Saturday, February 2, 2013

Genealogy by the States: My Connecticut Connection

Connecticut is the topic of week #5 of Genealogy by the States, by Jim Sanders of Hidden Genealogy Nuggets. And here's where I get to talk about teaming up with honorary* cousin Art to track down Gelbman ancestors in Bridgeport. Before I connected with Art via Ancestry message boards, I hadn't even suspected that my family had any Connecticut connection.

Main Street in Bridgeport, circa 1909
Art is descended from a relative of Anna Gelbman (1886-1940), who married my great-uncle Samuel Schwartz (1883-1954). Thanks to Art's information about the Gelbmans living in Bridgeport, Connecticut, I got a copy of Anna and Sam's marriage license 100 years to the month after they were wed at Bridgeport's "Cherry Street Synagogue" (actually Ahavath Achim) in October, 1909, a week after Sam became a citizen. Later, I learned that Sam was named Simon when he came to America in January 1904--why he changed it upon arrival, I don't know.

With Sam and Anna's license in my hands, I visited the Bridgeport Public Library to check city directories that weren't available online. Now I was able to track Sam through the years he lived in Bridgeport:
  • In 1906, Sam Schwartz was a vegetable peddler living at 279 Lewis.
  • In 1907-8, Sam was a vegetable peddler living at 179 Lewis (typos might account for different addresses in '06 and '07?).
  • In 1908-9, Sam Schwartz was a printer rooming at 316 South Avenue.
  • In 1910, the Census showed him as naturalized, born in Hungary-Magyar, occupation of printer. The city directory showed the couple living at 95 Clinton Ave.
Anna's Gelbman family lived at 71 Wordin Avenue for many years, not far from the newly-wed Schwartz couple and a short walk from the field in central Bridgeport where P.T. Barnum wintered his circus, animals and all (see photo above). Today, the area around the former Gelbman house is a highway.

Sometime between 1910 and 1915, Sam and Anna moved to New York City. Ultimately he became the self-employed proprietor of a grocery store--the same work that Sam's younger brother Teddy (my grandpa) went into. Coincidence? I think not! Given Sam's early background as a vegetable peddler, he may have influenced his older brother's business decision, not the other way around.

One reason to blog on these state topics is to bring fresh eyes to my research. In this case, I realized I don't have Sam's movements in 1905, when he could have been in the New York State census. Nor do I have Sam's brother Theodore's 1905/1910 census records. So far, no luck on these, but I'll be searching!


*Honorary because we're not directly related but have helped each other climb our family trees over the years!

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