Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Getting Ready for FGS 2013: FAN Research for the "Most Wanted" List

FGS 2013 is just weeks away and I'm going over my list of "Most Wanted" ancestors, the people hubby and I really want to find. My plan is to bring along not only a printout of the Family Group Sheets, but also a complete alphabetical index of the family tree. That way, if I can't get online, I can consult my paper files.

But I want to do as much as possible from home. So, using FAN (Friends and Neighbors) research, I'm retracing my steps--and I believe I've discovered a sibling of one of the "Most Wanted" Ancestors.

Joseph W. Rinehart (sometimes spelled Reinhart), 1806-1888, is hubby's great-great-granddaddy. From at least 1850 on, he lived in Tod in Crawford county, Ohio. Scrolling through the 1880 Census for Crawford, I spotted another Reinhart just two farms away: George Reinhart. George is only 3 years younger than Joseph, both were born in Pennsylvania, and what's more, George's household includes little George Hilborn.

The Hilborns were in-laws to the Steiners. Who, you ask, are the Steiners? Joseph W. Rinehart's daughter Elizabeth Jane married Edward George Steiner (see his Civil War draft registration, below). And other Hilborns married other Rineharts.

Civil War draft registration (1863( of Edward George Steiner
As it happens, the Rineharts AND the Steiners are on the "Most Wanted" list so I'm definitely making progress by using FAN to be understand the geographic connection between the Rinehart, Steiner, and Hilborn families.

Just wait till we're at FGS and can dive deep into the Allen County Public Library's vast collection of genealogical records! Stay tuned.

Saturday, July 27, 2013

Surname Saturday: 500 Pages of Farkas Family Tree History

Earlier this year, I learned for the first time that when my maternal grandmother's family tree group got together, they kept records. Written records (mostly typed)! Meeting minutes and year-by-year historian's reports for most of the period from 1933 to 1964, when meetings were held at least 6 times a year.

The first official meeting of this group took place in March, 1933. As recorded in the Constitution, "Any male or female over the age of 16 who is a member or descendant by blood or marriage of the family of Moritz Farkas and [his wife] Lena [Kunstler] Farkas shall be eligible for membership in this organization." Moritz and Lena were the patriarch and matriarch, honorary members of the Farkas Family Tree.

The idea for the Farkas Family Tree came from my great-aunt Jenny Katz Farkas, who joined the family by marrying great-uncle Alex Farkas. Alex was the oldest of Moritz and Lena's children. My grandma, Hermina Farkas Schwartz, was second-oldest. By the time Jenny suggested a tree association, all the Farkas siblings were married except for Julius and Peter, the bachelor brothers who never married. Moritz and Lena were already grandparents many times over when the tree was started.

The Farkas Family Tree had three specific objectives, according to its Constitution:
  1. To perpetuate the bond of blood relationship.
  2. To promote good will and understanding.
  3. To engage in social activities for the mutual benefit of the organization and the members thereof.
One of my cousins was able to get his hands on a nearly complete set of the bound books holding the minutes and reports of the tree's three decades. After he had the books unbound, I scanned each and every page (more than 500 in total). At right, the first of four original pages from the historian's report for the year 1939, when my Auntie Dorothy Schwartz was the historian. Lots of work to do the scanning, but very rewarding to read (sometimes in TMI detail) what my ancestors were doing month after month!

A copy shop took my printouts of the scans and created spiral bound books for me. Next, I prepared an index of every name mentioned in the minutes and reports. Because other than a family history buff, who's going to read all 500 pages? But everyone will, I'm sure, look up their own names and the names of their parents (or children) in the index, then flip to those pages first.

For handy reference, I also created a "who's who in the family" summary page. In addition to the Constitution (with 1949 and 1954 amendments), I included the three-stanza family tree song with lyrics written by my great-aunt Ella, which we used to sing to the tune of "Battle Hymn of the Republic." And I included a listing of all the officers from 1933 through 1964. (Hint: Women could be elected secretary but not serve as president or vice-president/treasurer.)

One of my other cousins created a diagram showing the names of every member of the tree in the photograph of the 25th Anniversary Weekend in June, 1958 at the Pines resort in upstate New York. I put the photo and the diagram on the cover, as you can see. Yes, I'm in the photo, but of course as a very young child (wink). By the time I came of age to be a full-fledged member, the Farkas Family Tree had sputtered out of existence, simply because members had moved away, changed jobs, or had grandchildren of their own to visit. The minutes and historian's reports will live on as time-capsules of a special period in my family's history.

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Tombstone Tuesday: John Larimer and Rachel Smith of Wabash, IN

John Larimer (1794-1843) was born in Mifflin, PA and moved west with his family to Ohio. He met and married Rachel Smith (1799-1838) in Fairfield county, OH in 1818. By the mid-1830s, they had moved further west to become pioneers in Wabash, Indiana.

Rachel Smith Larimer, 1799-1838
John bought land there in 1836, alongside property owned by his brother Moses Larimer (1804-1857).

John Larimer, 1794-1843
When Rachel died at 38, he had her buried in Eldridge Cemetery. Two years later, he remarried to Nancy Orr, in Fairfield county, OH, and brought her back to Wabash, along with her three children.

In 1843, John died from "an infection of his throat caused by a deer bone splinter which lodged there," and is buried in Eldridge Cemetery, Millersburg, IN.

John's father Isaac Larimer served in the War of 1812, part of Capt. George Sanderson's Company from Fairfield, OH. Others in the Larimer family and related families also served in the same company, including: Robert and James Larimer (John's brothers) and Samuel Work (part of the family that John's sister Cynthia Hanley Larimer married into).

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Wedding Wednesday: Great-Aunt Rose's 1925 Bridal Outfit

My stylish great-aunt Rose Farkas married dapper George Freedman in New York City in 1925.

Here she is in her fashionable bridal gown and floor-length veil, holding a magnificent bridal bouquet. Very 1920s and very sophisticated, IMHO.

A few months ago, I scanned this portrait at 1200 dpi, gave the original to one of Rose's sons, and made a copy for the other. They were thrilled and I was happy to reunite the original portrait with the proper part of the family tree.

Rose was one of six daughters and five sons born to Moritz (Morris) Farkas (1857-1936) and his wife, Lena Kunstler Farkas (1865-1938).

One of Rose's sons just told me that this wedding outfit was made by Rose's sis-in-law, Jennie Katz Farkas. Jennie was married to Moritz & Lena's oldest child, Alex (Sandor), and Jennie was renowned as a fashion seamstress. Turns out that she made nearly all the bridal outfits (and maid/matron of honor dresses) for her sisters-in-law!

Friday, July 12, 2013

Friday's Faces from the Past: Za Za and Louis Waldman in the Bronx

Someone in my mother's family was friends** with the Waldmans, because I still have this photo of the adorable Waldman children.

The inscription on the inside front cover shows the original Hungarian notes (dated 1918) and my mother's transcription of the names: Za Za and Louis Waldman. 

Who were the Waldmans and whose friends were they? I know they lived in the Bronx (I checked the Census, not just the photographer's address). Were they friends of the Farkas family (my grandma Hermina Farkas) or the Schwartz family (my grandpa Theodore Schwartz)?

More FAN (friends and neighbors) research needed!

**2022 update: The mother of these adorable kids was Julia Farkas, a cousin of my mother's Farkas family.

Sunday, July 7, 2013

Sentimental Sunday: Freedomland, the Bronx's Theme Park

For a few summers in the early 1960s, we in the Bronx had our very own high-profile theme park: Freedomland.

It was in what we locals called a "two fare" zone--meaning we had to pay for a train and a bus to get there, because the park was way out in the middle of nowhere. And that, of course, was the point--where else would you find 205 undeveloped acres in New York City?

On opening day, June 19, 1960, tens of thousands surged through the gates. 

The attractions were loosely based on American history, from the Wild West and San Francisco's earthquake to the Great Chicago Fire and space travel. A few "rides" were surprisingly low-tech and tame, even by the standards of the day--such as Casa Loco, a "house" with a steeply raked floor that defied visitors to stay upright. A highlight I remember fondly was the gondola ride across the "country," but because of long lines, I rarely took that ride.

As youngsters, Sis and I roamed the park quite often, and we also remember seeing any number of rock 'n roll shows there. I don't remember seeing Paul Anka, who played at Freedomland more than once, but I do recall Major Lance, whose two hits were Monkey Time and Um, um, um, um, um, um..." 

Although Freedomland was closer to home, we found the rock 'n roll shows at the Palisades Park amusement park more glamorous. Celebrity DJ Cousin Brucie presided, which made it a treat, even if we had to cross the George Washington Bridge to get there. Besides, Palisades Park was immortalized in a hit record by Freddy "Boom Boom" Cannon, whereas Freedomland was...a former swamp.

By September 1964, Freedomland had sunk into bankruptcy, paving the way for the giant Co-op City development that was built on the site. Sis and I switched our allegiance to the New York World's Fair, a long subway ride away and a story for another day.

Although Freedomland has been out of business for nearly 50 years, it has its own nostalgic Facebook page, complete with loads of vintage photos, postcards, and souvenirs.

Friday, July 5, 2013

Surname Saturday: Bentley and Morgan, from New York

One mystery was solved today when the mail brought death file info for Lucinda H. Bentley Shank, my Tombstone Tuesday for this week.

Lucinda's younger sister, Lucy E. Bentley Larimer, is hubby's great-great-grandma. 

This death document confirms that Lucinda's parents were William T. Bentley of New York and Olivia Morgan Bentley of New York. Lucy's document says her mother was "Oliver" [sic] Morgan.

I'm so glad I didn't accept the name shown on family trees contributed by Ancestry users, who said "S.L. Hixon" was Lucy and Lucinda's mother. As if I needed another reason to look at the documentation for myself, this case shows how important it is to DIG DEEPER before coming to a conclusion! 

Thursday, July 4, 2013

Showtime! A Tale of Two Shows

Guest blog today by hubby, who was involved in shows presented at Cain Park, Cleveland Heights, OH and at Berkshire Community College, Pittsfield, MA. He loved the shows so much that he bought the LPs, pictured here.

Annie Get Your Gun had already been a Broadway hit and a blockbuster movie when it was announced for a summer run in Cain Park, minutes from where hubby and family lived in suburban Cleveland Heights. Here's his memory of working that show as a high school student apprenticing with the crew:

"For Annie, I ran a follow-spot from a 20-ft-high brick tower beside the stage. During the action, Annie Oakley and her beau, Frank Butler, are sailing back from Europe. They get hungry, so Annie shoots into the sky (from center stage). Waiting up on the tower, I throw down a prop stuffed seagull. The audience couldn't see me up on the tower and it seemed like a bit of magic when the bird landed on the stage at Annie's feet. (The night it accidentally landed in the orchestra pit, the conductor handed it up to her.)

"On the last night of the run, an "accomplice" and I cleaned out the theater's prop room and brought all kinds of things up to the tower. When Annie raised her rifle and shot, we threw down six or eight different stuffed animals--a pig, a skunk, even a couple of birds. One of the actors took this in stride, ad-libbing, "That's some fine shootin', Annie!" as Annie and the others cracked up.

Years later, he played Lutz, the prince's valet, the only non-singing role in a Berkshire Community College production of Romberg's The Student Prince.

The director cast hubby as the valet because he looked more mature than the college students playing the other roles. And he had a beard (still does, matter of fact), which was important to the serious look of the character.

Leaving the cast party on closing night, hubby and his ex-wife met a woman who stopped them and commented, "I've never been kissed by a man with a beard." Hubby, being very obliging, leaned over to kiss her cheek...but she grabbed him, pulled him close, and kissed him full on the lips. The kiss went on and on and on. Finally he managed to break away. On the way out, his wife asked in an acerbic tone, "Who was that?" Hubby answered truthfully, "I've never seen her before in my life." Wife had the last word: "She seemed to know you!"

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Tombstone Tuesday: Lucinda H. Bentley Shank

Gone but not forgotten is the inscription on the tombstone of Lucinda H. Bentley Shank and her husband, Jonas C. Shank. They're buried in Eldridge Cemetery, Elkhart county, Indiana.

Lucinda is hubby's 2d great-grand aunt, the older sister of Lucy E. Bentley, who married great-great granddad Brice S. Larimer.

Just three weeks ago, my query posted on Ancestry's Bentley message board put me in contact with a Bentley researcher who had traced more of the Bentley children, finding Lucinda and Lucy in Elkhart county and learning that the rest of their siblings had journeyed to California in search of fertile farmland and a bit of pioneering adventure.

At his suggestion, I sent for Lucinda's death record. Meanwhile, I also contacted the wonderfully knowledgeable and helpful folks at the Elkhart County Genealogical Society, who sent me the above photo (along with at least a dozen other photos of Larimer family tombstones from Elkhart County). 

According to Lucy Bentley Larimer's death doc, William Tyler Bentley and Oliver [sic] Morgan are her parents. Now we want to confirm by reading the names on Lucinda's death cert.

Monday, July 1, 2013

Military Monday: In Honor of Canada Day, More WWI Badges

Happy Canada Day! This post continues the series of photos of a WWI military belt given to the Wood family before 1925 by, we believe, Captain John Daniel Slatter of the 48th Highlanders Regiment of Toronto.

At left, a closeup of the badge worn by Divisional Cyclists Overseas. Military men on bicycles (who wore these from 1914-1916) were engaged in intelligence gathering and even participated in infantry activities.

And above right, the badge of the 21st Essex Fusiliers. Some members of this unit went to London early in WWI as part of the Canadian Expeditionary Forces.