Sunday, November 27, 2016

Genealogy Blog Party: Chickie Pitcher and Butterscotch Brownie Traditions

Elizabeth O'Neal's Genealogy Blog Party continues this month by celebrating family traditions.

This adorable ceramic chickie pitcher has been a tradition in my husband Wally's Wood family for nearly 80 years. Originally, it was filled with fresh milk to lighten coffee after dinner. These days, we fill it with half and half--but it still puts a smile on our faces because of the whimsical chicks and the memories from holidays past.

Interestingly, Wally's mom, Marian Jane McClure Wood,  became a ceramic artist years later--taking lessons from famed ceramicist Edris Eckhardt and specializing in animal sculptures, reflecting her love of art and animals.

Another long-time tradition in hubby's family: Grandmother Floyda Steiner McClure's Butterscotch Brownies.

The recipe, shown here, has been passed down for several generations. It makes a delicious dessert alone or a special treat topped with ice cream and whipped cream. Happy holidays!

Thursday, November 24, 2016

Thankful Thursday: Passing My Parents' 70-Year-Old Wedding Album to Heirs

Saving my parents' wedding album by making a photo book for their 3 grandchildren
On November 24, 1946, the Sunday of Thanksgiving weekend, my parents, Harry Burk (1909-1978) and Daisy Schwartz (1919-1981) were married at the Hotel McAlpin in New York City. Today would have been their 70th wedding anniversary!

After so many decades, their wedding album was pretty beat up-looking (see below). So I decided to preserve it and share it with Harry & Daisy's three grandchildren now, along with the story of their courtship and marriage. This is also an easy way to be sure that a single heirloom album can be enjoyed by multiple heirs for many years to come.

Here are the steps I took, little by little, to make a pretty and romantic photobook from the wedding album:

1. Remove each 8 x 10 inch photo from its sleeve in the binder and scan it at high resolution. (I could have scanned without removing the photos, if the album was too deteriorated, but not necessary in this case.)

2. Clean up the images electronically and upload them to a photo book website (I like Shutterfly but others are also excellent).

3. Arrange the photos in sequence, adding the story of courtship and wedding as captions. Also, identify everyone in the photos by full name and relationship (so these details aren't forgotten by future generations--keeping family history alive!).

4. Add a touch of color to each page for visual interest (younger folks may find an all black-and-white book a bit boring).

5. Press the "order" button to buy multiple copies for multiple heirs.

6. The original wedding album will be passed to an heir in the next generation, as designated in my "genealogical will."

On Thanksgiving, I'm feeling thankful for my parents' wedding 70 years ago.

Tuesday, November 22, 2016

Talented Tuesday: Auntie Dorothy and the Thanksgiving Day Parade

My mother's twin sister, Dorothy Schwartz (1919-2001), became a part of the great Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade through her close relationship with the parade's talented director, Lee Wallace.

Lee Wallace was with Macy's for many years, and insiders must have smiled when they read the store's New Year's ad on January 1, 1948. Look closely, and you'll see it mentions a telegram sent to Lee c/o the store (excerpt is at left).

"Aunt" Lee, as my sisters and I affectionately called her, was in charge of Macy's special events, and she directed the Macy's parade for about a decade. My Auntie Dorothy was her assistant starting in 1950 (as mentioned in the Farkas Family Tree minutes for that year).

During 1951 and 1952, Dorothy and Lee worked on lots of special exhibits for Macy's, including an Italian showcase and--I can't make this stuff up--a puppet exhibit for which my Auntie made the wigs.

In 1952, Dorothy briefly left Macy's but later that year, she and Lee formed a partnership, "Lee Wallace Associates, Parade and Special Events, Consultants." Their first project together was: The 1952 Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade. 

In March, 1953, Dorothy and Lee were commissioned to run the Bridgeport Barnum Festival on July 4th. This magazine excerpt from May, 1953 shows that the two were being publicized within the industry. According to the family tree minutes, Dorothy then recuperated from the experience by vacationing on Cape Cod!

Dorothy and Lee remained together personally after their professional relationship ended in the mid-1950s, when Auntie Dorothy became a teacher in the New York City school system.

Saturday, November 19, 2016

Surname Saturday: The Mayflower Connection for Thomas Haskell Wood

'Tis the season for Mayflower connections. Hubby has four Mayflower ancestors.
  • (1) Degory Priest (he married Sarah Allerton, and their daughter Sarah Priest married John Coombs; their son married Elizabeth Royal; Sarah/John Coombs' daughter Elizabeth Royal Coombs married Eleazer Cushman. The son of that marriage was James Cushman who married Sarah Hatch; their granddaughter Lydia was the mother of Harriet Taber, who married Isaiah Wood Sr. in Massachusetts in 1806. Harriet and Isaiah were hubby's 2d-great-grandparents).
  • (2) Isaac Allerton, (3) Mary Norris, and (4) Mary Allerton (Mary Allerton married Thomas Cushman of the Fortune; their son Eleazer Cushman married Elizabeth Royal Coombs, g-grandaughter of Degory Priest. Isaac & Mary Allerton were hubby's 8th great-grandparents).
Reading other GeneaBloggers' posts about Mayflower ancestors, I noticed that Bill West mentioned his Allerton ancestry--and included, among the Allerton descendants in his line, an in-law with the surname of Haskell.

Death notice for Thomas Haskell Wood, Toledo, OH
Haskell rings an important bell. Hubby's great-granddaddy was Thomas Haskell Wood (1809-1890). For years, I've puzzled over the Haskell name. Thomas Haskell Wood did bestow the Haskell name on one of his sons: Thomas Jefferson Isaiah Haskell Wood* (1848-1861). That's the last time I've seen Haskell in 19th or 20th century Wood descendants, and why it appeared or disappeared, I couldn't figure out.

I can't say exactly how Haskell is related to my husband's Wood line because I still haven't finished adding all the Mayflower descendants from the Allertons and Cushmans. But I now believe Thomas Haskell Wood's middle name is a tribute to the Haskell who married into the family's Mayflower line many generations back. Thankful for these Mayflower ancestors as Thanksgiving approaches.

* Why Thomas Jefferson Isaiah Haskell Wood? His parents (Thomas H. Wood and Mary Amanda Demarest) were married in Louisiana in 1845--territory secured by President Thomas Jefferson in 1803, which became a state in 1812. And of course President Jefferson died in 1826, which may have been another reason for honoring this famous man through the name. The "Isaiah" middle name comes from this Thomas J. I. H. Wood's grandfather.

Thursday, November 17, 2016

Thankful Thursday: Farkas Family Thanksgivings of the Past

I'm one of the hula girls at left, near the back of the room
In 1933, the adult children of Moritz Farkas and Lena Kunstler Farkas formed the Farkas Family Tree association to continue the family closeness as the next generation grew up. They held 10 meetings a year, plus holiday gatherings in between, all in and around New York City. This was the family tree of my mother's mother--although all in-laws, especially my mother's father, were warmly welcomed.

The Tree planned a Thanksgiving dinner most years for the entire membership, beginning in 1934. These were fun affairs, with costumes, prizes, and--of course--lots and lots of holiday foods.

I'm thankful to have the minutes from 30 years of the Farkas Family Tree's meetings. Let me summarize what the minutes say about some memorable Thanksgiving get-togethers.

November, 1934: Thanksgiving dinner at Reichman's, 82nd Street & Second Ave., at 6 p.m. This was the first formal holiday dinner held at a restaurant, with adults paying the full $1.50 per meal and the Tree association paying for the children's meals. My great aunt Ella suggested a tradition that continued for 25 years: Dressing the children in costumes (with adults sometimes joining in). In all, the Tree paid $59 for dinners, music, tips, and decorations.

November, 1935: Thanksgiving dinner was held at the Hotel Hamilton (described, according to the hotel directory listing at Steve Morse's site, as "the House of Sunshine"), again at a cost of $1.50 per meal. Members donated: "cigars and cigarettes, cocktails, caps, noise makers, wine, rye, and assorted prizes." The full cost of feeding and entertaining the Tree members: $63.80.

 November, 1937: Quoting from the minutes about this year's Thanksgiving--"The adults of the group 'dressed up' and the result was a hilarious mad-house. A more strikingly original and handsome combination of costumes could not have been seen even at an Elsa-Maxwell-planned party."

Concourse Plaza Hotel
November, 1944: My great aunt Rose volunteered to host Thanksgiving dinner at her house, provided she would have help with "kp" and doing the dishes. The minutes say: "It was finally agreed that the Democrats would take on the job if the Republicans won the job, and vice-versa."

November, 1948: Thanksgiving dinner was held at the Concourse Plaza Hotel in the Bronx, at a cost of $6.50 per person. Recognizing that this cost was a little steep, the Tree subsidized part of the cost for adults and paid for all children, as was the usual custom for holiday meals.

November, 1956: The Tree held its costume dinner at the Hotel Gramercy Park in Manhattan, a "howling success" (according to the minutes). This was the first time all members posed as a group in costume, as shown at top of today's post.

Friday, November 11, 2016

Veteran's Day: The Farkas Family Tree in War Time

Sgt. Dorothy Schwartz
World War II touched my Farkas family in many ways. This post is my 2016 salute to the Farkas Family Tree's veterans.

In 1942, Farkas relatives were deeply involved in the war effort. Mom's cousin George Farkas volunteered for the Army Air Corps and was training in Louisiana. Soon-to-be cousin-in-law Abe Ezrati joined the Army.

In 1943, my aunt Dorothy Schwartz (twin sister of my Mom, Daisy Schwartz), enlisted as a WAAC and served until 1945. You can read about her harrowing trip across the Atlantic here. Dorothy and Daisy's older brother Fred left for Camp Dix at the end of 1943, a year in which their cousin Bob Farkas enlisted in the Army and another Farkas in-law, Harry Pitler, was stationed at Camp Grant.

Every member of the Farkas Family Tree was involved in the war effort, from a Rosie the Riveter job (Frieda Farkas) to selling war bonds (my grandma Minnie Farkas Schwartz).

Daisy Schwartz wrote the Farkas Family Tree's historian's report for 1943, which says, in part:
Quiet has never reigned so completely over the meetings as it does now when the monthly letters from our brothers and sister in the armed forces are read aloud. But we laugh in all the right spots! . . .
For the coming year, the earnest hope of all is that 1944 will find the Axis vanquished and our boys home. All that is unrelated to the war effort must be sublimated to the present struggle to which some in our group have pledged their lives. The rest of us pledge our aid. The Allies will be victorious--God is on our side!

The 1945 historian's report contained a final report on members in the armed forces, including discharge dates, promotions, and reunions with loved ones. Every one of the Farkas Family Tree's service members returned home safely, and the family happily honored these veterans year after year.


Note: The Farkas Family Tree consisted of descendants of journey-takers Moritz Farkas (1857-1936) and Lena Kunstler Farkas (1865-1938), who left Hungary to settle in New York City. Members of the Tree were my Mom's mother, great-aunts and great-uncles. As the young people of Mom's generation turned 16, they were "inducted" as members of the Farkas Family Tree.

Wednesday, November 9, 2016

Wordless (Almost) Wednesday: Rose's Graduation Photo from 1914

My great-aunt Rose Farkas (1901-1993) had her portrait taken 102 years ago by the family's usual photographer, Gustav Beldegreen.

The date is carefully scratched above the Beldegreen name: June 25, 1914. Rose was 13 at the time.

On the back, the caption says this is her graduation from middle school school. (The diploma was a tip-off too.)

If only I could thank the ancestor who wrote the caption (about five decades later, I believe) for thinking ahead to let future generations know the identity and significance of this lovely photo! And that's why this isn't an entirely wordless Wednesday--because my thoughtful ancestor wrote down who, when, and why.

Monday, November 7, 2016

Speaking at the New England Regional Genealogical Consortium - April 2017

The program for the next NERGC conference has just been released...and I'm excited to be speaking on Thursday, April 27th, from 3-4 pm.

My presentation, Planning a Future for Your Family's Past, is part of the "Genealogy Heirlooms in the Attic" track.

Featured speakers at the conference include Thomas MacEntee, Warren Bittner, and Kenyatta Berry.

Click here to see the conference program in .pdf format. And I'm looking forward to seeing you in April!

Saturday, November 5, 2016

Sepia Saturday: Margaret Larimer McClure and Family

This is the only photo I have of my husband's great-great-grandma Margaret Jane Larimer McClure (1859-1913). She's shown on the right in this photo.

At left in the photo is Margaret's younger daughter, Lucille Ethel Larimer Develde (1880-1926). In the middle, between the two fashionably dressed ladies, is Lucy's husband, Edward Everett De Velde (1874-1947).

Since Lucy and Edward were married in June, 1905, this photo was most likely taken between 1905 and 1913, when Margaret died. Margaret was ill on and off for three years before her death, so I suspect this photo was actually taken between 1905 and 1910.

Location of the photo is unknown. But I know, from the 1910 Census, that Lucy and Edward were living in Chicago, where he was a plumber working on new buildings.

Margaret had been widowed in 1887, when her husband William Madison McClure died. So perhaps Margaret traveled to the Chicago area to see her daughter and son-in-law? Or maybe they vacationed together somewhere between Chicago and Wabash (where Margaret lived)?

Wednesday, November 2, 2016

Wordless Wednesday: "Carved in Stone" Date Is Wrong

My great-great-uncle Joseph Jacobs (1864-1918) did not die on November 22, 1919, as his headstone at Mt. Zion Cemetery in Queens, NY, indicates. He was the younger brother of my great-great-grandma Tillie Rose Jacobs Mahler (1857?-1952).

Actually, Joe died 98 years ago, on November 3, 1918, but his headstone was erected just over a year later. The date carved in stone reflects the date of "unveiling" the stone, not the date that great-great-uncle Joe died.

How did I find out the truth? I obtained Joe's death cert and I also checked with the cemetery. But the "age 54 years" part of the stone is entirely true.

Now I know: Dates "carved in stone" aren't always correct, so dig deeper to confirm.