Monday, August 31, 2015

Matrilineal Monday: Where Train Got His Name

Ever wonder about some of those given names in your family tree?

I puzzled over Train C. McClure for a long time. He was the third son of Benjamin McClure and Sarah Denning, and he was born in 1843 in Wabash county, Indiana. Train was my hubby's first great-grand uncle on his mother's McClure side.

Train McClure served nearly three years in the Civil War, enlisting in Company A, Indiana 89th Infantry Regiment on Aug 3, 1862 and being mustered out on Jul 19, 1865 at Mobile, Alabama.

Two years after his military service, he married Gulia Swain and started a family. Train C. McClure died in 1934.

But why did Benjamin and Sarah name this son Train? And what does his middle initial C stand for?

Now I believe I know.

Benjamin had a younger sister named Jane McClure, who married Train Caldwell on April 5, 1831 (above is their marriage document, thanks to Family Search).

So it seems reasonable to think that Benjamin named his third son Train Caldwell McClure after his brother-in-law Train Caldwell.

Just to make it interesting, notice that the clerk of the court on Train's marriage document is William Caldwell and the justice of the peace is (I'm not making this up) Manlove Caldwell.

And even more interesting, Jane McClure's husband Train Caldwell isn't the only man with that name in Indiana during the time period. I'm currently trying to sort out which Train is which without derailing my research :)

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Celebrating Blogiversary #7 - Some Mysteries Solved, New Opportunities Ahead

Since blogiversary #6, I've been thrilled to hear from cousins from the Mahler, Larimer, Steiner, Kunstler, and Wood families. And I've located a couple of Farkas cousins. Along the way, I returned family photos to people outside my direct line, solved some mysteries, donated historic artifacts to museums for posterity, and--of course--uncovered more opportunities to increase my knowledge of the family's history.

My top lesson from the past year: Don't assume that old photos captioned with unfamiliar names are of family friends. Just because cousins don't recognize or remember the people, doesn't mean they're not relatives. The Waldman family turned out to be part of my extended Farkas tree. There's a reason our ancestors saved these photos for so many years!

Interpreting "identified" photos can be a real challenge. Thanks to a Mahler 2d cousin in California, I learned that photos of "Madcap Dora, grandma's friend" were not my great-aunt Dora Mahler (so who was she?). This cousin was kind enough to help me identify the real Dora Mahler (shown above, seated 2d from left in a 1946 photo).

My other key lesson from the past year: Facebook is an incredible tool for genealogy. Simply reading the posts on genealogy pages has proved to be a real education, day after day. Plus, kind folks on many FB gen pages (like Tracing the Tribe, Adams County/Ohio genealogy, and Rhode Island genealogy) have offered advice and dug up records or recommended resources to further my research.

For instance, in my quest to link Grandpa Isaac Burk and his brother Abraham to either the Chazan or Mitav families, a friendly gen enthusiast in England suggested I contact the Manchester Beth Din and request the synagogue's 1903 marriage records for Abraham's marriage to Annie Hurwitch, which could show his father's name and his birth place. I never even knew such records might exist!

With luck, I'll have more brick walls smashed by the time blogiversary #8 rolls around. Meanwhile, dear relatives and readers, thank you for reading and commenting!

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Tombstone Tuesday: The Larimers Buried in Brown Cemetery, Elkhart, Indiana

Buried in Brown Cemetery, Elkhart, Indiana
Two years ago, the kind folks at Elkhart County Genealogical Society sent me documents and photos to help in researching hubby's Larimer family. Although I was specifically interested in Brice S. Larimer and his wife, Lucy E. Bentley, the wonderful lady who photographed the burial places sent me every Larimer headstone she could find in Brown Cemetery, Elkhart, with the comment that they were probably related to my Larimers in one way or another.

It took two years to track down the connections, but yes, she was entirely correct, of course. I've now accounted for almost every person whose headstone is in those dozens of photos, and I'm grateful to have the names/dates shown. I'll be writing her another thank you note to say how much I appreciated her wisdom in anticipating that I would eventually figure out how these Larimers were related to each other and to my hubby.

Above, the photo of the final resting place of Cora Emma Leslie and Edson Franklin Larimer. Buried in the midst of many other Larimer relatives, Edson was hubby's 1st cousin, 3x removed, the son of Bartlett Larimer and Sarah Miller.

Although buried in Elkhart, Edson actually died in Dawson county, Montana. Because Edson's daughter Velma Ruth Larimer married Ralph James Thomas in Dawson county, Montana, I imagine that Edson was visiting Velma at the time of his death. But until I could track down Velma and her marriage cert from Dawson county, proving that Velma was Edson & Cora's daughter, I couldn't just assume a connection.

Genealogy is really a long-term hobby, isn't it? 

Thursday, August 13, 2015

Treasure Chest Thursday: Edgar James Wood's WWII Newspapers

My late dad-in-law, Edgar James Wood, held onto several newspapers with historic WWII headlines. Above is one of my favorites: On August 15, 1945, the Philadelphia Inquirer announced PEACE across its entire front page.

Another issue he saved is from the Chicago Sunday Tribune of August 26, 1945, as U.S. forces prepared for the occupation of Japan.

As we prepare to mark the 70th anniversary of the end of WWII, I'm glad Ed saved these papers in such good condition for decades and decades.

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

Workday Wednesday: Francis Earle Wood, Carpenter to Decorator

Francis Earle Wood, Sr., was hubby's 1st cousin 1x removed--born in 1890 in Toledo, OH, he worked in wood just like so many of the children and grandchildren of carpenter Thomas Haskell Wood (his paternal grandpa) and Mary Amanda Demarest. His birth would have been a joy to the family because the grandfather had died just a few months earlier.

Francis (known as Frank) showed his occupation as carpenter when he married Lottie Best in Toledo on June 25, 1913 (marriage cert is above). Frank and Lottie had three children (Francis Earl Wood Jr., Roy A. Wood, and Charlotte Alice Wood) from 1915 to 1919.

The Toledo directory of 1923 (at left) shows him as a decorator, while his father is shown as a carpenter.

Sadly, Frank contracted pulmonary tuberculosis and died at age 37 the end of July, 1927, barely 14 years after his marriage. I've requested his obit from the Toledo public library, which generously offers to e-mail scans for free.

His death cert shows his occupation as interior decorator for Geo Roux, his employer. He and Lottie and their children were still living at home at 816 Clay Ave. in Toledo.

Cousin Frank is buried in Forest Cemetery in Toledo (Findagrave #132727886).

Friday, August 7, 2015

Who Cares About Aunts, Uncles, Distant Cousins, and In-Laws? Me!

When you have an entire pedigree line to research, who cares about aunts and grand aunts, uncles and grand uncles, let alone distant cousins and in-laws?
Ladies in white hat and dark hat turned out to be Farkas cousins!

All those seemingly peripheral ancestors may be fascinating people, in fact, and learning about them is helping me understand and trace my family's history in a deeper and more nuanced way. Just as important, "researching sideways" has led to some wonderful cousin connections and even a few breakthroughs. These folks may not be in my direct line, but they knew people in my direct line and have stories/memories/photos that illuminate my family history.

This topic came up because of my recent post about the Yanpolski family. The patriarch of that family, Lazar Yanpolski, was the husband of my great-grand aunt (by marriage) Miriam Chazan. One of the Yanpolski researchers asked why I was so interested in such a distant connection. Here's why:
  • Many old-world families were quite close-knit--especially those from small towns, where there were many marriages within the town and therefore multiple connections between one family and another. This is the case with my Farkas family, I've discovered several times: a man from family A marries a woman from family B and later, the woman's brother or brother-in-law in family B marries into the husband's family A, etc. Also, there were multiple marriages as widows and widowers paired off to take care of children, as in my husband's Wood and McClure families. Therefore, I'm quite intrigued by both siblings and in-law connections, wondering whether there are more relationships within the extended family than I can see on the surface.
  • After family members left for America, some sent photos and/or letters to their family and friends in the old home town and elsewhere. These and related stories have been passed down in some families, even if the cousins don't know the name or fate of anyone or everyone. Using photos (sometimes with dates and/or inscriptions), it's possible to pin down or at least suggest who's related to whom. This was the case with my Chazan and Burk/Birk/Berk connections. 
  • One more reason: Who doesn't like to watch Who Do You Think You Are? and other genealogy shows? I always learn something I can apply in my own research--a technique, a resource, or a way of turning the situation on its head to find a new angle. Or, a way to understand the WHY of family movements--because the reasons aren't always clear to us many decades later. I want to understand what my ancestors thought and felt, not just what they did, where they moved, and when. 
The photo at top is a good example. I knew half of the people were Farkas aunts and uncles, but believed that the others were "friends of the family." Wrong: after a lot of investigation (and lots of help from a dear cousin with a super memory) it turned out two of the ladies were actually cousins of my Farkas family. I was able to prove the connections by looking at the marriage documents and following the in-law movements, since the women's maiden names weren't readily available or known by descendants today.

The result is that I'm now in touch with a wonderful circle of cousins, including one whose mother had this very photo on her bureau for decades. Distant cousins, maybe, but they played a pivotal role in the family tree--and they have stories and memories that have added to my knowledge of my ancestors.

So who cares about aunts/uncles, cousins, and in-laws?!

Saturday, August 1, 2015

The Yanpolski Family's Voyage on August 3, 1916

The Yaplonski family: Manchester --> Bangor --> Liverpool --> NYC

This week in the Genealogy Do-Over (actually, I'm in the "go-over" phase), I reexamined the research into my paternal grandfather's Chazan family connections. This is part of the strategy of "researching sideways" -- looking at what siblings and in-laws were doing, as a way to figure out the what and the why of family movements over the years.

1911 UK Census
My Lithuanian-born grandpa Isaac Burk (1882?-1943) lived for a short time with his aunt and uncle Isaac Chazan and Ann Hinda Mitav Chazan in Manchester, England.

Isaac Chazan (also born in Lithuania) had a sister, Miriam Chazan (1880-1959), who married Lazar/Lawrence Yanpolski (1872-1938) in Manchester, England, in 1901. Manchester is at the top right corner of the map.

Lazar Yanpolski had three brothers and four sisters--and it was their life decisions that seem to have influenced Lazar and his wife to make major changes in their lives.

For instance, Lazar and Miriam moved from Manchester to Bangor, Wales (at left of map), in time to be counted there by the 1911 UK Census. I don't know exactly when they moved, but I do know that one of Lazar's younger brothers lived in Wales in 1907, and his sister Rebecca lived there a few years earlier. Another sister, Eva, married in Wales in 1898. It seems reasonable to believe that Yanpolski family connections encouraged the move from Manchester.

In Wales, Lazar's family consisted of his wife Miriam, their 3 daughters (Frances May, Eva, and Nancy Leah), and Lawrence's father, Simon/Shevak Yanpolski. Father and son Yanpolski were shopkeepers, according to the census. They lived at 305 High Street, Bangor, Wales. Mapping the area shows that to be a street filled with shops and residences above the stores. Probably they "lived above the store" as so many shopkeepers did.

S.S. Philadelphia manifest, Liverpool to NYC, 3 August 1916
Then 99 years ago, on August 3rd, 1916, Lazar and Miriam and their children (including one-year-old son Major) set sail from the port of Liverpool on the S.S. Philadelphia, bound for New York (see excerpt from manifest, at right).

The timing of the Yanpolski's voyage is squarely in the middle of England and Wales's involvement in WWI. Was this a dangerous trip across the Atlantic because of the war? Were economic factors a consideration? Lazar's siblings had arrived in Chicago a few years earlier. I don't know for certain, but once again, it seems reasonable to assume that family ties encouraged this move to a new country and a new life.

One last note: The Yanpolski brothers changed their names in America. Lazar took the last name "Lawrence." Another brother took the surname "Young." Yet another took the surname "Pole."