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Just an Old-Fashioned Love Story

Two people meet – is it fate or fantasy?

Will their love last? Is this their destiny?

Meet Bertha Frei and Cornelius Foley.

Bertha M. Frei was born January 1887 in Eagle Mills, Rensselaer, New York.

Cornelius (Neil) J. Foley was born February 1880 in Troy, Rensselaer, New York.

Bertha and Neil were married sometime between 1908 and 1915. There is no marriage recorded for them in Rensselaer County in that timeframe. After they married, they lived their entire lives together on Marshall Street in Troy.

Deciphering the Photographs

Assumptions could be made that these undated photos are of their wedding and honeymoon, and that they were married in Coney Island. It was a popular resort area at that time. Both photos are actually postcards, addressed to Bertha’s sister, Miss Lillian Behnke. There are no clues as to when they were mailed, if they were. There is no message written to reveal the story.

Wedding Day?

The photo above with the couple posed sitting was most probably their wedding day. Her hat is fancy, and she is wearing long gloves and pearls. The dress is probably white or ivory but it is different than the one she is wearing on the ship, below. It is also more formal than the other dress as it detailed with a lace bodice.


The ship photo could be of their honeymoon. She is donning a ring on her left hand. Her hat is less formal, and she is wearing a locket, and no gloves. Thus, the photos were not taken the same day. It is more difficult with men – men's suits in photos are suits; however, Neil is wearing two different shirts as his collars are different. It appears as if his hat is the same.

What an exciting adventure it would have been to travel from upstate New York and down to Coney Island for their marriage in that era!

Bertha and Neil never had any children. Bertha died in 1952 after a, “short” illness. Recently, I came across this Memoriam to her from Neil dated 1959, that he must have had printed annually in the newspaper (I have other years but not every year and the message remains the same):

“In sad and loving memory of my wife, Bertha M. Foley, who died seven years ago today, Oct. 26, 1952.

You are not forgotten.

Nor will you ever be.

As long as life and memory last,

I will remember thee.

Your Husband,

Cornelius J. Foley”

Cornelius died less than a year later, 3 July 1960. I like to think that he missed Bertha too much for too many years and that they are together finally, resting in peace. Love is eternal.

#Behnke #Frei #Foley #ConeyIsland

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