Former renter in Greenwich Village, waiting out the turnaround in Manhattan's midtown. Working on a blog-to-book project about my NYC/NJ ancestors. Everyday I'm amazed by what I find with Ancestry and in old newspapers.

June 26, 2020

A stonecutter in the family: the Casper monuments business near Green-Wood Cemetery

G Casper Monumental Work, Lettering Jobbing Etc., 24th n. 4th av, Brooklyn, ca. 1880
Photo ©Cathy Tipton, all rights reserved. Used by permission.

He came from Germany in 1846 when he was 20 and made headstones for a living. His monuments mark the resting places of families in Green-Wood Cemetery with love and respect, and commemorate their lives forever.

How did he become a stonecutter? . . .
There were as many fifty marble and granite workshops surrounding Green-Wood Cemetery in 1892.

1892 Brooklyn city directory

He could have inherited the business. In his alien deposition of 1854, the affidavit says he became naturalized "to enable him to hold real estate previously conveyed to him."  

He married twice, first to a girl from his hometown in Germany when he was 20, and again by 1870 when he was 45, after his first wife died. Here is a family portrait with his wife and children from his second marriage. He has the same beard that's in the monument picture. My great-grandmother is far right.

More than the headstones he made for others and his own family, the photographs are meaningful to me, especially the one of the monumental works business with George and his workers. It belongs to Cathy Tipton, another great-great-granddaughter of George Casper and a DNA match I met through Ancestry. She's descended from his first marriage and the photo came from her grandmother's collection. 

Learning about the siblings and cousins of my grandparents is expanding my sense of place beyond the people I see day to day. I'm not alone in all this. It's about more than building names in a tree. Did they stay where they came from or move away? Were they in a family business or did they break away to follow their heart's desire in a new venture? My grandmother from Brooklyn, Maria Ziccardi, who looked like my great-grandmother in the photo above, was ambitious and determined, was an actress in an era when it was a viable career (BroadwayWorld.com bio). She said she had a lot of luck but she had a Brooklynite's ability to cope with setbacks throughout her life. But what I don't understand is how she met and married her first husband, an undertaker from Asbury Park who worked in a family business that also sold piano and organs. Did they meet through her grandfather's monuments business or was it through the theater world? I can't see myself falling for an undertaker, but my grandmother had a sense of humor. Maybe he was fun. He came from Asbury Park.

Contact: Debbie Carter, VillagerExpat@aol.com, (212) 925-3721