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Old 01-25-2014, 01:07 PM   #1
Chuck1052
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Default Harry Greb's Birth

The description of Harry Greb's birth in Bill Paxton's biography, The Fearless Harry Greb, is something I take with a grain of salt. According to the book, Greb was born in a car that his father was driving to the hospital from the family home.

At the time that Greb was born in 1894, there were only a few automobiles in the United States. Probably a good percentage of those automobiles were prototypes or in the experimental stage. As late as 1904, automobiles were a relatively rare sight in the United States with only the wealthy having a real shot of owning one. In other words, I doubt if a working or middle class family like the Grebs would own or even rent an automobile as early as 1894.

- Chuck Johnston
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Old 01-25-2014, 01:14 PM   #2
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Default Re: Harry Greb's Birth

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Originally Posted by Chuck1052 View Post
The description of Harry Greb's birth in Bill Paxton's biography, The Fearless Harry Greb, is something I take with a grain of salt. According to the book, Greb was born in a car that his father was driving to the hospital from the family home.

At the time that Greb was born in 1894, there were only a few automobiles in the United States. Probably a good percentage of those automobiles were prototypes or in the experimental stage. As late as 1904, automobiles were a relatively rare sight in the United States with only the wealthy having a real shot of owning one. In other words, I doubt if a working or middle class family like the Grebs would own or even rent an automobile as early as 1894.

- Chuck Johnston
Klompton describes it in his book exactly like you. He says that he doubts the theory that Greb was born in an automobile is true and he also mentions another more likely theory which escapes me right now.
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Old 01-25-2014, 01:18 PM   #3
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Default Re: Harry Greb's Birth

I can't make an informed opinion as there is no film of Grebs birth
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Old 01-25-2014, 01:40 PM   #4
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Default Re: Harry Greb's Birth

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I can't make an informed opinion as there is no film of Grebs birth
Imagine that..
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Old 01-25-2014, 01:58 PM   #5
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Default Re: Harry Greb's Birth

I remember several years back reading an old Ring mag article that I believe may have been talking about a census. I'm not sure but I do recall it making an issue of Greb's place of birth and on whatever they were taking this from, it stated his place of birth as a cross street or an intersection - let's just say 1st and Main. The accompanying article simply suggested that it meant Harry's mom didn't get to the hospital in time. I too don't buy the 'car'. More realistically it was a pony and cart.
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Old 01-25-2014, 02:10 PM   #6
Chuck1052
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Default Re: Harry Greb's Birth

In Bill Paxton's book, there is a copy of Harry Greb's birth certificate which says that he was born in a car at Fitch and Dauphin (streets?). Based on such information, I think that it is likely that Greb was born in a street or trolley car.

- Chuck Johnston
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Old 01-25-2014, 03:55 PM   #7
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Default Re: Harry Greb's Birth

Comets must have crossed the sky that night!
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Old 01-25-2014, 04:31 PM   #8
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Default Re: Harry Greb's Birth

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I can't make an informed opinion as there is no film of Grebs birth
But Im sure we have numerous first hand accounts of how great he was on that day!
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Old 01-25-2014, 04:46 PM   #9
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Default Re: Harry Greb's Birth

Was his mother Irish?
PS Serious question.
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Old 01-25-2014, 05:11 PM   #10
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Default Re: Harry Greb's Birth

you mean, some of the stories we hear about boxers of the past might not be true?
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Old 01-25-2014, 06:00 PM   #11
Chuck1052
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Default Re: Harry Greb's Birth

Based on U.S. Census records that I have seen, Harry Greb's mother, Anna, was of German descent.

- Chuck Johnston
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Old 01-25-2014, 07:52 PM   #12
mattdonnellon
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Default Re: Harry Greb's Birth

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Originally Posted by Chuck1052 View Post
Based on U.S. Census records that I have seen, Harry Greb's mother, Anna, was of German descent.

- Chuck Johnston
Thank you! Another myth buried!
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Old 01-25-2014, 08:09 PM   #13
doug.ie
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Default Re: Harry Greb's Birth

werent horse and carts / carraiges sometimes referred to as cars them days ?
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Old 01-25-2014, 08:18 PM   #14
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Default Re: Harry Greb's Birth

I didnt cast doubt on this my book I categorically stated that Greb was definately not born in a car. Its ridiculous. His birth certificate does not say he was born in a car. It says he was born at the corner of Dauphin and Fitch. That intersection eventually became 138 N Millvale Ave, the home of Greb's parents. Greb was born at home with his mother being administered by a midwife named Mary Werle who also brought his sister into this world. Paxton just repeated that idiotic story from an old ring magazine article which noted that Greb was born at the corners of Dauphin and Fitch and thus "he was so tough he was born in a car." As I noted in my book there were a handful of automobiles in the United States at the time and most if not all were prototypes owned by their inventors. Essentially someone in the 1950s got ahold of a certified copy of Greb's birth certificate (in fact there were no birth certificates issues in the 1890s in Pittsburgh, births were merely entered into a register of births, hence the date stamp of the 1950s on the copy in Paxton's book. The real birth record for Greb, which I have a copy of, is merely an entry in a journal) and noticed that it said he was born at the corner of Dauphin and Fitch. Rather than look at an old plat map from the 1890s they jumped to a ridiculous conclusion and this myth was born. It took about ten minutes of research to dispell this myth by comparing one plat map which showed where the corners of Dauphin and Fitch were located to a later plat map of the exact same location which shows that address as Greb's home.

Greb's mother was of German/Bavarian stock. His father was German. He sometimes claimed to be irish or that his mother was irish to honor the mother of his friend Leo Poof Kelly (who was his best man at his wedding). Before fights Greb would go to Mrs. Kelly and receive an Irish blessing. He also likely claimed part Irish heritage in order to gain some of the large Irish fan base.
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Old 01-25-2014, 09:59 PM   #15
Chuck1052
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Default Re: Harry Greb's Birth

Thanks for the information about Harry Greb's birth, Steve. I have to admit that the story about Greb being delivered by a midwife at the family home is far more plausible than the one of his mother giving birth to him while being rushed to the hospital during that time and place. Three of my grandparents also were born during the middle 1890s with the remaining one being born in 1902. I don't think that any of them was born in a hospital.

- Chuck Johnston
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