Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Travel Tuesday: Which Immigrant Ancestors Saw the Statue of Liberty?

Recently I completed a 14-page "memory booklet" outlining the family histories of Henrietta Mahler (1881-1954) and Isaac Burk (1882-1943), my paternal grandparents.

I tried to get a sense of what it was like to be an immigrant arriving in steerage, getting my first glimpse of the city I hoped would have streets paved with gold.

Henrietta and her younger siblings were children when they arrived at New York's Castle Garden in late 1886, just around the time the Statue of Liberty was dedicated (on October 28, 1886).

However, Henrietta's father, Meyer Mahler, arrived in 1885, so his ship didn't pass Lady Liberty on the way to New York Harbor. Still, living in New York and awaiting his family's arrival, he would have been aware of the statue's purpose and the hoopla surrounding its dedication. Ken Burns has a wonderful timeline of the statue's history and the progress leading up to the dedication by President Grover Cleveland.

Henrietta's future husband, Isaac Burk, came to North America by way of Canada, and took a train south to the Vermont border, so he didn't see the Statue of Liberty on his incoming trip.

Both of my maternal grandparents arrived in the 20th century, which means their voyages ended with the Statue of Liberty in full view (and they were processed through Ellis Island, not Castle Garden). Minnie Farkas (1886-1964) sailed into New York Harbor in 1901, two years before Emma Lazarus's now-famous poem was inscribed on the base. Similarly, her future husband Theodore Schwartz (1887-1965) arrived in 1902, the year before the poem was put on the base. In later years, did they ever take a ferry to the statue to get a closer look?

Saturday, September 27, 2014

52 Ancestors #40: Why did the Freelands Leave Indiana for the South Bronx?

Hubby's 2d great-grand aunt, Emma O. Larimer (1848-1923), the daughter of Brice S. Larimer and Lucy E. Bentley, was born and raised a Hoosier. In 1869, Emma married James Freeland (1838-1920), also of Indiana, and together they had three children: Lucy (b. 1870), Earle (b. 1877), and James (b. 1891). In 1880, James was a street commissioner in Goshen. Earlier, he was a deputy sheriff (according to his obit) and also involved in manufacturing.

In 1900, the Freeland family was still settled comfortably in Goshen, Indiana, where they had lived for years. James's occupation was listed as "salesman" and two of the three children also were working.

In 1905, however, the New York City census listed the entire family as living at 582 East 165th Street in the South Bronx, a residential neighborhood that was fairly middle class and less than one mile from a major shopping crossroads on 149th Street.

Why did they leave Goshen and go to the Big Apple, where the cost of living was undoubtedly much higher? So far as I can tell, they had no family in New York. Nor did James work in an occupation that required his residence in New York.

But looking ahead at James's 1920 obit (from the Middlebury Independent, Indiana) contains one clue to the move: He was suffering from "a long history of nervous disorders and general decline." The family pulled up stakes and left for New York in 1903, according to the obit, leaving behind siblings and other relatives on both sides of the families. In 1920, James died at 82 and was quickly buried in New York, to be reburied with the rest of the family later. Was the family seeking medical treatment for James? Or did they want a fresh start somewhere else when they left Goshen in 1903 to live in the crowded Big Apple?

Contemporary records show that the Freelands remained in New York City from 1903 on. According to the 1910 Census, Lucy, the older daughter, was a stenographer in an insurance office. Earle was an electrician in a "power house" [sic]. James Lynn, the younger son, was a stock clerk in a drug firm (or store?). Their parents weren't working; presumably, Emma took care of James.

By mid-1920, James and the family had moved to upper Manhattan. Two of the three children -- all grown -- were "retail merchandisers" in a stationery store. James died in September of that year and his wife, Emma, died in 1923 (see obit from the Middlebury Independent, Indiana).

Lucy remained single, later living with her brothers in Manhattan. Earle was also single and kept the stationery store going. James Lynn married Rena and had a son, James Jr. and two daughters, Rhoda and Norma.

Monday, September 22, 2014

52 Ancestors #39: Great-Great Grandma Margaret Shank or Shankland?

Just 207 years ago this month (September, 1807), hubby's great-great grandma Margaret Shank was born, supposedly in Delaware (according to the 1850 and 1860 censuses). She married g-g-grandpa Joseph W. Rinehart (1806-1888) in the 1830s and they were the parents of 6 children:
  • Elizabeth Jane
  • Joseph Charles
  • Hugh
  • Mary Elizabeth
  • Sarah
  • Nancy (Nannie)
Margaret's maiden name is either Shank (Shenk? Schenk?) or Shanklin, according to various documents. Findagrave has 11 "Shank" folks buried in Crawford County, OH, where Margaret died in 1873 and not one Shanklin. Similarly, Delaware's Findagrave has no Shanklins but some Shanks buried. However, the 1860 Census has 2 Shanklin families in Sussex county, Delaware--but is that because the surname wasn't spelled correctly?

Shanklin might also be spelled Shankland--and there were Shanklands in Delaware, I know from various histories. Looking again at Findagrave, I found no Shanklands in Crawford County but six early Shanklands in Delaware. Checking the 1820 census, I found two Shankland families in Sussex county, Delaware, a Daniel and a Saloman, with very small households. No Shanklands in the 1860 Delaware census, by the way, but 8 Shanklands in the 1860 Ohio census and 15 Shanklins in the 1860 Ohio census (none in Crawford county).

In particular, one couple (Mary [maiden name UNK] Shankland, d. 1855 and William Shankland, d. 1815) are possible parents for Margaret. They were buried in Lewes Presbyterian Church Cemetery, Lewes, Delaware. Was this Margaret's family? More "digging" is in my future.

Sunday, September 21, 2014

Sentimental Sunday: Roaring Twenties Graduation Photo

Grandma Henrietta Mahler Burk and her husband, Grandpa Isaac Burk, celebrated their eldest daughter's graduation with this studio portrait. Her outfit is so 1920s--which makes sense, since the date was between 1921 and 1924!

Look very closely, and you'll see that Henrietta is wearing a portrait pin--it's surely a photo of her mother and father, the same one that her mother Tillie Jacobs Mahler wore all her life after Tillie's husband, my great-grandpa Meyer Mahler, died young in 1910.

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Almost Wordless Wednesday: Rose Lebowitz Markell, RIP in Brooklyn

Rose Lebowitz Markell (mother of Joseph A. Markell, who married my father's matchmaker aunt, Mary Mahler) died in Pittsburgh and was buried one day later in Brooklyn, NY.

Friends were kind enough to photograph her grave yesterday.

The inscription reads: Here lies my beloved mother, Rochel (Rachel), daughter of Sholom.

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

52 Ancestors #38: Mayflower Ancestors on Mayflower Day

This is Mayflower Day and my post is in honor of four of hubby's ancestors, who were passengers on that ship:

Isaac Allerton, Mary Norris, Mary Allerton, and Degory Priest. 

Mary Allerton married Thomas Cushman, who arrived on the Fortune. Mary Allerton Cushman's son Eleazer Cushman married Elizabeth Royal Coombs, great-granddaughter of Degory Priest, linking these two families from the Mayflower.

Several generations later, Lydia Cushman married Elihu Wood Sr., father of Isaiah Wood Sr.. Isaiah was hubby's 2d g-granddaddy on the Wood side.

The Wood fam genealogist was in England two months ago. He visited the Mayflower Pub, formerly owned by Captain Jones, and wrote me:
"They talk of the Mayflower departure as if it is current events. There is a very different perspective on history over there. 1620 was recent history."
Thankful for the Mayflower on this September 16th.

Friday, September 12, 2014

52 Ancestors #37: Annie Horwitch, Manchester to Montreal After Marriage

My grand-uncle Abraham Birk/Burke (1878-1962) was born in Telsiai, Lithuania; married in Manchester, England; and died in Montreal, Canada.

Abraham's bride, who became my grand-aunt, was Annie Horwitch (or Horowitz). She's listed in their marriage record as "Annie Hurwitch" of Cheetham, Manchester, England, daughter of a teacher, Moses Hurwitch.

When Annie was 19, her Russian-born father Moses completed the naturalization process and was given UK citizenship. (Happily, the UK documents also give Moses's parents' names!)

Annie's courtship came about because Abraham and his younger brother Isaac (hi grandpa!) Birk had left Lithuania and were living with their uncle and aunt in Manchester for a time. The brothers worked, saved money, learned a little English, and planned for a future in North America.

The uncle in Manchester was Isaac Chazan (one of the witnesses to Annie's marriage). The aunt, who was very probably the blood relative, was Ann Hinda (Hannah) Chazan. Her maiden name was either Meton or Mahler. (The UK records say "Meton" but a handwritten family tree says "Mahler." If it turns out to be Mahler, that means my grandparents Isaac and Henrietta were cousins in some way...maybe it was even an arranged marriage?!)

Anyway, Annie and Abraham married in Cheetham in June, 1903. A little more than a year later, they welcomed their first child--and Abraham soon sailed for Montreal to establish his carpentry business. In 1905, just weeks before Annie's second wedding anniversary, she and her infant daughter were reunited with Abraham in Montreal. They had four children in all and were together for nearly 45 years. Abraham outlived Annie and was a guest, along with his children, at my parents' wedding, standing in for his late brother Isaac who had died a few years earlier.

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

52 Ancestors #36: Margaret McClure "Stricken with Grippe . . . Until Life Became Extinct"

Hubby's great-grandma, Margaret Jane Larimer McClure (1859-1913), the daughter of Brice S. Larimer and Lucy E. Bentley, outlived her husband by more than 30 years.

Born in Elkhart, Indiana, Margaret married William Madison McClure in October, 1876. After great-grandpa Willy died in 1887, Maggie moved to Wabash, Indiana, with three of her four children (Lola, Lucy, and Hugh Benjamin).

The photo above shows Maggie with her daughter Lucy (Lucille) and Lucy's husband, John Everett De Velde.

As a member of the Rutherford B. Hayes Presidential Center, I can conveniently search databases like Newspaper Archive from home. So I plugged Maggie's name into the search box for Wabash, IN, and found her obit in the Wabash Daily Plain Dealer of May 15, 1913--the day she died.

According to the obit, Maggie was "stricken with grippe" a few days before her death, "which later developed into a complication of diseases and caused her to grow gradually weaker until life became extinct." Rest in peace.

Monday, September 8, 2014

52 Ancestors #35: Did Abbie Eliza Bentley Cross the (State) Line to a Gretna Green?

Hubby's 2d great-grand aunt Abbie Eliza Bentley (1832-1893) was born in upstate New York [town unknown] and married Leonard Lucien Curtis (1823-1905) in Cass County, Michigan, in 1848.

Why was Abbie Bentley married in Cass County, when she lived in Elkhart? Cass County (bounded by the red dashed lines) was just over the state line from Abbie's home in Elkhart, as the map shows.

Abbie's pioneer parents, William Tyler Bentley and Olivia Morgan Bentley, left New York for Elkhart, Indiana in 1835, when Abbie was just 3. In 1838, Olivia died, and in 1848, widower William took off for California to join the land rush.

Perhaps Abbie crossed into Cass County because it was a Gretna Green--a place where marriages could take place without lengthy waiting periods, or because her father was already in California and couldn't give his consent to a marriage in Indiana?

The 1850 Census shows Abbie living in Elkhart, with her blacksmith husband Leonard Curtis and their oldest daughter, Henrietta, very near Abbie's older sister Elizabeth and her carpenter husband, Emanuel Light.

By 1851, Abbie and Elizabeth and other siblings (and their spouses) were loading wagons for the long trek west to join their father in California. Sisters Lucy and Lucinda stayed behind in Elkhart.

Abbie died in 1893 in Santa Cruz, CA, having been married to Leonard Curtis for 45 years.

Friday, September 5, 2014

52 Ancestors #34: Rachel Shuham Jacobs--Granny of 13, Great-Granny of 8+

Rachel and a Mahler granddaughter (before 1910)
My 2d great-grandma, Rachel Shuham Jacobs (?-1916), was the Russian- (or Latvian-) born matriarch of my father's family. She lived to see 13 grandchildren and at least 8 great-grandkids--with even more great-grandkids born after she died.

Rachel and her husband Julius/Jonah Jacobs had two children (that I know of): My great-grandma, Tillie Jacobs (1857?-1952), and my grand-uncle, Joe Jacobs (1864-1919). Joe left home in 1882, arriving in New York to scout out possibilities for the family.

Rachel was widowed sometime before 1886, when she came to New York with her daughter Tillie Jacobs Mahler and Tillie's growing family. 

If only the 1890 Census hadn't burned up, I'd know a bit more about Rachel and her children and grandchildren. The first and only Census record I have for Rachel is in 1900, when she's living in the 88 Christie Street apartment of her daughter Tillie and son-in-law Meyer Mahler. Down the hall, in the same building, lived Rachel's son Joe Jacobs and his family.

I'll keep looking for Rachel in the 1905 NY Census, but so far, no luck. Another avenue to explore is the New York City directory for Manhattan. Maybe her name will be listed for some year between 1887 and 1916?

According to Rachel's granddaughter Ida, who kept a detailed book of names and dates, Rachel died in December of 1916. Alas, I've never been able to find Rachel's burial place or even a death cert. I came close once or twice, and I'll keep looking. Meanwhile, here's to you, Matriarch Rachel!

Monday, September 1, 2014

52 Ancestors #33: Mary Shehen of London, a Family Link to Ireland

Ancestry Images (www.ancestryimages.com)
Mary Shehen (b. in London abt 1839, died there before 1888) was hubby's great-grandma and one of his links to Ireland.

Her parents, Mary and John Shehen (or Shehan or Sheehan) were both born in Ireland around 1801. It's a mystery how and when they arrived in London, but there they were in the 1841 UK Census, in Gray's Buildings in Marylebone. At that time, the family consisted of Thomas (7), our Mary (3), and Michael (8 mos). Mary Shehen's birth was registered in the second quarter of 1840, yet the 1841 Census shows her as 3 years old. Hmmm...

On December 18, 1859, a Sunday just a week before Christmas, Mary married John Slatter in Spitalfields Christ Church, located in the Whitechapel area of London. She and her new husband moved into Whitechapel, while her parents remained in Marylebone, five miles away.

Mary and John Slatter had six children. The family was quite poor, and the five youngest children left for North America after they grew up. I'm still trying to determine what happened to the oldest child, Thomas John Slatter. He's 1 year old in the 1861 census but missing from the family household in the 1871 census and ever after.

HOWEVER, there's an intriguing possibility in the 1871 census, where a "Thomas Slatter, grandson" is living in the living in the household of John and Sarah Shuttleworth, along with a granddaughter with a different surname. The Shuttleworth household is barely 3 miles from the Slatter household. Could this be our Thomas John Slatter? He's the correct age in 1871. The Shuttleworth name is new to me, not anywhere in the family tree--yet.