Showing posts with label Mahler. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Mahler. Show all posts

Friday, September 8, 2017

Grandparents Day Challenge: What Surprised Me

Thank you to Dianne Nolin (author of the Beyond the BMD blog) for suggesting the Grandparents Day Challenge for September 10th. My interpretation of this challenge is to write one surprising thing I discovered about each grandparent through genealogical research.
Henrietta Mahler Berk (later Burk) and children listed on 1915 border crossing, Canada to US
  • Henrietta Mahler Burk (1881-1954), my paternal grandma, crossed the border to and from Canada several times with her children as her husband sought carpentry work. The last time was in March, 1915, when she shepherded her four young children back to New York City (ranging in age from 8 years old to 10 months). I was surprised by all this travel while the kids (including my father) were so young. This constant travel helps explain why the family was so close that in later years, three of the four adult children lived in the same apartment building as Henrietta after she was widowed. Saying hello to my Mahler cousins!
  • Isaac Burk (1882-1943), my paternal grandpa, was a bit of a mystery. It took me a long time to learn where and when he died--and then I was surprised to learn the sad news that he had a fatal heart attack in Washington, D.C., while visiting his sister and brother-in-law. That wasn't the only surprise I uncovered through research. Although I knew Isaac was born in Lithuania, I discovered that he stayed with an aunt and uncle in Manchester, England before continuing his journey to North America. I visited my British cousins last year, and DNA testing confirms the connection--greetings, cousins!
  • Hermina Farkas Schwartz (1886-1964) was my maternal grandma. I wasn't aware that her father and then her mother came to America first, leaving Minnie and the other children behind with family in Hungary. Minnie sailed to NYC at age 11 on the S.S. Amsterdam, with her older brother (age 13) and two younger siblings (aged 8 and 5). Imagine being so young and responsible for a lengthy trans-Atlantic voyage with two youngsters. Luckily, the Farkas Family Tree had regular meetings, so as I grew up, I got to know Minnie's siblings and their children and grandchildren. Hi to my Farkas cousins!
  • Theodore Schwartz (1887-1965) was my maternal grandpa. It was a surprise finding out that Grandpa Teddy, who ran a dairy store, was robbed of $50 at gunpoint during the Depression. Also, I didn't know that Teddy was a mover and shaker in the Kossuth Ferencz Hungarian Literary Sick and Benevolent Society, which raised money for charity and helped its members pay medical and funeral bills. Now I'm in touch with several cousins from the Schwartz family--saying hello to you, cousins!


Friday, August 18, 2017

Friday's Faces from the Past: Remembering Dad and Counting His Cousins

Remembering Dad--Harold D. Burk (1909-1978) on the 39th anniversary of his death. This happy photo shows him arriving in Hawaii on a special tour for travel agents (a career he began before being drafted for WWII and resumed when he returned from serving in Europe and married Mom).

Having smashed a major brick wall on Dad's side of the family, I can finally name all twenty of his far-flung first cousins.
  • Rose, Lilly, Bill, and "Punky," the four children of Abraham Berk (1877-1962)
  • Sylvia, Harold, Milton, Norma, and Larry, the five children of Meyer Berg (1883-1981)
  • Miriam, "Buddy," Harvey, Jules, and Hilda, the five children of Sarah Mahler Smith (1889-1974)
  • Mike and Sylvia, the two children of Ida Mahler Volk (1892-1971)
  • Myron, Daniel, Robert, and Ruth, the four children of Mary Mahler Markell (1896-1979)
Miss you, Dad.

Thursday, June 29, 2017

Saluting Canada, Where Ancestors Landed or Settled

Capt. John Slatter (front and center) with the 48th Highlanders
As Canada approaches its exciting 150th anniversary celebration, I want to highlight ancestors who either settled there or first touched North American soil in Canada.

First, let me mention the illustrious Slatter brothers, my husband's London-born great uncles. They became well-known bandmasters in Canada, putting to good use the musical and military training they had received as children on the Goliath and Exmouth.
  • Albert William Slatter (1862-1935) served as bandmaster with the 7th London Fusiliers in Ontario.
  • John Daniel Slatter (1864-1954) achieved fame as the bandmaster of the 48th Highlanders in Toronto, helping to popularize the craze for kiltie bands.
  • Henry Arthur Slatter (1866-1942) was the distinguished bandmaster for the 72d Seaforth Highlanders in Vancouver.
At least two of my Berk/Birk/Burk/Block/Berg ancestors left Lithuania, stopped in England with family to learn English and polish their woodworking skills, and then continued on to North America.
Henrietta Mahler Burk & Isaac Burk
  • Isaac Burk (1882-1943) was a cabinetmaker who, at age 19, was residing with an aunt and uncle in Manchester (according to the 1901 census), along with his older brother, Abraham. Isaac sailed for Canada in 1903 but stayed only for a short time, moving on to New York City where his older sister Nellie Block (1878-1950) was living. Isaac married Henrietta Mahler in New York, and moved back and forth between Montreal and New York for nearly 10 years before deciding to remain in New York permanently.
  • Abraham Berk (1877-1962), also a cabinetmaker, was residing with the same family in Manchester as his brother Isaac during 1901. After his brother left, Abraham stayed on to marry Anna Horwich, then sailed to Canada and made a home in Montreal, where he and his wife raised their family.
Oh Canada! Happy anniversary and many more.

Saturday, June 17, 2017

Remembering the Dads on Father's Day

For Father's Day, I want to remember, with love, some of the Dads on both sides of the family.

My husband's Dad was Edgar James Wood (1903-1986) and his Mom was Marian McClure (1909-1983). My late father-in-law is shown in the color photo below, arm and arm with my hubby on our wedding day!

Edgar's father was James Edgar Wood (1871-1939), shown below right, who married Mary Slatter (1869-1925). And James's father was Thomas Haskell Wood (1809-1890), who married Mary Amanda Demarest (1831-1897).


My Dad was Harold Burk (1909-1978)--shown below left with my Mom, Daisy Schwartz (1919-1981), on their wedding day.

Researching the life of my paternal grandfather, Isaac Burk (1882-1943), started me on my genealogical journey 19 years ago. Isaac is pictured below right with my grandma Henrietta Mahler Burk (1881-1954), in 1936.

Isaac's father was Elias Solomon Birk, a farmer in Kovno, Lithuania, who married Necke [maiden name still not certain]. I never knew Elias was a farmer until my newly-discovered cousin told me she learned that from her grandfather, my great-uncle.


Happy Father's Day to all the Dads of cousins in all branches of our family trees!

Friday, June 2, 2017

Friday's Faces from the Past: Cousins Try to Name Names

Now that I'm in touch with more descendants of my paternal Burk family, I'm asking them to help identify who's who in this party photo from the late 1930s or early 1940s. I can't tell when, where, or why this party took place.

At far right in the foreground is my father, Harold Burk (#3). Seated near the center is his mother, Henrietta Mahler Burk (#1) and his father, Isaac Burk (#2).

My grandfather Isaac's family had distinctly different ways of spelling their shared surname when they came to America from Lithuania, reminding me to be flexible when I search and consider Soundex variations:

Berg, Berk, Birk, Burk, Burke

Thursday, March 9, 2017

Those Places Thursday: My Mahler Ancestors in Jewish Harlem

Professor Jeffrey Gurock recently published his authoritative The Jews of Harlem, with additional research and updates to his earlier book on the subject, When Harlem Was Jewish, 1870-1930. I got my hands on a copy of the new book after reading about it in the New York Times.

My Mahler ancestors lived in that area of upper Manhattan, during the period Prof. Gurock describes. This book gave me a window into their Jewish immigrant experience, arriving and living in the Lower East Side, then moving uptown to Harlem.

Prof. Gurock writes that the opening of the elevated subway (1904) brought many immigrants to Harlem, escaping the teeming crowds and cramped tenements of the Lower East Side. He also notes that the move allowed many to find work locally in Harlem rather than commuting to jobs in midtown or, more commonly, in lower Manhattan.

Interestingly, Prof. Gurock points out that the density of population in Jewish Harlem tenement neighborhoods was, in fact, quite intense. Later, as families had a bit more money, they moved to the "subway suburbs," including the Bronx.

My Mahler family followed this pattern. Great-grandpa Meyer E. Mahler (1861-1910) and great-grandma Tillie Jacobs Mahler (185?-1952) originally lived in the Lower East Side when they arrived from "Russia" (really Eastern Europe). Around the turn of the 20th century, they lived on Chrystie Street and a bit later at Allen Street. Then the "el" opened and life changed.

By 1905, the NY Census shows the Mahler family at 1956 Third Avenue, between 107th and 108th Streets--a walkup tenement in Jewish Harlem. Meyer Mahler worked as a tailor in 1909 at 63 E. 117th Street. I can imagine him walking to work there, half a mile north of his residence (in a building no longer standing).  

By 1910, the family was living at 7 E. 105th Street, a much less crowded area of Jewish Harlem, as I understand Prof. Gurock's explanation. Poor Meyer died of stomach cancer that year, but his widow and children remained at that address until well after WWI. The younger son, Morris Mahler, seems to have been the main breadwinner at that point, and he commuted to work outside Jewish Harlem.

By 1925, the NY Census shows that the Mahler family had moved to the "subway suburb" of the Bronx, living at 2347 Morris Avenue (the first of a few addresses in and around the Bronx). The timing corresponds with what Prof. Gurock writes in his chapter, "The Scattering of the Harlem Jewish Community, 1917-1930." 

Saturday, January 14, 2017

Sorting Saturday: Great-Aunt Dora Mahler's Birth Date

I'm still working on my Genealogy Go-Over, and looking more closely at my father's Mahler ancestors.

As shown above in the 1900 Census, my paternal grandmother (Henrietta Mahler Burk) was one of 7 living children of Tillie Jacobs Mahler and Meyer Elias Mahler.

The next-to-youngest girl was my great-aunt Dora Mahler, born in July 1893, according to this 1900 Census. Alas, I never met her, but she is fondly remembered by one of my 2d cousins.

Despite looking in New York City birth indexes and searching in Family Search records, I can't find Dora's actual birth certificate. When was she really born?
  • The June, 1905 New York Census showed Dora as 11 years old.
  • The April, 1910 US Census showed Dora as 15 years old.
  • The June, 1915 NY Census showed Dora as 20 years old.
  • The January, 1920 US Census showed Dora as 24 years old.
  • The June, 1925 NY Census showed Dora as 30 years old.
  • The April, 1930 US Census showed Dora as 35 years old.
  • Still searching for her and her Mom in the 1940 US Census.
  • Social Security's records show Dora's birth as July 11, 1894. But then again, her name is listed as Dorothy Lillian, not a name she was ever called in the family.
After Dora died on June 9, 1950, probably of heart failure, her brother told authorities that Dora was about 44 years old, pegging her birthday as July 11, 1905. Nope, he wasn't even close.

Dora is buried at Beth David Cemetery on Long Island, NY, but I haven't yet ventured out to see her grave (nor is she in Find A Grave or on Beth David's grave locator). So for now, I'm going to say Dora's birth date was July 11, 1893. Until new evidence emerges!

Thursday, January 5, 2017

Captioning Friday's Faces from the Past

Getting to work on my 2017 resolutions, I found nice, large adhesive labels at my local office supply store to write captions for "faces from the past." Since nearly all of my photos are in archival-quality sleeves, the next step is to write captions and stick the labels to the back of the sleeves.

Above, my hand-printed captions for the two small photos that share one sleeve (shown at right). The subject is my father, Harold Burk (1909-1978), years before he met my mother. The lower photo shows him with my grandma, Henrietta Mahler Burk (1888-1954). 

Someday (in the far future) I hope to replace my hand-written labels with typed labels. For now, the main point is to caption these faces with as much as I know, for the sake of future generations.

In the past, I used the usual small, address-sized labels for captioning, sticking two or three on a sleeve if I had to a lot to say about a photo. But I was happy to find a larger size label in the store, as shown below.

Six to a sheet, plenty of room to write a few sentences or list a number of names. And these are heavy-duty labels, not likely to peel off the sleeves. So go ahead and snow! I'm ready to caption.

Saturday, December 24, 2016

Surname Saturday: Celebrating Family Holiday Traditions


In my husband's Wood family, the tradition was for first cousins to send each other greeting postcards for major holidays.

This Christmas card was sent to my husband's "Uncle Wally" (Wallis Walter Wood), in the 1910s, from first cousin Chester Maxwell Carsten (1910-1967) in Toledo. No postmark, so this was probably mailed with a bundle of cards to the Wood cousins in Cleveland.

My family's holiday traditions were different. Here's a b/w photo of my Mahler/Burk cousins at a Hanukkah party we all attended in the late 1950s. Note the desserts and chocolate milk for kids!

Also, a surprising number of my ancestors and relatives were married on Christmas Eve (including at least one of my 2d cousins). My previous post mentioned my great-uncle Alex Farkas marrying Jenny Katz on Christmas Eve, and here's the only photo I have of that wedding. Alex was my grandma's older brother.

As identified in the photo, my grandma Minnie Farkas Schwartz is at right, with long dark hair. Her husband Ted Schwartz is next to her, wearing a funny hat. In front of them is their young son, Fred. Mom and her twin weren't even a gleam in their eyes--yet.

Wishing you all the happiest and healthiest of holidays! Celebrate with your family's traditions.

Saturday, October 22, 2016

Sorting Saturday: Who Lives, Who Dies, Who Tells Your Family's Story?

Tillie Jacobs Mahler
Watching the Hamilton documentary on PBS, I couldn't get one of Lin-Manuel Miranda's songs out of my mind: "Who Lives, Who Dies, Who Tells Your Story?" Who, the characters sang, would keep their stories alive?

As the genealogists of our generation, we're stepping up to tell our family's stories, and keeping the stories alive for future generations.

But we can't always sort out what the true story actually is. And I wonder, what story would our ancestors themselves tell if they could reach across time to us?

My family has two versions of a story about great-grandma Tillie Rose Jacobs (185_?-1952), born in Telsiai and married in Latvia to Meyer Elias Mahler (1861-1910) before coming to America before the turn of the 20th century.

In one version, Tillie lives to the age of 99. In the other, she is actually 100 when she passes away, but hasn't admitted her real age.

Which is the real story? Which way would she want to tell it to her descendants?

Either way, I know Tillie was a strong matriarch who outlived her husband by more than 40 years. The family often gathered at her Bronx apartment for holidays and other occasions.

Tillie had 14 grandchildren and 22 great-grandchildren at the time of her death--a large family to remember her and keep her memory alive through the ages.

Thursday, September 29, 2016

Those Places Thursday: The Bronx of my Burk family

On this day 107 years ago, my father (Harold Burk) was born at home, 77 E. 109th Street in Manhattan, the second of four children of Isaac Burk and Henrietta Mahler Burk.

Until the mid-1920s, the Burk family lived in a series of tenements in upper Manhattan. Dad used to tell stories of how, on a summer's day, the family would pack a big picnic lunch and take a street car to the top edge of Manhattan. There, they would pick up a horse-drawn conveyance for crossing into the Bronx.

It was a full-day outing, between the slow transportation and then enjoying lunch and a stroll or nap in the park. A welcome change from the heat, noise, and bustle of Manhattan, he remembered fondly decades later.

By 1930, the Burk family had managed to move uptown, with three of the four children working and contributing to the household coffers. They lived at 1580 Crotona Park East in the Bronx, a leafy, "suburban" part of the city.

Today, a single family home sits on the site. But 80 years ago, 20 families lived in a tenement at that address. Looking at the 1930 Census, every family in the building was either headed by an immigrant or included an immigrant (sometimes as a boarder). Most were from Russia, Poland, Romania, or thereabouts.

The Burk family's next-door neighbor in the apartment building became a character reference for Dad in 1931. He was applying for a "fidelity bond" as the first step toward his dream of becoming a travel agent.

Two other character references shown on the bond were, in reality, family members: Louis Volk was married to his aunt, Ida Mahler; Joseph Markell was married to another aunt, Mary Mahler. Both lived on Rochambeau Avenue in the Bronx, 3 miles uptown from the Burk family.

Except for the years he served in World War II, Dad lived the rest of his life in the Bronx, where I was born and spent my early years.

Thursday, August 25, 2016

Blogiversary #8: Still Finding Cousins and Connections


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

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

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

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

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

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

Saturday, May 21, 2016

Genealogy Blog Party: Duh to Wow! Uncle Sidney's Birth Record Leads to New Cousins

The May theme for Elizabeth O'Neal's Genealogy Blog Party is: Duh! What was your genealogy "duh" moment and how did you solve it?

Dad (Harold Burk) and Uncle Sidney in WWII

I knew my father's younger brother, Sidney Burk, was born in Canada in 1914, and brought across the border by his mom a year later when she moved back to NYC as her husband looked for work there.

But since Uncle Sidney died a bachelor, and I knew him well, I never bothered to look for his birth records or even his naturalization, assuming there was one.

This was an anomaly: I'm forever chasing after genealogy documents of ancestors' siblings, aunts, uncles, and cousins--because there are often nuggets hidden in their documents that can help me learn more about the family (like maiden names or hometowns). For some reason, I just didn't see my uncle's birth as a research priority, especially since I knew little about searching in Canadian records.

Then I heard an expert in French-Canadian genealogy mention the Drouin collection. I went home, logged on, and entered "S Berk" with "Quebec, Canada" as the place of birth. (Berk was the family's name before Burk.)

The top result of my search was "Samuel B. Berk," a name I never heard of. But with a click, I had on the screen a handwritten record of Uncle Sidney's birth, as the son of Henrietta Mahler Berk and Isaac Berk, my grandparents. Duh. So simple, and quite intriguing to find out he'd been given a different name than the one I knew him by.

Double duh: A few lines down in the results was a "Lily Berr" and below that, "Rose Bert." Click: they were both related to Abraham Berk (not transcribed correctly but worth a click to check). I know that name! It's my great-uncle, the brother of my grandpa Isaac. Never before had I known where Abraham lived or the names of his children, and suddenly that entire line opened up to me. Even better, there were living cousins who I soon traced and now am in contact with.

So my duh led to discovering an entire limb of my father's family tree. From duh to WOW!

Friday, May 20, 2016

Gen Go-Over: Eyes on the Prize

Yesterday, my cousin (found through genealogy, of course) said something profound that applies to this year's Genealogy Go-Over. My cousin is a brilliant businesswoman and has keen insight into people. When she talks, I listen.

She was talking about a friend who played golf very, very well. This man was a perfectionist. When he was in a tournament, he would agonize over every swing and analyze every shot afterward, going over and over what he should have done and how he could improve.

While this gentleman was trying to perfect each shot, his competitors were playing golf. And winning. His obsession with perfecting technique derailed his ability to win.

My cousin's point: Keep your eyes on the prize. She was reminding me not to miss seeing the forest by being distracted by all the trees. Every tree is important (just like every ancestor is important) but the big picture is equally important. Stepping back to see the big picture is every bit as vital as checking, sourcing, and documenting every last detail.

One of my goals is to find out about ancestors who are known only by name, like Rachel Shuham and Jonah Jacobs, who were my paternal 2d great-grandparents from Lithuania. We know Jonah died some time before Rachel and their two children and grandchildren came to New York City in the 1880s. Lots more to learn there!

So for me, the Genealogy Go-Over is really about carefully reviewing what I know and using that info, plus new cousin connections, new techniques, and new data, to move ever closer to the prize of understanding who my ancestors were, where (exactly) they were from, and whether we have other cousins out there, still to be found!

I'm awaiting DNA results from Ancestry that I hope will offer a window into a different family story, one about my maternal grandfather's background. The story is about the various tribes that conquered Hungary hundreds of years before grandpa Tivador Schwartz was born in Ungvar. The tribes raped and pillaged their way across the landscape, and supposedly some of that tribal blood found its way into my grandpa's bloodline generations back. Will my DNA results reveal any trace of the conquering tribes? Waiting to see.

Wednesday, April 20, 2016

Genealogy Blog Party: Time Travel Adventure with Rachel and Mary

Elizabeth O'Neal over at Little Bytes of Life is throwing a Genealogy Blog Party. Thanks, Elizabeth, for the opportunity to blog about April's theme, Time Travel to an Ancestor. I asked hubby who he would like to meet in a time travel adventure, and his answer was his paternal grandma, Mary. My answer is my paternal 2d great-grandma, Rachel.
MEETING RACHEL

My time travel adventure would be with Rachel Shuham Jacobs, shown at right. She was married to Jonah Jacobs and had two children, Tillie Jacobs Mahler and Joseph Jacobs.

As I always do when reaching out to a relative (or someone I think is a relative), I'm going to start by writing Rachel a letter. Of course I'll tell her exactly who I am--what great-great-grandma wouldn't want to know that she's remembered fondly by her family?

Dear GGG Rachel,

Greetings from the future from your great-great-granddaughter! The little girl you're holding in this photo from New York City grew up, got married, and became close friends with a young woman from the Farkas family. Set up on a blind date by these "matchmaker aunts," my parents fell in love, married, and had children--including me. 

So GGG Rachel, I would really like to bring you on a time travel adventure to meet my parents on their wedding day in 1946. Then you can hug your daughter Tillie, who as matriarch was in an honored position at the wedding. Also meet your grandchildren, including my grandma Henrietta and my great-aunt Mary, the little girl who became the matchmaker aunt. 

First, a few questions, please. Where in Lithuania were you born, and who were your parents? What was life like in your home town? How did you meet and marry your husband, Jonah? And how did you feel about leaving Lithuania to live in New York with your two children? 

When I come to pick you up, please wear something a little fancy to the wedding of your great-grandson Harold. Love, Your great-great-granddaughter

MEETING MARY

Hubby would like to meet his father's mother, Mary Slatter Wood, one of two daughters of John Slatter and Mary Shehen Slatter. Mary was born in a poor (really, really poor) area of London but left in the late 1800s for America, where she married James Edgar Wood and settled in Cleveland, Ohio. Sadly, Mary died before her sons were fully grown.

Dear Grandma Mary,

Greetings from the future. I'm the oldest son of your oldest son. I want you to know that the musical ability you brought into the Wood family has come down through the generations. Thank you!

Grandma Mary, there are some questions I wish I could ask you. What was life like growing up in London? Do you remember your mother and father? Did you have an older brother Thomas, who died young? Was your mother's death the reason your father left for America? How did you meet and marry my granddaddy? 

It would be wonderful to meet you, Grandma Mary. My plan is to travel back in time to the summer of 1917, when you and Granddaddy James and your four sons took a road trip in your new Ford auto. It looked like quite an adventure. Let me join you and see my ancestors through your eyes. Love, Your grandson

Saturday, February 13, 2016

Surname Saturday: Another Shuham Connection?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Tuesday, February 2, 2016

Tombstone Tuesday: Two of the Four Markell Brothers

In the ongoing saga of locating members of the Markell family (who married into my Mahler family), I finally checked out the headstone of Philip Louis Markell (1880-1955) to learn who his father was.

Thanks to the friendly folks at Tracing the Tribe, I confirmed that Philip's father's name translates as Yochanan Avraham, as shown on his stone at left. 
 
Philip's older brother is Barney H. Markell (1874-1944) and his stone (in a cemetery hundreds of miles away) says the father's name is Elchonon or Alchanon Avraham. Barney was the father of Joseph Markell, who married my great-aunt Mary Mahler.

One younger brother is Samuel Markell (1885-1971), who died--I believe--in Massachusetts. He's not in Find A Grave or the Jewish Online Burial records, so I don't yet know his final resting place. 

The other younger brother is Julius Markell (1882-1966), who died in Brooklyn, NY. So far, I don't know where he's buried and can't yet compare his father's name with that of Philip, Barney, and Samuel. The saga continues!

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!

Monday, September 14, 2015

Military Monday: David Mahler Had a Tattoo?! Yes, I Learned with a Click


David Mahler was the older of two brothers of my paternal grandma, Henrietta Mahler Burk.

Born in New York City, he worked in Hollywood for Columbia Pictures for many years, through the kindness of a Mahler in-law who was part of the studio's founding Cohn family.
I've researched David's background and I knew he was a "rigger" in Camden, NJ in 1918 when he registered for the WWI military. But I hadn't ever seen his WWII registration card--until today, when it turned up in a shaky leaf on Ancestry.

Page 1 of the document was quite informative: It confirmed that David was born in Riga, Latvia, and confirms his birthdate of March 15, 1882. Interestingly, David gave the name/address of a neighbor (or possibly a work colleague) for "someone who will always know your address."

If I had relied only on Ancestry's transcription, or simply stopped at page 1 of the registration card, I would never have learned what David looked like. Luckily, I can't resist reviewing the actual image of every document, and clicking to the image before and after to be sure that I've seen everything there is to see on my ancestors.

Sure enough, there was a page 2 image (not transcribed by Ancestry, of course), and it contained a physical description of my great uncle. He was 5' 4", 153 lbs, with salt-and-pepper hair and brown eyes.

Most interestingly, he had "DM" tattooed on his right arm, which might have been left over from his days as a "rigger." I can only imagine what his mother Tillie Jacobs Mahler would have thought of his tattoo, if she knew (I strongly suspect she didn't).

So always click to see the actual image and click to either side of it just in case there's more! Not to mention that seeing an ancestor's handwriting or printing can tell a story all on its own.

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!