Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Two Lebowitz Sisters Married Two Markell Men

"Barna Markell" is a witness to Julius Markell's naturalization
I'm hot on the trail of the link between two Lebowitz sisters and two men named Markell. The Markell men are directly connected by a single document--a 1920 naturalization cert on which one is the witness and the other is the new citizen. Are they blood relatives? Well, that's the mystery . . .

Joseph A. Markell (1894-1975) was the husband of my great-aunt Mary Mahler Markell (1896-1979). He's the reason I'm trying to unravel this tangle of Lebowitz and Markell folks.

Here goes: Great-uncle Joseph Markell, born in Boston, was the son of Rose Lebowitz and her hubby, Bernard (aka Barnhart, Banna, or Barna) Markell. Bernard was an immigrant from Russia or thereabouts, having arrived in Boston in 1891. He was naturalized in NYC on 5 February 1902 (occupation: Driver).

Alas, Rose died young (before 1910), after which young Joseph and his father Bernard came to live with Rose's mother Fannie Lebowitz in New York City for a short time. (The Lebowitz matriarch was supposedly born in Czechoslovakia, but I haven't confirmed that.)

Meanwhile, Rose's younger sister Ella Lebowitz (b. 1890) also married a Markell. His name was Julius, and he was a plasterer born in Vilna. He arrived in New York in 1904, and somehow made he made his way to Washington state, where he married Ella Lebowitz in 1908. (How she managed to get across the country from New York to Washington is another question mark.) Their only daughter (Ruth Markell) was born there in 1909.

Clearly, Julius Markell must have had a yen to travel or a need to find work, because the next year they turn up in Boston, in the 1910 Census (remember that Joseph Markell, son of Bernard and Rose, was born in Boston but much earlier). Then, according to his nat papers, Julius resided in New York City from 1911 on. In fact, his WWI draft card puts his residence in Brooklyn, NY, and he stayed put through the 1920, 1930, and 1940 Census in Brooklyn.

However, Julius Markell and his wife Ella Lebowitz Markell must have fallen out with each other, because by the time of the 1920 naturalization, he tells the court that she and their daughter Ruth are living in Pittsburgh. I found them there, with strong clues to a link between Bernard and Julius Markell:
  • In the 1930 Census, Ella and her daughter Ruth Markell are living with Ella's mother Fannie Lebowitz (remember her? She took Bernard and Joseph into her NYC apartment in 1910) in the household of Ella's brother Samuel Lebowitz. Ella tells the Census that she's a widow. Not true!
  • In the 1940 Census, Ella is living in the household of her bro-in-law Joseph Sobel and his wife (Ella's sister?) Sarah and their four children. This time, Ella Markell tells the Census that she's divorced. Almost certainly true.
Sometime in the 1920s, Julius Markell remarried and had a child (William Markell) with his second wife, Tillie, in 1923.

Bernard Markell also remarried. Conflict with Bernard's new wife (Esther) prompted Joseph to run away to sea, a family story I wrote about earlier this month. Bernard (Barney) and Esther had a daughter together, named Rose Markell. It's not much of a leap to see that their daughter was named after his late wife Rose Lebowitz. They lived in New York at least through 1940, according to the Census.

Now I'm trying to find more about Bernard Markell's life and family background so I can connect him even more directly with Julius Markell. Are they cousins? Or what?

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