Hazel Catherine Wasdyke was born on May 21, 1897 at 47 William Street in Paterson, Passaic Co., New Jersey. She was the first child born to John Henry Wasdyke and his wife, the former Emma Mae Rogers. Hazel grew up in Paterson alongside her younger brother, James Rogers Wasdyke, who was born January 26, 1899, in that same house in Paterson.
Hazel’s childhood was very typical of that era. She attended school, while her father worked and her mother stayed home to take of the home and children. When she was 19, she married Frederick Clive Paul on June 14, 1916 at the Embury Methodist-Episcopal Church in Paterson. Fred, as he was known, was the son of William Paul and Mary Ann Jemima Clive. He was born in Todmorden, England and came to the United States with his mom when he was 7 years old.
A year after her marriage, Hazel’s parents separated and began a 4-year divorce battle. Court documents state that Hazel (who was pregnant with her first child) and Fred, along with Hazel’s brother, James, and his fiancé, Ann Hodgkinson, all moved back into Hazel and James’ parents’ home while also refusing to contribute towards any of the household expenses. Hazel’s father, John Wasdyke, being a landscape gardener in the warm months and a furnace repairman in the colder ones, earned $35.00 a week, which was just enough to support him and Emma confortably, but not much more. John put his foot down, as any responsible parent would do, stating that the children (who were all adults at the time) and their significant others were more than welcome to live in the home, but that they had to help contribute towards the increased household expenses. Emma disagreed with this and kicked John out of the house, saying that he had 2 options: Support everyone without making them pay; or leave. Neither option was viable for John, but upon returning home from work on September 27, 1917, John found himself locked out of the house and Emma stating that he had to, “Go away” because she “no longer wanted” him. This began their divorce battle that lasted 4 years.
That following April, Fred and Hazel welcomed their first child, Emily Marion Paul, born on the 1st of the month. Later that year, Hazel’s brother, James, married Ann Hodgkinson and the two remained in the home that was owned by Emma and formerly by John. The 1920 census shows that Hazel, Fred, Emily, James, Ann and Emma were all still living together and John was living on his own. The 4 “children” all got jobs (since somebody had to work) and are all shown as being employed as Weavers in a Silk Mill, while it can be assumed that Emma cared for Emily, who was a toddler.
Two years later, on October 20, 1922, Hazel gave birth to her and Fred’s second child, Dorothy Frances Paul, in Woodbury, Orange County, New York. At some point between January 1920 and Dorothy’s birth, Fred and Hazel had relocated their family to Woodbury, where Fred took on ownership of a taxi business, appropriately called “Fred Paul Taxi”. Dorothy had been born with spina bifida, which could not be treated in those days and lived just 2 months and 2 days before losing her life. According to my grandmother, Emily, Dorothy had violet-colored eyes and was a beautiful baby. Her death was something that always haunted my grandmother, as she was just 5 years old when Dorothy died, obviously something that could be scaring for any child of that age, to watch their sister slowly die at such a young age. Dorothy was buried in an unmarked grave in the Cemetery of the Highlands in Highland Mills, Orange County, New York. On top of losing Dorothy, Hazel had also lost her step-grandfather, Archelaus Harris, who was later described as, “A grand old gentleman who had fought in the Civil War,” on November 24th. It was a tough end to the year of 1922.
At some point after the 1920 census was taken, Hazel’s brother James and his wife Ann moved to Pennsylvania, where James took up a job as a Laborer. The two welcomed a daughter, Hazelbell Wasdyke, on September 15, 1923 and tragically, less than a year later, James was killed in an accidental dynamite explosion on August 14th. Hazelbell was a day shy of being 11 months old. He was using a compressed air drill to blast rock so that telephone poles could be installed, when he accidentally hit a stick of dynamite, which initially cost him a broken leg and his eyesight but just 4 hours after the explosion, and after never regaining consciousness, he died. He was 25 years old.
Fred and Hazel returned to New Jersey sometime between 1928 and 1930. Fred had given up his taxi business and took a position as a Bench Worker at the Wright Aeronautical factory. He also began serving as the School Commissioner for the Paterson, New Jersey public school system.
On June 14, 1941, Hazel and Fred celebrated their 25th wedding anniversary in a very special way: Their daughter, Emily, got married. Emily married William John Faulkner, known by friends and family as “Bill”, a local man from Lodi, who was serving his country as a Private in the United States Army. The wedding was beautiful and included many family members and friends of both couples.
A little less than 2 years later, on February 4, 1943, Fred Paul passed away at the age of 49 after dealing with an obstructed duodinal ulcer. He had gone in for an operation and began to experiece issues with his heart, which we would now call cardiomyopathy. His heart became too weak to pump blood throughout his body, which ultimately led to his death. Right around the time of his death, his daughter Emily had become pregnant with her first child and on the last day of 1943, the baby was born, making Hazel a grandmother for the first time. That child, William Frederick Faulkner, is who I knew as my Uncle Bill.
William, or “Little Billy” as he was known, appeared to be the star of the family, being the first child and grandchild. At the time of his birth, not only was Hazel’s mother (Emma) still living, but Emma’s mother was as well, meaning that Billy was able to meet both his great-grandmother, Emma, and his great-great-grandmother, Jennie (Hendrix) (Rogers) (Fenwick) Harris.
Fast forwarding 3 years to 1946, the family had some more loss, starting with the death of Hazel’s grandmother, Jennie A. Harris, on May 8th when she was about 88 years old (her birthdate is up for debate). Jennie had been under the care of Dr. Marc J. Walker in Clifton for with pancreatic cancer, which is what took her life. Losing her grandmother had to be tough for Hazel, but the year got even tougher when just over 2 months later, on July 20th, Emma, Jennie’s daughter and Hazel’s mother, died at the age of 72. Emma was under the care of Dr. Irving A. Schultz in Fair Lawn, NJ for about 3 weeks leading into her death from arteriosclerotic heart disease.
Emily and Bill welcomed their second child, Ronald Lee Faulkner, in 1947, giving Hazel two young grandsons to focus on. However, Hazel’s health began to decline and like her mom, she was also under the care of Dr. Schultz. Hazel died from uremia and arteriosclerotic heart disease on March 25, 1952. She was 54 years old.
Three days after her death, Hazel was buried in the family plot in Cedar Lawn Cemetery in Paterson, where had husband, mother, brother and father had all been laid to rest. Her dad, John Wasdyke, had died just 4 months earlier at the age of 74 and he was buried next to his second wife, Mary (Foster) Wasdyke, who had died from breast cancer in 1926.
Hazel was survived by her daughter and son-in-law, Emily and Bill Faulkner; their two sons (Hazel’s grandsons), Billy and Ronald; her step-mother, Frieda (Kornetzky) Wasdyke; two aunts, Letitia (Rogers) Fox and Elizabeth (Wasdyke) Fletcher; two half-uncles, Thomas and Roy Fenwick; several cousins and many friends.