concession to play on the Staten Island Ferry. Around 1937 Ray expanded the group to eight musicians, all blind, when there was an opportunity for a spot in the Federal Arts Program of the WPA ( mouse over photo left). This group included other Alumni of the Indiana School for the Blind. Skinny was a member and possibly Ron Lampard as well. For two years they had a 25 minute radio show four days a week as well as many other engagements, including venues in Harlem where Jim associated with the likes of the Mills Brothers and Fats Waller.

On March 21, 1939, Zelda gave birth to a son, William Lowell Bullock, who was baptized on January 14, 1940, at the Irving Square Presbyterian Church in Brooklyn, NY. On October 16, 1940, Jim was registered, as blind, for the draft in Brooklyn. They were living at 178 Schaeffer St and his wife is listed as Zelda C. Bullock. On the edge of the card, written in a different ink, is another address, 254 Cooper St. Five years later, in April 1946, Jim and Zelda’s names were removed from the Irving Square Church. We know that Jim and Zelda separated and were legally divorced on May 11, 1948, but we do not know exactly when they separated. It could be that sometime after he registered for the draft, he found out William wasn’t his son, and left the marriage, moving to the Cooper St address. Jim had no contact with William or his mother again. Jim’s surviving relatives only knew that William wasn’t his son.

Jim met Ella June Strom Slater, known as June, while he was playing piano and she was a waitress in a restaurant in upstate New York called Nino’s. They apparently moved to Indianapolis and were married on May 14, 1948, in Richmond, Wayne County, Indiana. They moved back to New York and set-up home in an apartment on Third Avenue in Bay Ridge Brooklyn around the corner from June’s mother Else and stepfather John Johnsen and within walking distance of others in June’s Norwegian family. June had two daughters, Carole and Joyce, from a previous marriage. Jim and June had two additional children. (Mouse over image right.) They purchased a home on West 7th St in Bensonhurst, Brooklyn and Jim supported his family singing and playing accordion on the New York City subway system. An idea of Jim’s magnetic personality can be illustrated by the fact that the bank gave him a mortgage based on income from an illegal activity! He did very well, because he was such a good musician. They had a new car every few years and ate out, went to amusement parks, etc. At least once a year, they would go to Coney Island where Jim and June would eat clams on the half shell and drink while the kids went on rides. Jim and June frequently had musicians over the house, all blind, many of them from the Dinsmore band. There was much music and partying and life was good. Once, Jim and several blind friends, all who had sighted wives, were on an outing together in a large station wagon (June driving) when it got a flat tire. The women all went off to find a bathroom while the men changed the tire. A policeman stopped to offer assistance, which they said they didn’t require. The policeman took a good look at them, paused to think, and finally asked, “Who was driving?” Blindness was never a handicap for Jim as much as a challenge; he was quite independent. He knew the New York Subways perfectly and could take you anywhere in the city without assistance.

In the mid-nineteen sixties, Jim became ill and had to be hospitalized frequently. He could no longer play the piano or accordion as the arthritis in his hands made it very painful to play. June went back to work as a waitress to support the family. In the late 1970's, they moved to Pineville, North Carolina, following June’s eldest daughter, Joyce and family. Jim lived in Beverly Manor (mouse over pictured left), a small Charlotte nursing home and June visited frequently.

James Russell Lowell Bullock, a lifetime smoker, died of emphysema on May 19, 1983, in the nursing home at the age of 73, and is buried in Oaklawn Cemetery in Charlotte, Mecklenburg County, North Carolina.

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Ella June Strom was born on June 3, 1923, in Glen Cove, Nassau County, New York. She was the only child of Else Wiik, Norwegian, and Arvid Harold Strom (Harry), Swede. Mother Else (pronounced Elsie) was 26 years old and father Harry was 28. Her birth name was Ella, but she never used it, she was known only as June. The 1925 New York State Census shows 2-year-old Ella living with her parents at 6911 4th Avenue in Brooklyn. June’s parents were divorced in 1928, when she was very young, and her father left. Two months later, her mother married John Johnsen, who was from Haugesund, Norway. He was a harbor pilot and a gentle, loving man. This is the man June knew as Papa. They lived in an apartment on Ovington Ave at 3rd Avenue in Brooklyn. On the 1930 census dated April 24, she is listed as Ella Johnsen, 6 years old. Her childhood was much like any other only child. Ella, known as June, was raised Lutheran among Norwegian relatives in a predominantly Norwegian area of Brooklyn. The annual Norwegian independence day parade on 8th Avenue was the largest outside of Norway – the King of Norway attended more than once. There were Norwegian bars, grocery stores and restaurants all around. June was not living with her parents on their 1940 census. See her mother’s bio for more on this.

As a young woman, she met and fell in love with John Joseph Slater (photo left). When June was just short of 18 and John was nearly 20, they married on May 12, 1941, in Brooklyn, New York. They had two children - Carole born March 21, 1942, and Joyce born October 10, 1944. Sometime after February 1946, June and John decided to live apart and went their separate ways. June took custody of the girls and John didn’t take much interest in them after he left. Later in life, when asked why they separated, June said she couldn’t stand how he whistled off-key.

After her separation she worked as a waitress in a restaurant in upstate New York called Nino’s. There she met and fell in love with James Russell Lowell Bullock, a blind musician. Throughout their lives, Nino’s was very special to them. The owner, Nino, was considered a good friend and it became a tradition that the family would drive there every time they got a new car. In May of 1948 June and Jim both obtained divorces in Indiana from their spouses and were married on May 14th of that year in Richmond, Wayne County, Indiana. Their marriage license states they were living in Indianapolis at the time. They moved back to NY City and settled in Brooklyn. They had two children; see Jim’s story above for details of the children and their married life.

After they moved to Bensonhurst, in Brooklyn, mother Else convinced June to allow Carole to live with her for a while, as four children and a blind husband would be too much for her to handle. So Carole went off to live with Grandma and visited the family every now and then. June found three children easier to raise, but missed her first born child, and maybe even resented her mother for taking her. (Carole eventually came home, but married soon after.) June raised her other children in the Lutheran church, sending the two younger ones to their church’s new Lutheran Elementary School.

Her children grew up and married and June was helping her second daughter Joyce raise her daughter Annette. They lived in the same apartment building in Brooklyn. In 1969, on the day of her child's wedding, June had a severe headache. The following week, she began having severe back pain. It took three months for her many doctors to diagnose that she had a brain aneurysm which burst, sending blood down her spine causing severe pain. She had to quit working and go on disability, as there were other aneurysms still in her brain. She took her doctors' warning seriously and changed her lifestyle dramatically.  She began praying for a cure and many years later, she was told that all the aneurysms were gone. 

After June’s youngest child was married, she and Jim, who had become chronically ill and was hospitalized most of the time, moved to Pineville, North Carolina, with Joyce and her family. June had her own apartment and made a good life there. Jim died there in 1983. In the mid-1980’s, when Joyce’s family decided to move to Duarte, California, she went with them, this time living with them in their house. She continued to help Joyce raise her children. In the late 1980’s, after an earthquake, they all decided to move to Colorado Springs, Colorado (photo right), where June’s cousin Lila lived. June continued to live with Joyce in the same house, helping to raise the children. They lived there until the mid-1990’s when they all moved to Charlottesville, near Virginia Beach.

June became more forgetful and began having kidney problems and had to be placed in an assisted care facility. Her youngest child moved her to Austin, Texas in late 2002. She lived in Heritage Duval Gardens, where her youngest child was a volunteer. Her health, both physical and mental, deteriorated. After twelve shunt operations failed, June decided to end all dialysis and operations because her quality of life became sleeping and recovering. She had about a month of good quality of life before she died, although her short-term memory was almost non-existent. Near the end, she told her youngest child that "she should get off the boat before it leaves, because she could not go with her where the boat was headed." She said she "was going on a trip with Carole," her eldest daughter who had died of ALS fours years prior. Ella June Strom Slater Bullock died peacefully on May 11, 2003, Mother's Day at 10:45am in Austin, Travis County, Texas, just short of 80 years old.

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Arvid Harold Strom was born in Norrköpings Sankt Olai, Östergötland, Sweden, on May 15, 1895, the third child of seven born to parents Erik Harald Ström and Anna Elisabet Peterson and was known as Harry in America. In 1910, he was shot in the right foot, but it didn’t seem to have any lasting damage. Harry was 19 when World War I began and, although Sweden was neutral, Germany was its main trading partner. When Britain established a blockade between them, Sweden’s economy was severely hurt and there was a great food shortage. Perhaps Harry had been working on ships involved in German trade. He came to America in March of 1916, on a steamer, working as a steward. He continued to work on ships until his doctor told him to give up the sea. So on September 19, 1917, he left the Norwegian Cargo Steamer, Senta, to work on land. As of April 1917 the US was in the war and, on June 5, 1918, he registered for the draft. On his registration card Harry said that he was a single waiter working at the Gramercy Park Player’s Club, living on East 20th St. in Manhattan; he had two sisters, three brothers and his father all still living in Sweden; and was described as having light blue eyes, brown hair and having a medium build and height. He also claimed an exemption from the draft because he was an alien.

A year later on April 25, 1919, Harry married Else Wiik in Manhattan, New York City, New York. They both worked in Nassau County at the Mineola Links Club. He was a waiter, she a chambermaid. He went to California and Else joined him there later. They returned to Glen Cove, Nassau County, New York, where Else gave birth to daughter June in 1923. 

The 1925 New York State Census shows Harry as a 30 year-old carpenter living with his wife and two-year old daughter Ella, at 6911 4th Avenue in Brooklyn. He did not fully raise his daughter June as five years after she was born, Harry and Else began divorce proceedings on April 3, 1928, in Miami, Dade County, Florida. Harry was granted an uncontested divorce on the grounds of Desertion. She was listed as living in Brooklyn and he in Florida. No alimony was asked and in the section marked No. of minor children affected by decree, it says None! Either they just agreed that the divorce would be faster if they didn't mention their daughter, or maybe Ella was not Harry's child! The divorce was recorded a month later on May 5th. Three days after the divorce proceedings began, Harry obtained a marriage license on April 6th and on April 8th, he married Aagot Marie Hansen in Dade County, Florida. Being that the divorce and marriage took place in the same area, at the same time, it seems that Harry went to Florida sometime prior to 1928, leaving his wife Else and daughter in Brooklyn. Harry and Else were probably separated for several years when he met Aagot, as it should have taken some time for Harry to meet, fall in love with, and decide he wanted to marry her.

Two years after his second marriage, the 1930 census has him listed as a married roomer living in the household of Marine Gonzalez (probably a boarding house) in Manhattan, working as a butler for a family. What is odd is that his wife is not listed with him. The census also states that he has an application for citizenship pending. Sometime after this, they headed south to Georgia.

Arvid Harold Strom died in an automobile accident on Forrest Rd in Atlanta, Georgia on June 10, 1931, at 11:45pm.  His death certificate is registered in Fulton County and states he was married and living at 1196 Springdale Rd, which is a large home on an acre of land, probably where he worked, probably as a butler. He was buried in West View Cemetery (mouse over pictured left) in Atlanta the next day. His wife signed the certificate simply as Mrs. A. H. Strom.

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Erik Harald Ström was born on January 1, 1869, in Skönberga, Östergötland, Sweden. He married Anna Elisabet Peterson, who was born on November 22, 1871, in Norrköpings Hedvig, Östergötland, Sweden. It is not known when and where they married but their first three children were born in Norrköpings Sankt Olai, Östergötland, Sweden, and their last four in Örebro Nikolai, Örebro, Sweden. Today, these towns are less than a two-hour drive apart. Their children were as follows  – Olof Harald born on November 20, 1891, and died in Sweden; Brita Wilhelmain Elisabet born on June 26, 1893; ancestor Arvid Harald; Loar Harald born on July 24, 1897, the first born in Örebro Nikolai; Märta Elisabet born on July 26, 1899, who married a man with the last name of Wilsson and died in Sweden; Tore Harald born on May 30, 1904, who died in Sweden; and lastly son Bengt Erik Harald who was born on August 17, 1908.  Note that all the sons have the middle name of Harald and the daughters Elisabet. From their son Harry's draft registration we know that the two daughters and three sons were alive and living in Sweden in 1918. Family stories say that at least one daughter came to America and lived in New York City. This must have been Brita, as the other daughter died in Sweden.  Swedish Emigration Records, 1783-1951 show a Bengt Erik H Ström emigrating to Atlanta, GA on March 26, 1930. Harry could have gotten his brother a job there or he could have just been visiting. The New York State, Passenger and Crew Lists, 1917-1973, which is an Index to Alien Crewmen Who Were Discharged or Who Deserted at New York, New York, May 1917-Nov. 1957 has a 25-year-old Bengt Strom arriving in NY on April 19, 1933, on the Gripsholm.

Harry’s draft registration does not state that his mother is alive, so by June 5, 1918, Anna Elisabeth had died in Sweden. Her husband, Erik Harald died in Sweden sometime after June 5, 1918.