Showing posts with label 52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks. Show all posts
Showing posts with label 52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks. Show all posts

Sunday, January 28, 2018

52 Ancestors #5: The Genealogical Bonanza of the 1950 Census

1950 US Census Form
It's hard to believe the bonanza of information waiting for genealogists when the 1950 Census is released in April, 2022. You can download the blank form for yourself here.

And the 1950 Census release is only 50 months away. But if I'm really, really lucky, some of my ancestors were chosen as a "sample" to answer in-depth questions! You'll hope your ancestors were "sampled" too when you realize what's "in the Census" (the title of Amy Johnson Crow's #52Ancestors challenge this week).

One in five people were chosen as a "sample" to answer detailed questions like (1) Where was this person living in 1949 (farm or not, same county/state, same house)? (2) Where were mother and father born (country)? (3) Highest grade of school completed? (4) Individual and household income--separate questions for work income, other income from interest and benefits--number of weeks worked/looking for work? (5) Military service in WWI, WWII, or other time?

And that's just the sample questions. The Census itself required enumerators to list each household with the head first, followed by his wife (I know, I know, it was the 1950s, don't blame me!), and children in age order, followed by non-family members living in the household. And the relationship of non-family members to the head was supposed to be listed too!

Age and state of birth (or country) is listed for each person. Importantly, if age is under one year, month of birth will be listed. Married, divorced, never married, widowed, separated. And wait, there's more. For each person over 14, the enumerator had to describe the kind of work and the industry worked in.

I'm particularly interested in ancestors who died not long after the 1950 Census. For instance, my great aunt Dora Lillie Mahler (1893-1950) died only a couple of months after the Census was taken. Another great aunt, Nellie Block (1878-1950), died that December.

Where were they living? What were they doing? Since NYC has not made 1950 death certs available (a decision being challenged by the wonderful folks at Reclaim the Records), I have only their brief obits for now. As you can see by the details in the 1950 Census, I'll know a LOT more about them in 50 months. Happily, I have a good idea of which Enumeration Districts to check when the Census is released. And I can hardly wait.

Thursday, January 11, 2018

52 Ancestors #2: Researching the Slatter Portrait

This week's #52Ancestors challenge is to write about my favorite genealogy portrait.

The portrait at left was passed down in my husband's family for 100 years. It's a studio portrait taken in Toronto, showing a military man in full uniform, holding a baton. Who was he? No caption, but my sister-in-law remembered a name like "Captain E. Slatter."


A second photo, at right, had more clues. On the back was written:

Camp Borden, Ont. 1917
Standing outside my tent
I only put my kilt on for special occasions in camp as it is so dusty with sand blowing all day 


After I posted these photos in 2011, a sharp-eyed reader identified the uniform as that of the 48th Highlanders of Toronto. I emailed the 48th Highlanders Museum in Toronto and heard back from one of the volunteers, who identified the man as Captain John Daniel Slatter (1864-1954), a beloved bandmaster who led the 48th Highlanders band for 50 years.

Now I knew Capt. Slatter was my husband's great uncle, brother to Mary Slatter Wood!

I've done a lot of research into Capt. Slatter's background, even visited Toronto to see the 48th Highlanders museum. But there's always more info out there, and I'm always on the lookout.
Today, I found a lengthy mention of Capt. Slatter in the book, Training for Armageddon: Niagara Camp in the Great War, 1914-1917, by Richard D. Merritt.

This book actually confirms that Capt. Slatter had his own tent at Camp Borden, Ontario--the very tent shown in the captioned photo passed down in the family!

Here's an excerpt:

"On the morning of departure [for WWI training], the university soldiers marched through the streets of Toronto with great fanfare down to the dock, led by their newly formed brass band under the direction of the legendary bandmaster Captain John Slatter . . . Slatter was assigned his own canvas tent where he could relax in the evenings while reviewing the next day's music program and perhaps reminisce on his already remarkable career. . . Slatter was appointed Director of Brass and Bugle bands for Military District #2 at Camp Borden, training 63 army bands and over a thousand buglers until the end of the Great War."



Saturday, January 6, 2018

52 Ancestors #1: Grandpa Got Me Started in Genealogy

I never knew my father's father, Grandpa Isaac Burk (1882-1943). I didn't know what he looked like, didn't know when or where he was born, didn't know when or where he died. But it was Grandpa who got me started on my genealogy journey 20 years ago.

In 1998, the genealogist of my mother's Farkas family wanted to add my father and his parents to her comprehensive family tree. There was little I could tell her other than Grandpa's name. There was no one left to ask. Of course, I couldn't resist trying to find out more. Little did I know how elusive Grandpa's trail was going to be!

As a complete novice, my first stop was the Milstein Division of the New York Public Library. In those days of microfilm research, I figured this was one-stop shopping for info and advice about finding Grandpa Isaac's records. I was sure he lived in New York City after arriving from somewhere in Eastern Europe.


With the help of librarians, I checked NYC directories and newspaper records. Yup, Grandpa Isaac and Grandma Henrietta Mahler Burk did live in NYC. I cranked that microfilm reader until I found a terse obit in the New York Times for October 10, 1943. No mention of burial place. Nothing in death record indexes. Next, I mailed a check to New York City with a search request for Grandpa's death cert. I was hooked and had to know more.

Uh-oh. No NYC death cert was on record. Nor was there a death cert in New York State. And no hint of which cemetery Grandpa might be buried in. Remember, Find a Grave was in its infancy, so I couldn't just click to search for him. The funeral folks couldn't help, either.

I continued my quest for Grandpa Isaac little by little over the next few years, locating his marriage record from 1906 and all the US and NY State Census records available at the time. But--no death cert, even though every document showed him living in NYC. Still, I was determined to solve this seemingly basic family mystery.

In desperation, I actually called New York City's vital records department and threw myself on their mercy, asking for help. A very kind gentleman lowered his voice and told me I should try searching further afield. He offered the unofficial hint that Grandpa Isaac might have died in someplace like, say, Washington, D.C.

Huh? Who would Grandpa Isaac and Grandma Henrietta know in Washington, D.C.? And why would Grandpa have died there?

I immediately wrote to the vital records department in D.C., including a check, and waited.

Two weeks later, I had Grandpa Isaac's death cert in my hand. The details fit, this was definitely him. Later, I found Isaac's naturalization record and saw his face and signature for the very first time.

Why were Isaac and Henrietta in D.C. for four days before he had a heart attack and died--in the home of Louis Volk?

The quest for a connection with Louis Volk eventually brought me into contact with some wonderful 2d cousins! But that's another story for another week in the challenge. 

I only wish Grandpa Isaac could know how he got me started in #genealogy--and that I'm making sure the family knows as much about him and his life story as I can discover.


Thank you to Amy Johnson Crow for this 52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks Challenge!

#52Ancestors 

Monday, September 8, 2014

52 Ancestors #35: Did Abbie Eliza Bentley Cross the (State) Line to a Gretna Green?

Hubby's 2d great-grand aunt Abbie Eliza Bentley (1832-1893) was born in upstate New York [town unknown] and married Leonard Lucien Curtis (1823-1905) in Cass County, Michigan, in 1848.

Why was Abbie Bentley married in Cass County, when she lived in Elkhart? Cass County (bounded by the red dashed lines) was just over the state line from Abbie's home in Elkhart, as the map shows.

Abbie's pioneer parents, William Tyler Bentley and Olivia Morgan Bentley, left New York for Elkhart, Indiana in 1835, when Abbie was just 3. In 1838, Olivia died, and in 1848, widower William took off for California to join the land rush.

Perhaps Abbie crossed into Cass County because it was a Gretna Green--a place where marriages could take place without lengthy waiting periods, or because her father was already in California and couldn't give his consent to a marriage in Indiana?

The 1850 Census shows Abbie living in Elkhart, with her blacksmith husband Leonard Curtis and their oldest daughter, Henrietta, very near Abbie's older sister Elizabeth and her carpenter husband, Emanuel Light.

By 1851, Abbie and Elizabeth and other siblings (and their spouses) were loading wagons for the long trek west to join their father in California. Sisters Lucy and Lucinda stayed behind in Elkhart.

Abbie died in 1893 in Santa Cruz, CA, having been married to Leonard Curtis for 45 years.

Friday, January 10, 2014

52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks: Sandor Farkas from Botpalad, born in 1884 or 1885?

For the second week of Amy Johnson Crow's 52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks challenge, I'm focusing on my great-uncle Sandor Farkas (called "Alex" in the family). He was born in Botpalad, Hungary, in 188_ (4 or 5) and died in Manhattan in January, 1948. His Hebrew name was Shmuel Zanvil, named for his late grandfather.

Here's what Sandor looked like in 1909, when he was photographed for the fifth anniversary of the Kossuth Ferenc Hungarian Literary, Sick, and Benevolent Society in New York City, where he and all his siblings lived.

A few months ago, I posted a query about Sandor's father, Moritz Farkas, on Ancestry's Szatmar/Hungary message board. A kind, knowledgeable respondent told me to check the Family Search microfilm Hungary, Szatmár, Fehérgyarmat - Jewish records. And that's where I found Sandor's birth info, shown below (as well as Moritz's birth info!).

Interestingly, this birth record indicates that Sandor was born in Botpalad on December 12, 1884. (See that handwritten notation in the heading? It translates to "84.")

But Sandor used the birthdate of December 25, 1885 on his draft registration and other papers.

So was Sandor born in 1884 or 1885? My inclination is to believe the document from Hungary, not Sandor's memory.

Here's a photo of Alex on his wedding day, December 24, 1916, when he married Jennie Katz. My Farkas grandparents and uncle are at right in the photo.





Saturday, January 4, 2014

52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks: Cousin(?) Ida Farkas Weiss

Amy Johnson Crow has just introduced a fun new blogging challenge: to write about 52 ancestors in 52 weeks. This week's ancestor is Ida Farkas Weiss (1873-1924), possibly my 1st cousin 3x removed.

729 Prospect Ave., Bronx, NY
Ida was born in Botpalad, Hungary, one of three daughters of Elek and Rozsi Farkas (they also had two sons). She married Herman Weiss (1872-1943) in Hungary and gave birth to four of her five sons before coming to New York City in 1902 or 1903.

By 1920, she and Herman and their six children had moved from Manhattan to 729 Prospect Ave. in the Bronx, an area now popularly known as the "south Bronx." Here's what her walkup apartment building looks like today. At the time, it was a safe, family neighborhood where many immigrants moved after leaving the Lower East Side or other crowded Manhattan communities.

Ida and Herman's children were: Benjamin (b. 1897), Eugene (1898-1983), twins Fred & Julius (b. 1901), Otto (b. 1904), and Rose (b. 1907)--finally, a girl!

Ida was only 50 when she died of pneumonia in 1924. Her husband Herman, who worked as a presser in the garment trade, doesn't seem to have remarried, and he outlived her by 19 years. 

Ida is somehow related to my great-grandpa Moritz Farkas, who was born in Botpalad in 1857 and came to New York in 1899. I'm currently corresponding with a possible cousin from the Elek Farkas line, in the hope that we can figure out our actual relationship to Ida, Moritz, and each other. With any luck, the resolution will wind up as one of my later 52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks posts.