Monday, December 22, 2008

Daniel Gluck in the Bronx

My cousin remembers that my great-aunt Mary Schwartz boarded with her 2d cousin Daniel Gluck and family in a Bronx apartment after arriving in NYC from Ungvar, about 1911-1912. Daniel had two daughters: Beatrice (a buyer for a lingerie firm?) and Ruth. The family started a furniture store in or near Paramus NJ in one of America's first shopping centers, perhaps during the mid-1930s. So far no luck tracing them but it's some kind of lead. Updated in 2022: Still no luck but will be checking 1950 US Census when it releases.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Ungvar and Lojos Schwartz

Since September I've been hoping to find out that Violet was related to my Schwartz relatives from Ungvar. Violet's family wrote me yesterday to say that they don't know my Schwartz family. Their Schwartz family in Ungvar was Lojos Schwartz, whose sisters were Flora and Margaret. Although I'm disappointed, it's good to at least know for sure.

Updated in 2022: I found my mother's first cousin Violet via Yad Vashem testimony for her mother, killed during the Holocaust! 

Friday, December 5, 2008

Rookie Genealogy Mistakes

2022 update: Paul Chiddicks, blogger and columnist for Family Tree Magazine, lists the "Top Ten Sins of a Genealogist" and certainly I've had my share! Not noting my research when I began was a big mistake, because I doubled back too often. Another rookie mistake was not considering creative spelling. Paul's post is worth reading!

From 2008: I'm still trying to catch up on recording all the info I've collected about my family and my husband's family. And I haven't asked all the right questions (or asked them in the right way) of family members who might remember. I have to keep reminding myself that this is a long-term journey into the family trees. My journey started after "Roots" aired in the mid-1970s. I reentered the world of genealogy in 1998 and really got serious about 10 years ago, when a Family History Center opened in my community. Wonder where the journey will take me next?

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Family Calendar Fun for the Holidays

This is the third year I'm creating a photo-filled calendar for my extended family. For the 2009 calendar, nearly all the photos were taken in 2008. This year I'm including a few photos of "ancestors" as well. 

In all, each year's calendar has at least 90 photos; this year's total will reach 100. What a wonderful way to remember special family celebrations all year long and laugh again at funny photos of kids (of today and yesterday) in Halloween costumes, etc. Best of all, the calendar lists everybody's birthday and other special occasions, helping me remember when to send a card or call. 

Many commercial websites offer personalized photo calendars for sale. My best advice: Gather photos all year long so you can upload, arrange, and print in time for gifting to family. Updated 2022. 2023: Also note the discounts and sales available for various photo products. You're saving family history for the future!

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Ellis Island Photos

The Library of Congress has images of Ellis Island and immigrant ships and more for people like me, who are climbing their family tree and had ancestors pass through Ellis Island.

About 10 years ago my sister and I went with several cousins to Ellis Island and looked for the names of our ancestors who had come to America through its gates. What a moving visit! And what a great opportunity to tell family stories. Afterward, Cousin Ron guided us to his favorite Chinatown restaurant. It was a day to remember, even as the research continues.

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Taking care of the Wood family Bible

One of the Wood second cousins visited last week, with his wife, during a genealogical/vacation swing through New England. I was moved when he brought out the giant and beautiful family Bible, which he protects with a special archival envelope and a custom-made wooden case. Now I wish I had taken a photo but when he had it on the table, I was too spellbound to think of grabbing the camera. He told us the book's history and how he came to have it--and that another beautiful Bible (complete with births/marriages/deaths) once existed in another part of the family but can't be found these days. Auggghhhhh!

Monday, September 22, 2008

Farewell to House That Ruth Built

Watching last night's emotional farewell to Yankee Stadium brought back many childhood memories of going there with my father and sisters. We never saw a World Series game in person, but we did see many Yankee greats play--Maris and Mantle and other legends of this once mighty baseball team.

Mounting the stairs to the subway station as the final inning drew to a close, we'd peer over and see the last out(s) from the platform and then slip into a subway car and be gone before the crowds surged out of the stadium. Babe Ruth would (should) be angry that the house he built is being torn down.

Farewell to an era. I doubt the new stadium will inspire the strong feelings that this grand old stadium has inspired over its 85 years. (photo update 2022)

Friday, September 19, 2008

Great-grandpa Came from Kaunas (formerly Kovno)

Kovno was part of Russia when Great-grandpa was born (around 1861 or so). Today it's Kaunas, part of Lithuania. Lots of history to learn about there. Would Great-grandpa be pleased that I want to trace his roots, see where he was born and where he was married? For a virtual tour, see here. (2022 update)

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Finding Kovno ancestors

My g-grandfather's death cert shows his birthplace as Kovno and his father's birthplace as Riga. It also gave his mother's maiden name as Luria, a name with a long heritage in Lithuania and surrounding areas. Tracing ancestors in these areas during the mid-1800s is no picnic. My cousin Amy is doing some of the historical research (thanks, Amy!) and has found a Davidic connection through the Lurias. Another source of ideas for researching in this area is Schelly Talalay Dardashti's Tracing the Tribe blog, which has NOW migrated to Facebook. (updated 2022)

Thank you, Shelly!

Friday, September 5, 2008

Never Underestimate the Power of Google for Genealogy

Last fall, a speaker at the local genealogy club suggested searching for ancestors and relatives via Google Web AND Google News. He advised searching on "Marian Wood" and "Wood, Marian."

Following his advice, I found a relative who I think is the daughter of a great-aunt I never knew (but whose image I have on a postcard sent to my maternal grandfather).

Today I Googled her again and found she had written brief memoirs that were published in a book now searchable through Google. This turned out not to be my relative but since then, I've found many ancestors and even cousins via Google tricks. See my more recent post here. Updated 2022.

Monday, September 1, 2008

Finding Distant Woods

My husband's cousin Larry has done a remarkable job researching the Wood family. One of the distant relatives he researched is Fernando Wood, a former mayor of NYC who was apparently corrupt and whose brother Benjamin owned the NY Daily News for a time. 

Fernando and Benjamin were outspoken opponents of the Civil War (Fernando suggested that NYC secede). 

Benjamin Wood's widow Ida had quite the story of her own--The Recluse of Herald Square, a woman of modest origins who reinvented herself to join high society and finally died with millions stuffed under the mattress. You never know who you'll find as you climb your family tree. To be continued.

Sunday, August 31, 2008

Insider's Look at Genealogy

Maps online from the New York Public Library

Notice: The Ancestry Insider is independent of and The opinions expressed herein are his own. Trademarks used herein are trademarks or registered trademarks of their respective owners. The Ancestry Insider is solely responsible for any silly, comical, or satirical trademark parodies presented as such herein. The name Ancestry Insider designates the author's status as an insider among those searching their ancestry and does not refer to All content is copyrighted unless designated otherwise.
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Independent but expert, this featured blog takes us inside the latest developments at and (and other genealogy sites). Valuable tips and loads of links--as you can see from these recent post titles. It's now on my (lengthy) bookmark list of must-visit genealogy sites and blogs. Because my Eastern European relatives lived in towns that belonged to different nations at different times, links on this blog to historical maps are helpful in figuring out where to continue searching. My maternal grandfather came from a town that was once in Hungary, later considered part of Czechoslovakia, and today is in Ukraine. Can't wait to find out about the towns in Latvia etc. where my paternal ancestors originally lived.

Update: The Ancestry Insider ceased posting as of 2017

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Connecting through CousinConnect - No longer functioning

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This site is no longer functioning as of 2022. 

I connected with my husband's second cousin by answering a genealogical query on a site like this. I also connected with a cousin of the daughter-in-law of a great aunt, which led me to uncover more roots and three second cousins I hadn't known about. These experiences have made me such a believer in queries that I've posted some on every forum connected to a surname in my family tree and my husband's family tree. My first query wasn't specific enough, as a kindly (and anonymous) correspondent pointed out. She suggested I mention dates and places and names of several family members, which I now do. Thank you!

Monday, August 25, 2008

When did great-grandpa die?

One of the biggest mysteries of my family's genealogy has been finding out exactly when and where (and why) my father's grandfather died. Come to think of it, I wasn't sure exactly when and where he was born. When nearly every other Mahler ancestor died, he or she had a brief obit in the New York Times. Not Great-Grandpa Mahler. 

But yesterday I reexamined the 1910 Census very carefully and sure enough, Great-Grandma Mahler was a widow in April, 1910. I checked NYC death records and found an entry for Great-Grandpa in January, 1910. Quick as you can say "ten bucks" I sent to NYC for the record. 

Thanks to Ancestry, I already knew that Great-Grandpa had become naturalized in 1900. Out came my checkbook again and I sent for that record, as well. It will take weeks, but I'll know a lot more about my Mahler roots (in Latvia) when these two documents show up in the mailbox.

Since this was posted, I learned a lot more. See my summary "ancestor landing page" for Mahler, here.