Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Tuesday's Tip: Discuss Conflicting Info with Relatives

Paula Schwartz
This photo sent shivers up my spine and I had to share why.

Five years ago, I found my maternal grandfather's sister Paula Schwartz listed in the Yad Vashem central database of Holocaust victims, names submitted by relatives or neighbors so that victims would be remembered.

The "testimony" page, below, shows that Paula was the daughter of Herman and Hana (Simonowitz) Schwartz. The person who submitted the testimony in 1996 is Viola Schwartz W____r--Paula's daughter. (See my Schwartz ancestor landing page for more info.)

My newfound cousin from Philly questioned me about Viola W___. Why? Because on cards and photos sent to my grandpa, Paula Schwartz's daughter is named Ibolyka, which is often translated as Violet. I thought we were looking for a survivor named Violet W___, even though the testimony is signed by Viola ___.

My Philly Cuz urged me to rethink the Violet/Viola discrepancy. I went back to the testimony page to see whether any more info had been added since I last looked in 2008. The answer is yes.

Now there's a photo uploaded next to the testimony--the photo I show in this post. You can compare with the two ladies in hats at the center top of my blog's masthead. It's undoubtedly OUR family's Paula Schwartz!

This photo wasn't available online in 2008. And not long afterward, we found this survivor. Sadly, she confirmed that many Schwartz ancestors who remained in Ungvar did not survive the Holocaust. 

Monday, April 29, 2013

Monday Memories of Little Sister

This week, my sister Harriet (named after my paternal grandmother, Henrietta Mahler), would have been 58 years old. We miss her!

She once framed dozens of old family photos to create a wall of "dead people" as a living reminder of our family history. Her favorite perfume was Elizabeth Arden's Blue Grass, because that had been our mother's signature fragrance. Rest in peace, little sis.

Sunday, April 28, 2013

Genealogy by the States: McClures, Steiners, and Rineharts in the Buckeye State

Benjamin McClure (1812-1896)
Hubby has many ancestors in the Buckeye State of Ohio! I've been researching his 2d great-grandpa, Benjamin McClure (1812-1896), who is also the subject of my Facebook genealogy experiment. Benjamin was born in Adams County, Ohio, and although he later moved to Indiana, some of his descendants returned to Ohio for farming, carpentry, and other pursuits.

Other key ancestors in Ohio are the Steiners (Jacob S. Steiner, one of hubby's 2d great-granddads, was a long-time resident of Tod, Crawford county, Ohio) and the Rineharts (Joseph W. Rinehart was another of hubby's 2d great-grandpas, also a long-time resident of Tod). More about the Steiners and Rineharts can be found in the ancestor landing page on the tabs below my blog's title.

My next genealogical step on some of these ancestors is to check local courthouses for probate and deed records. This week I contacted the Wabash County Clerk's Office in Indiana to find out whether Benjamin McClure left a will. Guess what? There are 8 pages of estate info in the clerk's office! And for one buck a page, I can have photocopies sent by mail. By this time next week, I hope to know what Benji left and who his heirs were.

* Genealogy by the States is a weekly prompt started by Jim Sanders. Thanks, Jim!

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Wisdom Wednesday: Listen to the "Backstory"

One of my favorite podcasts is a series called "Backstory with the American History Guys."

It stars three historians, each an expert on a particular century (18th, 19th, and 20th of course).

Every episode gives me some new insight into how things were in my ancestors' time. The topics range from women's rights and the history of taxation to immigration and concepts of time. The "guys" interview experts about how key cultural, political, technological, and social changes affected America and Americans, both new and old.

That's how I learned that my hubby's ancestors in Wabash no doubt were gathered around the courthouse on the day when its electric lights were first switched on, making the town the first in the nation (possibly the world) to take this step. And it all came about, according to the History Guys, because two fellas from the Wabash Plain Dealer thought this would put the town on the map. And so it has, as you can see from the official seal of Wabash.

I encourage you to check out Backstory's podcasts (on its site or on iTunes) and enjoy!

Sunday, April 21, 2013

Genealogy by the States: Maggie Steiner Moves to Tennessee

This is Week 16 of the Genealogy by the States series started by Jim Sanders, and the topic is Tennessee. (Congrats to Jim for being named one of Family Tree's Top 40 blogs!)

The only family connection to Tennessee is through Margaret Mary Steiner (1861-1913), hubby's great-aunt. Born in Nevada, Ohio, to Edward George Steiner and Elizabeth Jane Rinehart, Maggie married Elroy Dayton Post (1858-1929) in September, 1883.

The couple moved several times for Elroy's work, with Union Pacific RR among other employers. Then they settled in Knoxville, Tennessee, where he worked as a sign painter. Maggie died in Knoxville in 1913 and was buried in Upper Sandusky, Ohio, where many in the Steiner family were buried.

Elroy remarried and his second wife, Merida, gave birth to their only child, Margaret, in 1918. Was this daughter named after Elroy's first wife, Maggie Steiner?

NOTE: If you're looking for Climbing My Family Tree by Jennifer--another of Family Tree's top 40 blogs--please click here. Congrats to Jen!

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Workday Wednesday: The Family Pitches in for the War Effort

During 1943, my family was doing a lot to fight WWII. Not quite single-handedly, of course, but they were in the service AND in defense industries. For example, my Auntie Dorothy Schwartz, shown above, was a WAC and during 1943, her service training took her to Daytona Beach, FL, Ft. Oglethorpe, GA, Camp Polk, LA, and Ft. Devens, MA. She ended the year in Scotland.

Dorothy's first cousins were in the Army Air Corps, in the Army, and stationed around the country and around the world. Family members visited sons, daughters, and siblings whenever they could. The family regularly bought War Bonds (and those who had stores, including my grandparents Teddy Schwartz and Minnie Farkas, also sold War Bonds to customers). One of my great-aunts was also a "Rosie the Riveter," working at an aircraft factory during the war.

To lighten the mood, the family's newsletter of 1943 doings says that the military members of the family "still have time to gain one of these titles: Corporal Punishment, Major Calamity or General Nuisance."

In 1944, according to family tree newsletters, Sgt. Dorothy Schwartz was temporarily assigned to Oxford, England for a week's training at Oxford U. By 1945, Sgt. Schwartz was in Belgium and she wrote about celebrating V-E Day.

Meanwhile, my father Harold Burk (left) and his brother, Sidney Burk (the taller brother), were in Europe with the U.S. Army. Harold was with the Signal Corps, in a support role behind the lines in the European theater.

Harold and Sidney were in Europe on assignment when their father, Isaac Burk, died suddenly of a heart attack in 1943. They weren't able to return for the funeral, which must have made things even sadder for their mother, Henrietta Mahler Burk.

Sunday, April 14, 2013

Timelines, Family Trees, and James & Mary's Wedding Day

My local genealogy club was lucky enough to recently host a talk by genealogy/history expert Laura Prescott. She spoke about "Timelines: Placing Your Heritage in Historical Perspective."

Among the many things I took away from that presentation was the idea of creating timelines to show my ancestors in the context of their family's events and local/national/international events. Laura mentioned free sites like xtimeline.com. (A wonderful find!)

She also mentioned that we have the ability to publish timelines, among other things, using Ancestry and the family tree data we've already posted. I'd never looked at that "Publish" button along the top row of the Ancestry home page. Pushing "publish" started me on the easy process of printing an 18 x 24 inch poster for my hubby's siblings, showing the four main families that correspond to each of their grandparents. (If you don't want to buy the tree poster, you can still print it free on your home printer--I did that too.)

Along the way, I enlisted hubby's help proofreading the family tree before we published the poster. He noticed I was missing an exact month and date for his grandpa's marriage.

In another browser window, I opened Family Search and quickly found an updated database of Ohio marriages. Info that wasn't indexed or digitized a year ago has been put online! (My lesson: Keep searching for those elusive ancestors or events--eventually new clues will present themselves.)

With just a couple of clicks, we now have the marriage document of James E. Wood of Toledo and his bride, Mary Slatter, who were married on 21 September 1898. All because we wanted to put together a family tree poster (see below).

The poster points up a glaring hole in the tree: We still don't know the parents of Mary Amanda Demarest. Cousin Larry has been on her trail for decades.

Sunday, April 7, 2013

Holocaust Remembrance Day: The Schwartz Family of Ungvar

Sad to say, the Holocaust wiped out most of the family that my grandpa Teddy Schwartz left behind in Ungvar, Hungary (briefly part of Czechoslovakia, then Russia, and now Uzhorod, Ukraine). This post is in remembrance of my family and others who were Holocaust victims.

Teddy lost his mother, Hani Simonowitz Schwartz (at left) in the Holocaust (UPDATE: She died a few years earlier). His father, Herman Schwartz, had died many years earlier.

Also, two sisters, Paula and Etel Schwartz were killed in the Holocaust. At right, Paula and her daughter Violet (who survived and later submitted Paula's name to the list of Holocaust victims). Possibly some nieces or nephews also perished.

In 1977, my mother (Daisy Schwartz Burk) wrote down what she knew about her father Teddy's family, more than a decade after he had died. Here's what she wrote:
"He came from peasant people in Czechoslovakia and never spoke about his home life. He came here at 13*. He was always silent about who staked him and how he got here, except that steerage was the most common method; neither he nor Mom (Hermina Farkas Schwartz) ever elaborated on the ocean voyage but it must've been sufficiently unpleasant for them to never to have unlocked their lips over it.
"Anyway, he lived as a boarder with a Hungarian family on the Lower East Side [of New York City] as many others did, and worked as a runner for the steamship lines and then he tried to be an insurance salesman and finally started a small grocery business--the first couple failed.
"The letters from Europe [from Ungvar] I remember asked for money constantly.  They all thought we lived in the lap of luxury here; and he always sent money home. Just before WWII he stopped hearing and never head again; later he learned his family was wiped out. His brother and sister had come here also**, but the exact timing I don't know."
*Actually, Teddy was 14 (nearly 15) when he arrived on the S.S. Moltke from Hamburg on March 20, 1902. He was shown on the manifest as Tivador Schwartz from Ungvar, along with this note: "Passage paid for by father, 14 years old, student." Below, a photo of the S.S. Moltke showing steerage passengers readying for the landing in New York City.

**Mom didn't realize that Teddy had helped both his older brother Sam and his baby sister Mary come to New York. Nor did she remember that both had kids and grandkids--and those grandkids are my 2d cousins, who I've come to know thanks to genealogy research.

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Wishful Wednesday: Meeting the Kossuth Ferenc Society

How I wish I could have seen my Farkas and Schwartz ancestors at a meeting of the Kossuth Ferenc Hungarian Literary Sick and Benevolent Society, founded in New York City in 1904. Above, a photo from the group's fifth anniversary jubilee. My great-uncle Sandor (Alex) Farkas (born in Berehovo, Hungary) was one of the founders, and great-uncle Bertalan (Albert) Farkas was a long-time leader! They are in the picture, along with other relatives (see below). This society reached its peak in 1924, when it had more than 600 members.

The Kossuth family (father Lajos and son Ferenc, for whom the society was named) were leaders of the Hungarian independence movement. According to a Fulbright scholar's research (this link leads to an explanatory pdf), the founders of the society asked permission to use his name (and apparently his likeness, shown above in a chair at the very center of the photo).

The society's goals were to establish a library and reading room; raise money for charitable purposes, especially to help new immigrants; and sponsor sports or other special events. The society also participated in March 15th celebrations every year, remembering the Hungarian Revolution of 1848.

Hermina Farkas, 1909

The photographer Gustav Beldegreen, who had a successful studio in New York City's Lower East Side, was obviously a big supporter of the society. He produced the big photo above, along with individual portraits of the members that are included as cameos.

At left, my future grandma Hermina Farkas as she appeared in 1909, in the big photo above. She was born in Berehovo, like her brother Sandor. Two years after this photo was taken, she married grandpa Theodore Schwartz (born in Ungvar, then part of Hungary and now known as Uzhorod, Ukraine).

Also here's a photo of the Kossuth statue that was erected in 1928 New York City (along Riverside Drive) to honor this leader of Hungarian independence.

From the Kossuth Ferenc Society booklet, spelled as in the original and in the order it appeared, I want to include the complete Tagok névsora (list of members)

Altman, Sándor
Altman, Rosie
Altman, Bertha
Altman, Malvin
Aurbach, Emma
Ábraham, Isidor
Bleich, Ármin
Blau, Sámuel
Blau, Sámuelné
Berman, Dezsö
Burger, Jenö
Burger, Miksa
Burger, Géza
Burger, Lajos
Burger, Rosie
Burger, Harry
Braun, Ferencz 
Braunstein, Jenö
Böhm, Máli
Berkowitz, Márton
Berkowitz, Sadie
Beldegreen, Gusztáv (the photographer/printer)
Braun, Jakab
Brummel, Frida
Berger, Pepi
Berger, Isidor
Breuer, Márton
Cohn, Sarah
Davidowitz, Jenö
Deutsch, Dezsö
Deutsch, Samu
Deutsch, Ferencz
Diamand, Ignátz
Eichler, Hermina
Ehrenfeld, Bella
Farkas, Sándor  (my family!)
Farkas, Bertalan (my family!)
Farkas, Hermina (my family!) 
Friedman, Jenö
Friedman, Adolf
Friedman, Isidor
Friedman, Annie
Feldman, Herman
Fischer, Sarah
Fischer, Rosie I
Fischer, Rosie II
Fischer, Jenö
Fischer, Harry
Fischer, Julia
Funk, Deszö
Fried, Sámuel
Frank, Mihály
Fábián, Jenö
Fábián, Jenöné
Greenberger, Bertha
Greenberger, Max
Green, Malvin
Green, Cili
Green, Herman
Goldstein, Lina
Goldstein, Márton
Greenfeld, Irén
Greenfeld, Bertha
Greenfeld, Sámuel
Gross, Isidor
Gross, Etel
Gross, Ida
Gross, Jenö
Gross, Márton
Grossman, Jenö
Grossman, Etel
Grossman, Annie
Gerendási, Béla
Gerendási, Márton
Gottlieb, Julius
Grünwald, Albert
Goldstein, Giza
Greenstein, Vilmos
Gellért, Ármin
Gellért, Miksa
Gewirtz, Jenö
Greenbaum, Dávid
Gáspár, Anna
Grünwald, Selma
Hohenberg, Bérnat dr.
Hochheiser, Dóra
Hirschfeld, Jenö
Herskowitz, Máli
Hartman, Ármin
Horowitz, Fáni
Hartman, Wm. L. dr.
Jäger, Sadie
Jungreis, Antal
Klein, Jenö I
Klein, Jenö II
Klein, Jenö III
Klein, Jenöné
Klein, Szerén
Klein, Lajos
Klein, Isidor I
Klein, Isidor II
Klein, Máli
Klein, Bernath
Klein, Vilmos
Klein, Ida
Klein, Regina
Klein, Helen
Klein, Róza
Klein, Mór
Katz, Bertha
Kornfeld, Heinrich
Kraus, Hermina
Kraus, Bernath
Kallisch, Teréz
Kellner, Árpád
Katz, Ida
Kestenbaum, Jack
Klausner, Sam
Kraus, Matild
Lehner, Etel
Leffkowitz, Rosie I
Leffkowitz, Rosie II
Leffkowitz, Helén
Lessauer, Sam
Lebowitz, Max
Lax, Harrz
Leggmar, Sarah
Markowitz, Herman
Markowitz, Hermanné
Markowitz, Isidor
Mayer, Adolf
Miesels, Sam
Moor, Max dr.
Neuman, Vilmos
Oppman, Gizella
Rendler, Annie
Rosner, Dávid
Reschowsky, Lajos
Rosenfeld, Fülöp
Roth, Helén
Roth, Margit
Rosenzweig, Boriska
Radóczy, Irma
Rosner, Bertha
Singer, Szerén
Schwartz, Nathan
Schwartz, Nathanné
Schwartz, Isidor
Schwartz, Theodor (my family!)
Schwartz, Malvin
Schwartz, Alex
Saffran, Bertha
Schwartz, Szerén
Schwartz, Bernath I
Schwartz, Bernath II
Strauss, Eszti
Smidt, József
Schwartz, Eszti
Schönwald, Emma
Schönwald, Rosie
Schwartz, Sam (my family!)
Spitzer, Vilmos
Saffir, Rosie
Süsskind, Pinkusz
Spitz, Áron
Stark, Miksa
Schwartz, Marie (actually MARY, my family!)
Schreiber, J.H. dr.
Selymes, Ferencz
Schwartz, Sarah
Stark, Sándor
Salamon, Rosie
Schwartz, Bertha
Schwartz, Sadie
Schwartz, Hannah
Staub, Matild
Spiro, Annie
Steuer, Paulin
Steuer, Jolán
Tresenfeld, Rosie
Tresenfeld, Ármin
Wolf, Adolf
Weitzner, Janka
Weitzner, József
Wolitzer, Sándor
Weiss, Dávid
Weiss, Harry
Weiss, Sámuel dr.
Weiss, Max
Weiss, Helén
Weiss, Feri
Weiss, Bernath
Weiss, Piroska
Weiss, Sam
Weiss, Margit
Weiss, Ida
Williger, Helén
Weltman, Ernö
Wellner, Henry
Weinreb, Márton
Zimmerman, Harry

Monday, April 1, 2013

Matrilineal Monday: Daisy's Violets on Velvet

My mother, Daisy Schwartz Burk, enjoyed crochet, crewel, needlepoint, and embroidery.

Here's a crewel piece Mom did on black velvet fabric. This has been in the family for about 60 years, and the colors remain beautifully vibrant. Now it's Sis's turn to enjoy it in her house. She's going to have it reframed and include a note about who made it and when.

Hermina Farkas Schwartz, my grandma and Daisy's mother, was a talented seamstress who helped to support her parents and siblings by working in a tie factory when the family came to New York City from their native Hungary. Grandma (known as "Minnie" to her sibs) sewed most of her niece's and nephew's clothing as well. We grandkids still remember playing with her treadle sewing machine when we were tiny tots, opening the little cubbyholes in the cabinet and taking out the extra belts and accessories. I still have some of Grandma's hand-embroidered linens, which I treasure.

Grandma's and Mom's love of the needle has been passed down through the family, and the next generation also enjoys embroidering and crocheting the heirlooms of tomorrow.