Friday, June 20, 2014

Friday's Faces from the Past: Isaac, Henrietta, Ida, and Hilda, Arm-in-Arm on October 7, 1943

Handwritten on the back of this photo are the words: "Taken on October 7, 1943." It shows (from left) my Grandpa Isaac Burk and his wife, Henrietta Mahler Burk, strolling along the street in Washington, D.C., with Henrietta's favorite sister (Ida Mahler Volk), arm-in-arm with the sisters' first cousin (Hilda Jacobs Wilner).

Isaac and Henrietta had come from New York City for a brief stay with the Volks. Both of the Burk daughters (Mildred and Miriam) were married, and both of the Burk sons were in the Army but not in combat units (Harold--my Dad--was in Europe, and his brother Sidney was in Hawaii). Just 10 months earlier, Isaac's US naturalization had been finalized and he had taken the oath of citizenship. Now, because Hilda lived in Washington, she joined her first cousins for a day out (thanks to Cuz Lois for identifying Hilda!).

Sadly, tragedy struck the very next day. On October 8, 1943, Grandpa Isaac suffered a heart attack and died in the Rodman Street home of the Volks. This must have been a terrible time for the family, compounded by the fact that neither of Isaac's sons could return from their wartime duties to attend the funeral.

Tracing Isaac's place and date of death was the first genealogical research I undertook in the 1990s. It took years to find out what happened--and once I learned about the close relationship between the Burks and the Volks, I gained a wonderful new constellation of cousins and valuable new insight into my family's background.

The photo at top and the memorial book shown here were both lent by Cousin E, a Burk cousin I saw again this week for the first time in many years. Knowing my interest in family history, he kindly let me scan dozens of photos and documents that had been passed down from Henrietta and Isaac. It was quite a surprise to flip through the photos and suddenly come upon these faces from the past on Isaac's last good day, arm-in-arm with wife Henrietta and her sister and cousin. 

4 comments:

Corinne Mitchell said...

This is incredible, Marian!! I can only imagine how very moving it was for you to see this picture of your grandfather and to see your Burk cousin again after many years!! Were you able to find out more about the Burk side of your family? What a treasure to be able to scan dozens of photos and documents. I guess this will bring out more discoveries and stories!! I am so happy for you!!

Marian Burk Wood said...

Corinne, It was very emotional to see this photo and realize its significance. And I've just connected with cousins of my Berk relative, thanks to Ancestry's family trees! More stories soon. Thanks again for staying in touch :) and offering advice and info!

Amy Johnson Crow said...

What an incredibly cool photo! What a treasure to have!

Marian Burk Wood said...

Thanks for reading and commenting, Amy. I am so thankful to have this particular photo of this particular day, and know what my Grandpa was doing on his last good day--walking arm-in-arm with people he loved.