Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Tuesday's Tip: Invite Relatives to View Mystery Photos Online

Formerly a mystery photo - now identified as Meyer & Tillie Mahler and family
My friend's family has begun a private blog to chronicle their genealogy adventures. One clever feature of Casey's blog is a page devoted to mystery photos. Already, a number of family members have enjoyed clicking through the photos, searching their memory banks, and coming up with names, dates, places, and occasions. They've identified a number of people and told new stories--solving mysteries and providing new clues to help in the search for ancestors!

I'm copying Casey's idea with a new landing page devoted to my mystery photos. Above, one of the first entries, a photo taken in the Francis Rogers studio in NYC. I'm assuming that the mystery photos are related to either my Farkas family or my Schwartz family.** [See update below--this is a Mahler family portrait.]

With a landing page devoted to mystery photos, relatives (or possible relatives) can look at their leisure, night or day, and get in touch with their ideas. Otherwise, any photos I post in a regular daily message will eventually drop too low to be seen by the casual visitor.

If and when someone identifies a photo, it will move from the mystery page to a family landing page. I'll add new photos from time to time as I continue to scan my "unknowns."

Wish me luck!

**UPDATE: One day after I put up this post, Cuz Lois called to say she has the identical photo shown above. It must be the Mahler family.

We think the lady in the light-colored dress, standing 2d from left in photo at top of this post, is my grandma Henrietta. We can even put a rough date on the photo: Patriarch Meyer Mahler, the gent seated at right in that photo, died in January 1910. So this large family photo is pre-1910, and probably pre-1906, when my grandma Henrietta was married.

In the photo, Meyer's wife, Tillie Jacobs Mahler, has her hand on his shoulder. Tillie's mother, Rachel Shuham Jacobs (who died in 1916), is seated in front with a young girl in her arm. The boy standing at far left is probably David Mahler and the boy at far right would be his younger brother, Morris.

The other Mahler girls in the photo are Sara (with a locket around her neck), Ida (at far left, holding a doll), Dora (probably the tiny girl in Rachel's arms), and Mary (seated in the wicker chair). The lapel pin in Meyer's vest (see closeup at right) might be a clue to pursue, as well.

By 1912, when the photo at left was taken, Henrietta had 3 children. But there's a clear resemblance between Henrietta in the photo below and Henrietta in the light dress in the photo at top.

Thank you, Cuz Lois! More mystery photos will be posted soon :)

Sunday, April 27, 2014

Holocaust Remembrance Day 2014

On Holocaust Remembrance Day, I am honoring the memory of loved ones who perished from these branches of my family tree:
  • My grandpa Tivador Schwartz's family.
  • My great-grandfather Moritz Farkas's family.
  • My great-grandma Lena Kunstler's family.
  • My Farkas cousins, the Roth family.
I've searched for family members using these resources:
Never forget. Never again.

Friday, April 25, 2014

52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks #18: Who Else Is in John McClure's Family?

Hubby's 4th great-granddaddy was Alexander McClure (1717-1790), who sailed with his father Halbert and mother Agnes (as well as uncles, aunts, and siblings) to Philadelphia in the 1730s or so. They weren't indentured servants, so they clearly had the money to pay for their passage. The entire McClure family then walked to the Shenandoah Valley and "claimed" land. All of this is documented in the excellent, well-researched book Following the McClures-Donegal to Botetourt by Joseph W. McClure, George E. Honts III, and Ellwyn Worley.

Alexander, once he was established in the new world, married Martha Moore and had a number of children, including John McClure (1781-?). In turn, John married Ann McFall (1780-1823). The records are sketchy here, so the only one of their children I've definitely identified is hubby's 2d great-granddaddy, Benjamin McClure. (You can visit "Uncle Benjamin's" Facebook genealogy page here.)

My challenge is to see who else might have been in the family of John and Ann McClure. Despite the detailed descendant appendixes in the McClure book, no one knows what became of John and Ann. I know where they died (Adams County, OH) but I just don't know whether Benjamin had siblings. It seems very unlikely that he would be an only child in the 1800s, doesn't it?

With the National Genealogical Society's 2014 conference just around the corner, I'll have a chance to get new ideas from experts in Virginia and Ohio family research. The conference also has a few sessions on Scotch-Irish migration that will arm me with good tips and techniques for pursuing this question.

Sunday, April 20, 2014

Census Sunday Surprise: Finding Two Farkas Relatives on a Roth Naturalization

Bela Roth--cousin to the Farkas family--was admitted as a US citizen on June 22, 1920. I've been hunting for the exact connection between Bela and my family. When I received a copy of Bela's naturalization petition this week, I was surprised to see the familiar signature of two great uncles: Alex Farkas and Julius Farkas, brothers of my grandma Minnie Farkas Schwartz.

Luckily for me, this petition was dated only a few weeks after the 1920 census, so I was able to cross-check the address of my Farkas relatives to be sure I'm on the right track.

Here are a couple of lines from the 1920 census record of Alexander Farkas, who lived at 828 Dawson St. in the Bronx, with his wife Jennie. Alex's occupation: Cutter. Then I checked Julius Farkas's address in the 1920 Census, and his occupation: 843 Whitlock Ave., Bronx, NY, occupation: salesman.

Both Farkas names/addresses/occupations are an exact match with the information on Bela Roth's petition document! This is another important clue confirming a definite relationship between the two families. Exactly how Bela and his family were related to my Farkas family remains a bit of a mystery.

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks #17: Minnie Farkas Tosses Her Engagement Ring

When teenaged Minnie Farkas (1886-1964) crossed the Atlantic from Hungary to join her parents in New York City in 1901, she and her older teenaged brother Sandor were responsible for shepherding their baby sisters, Ilka (age 4) and Frida (age 3).

Imagine boarding the S.S. Amsterdam in Rotterdam at age 15, sailing for an unknown country and in charge of keeping two small children safe and fed and entertained day after day after day as the ship lumbered across the ocean. By the time the ship steamed into New York Harbor, I'm sure she and the other Farkas children were up on deck to see the Statue of Liberty, signalling the end of a long voyage.

At Ellis Island, Minnie and her siblings were collected by their father, Moritz Farkas (1857-1936) or their mother, Lena Kunstler Farkas (1865-1938). To help support the family, Minnie got a job in a necktie factory run by Adolf Roth, a cousin of either the Farkas or Kunstler family. Like the rest of her siblings, she would hand her pay packet to her mother Lena at the end of the week, and Lena would dole out a couple of dollars for the following week's subway fare and coffee.

Although her parents picked out a well-situated young man for her to marry, Minnie refused. The family story is that the gentleman came to the apartment with an engagement ring and indignant Minnie threw the ring out the window. (Supposedly, one of her younger brothers ran down the stairs and retrieved it, but no one knows what became of the jewelry...or the young man.)

Minnie insisted on marrying Teddy Schwartz (1887-1965), an immigrant born in Ungvar, Hungary. They met in a Hungarian delicatessen on the Lower East Side and after they were married, Minnie worked alongside him in his grocery store in the Bronx.

Grandma Minnie at right, with three of her five sisters
This 1928 photo shows Minnie at far right, with the two now grown-up "baby" sisters she accompanied to New York and, at far left, one of the Farkas sisters born in America. In all, Minnie had five sisters and five brothers. By the time of this photo, Minnie was a mother three times over, but never (to my knowledge) had or wore an engagement ring.

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Quebec Area Ancestors? Use the Drouin Collection!

Last night's local genealogy club program was all about researching ancestors in Quebec province. My Uncle Sidney Burk was born in Montreal and lived there for less than a year--that's the entire extent of my Quebec-area ancestry, or so I thought.

On the recommendation of the speaker, I clicked to the Drouin Collection of Quebec vital records to find Sidney's actual birth record. Here's the direct link to the Drouin Collection's gateway on Ancestry. I clicked on "Quebec Vital & Church Records," then typed "S. Berk," "1914," and "Montreal." In an instant, the search put somebody named "Samuel B. Berk" at the top of the results. 

Samuel B. Berk's 1914 birth record (Sidney Burk in New York)
Even though I'd never heard of Samuel Berk, I clicked anyway--and there was my uncle, with the name given to him at birth, as registered with Congregation Tifereth Israel in Montreal. Parents shown are Isaac Berk (changed to Burk in NY) and his wife, Hereitta Maller (really Henrietta Mahler). Isn't it lucky that maiden names are shown in these handwritten records!

Lily Berk marriage record from June 7, 1931
On Isaac Burk's border crossing record from 1915, he listed his brother as the nearest relative in Canada: Abraham Berk of 431 Mt. Royal Ave., Montreal.

AND there was a marriage entry for "Lily Berk" in the Drouin search results, so I clicked. As you can see here, she's the Montreal-born daughter of Abraham Berk and Annie Horovitz, marrying Polish-born Joseph Goldberg (Farber). Both bride and groom lived at 66 Bagg Ave. in Montreal in 1931, when they were married. This address is less than one mile away from Mt. Royal Ave.

More Drouin research is in my future!

Sunday, April 6, 2014

52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks #16: Olivia Morgan, Pioneer Mom

Olivia (or Olive) Morgan (1799?-1838) was born somewhere in New York state and married William Tyler Bentley (1795-1873) there, about 1820. Olivia and William are my hubby's 3d great-grandparents.

I was able to learn Olivia's name because it's shown on her daughter Lucinda's transcribed death cert, at right, and on her daughter Lucy's transcribed death cert.

Before their pioneering move to Elkhart county, Indiana, Olivia and William had seven children in New York:
  • Elizabeth E. Bentley (1821-98) - married Emanuel Light
  • Elisha Morgan Bentley (1824-84) - married Charlotte Raymond
  • Lucinda Helen Bentley (1825-1903) - married Jonas Shank
  • Lucy E. Bentley (1826-1900) - Hubby's great-great-grandma, married Brice S. Larimer
  • Simon Bentley (1828-1894) - didn't marry
  • Jane L. Bentley (1831-?) - went to California, no info after age 20
  • Abbie Eliza Bentley (1832-1893) - married Leonard Lucien Curtis
The Bentleys may have had one more child in 1835, after arriving in the wilderness of Elkhart, but I can't find a trace of that baby, who is mentioned on p. 1071 of The History of Elkhart County (below).

After pioneer mom Olivia died, her husband moved to California in 1848, followed by five of their seven children in 1851.

Only Lucinda and Lucy remained in Indiana, marrying and raising their own families.

I'm in touch with several Bentley researchers, and a Morgan researcher. We're continuing to try to learn more about Indiana pioneer mom Olivia Morgan, California land rush pioneer William Tyler Bentley, and their parents/children.