Showing posts with label Farkas Family Tree. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Farkas Family Tree. Show all posts

Wednesday, November 22, 2017

Thanksgivings of the Past

Happy Thanksgiving! I looked back in diaries, postcards, meeting minutes, and other bits and pieces of my genealogical collection to get a glimpse of what happened on Thanksgivings of the past in my family and my husband's family.*
  • The strangely-colored postcard at right, from the 1910s, was received in East Cleveland by hubby's uncle, Wallis W. Wood. The sender was "Aunt Nellie" (Rachel Ellen Wood Kirby), who lived in Chicago and never missed an opportunity to send holiday or birthday greetings to her nephews and nieces in the Wood family.
  • On Thanksgiving Day of 1959, my late father-in-law (Edgar J. Wood) received the exciting news that he would be a grandfather for the first time during 1960. How do I know? He wrote about it in his diary!
  • On Thanksgiving Day of 1950, my grandma's Farkas family gathered at the C&L Restaurant in Manhattan for dinner and accordion entertainment, at $6 per person. My parents, Daisy Schwartz and Harry Burk, told the family they were buying a TV set to celebrate their wedding anniversary (they married on November 24, 1946). I read about it in the minutes of the Farkas Family Tree.
  • The Farkas Family Tree and spouses and children pitched in to have a photo taken of everyone who attended the Thanksgiving Day dinner at a Manhattan hotel in 1956. It was a large group! Again, the story of planning this dinner and the photography is straight out of the tree's monthly minutes, which I scanned and indexed a few years ago.
  • My aunt Dorothy Schwartz worked on the Macy's Thanksgiving Day parade with her long-time friend and partner, Lee Wallace, from 1950-1952. Lee was then the head of public relations for Macy's, and Dorothy was her assistant. Then my aunt got her teaching license and left the world of retail to teach typing and shorthand at Christopher Columbus High School in the Bronx. Yes, this is the same aunt who was a WAC during WWII.

 *Not including hubby's Mayflower ancestors celebrating Thanksgiving, of course. That's the oldest "Thanksgiving of the Past" story I can tell to my family for the holiday.

Saturday, November 11, 2017

Saluting the Veterans in Our Family Trees

With gratitude for their service, today I'm saluting some of the many veterans from my family tree and my husband's family tree.


Let me begin with my husband's Slatter family in Canada. Above, second from left is Capt. John Daniel Slatter of the 48th Highlanders in Toronto. He was my hubby's great uncle, an older brother to hubby's Grandma Mary Slatter Wood, and he was a world-famous bandmaster in his time.

At far left of the photo is Capt. Slatter's son, Lt. Frederick William Slatter, who fought at the Battle of Vimy Ridge during WWI. Third from left is John Hutson Slatter, grandson of Capt. Slatter, who enlisted in the Canadian military in the spring of 1940 for service in WWII. At far right is another of Capt. Slatter's sons, Lt. Albert Matthew Slatter, who served in Canada's No. 4 Company of 15th Battalion and then in the 48th Highlanders of Toronto. (Albert was the father of John Hutson Slatter.)

Grandma Mary Slatter Wood had two other distinguished bandmaster brothers active in the Canadian military early in the 1900s: Henry Arthur Slatter (who served in the 72d Seaforth Highlanders of Vancouver) and Albert William Slatter (who served in the 7th London Fusiliers of Ontario).


In my family tree, a number of folks served in World War II. Above, 2d from left in front row is my father, Harold D. Burk, who was in the US Army Signal Corps in Europe. His brother, Sidney Burk, also served during WWII, stationed in Hawaii. And I've recently written a lot about my aunt, Dorothy Schwartz, who was a WAC and received the Bronze Star for her service in Europe. My uncle, Dorothy's brother Fred, was in Europe serving with the Army, as well.

Meanwhile, my mother, Daisy Schwartz, was busy selling war bonds in NYC and corresponding with maybe a dozen GIs to keep their spirits up. When Mom wrote the historian's report for the Farkas Family Tree association at the end of 1943, she reflected the entire family's feelings about their relatives fighting for freedom.
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!

Sunday, October 29, 2017

Family History Month: The Farkas Family During the Depression

25th anniversary of Farkas Family Tree association
Starting in 1933, the Farkas Family Tree held 10 meetings a year. Charter members were the 10 children of my maternal great-grandparents, Moritz Farkas (1857-1936) and Leni Kunstler Farkas (1865-1938).

Moritz and Lena were proclaimed honorary members at the first FFT meeting in March, 1933. Since nearly all of the charter members lived in the New York City area, the meetings were a way of keeping family ties as tight as possible.

Luckily, the FFT kept written minutes at every meeting. Although some of the 1940s minutes haven't survived, I've scanned and indexed the hundreds of existing minutes for in-depth research and to safeguard for the next generation.

Outside the family, there was a Depression. Inside, the focus was on births and birthdays, weddings and anniversaries, get-well wishes for ill members, remembering relatives who died, planning family outings, and--food, food, food!

So what were my Farkas ancestors doing at their October meetings in the 1930s?
  • At meeting #5, in October of 1933, "there was much joy and commotion at getting together again" after the summer break. The Entertainment Committee planned a card party of bridge, hearts, and poker for the November meeting, saying there would be "one prize each for a man and woman who are the biggest losers."
  • At meeting #15, in October of 1934, the discussion centered on securing a restaurant or hotel banquet room for a family Thanksgiving dinner the following month. This was the first of many annual family Thanksgivings celebrated together.
  • Because of scheduling conflicts, there was no October meeting in 1935. The first meeting of the fall was held on Sept. 29th, followed by a poker party. "All were winners," according to the minutes.
  • In October of 1936, my maternal grandparents (Hermina Farkas Schwartz and Tivador Schwartz) were congratulated on their 25th wedding anniversary. The tree created a committee to choose a gift for this occasion. Attendees chowed down on coffee, strudel, cheese, and sardines. Really, this is what the minutes said.
  • In October of 1937, the treasurer reported cash on hand of $241.91 (the equivalent of nearly $4,200 in today's dollars). The tree was planning ahead, buying grave plots in New Montefiore Cemetery on Long Island. And in another forward-thinking move, the tree voted to buy movie film to capture highlights of the family's year.
  • At meeting #51 in October of 1938, members voted to spend 50 cents for cemetery maintenance and $3 for movie film. A special committee was formed to plan the upcoming Thanksgiving dinner, at a per-person price of $1.75.
  • During meeting #61 in October of 1939, $3 was allotted for movie film, leaving a treasury balance of $79.94. Members planned the Thanksgiving dinner, to be held that year in the Hamilton Hotel. But there was one snag: "For our Thanksgiving Dinner, we would not be able to get the magician as planned. Music will be supplied by the victrola which the Freedmans have kindly offered to bring."

Saturday, January 7, 2017

Sentimental Sunday: Don't Touch That Dial!

Recognize this giant piece of furniture?
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Yes, it's a black and white TV/mono record player/AM radio console. Every living room had to have one in the 1950s, the height of furniture fashion and entertainment technology. No, really.

And who are those little double-trouble urchins, reaching out to change the channel?

Guilty as charged: Me and my twin sis. Often we'd get up before the crack of dawn and turn the TV on to watch the crackly test pattern until "Modern Farmer" showed up on the tiny screen at 6 am. A fascinating programming decision for a TV station based in the heart of New York City, don't you think?

Amazingly, I know exactly when this TV arrived in our Bronx living room because of the meticulous minutes taken at the Farkas Family Tree meetings every month. My grandma, Henrietta Farkas Schwartz, was a co-founder of the tree, which held its first meeting in March, 1933 at the apartment of her parents, Moritz Farkas and Lena Kunstler Farkas.

Excerpted from the minutes of one December meeting during the 1950s: "The Burks are getting a television set for their anniversary." (Sis, I'm respecting your privacy and not revealing the year. You're welcome!)

Today's Sentimental Sunday is courtesy of my captioning frenzy while snowbound, going through my archival boxes and coming across this fun snapshot.

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.

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.

Thursday, October 29, 2015

Those Places Thursday: In Search of Farkas Connections in Botpalad

My maternal great-grandpa, Moritz Farkas (1857-1936), was born in Botpalad, Hungary (shown circled in red with a black arrow, above). This is an area still considered part of Hungary but very close to the borders of modern-day Ukraine and Romania (two red arrows at far right).

Moritz's parents were Ferencz Farkas and Hermina Gross. Farkas is a common name in Hungary, but we know we're definitely connected in some cousiny way with another branch of the Farkas family.

The young granddaughter of Ida Farkas Weiss (1873-1924) was at my parents' wedding in New York City and she vividly remembers attending Farkas Family Tree meetings in NYC during the 1940s and into the 1950s. She and her parents were known to be cousins, but nobody told the younger generation exactly how we were related.
Today I want to look at Ida Farkas's niece, Gizella Steinberger, who was the daughter of Josephine "Pepi" Farkas and Noe Steinberger and the granddaughter of Elek and Roszi Farkas. I'm guessing that Elek Farkas was the brother of Ferencz Farkas. That would make Gizella my 2d cousin, 2x removed.

Born in Botpalad on November 6, 1898, Gizella Steinberger arrived at Ellis Island in December, 1923, and applied for U.S. citizenship in 1926.

In 1929, Gizella married Irving Huppert (1900-1982). They were living at 1821 Davidson Ave. in the Bronx when she became a naturalized U.S. citizen, as shown on this index card.

Gizella and Irving had two children and lived into their late 80s. They are buried at Mount Hebron Cemetery in Queens. I'm going to "edit" the relationships of each on Find A Grave to show husband and wife, and include their dates and places of birth.

Still searching for more Farkas connections from Botpalad, Hungary!

Monday, November 24, 2014

Happy Thanksgiving Weekend Wedding, Mom & Dad

Above, my mother (Daisy Schwartz) being walked down the aisle at New York's Hotel McAlpin by her father, Teddy Schwartz. She and Dad (Harold Burk) were married on the Saturday of Thanksgiving weekend in 1946.


Mom wore a gold lame dress, matching shoes, and a simple headdress. At right, she's in her wedding outfit, topped by her stylish new Persian lamb coat.

Dad and all the men wore handsome double-breasted suits, the height of postwar fashion.

After the lunchtime wedding, Daisy's aunt Ella gave a party that included most if not all of the bride's Farkas Family Tree. The tired but happy couple eventually boarded a train for their Atlantic City honeymoon!

Sunday, August 3, 2014

52 Ancestors #29: Cousin Jennie Hartfield and the Roth-Mandel-Farkas Connection

The gentleman second from left is "Hartfield." That's what my mother's Farkas family always called him, never by his full name--Isidore Hartfield.

His wife (next to him, in the white hat with black trim) was "Cousin Jennie." They lived in Brooklyn and often attended Farkas Family Tree meetings, even hosting on a few occasions.

This photo was taken in November, 1946, at my parents' wedding. The Hartfields are seated with members of my Farkas family and with Margaret Roth Mandel (in dark hat, third from right) and her husband, Herman Mandel (just visible behind the lady with a spoon in her mouth).

Margaret is definitely a cousin, but I wanted to learn more about the Hartfields.

I read through Isidore Hartfield's Declaration of Intention to become a US citizen and learned his marriage date and place: November 26, 1916 in New York City. (Isidore and Jennie celebrated their 30th wedding anniversary two days before they attended the wedding pictured above.)

Look at the above screen shot, and you'll see why I just sent for this marriage document. It shows Isidor Hartfield's bride's name as "Jennie Maudel." Very likely this is actually "Jennie Mandel." When this cert arrives, I'll know Jennie's parents' names.

Since Jennie was born in NagyBereg, Hungary, where my Roth relatives were born, it seems that she must be related through the Roth and Mandel cousin connection. More cousins!

UPDATE: Six weeks ago, I sent for this marriage cert. It arrived yesterday (see left). Now I know the family connection was through my great-grandma Lena Kunstler, who was related to Jennie Mandel's mother!

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Tuesday's Tip: Index Your Ancestors' Documents!

If you're lucky enough to have more than a few pages of documents inherited from your ancestors' lives, my number one tip is: Index them!

Otherwise, future generations won't know who's mentioned where--and they might not take the time to read all the way through. With an index, they can look up individuals quickly and easily. And for family history researchers, the index gives us extra help seeing connections between people, events, dates.

I have three sets of documents that have been passed down in the family:
  1. Farkas Family Tree reports and minutes. My mother's family accumulated 500 pages of meeting minutes from the 30 years of the Farkas Family Tree, a family association that began in 1933. I scanned 'em all, read 'em all, and then prepared an index listing every person mentioned. It took a while, but above you can see the results. Mr. & Mrs. B, the first family members listed in the index, were only at one meeting, June 1946. Others in that family were mentioned numerous times, as shown in this index. Who could resist looking up their parents' or grandparents' or first cousins' names? That's the allure and advantage of an index.
  2. Father-in-law Edgar J. Wood's diaries. For decades, Edgar Wood kept a brief diary with 1-3 sentences per day. I indexed every family and friend mentioned in the diaries, including names that were unfamiliar. Eventually, cross-referencing the entries led me and my husband to be able to identify cousins and pinpoint the exact relationships between most of the folks named. Without indexing, we wouldn't have connected the dots between people discussed in multiple entries
  3. Letters to Mom during the 1930s/40s. I have transcribed these dozens of letters and will index these soon. Preparing a time line based on the index will help me follow friends and relatives during the years after Mom (Daisy Schwartz) graduated high school and before she married Dad (Harry Burk).
I know I groan when I see a collection of documents on Family Search or Ancestry that is NOT indexed. With an index, I can do a quick search. It's the same with our family documents. I want those who come after me to dip into these documents, so now they're indexed, with a bit of explanation about who's who.

Sunday, November 10, 2013

Amanuensis Monday: My Family in WWII, for Veteran's Day

Moritz Farkas and his wife, Lena Kunstler Farkas, had 18 grandchildren. When WWII started, some of Moritz and Lena's grandchildren were of age to serve in the military. My Uncle Fred and Auntie Dorothy (at left) served, along with their first cousins Harry, George, and Robert and cousin-in-law Abe.

For Veteran's Day, I looked back at what the records of the Farkas Family Tree had to say about our relatives in WWII. This family association, formed in 1933 and active for 31 years, was a key element in keeping up the morale of our service members and supporting the parents, siblings, and children who missed them and worried about them. Often the relatives in the service would write one long letter to "the tree" and have it read at the monthly meetings. And tree members would write to relatives in the service to pass along family news and keep up their spirits.

Luckily for me, the tree secretary took minutes at every meeting and prepared a yearend summary of who did what every year in a historian's report, mixing real news with a hefty dose of humor to dispel the worry.

Excerpts from Farkas Family Tree historian's reports from the WWII years:
  • From December, 1942: "George, who volunteered for the Army Air Corps early in the year, began his training in April. He is now studying at the Bombardier-Navigator School in Louisiana and, according to his letters is making an intensive survey of the southern accent. For excellence in the art of peeling potatoes, he was promoted to the rank of corporal...Abe is now enjoying a vacation at an exclusive hotel in Florida, managed by US Army. Not to be outdone by the boys, Dorothy decided to become a WAAC. She writes that life in the Army is simply thrilling and that she is having many interesting (?) new experiences."
  • From December, 1943: "Uncle Sam decided he needed Fred more than we do, sent him 'Greetings,' and carried him off...This was not the only change which Uncle Sam caused to be made. Earlier in the year, Harry had been inducted...The war has brought a myriad of changes in our lives. Due to gas and tire shortages, we no longer go on our annual picnics and outings...Those are the events of the past year. For the coming year, the earnest hope of all is that 1944 will find the Axis vanquished and our boys home."
  • From December, 1944: "Fred was in basic training at Camp Shelby, Dorothy studied at Oxford, Harry trained at Lawson General Hospital to become an X-Ray technician...George served in Africa and Italy...Dorothy received the Europe-Middle East-Africa Theatre ribbon with combat star...Abe arrived in New Guinea...Robert went overseas with the 78th Division to England, France, and Germany...Fred became an MP and later went to the Separation Classification School at Ft. Dix." 
  • From December, 1945: "Dorothy was discharged on August 31st, having moved with the 9th Air Force from France to Belgium, returning home with the Bronze Star and 6 battle stars...Harry was stationed at Camp Upton, also Tacoma, Ft. Jackson, S.C., and France...Abe crossed the waters to New Guinea, described by him in vivid colors. When he was moved to Manila, he became a s/sgt... Fred was in Camp Shelby, Camp Blanding, and was promoted to s/sgt... Bob was in England and France, where he had a tough life liberating champagne and women. His last stop was Germany, returning with 3 battle stars."

Friday, October 18, 2013

Friday's Faces from the Past: Grandma as a Young Lady

Grandma Hermina Farkas Schwartz (1886-1964) arrived in New York City from Hungary two days after her 15th birthday. She was accompanied by her older brother Alex and two younger sisters, Ella and Freda.

The photo at left was taken about 1910, by Gustav Beldegreen, the photographer who served as official photographer for the Kossuth Ferenc Hungarian Literary Sick and Benevolent Society--a group that my Farkas relatives helped to found in NYC.

At right, another Beldegreen photo of my grandma, possibly the same day but certainly around the same time as the photo above.

Given that Grandma was an expert seamstress and made her living sewing silk ties, she might even have stitched the stylish dress she's wearing.

She makes quite the fashion statement with her scarf, hat, umbrella, gloves, and shoes!

These photos were probably taken the year before grandma married Theodore (Tivador) Schwartz (1887-1965), who was from Ungvar, Hungary and who encouraged both his brother Simon (renamed Samuel) and his sister Mary (Marushka) to come to America.

Saturday, July 27, 2013

Surname Saturday: 500 Pages of Farkas Family Tree History

Earlier this year, I learned for the first time that when my maternal grandmother's family tree group got together, they kept records. Written records (mostly typed)! Meeting minutes and year-by-year historian's reports for most of the period from 1933 to 1964, when meetings were held at least 6 times a year.

The first official meeting of this group took place in March, 1933. As recorded in the Constitution, "Any male or female over the age of 16 who is a member or descendant by blood or marriage of the family of Moritz Farkas and [his wife] Lena [Kunstler] Farkas shall be eligible for membership in this organization." Moritz and Lena were the patriarch and matriarch, honorary members of the Farkas Family Tree.

The idea for the Farkas Family Tree came from my great-aunt Jenny Katz Farkas, who joined the family by marrying great-uncle Alex Farkas. Alex was the oldest of Moritz and Lena's children. My grandma, Hermina Farkas Schwartz, was second-oldest. By the time Jenny suggested a tree association, all the Farkas siblings were married except for Julius and Peter, the bachelor brothers who never married. Moritz and Lena were already grandparents many times over when the tree was started.

The Farkas Family Tree had three specific objectives, according to its Constitution:
  1. To perpetuate the bond of blood relationship.
  2. To promote good will and understanding.
  3. To engage in social activities for the mutual benefit of the organization and the members thereof.
One of my cousins was able to get his hands on a nearly complete set of the bound books holding the minutes and reports of the tree's three decades. After he had the books unbound, I scanned each and every page (more than 500 in total). At right, the first of four original pages from the historian's report for the year 1939, when my Auntie Dorothy Schwartz was the historian. Lots of work to do the scanning, but very rewarding to read (sometimes in TMI detail) what my ancestors were doing month after month!

A copy shop took my printouts of the scans and created spiral bound books for me. Next, I prepared an index of every name mentioned in the minutes and reports. Because other than a family history buff, who's going to read all 500 pages? But everyone will, I'm sure, look up their own names and the names of their parents (or children) in the index, then flip to those pages first.

For handy reference, I also created a "who's who in the family" summary page. In addition to the Constitution (with 1949 and 1954 amendments), I included the three-stanza family tree song with lyrics written by my great-aunt Ella, which we used to sing to the tune of "Battle Hymn of the Republic." And I included a listing of all the officers from 1933 through 1964. (Hint: Women could be elected secretary but not serve as president or vice-president/treasurer.)

One of my other cousins created a diagram showing the names of every member of the tree in the photograph of the 25th Anniversary Weekend in June, 1958 at the Pines resort in upstate New York. I put the photo and the diagram on the cover, as you can see. Yes, I'm in the photo, but of course as a very young child (wink). By the time I came of age to be a full-fledged member, the Farkas Family Tree had sputtered out of existence, simply because members had moved away, changed jobs, or had grandchildren of their own to visit. The minutes and historian's reports will live on as time-capsules of a special period in my family's history.



Monday, May 13, 2013

Amanuensis Monday: "I am your Pop (Ma is included in this)"

In 1943, when my Uncle Fred enlisted in WWII, the entire family geared up for a lively stream of correspondence to keep him company wherever he was posted. (The same steady stream of correspondence flowed to Fred's sister Dorothy Schwartz the WAC, and to Fred and Dorothy's first cousins in the service.)

Here's the second page of a letter to Fred from his "Pop" (my grandpa), Theodore Schwartz, written on November 9, 1944. Grandpa learned English after arriving in New York from Hungary as a teenager, and his spelling/punctuation weren't always perfect. He and my grandma ran a busy grocery store, which in wartime had the added burden of having to collect and sort ration coupons for many foods.

Instead of ending his letter to Fred by signing off with "love" as so many parents do today, he says something much more old fashioned: "With best wishes to you, I am your Pop" and adds: "Ma is included in this."

This letter reads:

Dear Fred,

Your 3 letters in a row at hand and been glad to hear that you, at last got what you wanted and also received the klippings [sic] describing in detail the work. It must be interesting, at least from the beginning. You will only have day work and nobody to rush you. There is not much news here. We are all well--just got a letter from Bobby F___ he is on the other side [meaning he's fighting in Europe]. Received a few letters from Dorothy, she is well, of course she does not get any steaks for every dinner but she is getting ours.

We had a nice [family] meeting at Ella's [Fred's uncle] Sunday. [Uncle] Albert's father-in-law, if you can remember him, celebrated his 50th wedding anniversary. I am slated for the next presidency in the family tree.*

With best wishes to you, I am your Pop
   Ma is included in this.


*The Farkas Family Tree was created during the 1930s, with members being the descendants of Moritz Farkas and Lena Kunstler Farkas, along with their spouses and kids. Grandma Hermina Farkas Schwartz was the oldest daughter of Moritz and Lena, and Grandpa Theodore's marriage to her made him eligible to serve as president of the tree, as he boasts in the final sentence of his letter to Fred. One of the fun rituals at each tree meeting was singing a family song written by one of Fred's aunts. More on this tree in future posts!

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Sentimental Sunday - Family Song Traditions

Holidays have their own song traditions in my family tree. When the Farkas Family Tree used to gather (and we did gather during the past decade, at cousin Peter's house), we would sing our family song, loud and strong.

Here are the first stanza and chorus (song written by my great-aunt, Ella Farkas Lenney):

The Farkas clan has now all gathered
One and all are here
Time for all cares to be scattered
Faces bright and clear,
Jokes and puns and smiles and fun,
Are ready to begin,
The clan has gathered now!
CHORUS:
Farkas, Farkas is the password.
Sing on high that it can be heard
That we all are here and now cheer:
The Farkas Family Tree!

The song goes on for two more stanzas, including married surnames of the Farkas sisters who came to America, plus married surnames of their children. The final stanza says: A proud family tree as the Farkas Clan grows on!

My sister and I and our families have a different song tradition. At the end of each family gathering (as long as our ace piano player, Andrea, is with us!), we gather around the piano and sing to "The Rose" (you know, popularized by Bette Midler). It's a roller-coaster song, mentioning downs and ups of life, but in the end, in the spring, the rose emerges. We sing it loud and try for harmony. Here's a YouTube with the song and words (NOT by us) if you want to sing along.




What are your family's song traditions?