Showing posts with label Kovno. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Kovno. Show all posts

Sunday, July 9, 2017

Max Birk Arrived 111 Years Ago Today

My great uncle Max (Motel) Birk (1891?-1953) arrived at New York City aboard the SS Ryndam exactly 111 years ago, on July 9, 1906. Born in Kovno, Max was one of four brothers and two sisters who came to America.

I just found Max in the passenger manifest, arriving at the Port of New York from Rotterdam via the S.S. Ryndam. It took a bit of creative searching because the transcription showed his surname as "Brik" rather than "Birk." But knowing the date and name of ship was a big help! Also, Soundex is our friend. If possible, try Soundex searching (note the "620" on the naturalization index card above--the Soundex code for the category that "Birk" fits).

Max told authorities that he was 16 (his math was off), he was a butcher (not an occupation he pursued in America), and he had $1.50 in his pocket.

Most important: Max was being met by his brother "I. Burk" (my grandpa Isaac), c/o "M. Mahler" (my great-grandpa Meyer Mahler).

Max arrived only one month after his brother Isaac married Henrietta Mahler on June 10, 1906. Sounds like Isaac Burk and his bride didn't yet have their own place and remained with her father for a little while after the wedding--along with Max, possibly.
 
Years later, Max's naturalization papers from Chicago listed two witnesses, including a "Moses Kite." This was intriguing, because one of my DNA matches on Gedmatch.com is a member of the Kite family. Could this be a clue to a cousin connection?

I checked with this gentleman, who told me that Moses Kite worked at city hall in an administrative capacity and was probably a witness because he was on the spot, not because he was a cousin.

Welcome, great uncle Max.

Wednesday, July 27, 2016

Workday Wednesday: The Mounties Check Abraham Berk's Work History


My favorite Canadian genealogy angel just received and scanned more than a dozen pages from the naturalization files** of my great-uncle Abraham Berk (1877-1962), for which I am very grateful.

Abraham was the older brother of my paternal grandfather Isaac Burk (1882-1943). Both were trained as cabinetmakers before leaving their homeland for Manchester, England and then North America.




Abraham originally received his Canadian citizenship in Montreal Circuit Court on February 25, 1910. He then applied for certification of Canadian citizenship in 1944, during WWII.
Abraham Berk in 1946

Happily for me, Abraham listed an exact birth date (March 15, 1877) and an exact birth place: "Gorzd, Kovno, Russia" which was part of Telsiai and is located in Lithuania, near the border with Germany.

As part of the certification process, the Royal Canadian Mounted Police conducted a confidential investigation to determine whether Abraham was an upstanding candidate for citizenship.

According to this report, Abraham reportedly "worked as a carpenter at the shipyards at Hochelaga for six months. He then worked at the Angus Shops for two months and has worked for several Construction Companies all over Montreal. At present he earns his living by doing odd carpenter jobs."

By the time Abraham applied for this certification in 1944, he was 67 years old. His brother Isaac had died the previous year. Two years after he was certified as a Canadian citizen, Abraham--the patriarch of the family--attended the New York City wedding of his nephew, Harold Burk (my Dad).


** It's not difficult to make such a request, but only people who live in Canada can receive these files, after filling out forms and sending $5. You can review the process here. I expected a lengthy wait due to a backlog of requests but the papers arrived only 8 weeks later

UPDATE: I originally misread the report and mangled the name place of Hochelaga. Thanks to wonderful reader Anna, I corrected it in the post and added a link to a history.

Sunday, November 22, 2015

Tracing the Berk/Burk/Burke/Birk Brothers

Grandpa Isaac Burk and Great-uncle Abraham Berk were brothers born in "Gorst, Kovna, Russia" (actually Gargždai in Kovno, Lithuania--inside the Pale of Settlement).

Both trained as carpenters before heading to the West around 1900, probably to escape harsh restrictions on Jews and to avoid extended military service.

The record at right, documenting Abraham's border crossing between Canada and the US, shows that he (and his wife Annie) visited Isaac in New York in February, 1919. Isaac's address of 1642 Lexington Avenue in Manhattan is familiar to me from US and NY census records. Isaac, his wife Henrietta Mahler Burk, and their four children (including my Dad, then only a lad) all lived in this apartment building from about 1918 to 1925.

At left, attached to Abraham's border-crossing record is an "alien certificate" allowing him entry into the US and describing his appearance as 5 ft, 1 inch, 125 lbs, brown eyes, grey hair (bald).

I'm even more excited that Grandpa Isaac's Social Security Application Index record recently appeared on Ancestry. I didn't even know he'd applied, but the index has his correct death date and name, and it includes his SS number. Of course I just mailed off my request for his original application documents, which should show his (and brother Abraham's) parents' names, their place of birth, and more. With luck, I'll have the records before New Year's and be able to trace the brothers in even more detail!

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!

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Wordless Wednesday: Meyer Mahler, d. 1910

Meyer Mahler, my paternal g-grandpa, was born in Kovno. As his death cert shows, he became ill in Dec 1909 and died of cancer in Jan 1910 in New York City.

I'm still trying to trace his parents, David Mahler (b. Riga, Latvia) and Hinde Luria (b. Kovno), who almost certainly never came to the US.

The names of Meyer's parents were passed down in the family. Meyer had a son, David, and the name Hilda is also among those later in the family tree.

Friday, September 19, 2008

Great-grandpa Came from Kaunas (formerly Kovno)

clipped from www.smso.net
Location of Kaunas
Remains of Kaunas Castle
Kaunas' view in 19th century
 blog it
Kovno was part of Russia when Great-grandpa was born (around 1861 or so). Today it's Kaunas, part of Lithuania. Lots of history to learn about there. Would Great-grandpa be pleased that I want to trace his roots, see where he was born and where he was married?

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Finding Kovno ancestors

My ggrandfather's death cert shows his birthplace as Kovno and his father's birthplace as Riga. It also gave his mother's maiden name as Luria, a name with a long heritage in Lithuania and surrounding areas. Tracing ancestors in these areas during the mid-1800s is no picnic. My cousin Amy is doing some of the historical research (thanks, Amy!) and has found a Davidic connection through the Lurias.

Another source of ideas for researching in this area is Schelly Talalay Dardashti's Tracing the Tribe blog. Thank you, Shelly!