Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Tuesday's Tip: Try, Try Again--New Clues Come Online Every Day

My most recent research has been looking for Rose Lebowitz Markell (abt 1877-1909, married to Barney Markell), the beauty who died young after having a son who grew up and married my matchmaker aunt. My latest discovery about Rose reminds me to keep searching, keep trying--because new clues come online every day.

Just last week I found Rose's death certificate--only because Ancestry and Pennsylvania have a new arrangement for scanning and making these documents available online. It would have been difficult to find her otherwise, so my timing was good.

Months earlier, I had sent for the death cert of her sister Ella Lebowitz Markell (1886-1965, married to Julius Markell) the old-fashioned way, starting with a Pennsylvania death index and paying $9 (a relative bargain) to receive a paper copy f-o-u-r months later.

But here was Rose's complete death cert, freshly posted on Ancestry! She died in Pittsburgh and was buried in New York City. This makes sense because Rose's mother lived in New York City. Next challenge: There are a LOT of potential burying places around the city. Where to start?

I went to Find-a-Grave, of course, where I've searched in the past. This time I had a death year so I could do a more specific search.

I plugged in the last name, Markell, and the year 1909, and searched in New York only.

Up popped a result that was posted at the end of May by a kind volunteer: Rosa Markell [sic], buried in Washington Cemetery in Brooklyn, NY. This cemetery has more than 52,000 burials, but only a small percentage have been photographed or posted online. If I'd checked in early May, I would have found nothing.

Of course some things have to be done the old-fashioned, pre-Internet way. I picked up the phone and called the cemetery. The office personnel had a lot of info to share: Rose was buried one day after her death, in an "independent" plot. A year later, presumably when her gravestone was to be put in place, Rose was moved to the Markell family plot in another area of the cemetery. They also gave me the (new to me) name of the relative who was in charge of that plot.

Timing, as they say, is everything. Who knows what new info will be posted online today or next week or next year?

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