Person Sheet

NameFelix Johannes Sporn
BirthJan. 14, 1879, Finsterwalde, Germany
OccupationMusician who played at concerts; photographer; worked in the WPA digging ditches, but mostly did odd jobs when we worked at all
DeathAug. 25, 1967, Middletown, Conn.
BurialLong Island National Cemetery, Farmingdale, Long Island
FatherJohann Friedrich Sporn (1835-1901)
MotherJohanne Wilhelmine Barthel (1847-1898)
DocumentAmazing 1909 postcard sent by Felix Sporn to his brother Berthold Sporn (see below)
Short bioFelix Sporn apparently spent months in the United States before he immigrated in 1910. Our cousin Steffen Franke in Berlin sent us a postcard that Felix, then 30, sent to his older brother Berthold Sporn in 1909, saying that he already had filed the papers for American citizenship. Eleven months later, on Oct. 4, 1910, Felix immigrated from the port of Hamburg, Germany, aboard the vessel Cleveland and entered Ellis Island on Oct. 14, 1910, according to an early legal paper. (However, the National Archives twice came up empty in a search for his passenger ship records from 1908-1912).

Felix served in the US Army Band in World War I — apparently he played the trombone — but didn’t serve abroad. (One might conjecture that his German heritage may have played a role. One can only guess at his turmoil at enlisting in the Great War against his homeland only six years after his arrival.) Service dates: March 28, 1917 to June 4, 1920. He was stationed in Fort Slocum (the Bronx), NY, until after his marriage. He married at age 39 in 1918; his bride, Mary, was 19. Felix was granted naturalization on Nov. 26, 1918, just seven weeks after he married. He switched religions from Lutheran to Catholic and all of his children were baptized in the Catholic Church.

The couple moved to Passaic, NJ, where he took jobs as a laborer in the WPA, according to daughter Lillian Sporn. In the 1950s he moved to Hartford, Conn., to play in the Hartford Symphony. His wife, Mary, worked as a cleaning woman at St. Mary’s Church rectory in New Britain, Conn. They separated a few years later. Felix was in a retirement home in Connecticut when he died at age 88. I (Joseph Lasica) remember meeting him just once, when I was about 11, at the retirement home (a year before he died); he didn’t recognize his three daughters, Lillian, Gladys or Midgie, but was pleasant enough.

Birth record follows:

Abridged transcription of the birth record of Johann Friedrich Felix Sporn
Finsterwalde, on 17th January 1879
The midwife Auguste Braunig nee Neumann, resident in Finsterwalde, of Evangelical Lutheran religion, announced that to Mrs. Johanne Wilhelmine Sporn nee Barthel, of Evangelical Lutheran religion, resident with her husband the master shoemaker Friedrich Sporn in Finsterwalde, on 14th January 1879 at 2:00 pm, a male child was born, who has received the given name Johann Friedrich Felix.
Signatures of the midwife and the Registrar of vital records.
Comment: no comment exists

BirthJan. 28, 1899, Vienna, Austria
DeathJuly 7, 1961, Garfield, NJ
MarriageOct. 6, 1918, Parsonage of St. Luke’s Lutheran Church, New Rochelle, NY
ChildrenErnest “Ernie” (1926-2010)
 Mildred (“Midgie”) (1924-1987)
 Lillian Elizabeth (1922-)
 Helen (1921-1995)
 Gladys (1919-2005)