Wednesday, March 12, 2014

52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks #13: The Bentley Family, Oswego to Elkhart


My challenge is to discover the origins of the Bentley family in Oswego county, New York.

William Tyler Bentley (1795?-1873) and his equally elusive wife, Olivia Morgan Bentley (1790s?-1838), are hubby's 3d great-grandparents. They were born in New York state, married there, and had seven children there. They might be the family shown in the 1830 Sandy Creek, NY census records under William T. Bentley's name.

In 1835, the Bentley family moved from Oswego to Elkhart, Indiana, where William bought a farm. With William and Olivia were their seven children:

Elizabeth E. Bentley (1821-1898)
Elisha Morgan Bentley (1824-1884)
Lucinda Helen Bentley (1825-1903), see left
Lucy E. Bentley (1826-1900)
Simon Bentley (1828-1894)
Jane L. Bentley (1831 - ??)
Abbie Eliza Bentley (1832-1893)


In 1848, ten years after Olivia died, widower William took off for California, perhaps for the Gold Rush. Three years later, five of his seven children followed him to California.

Elizabeth Bentley married Emanuel Light; Elisha Morgan Bentley married Charlotte Raymond; Lucinda Bentley married Jonas Shank; Lucy Bentley married Brice Larimer (they were hubby's 2d great-gradparents); Simon Bentley married but was widowed by 1880 and drowned in 1894; Jane Bentley--well, she probably went to California; and Abbie Bentley definitely went to California, with her husband, Leonard L. Curtis.

PS: A small mystery: In the Goshen Democrat of May 4, 1898, the above obit appeared for William Tyler Bentley, who did indeed die at South Tule River, California. And he was the father of Lucy E. Bentley Larimer. But he died in 1873. So who died in 1898??

Monday, March 10, 2014

Military Monday: Training Ships Exmouth and Goliath--for Poor Boys

Why did the three London-born Slatter brothers (John, Albert, and Henry) serve together on the Training Ship Goliath, and then the Training Ship Exmouth, starting as preteens

The answer, after a bit of research, seems to be that the Slatter family was poor. They lived in London's Whitechapel area, which is part of the Forest Gate School District. According to the Poor Law Act, boys from Forest Gate could be sent to the Goliath (and her successor, the Exmouth) to be prepared for military careers. In addition to learning to swim, tie knots, and shoot rifles, the boys were involved in band activities.

In the late 1800s, the Royal Navy had an "ever-increasing demand for seamen," according to Poor Law Conferences, 1903-4, and--no small consideration--boys who were trained on these ships and joined any branch of the military would eventually earn pensions. Later in life, they would not become financial burdens for the authorities to support. Meanwhile, as they matured, the boys graduated from the training ships and added to the ranks of the Royal Navy, or the British Army, or the Mercantile Marine.

The Goliath, the first training ship where the Slatter brothers served, was anchored in the Thames near Essex. It suffered a terrible fire on December 22, 1875, with more than a dozen boys losing their lives. All three Slatter brothers were subsequently moved to the Exmouth, another training ship. A lengthy article in the Strand magazine from 1899 describes life on board the Exmouth and includes the above photo of a musical drill. A slightly different perspective, from Workhouses.org, suggests the boys' lives on Exmouth and Goliath could be quite harsh.

The Slatter brothers must have had some latent musical talent, since all became accomplished musicians and later emigrated to Canada and served as military bandmasters.

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.

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Wordless Wednesday: Josef Yurko: from Czechoslovakia to Cleveland

A relative in my hubby's in-law family, Josef Yurko (1873-1954) was born in Hasalin, Czechoslovakia and marred Mary Gavalek (1879-1943) shortly before leaving for America. Their oldest son was born in Czechoslovakia and the other 4 sons and 2 daughters were born in Ohio, where they settled. Josef was a laborer, working in a foundry and later in a housing project. His oldest daughter, Anna C. Yurko (1910-1989), married Peter Pietroniro in 1929.

This photo is from one of Josef's naturalization documents, where he was sometimes called "Josef Yurkov."

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Tuesday's Tip: Local Genealogy via Long Distance

In my recent presentation to the Genealogy Club of Newtown, I highlighted ways to do local genealogy research from far away. The key is to think local--about where documents might be stored or who might know something about your ancestors and their lives.

NOTE that you may not find the actual documents with a click, but you just might connect with a person who can help you put your hands on the documents.

Here are five ideas for finding local genealogy resources and links without leaving your keyboard:
  1. Use the Family Search wiki to locate local genealogy resources by country/state/county. This link leads to research and info about family history research in localities around the United States, for example. I can't say enough good things about this comprehensive source of info and links, organized by location.
  2. Linkpendium is nothing but millions of links to pages organized by country (mainly the US) and state. The site also has links to surname pages worldwide. Often the locality links take you to official government sites (for vital records, as an example) or to unofficial sites loaded with volunteer-provided genealogy info. Unofficial sites can be excellent sources of details not available in the official records, so go ahead and click to see what you can find. Worth a look!
  3. Message boards that relate to specific countries, states or regions, counties, and cities are tremendously valuable. Don't just search for your name, also post if you have a specific question. The photo shows a message I posted several years ago, and within days, the wonderful historian in Wabash responded with clues about where to find the obituaries of Benjamin and Sarah McClure. That broke down a long-standing brick wall, all because I posted on a local message board. Try it on Rootsweb, Ancestry, GenForum, and other sites.
  4. Genealogy/historical clubs and societies have documents and books that may mention your ancestors. Some will even, for a small fee, go out and photograph local graves for you. Well worth it, and you'll often learn some details that aren't in the official records. Try doing an online search for "genealogical society" or "historical society" and the name of the county where ancestors lived. (Tip: Be sure to click on the correct state!) The Genealogical Club of Newtown CT, for instance, has several databases that substitute for the missing 1890 Census. What will you find in a local club's records elsewhere?
  5. Local historians know a lot about their towns or counties and can answer questions, sometimes by e-mail, sometimes by phone. Do an online search for "historian" and the name of the town or county. One historian kindly sent me three pages of surname info that another researcher had submitted to her--along with the researcher's name and e-mail for me to follow up. I left this historian my contact info just in case someone else comes looking for the same surname. Ask nicely, be polite, and respect the historian's time.
Remember, double-check and verify anything you find online. Unverified information is just gossip, not gospel.

Good luck and happy ancestor hunting!

Saturday, March 1, 2014

52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks #11: Uncle Sidney Crosses the Border

My father's younger brother, Sidney, was born Sidney Berk in Montreal on April 26, 1914. Update: He was named Samuel B. Berk in the official Montreal birth records.

Sidney's father, Isaac (originally Itzack Birck, 1882-1943), changed the family name to Burk in America. Isaac (hi Grandpa!) was a cabinet maker who left Lithuania in 1907 to seek his fortune in North America. A highly skilled woodworker, Isaac crossed the border between Canada and the US several times as he found work to support his growing family.

Back and forth went Isaac's wife, Henrietta Mahler Burk (1881-1954), traveling between New York City and Montreal with their children (three out of four are pictured below): Mildred (1907-1993), Harold (1909-1978--my Dad!), Miriam (1911-1987), and, finally, baby Sidney (1914-1995). 

Uncle Sidney initially crossed the border before his first birthday, arriving in New York City with his mother and siblings in March, 1915.

Isaac followed at the end of May, 1915, and the entire family was living in the apartment building at 7 East 102nd Street in NYC at the time of the New York State census on June 1, 1915.

Uncle Sidney became a US citizen in 1939. His witnesses were his maternal uncle and aunt, Morris Mahler and Carrie Etschel Mahler.

He enlisted in the US Army (along with my dad, his brother) in July, 1942. The photo above shows him before he shipped overseas, crossing more borders. Sidney and Harold were still in the service when their father died suddenly of a heart attack in 1943.

Sidney returned from the war and within a couple of years, partnered with his brother in the Burk Travel Service, located inside the swank Savoy Plaza Hotel. They worked well together until the hotel was torn down to make way for the General Motors Building.

PS: Rereading Sidney's documentation reminded me to reread his father Isaac Burk's documentation, putting me on the trail of possible new Burk ancestors I hadn't pursued in the past--Abraham Berk of Montreal. Stay tuned!

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks #10: Typhoid Fever Fells William M. McClure

Hubby's great-grandpa William Madison McClure (1849-1887) had been married to Margaret Jane Larimer for only 11 years when he died following six weeks of suffering from typhoid fever. As noted in his obituary from the Wabash Plain Dealer, above, "Will" was a Mason. According to the 1880 Census, he was a worker on the railway.

Will left four children under the age of 10 at the time of his death:
  • Lola A. McClure, born in 1877 in Goshen, Indiana
  • Brice Larimer McClure, born in 1878 in Little Traverse, Michigan
  • Lucille Ethel McClure, born in 1880 in Millersburg, Indiana
  • Hugh Benjamin McClure, born in 1882 in Wabash, Indiana
Luckily, the Wabash Plain Dealer reported that Margaret (known as Maggie) had some financial cushion, thanks to his advance planning and his Masonic connection: 
Will McClure had his life insured in the Masonic Mutual Insurance Co for $3,000. The policy was made payable to his wife.
What caused Will and Maggie to move from Elkhart, Indiana, where they married in 1876, to Goshen, then to Little Traverse, then back to Millersburg and finally to Wabash? I know a number of McClures lived in the Little Traverse area, which was in the midst of a farming, tourism, and lumber boom. But why leave to return to Indiana so quickly?

Sunday, February 23, 2014

Military Monday: Band Sergeant of H.M.S. "Goliath" at Age 11

Hubby's great uncle Captain John Daniel Slatter (1864-1954) was the renowned bandmaster of the 48th Highlanders of Canada for nearly 50 years. Thanks to the kindness of the head of the Canadian Band Association, which published a biographical sketch of Capt. Slatter in 1943, our family now knows a lot more about his early career.

Slatter must have been one heck of a musician and a dynamic personality to achieve so much, starting at the tender age of 11 (yes, you read that right).
  • At age 11 (in 1875), he was Band Sergeant and solo cornet of the Boy's Band of the H.M. Training Ship Goliath.
  • Before he was 13, Slatter joined the British Army and at 14, he was the chair of Solo Trombone and chair of Euphonium soloist in a regimental band.
  • At 18, he became Euphonium soloist in the H.M. Life Guard's Band.
  • Next, he joined Patrick Gilmore's Band in America, a NY-based wind band famous throughout the world. Gilmore died in 1892.
  • Slatter moved to Canada and became part of the Band of "A" Battery, Canadian Regulars.
  • Next, he moved to Boston for a position with Ellis Brooks' Marine Band (which, if I have the correct article, played engagements at expositions and other big-city events.
  • For three seasons, Slatter served as first trombone of the Detroit Symphony Orchestra.
  • Despite offers from John Philip Sousa and Victor Herbert, Slatter joined the 48th Highlanders as Bandmaster in 1896.
  • For decades, Slatter and the 48th Highlanders Band toured the world. He even arranged the Royal Tattoo musical program for the Quebec Tercentenary celebration.
  • As Bandmaster, Slatter composed and arranged military music that is still in use today.
  • Slatter was a founder of the Canadian Bandmasters' Association, its first president, and then honorary president. 
  • A portrait of Capt. Slatter, in full Highland regalia, was presented to the Armories in Toronto (a beautiful building that is now, alas, gone). Wonder what happened to that portrait? I'm going to try to find out!

Thursday, February 20, 2014

52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks #9: Brice S. Larimer, Elkhart Pioneer

Brice S. Larimer (1819-1906), hubby's great-great-granddaddy, was a pioneer settler in Elkhart county, Indiana and the son of a pioneer couple of Fairfield county, Ohio (Robert Larimer and Rachel Smith Larimer). Most probably, Brice's full middle name is Smith, in honor of his mother's maiden name.

His father brought Brice and siblings to Elkhart in 1835. As the oldest of nine, Brice helped his father with the farm and family after Rachel died at age 38, in 1838.

In 1847, Brice married Lucy E. Bentley (which is why I've been hunting her elusive ancestors, William Tyler Bentley and Olivia Morgan Bentley). They had four children: Atta, Emma, William, and Margaret (hubby's great-grandma, who married William Madison McClure). Wonder what happened to Atta? Maybe she died young, because I've found nothing about her.*

Brice had a series of careers, including family farming, Lake Shore agent, and notary public.

He was not the first Brice in the family. Brice Smith (1756-1828) was Brice Larimer's grandfather, the father of Rachel Smith. And the family has had other Brices since then, keeping the name alive for generations.

* The Larimer family book says Atta died young, sad to say.

Monday, February 17, 2014

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Saturday, February 15, 2014

52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks #8: Great Aunt Ada (Adelaide Mary Ann Slatter)

The bandmaster Slatter brothers, hubby's great uncles, had two sisters. The youngest was Mary Slatter (who married James Edgar Wood and became hubby's grandma). Mary's older sister was Adelaide Mary Ann Slatter (1868-1947), called "Aunt Ada" in the family.

This family apparently adored the name Mary, which was passed down from Mary Shehen (Ada's grandma) to Mary Slatter (Ada's mom) and then to both Mary and Adelaide Mary Ann Slatter. That's where the reign of Mary ended, however.

Born in Whitechapel, London, Adelaide Mary Ann Slatter moved to Ohio in the 1890s and married James Sills Baker in 1896 in Cuyahoga County (Cleveland). Ada and James relocated to Toledo for a time, then back to Cleveland. I haven't found James's death date/place. Ada was widowed, later died in Cook County, Illinois--what was she doing there?

Ada and James Baker had 2 children, Dorothy Louise and Edith Eleanor. The photo at left shows my late father-in-law Edgar James Wood, in Cleveland, with these cousins  (we think).

The second marriage of Edith Baker (1901-1989) was in 1948 in Cleveland to Charles C. "Buck" Wise (1895-1963). He had a daughter from his first marriage, Janice Wise (1927-1988). Dorothy Baker (1897-1981) married Alfred Henry Nicholas (1899-1986) and they had three children.

Saturday, February 8, 2014

52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks #7: The Roth Family, from Nagy Bereg to New York

My great-grandma Lena Kunstler Farkas wasn't the only member of her family to leave their hometown of Nagy Bereg, Hungary and move to New York City. She set sail from Hamburg at the end of November, 1900 and arrived at Ellis Island 20 days later, joining her husband, Moritz Farkas.

Her mother's in-laws (?), the Roth family, also set sail from Hamburg. According to the manifest of the S.S. Kaiser Auguste Victoria (above), which reached Ellis Island in October, 1907, Bela Roth left behind his mother, Anni Roth, in Hungary and was bringing his second wife and his children to join his brother in New York City.

The Roths who made this 1907 journey were:
  • Bela Roth, age 42, occupation: "dealer"
  • Bertha Roth, age 30
  • Sandor (Alexander) Roth, age 15, occupation: shoemaker
  • Jozsef Roth, age 11
  • Imre Roth, age 6
  • Hugo Roth, age 1 year and 6 months
  • Tibar (Theodore), age 6 months
By January, 1920, the Roth family had settled into an apartment on East 19th Street in Manhattan. Bela and his son Alex were working as "operators" in a factory (typically, that meant working commercial sewing machines). Joseph was working in a garage, and the other children were in school.

According to family stories, the Roths (possibly Bela's brother) owned or managed a necktie factory. They gave my grandma Hermina Farkas a job sewing silk ties so she could help support her parents and siblings. I wonder whether Bela and his son Alex were also "operators" in a Roth-owned factory?

Two Roth cousins attended my parents' wedding in 1946, Margaret and her husband, whose name I don't know. Maybe some Roths will get in touch...

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks #6: The Slatter Brothers, Canadian Military Bandmasters

Hubby's grandma Mary Slatter Wood (1869-1925) was the younger sister of three distinguished gentlemen who left their birthplace in England for successful careers as military bandmasters in Canada:
  • Albert William Slatter (1862-1935) moved to Canada in 1906 and became bandmaster and music director of the 7th London Fusiliers in Ontario, Canada. He and his wife Eleanor Marion Wilkinson had 6 children: Maud Victoria, Ada, Albert, Ernest, and twins Glynn Edward and John (Jack). Albert attained the rank of Lieutenant in 1920 and the rank of Captain in 1923. Thanks to the Royal Canadian Regiment, I know more about Capt. Slatter's military career: He served 28 years in the British Army before moving to Canada and joining the 7th London Fusiliers, as shown in the 1914 pay list (above).
  • John Daniel Slatter (1864-1954) arrived in Canada in 1884, married Sophie Mary Elizabeth LeGallais in 1887, and had 6 children who survived childhood: Albert Matthew, Frederick William, Edith Sophie, Bessie Louise, Walter John, and Mabel Alice. The photo below shows Captain John Slatter in 1917 at Camp Borden, where he trained buglers during WWI. Capt. Slatter was a world-famous bandmaster, as I've written in earlier posts. In recent months, I also learned that he touched the lives of young men like Thomas Clark McBride.
  • Captain John Daniel Slatter, 1917
  • Henry Arthur Slatter (1866-1942) arrived in Canada in 1911 and became bandmaster of the 72nd Seaforth Highlanders in Vancouver. Henry and his wife, Alice Good, had 3 children who survived infancy: Arthur Albert, John Henry, and Dorothy Florence. Alice died on Christmas Day in 1914, and it looks like Henry remarried to Kathleen, and had a son Jackie, according to the 1921 Canada Census. The brief obituary from the Ottawa Journal of July 18, 1942 reads: "VANCOUVER, July 17, Henry Arthur Slatter, 76, one of Canada's leading bandmasters, and brother of Capt. John Slatter of Toronto, died here Wednesday." The Vancouver Public Library is sending me a 1928 article about this youngest Slatter bandmaster. 
Any Slatter descendants out there?

Monday, February 3, 2014

Mystery Monday: Photographed at Sol Young Studios in NYC

A handful of photos in my "unknown" box were taken in Sol Young Studios--no names, no dates.

None of these New York City studios is on the Lower East Side, where many immigrants lived (including most of my ancestors).

However, thanks to the well-researched blog Photo-Sleuth, written by Brett Payne, I learned that Solomon Young had these studios during the 1910-1920 era, which helps me date the photos to that period.*

 First up are two ladies (one with the umbrella and one without) who might be mother and daughter.

They are standing in front of the exact same bookshelf backdrop and are posed in similar ways. Both are wearing huge, eye-catching fashion hats. I wonder whether the hats belonged to the photographer?


At immediate left is another lady photographed against the same bookshelf backdrop. No hat, different clothing. Is she related to the hat ladies?


At right and below left are two ladies with chairs in Sol Young's studio. Both are wearing fairly elaborate clothing and both display rings.

No hats, lots of hair. 
Possibly they're related to each other?

'Tis a mystery. Philly Cuz suspects the photo at left is of my grandma, Hermina Farkas. She has a good eye for faces, so she could very well be correct!

For comparison, see Hermina's 1909 portrait below, taken at the Beldegreen studios in NYC, for the Kossuth Society anniversary. Still, the lady at left might not be my grandma, not just because of the eyebrows but also the clothing--grandma made her own, and the dress at left seems more complicated than her usual home-made attire.


* Brett looked at these photos and believes they're from 1910 or possibly earlier. I have a total of 8 Sol Young portraits in my "unknowns" box and have scanned them for Brett. One, of a child, was taken when Sol Young had expanded to 18 studios in New York city and state, Connecticut, New Jersey, and Philadelphia.

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 31, 2014

52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks #5: Where Was Job Denning Sr. Born and Married?

This week's ancestor in the 52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks challenge is: Job Denning Sr. (1775?-1836), hubby's 3rd great-grandfather.

He's at Find A Grave Memorial # 51417836. His wife was Mary E. [maiden name unknown, suspected to be Burras or Boroughs].

Job Denning's daughter, Sarah Denning, married Benjamin McClure in 1831, which is why I want to follow Job's trail backward in time. But Job Sr. has been a mystery because he shows up in Adams County, OH, in the late 1790s and stays put, an early settler without a past. Where was he born? Where was he married?

Job Denning Sr. had a LOT of descendants. And there are MANY ways to spell this ancestor's name: Deming, Dunning, Dinning, you name it.

Job's son, Stephen B. Denning (1801-1887), was one of several descendants who joined the Elliott Wagon Train of 1853, bound for Oregon. Stephen and his wife, Sarah "Sally" Donalson, were married in 1824ish and joined the wagon train, probably with several of their children (including a son named, of course, Job Denning, whose long obit is on Find-a-Grave).

The 215 Elliott wagons, loaded with 1,000 pioneers, turned off the Oregon Trail due to Cutoff Fever. They searched for a shortcut to the Willamette Valley but instead became lost and had to be rescued

Stephen Denning finally arrived in Oregon on November 1, 1853. He is listed as being among the first in the Oregon colony, having come from Wabash, Indiana (where his sister Sarah and bro-in-law Benjamin McClure lived).

Back to Job Denning Sr., who shows up in at least 26 family trees posted on Ancestry, and on other trees and sites as well. He's the subject of dozens of posts on Genforum, but none has conclusive documentation of his origins. One researcher thinks he was born in Pennsylvania or Kentucky, others think he was from Massachusetts. These possibilities are traced to what Job told the Census in different years and to other trees.

What's the truth of Job Denning's past?




Monday, January 27, 2014

52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks #4: The Rinehart Brothers of Crawford County, Ohio

This week is a two-for-one special: Joseph W. Rinehart and his brother, George Rinehart. I'm still trying to find their father.

Joseph W. Rinehart (1806-1888) is hubby's great-great-grandpa. Born in Pennsylvania, he was married to Margaret Shank or Shanklin (1807-1873). Last summer, we visited their graves in Oceola Cemetery #2, Crawford County, Ohio. 

He was a farmer in Tod, Crawford County, and after his wife Margaret died, he lived for a time with his niece Elizabeth Rinehart Hilborn and her husband, Amos Hilborn. This Elizabeth was Joseph's brother's daughter (see 1880 census excerpt).


There were several intermarriages between the Rinehart and Hilborn families. Joseph's daughter Mary Elizabeth Rinehart married Samuel Hilborn, for instance.

On the one hand, a lot of people are tracing the Hilborn tree. On the other, there are mixups between one family's Elizabeth or Mary Rinehart and another, as I can see from Ancestry trees.

George Rinehart (abt 1810-1889), Joseph's brother and Elizabeth's father, was also born in Pennsylvania and also a farmer in Tod. His first wife Mary died in 1872 and then he married Christina Torrence. At the time of this second marriage, he owned 80 acres.

To try to pinpoint who's who and identify ancestors and descendants, I've sent for George Rinehart's obituary and that of Elizabeth Rinehart Hilborn. AND the results are:

George Rinehart's obit, printed in the Wyandot County Republican of July 18, 1889, says "Another pioneer gone to rest." No mention of any other family.

Elizabeth Rinehart Hilborn's obit (published in the Daily Chief of Upper Sandusky, OH on Oct. 27, 1920) says, in part: "She was a daughter of George Reinhardt [sic], who was one of the early settlers in the western part of Crawford county. The date of her birth was June 15, 1835. Besides the one daughter [Mrs. Hannah Hilborn Johnson], there are six grandchildren, one of these, William A. Johnson, living on East Mansfield St, Bucyrus, and being employed in the public service department of the city."

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.

Monday, January 20, 2014

52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks #3: What Happened to Joe Jacobs?

Great-grand uncle Joe Jacobs (1864-1919?) is one of two children of my great-grandma Rachel Shuham Jacobs (?-abt 1916). Joe was born somewhere in Russia and arrived in New York in 1882, according to his naturalization papers.

But what happened to Joe after 1905? He seems to disappear from official records, although family notes say he died in 1919. Sometimes his surname was recorded as "Jacob," sometimes as "Jacobs," which only complicates my search for Uncle Joe.

In 1900, Joe was living at 88 Christie Street in the Lower East Side of Manhattan, in the same apartment building as his mother and his brother-in-law Mayer Mahler. Joe's occupation was peddler (above).

In 1905, Joe was still living at 88 Christie Street, now shown as the janitor (at right).

But after that, his wife Eva Michaelovsky Jacobs and the children are shown by themselves, living in Brooklyn, in the 1910 US Census and the 1915 NY Census. No Joe in either of these records.

In the 1920 Census, Eva Jacobs is listed as a widow living in Brooklyn. Where did Joe Jacobs spend the time between 1905 and his death in about 1919? If he registered for WWI, I can't find his paperwork. But I'm still on Joe's trail!

PS Joe Jacobs was naturalized on 25 October 1888 by the Common Pleas Court of New York County (see above image of index). How to obtain his actual papers? NARA doesn't seem to be the right place for a NY state court. UPDATE: These papers were not much help, only saying what the index card said (see below).
*I received an excellent comment from Steve, who says:
"Copies of local court naturalization records in New York City from 1792-1906 are held by the New York branch of the National Archives. So you should be able to order a copy of a naturalization by the New York County Common Pleas Court from the National Archives website.

However, I don't think the Joe Jacobs from the naturalization index card is the same person as your Joe Jacobs.  I checked both the 1900 and 1905 census records mentioned above.  In the 1900 census it says that Joe had only filed first papers and had not become a citizen yet. In the 1905 census he's listed as an alien.  So I don't think he could be the same person who naturalized in Oct. 1888."
Steve has a very good point--and I also appreciate knowing that I can order this naturalization from the National Archives website. I have to investigate further, but since the Joe Jacobs on the index card was living at 49 Clinton Street, and that's the exact address where Joe and Eva were living when they married in 1890, my guess is there's some connection worth pursuing. Thank you, Steve! UPDATE: As shown above, the papers provided no other information, unfortunately, so the hunt continues.

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Wisdom Wednesday: Always Check Local Genealogical Societies

When I attended the FGS 2013 conference in Ft. Wayne, I picked up business cards and bookmarks from many local genealogical societies as I walked through the exhibit hall. Now, five months later, I'm still following up.

Today I unearthed the bookmark from the Emmet County Genealogical Society from Michigan. I clicked on its site to see what resources might help me figure out why a branch of the McClure family transplanted themselves there. The surname search on this society's home page turned up nothing related to McClure.

However, the society's link to the Greenwood Cemetery in Petoskey, Michigan led me to a small gold mine.

For example, here's the death cert of Mary Ann McClure Cook, daughter of Benjamin McClure and Sarah Denning McClure. It was available--for free--by searching for all "McClure" burials in this cemetery and then clicking on Mary Ann Cook's name. What a find!

I found the death cert for her husband, Reverend John Cook, in the same way. Now I know his parents' names and exact death date. Many other names on the cemetery's list include obits or death certs or both, all for free.

So always check local genealogical societies to see what links they suggest! They know the local resources better than out-of-staters. Thank you, Emmet County Genealogical Society, for pointing me in the right direction.

PS: Brenda of Journey to the Past asked about Reverend Cook's denomination and suggested some sources for me to check. Thanks to her idea, I learned that Reverend John J. Cook was Presbyterian, and served several churches, according to this excerpt from a history of the First Presbyterian Church of Petoskey:

In view of the departure of their pastor, the church now invited Rev. John J. Cook, then pastor of the Presbyterian Church at Little Traverse, and now of the Presbyterian Church of Crooked Lake, to serve them as temporary supply. Though zealous and faithful, the duties of his own field and the distance between the two churches he was serving, rendered Mr. Cook's labors very arduous and difficult. From a letter which I [Reverend Potter] received before coming to Michigan, I learned that he longed for the coming of a pastor to the Petoskey church, who should relieve him of a part of his responsibilities. Mr. Cook supplied the pulpit about nine months, closing his labors here on the arrival of the present pastor, June 14, 1878.

Furthermore, Rev. Cook was a pensioner in 1881. How he injured his left hand and throat, I don't know, but he received $10 per month starting in March, 1881.


Monday, January 13, 2014

Mystery Monday: Zaza and Louis Waldman from Hungary to the Bronx

In my box of "unknowns" are three photos of siblings whose names I know, but not where they fit in my family tree.

At left is the undated photo, taken in the Bronx, which includes identification: The young lady is Zaza Waldman and the boy is her brother, Louis Waldman. Fortunately, there are two other photos.

At right is a photo of the siblings, apparently taken a year or two after the photo with names on it.

And at left, I have Zaza's graduation photo (8th grade?), also taken in a Bronx photo studio. All these photos had to have been taken before 1930. How do I know?

Because by 1930, I found the family living in Brooklyn. Zaza was 19 and Louis was 18 at that time. Zaza and Louis's parents were Julia and Joseph Waldman. And according to the census, all were born in Hungary.

Were the Waldmans friends of my maternal grandparents, Teddy Schwartz and Minnie Farkas Schwartz? Were they related by marriage to someone in the Farkas or Schwartz family?

UPDATE May, 2015: The Waldman family was related to my Farkas family, I discovered by finding Zaza's marriage info on FamilySearch.org. Her mother's maiden name was Julia Farkas!

Friday, January 10, 2014

52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks: Sandor Farkas from Botpalad, born in 1884 or 1885?

For the second week of Amy Johnson Crow's 52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks challenge, I'm focusing on my great-uncle Sandor Farkas (called "Alex" in the family). He was born in Botpalad, Hungary, in 188_ (4 or 5) and died in Manhattan in January, 1948. His Hebrew name was Shmuel Zanvil, named for his late grandfather.

Here's what Sandor looked like in 1909, when he was photographed for the fifth anniversary of the Kossuth Ferenc Hungarian Literary, Sick, and Benevolent Society in New York City, where he and all his siblings lived.

A few months ago, I posted a query about Sandor's father, Moritz Farkas, on Ancestry's Szatmar/Hungary message board. A kind, knowledgeable respondent told me to check the Family Search microfilm Hungary, Szatmár, Fehérgyarmat - Jewish records. And that's where I found Sandor's birth info, shown below (as well as Moritz's birth info!).

Interestingly, this birth record indicates that Sandor was born in Botpalad on December 12, 1884. (See that handwritten notation in the heading? It translates to "84.")

But Sandor used the birthdate of December 25, 1885 on his draft registration and other papers.

So was Sandor born in 1884 or 1885? My inclination is to believe the document from Hungary, not Sandor's memory.

Here's a photo of Alex on his wedding day, December 24, 1916, when he married Jennie Katz. My Farkas grandparents and uncle are at right in the photo.





Saturday, January 4, 2014

52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks: Cousin(?) Ida Farkas Weiss

Amy Johnson Crow has just introduced a fun new blogging challenge: to write about 52 ancestors in 52 weeks. This week's ancestor is Ida Farkas Weiss (1873-1924), possibly my 1st cousin 3x removed.

729 Prospect Ave., Bronx, NY
Ida was born in Botpalad, Hungary, one of three daughters of Elek and Rozsi Farkas (they also had two sons). She married Herman Weiss (1872-1943) in Hungary and gave birth to four of her five sons before coming to New York City in 1902 or 1903.

By 1920, she and Herman and their six children had moved from Manhattan to 729 Prospect Ave. in the Bronx, an area now popularly known as the "south Bronx." Here's what her walkup apartment building looks like today. At the time, it was a safe, family neighborhood where many immigrants moved after leaving the Lower East Side or other crowded Manhattan communities.

Ida and Herman's children were: Benjamin (b. 1897), Eugene (1898-1983), twins Fred & Julius (b. 1901), Otto (b. 1904), and Rose (b. 1907)--finally, a girl!

Ida was only 50 when she died of pneumonia in 1924. Her husband Herman, who worked as a presser in the garment trade, doesn't seem to have remarried, and he outlived her by 19 years. 

Ida is somehow related to my great-grandpa Moritz Farkas, who was born in Botpalad in 1857 and came to New York in 1899. I'm currently corresponding with a possible cousin from the Elek Farkas line, in the hope that we can figure out our actual relationship to Ida, Moritz, and each other. With any luck, the resolution will wind up as one of my later 52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks posts.

Friday, January 3, 2014

Military Monday: Tom Clark McBride and Capt. John Slatter

Capt. John Slatter
Captain John Slatter, hubby's celebrated great-uncle, taught thousands of buglers and musicians during his five distinguished decades as bandmaster of the 48th Highlanders Regiment in Toronto.

Tom Clark McBride
One was a young teenager named Tom Clark McBride, who first met Capt. Slatter at summer camp on Niagara-on-the-Lake in 1941. Tom served as the captain's batman during the two-week camp period (see photo at right, with Tom in one of his 48th Highlanders uniforms).

When Tom's regular music teacher, James Downie, left for WWII Navy duty, Capt. Slatter took over the musical training until Tom was old enough to join the Navy.

More than 70 years later, Tom's daughter Catherine contacted me for information about Capt. Slatter, part of her research for a scrapbook for her Dad. We've been exchanging e-mails ever since, having fun finding out more about the good captain. She sent me the photo above, showing Capt. Slatter around the time he met Tom.

Catherine has been kind enough to write down a few anecdotes from Tom's time with Capt. Slatter. These first-hand personal insights reveal the captain's personality and his compassion--showing us John Slatter the man, as well as Capt. Slatter the bandmaster. Thank you so much, Tom and Catherine! 
  • When my grandmother [Tom's mother] took Dad to Boddingtons (a music store in their area) to get his cornet, which was his first instrument, the captain went with them to make sure he got the right instrument for him. It was a silver cornet made by Besson of England. My Dad and his Mom thought the Captain was the greatest thing since sliced bread. He certainly didn’t need to do that but was kind enough to do so and I think obviously interested in my Dad.
  • If anyone made a mistake the captain would know who goofed and stopped everything. He’d then walk over to the offending “instrument” and ask for your instrument and physically check it out and test the operation of it. If it was ok, no sticky valves etc. he would hand it back and say it seemed to be fine, go back to where he stood and resume practice. It was done in a nice manner, never crabby or anything. Needless to say nobody goofed if they could avoid doing so. Dad would have been about 15 then.
  • One day they were marching in a parade of some sort, possibly Santa Claus, with a number of military bands such as 48th, Black Watch, Queens own, etc. Dad was marching along as was everyone else when out of the corner of his eye he spotted the captain marching in the middle of the six rows, waiting for the drums to catch up. It seems they had somehow changed tempo and so the captain corrected them, then marched back to the front where he had been and was supposed to be.