Wednesday, July 17, 2019

Am I Making Genealogical Progress?

Panelist at Family Tree Live! "Crash Course in Writing Your Family's Story"
Summer's here. With half a year gone and half a year to go, am I making progress toward my genealogical goals? Yes and no.


  • Continuing my genealogy education. I've been to Family Tree Live, learned from speakers at local genealogy meetings, and watched top-notch  webinars hosted by the Virtual Genealogical Association. Also, I've watched videos by Ancestry, Family Search, and MyHeritage, learning to use those sites more effectively for family-history research. Not to mention the many books I've read for historical background to put ancestors into context, and books I've read to learn more about genealogy in general. 
  • Connecting with other family history researchers. I'm now following 2300 Twitter accounts that focus on genealogy, history, archives, and related topics (compared with 1700 in January, 2018). Learning lots from participating in #AncestryHour and #GenChat also! Happy that this genealogy blog rose to #10 in the Feedspot list of family tree websites earlier this year. In August I'll celebrate my 11th blogiversary.
  • Building my portfolio of presentations. I spoke twice (and was on the family history writing panel shown at top) at the big new Family Tree Live conference in London. Also, I have scheduled many presentations at genealogy clubs and libraries throughout this year. Topics include social media for genealogy, writing family history, Genealogy 101, using Heritage Quest, and planning a genealogical "will." 
  • Connecting with cousins. I completed the big Farkas family indexing project and sent a flash drive to cousins with family letters and meeting minutes covering decades. A real accomplishment, in that it keeps family history alive for future generations. In addition, this blog continues to be cousin bait, as do my public trees on Ancestry and MyHeritage. DNA matches on these and other sites have enabled me to identify other definite and prospective cousins. "Almost" cousins (in-law relations) have also been in touch, and we've exchanged info about people we are both researching, which means more progress.


  • Do more with DNA. On back burner for first half of the year. Just this month, new DNA matches gave me enough info to finally begin color-coding for specific parts of the family tree. In the second half of 2019, I plan to proactively use tools on Ancestry, DNA Painter, MyHeritage, Gedmatch to get more insights as I organize my DNA matches.
  • Delayed new family history booklets. I started collecting photos and document images for a booklet on my Mom and Auntie, Daisy and Dorothy Schwartz, but haven't organized or written anything. With my Sis, I donated Dorothy's WAC memorabilia to the U.S. Army Women's Museum early in 2019, so that's progress. Haven't yet begun organizing and writing the long-promised photo book of Edgar James Wood and his wife, Marian McClure Wood. I've written shorter booklets but the family is interested in something longer and filled with lots of photos. Keeping this on my 2019 to-do list.
  • Following fewer genealogy blogs. The number of active genealogy blogs I'm following has fallen to only 66. It was 104 at the start of 2018, which means 38 have gone inactive since then. It's time to search out blogs to follow by checking Geneabloggers Tribe and other sources.
And of course, I'm still promoting my best-selling genealogy book/ebook, Planning a Future for Your Family's Past, with ideas for organizing, analyzing, preserving, and passing family history to next generation.

Sunday, July 14, 2019

New Clues in Genetic Genealogy Challenge

My maternal haplogroup is V7A
Genetic genealogy is by far my biggest challenge (challenge is this week's #52Ancestors prompt).

Despite 21 years of tracing the paper trail of family history, I haven't fully exploited the clues provided by DNA testing. But breakthroughs may be on the horizon.

Multiple DNA Tests and Sites

I am SO lucky. Having a twin sister really comes in handy!*

Between us, we've taken 4 different tests and uploaded results to the spectrum of popular genealogy DNA sites. (Neither she nor I use our full names on DNA test sites, for privacy reasons.)

Her results confirm that our maternal haplogroup is V7A and, as we already know from traditional genealogy evidence, our origins are Eastern European. Our ancestors came from Hungary (including parts that are currently in Ukraine), Lithuania, and Latvia.

More Cousins, More Colors

To make full use of DNA Painter and other tools, I need to be able to identify matches from specific parts of my family tree.

Recently I recognized names on Sis's list of close DNA matches that are not on any other site where our results are posted. These matches fill key gaps in my genetic genealogy knowledge. Now I can color-code more ancestors more accurately as I use DNA to determine who fits where in the family tree.

Just as important, Sis's matches are giving me an incredible opportunity to reach out personally to paternal 2d cousins I knew we had but wasn't able to locate using conventional means. They only tested on one site--a site Sis used, happily for us.

DNA is good cousin bait--and I'm taking their bait. Can't have too many cousins!

*Fish in Different DNA Ponds

You can always "fish for DNA matches in different ponds" if you wish (whether you have a twin or not). Take DNA tests from different sites and/or upload your results to multiple sites. So many excellent DNA guides are available that I won't even attempt to say more, since I'm far from an expert on genetic genealogy.

It's a good idea to list surnames and origins on each site (and/or upload at least a basic family tree) so potential matches can get a sense of where the match might be. To protect privacy, I don't ever show living people on my trees.

Remember that as of now, 23AndMe and Ancestry don't allow uploads from other testing sites. That's why Sis and I tested with multiple sites, to fish in as many ponds as possible even when uploads aren't an option.

Monday, July 8, 2019

Short Family Reunion in 1900 in LaGrange Cty, Indiana

In my husband's family tree, the Short and Larimer families reportedly had a cousin relationship in Northern Ireland, along with the Work family. Some of their descendants settled in Pennsylvania, and then went west toward Ohio and Indiana. The American-born descendants and cousins continued to feel close kinship, evidenced by the reunions they held for more than 20 years.

Thomas Short, LaGrange County Pioneer

Thomas Short (1820-188?) married my husband's great-great-great aunt Margaret Larimer (1826-1877) in January, 1842 in Middlebury, Elkhart, Indiana, where her family lived. The newlyweds soon settled in LaGrange county, where he cleared land, built a house, and farmed.

From 1843-1866, they had 10 children, including 4 who became physicians. There were physicians in the next generation of the Short family, as well.

A Short Family Reunion

Having found news reports of many reunions held by the Larimer and Work families, I was delighted to find this news item in the Elkhart Weekly Review of July 11, 1900. The descendants of Thomas Short were getting together on their own for a reunion, 119 years ago this month:
A reunion of the Short family was held last week on the old Short homestead in LaGrange county, where Thomas Short settled 58 years ago, clearing the timber off the land on which he built. Those present were Dr. W.H. Short & family, and Dr. J.L. Short, of LaGrange. Dr. I.W. Short & family and Dr. S.B. Short & family, from Elkhart, and J.E. Short & family, of Goshen.
As shown in the map at top and mentioned in the news snippet, some of the Short descendants had to travel about 20 miles from Elkhart county to arrive in LaGrange county for the reunion. Notice that the only person without a "Dr." in front of his name is J.E. (James Edson) Short, a farmer like his father, the LaGrange pioneer.

Thank you to Amy Johnson Crow for the prompt of "reunion" for this week in the #52Ancestors series.

Sunday, July 7, 2019

David Mahler and the Essex Market Police Court

Essex Market Police Court (from NY Historical Society Digital Collection)
Old newspapers hold a treasure trove of family-history possibilities.

Here's a fascinating story I found while systematically searching for each of my Mahler ancestors in newspaper databases.

David Mahler, Charged with "Malicious Mischief"

In November, 1897, it appears that my great uncle David Mahler (1882-1964) was hauled into the Essex Market Police Court, located at the corner of Essex Street on the Lower East Side of Manhattan, NY. (I wasn't aware of this court until reading about David's predicament.)

According to a report in the Sun and New York Press dated November 22, 1897, "David Mahler, 13 years old, of 58 Chrystie Street, answered to a charge of malicious mischief." He was accused of throwing a brick through a plate-glass window of the store at 69 Chrystie Street.

The news reporter quoted David Mahler as saying: "Dat's all right, me father is going to pay for the window." The storekeeper objected, saying that the court should hold David in jail until the father actually paid the money.

The judge was outraged at the storekeeper--and sets David's pre-trial bail at $500. In today's dollars, that would be nearly $3,000. Where would David's parents, my great-grandpa Meyer Mahler and his wife Tillie Jacobs Mahler, get that kind of cash?

Although I thoroughly searched two newspaper databases and did a general online search, I've found no follow-up. My guess is that the Mahler family settled out of court with the storekeeper and that was that.

Is This My Great Uncle? 

The 1897 news account of teenage mischief is almost certainly about MY great uncle, who in 1900 was living with his family at 88 Chrystie Street in the Lower East Side. Allowing for typos and mistakes, the newspaper said he lived at 58 Chrystie Street. Today, 69 Chrystie Street is a small storefront set into a tenement building. And the age is about right for my David Mahler.

Born in Latvia, David was the second child of my great-grandparents and the oldest son. He came to New York with the family when he was about 4 years old. As an adult, David had a checkered history, and I'm told by a cousin who heard the stories that he was a bit of a black sheep.

During WWI, David worked as a rigger in Camden, NJ (according to his draft registration card). After that, he bounced around and finally was given a job as a utility man at Columbia Studios in Hollywood by an influential executive who was a Mahler in-law. He was working there at the time of the 1940 Census and well into in the 1950s, I can see from California voter registration cards (he was a Democrat).

During the last years of his life, David battled metastatic bladder cancer. He was operated on during January of 1964 and died in the Motion Picture Country Hospital, less than five months later. His sister, Sarah Mahler Smith, was the informant on David's death cert.

Friday, July 5, 2019

Long Tradition of Independent Family Farming

For this week's "Independent" prompt from Amy Johnson Crow's #52Ancestors series, I wanted to look at the long tradition of independent family farming in my husband's Larimer and McClure families.

Larimer Family Farmers

Several Larimer ancestors fought in the War of 1812 and received land grants in later years, based on their military service. One was hubby's 4th great-granddaddy, Isaac M. Larimer (1771-1823), who was born on the family farm in Cumberland County, Pennsylvania and died on his farm in Fairfield county, Ohio.

Isaac was the son of immigrant ancestor Robert Larimer (1719?-1803), the 5th great-granddaddy who came from Northern Ireland in the 1740s who began the family's farming tradition in America. Isaac's mother was Mary O'Gallagher (or Gallagher, 1721-1803).

Isaac and Mary's son Robert Larimer (my hubby's 4th great uncle) also fought in 1812 and earned the land grant shown in the document at top.

Isaac and his wife Elizabeth Wood Larimer's son John (1794-1843) was my hubby's 3rd great-granddaddy and a 90-day enlistee in the War of 1812. Like so many others in the Larimer family, John Larimer eventually moved from Ohio to Elkhart county, Indiana, to obtain more land for farming.

My husband's 2d great-granddaddy, Brice S. Larimer (1819-1906) continued the tradition of family farming in Elkhart county, Indiana. By 1853, he had been appointed postmaster. Brice later served as a railroad agent, and his son William Tyler Bentley Larimer (1849-1921) also worked at the railroad depot. Later in life, William T.B. Larimer returned to farming, but none of his children or grandchildren were family farmers.

McClure Family Farmers

The McClure family tradition of farming in America began with my husband's earliest McClure immigrant ancestors. Hubby's 5th great-granddaddy Halbert McClure (1684-1754) and his wife Agnes (?-1750) led a large group of McClure family members from County Donegal across the Atlantic to Philadelphia, where they walked all the way to Virginia to buy farmland.

Halbert's son Alexander McClure (1717-1790) bought land in Mill Creek, Augusta, Virginia in 1751. Alexander was hubby's 4th great-granddaddy. His son John McClure (1781?-1834), hubby's 3d great-granddaddy, was most likely a farmer after moving to Adams county, Ohio.

John and his wife, Ann McFall (1780-1823) had one son, Benjamin McClure (1812-1896) who most definitely a farmer in Noble township, Elkhart, Indiana. Benjamin was my husband's 2d great-granddaddy.

In the generation after Benjamin McClure, not everyone was a full-time farmer. Oldest son Theodore Wilson McClure told the Census in 1880 that his occupation was "farming and storekeeping." Second son John McClure was a farmer, first in Indiana and then as a tenant farmer in Little Traverse, Michigan. Third son Train Caldwell McClure operated an oil mill in Wabash county, Indiana.

Benjamin McClure's youngest son was William Madison McClure (1849-1887), my husband's great-granddaddy. He grew up on the family farm in Indiana but after marrying Margaret Jane Larimer (1859-1913), William worked on the railroad. That was the end of family farming in this line of the McClure family: None of Margaret and William's three children married a farmer or worked in farming.

Thursday, July 4, 2019

Family Tree Fourth of July


This vintage Independence Day greeting card was sent to my husband's uncle Wallis Walter Wood in Cleveland more than a century ago. The Fourth of July has significance for our family trees in two instances.

Larimer Elopement

George Ainsworth Larimer (1873-1922), hubby's 1st cousin 2x removed, married Cora Lutz (1875-1945) in a Gretna Green elopement on July 4, 1899. They didn't announce the marriage until November, as shown in this news snippet.

Over the years, St. Joseph was a Gretna Green for several of my husband's family members who eloped. On that particular July 4th in 1899, St. Joseph recorded 21 marriages, including that of George and Cora!

George retired early from a career in civil engineering and bridge construction, due to a heart condition. His death cert mentions the contributing factor of "dropsy" (related to his heart problem). He died in Memphis, TN, on Halloween of 1922 at the age of only 49.

Schwartz Birth

My great uncle Samuel Schwartz (1883-1954) was born on July 4, 1883, in Ungvar, Hungary. He was an older brother of my immigrant grandfather Theodore "Teddy" Schwartz.

Teddy came to America in 1902, followed by brother Sam two years later. According to the 1904 passenger manifest, his given name was Simon but somehow once he arrived in America, he became Samuel. Sam and Teddy teamed up to pool their hard-earned money and bring their younger sister Mary to America in 1906.

Like his brother Teddy, Sam married only days after he attained U.S. citizenship. Sam settled down and raised a family in New York City, where--like his brother Teddy--he ran a small dairy store. Sam died on a hot June afternoon, just weeks before his 71st birthday.

Tuesday, July 2, 2019

Keep Redoing Searches--New Ancestors May Pop Up!

Transcribed death record for Sundel Mahler
Knowing that new info is constantly being transcribed, indexed, and posted on genealogy websites, I regularly redo searches on my ancestors. Not every name, of course, but definitely those in my direct line and sometimes aunts or uncles or cousins or even in-laws whose lives I'm trying to flesh out.

Finding New Members of the Mahler Family 

Last year I was redoing searches for my great-grandma Tillie Jacobs Mahler and great-grandpa Meyer Elias Mahler, and their children. That led me to find on a death record for their three-year-old son, Wolf, who died of "acute Bright's disease" (liver problems). Neither I nor any of my Mahler cousins had ever heard of Wolf. But the death cert (visible only at a Family History Center) was quite clear and proved that Wolf was, indeed, a son of my great-grandparents.

Today, I redid that search for Tillie and Meyer--and found yet another death record for a previously-unknown son who died at an even younger age. The transcription is shown above. I have to get to the FHC to view the death cert in person, but based on the transcribed info, not just names but also the street address, little baby Sundel* Mahler would have been my great uncle if he had grown up.

Sadly, the baby died within weeks of his birth. He's buried in Mount Zion Cemetery, with a burial date of April 7, 1901, in the Sons of Telsh plot. That's where my great-grandparents were laid to rest. Another strong piece of evidence in favor of Sundel being part of my Mahler family.

Baby Is Buried in Telsh Plot--Somewhere

Search of Mahler interments in Sons of Telsh plot, Mt. Zion Cemetery, NY
I've visited Meyer and Tillie Mahler's graves in Mt. Zion Cemetery. The headstones are very crowded and it's not at all easy to navigate to and between plots. So it's not surprising that I never noticed baby Sundel somewhere in that plot.

As shown above in the interment search results, he is in the plot but he is not in a designated grave. Sometimes infants were buried with either a tiny marker or in a part of the plot where other babies are buried. This is very likely what happened in the case of Sundel Mahler.

More Evidence: Census Data 

In the 1900 U.S. Census, Meyer and Tillie said they had 9 children in all, but only 7 were living at the time of that Census. Wolf was one of the two who died. The other child who died may have been born in the old country, during the multi-year gap I noticed between the births of early children and the time the family arrived in America. That's my working hypothesis.

In the 1910 U.S. Census, Meyer Mahler had died a few days before the enumerator came around. Widow Tillie told the Census that she had 10 children in all, but only 7 were living at the time of the Census. Now I can account for that one more child--baby Sundel Mahler, born and died after the 1900 Census but before the 1910 Census.

Never Give Up! 

Keep redoing searches--new ancestors can and do pop up as more records are added to online collections, transcribed, and indexed! That's how I found baby Sundel and baby Wolf. More ancestors are certainly waiting to be found if I continue to redo my searches. Never give up.

* I'm told "Zundel" in Yiddish means "small boy."

Monday, July 1, 2019

Remembering Great Uncles on Canada Day

Happy Canada Day!

Both my husband and I have immigrant ancestors who settled in Canada . . . and by coincidence, these men were our great uncles.

About Great Uncle Abraham Berk (Burk/Burke)

Above, a snippet from the 1945 publication of Canadian citizenship for my great uncle Abraham Berk (1877-1962) and his wife, Annie Hurwitch Berk (1880-1948). A native of Gargzdai, Lithuania, Abraham was my paternal grandfather Isaac's older brother.

Abraham and Isaac left Lithuania in 1900 or 1901 and stopped in Manchester, England, presumably to learn the language and make some money. I found the Burk/Berk brothers in the 1901 UK Census in Manchester with "Uncle" Isaac Chazan (1863-1921) and his wife, Anna Hinda Hannah Mitav Chazan (1865-1940). After consulting with my Chazan cousins, we've come to the conclusion that Anna (not Isaac) was actually the relative.

Abraham got married in Manchester in 1903 and in 1904, he continued on to Montreal, Canada, his final destination, establishing his business in cabinetmaking. Wife Annie followed in 1905, bringing their baby Rose.

According to the Canadian Census, Abraham was originally naturalized in 1910. Still, he and Annie went through another naturalization process during 1944, results published in 1945, in accordance with the Canadian "Naturalization Act." When my father and mother married, his uncle Abraham served as patriarch of the Burk family and had pride of place in the wedding photos.

About the Slatter Brothers, Hubby's Great Uncles 

Three of the four sons of John Slatter and Mary Shehen Slatter grew up and left London, where they were born and raised, to become well-known military bandmasters in Canada. They were the brothers of my husband's maternal grandma, Mary Slatter Wood.

Albert William Slatter (1862-1935) was the older of the three sons who came to Canada. After a career in the Army, he married, came to Canada, and became part of the Ontario Band in 1906. By 1911, he was living in London, Ontario, with his family and listed his occupation as "bandmaster." By 1921, he was the bandmaster of the Western Ontario Regiment. After a long career in music, Albert retired in 1932 and passed away in November, 1935. Researching Albert again today, I found that he was a member of the United Grand Lodge of England Freemason from 1905 to 1907. Also found a document saying he was with the Shropshire Light Infantry, serving as "Color Sergt & Acting Sergt Major of Volrs" in 1906.

John Daniel Slatter (1864-1954) - at left - was the most famous of the Slatter brothers. At the age of 11, he served as "band sergeant" of the Boy's Band on the Training Ship Goliath, anchored in the Thames River in London. John left London for Toronto in 1884, married in 1887, and was appointed as the first-ever bandmaster of the 48th Highlanders of Toronto in 1896. Captain Slatter toured North America early in the 20th century with his renowned "Kiltie Band" and trained 1,000 buglers for WWI while at Camp Borden in Ontario. Capt. Slatter died in December, 1954.

Henry Arthur Slatter (1866-1942) enlisted at age 11
as a musician in the British Army! At top, a copy of his attestation, joining the Army in Dublin in 1877. He lied and said he was 14 years, 2 months." Later, he became part of the Grenadier Guards. By 1912, he had gone to Canada to become bandmaster of the 72d Highlanders of Vancouver. After his wife died, he remarried, and then went back to Vancouver as reappointed bandmaster of the reorganized 72nd Highlanders in 1920. Henry died in Vancouver on July 15, 1942. I'm still searching for "Jackie Slatter," born in England about 1915 to Henry and his second wife, Kathleen. Come out, come out, wherever you are, Jackie!

Sunday, June 30, 2019

Who Was Bela Roth Working For? Part 2

In my most recent post, I wrote about receiving the 1924 New York City voter registration ledger for my maternal grandma's uncle and aunt, Bela Roth and Batia Bertha Weiss Roth.

Bela said his "business connection" was "Hisckowitz," at 350 E. 67 St. in Manhattan. Bearing in mind that this was NOT Bela's handwriting on the ledger, I was prepared for some other creative spelling as I searched the 1925 New York City directory.

First Stop, HeritageQuest Online

I used my library card to access the free HeritageQuest Online genealogy databases, including the 1925 New York City directory.

I entered "Bela Roth" and "Bertha Roth" as my initial search.

Surprisingly, Bela was not listed at all (not even under his sometimes Americanized name of "Bernard").

Bertha was there, at the same address as on the 1924 voter registration--328 E. 19th Street in Manhattan.

That is a bit odd, since both Bela and Bertha are at that address in the 1925 New York state census.

Creative Spelling: Haiskowit 

Next, I searched the same directory for the business connection listed by Bela Roth. I entered "Hisckowitz" but when there was none, I browsed the H section.

And as shown at top of this post, I found his employer under a creative spelling: Haiskowit.

Specifically, the listing was for Haiskowit, Myer, slsman, h. 350 e. 67th St., Apt 10. That is the exact address listed as Bela Roth's "business connection."

What kind of business? Well, in the 1925 New York Census, Bela Roth listed his occupation as "salesman," without naming any industry. He had the same occupation in the 1930 U.S. Census. And Myer "Haiskowit" says he's also a salesman. So far, no idea what kind of business they were in.

I've found several families in New York City headed by Meir or Myer Hiskowitz/Haskowitz/Huskowitz. I can't tell which might be Bela's employer, at least not yet. I'm going to try a few more research angles, including New York newspapers.

This process showed me how voter registration records can add more to the bare bones of my ancestors' lives. Thanks again to Reclaim the Records for pushing to have these documents be made more accessible.

Friday, June 28, 2019

A Bonus from the NYC Voter Registration List

1924 NYC Voter Registration List - Bela & Bertha Roth
Three weeks ago, I sent $15, a letter, and a SASE to request the 1924 Voter Registration List for Bela "Bernard" Roth (1860-1941). Bela's first wife was my great-grandma's sister, Zoli "Sali" Kunstler (d. 1895). She died in NagyBereg, Hungary, leaving Bela with three young children under the age of four.

Bela Rebuilds His Life

Bela soon remarried to a much-younger woman--Batia "Bertha" Weiss (1885-1967). Bela and Batia had three children together in Hungary. They initially arrived in New York City in 1907, returned to Hungary, and then came back to New York City permanently in 1914, bringing the entire family with them.

Bela and Zoli's only daughter, Margaret, was photographed at the "cousins table" at my parents' wedding in 1946. Bela was known affectionately in my grandma Minnie's Farkas family as Bela Bacsi--meaning "Uncle Bela." He was, in fact, my grandma Minnie's uncle because he had originally been married to Zoli, Minnie's aunt.

When I found Bela's name on the 1924 NYC Voter Registration List, first published online by the fabulous folks at Reclaim the Records, I decided to send for all the details. And I'm glad I did!

Requesting Big Apple Voter Registration

The process is simple and straightforward as long as all the required details are at hand. Read more on the Reclaim the Records site, here.

Be aware that this request process is especially smooth if the person was registered to vote in Manhattan, Staten Island, or Queens. However, if the person registered to vote in the Bronx or Brooklyn, the process is more complicated. Luckily for me, Bela and his second wife lived in Manhattan.

To prepare a request, I had to find Bela in the registration list, jot down the borough and also the Assembly District, Election District, and street address. This meant scrolling around in the list, but it only took a few minutes.

I typed a snail-mail letter to the NYC Municipal Archives at 31 Chambers Street, Rm 103, NYC, 10007. I included all the above info plus of course Bela's name, exactly as he appeared in the registration. Then I mailed the letter, with my check for $15 and a self-addressed, stamped envelope for the reply.

Two for the Price of One (Signatures Too)

Today my SASE landed in my mailbox. Happily for me, it included a bonus: Bertha was registered to vote on the line just beneath her husband Bela, living at the same address at that year. So I received two voter registration records for the price of one!

Here's what was on the ledger page:

  • Date of registration (for Bela and Bertha, it was Oct 8)
  • Party of affiliation (Democrat for both Bela and Bertha)
  • Age of voter (Bela was 60, Bertha was 40)
  • Marital status (married)
  • Number of years in state and in US (11 years for both)
  • Number of years in this Election District (11 years for both)
  • Country of nativity (Hungary for both)
  • Naturalization if not native born (Aug 9, 1921 for Bela -- "HP" meaning "husband's papers" for Bertha) and court where naturalized ("Sup, NY")
  • Business connection of voter ("Hisckowitz" for Bela, "Housewife" for Bertha--I'm going to look this company up in the NYC City Directory at the stated address of 350 E. 67th St)
  • Two signatures! See excerpt above.
If I hadn't already known Bela's naturalization date and place, this would have been a very exciting find. As it is, the only really new info is business connection and business address. The age difference shown here differs from what I've seen on other records, but I'm not bothered by that at all.

This was admittedly an experiment and I'm pleased with the results. Not every ancestor is worthy of the $15 investment, but I was curious about Bela and got Bertha as a bonus!

Tuesday, June 25, 2019

The Stanbury Bros, Savile Row Legends (and Farkas Cousins)

Botpalad, at the far northeast corner of Hungary
As a young man, my Uncle Fred Schwartz (1912-1991) liked to travel during the summer months. While in Europe, he visited with family on both sides of the family tree. That means Schwartz cousins in Hungary (related to my maternal Grandpa Teddy) and Farkas cousins in Hungary and in England (related to my maternal Grandma Minnie).

Thanks to my uncle's letters, my family knows about a "distant cousin" connection with Fred & Louis Stanbury, Savile Row legends who created impeccably-tailored bespoke suits for celebrities and royalty.

Just be aware: There are two family members named Fred in this post--very possibly my Uncle Fred Schwartz was named after the same Farkas ancestor as our much more famous cousin, Fred Stanbury.

Born as Steinberger in Botpalad, Hungary

Frederick Stanbury was born in 1893 in Botpalad, Hungary, as Frederick Steinberger, the oldest son of Josephine "Pepi" Farkas* and Noe Steinberger. His younger brother Louis (Lajos) Steinberger was born early in the new century.

Botpalad was, then and now, a small town...the same town where my great-grandpa Moritz Farkas was born in 1857.

Renamed Stanbury in London

Brothers Fred and Louis Steinberger were trained in fine tailoring and soon left Hungary for London. Anglicizing their surname to "Stanbury," the two worked their way up at the posh bespoke suit firm Kilgour on Savile Row.

By 1937, the firm had been renamed Kilgour, French & Stanbury to reflect the brothers' central importance to expanding the business. The firm became known all over the world for serving elite clients such as Fred Astaire, Cary Grant, Rex Harrison, and many other big names.

Uncle Fred's 1937 Visit

My Uncle Fred, planning a trip to London and the Continent, was urged by Fred Stanbury's brother-in-law (Deszo Klein, married to Sarika Steinberger) to write ahead and ask to visit in the summer of 1937. That weekend visit went well enough that the following year, my Uncle Fred again wrote and asked to arrange another meeting.

An interesting note: In 1971, Louis Stanbury told the New York Times that he had served in the French Resistance, won the Croix de Guerre, and was a member of the Legion of Honor.

My Uncle Fred's handwritten letter of 1937 mentions visiting with Louis in Paris. He had no way of knowing that within a few years, Louis would become a legend for his wartime activities as well as famous for his achievements on Savile Row.

As always, thank you to Amy Johnson Crow for this week's #52Ancestors prompt of "Legend."

*I'm very sad to say that Pepi was killed in the Holocaust, along with her husband Noe Steinberger and at least one of her children, Zoltan.

Saturday, June 22, 2019

Burglariously, Part 2: The Surprising Conclusion

Legal case against Samuel D. Steiner
in Wyandot County Courthouse, OH
Six years ago, my husband and I were at the Wyandot County Courthouse in Ohio to research his Steiner family.

There we found legal documents about great-great-uncle Samuel D. Steiner (1835-1901) being charged in November, 1870 with "feloniously, burglariously" intending to steal from a store-house in Nevada, Ohio. Sam was supposed to post $1,000 bond but he didn't, and he also failed to show up at court as required. The document shown above directed the sheriff to take Sam into custody and hold him until the court date.

Until this week, we had no idea what the burglary entailed or how the story ended. Now, thanks to GenealogyBank, I've read a few Wyandot County newspaper reports that reveal the surprising conclusion of Sam's legal saga.

Two Tries at Burglary, Two Shots

The first news article, from November 4, 1870, explains that "some parties" tried to break into a boot and shoe store on Saturday evening, October 29th. They left before getting inside, and returned on Sunday evening, October 30th, for a second try.

That Sunday, one man broke a window on the second floor and entered the building and another stood by a window as lookout. But they didn't realize the building was now being watched by three men, who ordered the lookout to surrender as the burglary got going.

The accused burglars failed to surrender, and quickly attempted to escape. Shots rang out. The lookout was shot, and the inside man was shot in the shoulder. Apparently neither man was seriously hurt, because the shootings were never mentioned in any news article after the first time.

Legal Actions, Bail, and No Bail

Several days after the attempted burglary, the inside man--named Holmes--"turned state evidence" (according to the news report) and "three more of the gang were under arrest," including Sam'l Steiner, John Sheehy, and Sam's brother, my hubby's great-great-grandpa.

After a lengthy hearing and lots of attorney talk, the judge set bail for Sam Steiner at $1,000 and bail for the other three at $500 each.

The bail for Sam was the equivalent of $19,549 today. In other words, a really huge amount of money. Sam was a butcher by day, and most likely he had no way to raise $1,000 cash. He didn't post bail and the legal document shown at top of this post called for his arrest as a result.

Oh, great-great-grandpa Steiner and John Sheehy both posted bail and were ultimately cleared of the charges.

State of Ohio vs Holmes and Steiner

The trial against the two accused burglars was scheduled for late January, 1871, but delayed due to a death in the judge's family.

Nonetheless, Holmes and Steiner were both convicted. Elisha Holmes was sentenced to a year for burglary. Sam Steiner was sentenced to three years for "abetting and causing the burglary to be committed."

According to a news report, the two convicted men were led in manacles to the train for transport to prison in early February, 1871. Sam raised his manacled arm to the crowd and was quoted as saying: "See that you fellows don't get any of these things on you." Holmes was said to be weeping. The report talked of pity for them and their unfortunate families.

Sam had three children at home, the youngest only 6 years old. Exactly when Sam was released from prison, I don't know--but he was back home with his family in Nevada, Ohio, in the 1880 Census, working as a plasterer. Sam died in 1901, at the age of 66, having been widowed for a decade and lived for months in the Ohio Soldiers and Sailors Home at Sandusky.

Thursday, June 20, 2019

Earliest and Latest Larimer-Work-Short Reunions

Earliest reunion of three families united by marriage
and cousinship over more than a century
In researching the reunions of the Larimer-Work-Short families--related to my husband on his mother's side of the family tree--I discovered that the reunions continued much longer than I knew!

Earliest Reunion Was a Picnic (Literally)

The earliest reunion I could find was called a "joint picnic," held by the three families in August of 1900. They formed a family association and named the following as officers:

  • Dr. James Anderson Work (1845-1928), hubby's 1st cousin, 4x removed (I just recently wrote about his two brothers who died while in the Union Army during the Civil War)
  • Dr. Isaac Wright Short (1863-1938), hubby's 1st cousin, 3x removed (I wrote about the Short family's doctors and dentists a few years ago)
  • Edson Franklin Larimer (1862-1933), hubby's 1st cousin, 3x removed, whose occupation was "clerk" in the Elkhart city directory of 1903.
  • Mrs. W. H. Barger, maiden name Luetta Millicent Work (1868-1927), hubby's 2nd cousin, 3x removed.
The next few reunions were held closer to the home of patriarch Brice S. Larimer (1819-1906) in deference to his age. Brice was my husband's great-great-grandfather, and lived nearly to 87. Two members of the Larimer family were elected as officers within a few years, with Short and Work family members also represented on the executive board.

Later Reunions Continued to the 1920s
1922 reunion of Larimer-Work-Short-McKibbin-Elliott families
The 1922 reunion was held in Goshen, Indiana, 97 years ago this month, as the above news snippet reports. One big mistake: Other evidence shows that the Larimer ancestor who first arrived in America was actually Robert Larimer, not Isaac Larimer. Isaac wasn't even born until 1771, and he was Robert's son. But anyway...

At this point, the reunion had expanded to include McKibbin family members, who often intermarried with the Larimer family and with the Elliott family. 

The earliest instance of Elliott-McKibbin marriage I've found is John White Elliott (1829-1914) marrying Jane McKibbin (1828-1879). John and Jane's son Howard Elliott married Margaret Short, a daughter of Margaret Larimer and Thomas Short. 

It's wonderful to see that these cousins in my husband's family tree cared enough to hold reunions for more than two decades.

Thank you to Amy Johnson Crow for the #52Ancestors prompt of "earliest."

Wednesday, June 19, 2019

The Work Brothers in the "War of Rebellion"

Elkhart, Indiana family reunion 1903

The Work family was so-called "Scots-Irish" (or "Scotch-Irish") from County Antrim, Ireland, cousins of and intermarried with the Larimer family. The Larimers are my husband's direct ancestors.

The newspaper snippet at left also mentions the Short family, which intermarried with the Work and Larimer families. The Short and Work families have been mentioned as cousins to the Larimers when all lived in the old country.

Over time, by researching members of the Work and Short families, I may find clues that will lead me to the hometown of the Larimer family.

From Ohio to Indiana

I've been taking a closer look at two brothers from the Work family who served on the Union side during the Civil War. These brothers were hubby's 1st cousins 4x removed, and both enlisted at the same time in 1862.

Isaac Larimer Work (b. 1838) and John Wright Work (b. 1841) were the second and third sons of Abel Everitt Work (1815-1898) and Cynthia Hanley Larimer (1814-1882). Born near Bremen, Fairfield county, Ohio, the boys were still young when their parents moved the family to Middlebury, Elkhart county, Indiana.

In their early 20s, the brothers studied at Hillsdale College in 1861, as the page here shows. The following year, the Work brothers were among the roughly 400 students of this famously anti-slavery college who enlisted to fight for the Union in the Civil War.
Hillsdale College 1861

Company I, 74th Regiment, Indiana Infantry

Back in Elkhart county, Indiana, Isaac and John joined Company I, 74th Regiment, Indiana Infantry, in August of 1862.

Within months, Isaac became a corporal, John was a private. Both found themselves in battle as their regiment saw action very quickly.

Alas, Isaac died at the age of 23 in a hospital in Gallatin, Tennessee. Whether the death date in the military record was correct or the newspaper account below from the Goshen Times (Indiana) was correct, I don't know.

In fact, I've seen several different death dates for Isaac L. Work. The news article agrees with the death date recorded on Isaac's gravestone and transcribed in the U.S. Civil War Roll of Honor (which indicated either Dec. 29th, 1862 OR January, 1863). His cause of death was shown as "diarrhea." In the Indiana digital archives, his death date is shown as November 23, 1862.

Sadly, Isaac's brother John died in Gallatin, Tennessee, from a case of "chronic diarrhea," at age 24. His name and cause of death appears in the handwritten list of Indiana volunteers who died in the Civil War.

There, his death is shown as January 15, 1863. On the Roll of Honor, his death date is transcribed from his gravestone as January 5, 1863.

When their father Abel Everett Work died in 1898, his obituary said that sons John and Isaac had "lost their lives in the war of rebellion." The boys didn't live to see slaves freed and the Union reunited, but their parents and all their brothers did.

Sunday, June 16, 2019

Remembering Dads on Father's Day

Harold Burk and oldest daughter
On this Father's Day, I'm remembering my Dad, Harold D. Burk (1909-1978) with love. Born a city boy, he enjoyed taking his children to parks and botanical gardens (such as the one above). In his later years, he took pleasure in baking sky-high apple pies. Although we kids sometimes helped slice the apples, he was the one with the knack for rich, flaky crusts. Missing you, Dad, and your apple pies, too, on this Father's Day 2019.

Edgar J. Wood and Marian McClure Wood on a cruise
Also, I'm honoring the memory of my father-in-law, Edgar James Wood (1903-1986). He told very lively stories about being in a 1920s jazz band playing on board ocean liners to pay for passage. Ed played piano all his life, even practicing when taking a cruise vacation with his wife, Marian Jane McClure (1909-1983). Thinking of you with affection on Father's Day 2019, Ed.

Saturday, June 15, 2019

Could "Cousin Essti" Be "Esther Simonowitz" of Ungvar?

1914 naturalization petition of Edwin Kramer and Esther Simonowitz
This is the latest in the ongoing saga of researching my grandpa Tivador "Teddy" Schwartz and who he was coming to see in 1902 when he arrived at Ellis Island!

Teddy told Ellis Island immigration authorities that he was going to "Cousin Essti S___."

Teddy's mother's maiden name was Simonowitz (spelled and pronounced creatively in different ways). I'm hoping to trace Simonowitz family members who came to the United States. And of course, if those relatives had descendants, perhaps there are living cousins! It's still early in the process, however.

Marriage Certificate: A Potential Clue

As suggested by Lara Diamond, I went to a local Family History Center to view the image of the marriage certificate for Esther Simanowitz and Edwin Kramer. She was one of two Esthers with a last name very similar to the one scribbled on Teddy's immigration form.

Marriage cert for Esther Simanovitz and Edwin Kramer, 1906
I was intrigued by this possibility because the groom's mother's maiden name was Theresa Schwartz. Yes, Schwartz is also Grandpa Teddy's family name.

However, Esther didn't marry Edwin until four years after Teddy arrived, so this connection would not be the reason Teddy listed Essti. It's still a very powerful potential clue, one I'm keeping in mind. But wait, there's more...

Naturalization Petition: Another Clue

At the Family History Center, I was also able to view the Petition for Naturalization filed by Edwin Kramer in December, 1914. As shown at top, he listed his wife, Esther Simonovitz, and her birthplace of Ungvar, Hungary.

Now that's a really key clue, because my Grandpa Teddy was born and lived in Ungvar. More than likely his mother, Hani Simonowitz, was also from Ungvar. The match with Ungvar gives me hope.

Notice that Edwin was born in Nagy Ida, Hungary, which is today Vel'ka Ida, Slovakia. That's about 35 miles west of Ungvar. A bit far but not out of the realm of possibilities for a member of the Schwartz family to live there.

A BIG "But"

I've traced Edwin & Esther and their 3 children up to 1940, when they were living on East 142d Street in the Bronx, NY.

And here is where my knowledge of my family's history makes me wonder whether I have the correct Esther.

Nowhere in the 30 years worth of Farkas Family Tree minutes did I see the name "Kramer" as a guest at a family gathering. What does that mean?

My Grandpa Teddy, being married to Hermina Farkas for decades, would most likely have invited one of his cousins to a family gathering held in the Bronx or Manhattan. After all, he invited his sister Mary and her husband Edward Wirtschafter more than once (their names were in the minutes). I imagine Teddy would ask a cousin to come at least once, especially since the Kramers lived only a subway ride away until at least 1940.

To be sure my memory is correct, my next step is to skim the Farkas family records again in search of "Simonowitz" and "Kramer."

Until and unless I find more evidence, my tentative conclusion is that Esther Simonowitz is not "Cousin Essti."

Wednesday, June 12, 2019

Don't Just Cite Your Sources--Interrogate 'Em!

New York City directory listing for great-great uncle Joseph Jacob
Found a record? Cite your source. But that's not the end of the story.

Don't move on until you understand what, exactly, that source represents.

How was the information gathered, when, and why? What you learn by interrogating your sources may very well change your analysis of the evidence and how it reflects your ancestor's life.

City Directories Fill the Gap

A case in point: Old city directories, which I absolutely love because they can fill in the gaps between the years covered by U.S. and state census records. Many times (but not always) you can find city directories for FREE.

I use HeritageQuest Online (accessed online for free, with my local library card) when searching for ancestors in different cities.

If, like me, you're searching for ancestors in New York City, you can also browse the dozens of city directories posted for free by the New York City Public Library. I actually like to browse because it allows me to look for creative spellings, not rely only on indexing.

Date the Directory

Dates really count. Here, for instance, is one of the front pages from the New York City directory dated 1894.

You would think that means only 1894, right?

Nope. As shown here, the directory's contents actually end with people who were in the city as late as July 1, 1895.

In other words, your ancestor might have moved to the city in early 1895 and would still be listed in the 1894 directory. Or might have moved out in January, 1895, but could be listed in the 1894 directory anyway.

Note the underlined sentence saying that "names received too late for regular insertion are on preceding page." That means you need to check beyond the regular alphabetical listings to see whether your ancestor was included in the "late" names missing from the alpha listings.

Finding Great-Great Uncle Joseph Jacob(s) in 1886-1889

Today I was doing more research into my great-grandma's brother, Joseph Jacobs (1864-1918). Sometimes he's listed as Joe Jacobs, sometimes as Joseph Jacob, and other permutations.

I had previously found his naturalization index card, which shows him as a capmaker living at 49 Clinton Street on October 25, 1888. I also knew he was living at 49 Clinton Street when he married on March 2, 1890.

But when searching the New York City directory for 1888, I found Joseph the capmaker living at 103 Allen Street, "house rear" (see image at top), not on Clinton Street. Both addresses are on the Lower East Side of Manhattan, within walking distance of each other in a neighborhood filled with immigrants.

Digging deeper into the1888 city directory's date, here's what I found.

NYC directory for 1888 ends on May 1, 1888

It appears that great-great-uncle Joe was living on Allen Street sometime before May 1, 1888. Then he moved to Clinton Street later in the year. I checked the 1889 New York City directory (labeled as covering the year ending May 1, 1889) and found Joe on Clinton Street, as expected. 

Finally, I checked the 1886 New York City directory (for year ending May 1, 1887) and found Joseph Jacobs, caps, on Allen Street, as he had been earlier.

Every time I use a city directory, I'll have to check the time period covered. Otherwise, I may place an ancestor in the right place but at the wrong time.

PS: The NY Public Library has a helpful page about what to look at in city directories--see here.

Monday, June 10, 2019

Dear Diary: Clues to Truth of Family Stories

Excerpt from diary of Edgar James Wood
Edgar James Wood (1903-1986), my late father-in-law, wrote every day in his diary. As an insurance adjustor, he had to be able to say where he was and what he was doing if called by the court to testify in a case involving an auto or truck that his company insured. Knowing the care he took to record his activities day by day, I've come to trust his diary as a valuable resource for family history research.

Index Those Diary Entries for Clues

Most of his diary entries are fairly brief (how much can you say in in a three-inch space?). He was meticulous about listing who, what, where, and when. His diary entries about non-work activities have helped me understand more about family relationships and dynamics.

To make sense of the 30 years of diaries I'm lucky enough to have in my possession, I had to index the people and places and dates, which I did a few years ago. Now I can look at the index, pick a person or place or date, and go directly to the part of the diaries where Ed wrote about what I'm researching. Lately, I've been examining family stories and trying to figure out how much (if any) is true, and whether there are nuances I can better understand by digging deeper.

Visiting John Andrew Wood

Case in point: One family story about the four Wood brothers. I'd heard from Ed's children that their father was not at all close to a younger brother, John Andrew Wood (1908-1908). It's true that Ed, married and living in Cleveland Heights, Ohio, rarely saw John, who lived in Indiana for most of his adult life.

However, Ed's diary entry from August 19, 1964, provides subtle insight into this family story. That week, Ed was on vacation from his job. He was driving his wife (Marian McClure Wood) and father-in-law (Brice Larimer McClure) to see family members in other states. He took his diary with him and jotted notes every evening, as was his habit.

They had just finished an overnight visit with McClure relatives in Peoria and arrived in Michigan City, Indiana, for an overnight stay with "John." According to the diary, as shown above, they enjoyed an "evening of visiting & a late supper." Next day, they had breakfast and Ed drove on to their next stop, a visit with a cousin on the Larimer side of the family.

Reading the August 19th entry, I recognized Michigan City as the home of Ed's brother John. John's wife was Rita Goodin Wood (1918-1988). This entry suggests that the brothers did stay connected through the years, even if the relationship might not have been as close as Ed's relationship with his two other brothers.

Clues Hidden in Plain Sight

Again and again, I found little clues like this, hidden in plain sight within my father-in-law's diaries. The diary entries hinted at how close Ed was to certain family members and how often he spoke or visited with brothers, sisters-in-law, and cousins, not to mention his grown children and, later, his grandchildren. Also I learned to read between the lines and see who was NOT mentioned in the diary.

Most of the time, Ed didn't explicitly spell out family relationships in his diary entry, because he obviously knew these people well. But when a relationship was also an affectionate honorific (as in the beginning of the diary entry at top, where "Aunt Becky" is mentioned), it was especially easy to connect the dots and confirm which family member he was writing about.

Thanks to Amy Johnson Crow for the #52Ancestors prompt of "Dear Diary" this week.

Saturday, June 8, 2019

Remembering Great Uncle Albert's Life of Service

Sadie Klein and Albert Farkas on their wedding day in 1921
My great uncle Albert (Bertalan) Farkas (1888-1956) believed in giving back.

Born in Nagy Bereg, Hungary, as the second-oldest son of Moritz Farkas and Leni Kunstler Farkas, Albert arrived at Ellis Island on April 4, 1903, just a month shy of his 15th birthday. Albert was the oldest of four siblings traveling without adults from Bremen to join their parents, who had gone ahead to establish the family in New York City.

Not only a devoted family man, Uncle Albert built a successful business and volunteered his time to help others--locally, nationally, and internationally.

Giving Back in New York City

Among the founders and early leaders of the Ferencz Kossuth Hungarian Literary, Sick and Benevolent Society, a landsmanshaftn aiding Hungarian immigrants in New York City, Albert met his wife Sadie (later Sari) Klein (1901-1982) there. Decades later, when Albert died, the group honored his long years of service with a special meeting dedicated to his memory.

Albert spent his working years in the clothing business. He was a designer and then an entrepreneur, owning a booming coat manufacturing firm. He would regularly give coats and clothing to his nieces, a much-appreciated gesture especially during the Depression years. Often, he and his wife would graciously volunteer to host the Farkas family's Thanksgiving dinner or Passover Seder--a very big undertaking, given the dozens of people (of all ages) who attended!

Giving Back, Nationally and Internationally

In addition, Albert was quite active in U.S. and worldwide Jewish advocacy and aid groups. He served as a delegate to the American Jewish Congress convention in Washington, D.C. in the fall of 1937. There, he learned that the plight of European Jews was far worse than generally known at the time. Thanks to the family tree minutes of December, 1937, I know he talked with passion about the worsening world situation to keep his sisters and brothers fully informed.

During 1938, Albert served as Vice-President of the American Jewish Congress and was on the ballot to become a National Delegate of that group (according to family tree minutes of June, 1938).

Giving Back to His Industry

Albert was also a long-time leader of the American Cloak & Suit Manufacturers Association. He was President and, later, an executive board member, helping others in the industry with advice and guidance based on his years of experience.

When my great uncle Albert Farkas died on June 28, 1956, the trade association paid for a memorial notice in the newspaper of record (see above). Albert is buried in the Kossuth Society's plot at Mount Hebron Cemetery in New York.
So many family members have spoken with great affection and great respect for great uncle Albert Farkas. This is my tribute to his life of dedication and service.

Friday, June 7, 2019

My Farkas Family and Landsmanshaftn in the Big Apple

My Farkas family, headed by Jewish immigrants from Hungary, was deeply involved in helping other recent arrivals to New York City. The original journey-takers were my maternal great-grandparents, Moritz Farkas (1857-1936) and his wife, Leni Kunstler Farkas (1865-1938). They left rural Hungary (an area that is now part of Ukraine) and arrived in the Big Apple just after the turn of the 20th century.

Like many Eastern European immigrants of the time, my ancestors sought more freedom and new opportunities. A number of their grown children plus several sons-in law and daughters-in-law soon assumed leadership positions in mutual aid societies that helped other recent Jewish immigrants get established and build new lives in a new land.

Learning about Landsmanshaftn

Jewish immigrants to New York City frequently joined or founded landsmanshaftn (mutual aid societies geared to immigrants from a particular town or region in Eastern Europe). Socializing was part of the attraction, but even more important were burial payments and other aid available to society members.

I learned more about the context of these societies by paging through Jewish Hometown Associations and Family Circles in New York, edited by Hannah Kliger. This academic project provided interesting background to understand how recent immigrants from Eastern Europe banded together to help one another.

No precise count exists of the number of societies that existed in the five boroughs of New York, but one study found hundreds of societies with tens of thousands of members in 1917. And that wasn't even the peak period!

More about NY-based landsmanshaftn can be found on the NY Public Library's landsmanshaftn page,  the Jewish Genealogical Society of NY's burial society page, Jewish Communal Register book, or by doing an online search.

The Kossuth Society

I've written about my great uncle Albert Farkas being among the founders of the New York-based Ferenc Kossuth Hungarian Literary, Sick and Benevolent Association--usually called the Kossuth Society. Albert and others in the Farkas family helped to found the Kossuth Society in 1904 and served in leadership positions for a number of years. My Grandpa Theodore Schwartz (1887-1965) was among the Farkas in-laws who also played a role in the Kossuth Society.

According to a historical note in the souvenir booklet published on the society's 5th anniversary in 1909, membership was 95 in 1905 but dropped to 35 in 1906. Why? Because enthusiasm temporarily dipped when the society wasn't able to hold a promised concert featuring the famous Hungarian violinist Jancsi Rigo. Membership later rebounded and the society served members for at least 30 years, if not longer.

Monday, June 3, 2019

Two Boys Named Royal

For Amy Johnson Crow's #52Ancestors prompt of "Namesake," I want to look at two boys in my husband's family tree, both named Royal. Who were their namesakes? In one case, I have a very good guess. In the other case, not a clue.

Royal Hathaway

My husband's 1st cousin, 2x removed, was Fanny Fay McClure (1882-1962). She lived her entire life in or near Emmet county, Michigan, where she married Royal D. C. Hathaway (1869-1946) in 1899.

The seventh and last child of Royal and Fanny was Roy Hathaway, born on August 26, 1912. He died just two days later, unfortunately (see vital records search result at left). My guess is that baby Roy was actually "Royal Hathaway."

Royal D.C. Hathaway was the son of Albert L. Hathaway, and by the time baby Roy was born, the family had already named a son after Albert.

Therefore, it would make sense to name this new baby Royal after his Dad, and then nickname him Roy. At least, that's my reasoning. So far, I've not found any other boys named Royal as descendants of the Hathaway line.

Royal Hilborn

Another Royal in my husband's family tree was his 1st cousin, 2x removed Royal Edgar Hilborn (1879-1955). This Royal was the son of Mary Elizabeth Rinehart and Samuel Hilborn. Like his parents, he lived his entire life in Ohio.

I haven't found any ancestors named Royal earlier in the Rinehart or Hilborn lines. Why did the parents choose the name Royal for their fourth son?

At the age of 22, Royal Edgar Hilborn married Alpha Omega Caldwell (1882-1919)--who is, to my knowledge, the only Alpha Omega in the entire family tree. Alpha Omega died, and something interesting and significant happened.

Within a year after Alpha Omega died, Royal adopted a 2-year-old girl named Mary Jane. Royal was enumerated in the 1920 US Census as the widowed head of the household, living with his sister Mabel Hilborn and little Mary Jane.

Who this little girl's parents were and when/where Royal adopted her, I simply don't know. This might not even have been a formal adoption, for all I know!

In 1921, Royal married Laura Helen McGann and the household of three settled was enumerated as a family in 1930 and 1940. No further boys named Royal have been found as descendants of this line at this point.

This is what I love about #Genealogy: Answers to one question lead to many more questions and then more discoveries. Never a dull moment.

Saturday, June 1, 2019

Unique Ancestor Images on Public Trees Are Cousin Bait

83 people have saved Brice Larimer McClure's
note about his ancestry, which I originally posted.
Brice Larimer McClure (1878-1970), hubby's long-lived granddaddy, wrote a few notes about his ancestry on tiny slips of paper. Years ago, I scanned those notes and uploaded them to my public Ancestry tree, along with a full transcription. You can see the beginning of the transcription above ("I am Brice McClure a Son of Margaret Larimer McCure and Wm. McClure...").

Every year or so, I return to images I originally posted, and check to see who has saved each one. By now, more than 80 people have saved this unique, one-of-a-kind note, which I attached to 8 people in my husband's public family tree.

Clicking on the tree of each person who saved one of my unique images shows me where Brice or Brice's ancestors might fit into that tree.

It doesn't matter whether I believe the other person's tree to be accurate or not. My objective is to see who's on the tree and how these people might be related to my husband. Potential clues, in other words, to possible cousins.

Occasionally, I'm able to identify a solid cousin possibility. I double-check what's on the other person's tree and reexamine my tree's connection to that ancestor. Then I send a message about this possible cousin connection and offer to exchange additional genealogical info. And, thankfully, a few people have responded and continued to correspond about mutual research interests!

I know there are more cousins out there to be found via family trees and paper trails (DNA is not my primary focus at this point). If someone has saved a unique image or note that I originally uploaded, it's worth a few minutes of my time to check that person's tree.

Those unique images are cousin bait!

Wednesday, May 29, 2019

The Farkas Family Tree's Grave Decisions

Threshold of Kossuth Association plot in Mount Hebron Cemetery, Queens, NY
My mother's Farkas Family Tree believed in planning ahead for final resting places. The tree was founded in 1933 in New York City by all the adult children of my maternal great-grandparents, Moritz Farkas and Leni Kunstler Farkas.

Kossuth Association Buys Plots in Mount Hebron Cemetery

Gates of Kossuth plot in Mt. Hebron Cemetery
Even before the tree association was formed, many Farkas relatives had purchased plots in Mount Hebron Cemetery, Queens, New York, through the Kossuth Ferencz Hungarian Literary, Sick & Benevolent Association.

Alex Farkas (oldest son of Moritz and Leni) helped to found the Kossuth Association in 1904. When Mount Hebron began as a cemetery in 1909, many members of the Kossuth Association bought grave sites and paid for special pillars, threshold, and gates to distinguish the association's plot (see photos at top and at right).

Alex and most of his siblings were eventually buried in the Kossuth plot. Among the first to be buried there were both my great-grandparents (Moritz in 1936, Leni in 1938).

As the younger Farkas Family Tree members grew older, however, they faced their own grave decisions.

New Farkas Generation Buys Plots in New Montefiore Cemetery

In 1937, the family tree formed a committee to choose another cemetery in the New York metropolitan area. Nearly all the tree's members lived in the five boroughs of New York City, on Long Island, or in Westchester, and they wanted a cemetery within driving distance or accessible by train. They decided on New Montefiore Cemetery, which began operating in 1928 and had plenty of plots available.
Quoting from the minutes of the family tree meeting on October 2, 1937: 
"The Cemetery headed by Alex Farkas bought six plots in the name of the Tree in the New Montefiore Cemetery - Block 2, 265 to 270 inclusive. Five of these were subscribed for by individual members and the sixth is the exclusive property of the Tree. A motion made by Albert Farkas and seconded was to the effect that full payment be made immediately for the Farkas Family Tree plot amounting to $165..."
On September 12, 1938, when the subject of annual member dues came up during a tree meeting, one member recommended reducing dues because the money was used mainly to pay for the cemetery plot and to buy small gifts for family occasions (weddings, births, etc.). At the time, each member paid $5 per year. The proposal was to cut dues to $3 per year (remember, this was still in the depths of the Depression.)

Great uncle Albert Farkas objected, reminding the tree "that the cemetery expenses were not yet completed" and urging that dues be kept constant. The motion to reduce dues was defeated and members continued to pay $5 per year.

Thanks to the careful planning of the Farkas Family Tree, many of my beloved relatives were buried in New Montefiore years after the plots were first purchased.

Let me again thank Amy Johnson Crow for her #52Ancestors prompts, including this week's "cemetery" prompt.