Sunday, July 31, 2011

Sentimental Sunday: John Slatter Sr. Died in Cleveland

Thanks to the Cleveland Public Library's excellent necrology file, I found the above obituary for hubby's g-grandfather, John Slatter Sr. The source is not stated but is most likely the Cleveland Plain Dealer.

As I wrote earlier this month, I've been looking for his death record but alas, I found out that the Cuyahoga County probate court (Ohio) has nothing on him, and he's not in the statewide records either.

The nice folks at the probate court suggested that I contact the Cuyahoga County Archives. I e-mailed them on Friday and, if all goes well, I hope to hear by mid-August about whether Mr. Slatter is in their records.** Mr. Slatter was born in England, as was his daughter, Mary Slatter Wood, but their home towns are a mystery right now.

Apparently the probate court gets many inquiries from family researchers, because the officials were kind enough to send me a 22-pg guide to the genealogy resources available at the Cleveland Public Library and other local places. Thank you!

**The Cuyahoga County Archives sent me a photocopy of the ledger book page where John Slatter's death is recorded, from August 12, 1901. No parents' names or hometown, sad to say, but a little new info: He was widowed at the time of his death, and retired. Cause of death was "hemorrhage of bowels" and his last illness had lasted for 6 mos. He was born in England, and his parents were born in England, if this record is accurate. He's buried in Woodland cemetery in Cleveland (see marker above).
Unfortunately, he's not among those listed in Woodland cemetery on Find-a-Grave. But by searching for John Slatter Woodland Cemetery Cleveland, I found the above record of burials in that cemetery, and there he is, along with the location of his grave. Also a mysterious notation "2/26/1895" that relates to "Louisa Slatter," a his second wife. She lived at 433 1/2 St. Clair when she died on Feb 26, 1895, was 46, white, native of England, and died of Brights disease. Um, not a native of England, as it turns out (2022 update).

2022 update: John is buried there...I've set up a Find a Grave memorial page for him (and one for his second wife).

Saturday, July 30, 2011

52 Weeks of Personal Genealogy: Grandparents' Apartment in the Bronx

Farkas sisters & Hermina's grandson
After years of living in apartments in what is now termed the "South Bronx" but was not then dangerous, just crowded, my maternal grandparents (Hermina Farkas Schwartz and Theodore Schwartz) moved to a more spacious two-bedroom, one bathroom apartment at 600 East 178 Street, just off East Tremont Avenue in the Bronx, NY. Hermina is at left in this photo with three of her sisters and her grandson. Sadly, Hermina died in 1964 and Teddy died in 1965.

When I first became genealogy-crazy (more than a decade ago), I wrote this description of the apartment before the memories faded even more, getting input from my sisters:
The living room furniture was dark, forest green, pale grey, and beige colors. The sofa was horsehair. There was one standing lamp next to the Morris chair that matched the sofa, and at the other end of the room, a "china" cabinet with fine cut crystal pieces that were dispersed among family and friends after Minnie [Grandma] died and the household was broken up because Teddy [Grandpa] was coming to live with Daisy [Mom]. My younger sister remembered an ashtray with a cover that slid closed over it, which Uncle Julius [Farkas] would use for his cigars. The living room also had a 3-foot diameter mirror with etched leaf design along the top edge, and below it was a folding-leaf table that opened to card-table size with curved legs.
My twin sister remembered that in the winter, every radiator in the apartment had a pot of water on it to increase the humidity. The master bedroom had snake plants on the window sill and there was a faint smell of mothballs. The second bedroom had twin beds with a night table between them. In the night table drawer were a few toys Minnie kept for we grandkids.
The kitchen had a white enamel old-fashioned stove, with a wooden match holder nearby and a root "cooler" embedded under the kitchen window. There was a double sink and an ice box, later a fridge. The family usually ate in the kitchen but for company, Minnie opened up the large table from the living room (and we ate in the foyer). We clearly remember a portrait of FDR (Teddy's favorite politician, photo cut from a newspaper article) hanging over the dining table in the foyer.
Also in the foyer was Minnie's treadle sewing machine in a lovely wooden cabinet. We grandkids would play with metal/whalebone stays from corsets, and with thread bobbins, that we found in the machine's drawers.
To get to our grandparents' apartment from our apartment in the northeast Bronx, we had to take two buses or a subway and a bus, then walk a block or two from East Tremont (the business/shopping district) to the apartment building. Early on, the building had nice furniture in the lobby but by the 1960s, the furniture was shabby and then missing altogether.

Although the apartment was a block from what is now the fabled Arthur Avenue district, known for Italian restaurants and food stores, we didn't know about it at the time. We would go to movies on East Tremont sometimes, or window-shop the stores. My mother later tried to write a children's book about children going to their grandparents' apartment and vying to punch the elevator buttons. It was, of course, based on what we kids liked to do, but publishers didn't bite. Wish I had that manuscript today!

Monday, July 25, 2011

Madness Monday: TMI in genealogy?

Pop quiz: Can you EVER have too much info as you research your family tree?

Here are your possible answers:

  1. What, are you mad? There's no such thing as TMI in genealogy!
  2. Only if you already have Census records of your 4th cousin 2x removed and tax records of the neighbor who lent your g-g-grandpa the $ for his passage to the new world.
  3. What else are 1-terrabyte hard drives for?
  4. Not as long as there's an in-law or distant cousin unaccounted for from cradle to grave.
  5. All of the above.
Mark me down for answer #5. I'm lucky enough to have connected with some relatives who know stories about and/or possess photos of our mutual ancestors.

One of my cousins has a notebook with names/dates, which her mother started decades ago, and photos as well. Can't wait till she gets me copies! A cousin of my husband might have photos of his ancestors, but I know she's busy and means to share when she has a chance.

Some people on our family tree are just stubbornly mysterious and elusive. Please, cousins, I'd love to know what you know! Thank you. Over and out :)

Saturday, July 23, 2011

52 Weeks of Personal Genealogy: Employment (working for wheels)

My first wheels were a Yamaha 50. Needless to say, my mother wasn't at all happy about me riding this tiny motorcycle through the streets of New York City, so she suggested I either say goodbye to the bike or say goodbye to home.

You can see my choice here, as a college student. Now, as an adult, I understand and completely sympathize with my mother's worry. Then, however, I thought she was overreacting (!).

After all, the bike had a top speed of 50 mph, going downhill with a tailwind. I wasn't going to give up my first wheels, not me!

Once I had my own apartment (rent: $112.15 per month for 3 rooms, including gas and electric) I had to work to keep up my wheels. Well, actually, it wasn't much work: Filling the gas tank to the very brim, in those days, cost 25 cents. Really.

But I was still in college (thanks to free tuition at CUNY) and now I had textbooks to buy, rent to pay, and other expenses, not to mention finding extra cash to buy LPs too. So one of my first real part-time jobs was as a secretary to Mr. Meyer, who owned a leather importing firm at 215 Park Avenue South in Manhattan. On days when I had no school, I'd drive down from the Bronx on my motorcycle, park in Union Square, and walk two blocks to Mr. Meyer's office.

Mr. Meyer was tickled by my independence and was fairly happy with my typing (filing was another story). Later, I brought in my twin and my boyfriend to work part-time and together, we three filled all 5 days of the week as his secretary. This arrangement lasted about two years until we all graduated from college and went our various ways in the world. I traded in my Yamaha 50 for a Yamaha Twin Jet 100, which never worked right from the first day. But soon I became the proud owner of a Mercury Cougar and it was four wheels only from then on, despite some bad car karma!

Friday, July 22, 2011

52 Weeks of Personal Genealogy: Water (Cruising Along)

My in-laws, Marian Jane McClure Wood and Edgar James Wood, absolutely loved cruising to Europe and back. (I've written an entry about his college days, paying his way across the Atlantic by playing in bands.) Ed took photos and slides everywhere, as well as making notes during the journey, so we know where/when they cruised.

Above, for example, they're enjoying the "Farewell Dinner" aboard the Cristoforo Colombo on Wednesday, November 5, 1969 (according to the caption on back of the photo). Below, they're smiling at the Gala Dinner on the S.S. France on Monday, September 4, 1967.

My hubby and I love to cruise too. This year and last, we went to the Baltic. Nowadays, we each carry a camera and take photos (hundreds and hundreds). Then we choose 100 or so to put into a Shutterfly book. Here's a favorite shot from our visit to the Hermitage last month. Great memories!

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Church Record Sunday: The McClures in Wabash County, Indiana

I'd love to see church records for Benjamin and Sarah McClure, both of whom died in Wabash County, IN, and are buried in Falls Memorial Gardens cemetery. The McClures are ancestors of my husband, but I can't get any further back in the McClure line without their parents' names (and Sarah's maiden name).
Benjamin McClure, born in 1812, died in Wabash County on Feb 21, 1896 
Sarah McClure was born in 1811 (I think) and died in Wabash County on July 29, 1888 
Unfortunately, the county clerk has no record of their deaths, and these dates are too early for their records to be on file in statewide archives. The county clerk suggested I check church records, a good idea once I figure out which church they might have attended and/or had their funeral in! As a start, I've written for information from the "friends" group that posted the McClure grave photos on Find-a-Grave. Maybe I'll get lucky?! 
Update: The historian who researched the McClures for the cemetery just wrote me back  to suggest I contact the Wabash Pres. Church where Benjamin was an elder, saying the church maintains excellent records. I'm going to do that. Thank you to this genealogy "angel" for the great idea!

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Surname Saturday: Still Seeking the Slatters

Mary Slatter (born in England) married James Edgar Wood on September 21, 1898 in Lucas County, Ohio. Mary and Edgar are my husband's paternal grandparents. Mary's parents are, supposedly, John and Mary Slatter.

Grandma Mary Slatter's obit, dated April 26, 1925, mentions that she was the "sister of Mrs. James F. Baker, John, Albert and Harry Slatter of Canada." (See update below.)
One of the artifacts that my late father-in-law had in his possession was this card showing the location of the grave of John Slatter.

No city is mentioned, but the "union stamp" at lower left mentions Cleveland, Ohio. Now all I have to do is look for the death cert of a John Slatter Sr. who died in Cleveland on Aug 12 and was buried on Aug 15, 1901 or look up all the cemeteries in the area that have sec. 75, tier 6, grave 2. According to the Cleveland Public Library, John died at the home of his daughter at 242 Lake Street, aged 65.

2022 update: I know a lot about the Slatter family! See my ancestor landing page.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

52 Weeks of Genealogy: Summer--Backstage at Cain (Pain) Park

This is a guest post by hubby, Wally, about his two summers working backstage at famed Cain Park in Cleveland Heights, OH, during the 1950s. The summer season at that time included 4 musicals (which ran for 2 weeks each). 

Cain Park in the 1940s - Cleveland State Library Special Collections

When I was 17 and 18 and still in high school, I worked as a summer apprentice at Cain Park Theater, and my younger sister worked on the paint crew. During the day, I built scenery and at night, I ran a follow-spot on actors during the shows. Because the stage was 90 feet wide, it needed a lot of scenery to fill it. We built almost a full-size house for Wizard of Oz, for example, and a working merry-go-round for Carousel.

It was a challenge because while one show was running, we were building the scenery for the next and handling backstage duties during the current show's evening performance. (We nicknamed the place "Pain Park" because we worked so hard.) Similarly, the cast had to rehearse the next show during the day while performing the current show each night. The cast included dancers and singers and up-and-coming performers . . . people like Dom DeLuise, for example, who I remember was just hilarious in The Red Mill.

The stage crew had a tradition of trying to distract the cast during the final performance of each show (as a prank). In Annie Get Your Gun, I ran a follow-spot from my position high on a brick tower (see two covered in ivy in photo above). During the show, Annie Oakley and her friends are returning from Europe by ship; they're hungry and Annie shoots into the sky to bring down dinner. I would then throw a stuffed seagull from the tower so it would land onstage. All the audience could see is that Annie shot into the sky and this bird dropped near her feet--except the night I missed and threw it into the orchestra pit. 

During the last performance, a friend was in the tower with me. When Annie shot, we threw every stuffed prop we could get our hands on: a pig, a roast turkey, a cat, a puppy. As these items rained down around the star, one of the cast adlibbed: "My, that's fine shootin', Annie!" Looking back, I'm surprised management didn't throw me out of the theater at that moment.

52 Weeks of Personal Genealogy and History by Amy Coffin is a series of weekly blogging prompts (one for each week of 2011) that invite genealogists and others to record memories and insights about their own lives for future descendants.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Tuesday Time Travel: 1946, When Mom & Dad Married

In November, 1946, my mother (Daisy Schwartz) married my father (Harold Burk). They're shown in this wedding photo, seated together in the front row among my father's family (including his brother, Sidney Burk, standing at far right).

Apart from this being the year after WWII ended--and my father and uncle were now out of the Army--what was life like for them in 1946?
  • Baby boom and housing shortage. Returning soldiers (like Dad), sailors, and Marines wanted to settle down with a family and a place of their own, but high birth rates and high demand for housing quickly led to a shortage. Mom and Dad started looking for an apartment as soon as they got engaged (New Year's Day, 1946) and within a few weeks it was clear that they'd have to wait till November to get married, to allow enough time to find a place. My suspicion is that they also needed to save money for the wedding and honeymoon. After all, Dad only got out of the service in October, 1945 and set himself up in business later that fall. The continuing shortage proved a challenge when Mom became pregnant in mid-1949 and they needed more room than their basement apartment in Queens provided. Ultimately they moved to the apartment building where Dad's mother, brother, and sister lived in the north-east Bronx.
  • Broadway and Hollywood were thriving. Being native New Yorkers, my parents loved Broadway and saw shows while engaged and then after marriage. Which ones? I don't know too many specifics, but in 1946, they had lots of what are now considered classics from which to choose: Life with Father, Oklahoma, The Glass Menagerie, and Carousel. No wonder my parents would occasionally break out into tune (or my father would whistle) some of the show tunes from their younger days. Mom was an avid movie-goer, too, as letters written to her indicate. Among the movies that year were The Best Years of Our Lives, The Virginian, and Hitchcock's Notorious. Certainly they went to neighborhood theaters, which were posher then than now, but possibly also went to Radio City Music Hall for song/dance and movies too.
  • Nuremberg trials continued. Since Dad and Uncle Sidney both served in Europe, they no doubt followed news of the Nazi trials in Nuremberg. Growing up, our family friends included a couple who had numbers tattooed on their arms from their time in concentration camps. The war was over, but the aftermath was real and close to home.
  • New York City was growing and optimism ruled. Mayor O'Dwyer brought Robert Moses in to head city construction projects; Moses was part of the team that negotiated to bring the UN World Headquarters to Manhattan. Earlier, he had created Jones Beach on Long Island, where many NYers went (and still go) for fun in the sun; he also masterminded many of the main highways and some bridges that connect the boroughs. New York was on an upward path and many residents, including my parents, were excited about the possibilities of living and working in the city.

Monday, July 11, 2011

Military Monday: Civil War Ancestor Stories

Not from MY family (the earliest ancestor arrived from Eastern Europe more than a generation after the Civil War). But with this year's 150th anniversary of the War Between the States, some sites are posting stories passed down within families. I was intrigued by the following, just a small sample of what's online already:
  • The Washington Post's readers submitted family stories they'd heard about ancestors who were involved in or affected by the war.
  • The Journal Star in Lincoln, Nebraska printed family stories sent in by readers whose ancestors participated in the war.
  • There's a Facebook page devoted to Civil War Roots, with contributors' stories included.
  • The Civil War Talk message board includes queries and comments from people who have or suspect they have Civil War ancestors.
2022 update: Turns out, my husband's family tree has more than 18 Civil War veterans! I've written a booklet about each man and his family life during that period.

Thursday, July 7, 2011

52 Weeks of Genealogy: Vacations (Escaping NYC Heat)

My mother's parents (Theodore and Hermina Schwartz) didn't have much money for vacationing, but they did try to get out of hot and humid New York City for at least a week every summer, when their wallets allowed.

Upstate New York was the economical and practical vacation place for city-dwellers like my family. One letter written to my Mom in 1939, when she was 19, is addressed to The White House of Accord, Accord, Ulster County, NY. Accord turns out to be a tiny hamlet midway between New Paltz and Ellenville, NY, very green and then very quiet (today it has a raceway!). 

During the summer of 1941, when my mother Daisy Schwartz was about to turn 22 and was earning her own living, she vacationed at Scaroon Manor in beautiful Schroon Lake, New York. This was, at one time, a well-known Adirondacks resort that's now a complete ruin. (The Thomas Cole painting above shows it pre-development!) Mom, like every other single young lady, was hoping to meet an eligible guy . . . but she came home empty-handed, I know from a letter written by her friend Eleanor.

The family also vacationed occasionally in Spring Valley, NY, which today is very close to the Tappan Zee Bridge that connects Westchester and Rockland Counties in New York. It's now quite commercial and built up. Decades ago, however, it was rural and bucolic, a country haven for city folks seeking clean air and green grass.

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Wisdom Wednesday: Finding Blogs via Genealogue

Have you ever used the Blog Finder at Genealogue to look for surname blogs or other genealogy blogs? I found no surname blogs for my family's names, but there were a few locality blogs where I'm going to read and search entries in the hopes of a lead or two.

All in all, it was a good visit and I'm going to be back for ideas and, if I'm lucky, some connections to ancestor data. The site is still operating in 2022.

Saturday, July 2, 2011

52 Weeks of Genealogy: Songs--Broadway and Beatles

Growing up, my parents were Broadway fans--not surprising, since they both were brought up in New York City and we still lived a subway ride away from the Great White Way.

Although Mom and Dad saw some shows and took me and my sisters to a few (Sound of Music stands out, for example), they also listened on the radio and bought an occasional album. I remember one of their particular favorites was South Pacific.

Some relatives (who shall remain nameless) still like to tell this joke from the era of the original South Pacific show:

JOKE TELLER: Knock knock!

AUDIENCE: Who's there?

JOKE TELLER: Sam and Janet.

AUDIENCE: Sam and Janet who?

JOKE TELLER: Some Enchanted Evening...!           [cue the laugh track]

My childhood faves were the Beatles. I was a Paul McCartney fan, my twin was a George Harrison fan. Burned into my memory are the nights when the Beatles appeared on the Ed Sullivan Show and we sat glued to the TV waiting for the Fab Four to sing whatever hits were current at the time. No one song stands out as my all-time fave. I liked almost all of them! Yeah, yeah, yeah.