Isaac & Henrietta Birk's story

Photo from Naturalization Documents, 1939
One of my more elusive ancestors is Isaac Birk (abt 1882-1943), name later changed to Burk, a cabinetmaker from what was then Kovno, Lithuania (probably Telsiai).

Grandpa Isaac stopped off in England, along with his brother Abraham, when enroute from Lithuania to North America. He lived with aunt and uncle Isaac and Ann Hinda Chazan in Manchester, England (see 1901 UK census, above). To date, I haven't been able to determine whether Isaac or Hinda (nee Meton or Mahler) was his relative.
Isaac and Hinda Chazan

Isaac then sailed for North America and made landfall in New Brunswick, on December 5, 1903 (seasick). He made his way to Montreal. Abraham stayed on in Manchester and married Anne Horovitz. Their first child, Rose, was on the way before Abraham sailed to Canada in 1904 and settled in Montreal, as well. For more, see the Abraham and Annie Berk page.

In May, 1904, Isaac took the train from Canada to New York City, saying he was going to "sister Nellie Block at 1956 Third Ave., corner of 107th St." in Manhattan. Alas, I've never been able to trace Nellie, although I have later photos of her.
 

But that address is very familiar. In the 1905 NY Census, Isaac is living in the same apartment with his future bride's family, the Mahler family, plus Isaac's brother Myer Berk. In the next apartment is a family headed by John Harris, who happens to have a boarder from Bohemia named Julian Block, a cigarmaker. No Nellie/Nella, but Julian Block. Hmmm.


Isaac married Henrietta Mahler on June 10, 1906 (setting the stage for becoming my grandparents!). They spent the next 8 years or so moving back and forth between New York and Montreal as he found work and their four children were born (the youngest in Montreal).

Children of Isaac Burk & Henrietta Mahler Burk:
Mildred Burk, Harold Burk (my Dad), Miriam Burk, Sidney Burk

What became of Isaac's parents? How did he get from his homeland of Lithuania to Manchester, England?
A number of Abraham's grown children attended my parents' wedding in NYC, I now know.

The man at right in the photo was in their wedding photos and then, a year later, my parents (left and center in the photo here) were with him in Montreal, where this photo was taken. His name was William Burke, the son of Abraham Berk, and he was my father's first cousin.

Here are my posts about Isaac and children, from 2008 on (see below for Henrietta Mahler Burk's links):
Henrietta Mahler Burk, 1946
Henrietta Mahler appears in my blog in these links (as well as in most of Isaac's posts):
More Mahler blog entries are here:
  • The Markells (who married into Mahler family) meet and marry the Lebowitz sisters.
  • More on the Markell brothers and Lebowitz sisters. Also, who's missing from Fannie Lebowitz's obit (her daughter, Rose Markell)
  • Mary Mahler Markell (Henrietta's sister) was a matchmaker: Through her friend and neighbor Rose Farkas Freedman, my Dad met my Mom.
  • Ida Mahler (Henrietta's sister) married Louis Volk. Louis's sister Becky married Simon Wolf.

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