Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Tombstone Tuesday: Larimer & McKibbin Cousins in Elkhart, Indiana

More than once, hubby's Larimer cousins married their distant McKibbin (or McKibben) cousins in Indiana. Above, yet another Larimer/McKibbin headstone from Eldridge Cemetery, photographed for me by the very kind genealogy buffs at the Elkhart County Historical Society. (If you're looking for someone buried in Elkhart, click to the society's listing of cemeteries in the county.)

Hallie Richard Larimer (1899-1960) was my husband's 4th cousin, 1x removed, descended from my husband's 5th great-grandpa, Robert Larimer (who was shipwrecked on his way from Northern Ireland to the New World). His WWI draft registration listed him as stout, medium build, grey eyes, and light brown hair. 

Although Hallie grew up in Elkhart county, Indiana, living next door to McKibbin and Showalter relatives, he married Mary Magdalene McKibbin in Benton Harbor, Michigan in 1920. He was not quite 21 and she was a month shy of her 17th birthday. Hallie was a mason--the son of a mason--and he continued in that trade after he and his wife raised a family and moved from Elkhart county to South Bend, Indiana, where he died in 1960.

Mary Magdalen McKibbin (1903-1976) was the daughter of John Henry McKibbin and Susan Henrietta Phelps--and a descendant of Alexander McKibbin and Harriet Larimer. So the tradition of intermarriage between McKibbins and Larimers goes way back into the 1800s.

Monday, September 14, 2015

Military Monday: David Mahler Had a Tattoo?! Yes, I Learned with a Click

David Mahler was the older of two brothers of my paternal grandma, Henrietta Mahler Burk.

Born in New York City, he worked in Hollywood for Columbia Pictures for many years, through the kindness of a Mahler in-law who was part of the studio's founding Cohn family.
I've researched David's background and I knew he was a "rigger" in Camden, NJ in 1918 when he registered for the WWI military. But I hadn't ever seen his WWII registration card--until today, when it turned up in a shaky leaf on Ancestry.

Page 1 of the document was quite informative: It confirmed that David was born in Riga, Latvia, and confirms his birthdate of March 15, 1882. Interestingly, David gave the name/address of a neighbor (or possibly a work colleague) for "someone who will always know your address."

If I had relied only on Ancestry's transcription, or simply stopped at page 1 of the registration card, I would never have learned what David looked like. Luckily, I can't resist reviewing the actual image of every document, and clicking to the image before and after to be sure that I've seen everything there is to see on my ancestors.

Sure enough, there was a page 2 image (not transcribed by Ancestry, of course), and it contained a physical description of my great uncle. He was 5' 4", 153 lbs, with salt-and-pepper hair and brown eyes.

Most interestingly, he had "DM" tattooed on his right arm, which might have been left over from his days as a "rigger." I can only imagine what his mother Tillie Jacobs Mahler would have thought of his tattoo, if she knew (I strongly suspect she didn't).

So always click to see the actual image and click to either side of it just in case there's more! Not to mention that seeing an ancestor's handwriting or printing can tell a story all on its own.

Saturday, September 5, 2015

Friday's Faces from the Past: My Family Photo Detective Experience

Who is this little girl, holding a tambourine and standing next to an ornate piano? I posted her photo in my "mystery" gallery last year. Alas, no one in the family recognizes her.

Following the process described by Maureen A. Taylor in her excellent Family Photo Detective, I wanted to look for clues to identifying this mystery girl from the photo itself.

My conclusion (supported by the steps I followed below) is that for a mystery photo such as this little girl, the location of the photographer and the costume are two vital clues to when, where, and why the photo was taken.

Step by step, here's how I analyzed the photo:

Photographer's location in 1925 - most likely AFTER the photo was taken
  1. Maureen recommends analyzing the type of photo print as a first step. This is not a daguerreotype, meaning it's newer. It's a photo (silver print?) glued to a matte board with the photographer's name and address, which seems to suggest the date is later than 1900. 
  2. Second, Maureen looks at the paper and board. The card stock for the little girl seems to be thick, and the edges are beveled, suggesting it's relatively new (early 20th century, rather than late 19th century). By the way, Maureen gives a hint for identifying relatives among a collection of portrait photos: If the number on the back of one photo is, say, 105, then portraits numbered 104 or 106 may be siblings or parents or children of the person in 105.
  3. The next step is to identify the photographer, which is easy in this case. "F. Krichefsky" is the name imprinted on the card stock, with a studio at 496 Claremont Parkway, Bronx, N.Y. Maureen suggests an online search for the photographer to find out more. No luck using Google, but I used Ancestry and immediately found the 1925 New York City directory listing for Mr. Krichefsky, photographer--at a different address, half a mile away from the address on my mystery photo. Then I used the mapping function to see where the studio was located (see map below). Off-hand, I don't know of ancestors who lived within walking distance--but I still don't know when the photo was taken.
    Photographer's studio location in 1915-17
  4. Still researching the photographer, I searched for his name plus "Bronx 1910" and came up with an image he had produced that is dated 1905-10, in the collection of the Museum of Jewish History. This is helping me narrow down the period of the photo. Also I found "Faivel Krichevsky" in the 1912 NYC Business Directory, a photographer at 496 Wendover Ave. In the 1915-16-17 NYC directories, I finally found "Feibel Krichefsky" at the Claremont Parkway address! So most likely this is more in the approximate time-frame of my little girl's photograph.
    Spelling slowed me down but here's the photographer in the NYC directory, at the address on my photo!
  5. Maureen suggests thinking about when in the person's life the image might have been taken--for a special event, as an example. This mystery girl looks too young for school but perhaps this was taken for a holiday or because the rest of the family was in the studio for a portrait? Music is clearly a major theme, but I don't know why. I have to return to my mystery photo archive box to see whether others were from this studio...perhaps there was a special event for the whole family, and they used that opportunity for individual portraits.
  6. Next would be facial recognition, which I would tackle using Picasa, free from Google. I'm saving this for another time.
  7. Maureen puts a lot of emphasis on "identifying costume" (chapter 9). Because of the big bow in the hair, and the shoes, the date is early in the 20th century. Her loose dress also seems to be from the pre-1920 era.
MY CONCLUSION: The photo is probably from 1905-1915. My next step: Look up the 1905/1915 NY Censuses and the 1910 US Census addresses for my ancestors in the Bronx and see whether any were within walking distance of this studio on Claremont Parkway. Also, I'll search my other mystery photos to find more, if any, from the Krichefsky studio.

Monday, August 31, 2015

Matrilineal Monday: Where Train Got His Name

Ever wonder about some of those given names in your family tree?

I puzzled over Train C. McClure for a long time. He was the third son of Benjamin McClure and Sarah Denning, and he was born in 1843 in Wabash county, Indiana. Train was my hubby's first great-grand uncle on his mother's McClure side.

Train McClure served nearly three years in the Civil War, enlisting in Company A, Indiana 89th Infantry Regiment on Aug 3, 1862 and being mustered out on Jul 19, 1865 at Mobile, Alabama.

Two years after his military service, he married Gulia Swain and started a family. Train C. McClure died in 1934.

But why did Benjamin and Sarah name this son Train? And what does his middle initial C stand for?

Now I believe I know.

Benjamin had a younger sister named Jane McClure, who married Train Caldwell on April 5, 1831 (above is their marriage document, thanks to Family Search).

So it seems reasonable to think that Benjamin named his third son Train Caldwell McClure after his brother-in-law Train Caldwell.

Just to make it interesting, notice that the clerk of the court on Train's marriage document is William Caldwell and the justice of the peace is (I'm not making this up) Manlove Caldwell.

And even more interesting, Jane McClure's husband Train Caldwell isn't the only man with that name in Indiana during the time period. I'm currently trying to sort out which Train is which without derailing my research :)

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Celebrating Blogiversary #7 - Some Mysteries Solved, New Opportunities Ahead

Since blogiversary #6, I've been thrilled to hear from cousins from the Mahler, Larimer, Steiner, Kunstler, and Wood families. And I've located a couple of Farkas cousins. Along the way, I returned family photos to people outside my direct line, solved some mysteries, donated historic artifacts to museums for posterity, and--of course--uncovered more opportunities to increase my knowledge of the family's history.

My top lesson from the past year: Don't assume that old photos captioned with unfamiliar names are of family friends. Just because cousins don't recognize or remember the people, doesn't mean they're not relatives. The Waldman family turned out to be part of my extended Farkas tree. There's a reason our ancestors saved these photos for so many years!

Interpreting "identified" photos can be a real challenge. Thanks to a Mahler 2d cousin in California, I learned that photos of "Madcap Dora, grandma's friend" were not my great-aunt Dora Mahler (so who was she?). This cousin was kind enough to help me identify the real Dora Mahler (shown above, seated 2d from left in a 1946 photo).

My other key lesson from the past year: Facebook is an incredible tool for genealogy. Simply reading the posts on genealogy pages has proved to be a real education, day after day. Plus, kind folks on many FB gen pages (like Tracing the Tribe, Adams County/Ohio genealogy, and Rhode Island genealogy) have offered advice and dug up records or recommended resources to further my research.

For instance, in my quest to link Grandpa Isaac Burk and his brother Abraham to either the Chazan or Mitav families, a friendly gen enthusiast in England suggested I contact the Manchester Beth Din and request the synagogue's 1903 marriage records for Abraham's marriage to Annie Hurwitch, which could show his father's name and his birth place. I never even knew such records might exist!

With luck, I'll have more brick walls smashed by the time blogiversary #8 rolls around. Meanwhile, dear relatives and readers, thank you for reading and commenting!

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Tombstone Tuesday: The Larimers Buried in Brown Cemetery, Elkhart, Indiana

Buried in Brown Cemetery, Elkhart, Indiana
Two years ago, the kind folks at Elkhart County Genealogical Society sent me documents and photos to help in researching hubby's Larimer family. Although I was specifically interested in Brice S. Larimer and his wife, Lucy E. Bentley, the wonderful lady who photographed the burial places sent me every Larimer headstone she could find in Brown Cemetery, Elkhart, with the comment that they were probably related to my Larimers in one way or another.

It took two years to track down the connections, but yes, she was entirely correct, of course. I've now accounted for almost every person whose headstone is in those dozens of photos, and I'm grateful to have the names/dates shown. I'll be writing her another thank you note to say how much I appreciated her wisdom in anticipating that I would eventually figure out how these Larimers were related to each other and to my hubby.

Above, the photo of the final resting place of Cora Emma Leslie and Edson Franklin Larimer. Buried in the midst of many other Larimer relatives, Edson was hubby's 1st cousin, 3x removed, the son of Bartlett Larimer and Sarah Miller.

Although buried in Elkhart, Edson actually died in Dawson county, Montana. Because Edson's daughter Velma Ruth Larimer married Ralph James Thomas in Dawson county, Montana, I imagine that Edson was visiting Velma at the time of his death. But until I could track down Velma and her marriage cert from Dawson county, proving that Velma was Edson & Cora's daughter, I couldn't just assume a connection.

Genealogy is really a long-term hobby, isn't it? 

Thursday, August 13, 2015

Treasure Chest Thursday: Edgar James Wood's WWII Newspapers

My late dad-in-law, Edgar James Wood, held onto several newspapers with historic WWII headlines. Above is one of my favorites: On August 15, 1945, the Philadelphia Inquirer announced PEACE across its entire front page.

Another issue he saved is from the Chicago Sunday Tribune of August 26, 1945, as U.S. forces prepared for the occupation of Japan.

As we prepare to mark the 70th anniversary of the end of WWII, I'm glad Ed saved these papers in such good condition for decades and decades.

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

Workday Wednesday: Francis Earle Wood, Carpenter to Decorator

Francis Earle Wood, Sr., was hubby's 1st cousin 1x removed--born in 1890 in Toledo, OH, he worked in wood just like so many of the children and grandchildren of carpenter Thomas Haskell Wood (his paternal grandpa) and Mary Amanda Demarest. His birth would have been a joy to the family because the grandfather had died just a few months earlier.

Francis (known as Frank) showed his occupation as carpenter when he married Lottie Best in Toledo on June 25, 1913 (marriage cert is above). Frank and Lottie had three children (Francis Earl Wood Jr., Roy A. Wood, and Charlotte Alice Wood) from 1915 to 1919.

The Toledo directory of 1923 (at left) shows him as a decorator, while his father is shown as a carpenter.

Sadly, Frank contracted pulmonary tuberculosis and died at age 37 the end of July, 1927, barely 14 years after his marriage. I've requested his obit from the Toledo public library, which generously offers to e-mail scans for free.

His death cert shows his occupation as interior decorator for Geo Roux, his employer. He and Lottie and their children were still living at home at 816 Clay Ave. in Toledo.

Cousin Frank is buried in Forest Cemetery in Toledo (Findagrave #132727886).

Friday, August 7, 2015

Who Cares About Aunts, Uncles, Distant Cousins, and In-Laws? Me!

When you have an entire pedigree line to research, who cares about aunts and grand aunts, uncles and grand uncles, let alone distant cousins and in-laws?
Ladies in white hat and dark hat turned out to be Farkas cousins!

All those seemingly peripheral ancestors may be fascinating people, in fact, and learning about them is helping me understand and trace my family's history in a deeper and more nuanced way. Just as important, "researching sideways" has led to some wonderful cousin connections and even a few breakthroughs. These folks may not be in my direct line, but they knew people in my direct line and have stories/memories/photos that illuminate my family history.

This topic came up because of my recent post about the Yanpolski family. The patriarch of that family, Lazar Yanpolski, was the husband of my great-grand aunt (by marriage) Miriam Chazan. One of the Yanpolski researchers asked why I was so interested in such a distant connection. Here's why:
  • Many old-world families were quite close-knit--especially those from small towns, where there were many marriages within the town and therefore multiple connections between one family and another. This is the case with my Farkas family, I've discovered several times: a man from family A marries a woman from family B and later, the woman's brother or brother-in-law in family B marries into the husband's family A, etc. Also, there were multiple marriages as widows and widowers paired off to take care of children, as in my husband's Wood and McClure families. Therefore, I'm quite intrigued by both siblings and in-law connections, wondering whether there are more relationships within the extended family than I can see on the surface.
  • After family members left for America, some sent photos and/or letters to their family and friends in the old home town and elsewhere. These and related stories have been passed down in some families, even if the cousins don't know the name or fate of anyone or everyone. Using photos (sometimes with dates and/or inscriptions), it's possible to pin down or at least suggest who's related to whom. This was the case with my Chazan and Burk/Birk/Berk connections. 
  • One more reason: Who doesn't like to watch Who Do You Think You Are? and other genealogy shows? I always learn something I can apply in my own research--a technique, a resource, or a way of turning the situation on its head to find a new angle. Or, a way to understand the WHY of family movements--because the reasons aren't always clear to us many decades later. I want to understand what my ancestors thought and felt, not just what they did, where they moved, and when. 
The photo at top is a good example. I knew half of the people were Farkas aunts and uncles, but believed that the others were "friends of the family." Wrong: after a lot of investigation (and lots of help from a dear cousin with a super memory) it turned out two of the ladies were actually cousins of my Farkas family. I was able to prove the connections by looking at the marriage documents and following the in-law movements, since the women's maiden names weren't readily available or known by descendants today.

The result is that I'm now in touch with a wonderful circle of cousins, including one whose mother had this very photo on her bureau for decades. Distant cousins, maybe, but they played a pivotal role in the family tree--and they have stories and memories that have added to my knowledge of my ancestors.

So who cares about aunts/uncles, cousins, and in-laws?!

Saturday, August 1, 2015

The Yanpolski Family's Voyage on August 3, 1916

The Yaplonski family: Manchester --> Bangor --> Liverpool --> NYC

This week in the Genealogy Do-Over (actually, I'm in the "go-over" phase), I reexamined the research into my paternal grandfather's Chazan family connections. This is part of the strategy of "researching sideways" -- looking at what siblings and in-laws were doing, as a way to figure out the what and the why of family movements over the years.

1911 UK Census
My Lithuanian-born grandpa Isaac Burk (1882?-1943) lived for a short time with his aunt and uncle Isaac Chazan and Ann Hinda Mitav Chazan in Manchester, England.

Isaac Chazan (also born in Lithuania) had a sister, Miriam Chazan (1880-1959), who married Lazar/Lawrence Yanpolski (1872-1938) in Manchester, England, in 1901. Manchester is at the top right corner of the map.

Lazar Yanpolski had three brothers and four sisters--and it was their life decisions that seem to have influenced Lazar and his wife to make major changes in their lives.

For instance, Lazar and Miriam moved from Manchester to Bangor, Wales (at left of map), in time to be counted there by the 1911 UK Census. I don't know exactly when they moved, but I do know that one of Lazar's younger brothers lived in Wales in 1907, and his sister Rebecca lived there a few years earlier. Another sister, Eva, married in Wales in 1898. It seems reasonable to believe that Yanpolski family connections encouraged the move from Manchester.

In Wales, Lazar's family consisted of his wife Miriam, their 3 daughters (Frances May, Eva, and Nancy Leah), and Lawrence's father, Simon/Shevak Yanpolski. Father and son Yanpolski were shopkeepers, according to the census. They lived at 305 High Street, Bangor, Wales. Mapping the area shows that to be a street filled with shops and residences above the stores. Probably they "lived above the store" as so many shopkeepers did.

S.S. Philadelphia manifest, Liverpool to NYC, 3 August 1916
Then 99 years ago, on August 3rd, 1916, Lazar and Miriam and their children (including one-year-old son Major) set sail from the port of Liverpool on the S.S. Philadelphia, bound for New York (see excerpt from manifest, at right).

The timing of the Yanpolski's voyage is squarely in the middle of England and Wales's involvement in WWI. Was this a dangerous trip across the Atlantic because of the war? Were economic factors a consideration? Lazar's siblings had arrived in Chicago a few years earlier. I don't know for certain, but once again, it seems reasonable to assume that family ties encouraged this move to a new country and a new life.

One last note: The Yanpolski brothers changed their names in America. Lazar took the last name "Lawrence." Another brother took the surname "Young." Yet another took the surname "Pole."