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.

Saturday, December 3, 2016

Sepia Saturday: The Mysterious "Grandma" in Cleveland

On Sepia Saturday, I'm posting this colorful 1905 holiday postcard, another in the series sent to my husband's uncle (Wallis Walter Wood, 1905-1957) in Cleveland, Ohio, during the early 1900s. This card isn't just beautiful, it's informative and mysterious.


Informative because it provides yet another address for my hubby's grandparents, James Edgar Wood (1871-1939) and Mary Slatter Wood (1869-1925). I believe 7203 Duluth Street in Cleveland was the site of a home built by James, one of many he constructed "on spec" and then sold, moving on to build another house nearby.

Mysterious because the front has the greeting From "Grandma" and yet Wallis had no living grandparents at that point. So who was Grandma?

One clue: This pretty postcard was dropped into a mailbox early on the morning of Christmas Eve, as the postmark shows. None of Wallis's aunts (by blood or marriage) lived in the area, so they couldn't have sent this.

Another clue: Wallis's name is spelled correctly. That means his Aunt Rachel "Nellie" Wood Kirby (1864-1954) didn't send it. She never spelled his name correctly, in a decade or more of mailing him cards for every holiday, and this isn't her handwriting.

So my guess is this Sepia Saturday postcard was from an old family friend living nearby, or a close friend from church, or a more distant (older) relative who doted on toddler Wallis.

Friday, December 2, 2016

Friday's Faces from the Past: Kindergarten Twins, circa 1924

This school photo was taken more than 90 years ago, when the Schwartz twins (my mother Daisy and her sister Dorothy) were in kindergarten. Since the twins were born in 1919, I estimate the date of the photo to be 1924. Mom (1919-1981) and Auntie (1919-2001) would have been 97 years old this month.

Although I don't know which twin was which, it's easy to spot them sitting side by side in the center, with the Buster Brown hairdo so obviously popular at the time.

How did the photographer get these youngsters to sit still long enough to capture the image so clearly? Maybe that's why the kids aren't smiling!*


As the photo indicates, the twins went to school at P.S. 62 on Fox Street in the Bronx. This elementary school was across the street from the apartment building at 651 Fox Street where the family lived (and where the twins were born, at home).

I'm posting a fragment of the 1920 Census, showing the twins (age 0/12) and their older brother "Fredie" (age 7) with their parents, Theodore Schwartz and Hermina Farkas Schwartz, at that address.

With a magnifying glass and a little imagination, this Census confirmed what I already knew--that my Grandpa Teddy was born in Ungvar, Hungary and my Grandma Minnie was born in Bereg (now Berehovo), Hungary.

The Census-taker wrote the town names in parentheses under "place of birth" for all immigrants on that page...later the town names were crossed out but still visible.

By checking the original rather than relying on a transcription, I could see the birthplaces for myself. Faces and places from the past!

*Actually, the kids aren't smiling because the convention of smiling in a photographic portrait was only coming into favor around this time, as Time explains.

Sunday, November 27, 2016

Genealogy Blog Party: Chickie Pitcher and Butterscotch Brownie Traditions

Elizabeth O'Neal's Genealogy Blog Party continues this month by celebrating family traditions.

This adorable ceramic chickie pitcher has been a tradition in my husband Wally's Wood family for nearly 80 years. Originally, it was filled with fresh milk to lighten coffee after dinner. These days, we fill it with half and half--but it still puts a smile on our faces because of the whimsical chicks and the memories from holidays past.

Interestingly, Wally's mom, Marian Jane McClure Wood,  became a ceramic artist years later--taking lessons from famed ceramicist Edris Eckhardt and specializing in animal sculptures, reflecting her love of art and animals.

Another long-time tradition in hubby's family: Grandmother Floyda Steiner McClure's Butterscotch Brownies.

The recipe, shown here, has been passed down for several generations. It makes a delicious dessert alone or a special treat topped with ice cream and whipped cream. Happy holidays!


Thursday, November 24, 2016

Thankful Thursday: Passing My Parents' 70-Year-Old Wedding Album to Heirs

Saving my parents' wedding album by making a photo book for their 3 grandchildren
On November 24, 1946, the Sunday of Thanksgiving weekend, my parents, Harry Burk (1909-1978) and Daisy Schwartz (1919-1981) were married at the Hotel McAlpin in New York City. Today would have been their 70th wedding anniversary!

After so many decades, their wedding album was pretty beat up-looking (see below). So I decided to preserve it and share it with Harry & Daisy's three grandchildren now, along with the story of their courtship and marriage. This is also an easy way to be sure that a single heirloom album can be enjoyed by multiple heirs for many years to come.

Here are the steps I took, little by little, to make a pretty and romantic photobook from the wedding album:

1. Remove each 8 x 10 inch photo from its sleeve in the binder and scan it at high resolution. (I could have scanned without removing the photos, if the album was too deteriorated, but not necessary in this case.)

2. Clean up the images electronically and upload them to a photo book website (I like Shutterfly but others are also excellent).

3. Arrange the photos in sequence, adding the story of courtship and wedding as captions. Also, identify everyone in the photos by full name and relationship (so these details aren't forgotten by future generations--keeping family history alive!).

4. Add a touch of color to each page for visual interest (younger folks may find an all black-and-white book a bit boring).

5. Press the "order" button to buy multiple copies for multiple heirs.

6. The original wedding album will be passed to an heir in the next generation, as designated in my "genealogical will."

On Thanksgiving, I'm feeling thankful for my parents' wedding 70 years ago.

Tuesday, November 22, 2016

Talented Tuesday: Auntie Dorothy and the Thanksgiving Day Parade

My mother's twin sister, Dorothy Schwartz (1919-2001), became a part of the great Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade through her close relationship with the parade's talented director, Lee Wallace.

Lee Wallace was with Macy's for many years, and insiders must have smiled when they read the store's New Year's ad on January 1, 1948. Look closely, and you'll see it mentions a telegram sent to Lee c/o the store (excerpt is at left).

"Aunt" Lee, as my sisters and I affectionately called her, was in charge of Macy's special events, and she directed the Macy's parade for about a decade. My Auntie Dorothy was her assistant starting in 1950 (as mentioned in the Farkas Family Tree minutes for that year).

During 1951 and 1952, Dorothy and Lee worked on lots of special exhibits for Macy's, including an Italian showcase and--I can't make this stuff up--a puppet exhibit for which my Auntie made the wigs.

In 1952, Dorothy briefly left Macy's but later that year, she and Lee formed a partnership, "Lee Wallace Associates, Parade and Special Events, Consultants." Their first project together was: The 1952 Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade. 

In March, 1953, Dorothy and Lee were commissioned to run the Bridgeport Barnum Festival on July 4th. This magazine excerpt from May, 1953 shows that the two were being publicized within the industry. According to the family tree minutes, Dorothy then recuperated from the experience by vacationing on Cape Cod!

Dorothy and Lee remained together personally after their professional relationship ended in the mid-1950s, when Auntie Dorothy became a teacher in the New York City school system.

Saturday, November 19, 2016

Surname Saturday: The Mayflower Connection for Thomas Haskell Wood

'Tis the season for Mayflower connections. Hubby has four Mayflower ancestors.
  • (1) Degory Priest (he married Sarah Allerton, and their daughter Sarah Priest married John Coombs; their son married Elizabeth Royal; Sarah/John Coombs' daughter Elizabeth Royal Coombs married Eleazer Cushman. The son of that marriage was James Cushman who married Sarah Hatch; their granddaughter Lydia was the mother of Harriet Taber, who married Isaiah Wood Sr. in Massachusetts in 1806. Harriet and Isaiah were hubby's 2d-great-grandparents).
  • (2) Isaac Allerton, (3) Mary Norris, and (4) Mary Allerton (Mary Allerton married Thomas Cushman of the Fortune; their son Eleazer Cushman married Elizabeth Royal Coombs, g-grandaughter of Degory Priest. Isaac & Mary Allerton were hubby's 8th great-grandparents).
Reading other GeneaBloggers' posts about Mayflower ancestors, I noticed that Bill West mentioned his Allerton ancestry--and included, among the Allerton descendants in his line, an in-law with the surname of Haskell.

Death notice for Thomas Haskell Wood, Toledo, OH
Haskell rings an important bell. Hubby's great-granddaddy was Thomas Haskell Wood (1809-1890). For years, I've puzzled over the Haskell name. Thomas Haskell Wood did bestow the Haskell name on one of his sons: Thomas Jefferson Isaiah Haskell Wood* (1848-1861). That's the last time I've seen Haskell in 19th or 20th century Wood descendants, and why it appeared or disappeared, I couldn't figure out.

I can't say exactly how Haskell is related to my husband's Wood line because I still haven't finished adding all the Mayflower descendants from the Allertons and Cushmans. But I now believe Thomas Haskell Wood's middle name is a tribute to the Haskell who married into the family's Mayflower line many generations back. Thankful for these Mayflower ancestors as Thanksgiving approaches.


* Why Thomas Jefferson Isaiah Haskell Wood? His parents (Thomas H. Wood and Mary Amanda Demarest) were married in Louisiana in 1845--territory secured by President Thomas Jefferson in 1803, which became a state in 1812. And of course President Jefferson died in 1826, which may have been another reason for honoring this famous man through the name. The "Isaiah" middle name comes from this Thomas J. I. H. Wood's grandfather.

Thursday, November 17, 2016

Thankful Thursday: Farkas Family Thanksgivings of the Past

I'm one of the hula girls at left, near the back of the room
In 1933, the adult children of Moritz Farkas and Lena Kunstler Farkas formed the Farkas Family Tree association to continue the family closeness as the next generation grew up. They held 10 meetings a year, plus holiday gatherings in between, all in and around New York City. This was the family tree of my mother's mother--although all in-laws, especially my mother's father, were warmly welcomed.

The Tree planned a Thanksgiving dinner most years for the entire membership, beginning in 1934. These were fun affairs, with costumes, prizes, and--of course--lots and lots of holiday foods.

I'm thankful to have the minutes from 30 years of the Farkas Family Tree's meetings. Let me summarize what the minutes say about some memorable Thanksgiving get-togethers.

November, 1934: Thanksgiving dinner at Reichman's, 82nd Street & Second Ave., at 6 p.m. This was the first formal holiday dinner held at a restaurant, with adults paying the full $1.50 per meal and the Tree association paying for the children's meals. My great aunt Ella suggested a tradition that continued for 25 years: Dressing the children in costumes (with adults sometimes joining in). In all, the Tree paid $59 for dinners, music, tips, and decorations.

November, 1935: Thanksgiving dinner was held at the Hotel Hamilton (described, according to the hotel directory listing at Steve Morse's site, as "the House of Sunshine"), again at a cost of $1.50 per meal. Members donated: "cigars and cigarettes, cocktails, caps, noise makers, wine, rye, and assorted prizes." The full cost of feeding and entertaining the Tree members: $63.80.

 November, 1937: Quoting from the minutes about this year's Thanksgiving--"The adults of the group 'dressed up' and the result was a hilarious mad-house. A more strikingly original and handsome combination of costumes could not have been seen even at an Elsa-Maxwell-planned party."

Concourse Plaza Hotel
November, 1944: My great aunt Rose volunteered to host Thanksgiving dinner at her house, provided she would have help with "kp" and doing the dishes. The minutes say: "It was finally agreed that the Democrats would take on the job if the Republicans won the job, and vice-versa."

November, 1948: Thanksgiving dinner was held at the Concourse Plaza Hotel in the Bronx, at a cost of $6.50 per person. Recognizing that this cost was a little steep, the Tree subsidized part of the cost for adults and paid for all children, as was the usual custom for holiday meals.

November, 1956: The Tree held its costume dinner at the Hotel Gramercy Park in Manhattan, a "howling success" (according to the minutes). This was the first time all members posed as a group in costume, as shown at top of today's post.

Friday, November 11, 2016

Veteran's Day: The Farkas Family Tree in War Time

Sgt. Dorothy Schwartz
World War II touched my Farkas family in many ways. This post is my 2016 salute to the Farkas Family Tree's veterans.

In 1942, Farkas relatives were deeply involved in the war effort. Mom's cousin George Farkas volunteered for the Army Air Corps and was training in Louisiana. Soon-to-be cousin-in-law Abe Ezrati joined the Army.

In 1943, my aunt Dorothy Schwartz (twin sister of my Mom, Daisy Schwartz), enlisted as a WAAC and served until 1945. You can read about her harrowing trip across the Atlantic here. Dorothy and Daisy's older brother Fred left for Camp Dix at the end of 1943, a year in which their cousin Bob Farkas enlisted in the Army and another Farkas in-law, Harry Pitler, was stationed at Camp Grant.

Every member of the Farkas Family Tree was involved in the war effort, from a Rosie the Riveter job (Frieda Farkas) to selling war bonds (my grandma Minnie Farkas Schwartz).

Daisy Schwartz wrote the Farkas Family Tree's historian's report for 1943, which says, in part:
Quiet has never reigned so completely over the meetings as it does now when the monthly letters from our brothers and sister in the armed forces are read aloud. But we laugh in all the right spots! . . .
For the coming year, the earnest hope of all is that 1944 will find the Axis vanquished and our boys home. All that is unrelated to the war effort must be sublimated to the present struggle to which some in our group have pledged their lives. The rest of us pledge our aid. The Allies will be victorious--God is on our side!

The 1945 historian's report contained a final report on members in the armed forces, including discharge dates, promotions, and reunions with loved ones. Every one of the Farkas Family Tree's service members returned home safely, and the family happily honored these veterans year after year.

 --

Note: The Farkas Family Tree consisted of descendants of journey-takers Moritz Farkas (1857-1936) and Lena Kunstler Farkas (1865-1938), who left Hungary to settle in New York City. Members of the Tree were my Mom's mother, great-aunts and great-uncles. As the young people of Mom's generation turned 16, they were "inducted" as members of the Farkas Family Tree.

Wednesday, November 9, 2016

Wordless (Almost) Wednesday: Rose's Graduation Photo from 1914

My great-aunt Rose Farkas (1901-1993) had her portrait taken 102 years ago by the family's usual photographer, Gustav Beldegreen.

The date is carefully scratched above the Beldegreen name: June 25, 1914. Rose was 13 at the time.

On the back, the caption says this is her graduation from middle school school. (The diploma was a tip-off too.)

If only I could thank the ancestor who wrote the caption (about five decades later, I believe) for thinking ahead to let future generations know the identity and significance of this lovely photo! And that's why this isn't an entirely wordless Wednesday--because my thoughtful ancestor wrote down who, when, and why.

Monday, November 7, 2016

Speaking at the New England Regional Genealogical Consortium - April 2017

The program for the next NERGC conference has just been released...and I'm excited to be speaking on Thursday, April 27th, from 3-4 pm.

My presentation, Planning a Future for Your Family's Past, is part of the "Genealogy Heirlooms in the Attic" track.

Featured speakers at the conference include Thomas MacEntee, Warren Bittner, and Kenyatta Berry.

Click here to see the conference program in .pdf format. And I'm looking forward to seeing you in April!

Saturday, November 5, 2016

Sepia Saturday: Margaret Larimer McClure and Family


This is the only photo I have of my husband's great-great-grandma Margaret Jane Larimer McClure (1859-1913). She's shown on the right in this photo.

At left in the photo is Margaret's younger daughter, Lucille Ethel Larimer Develde (1880-1926). In the middle, between the two fashionably dressed ladies, is Lucy's husband, Edward Everett De Velde (1874-1947).

Since Lucy and Edward were married in June, 1905, this photo was most likely taken between 1905 and 1913, when Margaret died. Margaret was ill on and off for three years before her death, so I suspect this photo was actually taken between 1905 and 1910.

Location of the photo is unknown. But I know, from the 1910 Census, that Lucy and Edward were living in Chicago, where he was a plumber working on new buildings.

Margaret had been widowed in 1887, when her husband William Madison McClure died. So perhaps Margaret traveled to the Chicago area to see her daughter and son-in-law? Or maybe they vacationed together somewhere between Chicago and Wabash (where Margaret lived)?

Wednesday, November 2, 2016

Wordless Wednesday: "Carved in Stone" Date Is Wrong


My great-great-uncle Joseph Jacobs (1864-1918) did not die on November 22, 1919, as his headstone at Mt. Zion Cemetery in Queens, NY, indicates. He was the younger brother of my great-great-grandma Tillie Rose Jacobs Mahler (1857?-1952).

Actually, Joe died 98 years ago, on November 3, 1918, but his headstone was erected just over a year later. The date carved in stone reflects the date of "unveiling" the stone, not the date that great-great-uncle Joe died.

How did I find out the truth? I obtained Joe's death cert and I also checked with the cemetery. But the "age 54 years" part of the stone is entirely true.

Now I know: Dates "carved in stone" aren't always correct, so dig deeper to confirm.

Saturday, October 29, 2016

Sorting Saturday: Happy Halloween 1913

That favorite Wood aunt, Rachel Ellen "Nellie" Wood Kirby, sent this adorable Halloween card to her Cleveland nephew, Wallis Walter Wood, in 1913.

Wallis ("Uncle Wally" in the family, 1905-1957) was one of four sons of James Edgar Wood (1871-1939) and Mary Slatter Wood (1869-1925). His brothers were: Edgar James Wood (1903-1986), John Andrew Wood (1908-1980), and Theodore William Wood (1910-1968).

Although James Edgar Wood was a builder--a carpenter from a long, long line of carpenters in the Wood family tree--none of his sons entered that trade. All pursued careers in business and, in their spare time, tinkered with home-improvement carpentry here and there.

My late father-in-law Edgar James Wood had these colorful greeting cards carefully stored away for many years. How wonderful that they've been passed down in the family for 103 years, and counting.

Tuesday, October 25, 2016

Tombstone Tuesday: Finding Great-Aunt Nellie's Gravestone

No tombstone photo for Tombstone Tuesday, but instead, a story about a favorite great-aunt in my hubby's family. I found her tombstone only today on Find a Grave, nowhere near where I expected to find her.

Rachel Ellen Wood (1864-1954) was one of 17 children in the Wood family of Toledo, Ohio. When she grew up, married, and moved away to Chicago, she remained an important part of the glue keeping the next generation in touch.

For every holiday, she would send her many nieces and nephews postcards with a loving message. She signed her cards from "Aunt Nellie," as she was affectionately known in the family.

Here's a Halloween greeting she sent to her middle nephew in Cleveland, asking whether he was still taking violin lessons (the answer was yes, at least at that point).

Until today, I hadn't been able to find Aunt Nellie's final resting place. But because I wanted to write about her, I did a bit more searching. I knew she died in Chicago. Turns out she wasn't buried anywhere near there.

I shouldn't have been surprised to discover, after trying a few different searches, that she was buried in the Wood family plot of Forest Cemetery in Toledo, Ohio, where so many of her siblings were laid to rest.

The Find a Grave listing shows her as "Nellie Wood" but the photo shows her name as "Nellie Wood Kirby" and includes the inscription "Sister." RIP, Nellie, a beloved sister, aunt, and great-aunt in the Wood family, and be assured I'll ask for the memorial to be edited on your behalf.  PS: Find a Grave is updated!