Showing posts with label Markell. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Markell. Show all posts

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.

Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Almost Wordless Wednesday: The Many Names of Barney Markell

Barney Markell was a man of many names. Above, his gravestone in Riverside Cemetery, New Jersey, showing that he died 73 years ago today.

As part of my Genealogy Go-Over, I'm reexamining the details I've gathered about ancestors. Now it's Barney's turn.
  • The translation of his Hebrew name is: Binyamin Yitzchock Henoch, son of R' Alchonon Avraham. Knowing his father's name helped to connect him with his brothers (by seeing their gravestones and other documents).
  • On his petition for naturalization, his name is shown as "Banna Markell." 
  • On his declaration of intention, his name is shown as "Bena Markell."
  • On his first marriage license, his name is shown as "Berna Markell."
  • On his second marriage license, 19 years after the first marriage, his name is shown as "Barney H. Markell."
  • On his WWI draft card, his name is shown as "Banna Henry Markell." 
  • No WWII draft card found yet...but I've also seen his name as "Barnhart Markell."
I've written before about the Markell branch of my family tree, including here and here (among other posts), and expect more posts as I continue double-checking my research.

RIP, Barney Markell, father-in-law of a matchmaker aunt who brought my parents together for their first date.

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.

Monday, August 1, 2016

Mystery Monday: More Pieces of the Markell Puzzle


My Markell quest began more than 3 years ago, when I was researching the family of great-uncle Joseph Markell (1894-1975). He married Mary Mahler (1896-1979), my father's aunt and one of the two matchmaker aunts responsible for introducing my father to my mother. No wonder I'm so interested in the Markell family!

Two Markell men married two Lebowitz sisters. One of those Markell men was Joseph Markell's father, Barna Barnhart "Barney" Markell. But was the other, Julius Markell, a sibling or a cousin? My research strongly suggests that Julius and Barna were the sons of Alchanan Abraham Hyman Markell, of Vilna, Lithuania (usually called "Russia" on documents of the period).

Julius came to America before 1907, when I found him in the city directory of San Francisco, working as a plasterer. In 1908, he married Ella Lebowitz (1884-1965) in Washington state, and they had a daughter, Ruth, before the couple moved back east. Some time around 1920, they separated and divorced (I'm still searching for that record).

Julius then married Tillie and they had one child, William Markell (1923-2009). Until now, I couldn't locate a marriage record for Tillie and Julius, or proof that William was their son.

Today, after a lengthy wait for William's original Social Security application document (I had to appeal the original "redacted version" due to the 120 year rule), I received the document (at left) showing his parents' names as Julius Markell and Tillie Sachs [sic]!

With that maiden name in mind, I returned to the hunt for Julius and Tillie's marriage record--and found it in an index of Massachusetts marriages, as shown above. To double-check, I searched the index for "Tillie Sachs" and found Tillie Sacks in the same volume and the same page. Now I've proven that Julius and Tillie are William's parents, and another piece of the Markell puzzle is in place.

Julius and his brother Barney aren't direct ancestors of mine. Barney is actually the father-in-law of my great-aunt Mary Mahler. But I love solving genealogy mysteries, I have Markell cousins, and the Markell family has an interesting background (early owners of a theater in Massachusetts, for example--see directory excerpt from Adams, MA, at right).

Knowing about the theater, I can imagine that's one reason why Julius and Tillie were married in Pittsfield (in the same county as the theater).  How this couple got to Brooklyn, where their son William was born and raised, I don't know--yet.

UPDATE: I called Pittsfield's City Clerk and learned that Julius and Tillie were married on May 31, 1921. I'm arranging to get their marriage license info and will write up what I learn!

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!

Friday, January 16, 2015

Genealogy Do-Over, Week 2: Interviewing My Family Photos

Family photos CAN talk! We just have to ask the right interview questions. As I was inventorying my genealogy boxes for "Week 1" of the Do-Over, I saved the box with info on my immediate family for "Week 2."

In between school photos and family portraits, I found a long-forgotten set of b/w snapshots with this notation in my mother's handwriting: "Chanukah 19XX - December."

 That answered my first "interview" question--when and why my parents, my sisters, and I were together with all these relatives from my father's side of the family tree.

It was holiday time, so a basement-full of Mahler and Burk and Markell children (and adults) were gathered to celebrate, drinking what looks like a year's supply of chocolate milk and having a fun afternoon.

Second interview question: What do I know about these photos, either from my own memories or from what the images show or suggest? Well, I clearly remember the special party dress I wore (you can't see it in these particular snaps). And I can definitely identify several aunts and uncles (and great-aunts and uncles) and maybe a couple of cousins.

Other folks, however, are a mystery, as is the exact location--I think it's a community room or rec center, judging by the non-residential look of the room. If only Mom had noted the place, that would have been sooooooo helpful.

These relatives must be part of my father's family tree, but who's who?

Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Top 10 Genealogy Lessons Learned in 2014 - Part 2

More lessons learned from my genealogical adventures in 2014. NOT in priority order:
 
5. Be prepared when visiting or calling cemeteries. With an alphabetical listing of surnames printed from my gen software, I made several cemetery visits this year to eyeball burial sites. Most cemeteries were kind enough to do lookups or give me detailed plot maps, which I compared with my alpha list to be sure I visited as many family graves as possible. Also, I photographed hundreds of stones near my family's graves for two reasons: In case I later learn that they're in-laws or other relatives, and to post on Findagrave for the benefit of others. Not being able to visit certain cemeteries, I've called and asked questions--and found out that, for instance, Rosa Markell (marker at left) was originally buried in one plot but was moved to another when her stone was erected. Lesson: Do my homework before making a cemetery visit, have names/dates in hand, have a camera handy, show appreciation to cemetery staff, and follow-up by posting and/or correcting on Findagrave.

4. Dig deep for resources at the local level. At the start of this year, I followed the URL on the Emmet County Genealogical Society's bookmark (which I received at a FGS conference) and unearthed a goldmine of info about hubby's McClure ancestors--details that don't show up in an ordinary Google or Bing search. A new link on that site leads to online newspaper archives at the Greenwood Cemetery in Petoskey, Michigan, a potential source of obits and other info about the McClures. I also made small donations to county gen societies in exchange for receiving photocopies of surname info in their written files, and will follow up other local resources such as land-office info. Lesson: List the counties or county seats where ancestors lived and search out those genealogical and historical societies.

3. Mine newspapers for every scrap of info. Accessing newspaper databases, I've obtained dozens of obits and marriage announcements this year. I look for each person's obits (or engagement/marriage) on multiple days (often there are two obits, on day of death and on day of burial) and I search multiple news sources (both town and county-seat newspapers, for instance). Some newspapers printed much more detailed obits or wedding announcements, including the full names of out-of-town guests who are relatives! Obits and wedding announcements are also valuable for noticing who is NOT listed. Lesson: Keep plugging in those names, analyze every name/location mentioned, and be flexible about spelling and dates.

2. Context counts. Because I created memory booklets about my maternal and paternal ancestors this year, I did a lot of research to understand why and how they did what they did (leaving the old country, traveling from or to a certain port, settling in a particular area, etc). World history and hyperlocal events definitely influence individuals: My grandparents fled pogroms and persecution in Eastern Europe, along with millions of other immigrants who sought a better life in America. Names, dates, places, and relationships are data points that must be linked by stories of why and how--and that's why context counts. Even the context of a century-old photo makes a difference in telling the story. Lesson: Time-lines and family trees must be analyzed in the context of what was happening at the time.

1. Never give up! This is a lesson reinforced every time a distant cousin finds me via my blog or Facebook or Ancestry or Findagrave and we exchange info. Luck plays an important role in genealogy. We just never know when a vital scrap of knowledge will pop up and solve a mystery that's stumped us for years. Lesson: Life in the "past lane" requires patience and perseverance. Plus good records so when that key item drops into my life, I can put my hands on the rest of the puzzle pieces and figure things out.


HAPPY NEW YEAR 2015!

Friday, October 17, 2014

Rosa and Berna's Snowy October Wedding Day in 1895

A light snow fell over Rhode Island on October 21, 1895, the day Rosa Lebowitz and Berna (Banna/Barnhart) Markell were married in Providence.

Now, 119 years later, I'm staring at their marriage certificate, thanks to the advice I was given by members of the FB Rhode Island Genealogy Network. They told me how to obtain this document--and the cost was the princely sum of $2.30.


Rosa said she was 20 (she was actually younger) and Berna said he was 21 (his correct age). His occupation was listed as brush maker, the same occupation he listed on his naturalization papers. Not every detail fits what I know of these ancestors, but there are enough points of agreement (her parents, their birthplaces) for me to conclude that this marriage document is theirs.

Although the couple said they were residents of Providence at the time of their marriage in 1895, Rhode Island was known throughout New England as a Gretna Green.

As this Connecticut newspaper article so eloquently states, couples from nearby states would seek out Rhode Island for "spur-of-the-moment marriages" without the consent of either parent. They "would be man and wife a few minutes after touching Rhode Island soil." Instant marriages continued until late in 1909, when the RI legislature required a five-day wait between license and marriage.

Were my ancestors seeking an instant marriage or were they really living in Providence at the time? The Providence directories for 1895 and years around then weren't arranged alphabetically. No, businesses and residents were listed according to the street where they were located. There was a separate directory listing for businesses ("brush manufacturers," not "brush makers"), but my ancestor was an ordinary worker, not an owner.

I have to be more creative to find Rosa and Berna if they're really in the Providence directory--which I suspect they're not.

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Almost Wordless Wednesday: Rose Lebowitz Markell, RIP in Brooklyn

Rose Lebowitz Markell (mother of Joseph A. Markell, who married my father's matchmaker aunt, Mary Mahler) died in Pittsburgh and was buried one day later in Brooklyn, NY.

Friends were kind enough to photograph her grave yesterday.

The inscription reads: Here lies my beloved mother, Rochel (Rachel), daughter of Sholom.


Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Tuesday's Tip: Try, Try Again--New Clues Come Online Every Day

My most recent research has been looking for Rose Lebowitz Markell (abt 1877-1909, married to Barney Markell), the beauty who died young after having a son who grew up and married my matchmaker aunt. My latest discovery about Rose reminds me to keep searching, keep trying--because new clues come online every day.

Just last week I found Rose's death certificate--only because Ancestry and Pennsylvania have a new arrangement for scanning and making these documents available online. It would have been difficult to find her otherwise, so my timing was good.

Months earlier, I had sent for the death cert of her sister Ella Lebowitz Markell (1886-1965, married to Julius Markell) the old-fashioned way, starting with a Pennsylvania death index and paying $9 (a relative bargain) to receive a paper copy f-o-u-r months later.

But here was Rose's complete death cert, freshly posted on Ancestry! She died in Pittsburgh and was buried in New York City. This makes sense because Rose's mother lived in New York City. Next challenge: There are a LOT of potential burying places around the city. Where to start?


I went to Find-a-Grave, of course, where I've searched in the past. This time I had a death year so I could do a more specific search.

I plugged in the last name, Markell, and the year 1909, and searched in New York only.

Up popped a result that was posted at the end of May by a kind volunteer: Rosa Markell [sic], buried in Washington Cemetery in Brooklyn, NY. This cemetery has more than 52,000 burials, but only a small percentage have been photographed or posted online. If I'd checked in early May, I would have found nothing.

Of course some things have to be done the old-fashioned, pre-Internet way. I picked up the phone and called the cemetery. The office personnel had a lot of info to share: Rose was buried one day after her death, in an "independent" plot. A year later, presumably when her gravestone was to be put in place, Rose was moved to the Markell family plot in another area of the cemetery. They also gave me the (new to me) name of the relative who was in charge of that plot.

Timing, as they say, is everything. Who knows what new info will be posted online today or next week or next year?

Thursday, August 14, 2014

52 Ancestors #31: Beautiful Rose Lebowitz Markell Died Young

For years I've tried to find out what happened to Rose Lebowitz Markell, wife of Barney (Barnhart) Markell and mother of Joseph Markell. Joseph married my great-aunt Mary Mahler, who is one of the matchmaker aunts responsible for introducing my parents.

Earlier this summer, I spotted an Ancestry family tree that included the name of Rose's sister Ella, and I contacted the tree owner. He responded and now that we know he's my Left Coast cousin, we've been exchanging info. The family story was that Rose was quite beautiful and she died young. Details were sketchy, however.

Thanks to Ancestry posting and indexing thousands of Pennsylvania death cert images, my search this morning turned up Rose Lebowitz Markell's death certificate. The informant was Barney and he didn't get everything correct (Rose's father was Samuel, not Solomon) nor did he know his wife's exact birth year.

Still, this is undoubtedly our beautiful Rosie, who left behind a husband and a school-age son. Barney remarried in 1914 to Esther, who had a teenaged daughter from a first marriage. When Barney and Esther had a daughter in 1918, they named her Rose.

Unfortunately, teenaged Joseph didn't get along with his step-mother (according to family lore) and he ran away. As soon as he was old enough, he joined the Navy, serving on a ship that was anchored off the coast of Mexico during the "Tampico Affair" right after WWI.

Happily, Joseph didn't lose touch with his Lebowitz relatives. My Left Coast cousin says that his wife Mary made sure their children got to know their Lebowitz cousins.

My next task is to locate where Rosie the beauty was buried. She's not in Find-a-Grave, but I'll keep looking!

Saturday, July 19, 2014

Sympathy Sunday: Ella Markell, "Aunt of Husband of Grand Aunt"

Ella Lebowitz Markell (1886-1965) was the "aunt of the husband of my grand aunt." The family connection is through Joseph Markell, who married my grand aunt Mary Mahler. Mary was one of the matchmaker aunts who arranged for my parents to meet, so anyone connected with her family is special to me.

Two Markell men married two Lebowitz sisters, and I have been hoping to learn whether the Markell men were brothers or cousins or what. Ella and her husband Julius Markell (1882-1966) had a daughter, Ruth Markell. After Ella and Julius divorced, he married Tillie UNK and they had one son, William Markell.


Ella's death cert finally arrived today and I was saddened to see that she died of a stroke in Pittsburgh's Jewish Home for the Aged, just a month after her 81st birthday. She is buried in the Sons of Israel cemetery, Forest Hills, PA.

Ella had the same condition which also contributed to her mother Fanny Schwartz Lebowitz's death in 1933.

Thinking of Ella on this Sympathy Sunday.

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Wordless (Almost) Wednesday: Still W-a-i-t-i-n-g for Ella Markell's Death Cert

On March 8, I sent for Ella Markell's death cert. Ella's history is part of my research into the Markell/Mahler/Lebowitz family mysteries--two brothers marrying two sisters.

On April 4, Pennsylvania cashed my check. And I waited.

On May 13, Pennsylvania wrote me the above letter, asking for my patience and saying the record would be on its way in four more weeks. I waited. And I waited.

Does Pennsylvania usually take this long to process a simple document request?

I'm still w a i t i n g. I'm going to write them again today. The LONG wait leaves me, well, nearly wordless.

Friday, March 7, 2014

52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks #12: Barney, Esther, and Rose Markell -- and the Atlas Theatre

This week, more on the saga of Barney H. Markell, his second wife Esther, and his first wife, Rose Lebowitz. In the last episode, I was pondering how Barney Markell and Julius Markell are related. The Markells were important to my family history because Barney's daughter-in-law got together with her good friend Rose and set my parents up on a date that ultimately led to . . . well, me. The Markells have led me on quite a genealogy chase in the past few years.

Barney (aka Barnhart and Banna, although his Hebrew name is Benjamin Isaac Enoch) was born in either Lithuania or Russia in 1874. His naturalization papers say he arrived in Boston in 1891. There he met and married Rose Lebowitz and they had their only child, Joseph A. Markell, in 1894.

The story turns tragic when Rose dies young, before 1910. (I'm still looking for her death info.)

Barney brings his young son to New York to stay with Rose's mother, Fran Lebowitz, and family, where I found them in the 1910 census. In 1914, Barney meets and marries Esther Mary (Mitzie) Kodritck or Kodrick (marriage license above, one of my genealogy splurges). Even though the license says this is Mitzie's first marriage, she already had a daughter from an earlier marriage. Together, Mitzie and Barney have another daughter, Rose Markell. Joseph doesn't get along with step-mom Mitzie, so he runs away and joins the service. Then he meets Mary Mahler and settles down to married life in New York.

Meanwhile, the story of Barney and Esther gets more convoluted. Barney dies in 1944, and Esther dies in 1957. According to the North Adams Transcript of 28 October 1957, Esther and Barney lived in Adams, Massachusetts from about 1920 to 1935, because Barney and his brother Philip co-owned the Atlas Theatre there. At least that's what Esther's obit says. The census says otherwise, but it's easy to imagine that the Markells were in the Bronx some of the year and in the Berkshires during the busy summer months.

Read Esther's obit below, and you'll wonder whether the writer needed a spell-checker or fact-checker or both. Plus the writer (or informant) was geographically challenged, saying that Budapest was in Austria and that Esther was buried in the Bronx, when in reality her grave is in New Jersey, alongside that of Barney and Esther's first daughter and her husband.
PS: The Atlas Theatre is no longer standing. Two years after the Markells sold it, it was replaced by another theatre that is now being renovated.

Sunday, February 2, 2014

Sunday's Obituary: Who's Missing from the Obit of Fannie Lebowitz

Still in pursuit of the two Markell men who married Lebowitz sisters, I've been tracing the Lebowitz family. Why? Because I want to determine how Julius Markell is related to Barnhart (Banna, Barney) Markell, not just as in-laws but also as possible cousins.

Barney and his son Joseph Markell were living with Barney's mother-in-law Fannie Lebowitz in 1910. Joseph's wife Rose Lebowitz died sometime between Joseph's birth in 1894 and the 1910 Census. My guess is she died before 1902, when Barney was naturalized, because Rose's name isn't on the nat papers.

But when Fannie Lebowitz died, her late daughter Rose wasn't mentioned in the obituary, nor was her late husband:

Mrs. Fannie Lebowitz, aged 78 years, died on May 2, 1933 at the home of her daughter, Mrs. Joseph Sobel of Rankin, Pa. The deceased was a member of the Daughters of Israel, Jewish Home for Babies, Consumptive Home of Denver and Los Angeles, and others. She leaves two sons, Samuel of Rankin and Morris of Pittsburgh; two daughters, Mrs. Joseph Sobel and Mrs. Ella Markell of Rankin; ten grandchildren and three greatgrandchildren. 

Note that Mrs. Ella Markell WAS listed. She was the first wife of Julius Markell, who later married Tillie [maiden name unknown] and had a son, William, in 1923.

Friday, January 24, 2014

Surname Saturday: Contacted by Slatter, Wood, Markell (and more)

Thanks to my Ancestry family trees and this blog, I've heard from three people this week who are either related to my/my hubby's ancestors OR are researching the same surnames. And thanks to a genealogy message board--and a LOT of patience--my Boulder cousin has connected with cousins we never knew we had!

  • Slatter. This morning I awoke to an Ancestry message from Australia, written by a descendant of John Slatter and Mary Shehen Slatter. This relative is the child of hubby's second cousin! Because that branch of the Slatter family left England for Canada in the early 1900s, I've had little luck tracing their more recent whereabouts. Now I know why. Can't wait to share info with this Slatter cousin!
  • Wood. Earlier in the week, I heard from a distant relative on the Wood side, a descendant of Thomas Wood and Content Thurston (married 1690). He had read my ancestor landing page about Mary Amanda Demarest and got in touch! Now he and our Wood family genealogist, Cousin Larry, are exchanging family tree information, I'm delighted to say.
  • Markell. This afternoon I got an intriguing e-mail from a Markell, asking about the Julius Markell I wrote about in "Two Lebowitz Sisters Marry Two Markell Men." 
Lena Kunstler Farkas, about 1923
There has also been an exciting new development in my Boulder cousin's research into the family trees of my maternal great-grandparents, Moritz Farkas and Lena Kunstler.

Years ago, my cousin posted a Kunstler query on a JewishGen message board. She never got so much as a nibble.

But her patience paid off. Last week, out of the blue, she heard from a lady who is definitely a cousin from the Kunstler family. New cousins! What a genealogy week it's been.

Friday, May 31, 2013

Family Friends Friday: Mary and Rose, Matchmakers

Family legend has it that my father, Harold Burk, was introduced to my mother, Daisy Schwartz, by two of their aunts.

I've known for some time that Mary Mahler Markell (Harold's aunt) was his side's match-making aunt. But who was the aunt on my mother's side?

Now I have the answer. In scanning hundreds (yes, hundreds) of minutes of meetings of the Farkas Family Tree, founded by my grandma Hermina Farkas Schwartz and her 10 siblings, I see that "Mr. & Mrs. Markell" and sometimes "Mr. & Mrs. Joe Markell" are frequent visitors--but only when the family gathers at the home of Rose Farkas Freedman and her husband George.

I looked up the addresses of the Markells and the Freedmans in the 1940 Census. This map shows the five-minute walk between the home of Joe & Mary and the home of George & Rose.

One of Rose's sons has confirmed that Mary was a close friend of Rose. I suspect that Mary and Rose cooked up a plan to introduce my father to my mother. Harold had just gotten out of the army and was an eligible bachelor. Daisy was dreaming of meeting the right man and settling down to have a family. The aunts got them together and in less than 3 months, Mom and Dad were engaged. Thanks to this family friendship, my future was assured!

Sunday, March 17, 2013

Genealogy by the States: New York state of mind

There are so many wonderful New York City sources to help with my genealogy research that I scarcely know where to begin. My Schwartz, Farkas, Birk, and Mahler ancestors all sailed past the Statue of Liberty from Eastern Europe, so my genealogy naturally has a New York state of mind.

Here are four of my favorite sites for NYC genealogy:
  • NYC brides, grooms, births, deaths, and naturalizations: My top go-to site is the Italian Genealogical Group. It's free and the volunteers who transcribed the records and developed the databases have done an incredible job. 
  • 1940 NYC directories, old photos, and much, much more: online and in person at the NY Public Library Milstein Division. Browsing the Digital Gallery brings me back to the New York City of my grandparents' time.
  • Ellis Island and Castle Green sites are helpful in finding immigrants who landed in NYC, although I prefer Family Search's Ellis Island passenger lists and Ancestry, not to mention Fold3's naturalization documents.
  • Linkpendium's city and borough-by-borough links that that of the Bronx are quite useful. Actually, Linkpendium is great for any state!
Now for my most recent New York genealogy adventures in following the Markell family. Barnhart (Barney, Bernard) H. Markell (1874-1944) was the father-in-law of my grand-aunt Mary Mahler Markell. As I wrote earlier this year, Barney came to New York from Boston with his son Joseph after the early death of his first wife, Rose Lebowitz. I've followed the paper trail of Barney and his progeny via US and NY census data, but have yet to discover exactly how Julius and Barney Markell are related.


On Friday, hubby and I took a field trip to Riverside Cemetery in NJ, where Barney is buried (above). In the same plot were: Barney's second wife, Esther M. Markell; Esther's daughter Ella Markell and her two husbands, Albert Brown (originally Brownstein) and Jeremiah Match; and Albert's brother-in-law David Zenkel. RIP.

This weekly prompt about New York is part of the "Genealogy by the States" series by Jim Sanders.

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Two Lebowitz Sisters Married Two Markell Men

"Barna Markell" is a witness to Julius Markell's naturalization
I'm hot on the trail of the link between two Lebowitz sisters and two men named Markell. The Markell men are directly connected by a single document--a 1920 naturalization cert on which one is the witness and the other is the new citizen. Are they blood relatives? Well, that's the mystery . . .

Joseph A. Markell (1894-1975) was the husband of my great-aunt Mary Mahler Markell (1896-1979). He's the reason I'm trying to unravel this tangle of Lebowitz and Markell folks.

Here goes: Great-uncle Joseph Markell, born in Boston, was the son of Rose Lebowitz and her hubby, Bernard (aka Barnhart, Banna, or Barna) Markell. Bernard was an immigrant from Russia or thereabouts, having arrived in Boston in 1891. He was naturalized in NYC on 5 February 1902 (occupation: Driver).

Alas, Rose died young (before 1910), after which young Joseph and his father Bernard came to live with Rose's mother Fannie Lebowitz in New York City for a short time. (The Lebowitz matriarch was supposedly born in Czechoslovakia, but I haven't confirmed that.)

Meanwhile, Rose's younger sister Ella Lebowitz (b. 1890) also married a Markell. His name was Julius, and he was a plasterer born in Vilna. He arrived in New York in 1904, and somehow made he made his way to Washington state, where he married Ella Lebowitz in 1908. (How she managed to get across the country from New York to Washington is another question mark.) Their only daughter (Ruth Markell) was born there in 1909.

Clearly, Julius Markell must have had a yen to travel or a need to find work, because the next year they turn up in Boston, in the 1910 Census (remember that Joseph Markell, son of Bernard and Rose, was born in Boston but much earlier). Then, according to his nat papers, Julius resided in New York City from 1911 on. In fact, his WWI draft card puts his residence in Brooklyn, NY, and he stayed put through the 1920, 1930, and 1940 Census in Brooklyn.

However, Julius Markell and his wife Ella Lebowitz Markell must have fallen out with each other, because by the time of the 1920 naturalization, he tells the court that she and their daughter Ruth are living in Pittsburgh. I found them there, with strong clues to a link between Bernard and Julius Markell:
  • In the 1930 Census, Ella and her daughter Ruth Markell are living with Ella's mother Fannie Lebowitz (remember her? She took Bernard and Joseph into her NYC apartment in 1910) in the household of Ella's brother Samuel Lebowitz. Ella tells the Census that she's a widow. Not true!
  • In the 1940 Census, Ella is living in the household of her bro-in-law Joseph Sobel and his wife (Ella's sister?) Sarah and their four children. This time, Ella Markell tells the Census that she's divorced. Almost certainly true.
Sometime in the 1920s, Julius Markell remarried and had a child (William Markell) with his second wife, Tillie, in 1923.

Bernard Markell also remarried. Conflict with Bernard's new wife (Esther) prompted Joseph to run away to sea, a family story I wrote about earlier this month. Bernard (Barney) and Esther had a daughter together, named Rose Markell. It's not much of a leap to see that their daughter was named after his late wife Rose Lebowitz. They lived in New York at least through 1940, according to the Census.

Now I'm trying to find more about Bernard Markell's life and family background so I can connect him even more directly with Julius Markell. Are they cousins? Or what?

Saturday, February 9, 2013

Genealogy by the States: Massachusetts, Where "Pappy" Markell Was Born

Joseph A. Markell (1894-1975), who married my great-aunt Mary Mahler (1896-1979), was born in the Boston area, the son of Bernard (Barnhart H.) Markell and Rose Lebowitz. Who knew he'd wind up on a ship that almost touched off an international diplomatic incident?

Markell's mother, Rose, died young. In the 1910 Census, Joseph (then 16) is shown as living in his grandmother Fanny Leibowitz's apartment with her widowed son-in-law (Joseph's father), plus uncles Morris Leibowitz (23 yrs old) and Samuel Leibowitz (18). According to one of my cousins, Joseph (called "Pappy" by his grandchildren) later ran away from home after his father remarried because of conflict with the new stepmother.

The family story is that teenaged Pappy wound up at the Brooklyn Navy Yard, making money by shining the shoes of sailors who were going on shore leave. This seems to be confirmed by the 1920 Census, which shows Pappy as a yeoman serving on the USS Niagara, anchored in Tampico, Mexico, when the enumeration was completed in February, 1920.

Why would the USS Niagara be off the Mexico coast? Well, the Mexican Revolution was underway and the US and Mexico had been skirmishing along the border.

In 1914, there was an incident in Tampico (an oil-rich area of Mexico) involving the Mexican authorities arresting US sailors. This "Tampico Affair" escalated into a US occupation of Veracruz. During WWI, Germany secretly tried to forge an alliance with Mexico, which only heightened tensions along the border.

By the fall of 1919, when the USS Niagara steamed to the coast off Tampico, WWI was over but the Mexican Revolution wasn't quite finished. When the Niagara arrived, it immediately suffered a major outbreak of malaria (according to the documentation declassified in 1980 and posted on Fold3, where I read much of it--see a snippet above). 

In December of 1919, the USS Niagara was dispatched to intercept another vessel, the San Jacinto, before it could land at Tampico. The goal was to prevent the Mexican government from arresting someone thought to be on board the steamship San Jacinto, a person believed by the Mexican government to be a spy. However, the Niagara was unsuccessful in convincing the San Jacinto to stop, and it took no further action to avoid provoking an unnecessary international incident between Mexico and the US. And that's probably a good thing for Pappy, too.

This prompt is part of the "Genealogy by the States" series by Jim Sanders.