Showing posts with label Chazan. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Chazan. Show all posts

Thursday, August 25, 2016

Blogiversary #8: Still Finding Cousins and Connections


Happy blogiversary to me! My very first blog entry, on August 25, 2008, was about the family of my father, Harold Burk (1909-1978). As a result of that day's research, I learned that Dad was less than a year old when his maternal grandfather, Meyer Elias Mahler (1856?-1910), died of stomach cancer.

Fast-forward 8 years and I'm still researching his family--and enjoying new connections with my cousins across North America and across the Atlantic!

Visiting with cousins this summer in Manchester, England, we discussed one of the genealogical mysteries in Dad's family. How, exactly, was my paternal grandfather, Isaac Burk (1882-1943), related to the cousins' maternal grandparents, Isaac Chazan and Hinda Mitav? We have lots of evidence that there is a definite family link...but we don't know the exact person connecting our branches of the family tree. Yet.

By the time blogiversary #9 rolls around, we may have a better idea.

Thank you, dear cousins, for sharing what you know to work on our family trees together! This means you, cousins from my side of the family (Weiss, Schwartz, Roth, Markell, Mahler, Kunstler, Farkas, Chazan, and Burk) and cousins from hubby's side (Wood, Steiner, Shank, McKibbin, McClure, Larimer, and Bentley). 

And thank you, dear readers, for being part of this genealogical journey.

Saturday, February 13, 2016

Surname Saturday: Another Shuham Connection?

Today I received my paternal grandpa Isaac Burk's Soc Sec application, shown above. Since he was a carpenter, and usually self-employed, I was surprised to see him say he was working for the Better Model Form Company. Then again, since the company was owned by a relative, it's not really that surprising.

The real surprise was seeing that Isaac's mother's full name was Neche Gelle Shuham.

Why is this surprising? Because Shuham is the surname of Isaac's grandma-in-law.

Isaac married Henrietta Mahler, granddaughter of Rachel Shuham, in 1906. Rachel was born in Lithuania and came to New York City with her son and daughter and grandchildren in 1886. Above, the Mahler family around the turn of the century, with matriarch Rachel sitting in the center, holding a granddaughter.

According to the NYC census of 1905, Isaac and his brother Meyer Burk were "boarders" in the NYC apartment of the Mahler family, which is how Isaac met his future bride, Henrietta. Or so I suspected. Now I wonder whether it was actually a cousin connection that brought them together.

In the 1901 UK census, Isaac and his brother Abraham were living with Isaac Chazan and Isaac's wife, Hinda Ann Mitav Chazan, in Manchester. The census-taker wrote that Isaac and Abraham were nephews of the head of the household. Whose nephews? No sign of them in the Chazan family. I thought possibly they were Hinda's nephews, but maybe not, if Isaac's mother's maiden name was Shuham.

More research is in my future. And more Social Security applications for ancestors!

Tuesday, December 1, 2015

Tuesday's Tip: Try, Try Again--New Records Are Always Coming Online!

Remember Cyndi's List? I returned to it yesterday to look for any new links to Jewish genealogical resources for my Birk-Chazan-Mitav research.

Isaac Birk was my paternal grandpa from Lithuania and his aunt was, I believe, Anna Hinda Mitav who married Isaac Chazan and settled in Manchester, England in the late 1880s.

Under the Jewish resources on Cyndi's List, one of the categories is "Societies and Groups." I scrolled and clicked until I came to the Jewish Genealogy Society of Great Britain. There I found a link to the search page for United Synagogue Marriage Authorisations--a recently-updated index to rabbinical marriage records from 1880 through 1901.

Interestingly, both my grandpa Isaac and my grand-uncle Isaac had brothers named Abraham. But I never knew the maiden name of Abraham Chazan's wife Betty, and I hadn't checked records again for more than a year.

Then yesterday, I plugged in Abraham's full name, his wife Betty's name, and the year of their marriage (1895, which I knew from BMD records in UK). See the word NEW? Now I have Betty's maiden name, Matz.

So Tuesday's Tip is try, try again, because new records appear online every day.

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!

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."

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

Wedding Wednesday: Happy 109th Anniversary to Isaac and Yetta

On this day 109 years ago in New York City, Lithuanian immigrant Isaac Burk (1882-1943) married Henrietta Mahler (1881-1954). The document mistakenly says she was born in NYC, when actually she was born in Latvia.

Isaac was a cabinetmaker, and she was the beautiful, dark-haired daughter of a tailor.

Notice how smudgy the names of Isaac's parents are? Isaac was changing his name from Berk (shown on some documents as Birk) to Burk.

The New York City officials certainly had no clue about how to spell Isaac's mom's name. Here, it's shown as "Necke" but elsewhere it's shown as "Nekhe." Her maiden name is probably Mitav, and I believe she's the daughter of Girsh Zvi Hirsch Mitav of Telsiai, Lithuania. 

If Girsh Mitav is Nekhe's father, then her sister is Hinda (Ann) Mitav (1865-1940), who married Isaac Chazan (1863-1921) in Telsiai. They moved to Manchester, England in the late 1880s. When Nekhe's sons Isaac and Abraham left Telsiai, they stayed with Hinda and Isaac in Manchester for a couple of years before moving to North America. 

Happy 109th anniversary, Grandpa Isaac and Grandma Yetta! 

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

52 Ancestors #49: Smashing the Brick Wall of Hinda Chazan's Maiden Name

Isaac Chazan and Hinda Chazan, before 1921
This post has been months in the works as I tried to learn more about Hinda Chazan (1865-1940), the aunt who hosted my paternal grandpa Isaac Birk in Manchester, England in 1901. Isaac Birk had left his native Lithuania with his brother, Abraham, and lived with the Chazan family in Manchester for a year or two before continuing on to North America. According to the 1901 UK Census, Isaac and Abraham were living with their "uncle" and "aunt."

My UK Chazan cousins were quite sure that Isaac Chazan wasn't a blood relative of Isaac Birk. That meant Hinda had to be the actual relative, and our link to the Birk family. But we didn't know Hinda's maiden name--it wasn't on her death cert, unfortunately. We only knew Hinda was from Telsiai, the same area where my grandpa was from, and she was married and had her first child there before arriving in Manchester around 1888.
Luckily, there were a few more documents we could consult. One cousin had a UK birth cert from Hinda's second child, showing the parents as Isaac Chazan and Hindy Chazan, "formerly Metow" (see excerpt above). Next, we sent for the UK birth cert of the youngest daughter, and it showed the parents as Isaac Chazan and Hinda Chazan, "formerly Mittaw."
This morning, I posted these two excerpts on Tracing the Tribe's Facebook page and asked for ideas about what the real maiden name might be back in Hinda's native Telsiai. Tracing the Tribe has many smart and helpful Jewish genealogy mavens, and they broke through my brick wall in less than an hour.

The key was knowing that "Metow" and "Mittaw" might be pronounced "Mitav" instead. One of the mavens had noticed "Mitav" in the Lithuanian database listings of JewishGen.org. In fact, once the mavens saw Hinda's headstone (above) and translated her father's name as "Tzvi Hirsh," they suggested I look for the equivalent "Girsh Mitav" in Telsiai.
Amazingly, this search turned up an entire family unit featuring Girsh and siblings in the 1834 Census (living with Girsh's uncle Shpits and his family, by the way). Girsh's Telsiai death record even showed up: He died at 85, on September 10, 1904, and was the son of Shimel Mitav. The dates don't match exactly, but this still sounds quite promising!

Learning about Girsh was a wonderful clue for another reason: My father's Hebrew name was "Tzvi" also, sometimes called "Hirsh" as well. He was born in September, 1909, and it seems not too much of a leap to assume that Isaac Birk--nephew of Hinda Mitav Chazan--named his first son after Girsh (Tzvi Hirsh) Mitav.

This amazing breakthrough has enabled me to leap back two generations from Hinda, to her father Girsh and her probable grandfather Shimel in Telsiai, for which I'm thankful on Thanksgiving week.

Friday, September 12, 2014

52 Ancestors #37: Annie Horwitch, Manchester to Montreal After Marriage


My grand-uncle Abraham Birk/Burke (1878-1962) was born in Telsiai, Lithuania; married in Manchester, England; and died in Montreal, Canada.

Abraham's bride, who became my grand-aunt, was Annie Horwitch (or Horowitz). She's listed in their marriage record as "Annie Hurwitch" of Cheetham, Manchester, England, daughter of a teacher, Moses Hurwitch.

When Annie was 19, her Russian-born father Moses completed the naturalization process and was given UK citizenship. (Happily, the UK documents also give Moses's parents' names!)

Annie's courtship came about because Abraham and his younger brother Isaac (hi grandpa!) Birk had left Lithuania and were living with their uncle and aunt in Manchester for a time. The brothers worked, saved money, learned a little English, and planned for a future in North America.

The uncle in Manchester was Isaac Chazan (one of the witnesses to Annie's marriage). The aunt, who was very probably the blood relative, was Ann Hinda (Hannah) Chazan. Her maiden name was either Meton or Mahler. (The UK records say "Meton" but a handwritten family tree says "Mahler." If it turns out to be Mahler, that means my grandparents Isaac and Henrietta were cousins in some way...maybe it was even an arranged marriage?!)

Anyway, Annie and Abraham married in Cheetham in June, 1903. A little more than a year later, they welcomed their first child--and Abraham soon sailed for Montreal to establish his carpentry business. In 1905, just weeks before Annie's second wedding anniversary, she and her infant daughter were reunited with Abraham in Montreal. They had four children in all and were together for nearly 45 years. Abraham outlived Annie and was a guest, along with his children, at my parents' wedding, standing in for his late brother Isaac who had died a few years earlier.



Thursday, June 26, 2014

Those Places Thursday: Isaac Burk, Born in the Pale

Grandpa Isaac Burk (1882-1943) kept certain photos all his life and now, thanks to my first cousin who lent me the cache for scanning, I'm finding confirming clues to advance my research into that family's background.

Above, the photographic studio where a lady from Isaac's family back home was photographed. Thanks to Tracing the Tribe members, I have the translation: the photo studio was in Telsiai, Kovenskaya Gubernia - In other words, in Kovno (now Kaunas), Lithuania. Other documents from Isaac's immigration records say he was born in Gargzdai, Kovno, Lithuania.  

It appears that Isaac and his siblings were born in the Pale of Settlement and, while in their late teens and early twenties, four of them left to make new lives in the West, away from pogroms and Russian Army conscription.

As I wrote last week, Isaac and his brother Abraham went to Manchester, England, to stay with their uncle and aunt, Isaac and Hinda Chazan. Isaac left after a couple of years, bound for Canada and then the United States. Abraham married Annie Hurwitz and then continued to Canada, where he settled and sent for his family. Their sister Nellie and brother Myer were in New York City during the early 1900s, but I don't have more information than that...yet.

Although I don't know the exact relationship between the Burk/Birk/Berk family and the Chazan family, I plugged a name into my Ancestry tree and up popped a hint--someone else's family tree with the name in question. I wrote the tree owner and he wrote back, putting me in touch with my Chazan cousins. They not only know the Burk name, they remember my Uncle Sidney visiting Manchester and introducing them to bubble gum--and they have photos of him visiting there, as well. Plus they know some of their family visited the Abraham Berk family in Canada. Those brick walls keep crumbling!

Thursday, June 12, 2014

Those Places Thursday: The Berk Boys in Cheetham--Manchester, England--in 1901

Thanks to an Ancestry hint, I just learned from the 1901 UK Census where grandpa Isaac Berk (aka Burk), age 20, was living with his brother, Abraham Berk (age 23) and the family of their uncle and aunt, Isaac Chazan (age 38) and Ann Hindy Chazan (age 37). Others in the household included: Isaac and Ann's children Sarah, age 14, a cigaret maker; Myer, age 13; Simon, age 8; and Rachel, age 2.


The Chazan's home address was 154 Waterloo Road in Cheetham, Prestwich. This area is just north of Manchester, England.

Isaac Chazan's occupation is "furniture dealer, own account." In other words, we have yet another entrepreneur in the family. He too was from "Russia" (the Berk boys were from Lithuania) and Isaac Chazan was naturalized (I've seen his papers). A furniture dealer with two skilled cabinet makers living in his home!

Now I'll have to determine whether Isaac Chazan or Ann (Meton) Chazan was the actual relative of Abraham and Isaac Berk.*

So happy to be connected with my Chazan cousins!

*update: Most likely, my grandpa was related to Ann (Hinda) Mitav Chazan.