Sunday, October 31, 2010

Sentimental Sunday

 At left is my mom and below is her twin sister, a few minutes older. These are their high school graduation photos.


Remember those socks filled with chalk that children used to swing around on Halloween? Mom's Halloween memories weren't very positive because one Halloween she was socked in the mouth with a sock filled with rocks. Although she had a few sets of front teeth put in over the years, replaced as dental techniques became better, she always had to be careful what and how she ate. She even had to be careful how she kissed!

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Those Places Thursday - European Band Tour

Edgar James Wood, born in Cleveland, OH, spent his summers in between college semesters touring Europe with a band. They'd get hired to play on an ocean liner crossing the Atlantic and then pick up gigs as they moved around Europe. This is a poster from 1926, when Edgar was playing in Dick Bowers' Band. Although they didn't make much money, they did have lots of adventures and see the world. Decades later, Edgar (my late father-in-law) was still talking about his summer band tours and cruise dates.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Wordless Wednesday: James Edgar Wood

James Edgar Wood was a builder in Cleveland Heights, OH, around the turn of the century (the sign, at right of the bicycle, is the giveaway). This is one of the homes he built. A mystery: Is the woman with him his wife, Mary Slatter Wood? Anyway, James's proficiency in carpentry has been inherited by later generations--at least 4 generations at current count.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Black Sheep Sunday - Busted Because of a Coal Road

A Black Sheep Sunday story. My dad, Harold Burk (right, above), worked his way up to sgt in the US Army during WWII, in charge of getting some supplies to certain Allied troops fighting in Europe. He was frustrated that he couldn't easily deliver coal to the barracks in a heavily wooded area, and with the weather getting very cold, and no official way to get the coal to freezing troops, he took matters into his own hands.

He ordered a tank (or heavy truck, not sure which) to knock down some of the smaller trees and create a narrow road that could then be used for transporting coal to the barracks! Higher-ranking officials weren't happy because they feared the narrow road would tip off enemy planes if they spotted the route, and my dad was busted, losing at least one stripe. But he always felt the men would not have survived the winter without some fuel for the stoves, so he made their day-to-day welfare his concern. Is this a Black Sheep story? My husband doesn't think so, but maybe that's because all ended well.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Grandma, Upper Sandusky, and McGuffey's Reader

Years ago, my husband's parents gifted him with a beat-up old book, McGuffey's Sixth Eclectic Reader (revised edition). These days, McGuffey's is available for free, online, from the Gutenberg Project.

The book itself is too fragile to scan, unfortunately, so no picture here. The book has huge sentimental value because it belonged to my husband's grandmother, Floyda Steiner McClure, who used it in school in Upper Sandusky, OH, about 1890-91.

Interestingly, Floyda practiced her shorthand on the endpapers at the back of the book. She also scribbled some math sums back there. No highlighting in the book, of course. This is a family treasure because it connects us to older generations in a tangible way. How else would we know that Floyda read Shakespeare, Samuel Johnson, Lord Byron, and more?

I'm still researching Floyda's ancestors, specifically William Madison McClure and his father, Benjamin McClure. Lots of McClures, but so far, no hint about where William Madison McClure's family came from. Any descendants out there?  

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Cousins--More Than Names on My Family Tree

I suspected that there were more 2nd cousins out there: In my great-grandmother's obit, I counted the number of great-grandchildren, of which I'm one.


One big reason I started this blog is so that cousins and other relatives could find me--and now Cousin Lois has done just that. We're excitedly exchanging family stories and talking over old times. I'm delighted to catch up with Lois's news and learn, through her, about more cousins scattered around the country. Wonder of wonders, Lois even has some treasured heirlooms that belonged to our great-grandpa.

So many cousins to meet, so many stories to tell, so many family connections to make. Here's to great cousin connections!

Friday, September 10, 2010

The McClure Family - Ohio Branch

I'm researching my husband's family at the moment...here are two photos of his grandparents. Above is Floyda Mabel Steiner McClure (1878-1948), of Nevada, Ohio (d. Cleveland).

And here's Brice Larimer McClure, (1878-1970), affectionately known as "The Old Gentleman" in the family. He was born in Little Traverse, Michigan (d. Cleveland). He's named after Brice S. Larimer, his maternal grandfather. We're not sure where the name Brice comes from or why it was chosen, since the family tree doesn't yet reflect that name, but we're not very far into this family's research. More discoveries are ahead!

Monday, September 6, 2010

Looking for Louis Volk

Louis VOLK (father Samuel, mother Celie Leboff) was an important part of my father's family. He married my great-aunt Ida Mahler in 1920. When brother-in-law (Isaac Burk) died unexpectedly while visiting him in 1943, Louis gave info for Isaac's death certificate. Born in Sukian, Russia, around 1891 or 1892, Louis lived in the Bronx in the 1930s and somehow got to the ritzy Rodman Ave Street NW section of Washington, DC by the 1940s. His children were Myron and Sylvia. Hope to connect with Volk descendants!

PS Thank you to Lois for correcting the Rodman St. info. 

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Isaac Burk was Lithuanian, Henrietta Mahler was Latvian

How do I know that my gfather Isaac Burk was Lithuanian and his wife Henrietta Mahler Burk was Latvian? How do I know (almost certainly) that he appears at left in this photo (with my gmother Henrietta at right, taken at the wedding of their youngest daughter, in center)?

Because his Declaration of Intention to apply for citizenship has his nationality AND a photo! It also has his terrible signature--clearly writing English was still a struggle, after all his years away from his homeland.

Isaac came from "Kovna" according to these documents. He and Henrietta married in New York City, but where, when, and how they met is a mystery (at this point). More research is in my future.

Friday, August 27, 2010

Speedy NYC Marriage Cert

With unprecedented speed, NYC has sent me my grandparents' marriage license from 1906. It's some help with genealogy but has less detail than I'd hoped.

I didn't know where Isaac Birk/Berk lived at that time, and now I do. Below is a photo--the tenement is still in existence, although the storefronts have obviously been updated (not necessarily "improved") since Grandpa's time.

Grandpa was 26 and Grandma was 19 when they married, the first time for both. This license may be where some of the confusion about Grandpa's name came about. The official who wrote out the info calls Grandpa "Isaac Burk" but he signs himself "Isaak Berk." He gives his birth place as simply "Russia" and writes that his occupation is "carpenter." His father's name was Elias L. Burk (but the last name has been clearly corrected in some way). His mother's name was Necke Burk (again, both names heavily corrected, suggesting that they didn't translate well?). I see more research in my future, as usual!

PS Here's where my Grandma lived at the time, another address I never knew (here we are between the US Census years, so they may have moved every year for all I know). Another tenement still standing but with changed storefronts.