Friday, March 7, 2014

52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks #12: Barney, Esther, and Rose Markell -- and the Atlas Theatre

This week, more on the saga of Barney H. Markell, his second wife Esther, and his first wife, Rose Lebowitz. In the last episode, I was pondering how Barney Markell and Julius Markell are related. The Markells were important to my family history because Barney's daughter-in-law got together with her good friend Rose and set my parents up on a date that ultimately led to . . . well, me. The Markells have led me on quite a genealogy chase in the past few years.

Barney (aka Barnhart and Banna, although his Hebrew name is Benjamin Isaac Enoch) was born in either Lithuania or Russia in 1874. His naturalization papers say he arrived in Boston in 1891. There he met and married Rose Lebowitz and they had their only child, Joseph A. Markell, in 1894.

The story turns tragic when Rose dies young, before 1910. (I'm still looking for her death info.)

Barney brings his young son to New York to stay with Rose's mother, Fran Lebowitz, and family, where I found them in the 1910 census. In 1914, Barney meets and marries Esther Mary (Mitzie) Kodritck or Kodrick (marriage license above, one of my genealogy splurges). Even though the license says this is Mitzie's first marriage, she already had a daughter from an earlier marriage. Together, Mitzie and Barney have another daughter, Rose Markell. Joseph doesn't get along with step-mom Mitzie, so he runs away and joins the service. Then he meets Mary Mahler and settles down to married life in New York.

Meanwhile, the story of Barney and Esther gets more convoluted. Barney dies in 1944, and Esther dies in 1957. According to the North Adams Transcript of 28 October 1957, Esther and Barney lived in Adams, Massachusetts from about 1920 to 1935, because Barney and his brother Philip co-owned the Atlas Theatre there. At least that's what Esther's obit says. The census says otherwise, but it's easy to imagine that the Markells were in the Bronx some of the year and in the Berkshires during the busy summer months.

Read Esther's obit below, and you'll wonder whether the writer needed a spell-checker or fact-checker or both. Plus the writer (or informant) was geographically challenged, saying that Budapest was in Austria and that Esther was buried in the Bronx, when in reality her grave is in New Jersey, alongside that of Barney and Esther's first daughter and her husband.
PS: The Atlas Theatre is no longer standing. Two years after the Markells sold it, it was replaced by another theatre that is now being renovated.

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