Saturday, December 31, 2016

Sorting Saturday: The 1924 New Year's Day Marriage of Ethel and Clay

Because of my 2016 resolution to continue linking ancestors to spouses, parents, and children on Find A Grave, I've uncovered all kinds of interesting info. Above, last night's find, which probably has a fascinating story behind it. Let me explain.

I was busy linking all the children of my husband's great-grandparents, Thomas Haskell Wood and Mary Amanda Demarest, including their fifth son, Charles Augustus Wood (1862-1895). After finding Charles on Find A Grave, I researched his wife (Martha Ellen Hale) to link her.

Then I continued down the rabbit hole for another hour and looked for their children on Ancestry, Family Search, and F-A-G. (Lesson learned: Now I always have three windows open when researching to check those three sites simultaneously.)

The only daughter of Charles and Martha was Carrie Ethel Wood (1888-?). She married Clay Harry Focht in December, 1908. After nearly 15 years of married life together (and two children), they divorced on November 10, 1923. Somehow, one of them convinced the other to try again.

Clay and Ethel took out a second marriage license on Christmas Eve, 6 weeks after their divorce, as shown here. They married on New Year's Day in 1924. And a few years later, they had one more child together. Why they divorced, and why they remarried, I don't yet know. (And by 1940, he was living separately and said he was "single" again--his death cert says he was divorced.) It's quite an unexpected find as a direct result of doing research to link people on F-A-G. For which I'm grateful! And now future generations will know more about these ancestors.

Happy new year 2017!

Thursday, December 29, 2016

Thankful Thursday: Fleshing Out Find-a-Grave Memorials

Find A Grave memorial for my great-grandma in Mt. Hebron, Queens, NY
Over the course of four years, I've sent 93 edits to Find A Grave, for memorials that others were kind enough to establish for people they don't know--my ancestors. Every one of these generous volunteers has made my edits, for which I am truly grateful. And I'm thankful for the many volunteers who have posted or taken photos, especially valuable for Jewish genealogy.

Now I'm continuing my resolution to keep family history alive by fleshing out the Find A Grave memorials. Descendants may someday go searching for these people's burials, so I want to include more detail for the benefit of these genealogists of tomorrow. The more they know, the more they can pass to the next generation and beyond.

This new year's resolution (expanded from my 2016 resolution) is to:
  • Link my ancestors to each other, wherever possible, so their relationships are clear. Above, I finally linked 10 children of Lena Kunstler Farkas* and Moritz Farkas to each other. One of their children is missing from the list because I haven't yet located her final resting place. 
  • I also linked spouses of these adult children to each other and in the next generation, I linked children to their parents. (I'm still working on this step for the main branches of hubby's family tree.)
  • I'm going to be adding or completing birth/death dates and places, as well as correcting spellings.
  • I'm already adding brief bios or excerpts from obits, omitting the names of living people for privacy reasons. Ancestors were more than just names and dates and relationships. If I can mention occupations or other snippets, these memorials become that much more meaningful, IMHO.
Thanks again to Find A Grave volunteers!

*Elizabeth Handler suggested I include the translations on F-A-G. A great idea. Lena's gravestone says she's the daughter of Shmuel Zanvil.

Saturday, December 24, 2016

Surname Saturday: Celebrating Family Holiday Traditions


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

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

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

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

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

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

Wednesday, December 21, 2016

Wordless Wednesday: Happy New Year with Shamrocks and Pig

Have you ever seen anything like this new year's postcard sent to a young Wallis Walter Wood in Cleveland, circa 1910s?

The greeting on the back reads: Dear Wallace, Wouldn't you like to be this little boy. I am sure it would be fine fun, chasing around with the pig. How do you like the snow. Tell Mama we have not had much snow . . . yesterday we saw lots of green grass but today it has snowed and rained quite a bit. It is nasty. With love to Wallace.

No signature, but my strong suspicion is that one of the Slatter relatives in Canada sent this, because Tuck's says they are "art publishers to the King & Queen." Wallis's mother, Mary Slatter Wood, had three brothers in Canada--this was most likely from the Toronto branch, although it's just my hunch.

Tuesday, December 20, 2016

Tombstone Tuesday: Sandor "Alex" Farkas, Born on Christmas?

Great-uncle Sandor (Alex) Farkas (1885-1948) was born in December 1885, in Botpalad, Hungary to my great-grandparents, Moritz Farkas and Leni Kunstler Farkas. His actual birth record, shown below, says December 12, but Alex always wrote December 25 on all his U.S. official records.*

Alex was married to Jennie Katz (1886-1974) on Christmas Eve, 1914, one of several weddings in my family tree that took place on December 24th.

Both Alex and Jennie are buried in Mt. Hebron Cemetery in NY, within the plot of the Kossuth Ferencz Hungarian Literary Sick & Benevolent Association, which Alex helped to found in 1904.

* Turns out he sometimes claimed a different birth date. In 1918, Alex told the draft board that he was born Jan 5, 1885, suggesting he was almost a full year older than he really was. Hmm.

Monday, December 19, 2016

Amanuensis Monday: Happy New Year 1913

This pretty new year's card is part of my long-running series of greetings sent to hubby's uncle in Cleveland, early in the twentieth century.

Postmarked January 1, 1913, the card was sent to Wallis W. Wood by his first cousin, Edith Eleanor Baker (1901-1989)--well, this is Amanuensis Monday, so read on for the real story.

Edith was one of two daughters of Adelaide Mary Ann Slatter (1868-1947) and her husband, James Sills Baker (1866-1937). I wrote a week ago about Adelaide's poverty-stricken childhood in Hamlet Towers, London, which I was researching when looking at a holiday card sent by Edith's sister, Dorothy, to Wallis.

Edith was 11 and living in Toledo with her family when this New Year's greeting was addressed to 7-year-old Wallis in Cleveland:
Hello Wallis, This is from Edith. She hopes you will have such a good time this coming year. I forgot to say the girls had to go to school this week excepting Wednesday. With love from all, Edith
Doesn't this greeting sound like Edith wrote it from dictation? I doubt her cousin Wallis knew how to read cursive yet, so I suspect it was a message meant more for Wallis's mom, Mary Slatter Wood (1869-1925), who was Adelaide Mary Ann's baby sister. By the way, in the family, Adelaide was known as "Ada."

Here's the advantage of having a series of cards sent in a short time. I compared the handwriting of "Edith" (from the 1913 card at top) with the handwriting of "Aunt Ada" from 1914 (at right).

Both cards were addressed to "Master Wallis Wood" in Cleveland (and postmarked from Toledo). Same handwriting, wouldn't you agree? So Ada was writing on behalf of her daughter, Edith, to Ada's nephew, Wallis Walter Wood. Keeping up the family tradition of having the cousins stay in touch with each other, clearly.

Ada and her family moved to Cleveland from Toledo some time between 1910 and 1920, I knew by comparing their addresses in the Census from those years. With these cards, I could see that Ada didn't move until at least after April, 1914.

In 1920, Ada and family lived in the 26th ward of Cleveland, the same ward where Mary Slatter Wood and family lived. But Mary was living in a single-family home built by her husband, carpenter James Edgar Wood, while Ada was living in a two-family home rented not far away. 

By the way, I checked, and the last Wednesday in 1912 before New Year's was Christmas Day. No school on Christmas!

Sunday, December 18, 2016

Save the Dates for NERGC, April 26-29

Save the dates for the New England Regional Genealogical Conference, April 26-29, in Springfield, Massachusetts. 

The theme is "Using the Tools of Today & Tomorrow to Understand the Past." As always, the program is packed with informative sessions and workshops.

I can't wait to see the featured speakers in person, especially Thomas MacEntee, Kenyatta Berry, and Warren Bittner.

My session, "Planning a Future for Your Family's Past," is part of the new "Genealogy Heirlooms in the Attic" track on the afternoon of Thursday, April 27th.

I'm delighted to have been chosen as an official blogger, which means I'll be posting about the conference before, during, and after. 

Early-bird pricing for registration is available now. Just click here to sign up! See you in April.

Saturday, December 17, 2016

Sorting Saturday: "Best Xmas Wishes" from Cousin Ernest

Yet another colorful holiday card among dozens received by Wallis Walter Wood from his cousins and other relatives. (WWW was my hubby's uncle.)

This time, the sender was cousin Ernest J. Carsten (1906-?). Ernest was one of a handful of children born to Mary Amanda Wood (1884-1917) and August Jacob Carsten (1884-1975).

Reading the 1910 Census where Ernest is listed with his family in Toledo, Ohio, I noticed that August was a carpenter. Since Mary Wood's brothers were carpenters, maybe she was introduced to future husband August through one of them?

This postcard has no postmark...but Ernest was already writing in cursive, so it was probably sent in 1915 or 1916. I doubt it was sent later.

Sadly, in January, 1917, Ernest's mother Mary died at age 32, in emergency surgery as doctors tried to save her life. The cause written on her death certificate is "extrauterine gestation, tubal," with the contributory cause being "internal hemorrhage and shock." 

Late in the summer of 1917, his father remarried and the family had a new step-mom (Mathilda C. Kohne, 1892-1948). And that was the summer WWW and his brothers (including my late dad-in-law) took a road trip in their new 1917 Ford to visit Cousin Ernest and his siblings.



Saturday, December 10, 2016

Genealogy Blog Party: Genea-Santa, Take Me to 1903

September 1, 1903
This month, Elizabeth O'Neal's Genealogy Blog Party is hosting letters to Genea-Santa. Randy Seaver on Genea-Musings is also asking us to make our Genea-Santa lists.

I made a list, checked it twice, and decided to ask for a field trip.

Dear Genea-Santa,

Please hitch up your sleigh and whisk me through time and space to Elkhart, Indiana, in 1903.

Where else but a family reunion could I ever hope to untangle the cousin connections in my husband's sprawling Larimer/Short/Work families?

For several years around the turn of the 20th century, these intertwined families held summer reunions in Elkhart. Dozens of people attended, and local newspapers in Goshen, Elkhart, even Millersburg covered the event.

My main target for this field trip is Brice Larimer (1819-1906), my husband's great-great-granddaddy. He was "the oldest member of the three families present" at age 84 in 1903, as shown here.

Brice could tell me stories about Bartlett Larimer (1833-1892), a pioneering doctor who inspired his nephews in the Short family to become doctors and dentists. He probably knew the original Larimer shipwreck story by heart, hearing it from his parents who heard it from the journey-taker, Robert Larimer (or Robert's wife Mary O'Gallagher). And I think Brice could tell me about where in Scotland and Ireland all these ancestors were from (another field trip for a future wish list). But as long as I'm at the reunion, I'll chat with every guest and, of course, snap photos.

Genea-Santa, I promise to be nice and share everything I learn with my family and with the wider world via my blog. If I learn anything naughty, I'll share that too! 'Tis the season to be genea-jolly.

Friday, December 9, 2016

Sepia Saturday: Postcard Leads to Two Shocking Discoveries

For this week's Sepia Saturday, I began by scanning one of the few postcards I have from Dorothy Louise Baker (1897-1981), to her first cousin, Wallis W. Wood (hubby's great uncle).

The year was 1912, and Dorothy was living with her parents (Adelaide Mary Ann Slatter and James Sills Baker) and her younger sister (Edith Eleanor Baker) in Toledo. 

Adelaide Mary Ann Slatter and her four siblings were born in London, and I went to my online tree to do a quick search on her name.

I found something quite shocking. Adelaide and all of her siblings had been admitted to Bromley House--a workhouse--for several nights in May, 1874.

This is the kind of sad place for the poor where, a few lines above the Slatter siblings in this same ledger, a 50-year-old laborer admitted for a few nights was found dead in his bed. Bromley House added to its defenses, according to records, to prevent "inmates" from escaping. Not the sort of place you'd want two little girls, ages 7 and 5, to stay for a few nights.


After catching my breath, I went back to my other research about the Slatter family living in a terribly poverty-stricken part of London, Tower Hamlets in Whitechapel.

I knew the three boys had been sent to a military training ship on the Thames in 1875 and were lucky to escape a devastating fire. All three brothers went on to serve with distinction in the military, with Captain John Daniel Slatter (1864-1954) becoming a renowned band leader based in Toronto.

But until now, I didn't know all five siblings had been bundled off to Bromley House, the workhouse. According to the admission and discharge book, they were sent by the matron of the Forest Gate School.

Why?

Well, I had a guess. I've never been able to find the death date of the mother of these children, Mary Shehen Slatter. Born in 1840, I thought Mary died before 1888, the year when her husband left London forever and came to America.


But maybe I was wrong. This was my second shock. Above, part of a ledger from "UK Lunacy Patients Admission Registers" for the year 1877. A Mary Slatter was admitted to Middlesex County Lunatic Asylum (later called Banstead Asylum) on September 28. This Mary died on April 19, 1889. According to the death index, this Mary was 52 years old.


So if Mary Slatter wasn't able to care for her children from 1874 on, it makes sense that they could be shuttled from school to workhouse to training ship (the boys).

Yet John Slatter sailed off to America and by 1893, was living in Cleveland along with a wife, Louisa (I've never been able to locate a marriage record for these two, so perhaps she was a "wife"). So did he leave a wife in the asylum and start a new life to forget the misery of the old one?

More research is in my future to determine whether the Mary in the asylum was, in fact, my husband's great-grandma.