Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Wordless Wednesday: Ex Prohibito Concubitu

 Looking for my hubby's great-grandmother's birth, I came across this page from the transcribed records of the Reformed Dutch Church at Greenwich (New York City).

Great-grandma was Mary Amanda Demarest, not Pamelia Ann Demarest (see last entry in the photo). However, Mary Amanda's parents and early years remain a mystery, even though cousin Larry (our family's super-genealogist) has been searching for more than a decade.

Baby girl Demarests born in 1831 in New York City are of interest to us, since that was Great-grandma's year and place of birth. And looking for Mary Amanda Demarest led me to stumble across Pamelia Ann Demarest, born in 1831, in the church records.

Pamelia Ann was born ex prohibito concubitu which, a professional genealogist explained, meant her parents weren't allowed to marry. Having never seen or heard this phrase before, I was wordless for a moment (rare for me).

Was the parents' relationship too close (first cousins, for example, or even closer)? Was the father or mother already married? Was the mother (or father) too young to marry? Note that no father was listed, and the baby was adopted. It's also a legal issue: This child can't inherit.

But there's more to the Demarest mystery. I'll save that for another day!

Monday, March 28, 2011

Motivation Monday: Grand Reopening

Thanks to Betty's Boneyard, I received the "One Lovely Blog" award. That got me thinking: Wasn't it time to spruce up my blog's picture window? So I did a little tidying up this weekend and came up with this new look. Welcome to my grand reopening! And thank you, Betty, for the little push I needed to get motivated.

Looking back, all these little things do add up. Thank you so much for reading. 

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Saturday Shopping: Hardy Boys in Cleveland Heights

This is a guest post from my hubby, Wally, about his experiences as a 13-year-old (late 1940s) in Cleveland Heights, OH.

"The corner drug store--2 blocks from my home--was the neighborhood club house. In addition to being a pharmacy, it sold magazines, cigarettes/cigars, candy, and had a soda fountain (about that, more in a later post).

"I would stand at the magazine display reading comic books ("Captain Marvel," "Wonder Woman," "Classics Comics") and I suspect that the pharmacist, to distract me (and to save his comics from being dog-eared!), hired me (at age 13) to mop the floor, deliver prescriptions on my bicycle, and sort redeemed soda bottles. I worked a few days after school and on Saturdays.

"When word of my working got back to Monticello Jr High in Cleveland Heights, the principal told me I was too young to be working and that I'd be 'pushing up daisies' before I was 21. I ignored him.

"The pharmacist-owner paid me $5 per week. I spent most of it on Hardy Boys books. To get to the nearest bookstore, I had to take a bus or two and ride for at least half an hour--on my own. I remember feeling really pleased: A Hardy Boys' book may have been the very first book I bought for myself (and it's not the last, by far!). I think the books were $2.95 apiece.

"Over the months, I gradually accumulated the first 23 books in the series. The ostensible author was Franklin W. Dixon but I learned, as an adult, that the Hardy Boys and Nancy Drew books were the products of the Stratemeyer Syndicate, churned out by different writers. I grew up, joined the Army, and my mother eventually threw out or gave away my Hardy Boys collection. I never missed it."

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Treasure Chest Thursday: The Brussels Bag

In 1958, my Uncle Sidney Burk flew to Belgium to visit the World's Fair. (Being a travel agent like his older brother--my Dad--he probably got a special deal.)

My parents asked him to bring back something special for me, my twin, and our younger sister. This evening bag is one of the two gifts he brought back for me.

It must have cost the earth, even at that time. It's velvet, with intricate metallic-thread embroidery. Size is 7 1/2 by 4 12 inches. I rarely take it out of its box these days, but I did use it for special occasions years ago.

The other gift Uncle Sidney brought back was a doll in Belgium costume, sitting in a chair and making lace--real lace, not the machine kind we buy in stores today. It was the kind of doll that is put on a high shelf where it can be admired but not played with.

Alas, I always liked to inspect that lace up close, being a needlework fan even then (my mother and grandmother loved to stitch and I learned to crochet before going to kindergarten). After 8 years or so of being closely examined, the doll and the lace somehow separated and eventually the doll became so spindly that I had to say goodbye. Decades later, the memory of that doll and my beautiful Brussels bag bring back the exotic glamor and excitement of my uncle's trip to Belgium.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

One Lovely Blog - So Many Blogs, So Little Time

Many of the blogs I'd like to honor with the "One Lovely Blog" award have already been recognized by others. So I'm going to list just five that haven't yet received the award but are very worthwhile reading for genealogy enthusiasts.

Thank you to these bloggers for taking the time to share their ideas and take us along on their journeys!

Monday, March 21, 2011

One Lovely Blog Award - Thank you!

Betty of Betty's Boneyard Genealogy Blog was kind enough to honor me with the "One Lovely Blog" award.

Researching the award's background, I learned that Sara of "Works of Art by Sara" started it.

Her original rules for the award were as follows:

1. Accept the award and post it on your blog together with the name of the person who granted the award and their blog link.
2. Pass the award on to 7 or more blogs that you like.
3. Remember to contact the bloggers to let them know they have been chosen for this award.

The award, adapted for genealogy blogs, now refers to 7 newly-discovered gen blogs that deserve the "One Lovely Blog" award. I'll post my 7 very shortly.

Thank you again, Betty, for bestowing this award on my blog!

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Sunday's Obituary - Mrs. Brice Larimer McClure, Nov. 2, 1948

My late mother-in-law (who, sadly, I never met), saved her mother's obit...and someone saved her mother's wedding notice, shown at bottom, as well. Both are from a newspaper in Upper Sandusky, Ohio, where much of the family lived. Throughout the obit, Mrs. McClure's husband's name was spelled incorrectly as "Bruce" but his name was Brice, as I show here. 

Historical note: Floyda, according to the obit, was a member of the "D of A" which apparently was the Daughters of America, a "Junior Order of the United American Mechanics." Since Floyda's husband Brice was a mechanic, this makes sense. By the time she became a member, I hope the group had given up its anti-immigrant mission and was then an insurance/fraternal aid organization.

Mrs. B. L. McClure Dies Early Today

Services to be held Friday from Funeral Home Here

Mrs. Brice L. McClure, 70, of 119 East Finley Street, passed away at 1 o'clock this Tuesday morning at Bucyrus City hospital following an illness of one week. Death was attributed to a cerebral hemorrhage.

Born in Nevada [OH] March 30, 1978, Floyda Mabel (Steiner) McClure was the daughter of Edward and Elizabeth (Rinehart) Steiner.

June 10, 1903, she was united in marriage in Upper Sandusky with Brice L. McClure, who survives with one daughter, Marian [my late mother-in-law], wife of Edgar Wood of Cleveland [my late father-in-law].

Also surviving are three grandchildren, Wallis [my hubby], Richard, and Barbara Wood and two sisters, Mrs.  F. W. Rhuark and Mrs. Carrie Traxler, both of this city. Two sisters and one brother are deceased.

Mrs. McClure was a member of the Methodist church and of the Eastern Star lodge in this city and of the D. of A. in Cleveland. She and her husband had resided here for the past four years, coming from Cleveland, where she also leaves many friends.

She was a good neighbor and very active in church and community affairs.

Funeral services will be conducted Friday at 2 pm from the Bringman & Co. funeral home here. Rev. Cecil F. Fogle will officiate with interment in Old Mission cemetery.

The body will remain at the funeral home where friends may call after noon Wednesday.

Here's Floyda Mabel Steiner McClure's wedding announcement, from June 10, 1903. Floyda's father, Edward Steiner, was dead but her mother, Elizabeth Steiner, was present at the ceremony.

Quiet Wedding at Home of Auditor Halbedel Wednesday Morning.

The scene of a happy event was the residence of County Auditor and Mrs. E.N. Halbedel, on Fifth Street, on Wednesday morning, when Miss Floyda Steiner quietly entered matrimony with B.L. McClure of Wabash, Ind. The ceremony was performed at 9 o'clock by Rev. P. Langendorff, pastor of St. Paul's Church, in the presence of the bride's mother and the families of Auditor Halbedel and Auditor-Elect J.N. Traxler. Mrs. Halbedel served a splendid dinner at 11 o'clock. Mr. and Mrs. McClure departed on the afternoon Hocking passenger via Marion for Wabash, Ind., where they will reside and be at home to their friends after July 1. The bride, a sister of Mrs. Halbedel and Mrs. J.N. Traxler, is highly esteemed in this city, and the best wishes of many friends accompany the young couple to Wabash, where Mr. McClure, whose acquaintance impresses sterling character, is employed as a machinist in the Big Four shops.

Friday, March 18, 2011

52 Weeks - Movies - "Mr Sardonicus" and "Mothra"

The Laconia was my local movie theater, located under the elevated subway line running along White Plains Road in the Northeast Bronx. One of the earliest movies I remember seeing without my parents (but with my twin, thank goodness!) was
Mr. Sardonicus.

If you haven't heard of it, there's a good reason: It's a horror movie and not even a good one. But it was Saturday afternoon, and there were cartoons as well as two movies (who remembers the other feature?), so sis and I sat and shivered and probably had nightmares about Baron Sardonicus's grotesque face.

Far better -- and from the same year -- was Mothra, a Japanese monster movie that comes to mind because it deals with the aftermath of atomic radiation. It was a favorite movie of my childhood and decades later I still remember the foot-high twins who summoned Mothra to help them. Oh, if only Mothra could help Japan now.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

52 Weeks: Illness, Injury - Mouth full of metal

"Look ma, no cavities!" Remember that ad slogan (named by Advertising Age as one of the most memorable of the 20th century)? Crest put fluoride into toothpaste and presto, no more cavities.

Well, fluoride came too late for me and my teeth. Not long ago, a young relative noticed my mouth full of metal (while I was laughing out loud, of course) and asked what it was all about.

I explained that, in the brief period after dinosaurs ruled the earth and before American Idol and Dancing with the Stars ruled the airwaves, the technology for sealing teeth and keeping them healthy hadn't yet been invented.

Instead, when a tooth broke (try explaining cavities to a 4 year old), the dentist would fill the hole with metal. Put that way, the process sounds medieval, doesn't it?

She took one last look, nodded that she understood, and that was the end of that. I bet she brushed extra long that night!

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Fearless Females - 6-word tribute to Tillie Rose Jacobs Mahler

My Fearless Female tribute to great-grandma Tillie:

Brave, long-lived matriarch with heart

I was a baby when Tillie died but she touched the lives of everyone in my family. If she hadn't come to America with her husband Meyer, we wouldn't be who we are. She was brave!

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Sentimental Sunday: Cherry Blossom Time in Japan

The news about Japan's devastation is so disturbing that I hereby interrupt my regularly-scheduled genealogy blog to remember a trip there, just four years ago, during beautiful cherry blossom season (late March into early April).

Above is one of the most unforgettable moments--standing in a park during a "cherry blossom blizzard"--that's when cherry blossoms fall off the trees and are carried on the wind, scenting the air as they swirl all around you.

And here's another unforgettable moment: attending a baseball game in which the Yokohama Bay Stars beat the Yakult Swallows. The relief pitcher for the Bay Stars was a fast-ball specialist from the Bronx (my home town) revered for his speed and his ability to pull out a win, which he did that evening. Above, sis and I emulate his pitching stance.

Japan is in our thoughts and prayers.

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Fearless Females: Grandma worked as a "finisher" on fine ties

On Monday, February 21, 1977, my mother (Daisy Burk) wrote me a letter about her family's background, which--happily--I kept even though I wasn't as crazed about genealogy then as I am now (!).

My question was prompted by the repeat of the Roots miniseries. Here's some of what Mom wrote about her mother, Hermina Farkas Schwartz:
"I remember Mom telling us that some relative 'did her a favor' for $2.50 a week; she became a finisher on fine ties and worked about 12 hrs. a day and between her and her father [Moritz Farkas] they couldn't earn enough for the family; but she always said she had a good relationship with her father, which was a comfort to her all her life. She became a citizen on his papers (common then, not permitted now) and went to night school for awhile to learn to read and write [English]. She still figured in Hungarian, all her life, though.
"Mom wasn't permitted to do dishes or laundry when she worked because her hands would become too rough for the fine materials she handled; but there was a sewing machine and she did her share at home by sewing for the household. And after she was married she had the girls [her younger sisters] come one at a time to visit (and take care of my brother Fred after he was born) so she could make clothes for them to enable them to go to school here. She never forgot; but I don't ever remember anyone of her sisters mentioning this. I know her 2 bachelor brothers, Julius and Peter, had hard times and she always poured money into their hands when they needed things. Of course, when she and Pop [my grandfather, Theodore Schwartz] needed to open a new store, they gave generously also, I'll say that, too."
Update 2022: The man who did grandma a favor was a Roth cousin who owned a necktie factory. Many other relatives worked for him when they arrived as new immigrants in New York City!
Grandma when she was young (in Hungary?)

Friday, March 11, 2011

52 Weeks- Disasters? Just the Usual, So Counting My Blessings

This week's challenge is "disasters" and I have to say, my family hasn't had any particularly unusual disasters. Let's leave aside WWII for the moment, of course. The disasters that made a big difference to my parents were more personal than environmental:
  • My father Harold Burk's first heart attack was a disaster (for his health and for our family's finances). He lived nearly 20 years after that first attack, I'm happy to say.
  • The Savoy Hilton Hotel in NYC being pulled down so the GM building could go up, another disaster--because my father lost his travel agency concession and never was able to secure another one, a devastating financial blow.
  • My mother Daisy Burk's cancer was a disaster (she lived only 3 years after her diagnosis).
Despite these disasters, this week I'm counting my blessings. I have a wonderful extended family (that's getting larger all the time--now that I've met Cousin Lois and Cousin Lil, descended from Meyer and Tillie Mahler, my pat g-grandparents). And I'm counting my blessings that I have a bit of time and energy to trace back my ancestors and those of my extended family.

Right now I'm on the trail of the Pietroniro family from Casacalenda, Italy. Piacentino (Peter) Pietroniro and his brother Paolo (Paul) came from Italy to New York City on the Taormina on July 10, 1923. Paul went to Montreal, Peter went back and forth between Montreal and Cleveland and ultimately settled in Cleveland, marrying Anna Yurko (whose father I mentioned in my last blog entry). More info to come, I hope!

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Wordless Wednesday - Josef Yurkov

This morning I made a discovery: Naturalization petitions are now available online for Joseph (Josef) Yurko (Yurkov) and his wife Anna, my step-children's maternal great-grandparents.

Thanks to the petition, I know that Josef was born in Hazlen, Czechoslovakia on May 7, 1873 and he was married to his wife, Ann Mary, in that town on Nov. 18, 1896. Josef and Ann had 7 children. The oldest, John, was born in 1899 in Czechoslovakia. All the others were born in Ohio, including Anna, my step-children's grandmother.

None of us had ever seen a photo of Josef, so this one (from his petition) is a first--leaving me almost wordless!

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Matrilineal Monday - Henrietta Mahler Burk, Mogul?

Today is International Women's Day and I'm thinking about the women in my family tree. Henrietta Mahler Burk, my pat gmother, was quite a determined woman. Here she is with three of her four children: Mildred (left), my Aunt Millie; Miriam (in Henrietta's arms), my aunt; and Harold, at right, my father. At this time, boys might wear dresses such as this and have their hair long until their first haircut. The date of this photo must be after 1911 because that's when Miriam was born.

Henrietta crossed from US to Canada and back several times after she married Isaac in 1906 because he had found work in Montreal, Canada. In fact, my Uncle Sidney, the youngest of their children, was born in Montreal. Henrietta accomplished this long-distance travel by herself until 1915, with her young children by her side. That's determination.

Now here's why I'm focusing on Henrietta Mahler Burk for Matrilineal Monday: In 1931, my father Harold applied for a "fidelity bond" so he could be a transportation clerk at the Park Central Hotel in New York City. This was his first step toward becoming an independent travel agent. But because travel agents were responsible for blank airline tickets--which could be stolen or forged--they and their employees were required to be bonded.

My father applied to the Metropolitan Casualty Insurance Co for his bond. I have the application! He lists his address as 1580 Crotona Park East in the Bronx, and lists all his employers from Jan. 1926 to Oct. 1931. He'd worked for a summer at the Larchmont Yacht Club, been a runner for a Wall Street firm, and somehow was now seeking a job at the Park Central Hotel's travel agent concession.

Asked about his relatives, he lists "Isaac Burk" (his father) and shows Isaac's financial worth as $250. His mother, "Henrietta Burk," has (according to Dad) a net worth of $350. So if Dad is correct, Henrietta was wealthier than her husband. And this, during the Depression! Wealthiest of all, however, is Dad, if his application is to be believed. He lists $100 in cash and $400 in "building & loan association." Sorry, I simply don't believe any of his figures. My guess is that the entire family, combined, might have had that amount in savings.

And by the way, the references Dad lists on this application include:
  • Louis Volk, businessman, 3150 Rochambeau Ave., Bronx, NY (in reality, Louis is Harold's uncle)
  • Joseph Markel, salesman, 3235 Rochambeau Ave., Bronx, NY (in reality, Joseph is Harold's uncle)
  • Jack Mendelowitz, school teacher, 1580 Crotona Park E., Bronx, NY (a neighbor)

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Wordless Wednesday - Subway-Savvy City Kids Touch a Cow

One summer my parents (Daisy and Harold Burk) decided that we NYC kids should get a taste of farm living. This is where some mysteries of life would be revealed: Where does milk really come from? That is, before it gets delivered in big tanker trucks to the big bottling plant our school used to visit in the Northeast Bronx.

Our family spent at least a week, possibly two, at a farm in upstate New York, playing with barn kittens (so tiny), learning to milk a cow (carefully), seeing chickens and ducks (new discovery: they chase you!), and, as seen here, learning to swim in the farm's pool. The kids slept in a bunk house and the adults had rooms in the main house. It was a bit exotic and even foreign feeling to subway-savvy city kids like us, who had never touched a cow or fed a chicken.