photos of direect relatives of Larry Lachance
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Photo of the Bussell Family in 1999
The BUSSELL | BRESSELL Family of Reunion 1999
(Front Row | L - R) Edgar Bressell, Betty Jane Hall, Donna Menzen, Peggy Smith, Ann Lachance - These Are The First Cousins
Larry may have lost the battle but he did not lose the war!
The story of this reunion begins innocently enough, sometime between 1976 and 1978 when Larry (that's me), fresh out of the Air Force, started looking through some old stuff packed away in boxes in my room.  There I found a packet of letters written by my grandmother, May (Eshleman) Bussell, back in the 1930'-40's.  One written to  Children's Aid in New York, questioned "who are the parents" of her late husband, our grandfather, Richard Harold Bussell.   I decided to try to find answers.  Living near the National Archives in Washington, DC made my noble effort seemingly simple.  However, having rarely set foot in a library; with the internet, record digitization and PC's yet to be invented; and most important, I'm 23 years old...(read that as "I have other things to do that much more fun")... the entire plan was short lived!

It would be another 15 years before I REALLY started.  I was determined to find out WHO my grandfather REALLY was. It was early 1991, I had a computer and the internet was in it's infancy but... I found out, contrary to what my grandmother had been told 50 years earlier, that records were NOT destroyed in a fire!  By 1998, after a trip to The Children's Aid Society in New York City and meeting with a very generous Victor Remer (1919-2008), the archivist at the Society, I found the answers to OUR grandfather's family's true roots.  He and his brothers and sisters were REAL people with REAL parents, there WERE records, they WERE NOT truly unknown, their name IS Bussell AND, there IS HOPE that we can put the family back together!

Tracing the origins of our somewhat elusive Bussell family has evolved over time...piece by piece and it continues to this  day.  Thanks to this reunion and the help of the rest of the family, so much more has been discovered, and it continues.  So on Sept. 18, 1999 - 100 years of separation and "not knowing" we meet at the Bussell |Bressell Family Reunion.

What I discovered is that there is ONLY GOOD amongst the Bussell family. I am proud in the knowledge that some of that "blood" is mine!
Since the time of the reunion, several members of our family have passed. 
In particular, Margaret "Peggy" Pauck, Bessie's daughter, passed away less than 6 months after we met for the first time. 
To their memory (everyone) this page is dedicated.  Without them, we would have never known!
Image - The Backstory
A bit of what appears here is repetitive because some of this story is written on the Bussell Main Page  on this website.  But, just in case...
1898 was a tumultuous year! On January 1, 1898, the consolidated City of New York was born, including the Bronx as one of the five distinct boroughs (at the same time, the Bronx's territory moved from Westchester County into New York County, which already contained Manhattan and the rest of pre-1874 New York City).  Typhoid fever was beginning to take lives in and around the city; diphtheria appeared to be making a comeback; on February 15th, the United States battleship Maine was suddenly blown up killing 260 officers and men on board, an act that would lead to the declaration of war not long after; and at 631 Walton Avenue, on March 22nd, shortly after a 5-inch snowfall, Nettie Bussell, just 32 years old, would die while prematurely giving birth to what would have been her 7th child, a girl, who also didn't survive. Her official cause of death: "Pleuro Pneumonia, Premature Birth (8) months, cardiac failure"
Two days after Nettie's death, on March 24th, 1898, Nettie and her child, would be laid to rest at Poughkeepsie Rural cemetery in Poughkeepsie, New York.   The mahogany business that once flourished in the city was in decline and certainly financial resources were disappearing by now, if they had not already been exhausted.  And, not even 3 weeks after Nettie is buried, on April 8, 1898, Richard Bussell, her husband, surrendered three of the children, just the boys (Richard, Phillip and Victor), to the Home for the Friendless offering the reason to be that he was "unable to support them."  According to intake documents, this was to be a "temporary" situation. All three boys ended up spending their young lives being shuffled around Midwest family farms working as "indentured servants" until each of them enlisted to serve the country during World War I.  Whether any of the three of them ever saw each other again is unknown to me.

Two sisters (Bessie and Rosalie) would be entrusted to the custody of others.  In particular, Bessie, only 2 years old, first would be boarded by Mrs. Jacob Miller on VanSiclen Ave (later to live with the Slagles) and Rosalie who was 8 years old, would go with her grandmother, Mary Rebecca Carlow, who was living in Saratoga Springs at the time.  It is known that they never saw each other again. Rosalie married once, had one child who died and another, Phillip, who married and died childless.  Rosalie remarried and died in 1948.

How or why the decisions of who went with whom came about can only be speculated as nobody today knows the real reasons. At some point, I will be adding the individual stories (what I know or have found) for each of the surviving children of Richard and Nettie Carlow Bussell. 
Childrens Aid Society Photo of Orphans
I am the first to admit that the story of our beginnings is truly unfortunate , but on September 18, 1999, 101 years later, those of  Nettie's descendants who survived, reunited. I believe she would be proud, or perhaps even amazed, of what her short life brought about?
The reunion was held at the home of, Donna (the daughter of Victor Philip Bressell) and Otto Menzen in Levittown, PA. , Both were extremely gracious and happy to meet others who were all a part of this wonderful family. Several photos were taken during what turned out to be a GREAT celebration, unfortunately the quality of these photos is not up to par. They are now, however, an everlasting part of the memories of our family.  Most of those photos appear here.  IF there are more pictures and YOU have them, please get them to me to be included on this page.

Everyone ... man woman and child ... assembled, talked, played, ate, drank, and turned out to be one big happy family that had never known they were apart. It was a fantastic experience that left so many hoping for more reunions.  I suppose we were lucky...we did get this one and it will remain in the memories of everyone involved, including me, for the rest of their lives.
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Larry Lachance
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