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

Sunday, November 12, 2017

Ancestor Timeline Reveals Gaps (Gasp)

Randy Seaver's Saturday Night Genealogy Fun this week was to create a timeline for one ancestor and explain how we created it, along with the image.

Since I'm still a RootsMagic7 newbie (less than 4 months' experience), I was delighted to follow Randy's detailed directions for how he created his ancestor's timeline in RM7. I did the same for my 2d great uncle, Bela Bernard Roth (1865-1941). His first wife was Sali/Zali Kunstler (? - 1895), sister to my great-grandma Leni Kunstler Farkas (1865-1938). Bela's parents were Shlomo/Salomon Roth and Hannah Klein.

After I created the timeline in RM7, I took a screen shot with my "Preview" function for Mac. To do that, I selected just the timeline itself as it appeared on my screen and saved it as a .jpg. There is more info available in the timeline, but I didn't include all in this screen shot.

As Randy indicates, the look is bare-bones but practical. At a glance, I can see how old Bela is during each moment on the timeline. When his children were born, when he came to America the first and second times, at the point of each census, when he died.

This timeline reveals (gasp!) gaps for me to research. For instance, Bela had four more children with his second wife (Bertha Batia Weiss, 1885-1967), including one mentioned in a 1907 passenger manifest and a 1914 passenger manifest.

This son, Imre (or Emery) Roth, vanished before the 1920 U.S. Census. He's a gap that I'd like to fill with more information so I can record him and honor his memory. For now, Bela's timeline will have to state that son Imre/Emery died "before 1920."

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."

Wednesday, October 11, 2017

Family History Month: Picturing My Maternal Line

As I plan write-ups about the different branches of my family tree and my hubby's tree, I'm organizing my photos. Today, I wanted to picture my maternal grandparents (Hermina Farkas and Tivador/Theodore Schwartz) and their parents.

Top row shows Lena Kunstler and Moritz Farkas, my Grandma Minnie's parents.

Bottom row shows Hani Simonowitz and Herman Schwartz, my Grandpa Teddy's parents.

All six of these maternal ancestors were born in Hungary in the 19th century. Hani and Herman remained in Ungvar. Lena and Moritz came to New York City very early in the 20th century.

Grandma Minnie and Grandpa Teddy were a love match, not an arranged marriage, and they wed on October 22, 1911. Their names were shown on the ketubah as Chaya Sara (bride) and Yechezkel (groom).

According to family lore, the family rode to the wedding at the Clinton Street Synagogue by horse and carriage--but the groom was late because his horse had run away.

Friday, September 15, 2017

Friday's Faces from the Past: Remembering Mom, Counting Her Cousins

Remembering my dear mother, Daisy Schwartz (1919-1981), on the 36th anniversary of her death. This 1946 photo shows her looking radiant on her wedding day, just before the ceremony at the Hotel McAlpin in New York City.

Since I'm still researching siblings of her maternal grandparents Moritz Farkas/Leni Kunstler and paternal grandparents Herman Schwartz/Hani Simonowitz Schwartz, I can't yet name all of Mom's first cousins. Here are the 28 whose names I know:
  • George and Robert, sons of her uncle Albert Farkas and Sari Klein Farkas.
  • Edythe and Jacqui, daughters of her aunt Irene Farkas Grossman and uncle Milton Grossman.
  • Ron and Betty, children of her aunt Ella Farkas Lenney and uncle Joseph Lenney.
  • Harry and Richard, sons of her aunt Freda Farkas Pitler and uncle Morris Pitler.
  • Barbara, Robert, and Peter, children of her aunt Rose Farkas Freedman and uncle George Freedman.
  • Richard and Susan, children of her uncle Fred Farkas and aunt Charlotte Chapman Farkas.
  • Michael and Leonard, sons of her aunt Jeannie Farkas Marks and uncle Harold Marks.
  • Hajnal, Clara, Sandor, Ilona, and Elza, children of her uncle Joszef Kunstler and aunt Helena Schonfeld Kunstler.
  • Margaret, Alexander, and Joseph, children of her aunt Zali Kunstler Roth and uncle Bela Bernard Roth.
  • Burton and Harriet, children of her aunt Mary Schwartz Wirtschafter and uncle Edward Wirtschafter.
  • Morton and Eugene, sons of her uncle Sam Schwartz and aunt Anna Gelbman Schwartz.
  • Viola, daughter of her aunt Paula Schwartz Weiss and uncle [first name unknown] Weiss.
Remembering Mom today, with love.

PS: I can name every one of Dad's first cousins--he had only 20. But until a few months ago, I didn't know about all of them, and then I broke through a brick wall!

Tuesday, September 12, 2017

Tuesday's Tip: What's Your Genealogy Elevator Pitch?

Do you have a genealogy elevator pitch? You know, a few quick sentences summarizing your family's background, adapted to the situation at hand. Entrepreneurs use elevator pitches to get investors interested in their businesses; we use elevator pitches to connect with relatives and possible relatives in several situations.

With genealogy elevator pitches, the goal is to share information very concisely, spark interest in your family or your research, and--hopefully--motivate action. Especially valuable during Genealogy Go-Overs or Do-Overs!

Here are three situations where I use my genealogy elevator pitches:
  • Following up on a DNA match or a family-tree hint. The right elevator pitch, polite and concise with an upbeat tone, makes a big difference. Mention exactly what the match or hint is, then list family names/places to get the ball rolling on trying to confirm the match. Some people manage more than one DNA kit and are active on more than one DNA site or family-tree site, so I give particulars to save them time. My elevator pitch: "My name is ___, my kit # is ___, and I'm writing about a match with FamilyTreeDNA kit #___, which is listed under the name of ____.  I suspect the connection might be through my Farkas family from Botpalad (Hungary) or my Kunstler family from Nagy Bereg (Hungary). Please let me know if any of these names or places are familiar. Thanks very much, and I'm looking forward to hearing from you." By adding the phrase looking forward to hearing from you, I'm requesting a response, positive or negative. Much of the time, it works.
  • Younger relatives ask a question or appear interested in an old photo. Be ready with a minute or two of explanation--vividly bring that person to life in that moment. Above, a photo my grandsons found interesting. My elevator pitch: "That's your great-great-grandpa James Edgar Wood and his construction crew, building a house in Cleveland Heights more than 100 years ago. Did you know he built so many homes in Cleveland that Wood Road is named for him? And most of those homes are still standing today!" Depending on the reaction, I either dig out more house photos or tell another story about the Wood family--keeping it brief.
  • At a family gathering or on the phone with a relative who asks, "what's new?" Oooh, so glad you asked. My latest elevator pitch: "Hubby and his first cousins took DNA tests, and surprisingly, the results show that the Wood family has some roots outside the British Isles. Would you consider taking a DNA test so we can learn more? [Insert name of DNA testing firm] has a big sale coming up!" The element of surprise in DNA results can be highly intriguing, and the mention of a sale also grabs attention. Three cousins were kind enough to take a DNA test during a sale this summer. My pitch was successful! So many cMs, so little time.
So polish your genealogy elevator pitch. And if you're going to a genealogy conference, polish the "surnames research" part of your pitch and/or have calling cards printed (above, mine and my husband's cards) to exchange with other researchers.

    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?
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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.

    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.