Sunday, December 29, 2013

2014 Genealogy Resolutions

After this remarkable year of cousin reunions and brickwalls being dissolved, I have a new set of genealogy resolutions for 2014.
  1. Focus by ignoring. I'm clicking to "ignore" Ancestry hints for ancestors who are really distant. Do I really need to see a record about the "father-in-law of uncle of wife of 1st cousin 1x removed" in my family tree? No. With more than 2,000 hints, I have to learn to ignore!
  2. Identify my main ancestor targets. Too many ancestors, too little time. Who do I really care about and what do I really need to know about those people? 
    • New for 2014: Confirm how the family of Elek Farkas from Botpalad, Hungary is related to the family of Moritz Farkas from Botpalad. There is a definite connection! But who's the link?
    • The following are carried over from 2013:
    • When did Tillie Jacobs Mahler and her children, Henrietta and David, arrive at Castle Garden in 1886? Where, exactly, were they from?
    • What about Tillie's parents, Julius Jacobs and Rachel Shuham?
    • What name did Tillie's husband Meyer Mahler use when arriving at Castle Garden in May, 1885?
    • Was Meyer Birk really Isaac Birk's brother? After living with Isaac and Isaac's future father-in-law (Meyer Mahler), what happened to Meyer Birk?
    • Where in New York state did William Tyler Bentley and his wife, Olivia Morgan, come from? Where/when did Olivia die? Olivia and William were the parents of Lucinda H. Bentley Shank, whose death cert appears above. It was the first critical evidence of Olivia's name and birthplace!
    • Where in Ireland were John and Mary Shehen (or Shehan) from? Who where their parents?
  3. Research key ancestors again. So many new documents, grave photos, and message-board posts have come online since I was bitten by the genealogy bug (in the last millennium!) that I need to research those names again. 
    • Redo a Google search with "First Last" and "Last, First," such as: "Benjamin McClure" and "McClure, Benjamin" AND add "genealogy" to avoid getting unrelated results.
    • Redo a Fold3 search for men who might have military records, as well as for people with naturalization papers.
    • Continue Ancestry searches because when I click on someone, Ancestry's "hints" come alive with new clues as well. (See Resolution #1: Ignore those for distant relatives.)
    • Redo a search on key surname message boards and locality message boards.
    • Redo a Find-a-Grave search for those whose graves I haven't found.
Happy new year and happy ancestor hunting.

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Travel Tuesday: Who Grandpa Left Behind in Ungvar

Schwartz siblings, 1915
When my maternal grandpa, Tivadar Schwartz, traveled from Ungvar, Hungary to New York City in 1902, he left behind his parents, Herman Schwartz and Hani Simonowitz, and all his siblings.

Grandpa never returned to his hometown--in fact, he never left America after he arrived on the S.S. Maltke from Hamburg on March 20, 1902. He never again saw the siblings in the photo at left.

Except for a brief Florida "honeymoon" decades after he and grandma (Hermina Farkas) were married, Tivadar stayed in New York City. 

Two of Tivadar's siblings left Ungvar: His brother Sam (original name: Simon) came to New York City in 1904, and they brought their younger sister Mary in 1906.

The above photo shows Tivadar's sisters and, we think, the husband of one sister. By the time Grandpa received this photo in the summer of 1915, he had been married for 4 years and was the father of a son.

At right, the inscription on the back of the 1915 photo. "Tivadarnak" was an endearment. Grandpa was gone, but not forgotten :)

Between WWI and WWII, Ungvar became part of Czechoslovakia. Even after Ungvar was renamed Uzhgorod when it became part of the USSR's Ukraine after WWII, Grandpa had one answer when asked about his home country: "Czechoslovokia."

Saturday, December 21, 2013

Surname Saturday: What I Didn't Discover in 2013

Despite numerous exciting breakthroughs during 2013, I still have a number of important questions that were not answered this year.

Here's what I wanted to know about four of hubby's great-great grandparents that I wasn't able to uncover this year:

  • Steiner. Where and when did the family of Jacob S. Steiner arrive in the US? Jacob was born about 1802 in Pennsylvania, according to Census records, and the last evidence I have of him is his residence in Tod, Crawford county, Ohio in the 1850 Census. Jacob married Elizabeth [UNK--another mystery], who died in 1864 in Tod. Was Jacob's family from Switzerland or Germany?
  • Slatter. John Slatter Sr., born in Oxfordshire, England, in 1811. Where and when did he die? He was a cook, and the last evidence I have of him is his residence in Banbury, Oxfordshire, in the 1841 Census.
  • Shehen. John Shehen, born in 1801 somewhere in Ireland, materialized in Marylebone, London by 1841, with his wife Mary. Mary [UNK--unsolved mystery] and John had at least three children while living in England: Thomas, Mary, and Michael. Where were John and wife Mary born, and when did they arrive in England? Daughter Mary married John Slatter Jr., but I've never found her death details, either.
  • Rinehart. Joseph W. Rinehart was born in 1806 in Pennsylvania and died in Nevada, OH, in 1888. Where and when did the Rinehart family arrive in the US? Were they Swiss or German or Austrian? Joseph's mother's name was Elizabeth but his father's name I have yet to discover.
Happily, I expect to learn new tools and techniques for tackling many of these challenges while attending the National Genealogical Society's 2014 conference. And if I'm really  lucky, one of the attendees or instructors will be researching the same surnames!

Monday, December 16, 2013

Mystery Monday: He's My Great-Grandpa!

Thanks to my newfound Israeli cuz, I learned that this handsome bearded gentleman is my great-grandfather, Herman Schwartz from Ungvar, Hungary (now Uzhorod, Ukraine).

Until now, he was one of the many mystery people in my box of "unknowns."













Israeli cuz also solved another mystery: She identified the lovely young lady with a bouquet (at right) as belonging to the family of my great-grandma, Herman's wife, Hani Simonowitz. Blanka sent this to my grandpa, Tivadar Schwartz, in 1924, 22 years after he left Ungvar for America.

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Tuesday's Tip: It Takes a Village to Trace a Tree

All of the family trees I'm working on have been "leafed out" with help from other people. Especially this year, I've learned that it truly takes a village to trace a tree. 

For example, Major James Elmer Larimer (hubby's first cousin, 4x removed), wrote to his mother, Asenath Cornwell Larimer, when he was fighting for the Union during the Civil War. At left, a page from one of his many letters--thanks to the gentleman who found me via this blog and who is now part of my village.

Here's how I make it easy for my village to exchange information:

1. My family trees on Ancestry are public (not living people, of course). That's how Philly Cuz found me and how the latest contact from a Wood cousin took place. 

2. I post about people and places on surname and locality message boards. If anybody out there is looking for Schwartz from Ungvar or Farkas from Botpalad or Bentley from Indiana (or California), they'll find my queries on message boards like Ancestry and GenForum. That's how I connected with Bentley researchers, for example.

3. I contact local genealogy clubs and historical societies. Just as one example, the fabulous folks at Elkhart County Genealogical Society provided numerous gravestone photos and probate court records for my research into the Larimer family.

4. I correspond with people who have posted on Find-a-Grave. Sometimes they have more photos they haven't had a chance to post--and among those photos are my ancestors. A very kind volunteer supplied exact directions to hubby's great-great-grand uncle's gravestone so we could visit this summer. Of course, I return the favor by posting photos of dozens of gravestones on F-a-G whenever I visit a cemetery.

5. I blog about my genealogy challenges and achievements. Thanks to this genealogy blog, I've been found by so many cousins! (You know who you are...) The blog also helps me explain to my newfound family what I know (or think I know) about a particular person or branch of the tree. In more than one case, my wonderful blog readers have been instrumental in identifying a person's uniform or place or period.

Thank you to my village!

Thursday, December 5, 2013

Those Places Thursday: Botpalad, Home of Moritz Farkas & Family

Thanks to the Family History Center microfilm 642919, which contains records for Fehergyarmat, Hungary, last night I confirmed that my great-grandpa Moritz Farkas (1857-1936) was born on July 3, 1857 in Botpalad, Szabolcs-Szatmar-Bereg, Hungary. The record-keeper often left the initial number off the year, as shown below.

At left, a closeup of the area around Botpalad. In 19th century records, Botpalad was abbreviated "B.palad."


Moritz's father was Ferencz Farkas and his mother was Sara (Hermina) Gross, as shown in the excerpt below. Way over to the right on the photo is the notation "B.palad." Bingo!





Botpalad has a statue of Kossuth Lajos (left), one of the heroes of the Hungarian independence movement.

And Moritz's children were active in the Kossuth Association in New York City, as I've written in earlier posts.