Wednesday, June 26, 2019

Ancestor Highlights - Great Grandfather Jack Ecoff

This is the first of a new series which will coincide with videos from the GeneaVlogger youtube channel. Watch the corresponding video -

My Great-Grandfather Jack Ecoff was born on September 30th, 1895 in Alliance, New Jersey to Marcus Ecoff and Fannie Dudis. His birthdate is different in almost all of the documentation I have found, often placing it in October, but his actual birth record in New Jersey shows September 30th. I really enjoy this fact because my own birthday is September 29th and I am also named after my Great-Grandfather Jack, so it seems interesting that we have birthdays just one day apart. 

The Paterson Morning Call Thursday December 9th, 1909 page 10
Jack's full name is Jacob Joseph Ecoff and was named after his grandfather Jacob Ecoff. Jack's father Marcus and paternal Grandparents were one of the first 43 families to settle in The Alliance Colony in 1882. Jack was the youngest of 4 children and when he was 14 years old his brother Raphael Israel Ecoff died after his tooth was pulled and an infection set in. When I found this information I told my grandmother, who knew about this as it seems to have made a big impact on my great-grandfather which makes sense since he and Israel were the closest in age.

Jack's other brother Isaac Martin Ecoff, who was the oldest child, married a few times but had no known children. He went mostly by Martin and seems to have been somewhat of a character. He shows up in a few news articles, including an odd story about him and his wife Fannie teaching children how to be pickpockets in an almost Oliver-Twist like scheme. Jack's only sister Lena, who was the 2nd oldest, married twice but had no children.

Jack and Mary in Alliance
Jack met his future wife Mary Kaseno when she would come to Alliance with her family to vacation and would stay with the Ecoff family. The only pictures of the Ecoff family farm in Alliance come from Kaseno family vacation photos I found in a box of old photographs. The family story goes that Mary's father Harris Kaseno, who owned a clothing store on Main St. in Manayunk, was not very fond of her marrying Jack because Jack was a farm-boy and there was another man who he wanted Mary to marry. Jack moved to Philadelphia sometime in his late teens/early twenties and began working with his cousins Jack Mills and Irving Mills in the music publishing business. Jack and Mary were wed in 1921, not long after Jack joined the Mills Music Inc. By the 1940s they had moved to New York City and were living in Rockville Center.

Jack Ecoff running his booth at a conference
My Great-Grandfather worked mostly as a salesman for Mills Music and would often travel the country going to conferences to display all the works of Mills Music Publishing. When he wasn't on the road he was in the office at the infamous Brill Building and I imagine he had a big impact on the American Music Industry, even if just in subtle ways. He is noted in Billboard magazine often and seems to have been a revered figure in the industry. A few years back I spoke with my cousin Stanley Mills, Jack Mills' son and a famous music publisher in his own right. Stanley had traveled with my great-grandfather and indicated that he learned a lot from working with my great-grandfather. He had a lot of insight into my great-grandfather I had never heard, including some funny stories of my great-grandfather joking around with people. This information was especially nice to receive because my mother was young when Jack passed and getting information from my Grandmother can be difficult at times, so I have never known a whole lot about him outside of my research.

My Great-Grandfather Jack Ecoff passed away July 3rd, 1963 at the age of 67 and his obituary showed up in Newspapers and Magazines all across the country, including on the front page of Billboard Magazine.

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