Friday, May 31, 2013

Family Friends Friday: Mary and Rose, Matchmakers

Family legend has it that my father, Harold Burk, was introduced to my mother, Daisy Schwartz, by two of their aunts.

I've known for some time that Mary Mahler Markell (Harold's aunt) was his side's match-making aunt. But who was the aunt on my mother's side?

Now I have the answer. In scanning hundreds (yes, hundreds) of minutes of meetings of the Farkas Family Tree, founded by my grandma Hermina Farkas Schwartz and her 10 siblings, I see that "Mr. & Mrs. Markell" and sometimes "Mr. & Mrs. Joe Markell" are frequent visitors--but only when the family gathers at the home of Rose Farkas Freedman and her husband George.

I looked up the addresses of the Markells and the Freedmans in the 1940 Census. This map shows the five-minute walk between the home of Joe & Mary and the home of George & Rose.

One of Rose's sons has confirmed that Mary was a close friend of Rose. I suspect that Mary and Rose cooked up a plan to introduce my father to my mother. Harold had just gotten out of the army and was an eligible bachelor. Daisy was dreaming of meeting the right man and settling down to have a family. The aunts got them together and in less than 3 months, Mom and Dad were engaged. Thanks to this family friendship, my future was assured!

Saturday, May 25, 2013

Reading "Family Trees: A History of Genealogy in America"

Hubby surprised me with a gift of this new book, Francois Weil's Family Trees: A History of Genealogy in America.

Weil traces the evolution of genealogy in America through several stages. In the early days, colonists wanted to show off their status through kinship connections with nobility in the Old World and a sense of long-standing pedigree.

Another stage concerned the use of genealogical ties to prove ownership of land or inheritance (not unlike the tangled claims in Bleak House, for instance).

As the United States developed its own national identity, certain regions of the country sharpened their own sense of status through lineage. Pride in family history grew as ordinary people began to trace back to ancestors who had fought in the Revolution, for example, or landed at Plymouth Rock.

Chapter 6, "Everybody's search for roots," resonated most strongly with me because I, like many boomers, was moved to ask questions after viewing the Roots miniseries in 1977. For me, genealogy is a way to understand identity and heritage, learn what shaped my family's decisions and directions, and explain the stories and connections that bring the facts and dates to life.

I recommend this as a history book--a history of genealogy, not a "how to" or a "who's who." And if you like history, you'll like this book. 

Thursday, May 23, 2013

Those Places Thursday: Genealogy-Friendly Crawford County, Ohio

Getting ready for the Federation of Genealogical Societies Conference in August, I'm organizing my research so hubby and I can make the most of our time in Indiana and Ohio.

Two weeks ago, I wrote a snail-mail note to the Crawford County Probate Court, requesting death records for four ancestors on my "most wanted" list: Elizabeth Steiner (d. 6 November 1864), Jacob S. Steiner (d. between 1850 and 1860), Margaret (maiden name UNK) Rinehart (d. 11 June 1873) and William Steiner (d. 11 March 1899). All lived in Tod, Crawford County, or thereabouts.

Lisa at the court could only locate the record for William--but she kindly gave me the name/phone number of a local genealogical official and suggested I call to ask for ideas on tracking down the other records, which wouldn't be available at the county level because reporting didn't start until years later.

That call led me to the super-friendly folks at the Crawford County Chapter of the Ohio Genealogical Society. Mary recognized the Steiner surname right away and she also has suggestions for identifying Margaret Rinehart's maiden name.

If you have any connections to Crawford County, OH (or wish that you did!), click through the above link to check out the many local genealogy resources and publications at their site. I can't wait to visit during the summertime.

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Wordless Wedding Wednesday: What Are Mom and Dad Reading at Their Wedding?

Well, telegrams, of course! Any friend or relative who couldn't be there would spend a quarter or so to send a telegram congratulating the happy couple. And so after the noontime wedding ceremony, Mom (Daisy Schwartz) and Dad (Harold Burk) took a moment during the reception to read telegrams from loved ones around the country.

This is a Wordless Wednesday because none of those Wedding telegrams survived...

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

FGS Conference Quest: In Search of Steiners and Rineharts

This is my quest, to follow that star as far as Fort Wayne, Indiana and beyond!


Hubby's ancestors, the Steiner family and the Rinehart family, lived in Ohio and Indiana, so by attending the FGS Conference, we're following that star into the 18th century.

Our quest: To break down Steiner and Rinehart brick walls by determining where in the Old World they were originally from and locate their arrival time/place in the New World.


Our research plan includes:
  • A visit to Crawford County, OH to locate birth/death/land/probate records for Elizabeth Steiner (maiden name UNK), who died in November, 1864; Jacob S. Steiner, who died before 1860 (he was in the 1850 Census); and Margaret Rinehart, who died in June, 1873. Maybe we'll get lucky and find parents' names? Fingers crossed...
  • A visit to Wyandot County, OH to see the homes where the Steiner sisters (Etta, Minnie, Carrie, and Floyda) and their spouses lived and where hubby visited them during school vacations. Of course we'll look for land/probate records and pay our respects at Old Mission Cemetery in Upper Sandusky, where some Steiners are buried.
  • A visit to Wabash, IN to do research into the McClure and Larimer families who were early settlers in this area. Cemetery visits are a must, in addition to hunting for vital records and newspaper reports.
  • Attendance at FGS sessions that pertain to our quest, including "Beginning Swiss Research" (in case the Steiners or Rineharts are actually Swiss, as family legend suggests); "Buckeye Beginnings" (for those Crawford Cty folks); and "First Steps in Indiana Research" (to get a good overview of resources and repositories).
  • Rooting around at the Allen County Public Library for family roots (still coming up with a plan for tackling this almost overwhelming place!). This is our first visit, but hopefully not our last.
And I'm looking forward to meeting genealogy folks from all over the country at the meeting. See you there!

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Genealogy by the States: The Hoosiers in Our Family Tree, Including a Man Named Train

This week's Genealogy by the States topic is Indiana, the Hoosier state (aka the Crossroads of America).

At the top of the list of Hoosiers in hubby's family tree: 2nd great-grandparents Benjamin McClure and his wife Sarah Deming (or Denning) McClure, an early settler in the Wabash county area.

Wabash had a number of McClure families, and of course Benjamin is NOT the most celebrated or documented, although he did pitch in to build the community in several ways. (The most famous McClure in Wabash is Samuel McClure, considered the first permanent white settler in the county.)

Benjamin and Sarah's first children were born in Ohio, where the couple was married; their children born in Indiana include:
  • Martha Jane McClure, who married William Buck Cloud
  • Train C. McClure, who married Gulia Swain (and, after Gulia's death, remarried to Rebecca E. Abbott) - Isn't "Train" an interesting first name? His occupation was "oil mill operator" according to the 1880 census. He served in the Civil War, too.
  • Elizabeth D. McClure (who married John W. Austin)
  • Addison D. McClure (who died of an accidental gunshot wound at age 18)
  • William Madison McClure (hubby's great-grandpa, who married Margaret Jane Larimer)
  • John N. McClure
  • Amanda "Callie" Caroline McClure (I don't know much about her--yet)
Another of hubby's ancestors lived in Indiana: His uncle John Andrew Wood, who married Rita Goodin on April 7, 1951 in Crown Point, Indiana and was an area supervisor for du Pont in East Chicago, Indiana for many years. Although family legend has it that John was mostly estranged from his three brothers (Wally, Ed, and Ted Wood), I know from Ed's diary that John and his wife Rita were in touch with Ed from time to time and they even visited each other once in a great while. How the "estrangement" story got started, I don't know...

As usual, thanks to Jim Sanders for this week's genealogy blogging prompt.

A special thank you to Harold of Midwestern Microhistory blog, who just posted news of thousands more Indiana marriage records being available at Family Search (click here). If you're researching Indiana ancestors, check out Harold's blog.

Monday, May 13, 2013

Amanuensis Monday: "I am your Pop (Ma is included in this)"

In 1943, when my Uncle Fred enlisted in WWII, the entire family geared up for a lively stream of correspondence to keep him company wherever he was posted. (The same steady stream of correspondence flowed to Fred's sister Dorothy Schwartz the WAC, and to Fred and Dorothy's first cousins in the service.)

Here's the second page of a letter to Fred from his "Pop" (my grandpa), Theodore Schwartz, written on November 9, 1944. Grandpa learned English after arriving in New York from Hungary as a teenager, and his spelling/punctuation weren't always perfect. He and my grandma ran a busy grocery store, which in wartime had the added burden of having to collect and sort ration coupons for many foods.

Instead of ending his letter to Fred by signing off with "love" as so many parents do today, he says something much more old fashioned: "With best wishes to you, I am your Pop" and adds: "Ma is included in this."

This letter reads:

Dear Fred,

Your 3 letters in a row at hand and been glad to hear that you, at last got what you wanted and also received the klippings [sic] describing in detail the work. It must be interesting, at least from the beginning. You will only have day work and nobody to rush you. There is not much news here. We are all well--just got a letter from Bobby F___ he is on the other side [meaning he's fighting in Europe]. Received a few letters from Dorothy, she is well, of course she does not get any steaks for every dinner but she is getting ours.

We had a nice [family] meeting at Ella's [Fred's uncle] Sunday. [Uncle] Albert's father-in-law, if you can remember him, celebrated his 50th wedding anniversary. I am slated for the next presidency in the family tree.*

With best wishes to you, I am your Pop
   Ma is included in this.


*The Farkas Family Tree was created during the 1930s, with members being the descendants of Moritz Farkas and Lena Kunstler Farkas, along with their spouses and kids. Grandma Hermina Farkas Schwartz was the oldest daughter of Moritz and Lena, and Grandpa Theodore's marriage to her made him eligible to serve as president of the tree, as he boasts in the final sentence of his letter to Fred. One of the fun rituals at each tree meeting was singing a family song written by one of Fred's aunts. More on this tree in future posts!

Sunday, May 12, 2013

Happy Mother's Day! Three Generations in the Bronx

My mother, Daisy Schwartz, grew up in the Bronx, taking trolley cars and subways to get wherever she had to go, because the family had no car. My sisters and I were brought up in the Bronx, also experts in getting around by subway because our parents had no car.

The next generation started their families in the northeast Bronx (one sister) and in Brooklyn (the other sister) before moving away. These days, we all drive but also use our subway savvy when we go back to New York City for a visit.

Happy Mother's Day to all, including the little one in this photo, who now has a little one of her own!

Saturday, May 11, 2013

Sibling Saturday: Lola, Brice, Lucille, and Hugh Benjamin McClure

Lucille McClure De Velde, John De Velde, Margaret Larimer McClure
Margaret Jane Larimer (1859-1913) and William Madison McClure (1849-1887) had four children, two of whom were entrepreneurial types.
  • Lola A. McClure (1877-1948), born in Elkhart, Indiana. She married Edward A. Lower and had three children (Margaret, Edward Sherman, and Ross).
  • Brice Larimer McClure (1878-1970), born in Little Traverse, Michigan. He married Floyda Mabel Steiner and they had one daughter, Marian (hubby's Mom).
  • Lucille Ethel McClure (1880-1926), also born in Elkhart, who married John E. De Velde (no children). The tintype above shows Lucy, John, and Lucy's mom Margaret McClure, sometime before 1913.
  • Hugh Benjamin McClure (1882-1960), born in Wabash, Indiana. His first wife was Olivet van Roe (and they had a daughter together, Georgianna). His second wife was Rebekah Venice Wilt and their children were: Margaret Susan, Jean A., Marietta, and Virginia Rebekah.
Brice McClure ran his own shade shop in Cleveland, to supplement his income during the Depression. He was a crackerjack machinist for various companies, striking out on his own between jobs because his specialty was in high demand. Brice was nicknamed "The Old Gentleman" by his daughter and son-in-law, who cared for him when he was older. He wasn't the first Brice in the family, by the way. That honor belongs to Brice Smith (1756-1828), Brice McClure's g-g-g-grandpa, who married Eleanor Kenny (1762-1841).

Hugh Benjamin McClure founded the H.B. McClure Manufacturing Co. in Peoria, Ill, which produced office equipment. Hubby's parents visited Peoria to see the family and tour the factory during the 1960s and they kept in touch for some time.

PS This is my 400th genealogy blog post! Woo-hoo!

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Those Places Thursday: Sis Sees the Supremes at the Copacabana

J and Sis, recreating their memorable Prom Night

It was the Age of Aquarius. Sis was graduating from Christopher Columbus HS in the Bronx and going to the prom with future husband J. 

After the prom, some of her classmates cruised on the Circle Line boat around Manhattan, while others went to home parties. Not Sis and her friends. She booked a table at the Copacabana night club in New York City to see the Supremes!

This is a guest post by Sis about a very special place and time in her life.

For prom night, I saved up from my part-time jobs to buy a beautiful floor-length, sleeveless scoop-neck white lace sheath with matching coat. My outfit included pointy, white peau de soie high heels and a pearly purse just large enough for my house key, lipstick, eyelash glue, and a few dollar bills. J rented a white dinner jacket to match.

On the day of the prom, I had my hair done in a gorgeous, picture-perfect bouffant flip, sprayed stiff to stay put (as was the style back then). Then I put on my makeup: Cleopatra eyeliner, false eyelashes, blush, and pale icy pink lipstick. When J came to pick me up, he brought me a gardenia wrist corsage and I put a carnation in his lapel.

No one took a limo to the prom in those days. We double-dated with our friend Glenn, who borrowed his father's station wagon for the evening. At the prom, we danced the Swim, the Pony, the Twist, the Frug, the Mashed Potato, and everything else as a live band played every hit song we requested--Gloria, Mustang Sally, I Feel Good...of course, slipping in a slow dance like Sixteen Candles after every four or five songs.

When the prom was winding down, Glenn drove us downtown to the Copa (at 60th Street, just off Fifth Avenue) for the 11 pm show. There were six of us at a tiny bistro table in the second row from the stage, plus lots of other high school prom-goers packed in like sardines around the room. We didn't complain--we were there to see the world-famous Supremes.

I couldn't take my eyes off the Supremes, they were so incredibly glamorous as they sang You Can't Hurry Love and other hits during a one-hour set that included a costume change. (We didn't think to bring a camera; no one knew it was going to be historic!)

After one set and an expensive order of mediocre food from the overpriced menu, the Copa shuffled us out so they could get the next audience seated. A Copa napkin was my only souvenir. By 1 am, we were on our way back to the Bronx in Glenn's station wagon, watching the skyline glitter as he drove.

After graduation, Sis went on to Lehman College, where she and her friends started a new sorority--THE Sorority.