Sunday, December 29, 2013

2014 Genealogy Resolutions

After this remarkable year of cousin reunions and brickwalls being dissolved, I have a new set of genealogy resolutions for 2014.
  1. Focus by ignoring. I'm clicking to "ignore" Ancestry hints for ancestors who are really distant. Do I really need to see a record about the "father-in-law of uncle of wife of 1st cousin 1x removed" in my family tree? No. With more than 2,000 hints, I have to learn to ignore!
  2. Identify my main ancestor targets. Too many ancestors, too little time. Who do I really care about and what do I really need to know about those people? 
    • New for 2014: Confirm how the family of Elek Farkas from Botpalad, Hungary is related to the family of Moritz Farkas from Botpalad. There is a definite connection! But who's the link?
    • The following are carried over from 2013:
    • When did Tillie Jacobs Mahler and her children, Henrietta and David, arrive at Castle Garden in 1886? Where, exactly, were they from?
    • What about Tillie's parents, Julius Jacobs and Rachel Shuham?
    • What name did Tillie's husband Meyer Mahler use when arriving at Castle Garden in May, 1885?
    • Was Meyer Birk really Isaac Birk's brother? After living with Isaac and Isaac's future father-in-law (Meyer Mahler), what happened to Meyer Birk?
    • Where in New York state did William Tyler Bentley and his wife, Olivia Morgan, come from? Where/when did Olivia die? Olivia and William were the parents of Lucinda H. Bentley Shank, whose death cert appears above. It was the first critical evidence of Olivia's name and birthplace!
    • Where in Ireland were John and Mary Shehen (or Shehan) from? Who where their parents?
  3. Research key ancestors again. So many new documents, grave photos, and message-board posts have come online since I was bitten by the genealogy bug (in the last millennium!) that I need to research those names again. 
    • Redo a Google search with "First Last" and "Last, First," such as: "Benjamin McClure" and "McClure, Benjamin" AND add "genealogy" to avoid getting unrelated results.
    • Redo a Fold3 search for men who might have military records, as well as for people with naturalization papers.
    • Continue Ancestry searches because when I click on someone, Ancestry's "hints" come alive with new clues as well. (See Resolution #1: Ignore those for distant relatives.)
    • Redo a search on key surname message boards and locality message boards.
    • Redo a Find-a-Grave search for those whose graves I haven't found.
Happy new year and happy ancestor hunting.

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Travel Tuesday: Who Grandpa Left Behind in Ungvar

Schwartz siblings, 1915
When my maternal grandpa, Tivadar Schwartz, traveled from Ungvar, Hungary to New York City in 1902, he left behind his parents, Herman Schwartz and Hani Simonowitz, and all his siblings.

Grandpa never returned to his hometown--in fact, he never left America after he arrived on the S.S. Maltke from Hamburg on March 20, 1902. He never again saw the siblings in the photo at left.

Except for a brief Florida "honeymoon" decades after he and grandma (Hermina Farkas) were married, Tivadar stayed in New York City. 

Two of Tivadar's siblings left Ungvar: His brother Sam (original name: Simon) came to New York City in 1904, and they brought their younger sister Mary in 1906.

The above photo shows Tivadar's sisters and, we think, the husband of one sister. By the time Grandpa received this photo in the summer of 1915, he had been married for 4 years and was the father of a son.

At right, the inscription on the back of the 1915 photo. "Tivadarnak" was an endearment. Grandpa was gone, but not forgotten :)

Between WWI and WWII, Ungvar became part of Czechoslovakia. Even after Ungvar was renamed Uzhgorod when it became part of the USSR's Ukraine after WWII, Grandpa had one answer when asked about his home country: "Czechoslovokia."

Saturday, December 21, 2013

Surname Saturday: What I Didn't Discover in 2013

Despite numerous exciting breakthroughs during 2013, I still have a number of important questions that were not answered this year.

Here's what I wanted to know about four of hubby's great-great grandparents that I wasn't able to uncover this year:

  • Steiner. Where and when did the family of Jacob S. Steiner arrive in the US? Jacob was born about 1802 in Pennsylvania, according to Census records, and the last evidence I have of him is his residence in Tod, Crawford county, Ohio in the 1850 Census. Jacob married Elizabeth [UNK--another mystery], who died in 1864 in Tod. Was Jacob's family from Switzerland or Germany?
  • Slatter. John Slatter Sr., born in Oxfordshire, England, in 1811. Where and when did he die? He was a cook, and the last evidence I have of him is his residence in Banbury, Oxfordshire, in the 1841 Census.
  • Shehen. John Shehen, born in 1801 somewhere in Ireland, materialized in Marylebone, London by 1841, with his wife Mary. Mary [UNK--unsolved mystery] and John had at least three children while living in England: Thomas, Mary, and Michael. Where were John and wife Mary born, and when did they arrive in England? Daughter Mary married John Slatter Jr., but I've never found her death details, either.
  • Rinehart. Joseph W. Rinehart was born in 1806 in Pennsylvania and died in Nevada, OH, in 1888. Where and when did the Rinehart family arrive in the US? Were they Swiss or German or Austrian? Joseph's mother's name was Elizabeth but his father's name I have yet to discover.
Happily, I expect to learn new tools and techniques for tackling many of these challenges while attending the National Genealogical Society's 2014 conference. And if I'm really  lucky, one of the attendees or instructors will be researching the same surnames!

Monday, December 16, 2013

Mystery Monday: He's My Great-Grandpa!

Thanks to my newfound Israeli cuz, I learned that this handsome bearded gentleman is my great-grandfather, Herman Schwartz from Ungvar, Hungary (now Uzhorod, Ukraine).

Until now, he was one of the many mystery people in my box of "unknowns."













Israeli cuz also solved another mystery: She identified the lovely young lady with a bouquet (at right) as belonging to the family of my great-grandma, Herman's wife, Hani Simonowitz. Blanka sent this to my grandpa, Tivadar Schwartz, in 1924, 22 years after he left Ungvar for America.

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Tuesday's Tip: It Takes a Village to Trace a Tree

All of the family trees I'm working on have been "leafed out" with help from other people. Especially this year, I've learned that it truly takes a village to trace a tree. 

For example, Major James Elmer Larimer (hubby's first cousin, 4x removed), wrote to his mother, Asenath Cornwell Larimer, when he was fighting for the Union during the Civil War. At left, a page from one of his many letters--thanks to the gentleman who found me via this blog and who is now part of my village.

Here's how I make it easy for my village to exchange information:

1. My family trees on Ancestry are public (not living people, of course). That's how Philly Cuz found me and how the latest contact from a Wood cousin took place. 

2. I post about people and places on surname and locality message boards. If anybody out there is looking for Schwartz from Ungvar or Farkas from Botpalad or Bentley from Indiana (or California), they'll find my queries on message boards like Ancestry and GenForum. That's how I connected with Bentley researchers, for example.

3. I contact local genealogy clubs and historical societies. Just as one example, the fabulous folks at Elkhart County Genealogical Society provided numerous gravestone photos and probate court records for my research into the Larimer family.

4. I correspond with people who have posted on Find-a-Grave. Sometimes they have more photos they haven't had a chance to post--and among those photos are my ancestors. A very kind volunteer supplied exact directions to hubby's great-great-grand uncle's gravestone so we could visit this summer. Of course, I return the favor by posting photos of dozens of gravestones on F-a-G whenever I visit a cemetery.

5. I blog about my genealogy challenges and achievements. Thanks to this genealogy blog, I've been found by so many cousins! (You know who you are...) The blog also helps me explain to my newfound family what I know (or think I know) about a particular person or branch of the tree. In more than one case, my wonderful blog readers have been instrumental in identifying a person's uniform or place or period.

Thank you to my village!

Thursday, December 5, 2013

Those Places Thursday: Botpalad, Home of Moritz Farkas & Family

Thanks to the Family History Center microfilm 642919, which contains records for Fehergyarmat, Hungary, last night I confirmed that my great-grandpa Moritz Farkas (1857-1936) was born on July 3, 1857 in Botpalad, Szabolcs-Szatmar-Bereg, Hungary. The record-keeper often left the initial number off the year, as shown below.

At left, a closeup of the area around Botpalad. In 19th century records, Botpalad was abbreviated "B.palad."


Moritz's father was Ferencz Farkas and his mother was Sara (Hermina) Gross, as shown in the excerpt below. Way over to the right on the photo is the notation "B.palad." Bingo!





Botpalad has a statue of Kossuth Lajos (left), one of the heroes of the Hungarian independence movement.

And Moritz's children were active in the Kossuth Association in New York City, as I've written in earlier posts.


Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Thankful Thursday: Thanks to our ancestors who made Thanksgiving 2013 possible

On Thanksgiving, I'm giving thanks to the courageous journey-takers who came to America and made it possible for me and my family to be here today.

My side:
  • Farkas ancestors: Above, a Thanksgiving dinner with the Farkas Family Tree, descendants of Moritz Farkas and Lena Kunstler, who arrived in New York City in 1899 and 1900, respectively, bringing their children from Hungary just a little later. I'm one of the "hula girls" near the back at far left.
  • Schwartz ancestors: Tivadar (Teddy) Schwartz left Ungvar, Hungary (now Uzhorod, Ukraine) in 1902. He encouraged two siblings to join him in New York City, Sam (who arrived in 1904) and Mary (who arrived in 1906). Teddy married Hermina Farkas (daughter of Moritz and Lena) and settled in the Bronx.
  • Burk and Mahler ancestors: Isaac Burk, a skilled cabinet maker, arrived in New York City from Lithuania in 1904. His bride-to-be, Henrietta Mahler, was a small child when she came to New York City from Latvia in 1885 or 1886, with her parents Meyer Mahler and Tillie Rose Jacobs
Hubby's side:
  • Mayflower ancestors: My hubby has four Mayflower ancestors, but only two survived to give thanks on the first Thanksgiving in 1621: Isaac Allerton and his young daughter, Mary Allerton. The Allerton line connected with the Cushman line and eventually married into the Wood family.
  • Wood ancestors: John "The Mariner" Wood, Sr., was the journey-taker in the Wood family. Born in England about 1590, he died in Portsmouth, RI in 1655, leaving a tradition of carpentry and sea-faring occupations throughout the Wood family for many generations. 
  • McClure ancestors: Halbert McClure and his family journeyed from Raphoe Parish, County Donegal, to Philadelphia and then walked to Virginia to settle down. I'll be researching these ancestors more thoroughly at next year's NGS Conference, which takes place in Richmond on May 7-10.
  • Larimer ancestors: Robert Larimer took the perilous voyage from the North of Ireland to Philadelphia--but was shipwrecked along the way. I've told his story before.
  • Slatter ancestors: John Slatter Sr. was probably the first journey-taker in this English family, arriving in Ohio around 1889. I haven't yet located the ship records for his daughter Mary Slatter, who married James Edgar Wood in 1898.
  • Steiner and Rinehart ancestors: Still on my to-do list is the task of identifying the first ancestors of Jacob S. Steiner to arrive in America. Jake himself was born in Pennsylvania about 1802. Joseph W. Rinehart wasn't the first journey-taker, either. He was born in Pennsylvania in 1806, but I can't find much on his parents (yet).
Thank you, journey-takers. Happy Thanksgiving to all!

Sunday, November 24, 2013

Motivation Monday: Those Brickwalls Are Crumbling

When I began this blog in 2008, I put the following sentence at the top: Adventures in genealogy . . . finding out who my ancestors were and connecting with cousins today!  What adventures I've had, and what joy in finding cousins all over the map. 

Botpalad, hometown of Moritz Farkas
Nothing is as motivating as a breakthrough, right? November is possibly my best-ever month for bringing down brickwalls, which only makes me want to dig deeper. It's been so exciting that it's hard to know where to begin...remember, all of this happened in the past 25 days, and the month isn't over yet :)
  • "Hello Cousin" was the subject line on a much-anticipated e-mail from Israel. After many months of searching, I've finally connected with long-lost Schwartz cousins on my maternal grandfather's side! My 2d cousin confirmed our relationship and sent me wonderful photos of herself and the rest of our family in Israel. Next up: A Skype session! All in the same month that Sis and I met "Philly Cuz" for the first time in person--she's also a 2d cousin on the Schwartz side. And in the same month, I saw my 1st cuz from Queens (Hi, Ira!)
  • "James Elmer Larimer" was the subject line on an e-mail that arrived out of the blue. As I wrote just recently, this gentleman is trying to find the connection between hubby's Larimer line and his family (still working on that). He was kind enough to share the wagon-train journal kept by James Elmer Larimer's widow, Asenath Larimer, who went with her brother John Cornwell and three of his neighbors to join the Gold Rush in 1852. The journal is an incredible first-person account of what it was like to walk day after day through an unknown landscape, battle illness and accidents, and--hardest of all, in some ways--to leave loved ones behind, never knowing if the family would see one another again. Spoiler alert: Asenath is reunited with her young children after all!
  • "I'm the grandson of ... " read the Ancestry message I received from a first cousin, 1x removed of my hubby's! He's just beginning to trace his family tree and I'm delighted to share what I know about Thomas Haskell Wood and Mary Amanda Demarest, our common ancestors. Can't wait to hear from him again.
  • Remember microfilm? Last week I located the handwritten birth entry of my great-grandpa Moritz Farkas in the records of Botpalad, Hungary, contained on a Family History Library microfilm titled "Anyakönyvek Izraelita Hitközseg, Fehérgyarmat." Now I can search the same records for any siblings, knowing I'm in the correct part of the world at the correct time. I'm very motivated to keep cranking through this microfilm, even though part is in Hungarian and part is in German :( 
  • Cousin JW, who was thought to be a family friend but turns out to be a cousin of the Farkas family, sent naturalization records and other documents from her parents and grandparents so I can connect her line to our line. I'm almost there. This is an immense breakthrough because we believe it will show we're actually related to a large group of Farkas descendants in Europe and the U.S.
  • "Captain Slatter" was the subject line from a lady whose father trained under Captain Jack Slatter in 1941. Captain Jack (actually John Daniel Slatter) was hubby's great-uncle and a renowned bandmaster for 50 years. Replying to this inquiry, I sent a photo of Capt. Jack and a request to hear her father's memories of the good Captain. It's a small world after all!
So many ancestors, so many cousins, so little time. I'm motivated! 

Sunday, November 17, 2013

Military Monday: Major James Elmer Larimer

This morning I heard from a gentleman who found me through this blog.* His family has some wonderful historic treasures: A cache of Civil War letters written by James Elmer Larimer to his mother, Asenath Cornwell Larimer, and Asenath's journal chronicling her trip to California in the Gold Rush era. Are these Larimers related to hubby's Larimers?

Yes! And they're listed in the book Our Larimer Family by John Clarence Work, which traces this branch of the Larimers, starting with Robert Larimer's shipwreck enroute from North Ireland to America in the early 1700s.

Of course I dropped everything to check out James Elmer Larimer and his parents, James Larimer and Asenath Cornwell Larimer...and quickly discovered that James Elmer Larimer had quite a distinguished career in the military and afterward.

Above is the first of several pages about Major James Elmer Larimer from the 1915 book History of Dearborn County, Indiana (read or download it here). He enlisted in Company A, 17th Regiment, Ohio Volunteer Infantry, on April 16, 1861. He rose through the ranks, serving bravely, and eventually became a first lieutenant in command of four companies of the 23rd Missouri Volunteer Infantry. He was in the first battle of Bull Run, and in many other famous battles (Hoover's Gap, Stone's River, siege of Atlanta, and on).

After the war, President Grant appointed him U.S. gauger and in that capacity, Major Larimer foiled a number of frauds (but not all--see this Wikipedia entry). Next he became publisher and editor of the Lawrenceburg Press in Indiana. The Dearborn history sums him up this way:
"His favorite sport is baseball. His church--all of them. His bible--"The Book" and Emerson. His reading--everything, but preferably scientific. His friends--every good man or woman. His hopes--the best of what he has been. He hates--a human skunk or fox. His pride--that he has lived through 75 years of more valuable achievement by man than all the race had previously accomplished."
James Elmer Larimer was my hubby's first cousin, four times removed, and that makes us proud. 

* Larimer ancestor landing page, a big plus!

Sunday, November 10, 2013

Amanuensis Monday: My Family in WWII, for Veteran's Day

Moritz Farkas and his wife, Lena Kunstler Farkas, had 18 grandchildren. When WWII started, some of Moritz and Lena's grandchildren were of age to serve in the military. My Uncle Fred and Auntie Dorothy (at left) served, along with their first cousins Harry, George, and Robert and cousin-in-law Abe.

For Veteran's Day, I looked back at what the records of the Farkas Family Tree had to say about our relatives in WWII. This family association, formed in 1933 and active for 31 years, was a key element in keeping up the morale of our service members and supporting the parents, siblings, and children who missed them and worried about them. Often the relatives in the service would write one long letter to "the tree" and have it read at the monthly meetings. And tree members would write to relatives in the service to pass along family news and keep up their spirits.

Luckily for me, the tree secretary took minutes at every meeting and prepared a yearend summary of who did what every year in a historian's report, mixing real news with a hefty dose of humor to dispel the worry.

Excerpts from Farkas Family Tree historian's reports from the WWII years:
  • From December, 1942: "George, who volunteered for the Army Air Corps early in the year, began his training in April. He is now studying at the Bombardier-Navigator School in Louisiana and, according to his letters is making an intensive survey of the southern accent. For excellence in the art of peeling potatoes, he was promoted to the rank of corporal...Abe is now enjoying a vacation at an exclusive hotel in Florida, managed by US Army. Not to be outdone by the boys, Dorothy decided to become a WAAC. She writes that life in the Army is simply thrilling and that she is having many interesting (?) new experiences."
  • From December, 1943: "Uncle Sam decided he needed Fred more than we do, sent him 'Greetings,' and carried him off...This was not the only change which Uncle Sam caused to be made. Earlier in the year, Harry had been inducted...The war has brought a myriad of changes in our lives. Due to gas and tire shortages, we no longer go on our annual picnics and outings...Those are the events of the past year. For the coming year, the earnest hope of all is that 1944 will find the Axis vanquished and our boys home."
  • From December, 1944: "Fred was in basic training at Camp Shelby, Dorothy studied at Oxford, Harry trained at Lawson General Hospital to become an X-Ray technician...George served in Africa and Italy...Dorothy received the Europe-Middle East-Africa Theatre ribbon with combat star...Abe arrived in New Guinea...Robert went overseas with the 78th Division to England, France, and Germany...Fred became an MP and later went to the Separation Classification School at Ft. Dix." 
  • From December, 1945: "Dorothy was discharged on August 31st, having moved with the 9th Air Force from France to Belgium, returning home with the Bronze Star and 6 battle stars...Harry was stationed at Camp Upton, also Tacoma, Ft. Jackson, S.C., and France...Abe crossed the waters to New Guinea, described by him in vivid colors. When he was moved to Manila, he became a s/sgt... Fred was in Camp Shelby, Camp Blanding, and was promoted to s/sgt... Bob was in England and France, where he had a tough life liberating champagne and women. His last stop was Germany, returning with 3 battle stars."

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Tombstone Tuesday: Elroy Post, Painter


Quick, what occupation do you think hubby's great-uncle Elroy pursued?

Well, you're partly right.

Hubby's great-aunt Margaret Mary Steiner (1861-1913) married Elroy D. Post (1858-1929) in 1883.

They soon moved to Knoxville, Tennessee, where he was a sign painter in his own business for more than 30 years.

Although Maggie died in Knoxville, she was buried in her home town of Upper Sandusky, Ohio, in the Old Mission Cemetery. Above, the family plot marker. At right, Maggie's gravestone.

Elroy remarried a few years later, to Merida, and the couple named their only child after Elroy's first wife. When Elroy died, he, too, was buried in Old Mission Cemetery, right next to his first wife, Maggie. They're the only two in the Post plot. Hmmm.



Friday, November 1, 2013

Friday's Faces from the Past Go Home with a Granddaughter

Edward and Mary (left) with friend at Coney Island
My grandfather Teddy Schwartz and his older brother Samuel Schwartz scraped up money to bring their younger sister Mary Schwartz to New York City from their hometown of Ungvar, Hungary in November, 1906.

In 1913, Mary married Edward Wirtschafter, who founded a furrier business in the Big Apple.

More than 80 years after the photo below was taken, my cousin Harriet still remembered sitting beside her brother Burton in the studio and wearing a lovely pink chiffon dress made by her mother. They're Ed and Mary's children.







Now all these wonderful faces from the past are going home with Mary and Ed's granddaughter.

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Wishful Wednesday: Dunvegan Castle, Home of Clan MacLeod (and the McClures)

Thanks the carefully-researched genealogical publication Following the McClures--Donegal to Botetourt, we know that hubby is descended from Halbert McClure (1864-1754).

Although Halbert and his father James Andrew McClure were born in County Donegal, Ireland, the family was originally from Isle of Skye in Scotland. The McClures were a sept of MacLeod of Harris, which connects the family to Dunvegan Castle, ancestral home of Clan MacLeod. 

Wishing for a visit to the majestic Dunvegan Castle on beautiful Isle of Skye, and a chance to see the countryside where McClure ancestors lived for most of the past millennium.


Saturday, October 26, 2013

Surname Saturday and Getting Down to the DNA

The newly enhanced Ancestry DNA results are a much closer match for hubby's family tree origins than the old version. Above, the new map of his origins. Below, the summary of his origins, which make sense in the context of the updated Heritage Pie I created for him earlier this year.

Great Britain (England, No. Ireland, Scotland) was the original home of these families from hubby's tree:
  • Bentley 
  • Denning 
  • Larimer
  • McClure
  • Shehen 
  • Slatter 
  • Taber 
  • Wood
Western Europe was the original home of these families from hubby's tree:
  • Demarest
  • Nitchie
  • Shank
  • Steiner


Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Travel Tuesday: City Grandpa Visits the Country

After Grandpa Theodore (Tivador) Schwartz (1887-1965) left his home in Ungvar, Hungary (now Uzhorod, Ukraine), he settled in New York City.

Except for a handful of vacations to the bungalow belt of New York State and one honeymoon trip to Florida decades after his 1911 wedding to Hermina Farkas (1886-1964), Teddy stuck to city life.

He never had a car and never learned to drive--why would he, with trolleys, buses, and subways steps away from his business and apartment in the Bronx?

Here are two photos from the late 1920s and 1930s, contrasting Teddy's usual daily life (below, in his Bronx grocery store, Teddy's Dairy) with two of his rare visits to the country (above).

In the country we see Grandpa Teddy with John, his assistant at the grocery. Where were they? At that time, the Bronx still had some very rural areas, so it could have been within a trolley or subway ride--or possibly in Westchester? John obviously had a car, so they may have taken a day trip even further.

The photos are undated, but judging by the amount of hair that Teddy has and his face, the one at top left looks like it was taken around the same time as the photo at bottom, where Teddy is standing with John in front of the grocery store in 1934. The photo with Teddy and John and John's car is clearly earlier, judging by the age of the car.


Sunday, October 20, 2013

Genealogy Tip Jar: Gen Societies and Historical Societies on Facebook

Today's Geneabloggers Genealogy Tip Jar topic is: Genealogical and Historical Societies (#gentipjar). So here's a 21st century twist: Finding those resources on Facebook. Often it's as easy as searching in Facebook using the location and adding the word "genealogy" or "historical society." But there's an easier way, as I'll mention below.

My Facebook genealogy alter ego, Benjamin McClure, uses the family tree shown above as his cover photo. Benji has "liked" or joined the pages of a number of local genealogical societies on FB, including:
  • Adams County, Ohio Genealogy Researchers
  • Crawford County Ohio History & Genealogy 
  • British Isles Genealogy
  • Ohio Historical Society
  • Genealogical Society of Ireland
  • Indiana Genealogical Society
  • Elkhart Genealogical Society
  • Genealogy Club of Newtown, CT
Why Facebook? Because the people who post on these pages are very knowledgeable about their areas and willing to help each other with ideas, local info, even photos. In some cases, you have to request an invite; in others, you simply "like."

On the Adams County FB page, I requested an invite, and once approved, I posted a query about Benji's in-laws. Another participant on that site soon sent me a file listing early marriages in that county--including several members of the McClure family and the Denning family. What a find!

NOW for the biggest tip of all: Thanks to my Facebook participation, I learned of a fabulous resource assembled by researcher extraordinaire Katherine R. Willson, whose site is Social Media Genealogy. She has developed an extensive listing of links to genealogical and historical societies' Facebook pages for all 50 states--and she's willing to share! This valuable list is downloadable as a free pdf from her special page here

I found 4 pages of Ohio societies to explore on Facebook, and 3 pages of Connecticut societies on Facebook. Thank you, Katherine!

Friday, October 18, 2013

Friday's Faces from the Past: Grandma as a Young Lady

Grandma Hermina Farkas Schwartz (1886-1964) arrived in New York City from Hungary two days after her 15th birthday. She was accompanied by her older brother Alex and two younger sisters, Ella and Freda.

The photo at left was taken about 1910, by Gustav Beldegreen, the photographer who served as official photographer for the Kossuth Ferenc Hungarian Literary Sick and Benevolent Society--a group that my Farkas relatives helped to found in NYC.

At right, another Beldegreen photo of my grandma, possibly the same day but certainly around the same time as the photo above.

Given that Grandma was an expert seamstress and made her living sewing silk ties, she might even have stitched the stylish dress she's wearing.

She makes quite the fashion statement with her scarf, hat, umbrella, gloves, and shoes!

These photos were probably taken the year before grandma married Theodore (Tivador) Schwartz (1887-1965), who was from Ungvar, Hungary and who encouraged both his brother Simon (renamed Samuel) and his sister Mary (Marushka) to come to America.

Monday, October 14, 2013

Mystery Monday: What Happened to Joe Jacobs?

Joe Jacobs, my great-grand uncle, came to America in 1882, quickly applied for citizenship, and was naturalized on October 25, 1888. But the last decade or so of his life is a mystery.

Joe married Eva Micalovsky in New York City, and they began a family: Flora, Louis, Morris, Frank, Hilda, and Frieda. (I think--one census lists "Pearl" and Frieda disappears at times.)

While Joe was in America, his sister Tillie Rose Jacobs married Meyer Mahler, my great-grandpa, in Latvia, and they had a daughter Henrietta (hi, Grandma!) and a son Morris before arriving in New York City.

Tillie's daughter Ida kept a booklet detailing the family's important dates--and she wrote down that Joe Jacobs died on November 22, 1919.
Joe Jacobs actually disappears from documents after the 1905 NY Census (above), when he was living at 88 Christie Street, a big apartment building where his sister Tillie also lived with her husband Meyer Mahler and their growing family.

In 1910, Eva and four kids (Louis, Flora, Morris, Frieda) were listed in the census as living in Brooklyn...she was shown as head of the household, married for 20 years, and 4 of her 6 children were still alive. No sign of Joe with them. In the 1915 NY Census, she's in Brooklyn but now living on Rutledge St., this time with Flora, Louis, Morris, and Hilda listed. Again, no sign of Joe.

By 1920, Eva was listed as a widow in the census, living on Marcy Ave. in Brooklyn with Flora, Hilda, and Frank...This would make sense if Joe died in 1919, although I haven't found any NYC death documents to confirm.

By 1940, Eva was living in Brooklyn with her son Frank as head of the household. He might have been married (the "M" in the married column seems to have a little question mark next to it), but no wife was listed. Eva died in Brooklyn in 1941, at the age of 71.

So the hunt continues: What happened to Joe Jacobs? Where did he disappear to, and where did he die?

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Tuesday's Tip: Searching Online Libraries

Yes, it's a long shot, but sometimes our ancestors are mentioned in books, especially books outlining specific family trees. So I've been taking a few minutes to plug surnames into the search boxes of online libraries--not just Heritage Quest--and see what I can find, with some success.

To avoid getting too many hits, I use the search phrase "surname AND genealogy" in this initial step to narrow things down, using whatever surname I'm researching at the time.

Next, I look at the listing of digitized books, select one or two that seem most promising, and search within the books for the surname.

Here are three online libraries to explore:

  • HathiTrust Digital Library allows searching across its catalog and within individual books. Plugging in McClure, I found this page about the Halbert McClure family from Donegal to Botetourt, VA in a genealogy that covered not just McClure but also Haddon and Curry families. 
  • Archive.org's "Free Books" section has a search box at the top left where I plugged in "McClure AND genealogy" and found 8 possible hits to explore. The most promising hit is A History of Rockbridge County, where Halbert McClure settled.
  • Family Search's Family History Books will search across 80,000 books in family history libraries around the country. The search can be general or advanced. Searching simply for "McClure" turned up more than 4,000 entries! I switched to advanced search, added "Halbert" as a second search word, and got only 100 results. Not all of these books can be accessed digitally, however. The one I viewed was McClure Family Records.
Happy searching!

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Wordless Wednesday: Presenting Isaac and Henrietta, Together

My Queens Cuz gave me an envelope of photos to scan.

One of the surprises was this photo of our grandfather, Isaac Burk (1882-1943) with our grandmother, Henrietta Mahler Burk (1881-1954).

We've never seen a photo of them together. Plus this has a date--1936, a few years before Isaac applied for naturalization.

Isaac is wearing a tie and looking quite dapper. Henrietta has a bow pin on the collar of her printed blouse.

Good to see you, Isaac and Henrietta.

Saturday, September 28, 2013

Sorting Saturday: Dad the Grad

Today would have been Dad's birthday. Born in New York City in 1909, Harold was the second child of Isaac Burk and Henrietta Mahler Burk.

At this time, Isaac was moving between Montreal and New York City, going where his carpenter skills won him work, often with his family in tow.

I'm still searching for Isaac's siblings and trying to identify his hometown in Eastern Europe.

Despite all this travel, Harold graduated from P.S. 171 in Manhattan (now the Patrick Henry School) in June, 1923.



The photo at left is probably his grad photo. Happy birthday, Dad the Grad! 

(PS: This is Sorting Saturday because my Queens Cuz found his mother's copy of Dad's Grad photo today--the identical photo.)

Monday, September 23, 2013

Amenuensis Monday: Looking Up Famous In-Laws


When hubby and I were researching in Upper Sandusky, Ohio this summer, we wandered into the Wyandot County Museum and talked with the curator about paintings on the wall by artist Frank Halbedel, brother-in-law to hubby's great-aunt Minnie Estella Steiner Halbedel.

One of the most famous paintings shows the Old Mission where Wyandot Indians were converted and worshipped. The mission been reconstructed and is surrounded by many graves of hubby's ancestors in Old Mission Cemetery.

The museum curator kindly copied local news articles about Frank Halbedel, including one about his parents' golden wedding anniversary. Here is an excerpt that describes Mrs. Nicholas Halbedel's father's 15 minutes of fame. This man would be the grandfather of the husband of hubby's great-aunt, but still . . . I've transcribed it below. And the article had one more surprise--keep reading!

"[Mrs. Anna Schactela Halbedel's father] who is still remembered by our older citizens, was a soldier under Napoleon Bonaparte, and he, with the father of Philip Tracht of this city, was present at the famous ball at Brussels when the exultant soldiers of the Little Giant were surprised in their revelries by the forces of the Duke of Wellington, on the eve of disastrous Waterloo, when the Emperor of the French was overwhelmed."
Now for the surprise. Buried in the fine print listing all the attendees were these two names: "Mrs. Edward G. Steiner and daughter, Miss Floyda." Bingo, a direct connection with my hubby's pedigree.

Floyda was his grandma, Mrs. Edward G. Steiner was his great-grandma. Now more research is ahead: This 1902 story appeared soon after Floyda was divorced from her first husband (a brief marriage that I haven't yet found the divorce papers for) and a year before she married hubby's grandpa, Brice Larimer McClure.

Saturday, September 21, 2013

Surname Saturday: Heritage Pie Updated

Last October, I modified the idea of creating a heritage pie chart of great-great-grandparents and posted my pies with hubby's great-grandparents and my grandparents.

Today I have enough information to post a chart with the birth place of all 16 of hubby's great-great-grands (above). Except for 4 people, all of hubby's great-grandparents were born in the US (mainly Pennsylvania, Delaware, New York, Ohio). However, not all of the great-great-great-grands were US-born.

Here's what I know or suspect about where the families of each of hubby's great-great-grandparents were from originally:

IrelandJohn Shehen and wife Mary (maiden UNK)--have evidence
England: John Slatter Sr. and wife Sarah (maiden UNK)--have evidence of English birth, but this family might have long-ago Irish roots
England: Ancestors of Isaiah Wood Sr.--have evidence
England: Ancestors of Harriet Taber--have evidence
England: Ancestors of Sarah Denning--need evidence
England: Ancestors of Lucy E. Bentley--need evidence
Huguenots (possibly France): Ancestors of Henry E. Demarest--need evidence
Huguenots (possibly France): Ancestors of Catherine Nitchie--need evidence
Scots-Irish: Ancestors of Benjamin McClure--have evidence
No. Ireland: Ancestors of Brice S. Larimer--have evidence
Germany: Ancestors of Jacob S. Steiner--have a clue (a letter from a descendant)
Switzerland: Ancestors of Joseph W. Rinehart--have a clue (a family story)
???: Ancestors of Elizabeth (maiden UNK) Steiner
???: Ancestors of Margaret Shank, who married Joseph W. Rinehart



Friday, September 20, 2013

Friday's Faces from the Past: Uncle Benny McClure Saves a Coon

Benjamin McClure (1812-1896), hubby's great-great-grandpa, was a pioneer settler in Wabash, Indiana, but what was he really like?

The woodcut at left is from The Wabash Times, 21 December 1893, which ran a story on p. 3 titled "A Biographical Sketch: One of the Sturdy Old Settlers--Uncle Benjamin McClure, a Man Well Known to All the Older Inhabitants of Wabash County--an Octogenarian." The same newspaper used this woodcut when it ran McClure's obit in 1896. And I'm using this woodcut as the profile photo for my Benjamin McClure Facebook page, my social media experiment in genealogy.

(Mrs. Sarah Denning McClure, hubby's great-great-grandma, died in 1888. Widower Benjamin soon sold the family farm and lived with his children for the next 8 years.)

Hubby used the microfilm reader in the Wabash Carnegie Public Library (which has lots of useful genealogical resources) last month to look for McClure's name in local newspapers. He found a story in the Wabash Plain Dealer one week after McClure's death that gave us new insight into this pioneer man's strong religious feelings. Here's the story in its entirety:
Uncle Benny and the Coon

How the Late Mr. McClure Balked a Party of Hunters
Jehu Straughn, the genial pioneer resident of this county, tells an anecdote of the late Benjamin McClure, which shows how thoroughly loyal Mr. McClure was to his Christian faith.
Many years ago when the country was new and Mr. McClure lived on the farm just west of the city, an industrious, contented husbandman, rugged in constitution and strong in religious convictions, there was a coon hunt by persons living in the vicinity of Mr. McClure's farm.
The coon was started, and ran toward the home of Mr. McClure, ascending a tree in the door-yard of that gentleman. It wanted only a few minutes to midnight when the animal ran up the tree and it was after twelve when the hungers located him. It would have been an easy matter to shoot the creature, and some members of the party were determined to do so, but Mr. McClure, who regarded the Sabbath day as sacred, lifted his hand warningly and said: "Boys, you can't shoot that coon until Monday. This is Sunday and the day shall be kept holy. If the coon is in the tree tomorrow night at this time, get him if you can, but he shall not be killed before that."
The hunters expostulated, but to no purpose, and the dawn found the coon still in the tree. During the day the hunters dropped in and begged to be allowed to fire at the coon, but Uncle Benny turned them all away with the remark: "No man shall ever say that he heard the crack of a rifle on my farm on the Sabbath day, if I can prevent it. Come tomorrow and if the coon is there, he's yours."
But Sunday evening the coon ran down the tree and escaped and Mr. McClure was roundly censured, but he was true to his convictions and not an iota did the lavish criticisms cause him to yield from the position he had taken.



Monday, September 16, 2013

Mayflower Monday: Celebrating Degory Priest and the Allertons

Today is Mayflower Day, the day in 1620 when the Mayflower set sail from England, headed for the Virginia colony. 

Thanks to Cousin Larry's decades of research into the Wood family tree, we know there are four Mayflower ancestors in our past. I want to celebrate them today! 

(1) Degory Priest. His line led through the Coombs family to Sarah Hatch, who married James Cushman. Their granddaughter Lydia was the mother of Harriet Taber, who married Isaiah Wood Sr. in Massachusetts in 1806. Harriet and Isaiah were hubby's great-great-grandparents.

(2) Isaac Allerton, (3) Mary Norris, and (4) Mary Allerton. Mary Allerton Cushman's son Eleazer Cushman married Elizabeth Royal Coombs, great-grandaughter of Degory Priest, linking these ancestors to the family tree of Degory Priest.

Military Monday: Elihu Served 6 Days in the Revolutionary War

Elihu Wood Sr., hubby's 3rd great-granddaddy, is the only one of his ancestors officially recognized as having fought in the Revolutionary War.

According to the 1896 multivolume publication Massachusetts Soldiers and Sailors of the Revolutionary War, Elihu--a resident of Bristol County, MA--responded to an alarm in Rhode Island by joining Captain Henry Jenne's company in Colonel Hathaway's 2d Bristol Regiment on August 2, 1780. Elihu was mustered out on August 8, 1780. Grand total of Revolutionary War service: 6 days.

During the War of 1812, his son, Elihu Wood Jr., was in Lt. Col. B. Lincoln's regiment, serving from June 30, 1814 to July 10, 1814 in New Bedford and Fairhaven, MA. His military service totaled 10 days.

Two other ancestors saw service during the War of 1812:
  • Daniel Denning was a private in Capt. John Hayslip's Ohio Militia from September to November, 1814.
  • Isaac M. Larimer was a Sgt and Ensign in Capt. George Sanderson's company in Ohio, serving from April, 1812 to April, 1813. 
At least four ancestors fought for the Union side during the Civil War:
  • Benjamin Franklin Steiner was a private in 10th Company L, Ohio Volunteer Infantry, enlisting in 1862.
  • His younger brother, Samuel D. Steiner, served in Company C, 180th Ohio Volunteer Infantry, in 1864-5.
  • Hugh Rinehart was a private in Company I, 15th Ohio Infantry, in 1861.
  • Train C. McClure served the longest of hubby's ancestors. He enlisted as a private in the 89th Regiment of the Indiana Infantry in August, 1862, and didn't leave the Army until July, 1865.

Saturday, September 14, 2013

Sympathy Saturday: February Was a Sad Month for the Steiner Family

Adaline (Addie) M. Steiner, daughter of Edward George Steiner and Elizabeth Jane Rinehart, died of consumption [see obit] only three weeks shy of her 20th birthday, on February 23, 1879.

Floyda Mabel Steiner, hubby's grandma, was born in March of 1878, so the Steiners were coping with a lot in 1879.

Addie's passing was the third death of a child for poor Edward and Elizabeth. Their first-born died in 1852, and their second-born, Elveretta, died at about age one, in February of 1855.


In all, the couple had 9 children, but only 6 survived to make adult lives: Orville J., Margaret Mary, Etta Blanche, Minnie Estella, Carrie Eilleen, and Floyda Mabel. My Steiner & Rinehart ancestor landing page, one of the tabs at the top of this blog, tells more about these families.


Several Steiner family members are buried in Old Mission Cemetery, Upper Sandusky, Ohio, a beautifully-kept cemetery that is home to that famous mistaken "February 31" death date on the tombstone of Christiana Haag, which I photographed when visiting this summer.

Friday, September 13, 2013

Family Friends Friday: "Cousin" or Cousin?

JW is the dark-haired beauty second from right 
Family friends sometimes turn out to be distant cousins. That might the case with "Cousin JW," who I've recently located decades after her name last appeared in the Farkas Family Tree minutes.

A couple of months ago, my cousin loaned me 31 years of minutes from the monthly get-togethers of the children/grandchildren of Moritz Farkas and Lena Kunstler Farkas. As I scanned and indexed all the documents, the name "JW" kept showing up--a name I didn't know.

I read about JW's college studies, how she lived with my great-uncle Albert Farkas and his wife Sari while in New York, and how the entire family was invited to her wedding. Later, JW wrote about her travels with her doctor husband, who served in the Korean War, and sent word when her daughters were born.

JW's oldest daughter has a distinctive name and when I did an online search for her, I found her! I wrote her via snail-mail, asking whether she knew of the Farkas Family Tree and saying how much I'd like to chat with her.

A week ago, a letter arrived from JW herself, saying she had been in the process of moving when her daughter received my letter. I called and learned that JW's parents always referred to the Farkas family as cousins, but we don't know exactly how we're cousins. She's going to dig up her grandparents' information to see whether we can pinpoint our mutual relatives back in Hungary, where these families are from. Fingers crossed that we can figure this out!

Cuz Betty immediately remembered JW and sent her and me the 1946 photo shown above (JW is the dark-haired beauty in the dark dress, sitting second from right). Whether she's Cousin JW or "Cousin JW," a close family friend, I'm so happy to have connected with her! And now other cousins are lining up to write and call JW. What a wonderful reunion it's turning out to be.

Monday, September 9, 2013

Tuesday's Tip: Even More 10-Minute Genealogist Tips

Have only 10 minutes to squeeze in some genealogy research? Here are even more ideas* for what I do when all I have is a few minutes:
  • Take another look at some old document, checking for new clues. Have you wrung everything out of every birth cert, obit, news clipping, or photo? Every time I think there's nothing new to notice, I'm surprised. Or once I've learned some new fact or name, I can review old documents with new eyes. Case in point: The 1905 obit for Elizabeth Rinehart Steiner, which mentioned two granddaughters whose names were unfamiliar to me: Mrs. John Rummell of Galion (Ohio) and Mrs. A.T. Welburn of Detroit. After my recent trip to the Allen County Public Library, I came back with more info about Elizabeth's son Orville J. Steiner, whose younger daughter Capitola Steiner married Arthur Welburn and whose older daughter married John R. Rummell. Bingo! I dug out the obit, and used its date to narrow my search for when and where these two ladies got married.
  • Browse for new blogs to read and follow. Although I follow dozens of bloggers, I also keep an eye out for other blogs that can give me new tips and trigger ideas for breaking through brick walls. In addition to looking at Geneabloggers, I've surfed for blogs among those listed in Family Tree Mag, the Genealogy Blog Finder, Cyndi's List, and blogs followed by or mentioned by bloggers I respect and enjoy. Or if you attend a talk by an expert, check out his or her blog. For example, after attending two of Harold Henderson's FGS sessions, I now follow his excellent Midwestern gen blog.
  • Set up a Google Alert for one or two surnames you're researching. This is a long-shot, but take a few minutes to set up an alert so that if someone blogs about your ancestors' surname, you'll get an e-mail alerting you to the post. Just follow the really simple directions here. My alerts generally follow the pattern surname AND genealogy. Why? Because I don't want lots of alerts that have nothing to do with genealogy. Of course, if you have a very unusual surname to research and you're seeking cousins out there today, go ahead and use the surname without genealogy, or add a locale to your search phrase. I don't have any success stories on this yet, but my fingers are crossed. Good luck!
* My other 10-Minute Genealogist posts are here and here.

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Those Places Thursday: Adams County, Ohio (Guarding Prisoners for 50 Cents a Night)

Hubby's McClure ancestors are mentioned several times in old transcriptions of abstracts from the Adams County (Ohio) Court of Common Pleas--which I found while at the Allen County Public Library last month. Interesting insights into their lives as Ohio pioneers!
  •  Alexander McClure and Halbert McClure, hubby's 4th and 5th great-granddads, respectively, were involved in a court case I don't understand. It was listed under "McKay vs Glasgow" (see right), which was "same vs Alexander McClure, same vs Andrew Kerr, same vs Halbert McClure, same vs E. McWright. Issue a fa et le fa in these five cases. Jesse McKay, 29 July 1823." What the heck is a fa et le fa when translated from legal terminology?
  • John McClure, hubby's 3d great-grandpa, was paid 50 cents for guarding a prisoner named James J. Neil for one night. He was one of several guards in Ohio vs Neil who were paid, apparently on an ad hoc basis, for watching this Neil guy. Other guards paid 50 cents were: William Ellison, William K. Stewart, John Bratton, Samuel Doherty, and Charles M. Wilson. Interestingly, a few guards were paid 75 cents for "guarding prisoner to jail" (transporting him?): Benjamin Bowman, William R. Stewart, John Bratton, and Samuel Doherty.
  • John McClure rented farm land from David Bradford, from the first of April 1822 to the first of April 1823. He agreed (in writing) to plant wheat and corn, pay as rent 1/3 of all grain he raises, cut the meadows, put up the hay and give 1/2 the proceeds as rent, and not to pasture the meadows. Presumably John lived up to his end of the bargain, since his name didn't appear as a defendant later in the court records...
This branch of the McClure family came up from Rockbridge County, Virginia, in the early 1800s to settle in Adams County...a distance of about 300 miles. Quite a ways to travel in those days! But then again, Halbert McClure had brought the family from Donegal to Philadelphia on a rough sea voyage, then they all walked from Pennsylvania to Virginia. So maybe Adams County didn't seem so far after all.

Wordless Wednesday: Double Trouble, Dressed Alike (for a Change)

Everybody, label your photos with names and dates! This is a "wordless Wednesday" because there were no words on these photos.

My Mom, Daisy Schwartz Burk, rarely dressed her twin girls alike because she, as a twin, didn't like this "tradition."

But here are two special occasion photos where Sis and I are dressed alike.

Above left, we're "gypsy girls" playing the piano at a Farkas Family Tree Thanksgiving dinner (is my memory correct, Sis?).

Above right, we're dressed up for, I believe, a family event on the Burk/Mahler side of the family. Without the initials on the top margin, I would never have guessed who was who. How 'bout you, Sis? Sadly, no dates, either. Lesson learned: Label, label, label.