The Stengers of 3rd Avenue

Olga S. Hardman

My paternal grandparents, John Baptiste Stenger and Titania Caussin met in Pittsburgh, PA, and were married in Belle Vernon, PA, in 1892. Both of their families had come to America from France around 1886 to work in the flat glass industry. Prior to their coming to America both families had traveled widely around Europe teaching their skilled trade to others. Both John Baptiste and Titania's father, Jules Caussin, were glass blowers. (See The Lafayette Cooperative Hand Glass Plant for description of the hand glass making process.) The Stenger name was known world-wide for skill in making glass.

Although his heritage was French, John Baptiste was born in Cartogen, Spain, on April 9, 1863. His parents were Johann Stenger and Mary Bolk. Titania was born in Naples, Italy on September 26, 1872, the only child of Jules Caussin and Augustine Rapp. The families of both were temporarily living in those respective countries and teaching their trade there when their children were born.

Front row - left to right:  John B. Stenger (holding his first-born son, Frank, my father) and Adolph Stenger. 
Both men were glass blowers.  JB's father, Johann, and Adolph's father (name unknown) were brothers. 
John Baptiste was the father of Frank, Philip, and Louie (all glass cutters) and Julia.  Adolph was the father of 
Louie J. Stenger (who replaced automobile window glass for many years in the Adamson section of Clarksburg,) 
Fred Stenger, Mamie Stenger, and Mary Stenger Bastin.

Titania was first educated in Spain. Then, while the family lived for 3 years in Russia, she and some of her cousins who had also gone to Russia with the family, were educated by a German tutor hired by her father. After Jules' 3-year contract was fulfilled in Russia, the family moved to Paris with the intention of opening a restaurant. While in Paris, however, Jules learned that there was an excellent market in the United States for window glass. So instead of opening a restaurant in Paris, the family boarded a boat in Bordeaux, France, for the 11 day passage to America. Titania's mother, Augustine, suffered severe seasickness for the whole trip.

My paternal grandmother, Titania, holding my sister, Marie in 1921.

After their wedding in Belle Vernon, PA, the Stengers moved to Marion, Indiana. Glass workers had to be a mobile lot, because they had to go where the need for skilled glass workers was.

Dr. Kimbel, a Civil War surgeon, who saved the arm of John Baptiste from amputation 
when it was badly broken and delivered their first-born, Julia Marie, in 1893.

John Baptiste and Titania had 6 children: Julia Marie (1893;) Frank Eugene, my father (1895;) Olga (1898;) Philip Robert (1903;) and Louis Jules (1905.) There was also a child, Marie, who died of a birth defect before the age of 2 while the family lived in Marion, Indiana.

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The Stenger children pictured with their maternal grandparents, 
Jules Caussin (standing left) and Augustine Rapp Caussin (standing right) and their mother, 
Titania, standing between her parents.   Children seated l to r: Julia, Philip, Frank, and Olga. 
Picture taken in 1904 before the birth of Louis.

Although Marie, Julia, Frank, and Olga were born in Marion, Indiana, Philip was born in Anderson, Indiana, and Louis was born in Arnold, PA. The family spent from 1904 until 1921 in the duplex home at 1731 3rd Avenue in Arnold. Since the Allegheny River flowed behind the family home, the Stenger boys became excellent swimmers and retained reputations as such for many years. One year, Philip swam from his home in Arnold to Tarentum, PA, the next town north.

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John Baptiste seated in his boat on the Allegheny River.  The family lived here from 
1904 until they moved to Clarksburg, WV  in 1921.

The Stenger boys were also very good baseball players. They played on the corner lot beside their house constantly and were known as the best ball players in town. As a matter of fact, Frank, my father, was scouted for the New York Yankees when he was just 16 years of age. Unfortunately, Titania wouldn't let him go to camp because she thought he was too young.

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"McKean County's Best." Picture taken in 1914. 
This team won the championship for 2 years running - 1913 and 1914. 
Frank is last one kneeling on the front row (right.)

Julia married Emil Monier and raised 5 children (Rose, John Baptist, Olga, Emilienne, and Emil) in Jeannette, PA. Julia died May 14, 1981 and is buried beside her husband in Sacred Heart Cemetery on Rt. 30 near Jeannette. Rose Monier Reidmiller died of bone cancer on March 14, 1985, and is also buried at Sacred Heart. John Baptist (Butts) died of a massive heart attack on October 16, 1997 and is buried in the Jeannette Cemetery. Emilienne died of pancreatic cancer on September 23, 1998 and was cremated.

Julia Stenger with her new husband Emil Monier and her sister, Olga. 
The dresses worn by both girls were fashioned by their mother, Titania, who was very creative 
and an excellent seamstress.  I can only assume that this might have been the wedding picture, 
so it must have been taken in December of 1911.

Olga Stenger died on January 29, 1914, at the age of 16 from pneumonia. Frank, Philip, and Louis, all glass cutters, practiced their trades in and around Arnold in the early 20's and then in Harrison County, WV, until their respective retirements.

Frank married Leah Josephine Caussin in 1920 and they raised 2 daughters, Marie Titania and Olga Frances (myself.) Marie died of bone cancer on February 25, 1964 at the age of 43 and is buried at Holy Cross Cemetery in Clarksburg, WV. Frank died February 16, 1967 after a second heart attack and Leah died May 12, 1974 of pancreatic cancer. Both are buried at Holy Cross in Clarksburg.

Left to right: Marie and Olga. Picture taken in 1938 
when Marie was 17 and Olga was 10

Olga married John L. Hardman in 1950 and raised 3 sons, Michael Frances, Mark Stenger, and John David. She practiced her profession as a music educator in Harrison County, WV, for over 30 years and still maintains a private piano studio (1999) in Clarksburg. John Hardman died of pneumonia on February 7, 1999.

Philip with his two children: Judy and Jack.

After the little town of Mannington, WV, built a community swimming pool, Philip spent a lot of time there honing his swimming and diving techniques. It was there that he met Helen Flowers, daughter of the town doctor, Frank Flowers. Philip was always known as a clown and he was an adept clown on the high diving board. He worked hard at impressing Helen with his excellent diving technique and apparently was successful. Philip married Helen Flowers and had 2 children, Franklin Jackson and Judy Kay. After that marriage ended in divorce, he married Marguerite Hess of Philippi. Philip died of pulmonary emphysema on March 20, 1977, and is buried at Philippi Masonic Cemetery, Philippi, WV. Franklin Jackson (Jack) died of heart disease March 3, 1990 and is buried in Apple Creek Cemetery, Apple Creek, Ohio. Judy married William Morris Roberts and they have 2 children, William Michael and Angel Marie. They live in Apple Creek, Ohio.  Helen Flowers Stenger died December 25, 1986, and is buried in Apple Creek Cemetery, Apple Creek.

Louis married Zula Weaver and operated a small farm on Duck Creek Road (near Lost Creek) as well as working as a glass cutter in Clarksburg. One of the joys of my youth was to spend time on that farm. It was there I learned to ride a horse at Aunt Zula's patient hand. Louie later bought a piece of land on the Lost Creek road and for many years operated a large dairy farm there. By then, my own sons enjoyed visiting Uncle Louie's farm as much as I had in my youth. Louie and Zula had 2 children, John Robert and Elizabeth Jean. Both became educators. John Robert taught in Harrison County, WV, and in Lewes, Delaware and Elizabeth Jean (Jean) taught in Harrison County, WV, for 16 years. John Robert married Margaret Onestinghel and they raised John Louis, Kathy, Nancy, and Robert Joseph in Delaware.  Elizabeth Jean married John Greynolds and they had 2 daughters, Janet Lee and Jane Ellen. After John Greynolds' death, Jean married Nile White. Louis died June 13, 1989 and is buried beside his wife in the Masonic Cemetery at Good Hope, WV.

Zula Weaver Stenger as I remember her - always with a sweet smile
and always doing something for others.   Picture taken while she was 
preparing cole slaw for a family dinner.

In early 1921, Titania and her mother, Augustine, made a trip from Arnold to Clarksburg to investigate the possibility of opening a restaurant opposite the Pittsburgh Plate Glass Company in Norwood, which had just been built. They were both excellent cooks and they knew this could be a good business,  since all those hungry glass workers on the other side of the street would need to be fed.   I don't know why this project never materialized, but this was the second time Augustine and her daughter, Titania, anticipated opening a restaurant which never came to fruition.

The Stengers did move to Clarksburg, however, and lived at 2021 Hamill Avenue from 1921 until their deaths in 1926: Titania on May 13 and John Baptiste on July 4. Both are buried in Lot 19, Section 2 of the Union Cemetery in Arnold, PA.

The children of JB and Titania as they appeared in the 1960's.
Left to right:   Frank, Philip, Julia, and Louie.

Since I never knew these paternal grandparents of mine personally, I can only share with you what I have learned about them from other family members. It was certainly of great interest to me to learn that John Baptiste was a music lover and played RCA recordings of Enrico Caruso constantly. It seems that Titania often complained that the neighbors could hear the music clear into the next block. I am also told that John B. was of serious demeanor, quiet, reserved and an avid reader.

Titania was frail and suffered from severe asthma. She inhaled the smoke from sulphur which she burned in a saucer to improve her breathing capacity. My father told me that my grandmother was superstitious and was quite upset when he went to serve in World War I and was put in the 13th car of the train. He was sent to the 313th Machine Gun Battalion of the 80th Division of the US Army. Since she considered 13 an unlucky number, she was terrified for Frank's safety. Perhaps her superstitious nature abated somewhat when Frank returned safely to Arnold on June 13, 1919, after having served as a mess sergeant in France since he had arrived in Bordeaux on June 9, 1918.

It would be impossible to tell the story of JB and Titania Stenger without mentioning Anthony and Jenny Dangaix, who were their dearest friends. Anthony had come to the US to work as an engineer with the Aluminum Company of America which was located in Arnold. Jenny was so homesick for her native country she cried all the time. One Sunday afternoon when Anthony and Jenny were out for a walk on 3rd Avenue, Jenny heard the sound of French conversation coming from the porch of the Stenger home. She became so excited she ran onto the porch and hugged them all. After that initial meeting, they became such good friends, that when the other side of the Stenger duplex home became available, Anthony & Jenny moved in so they would be as close to the Stengers as possible.

Anthony had been in the French Foreign Legion and was a unique and colorful character. He loved to play cards and was serious about his game. When things were not going his way, he swore in English with a French accent.

After the Stengers moved to Clarksburg, Jenny and Anthony were frequent visitors to WV. When Titania and John Baptiste died in Clarksburg, both were taken back to Arnold and were buried from the Dangaix family home.

Jenny Dangaix, Titania, and John Baptiste sitting on the 
steps of the front porch of the Stenger home in Clarksburg.

Some members of the fourth generation of the "Stengers of 3rd Avenue." 
L to R: Holding pony, Janet Greynolds, ganddaughter of Louis.; Michael Hardman, grandson of Frank; 
Kathy Stenger, granddaughter of Louis; Jane Ellen Greynolds, granddaughter of Louis; Mark Stenger Hardman, 
grandson of Frank, and John David Hardman, grandson of Frank. Seated on porch in the background is one of 
the original "Stengers" - Julia Stenger Monier.

© 1999 Olga S. Hardman