Showing posts with label Kunstler. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Kunstler. Show all posts

Wednesday, March 29, 2017

Wordless Wednesday: Moritz and the Twins

My wonderful Sis just discovered this photo of my mother Daisy Schwartz and her twin sister Dorothy, holding hands with their grandfather, Moritz Farkas (1857-1936).

They are on Fox Street in the South Bronx, standing next to the fence of the elementary school that Mom and Auntie attended. Was this their first day of school in the mid-1920s? Or were they just taking a walk?

Moritz and his wife, Lena Kunstler Farkas, lived at 843 Whitlock Avenue in the Bronx, about a mile from this school. My Mom, Auntie, and Uncle lived with their parents at 651 Fox Street in the Bronx. Thank you, Sis, for sharing this photo.

Saturday, January 7, 2017

Sentimental Sunday: Don't Touch That Dial!

Recognize this giant piece of furniture?
   |
    |
     |
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.

Thursday, December 29, 2016

Thankful Thursday: Fleshing Out Find-a-Grave Memorials

Find A Grave memorial for my great-grandma in Mt. Hebron, Queens, NY
Over the course of four years, I've sent 93 edits to Find A Grave, for memorials that others were kind enough to establish for people they don't know--my ancestors. Every one of these generous volunteers has made my edits, for which I am truly grateful. And I'm thankful for the many volunteers who have posted or taken photos, especially valuable for Jewish genealogy.

Now I'm continuing my resolution to keep family history alive by fleshing out the Find A Grave memorials. Descendants may someday go searching for these people's burials, so I want to include more detail for the benefit of these genealogists of tomorrow. The more they know, the more they can pass to the next generation and beyond.

This new year's resolution (expanded from my 2016 resolution) is to:
  • Link my ancestors to each other, wherever possible, so their relationships are clear. Above, I finally linked 10 children of Lena Kunstler Farkas* and Moritz Farkas to each other. One of their children is missing from the list because I haven't yet located her final resting place. 
  • I also linked spouses of these adult children to each other and in the next generation, I linked children to their parents. (I'm still working on this step for the main branches of hubby's family tree.)
  • I'm going to be adding or completing birth/death dates and places, as well as correcting spellings.
  • I'm already adding brief bios or excerpts from obits, omitting the names of living people for privacy reasons. Ancestors were more than just names and dates and relationships. If I can mention occupations or other snippets, these memorials become that much more meaningful, IMHO.
Thanks again to Find A Grave volunteers!

*Elizabeth Handler suggested I include the translations on F-A-G. A great idea. Lena's gravestone says she's the daughter of Shmuel Zanvil.

Tuesday, December 20, 2016

Tombstone Tuesday: Sandor "Alex" Farkas, Born on Christmas?

Great-uncle Sandor (Alex) Farkas (1885-1948) was born in December 1885, in Botpalad, Hungary to my great-grandparents, Moritz Farkas and Leni Kunstler Farkas. His actual birth record, shown below, says December 12, but Alex always wrote December 25 on all his U.S. official records.*

Alex was married to Jennie Katz (1886-1974) on Christmas Eve, 1914, one of several weddings in my family tree that took place on December 24th.

Both Alex and Jennie are buried in Mt. Hebron Cemetery in NY, within the plot of the Kossuth Ferencz Hungarian Literary Sick & Benevolent Association, which Alex helped to found in 1904.

* Turns out he sometimes claimed a different birth date. In 1918, Alex told the draft board that he was born Jan 5, 1885, suggesting he was almost a full year older than he really was. Hmm.

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.

Tuesday, June 21, 2016

110 Years Ago Today, Great-Grandpa Farkas Became a US Citizen

Moritz Farkas (1857-1936), my maternal great-grandpa, was born in Botpalad, Hungary. He arrived alone at Ellis Island on August 8, 1899, seeking to escape debts after hail destroyed his crops, and make a fresh start in NYC for his growing family. Great-grandma followed him a year later, temporarily leaving her children in Hungary with their Kunstler grandma.

Although it was great-grandpa's fond wish to have a more rural life (by farming in the Midwest rather than living in the concrete canyons of New York City), great-grandma Lena Kunstler Farkas (1865-1938) knew she had daughters to marry off. She insisted they live near a ready pool of suitable suitors in the big city. So they stayed put in NYC, moving from Manhattan to the Bronx, which was then a suburban-type area.

Great-grandpa took the oath of US citizenship on June 21, 1906 and his naturalization was filed on June 22, 1906. His witness was Sam Weiss, a real estate dealer. The Weiss name is intertwined with the Farkas and Schwartz families of my mother's family tree, as well as with the names of other cousins like Weiman and Roth, but whether Sam was a relative or an in-law or a colleague, I don't yet know.

Saturday, January 30, 2016

Sibling Saturday: The Kunstler Family from NagyBereg

Great-grandma Leni KUNSTLER Farkas (1865-1938), born in NagyBereg, Hungary (now Velyki Berehy, Ukraine) had at least four siblings.
  • Sally/Sarah/Zalli KUNSTLER married Bela Bernard Roth and had three children with him: Alexander (Sandor), whose Social Security application is shown above--Alex married Blanche Schwartz, a cousin of Tony Curtis; Margaret, who married Herman Mandel; and Joseph/Joszef, who married Evelyn Goldman. When my sweet cuz B visited Ukraine, she located Zalli's gravestone and also that of the Kunstler patriarch, Samuel Zanvil Kunstler (died in 1869), plus other Kunstlers.
  • Hinde KUNSTLER died in 1881, according to her gravestone. I wish I knew more about this sister of Leni and Zalli.
  • Yehudit KUNSTLER died in 1879, according to her gravestone, and I know nothing more about her.
  • Joszef Moshe KUNSTLER (1869-1935) married Helena Schonfeld and was a successful businessman in his time, employing many in his town.
Because Great-grandma Leni's mother's name was Toby Roth, and her sister Zalli married a Roth, I've been interested in learning more about the connections between the Kunstler and Roth families. Some of the descendants have names that echo the names of the Kunstler siblings, following Jewish tradition, and that gives me clues to the past.

Now that Ancestry is posting many SSA index files and transcriptions, I'm finding more clues and sending for original applications (like the above) to confirm parentage and relationships. On Alex Roth's SSA, as you can see, his birth place is Hungary, N.B. (meaning NagyBereg).

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!

Thursday, May 28, 2015

Those Places Thursday: Tiszaujlak, Julia Farkas's Hometown


In my box of "mystery photos" was this darling portrait of a beribboned teenaged girl and her younger brother in a sailor suit. The photo folder had a Hungarian inscription naming the two Waldman children with a date from 1918. Below it, in my mother's handwriting, were the names in English.

The photography studio where these children posed was located in the Bronx, not far from where my Hungarian grandparents (Tivadar Schwartz and Hermina Farkas Schwartz) and great-grandparents (Moritz Farkas and Lena Kunstler Farkas) lived.

This photo was in my mother's possession for decades, so I originally believed the Waldmans were family friends. Now I think they were actually cousins.

It all started when I tracked this girl's name through Census records and newspaper clippings and located her daughter. We confirmed that this photo showed her mother and uncle. I mailed her the photo -- because it belongs in her line -- and I continued the research.

On Jewish Gen, I connected with a family researcher also interested in Eperjes (now Presov), the Hungarian town where the Waldman children were born. He very kindly sent me downloads of vital records from that town.

One excerpt, shown above, included the little boy's birth and a bit about the parents. Jozsef Waldman was an electrician born in Eperjes and Julia Farkas was born in Tiszaujlak (located at M26, the start of the two arrows on the map below). Tiszaujlak (below) was in Marmaros county, Hungary, then became part of Czechoslovakia when the map changed, and finally part of the USSR and then Ukraine, since 1991.



My Farkas family has roots in Berehi and my Schwartz family has roots in Uzhorod [aka the market town of Ungvar], shown at top left corner of the map. Very intriguing geographical connections.

The 1920 US Census shows a teenaged nephew living with electrician Joseph & Julia & their 2 children in Jersey City, NJ: His name was "Emery Swartch" (probably "Imre Schwartz") and he was an electrician's apprentice. Very intriguing surname coincidence connecting Imre with my Schwartz side. Of course the Census doesn't ask whose nephew Imre is, so I can't tell whether he's related to Joseph or Julia--whether he's from the Waldman side or the Farkas side.

So far, I haven't found Julia Farkas's marriage info or her parents' names. Was she from my Farkas side or my Schwartz side? Stay tuned!

Monday, March 2, 2015

Matriarchal Monday: "Immigrant Women in the Land of Dollars"

For Women's History Month, and for insights into the lives of my immigrant grandmothers, I just finished reading Immigrant Women in the Land of Dollars by Elizabeth Ewen.

This nonfiction book gave me valuable background for understanding the lives of immigrant women like Minnie Farkas and Henrietta Mahler who came to New York City between 1890 to 1925. Although the book focuses on Jewish and Italian households, some of the observations apply to immigrant households in general.

One insight, from the "Our Daily Bread" chapter, explained why my great-grandma (Lena Kunstler Farkas) insisted that her children (including my grandma Minnie) hand over their pay packets in their entirety. Immigrant families simply couldn't be supported by the wages of the father alone--if he found steady work--and as soon as children were able, they went to work to help pay for food and rent and clothing.

The book observes that mothers had to exert control over the children's pay early (before the children learned to spend) or they wouldn't have enough money to keep the family going. Some immigrant families also needed money to pay for bringing other family members from the home country to America. So teenagers and even children in their 20s gave the pay packet to Mom, who then doled out car fare and maybe a bit for snacks or lunch and kept the rest for the household's expenses. This was the pattern in my Farkas family, for sure.

Another tidbit I learned is why my elderly Schwartz cousin made a point of mentioning that the clothes worn by my female ancestors in Hungary were good quality. Newcomers from Europe came to realize that in New York (and probably throughout America), "greenhorn" ladies needed to wear stylish clothing -- even if inexpensive -- if they wanted to be accepted into the mainstream, as the author points out in her chapter titled "First Encounters."

Quality was very important in the Old Country as a mark of financial achievement, and that's why my cousin emphasized that point. However, being seen in the latest styles was much more important for ladies in the New World. Luckily, my Farkas grandma and great aunts were super with a sewing machine and could whip up fashionable dresses for their daughters.

My immigrant grandfathers both boarded with immigrant families in NYC tenements before marrying. This book says (in the "House and Home" chapter) that boarding with immigrants who were originally from the same area was extremely common, especially among men who arrived alone and needed someone to cook for them, etc. The book also points out that a boarder often got the best bed and/or the only bedroom.

Grandpa Isaac Burk boarded with his future in-laws, the Mahler family, for a short time after arriving in NYC.  Unfortunately, I'll never know whether Grandpa Isaac knew Grandma Henrietta before he was a boarder in her family's apartment, or whether love blossomed once he was part of the household.

PS: Today is the 125th anniversary of the wedding of my great uncle Joseph Jacobs to Eva Michalovsky. They married in Manhattan on this date in 1890, a Sunday. 

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

International Holocaust Remembrance Day

This post is in loving memory of my Farkas, Schwartz, Mahler, and Kunstler ancestors who were Holocaust victims. Many died in Auschwitz, which was liberated 70 years ago today.

Above, my visit to the Zanis Lipke memorial in Riga, Latvia, with the foundation of the destroyed Great Choral Synagogue in the foreground.

At right, another Holocaust memorial in Rumbula.

Saturday, December 20, 2014

Surname Saturday: Sharing the Stories Too

In 2014, I didn't just smash brick walls--I also shared family history stories with the next generation.

At left, the contents page from a 16-page "memory booklet" I created to trace my grandparents' family histories (Teddy Schwartz and Minnie Farkas).

My goal was to tell the family stories I had gathered in the historical, geographical, political, economic, and social context of their lives. In addition, I wanted to present old photos that younger relatives had never seen or had long ago forgotten.

By reading the narrative, looking at the maps, and looking at the photos, future generations will understand what our ancestors were leaving behind and why, where they went and why, and how their courageous journeys turned out. After all, they both came from parts of Eastern Europe that changed hands almost as often as the weather changes in New England. And their travels to the New World were driven by hopes and dreams, not to mention political and economic necessity.

The sections on Grandma and Grandpa's family backgrounds were my chance to present the family tree as far back as I know it on both sides (with connections to the Simonowitz, Gross, and Kunstler families). Also I included maps of where they were born and where they lived on the Lower East Side.

I told the story of teenaged Minnie coming to America with one older brother and two preteen siblings, to be reunited with their parents after two years of separation. And I told the story of teenaged Teddy arriving at Ellis Island on his own, finding work as a runner for the steamship lines, and helping one brother and one sister come to New York from Hungary. I saved the story of how they met and married for a separate section, to build a little drama and keep readers turning the page.

The section titled "What was the world like.....?" was an opportunity to portray just how much the world has changed since these ancestors were born in 1886-7. The United States had only 38 states at that point! President Cleveland dedicated Lady Liberty in 1886. Queen Victoria was celebrating her 50th year on the throne of England; light bulbs were novelties, not yet mainstream; horse-drawn conveyances filled city streets. These facts are eye-openers for relatives who were born digital.

Every page included 2-3 photos or documents (like their marriage cert). I put the captions into a separate "who's who" section to save space. The "where and when" appendix is a timeline of each grandparent's life, in table form. I printed the booklets (I made four) in color so the maps and photos would be eye-catching and invite readers to browse once or twice before filing on a bookshelf.

In 2015, I plan to do similar booklets for hubby's maternal and paternal lines. Crossing my fingers that I can find the time and the skill to make a DVD of at least one family tree's photos!

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!

Sunday, June 15, 2014

52 Ancestors #22: Great-Grandma Lena Kunstler Farkas from NagyBereg, Hungary

My great-grandma Lena (Leni, in Hungarian) Kunstler was 58 when this photo was taken. She was born in 1865 in NagyBereg, Hungary (now Berehi, in Western Ukraine).

Lena's parents Samuel and Toby Kunstler were people of some status: They had money and land, and operated vineyards.

Lena's younger brother Joszef Kunstler (1869-1935) became a very successful businessman in Berehi, virtually owning the entire town, including the grain mill, and employing nearly every resident.

My cousin B from Boulder visited Berehi years ago and found in the tiny cemetery a number of Kunstler graves. In addition to Joszef, Lena's sisters Sarah, Hinde, and Yehudis are buried there.*

Lena married Moritz Farkas around 1884. Moritz was a "gentleman farmer" who leased land and did well enough until one autumn, the harvest failed due to hail storms. Moritz had neglected to insure his crops that year and couldn't pay his creditors, so he decided to seek his fortune in America. Moving to America was also a way of keeping his sons from being conscripted into the Russian army when they were old enough.

Moritz booked passage on a ship to New York City and arrived alone in 1899 to get set up. Lena remained behind with their eight children: Alex, Minnie (hi Grandma), Albert, Julius, Peter, Irene, Ilka, and Freda. A year later, Lena set out for New York to reunite with Moritz. In 1901, four of Lena's children arrived on the S.S. Amsterdam to live with Lena and Moritz in New York City. In 1903, the remaining four arrived on the S.S. Konigin Luise. Lena and Moritz had three more children after they settled in New York City: Rose, Fred, and Regina.
Lena's obituary appeared on March 5, 1938.
Moritz Farkas died in February of 1936 and his wife Lena Kunstler Farkas died just two years later, in March of 1938. It was the end of an era for their eleven children and numerous grandchildren.

*Sarah died in 1893 and we are wondering whether her nickname was Zolli or Sally. If so, she might be the first wife of Bela Roth, one of the cousins I've been researching in recent months.

Monday, June 9, 2014

Matrilineal Monday: Where Grandma Minnie and Cousin Margaret Got Married

In 1911, my maternal grandma, Hermina Farkas married my grandpa, Theodore Schwartz, at the 8-10 Clinton Street Synagogue on the Lower East Side of Manhattan.


Here's their marriage cert. Note the name of the top witness: Marcus Aronoff.

This same gentleman witnessed the marriage of Grandma Minnie's first cousin Margaret to husband Herman in 1913, at the same synagogue, with the same rabbi officiating.

How does Marcus Aronoff relate to the family? Or was he a head of the congregation or some other official in the synagogue?

UPDATE: Cousin L noticed a very important detail: My Grandma Minnie lived at 745 E. 6th Street when she married, the same building where his mom (cousin Margaret) lived when she was married by the same rabbi in the same synagogue, just 18 months later. Here's a street view of that building, a 6-story apartment building built in 1900 that still stands today. Yet another indication that the families were close!

Monday, June 2, 2014

Mystery Monday: How Was Gloria Warren Related to the Roth Family?

Visiting with my Cuz J the other day, I learned that actress/singer Gloria Warren is somehow a cousin to Joseph Roth and his father, Bela Bernard Roth. Bela was affectionately known as "Uncle Bela" in my Farkas/Kunstler family, even though he was most definitely a cousin.

So how are we related to Gloria Warren?

According to the Delaware Historical Society, Gloria was born in Delaware in 1926 (IMDB says the date was April 7th, in Wilmington). Her birth name was Gloria M. Weiman. Her father Herman, a jeweler/watchmaker, was from Russia and her mother Julia Weiss Weiman was Hungarian (see the 1930 Census snippet, which includes sister June Violet, 3 years older). Both June and Gloria were very beautiful young ladies.

Other cousins have confirmed that Gloria was a relative to the Roth family (and Cousin L briefly dated her, since the connection was distant!). Actually there are connections to two different Joseph Roths, both in my family.


Gloria's breakout role was in the movie Always in My Heart, and she became a singing phenom with the title song. She married Peter Gold in 1946. Cousin L saw her in the Broadway show What's Up? which also starred the popular comic Jimmy Savo.

Gloria made a few more movies, and then settled down to family life, having a son and a daughter in California, where her husband was a successful businessman.

There are Weiss relatives elsewhere in this side of my family tree. Perhaps they're related to Julia, Gloria's mother?

Sunday, April 27, 2014

Holocaust Remembrance Day 2014

On Holocaust Remembrance Day, I am honoring the memory of loved ones who perished from these branches of my family tree:
  • My grandpa Tivador Schwartz's family.
  • My great-grandfather Moritz Farkas's family.
  • My great-grandma Lena Kunstler's family.
  • My Farkas cousins, the Roth family.
I've searched for family members using these resources:
Never forget. Never again.

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks #17: Minnie Farkas Tosses Her Engagement Ring

When teenaged Minnie Farkas (1886-1964) crossed the Atlantic from Hungary to join her parents in New York City in 1901, she and her older teenaged brother Sandor were responsible for shepherding their baby sisters, Ilka (age 4) and Frida (age 3).

Imagine boarding the S.S. Amsterdam in Rotterdam at age 15, sailing for an unknown country and in charge of keeping two small children safe and fed and entertained day after day after day as the ship lumbered across the ocean. By the time the ship steamed into New York Harbor, I'm sure she and the other Farkas children were up on deck to see the Statue of Liberty, signalling the end of a long voyage.

At Ellis Island, Minnie and her siblings were collected by their father, Moritz Farkas (1857-1936) or their mother, Lena Kunstler Farkas (1865-1938). To help support the family, Minnie got a job in a necktie factory run by Adolf Roth, a cousin of either the Farkas or Kunstler family. Like the rest of her siblings, she would hand her pay packet to her mother Lena at the end of the week, and Lena would dole out a couple of dollars for the following week's subway fare and coffee.

Although her parents picked out a well-situated young man for her to marry, Minnie refused. The family story is that the gentleman came to the apartment with an engagement ring and indignant Minnie threw the ring out the window. (Supposedly, one of her younger brothers ran down the stairs and retrieved it, but no one knows what became of the jewelry...or the young man.)

Minnie insisted on marrying Teddy Schwartz (1887-1965), an immigrant born in Ungvar, Hungary. They met in a Hungarian delicatessen on the Lower East Side and after they were married, Minnie worked alongside him in his grocery store in the Bronx.

Grandma Minnie at right, with three of her five sisters
This 1928 photo shows Minnie at far right, with the two now grown-up "baby" sisters she accompanied to New York and, at far left, one of the Farkas sisters born in America. In all, Minnie had five sisters and five brothers. By the time of this photo, Minnie was a mother three times over, but never (to my knowledge) had or wore an engagement ring.

Monday, February 17, 2014

Mystery Monday: Family Stories + Family Trees = Margaret Roth Mandel

My "unknowns" box of photos includes two of this lady, both with the name "Margaret Mandel" handwritten on the back (not in my parents' or grandparents' handwriting). She was a mystery--until today.

Margaret Roth Mandel and Herman Mandel, 1946
My cousin from Boulder and I have lately been on the trail of the Roth family, trying to connect them with our Farkas or Kunstler lines. We began with a couple of family stories and then . . . here's how we teamed up with a fellow family history enthusiast to solve the mystery of Margaret Mandel AND advance our Roth research.

1. Our Farkas family minutes mention the Roth family twice:
  • Bela Roth sent his condolences and regrets after my great-grandma (Lena Kunstler Farkas) died and her gravestone was unveiled in the 1930s.
  • Alex Roth's death was noted, with sadness, in the minutes of October, 1949.
2. My Boulder cuz remembers--definitely--that the lady above, who attended my parents' 1946 wedding, was named Margaret Roth. She also remembers a number of family stories about the Roths, who were cousins in some undefined way. And she remembers a cousin known affectionately as "Uncle Bela Roth." All of these people lived in the New York area.

3. I began a private family tree on Ancestry to experiment with different family configurations of the Roths I was finding via manifests, Census data, and obituaries. As soon as I had four Roths connected in a stand-alone family tree, Ancestry waved its green "hint" leaf at me. There was exactly one hint: A family tree that included my Roths. BINGO! 

4. I sent the tree's owner, D, a note via Ancestry. He invited me to see his tree. There, I found more clues to my Roths--and the two of us took up the hunt, locating obituaries and adding more details to our Roth trees, day by day.

5. This morning, D sent me a note that solved the mystery of Margaret Mandel. In the obit of "cousin Alex Roth," he saw Margaret Mandel's name listed as a sibling. I added Margaret and her family to my Roth family tree--and up popped the naturalization paper of Herman, whose photo is at left, showing a younger version of the Herman in the photo with Margaret, above. I'm also contacting other relatives to ask for more stories and documents. In addition, another Ancestry hint sent me to someone whose family tree includes Margaret and her husband, Herman Mandel.

If I can connect with Margaret's descendants, I want them to have her portraits to pass down through the generations. March UPDATE: I'm meeting with a descendant in two days and will happily give him the two portraits, which belong in his family! Plus I found another Roth researcher (another D) looking at a related branch of this family. We're all cooperating and having a fun time discovering passenger manifests and more. It takes a village to trace a tree :)