Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Wedding Wednesday: Hello to My Farkas Relatives

From the 1946 wedding album of Daisy Schwartz and Harold Burk, who got married at the Hotel McAlpin in New York City, here are some photos of my Farkas side of the family, showing my grand-aunts and -uncles and lots of cousins.




Saturday, March 23, 2013

Sibling Saturday: Schwartz Sis & Child in Ungvar

This lovely lady is possibly Etel or Paula Schwartz, both of whom were younger sisters of my grandpa Tivador/Theodore/Teddy Schwartz.

When Teddy, his older brother Sam, and their baby sister Mary Schwartz all left for America, sisters Etel and Paula stayed behind in Ungvar, Hungary.

Later called Uzhorod, this small city formed part of Czechoslovakia after WWI. And before Uzhorod became part of Russia, the photo on the left was taken and sent to my grandpa Teddy in New York City.

The reverse side of this lady in profile has the wording shown below left. The date appears to be March 24, 1929--84 years ago tomorrow.

The circular stamp is the name of the photo studio in Uzhorod, Ungvar.

Szeretettel translates from the Hungarian as "with love" or "affectionately." "Blankatol" doesn't match either Paula or Etel, but the lady looks a lot like one of the Schwartz sisters.

At right is the inscription of a baby photo from Ungvar. Again signed, "affectionately," but with a different name, "Yenaketol" perhaps, followed by Uzhorod and the same date as the lady in profile (March 24, 1929).

Also there's a sentence that refers to "Yenake" which I suspect is a nickname for the child who is shown in classic baby pose, below.

(Please, if anyone can read that final sentence in Hungarian, would you let me know?)

So the three Schwartz siblings, who lived in or near New York City after leaving Hungary, probably never saw this sister again and never met this niece or nephew.

Now, 84 years later, the photos are part of our family's genealogy research, memories of the family's Hungarian hometown of Ungvar. (By the way, when asked where he came from, grandpa Teddy would tell me, "Czechoslovakia.")





Thursday, March 21, 2013

Thankful Thursday: Philly Cousin Found Me!

Welcome, cousin! A 2d cousin from my Schwartz side connected with me this week, thanks to my Ancestry tree and this blog.

Grand-aunt Mary and Grand-uncle Edward
She's the granddaughter of Mary Schwartz, the youngest of the Schwartz siblings who left their home town of Ungvar, Hungary to journey to New York City.

Thank you to my Philly cuz for the photo (left) of Mary and her husband Edward, a lovely photo I'd never seen!

Mary was my grandpa Teddy's baby sister. Teddy (original name: Tivador) came to New York in 1902, followed by his older brother Sam (original name: Simon) in 1904. The two brothers pooled their money to bring Mary to America in 1906.

Etel and Paula Schwartz
Alas, the two remaining Schwartz siblings (shown right, Etel and Paula) never joined the rest of the family in New York, nor did Hana Simonowitz Schwartz, the matriarch. None survived WWII, sorry to say.

On the bright side, my Philly cuz and I are having fun getting caught up on decades of family news and doing a little more research together on our ancestors. Philly, here we come!


Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Have You Heard of the Connecticut Military Census (WWI)?

Did you know that Connecticut conducted a "military census" during WWI? One of the people in my extended family tree filled out such a form. I've never seen it before, although Jim Sanders found two for his family just a few months ago. All men over the age of 16 had to answer this single-page questionnaire. I discovered that this ancestor could handle a team and drive an auto and a motorcycle, but he couldn't swim.

So here's what Connecticut asked: Can you do any of the following...
  • Ride a horse?
  • Handle a team?
  • Drive an automobile?
  • Ride a motorcycle?
  • Understand telegraphy?
  • Operate a wireless?
  • Any experience with a steam engine?
  • Any experience with electrical machinery?
  • Handle a boat, power or sail?
  • Any experience in simple coastwise navigation?
  • Any experience with high speed marine gasoline engines?
  • Are you a good swimmer?

Monday, March 18, 2013

Military Monday: "650 WACs Defy the Subs"

My aunt Dorothy Schwartz was one of 650 WACs in WWII who sailed aboard the RMS Aquitania from New York City on July 8, 1943, arriving at dusk a week later in Gourock, Scotland. It was a risky voyage because the ship sailed alone, without a convoy, under absolute secrecy. They never knew when a German submarine might follow or attack.

RMS Aquitania in Southampton, England
Before the trip, the WACs were held incommunicado at Camp Shanks in New Jersey (guarded by MPs) until they were taken by train to the ship. As historian of the WAC Detachment of the 9th Air Force, Auntie wrote that the WACs "enacted an Ellery Queen radio mystery drama concerning the importance of being security-minded."



Doris Fleeson's article is the cover story


Famed war correspondent Doris Fleeson sailed along with Auntie and her fellow WACs, as well as hundreds of British military personnel. Later that year, Fleeson's long article about the voyage was published in Women's Home Companion as "650 WACs Defy the Subs."

In reading Fleeson's article, I was struck by her mention of "gangplankitis," which she says is "the fear of boarding a ship that might be attacked. Men soldiers have succumbed to it. Sometimes they are hospitalized. Sometimes they are carried aboard. The Wacs entirely escaped gangplankitis."

Once the Aquitania docked and the WACs disembarked, they were met by dignitaries including US Army Captain Sherman, who told them: "You are here safely. The safety of the troops to come depends upon your discretion." Quite a solemn welcome to WACs who would help the Air Force coordinate bombing of enemy targets.

The oral history of Mary Williams Elder was another good source of info about what it was like to be aboard the Aquitania as one of the 650 WACs.

Sunday, March 17, 2013

Genealogy by the States: New York state of mind

There are so many wonderful New York City sources to help with my genealogy research that I scarcely know where to begin. My Schwartz, Farkas, Birk, and Mahler ancestors all sailed past the Statue of Liberty from Eastern Europe, so my genealogy naturally has a New York state of mind.

Here are four of my favorite sites for NYC genealogy:
  • NYC brides, grooms, births, deaths, and naturalizations: My top go-to site is the Italian Genealogical Group. It's free and the volunteers who transcribed the records and developed the databases have done an incredible job. 
  • 1940 NYC directories, old photos, and much, much more: online and in person at the NY Public Library Milstein Division. Browsing the Digital Gallery brings me back to the New York City of my grandparents' time.
  • Ellis Island and Castle Green sites are helpful in finding immigrants who landed in NYC, although I prefer Family Search's Ellis Island passenger lists and Ancestry, not to mention Fold3's naturalization documents.
  • Linkpendium's city and borough-by-borough links that that of the Bronx are quite useful. Actually, Linkpendium is great for any state!
Now for my most recent New York genealogy adventures in following the Markell family. Barnhart (Barney, Bernard) H. Markell (1874-1944) was the father-in-law of my grand-aunt Mary Mahler Markell. As I wrote earlier this year, Barney came to New York from Boston with his son Joseph after the early death of his first wife, Rose Lebowitz. I've followed the paper trail of Barney and his progeny via US and NY census data, but have yet to discover exactly how Julius and Barney Markell are related.


On Friday, hubby and I took a field trip to Riverside Cemetery in NJ, where Barney is buried (above). In the same plot were: Barney's second wife, Esther M. Markell; Esther's daughter Ella Markell and her two husbands, Albert Brown (originally Brownstein) and Jeremiah Match; and Albert's brother-in-law David Zenkel. RIP.

This weekly prompt about New York is part of the "Genealogy by the States" series by Jim Sanders.

Saturday, March 16, 2013

Surname Saturday, St. Patty's Day edition: Smith from Limerick?

Last year on St. Patty's Day, I wrote that I married hubby for his Irish ancestors. This week I found out, via fam trees on Ancestry with documententation, that hubby's 5th great-granddaddy, William Smith, has a link with Ireland.

William's will, dated April 14, 1786, refers to some property he owns in his homeland:
I give and bequeath to my son William Smith the sum of ten pounds with my right and title to my father's estate in Ireland and ye ten pound note to be paid untill [sic] it can be collected from the book debts.
Brice Smith is buried in Fairfield Cty, Ohio
The elder William Smith had another son, Brice, hubby's 4th-great-granddaddy, who inherited land, bedding, a horse, heifer, money, sheep, and other possessions.
 
Now it's going to be quite a trick to trace Smith family connections to and within Limerick, the place where they are probably from. So many ancestors, so little time!

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Workday Wednesday: What the Men Were Doing

Home built by James Edgar Wood   
My husband's male ancestors (Wood, McClure, Steiner) were often carpenters or did other skilled work with their hands.
  • Thomas Haskell Wood and seven of his sons (William H., Alfred O., Francis E., Charles A., Marion E., James E., and Robert O.) were carpenters, machinists, or painters in the early 20th century. Hubby's father (Edgar J. Wood, an insurance adjuster) tells of his father James building a home and moving the family into it while finishing the interior and starting to build a new house...then moving the family into the next new house after selling the previous house...and on and on.
  • Thomas H. Wood's father Elihu Wood (late 1800s) was the captain of a merchant ship, and his father William was a glazier. Further back in the Wood line were more captains.
  • Edward George Steiner was a carpenter. I'm still tracing his brothers.
  • Brice Larimer McClure (early 20th century) and his father, William Madison McClure, were both machinists. Further back in the McClure line were several generations of farmers.
Other male ancestors had other occupations: Brice S. Larimer was a railroad station agent but his parents/grandparents were farmers. Joseph W. Rinehart was a farmer. In the Slatter family were cooks, laborers, and wallpaper cleaners (and, later, bandmasters in Canada). Shehen ancestors (1800s-1900s) were laborers and bricklayers in Ireland and England.

The male ancestors in my family (Burk, Mahler, Farkas, Schwartz) came from Eastern Europe and chose occupations with "low barriers to entry" in the United States--meaning you needed a skill and maybe a few tools.
  • Isaac Burk was a cabinetmaker, highly skilled it seems because he worked continuously in Canada and the United States from the early 1900s onward.
  • Meyer E. Mahler was a tailor in the late 1800s/early 1900s. My cousin Lois has his cutting shears!
  • Moritz Farkas was a farmer in his native Hungary but in New York City he became a sometime peddler and a sometime presser, ironing clothing in the Lower East Side's factories at the turn of the century and later.
  • Teddy Schwartz was an interpreter at Ellis Island after he arrived from Hungary, and then worked as a runner for the steamship lines. He briefly sold insurance before opening a grocery store in the Bronx.

Monday, March 11, 2013

Genealogy by the States: Virginia (after arriving from Donegal?)

Hubby's 3d great-grandparents (John McClure and Ann McFall) married in Rockbridge county, Virginia, in 1801. One of their sons was Benjamin McClure (1812-1896), the subject of my Facebook genealogy experiment (which has attracted one McClure researcher so far).

There is strong evidence that the McClure family (specifically, John's father Alexander and grandpa Halbert) was from Donegal.

Actually, it seems to be a Scots-Irish connection. I still have more work to do proving the connection, of course...

How appropriate that I can showcase one of hubby's three Irish ancestral links during the week leading up to St. Patrick's Day!

This weekly prompt about Virginia is part of the "Genealogy by the States" series by Jim Sanders.

Saturday, March 9, 2013

Surname Saturday: Searching for Slatter, Shehen, and Steiner

Steiner sisters of Wyandot County, Ohio
 On hubby's side of the family tree, I'm searching for these surnames:
  • Steiner. Jacob S. Steiner (1802? - ?) married Elizabeth UNK (1802-1864) and brought up a big family in Crawford, OH area. Jacob's granddaughter Floyda Mabel Steiner McClure (1878-1948), shown with her sisters Carrie, Minnie, Maggie, and Blanche in the studio photo above, is hubby's grandmom. I wrote about Floyda and Maggie here and more about the Steiner family is here.
  • Slatter. John Slatter Sr. was born in Oxfordshire in 1811, married his wife Sarah in 1832, and the last time I can find him in the UK census (with any certainty) is 1841. His children are Fanny, Thomas, John, Sarah, William, and Daniel, all born between 1833 and 1850. John Sr. is hubby's 2nd great-granddad. I summarized what I know about some of this family on the "John & Mary Slatter" tab at top of the blog. Someday I hope to get at least one generation back from John Sr.
  • Shehen. With St. Patty's Day just a week away, I'm thinking about John & Mary Shehen, hubby's 2d great-grandparents, both born in Ireland just after 1801. Their daughter Mary Shehen married John Slatter in 1859. Passing down given names from generation to generation makes it a challenge to keep 'em all straight and locate the right ancestors, I can tell you! Where in Ireland were the older John & Mary Shehen from? Who are their parents/siblings? How and why did they move from Ireland to England?

Thursday, March 7, 2013

Those Places Thursday: The Bronx

The Bronx was where my grandparents brought up their children and where my parents (Harold Burk and Daisy Schwartz) settled with my sisters and me.

Teddy's Dairy (owned by Grandpa Theodore Schwartz and Grandma Hermina Farkas) was in several locations around Fox Street and Beck Street in Bronx, NY.




Above, Teddy behind the counter. At right, Teddy and his assistant John in front of Teddy's Dairy, 1934. John eventually bought the business from Teddy.

The Bronx has a legendary mystique worldwide, it seems . . . in Japan, as well.



When hubby, Sis, friend Laurie, and I were in Kyoto in 2007, we passed a bar entrance named for our hometown.

Left, a photo of us waiting for The Bronx to open :)



We also went to a baseball game where Marc Jason Kroon, a star relief pitcher from the Bronx who made it big in Japan, saved the game for the Yokohama Bay Stars.

Right, I'm helping Marc get his pitch ready. He was driven to the mound in a brand-new tricked-out Toyota and treated to cheers from the Yokohama fans before striking out the Yakult Swallows to earn yet another win.

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Wordless Wednesday: Dotty Wears Dots

About 30 years ago, my auntie Dorothy Schwartz had this photo taken for the annual yearbook of Christopher Columbus High School, the Bronx school where she taught typing, steno, and other business subjects. Her nickname was Dot or Dotty and here she is wearing dots for her official teacher portrait.

This photo was "forever" glued to one of those awful magnetic page albums until, thanks to the magic of dental floss, I carefully worked around its edges and got the photo out. The smudge at left is my attempt to remove the word "proof" from the photo.

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Travel Tuesday: Harold the Travel Agent

Dad (Harold Burk) was a travel agent who did the most traveling of his life during WWII.

Here you can see brochures and timetables for trains and other transportation methods, next to his desk at the luxe Savoy Plaza Hotel, located at the corner of 57th Street and Fifth Avenue in New York City, a ritzy address just across from the Plaza Hotel.

Dad started his WWII travels at Camp Upton on Long Island, where he was inducted in 1942 for what became 3 1/2 years in the US Army. He served from late 1944 to mid-1945 in "Central Europe" and in "Rhineland," according to his honorable discharge documents. His younger brother Sidney also served in Europe then.

We know Dad was stationed outside Paris for a time because he sent photos home to his mom, Henrietta Mahler Burk. For instance, the photo at left below shows him in uniform at a cafe outside Paris (and below right, Dad in Paris itself).

Harold Burk (right) and friend

After WWII ended, Dad came home, met Mom (possibly through a date arranged by two aunts, one on each side) and were married, followed by a Bermuda honeymoon.
  
Once Dad became a father, his travels usually consisted of getting onto the IRT subway to ride from the Bronx into Manhattan every day for work. His biggest post-war trip was in 1959, when he went to Hawaii for what turned out to be a very short stay, as I wrote last year here.

Friday, March 1, 2013

Funeral Friday: Following the Wolf family

My 2d cousin Lois found me through this blog when she spotted (among other entries) a short post I'd written about her grandfather, Louis Volk, who married my great-aunt Ida Mahler.

Today I used Ancestry's Historical Newspapers, Birth, Death & Marriage Announcements to search for funeral info about Louis's sister Beckie Volk (1886?-1955), who married Simon Wolf (1886-1969) in 1908, in New York City.


Very quickly I found them both in New York Times obituaries. Above, Beckie's funeral notice from May, 1955. This showed me that one of Beckie's three daughters was no longer alive (I found her obit in a 1943 Times notice). It also gave me the married names of Beckie and Simon's two daughters and mentions that Beckie was a grandma by this time.


Simon's funeral notice from 1969, directly above, confirms those daughters' married names and that Simon was a grandfather. Both Simon and Beckie, and their daughter Cecilia (below), are buried at Riverside Cemetery in New Jersey, where some of my Mahler ancestors are buried, as well.

So now I'm searching for Pauline Wolf Kagan (whose hubby's first name is UNK at this time) and Shirley Wolf Gold (again, hubby's given name is UNK). At least one of these ladies has at least one child . . . more cousins for my 2d cousin Lois!