Tuesday, November 12, 2019

Simon Bentley's "Death in the Surf"

Headline on news story about Simon Bentley's accidental drowning death.
Poor Simon Bentley. He was my husband's 3d great uncle, one of seven children born to William Tyler Bentley and Olivia Morgan Bentley. The family was from upstate New York, around Oswego County. They had a pioneering spirit, with many family members moving west over the years.

New York to Indiana

In the mid-1830s, William and Olivia moved their entire family from rural New York to the forested wilderness of Elkhart county, Indiana. Olivia died in 1838, leaving William with sons and daughters ranging in age from 6 to 16.

My research hasn't turned up any clues to whether William remarried. How he managed to work his land and raise his family, I will never know.

Indiana to California

By 1848, William had left Indiana, bound for California. He wasn't looking for gold--he was looking for good farm land.

Most of William's children also went to California, but not all. Two of his daughters married before William moved west, and they never left Indiana.

Lucy Emeline Bentley, my husband's 3d great-grandma, stayed in Indiana with her husband and children. The same goes for her sister, Lucinda Helen Bentley, who also remained in Indiana with a husband and children.

All the others went to California, where I found them in Census records, voting records, local newspaper accounts, and local historical books, among other sources.

Simon Bentley in California

Simon Bentley, the younger son of William and Olivia, moved to California in his 20s. In his 30s, he married Eliza Jane Jordan, and worked as a farm laborer in the Santa Cruz area. After Eliza died, Simon continued to work on farms and board with other families.

The California voter registration records for 1892 describe Simon at age 64 as 5 feet 10 inches tall, light complexion, blue eyes, gray hair. He was living on Grant Street in Santa Cruz. This and other records confirm his occupation as "farmer" and "New York" as his birthplace.

Simon's Sad End

If you noticed the clipping at the top, you know what happened to poor Simon. I only found out his fate through a newspaper search. At age 66, he was an "old man" whose tragic drowning inspired not one but two California newspaper stories.

One of the articles says he lived with his faithful dog in a "tumble-down shanty" in East Santa Cruz. The article also stated that Simon had previously spent some time in "Agnew's asylum." It's hard to tell whether Simon was truly mentally ill, had a chronic medical ailment, or was homeless and destitute.

On the fateful day of September 9, 1894, Simon was fishing off a point of rocks, as he often did, when a sudden breaker swept him into the surf.

A young man jumped into the water to help, but there was a ferocious undertow. Simon quickly vanished beneath the waves before he could be saved.

Eventually, the police pulled Simon's body out of the water not far from where he went in. Poor Simon was buried in Santa Cruz alongside his sister Abbie Eliza Bentley Curtis, who had died the year before.

This is my "poor" entry in the #52Ancestors genealogy prompt series by Amy Johnson Crow.

Monday, November 11, 2019

Family Tree Veterans: The Farkas Brothers

Farkas brothers in World War II
My mother's twin sister and a number of first cousins in her maternal Farkas family served in World War II. My mother and all of her Farkas family descended from Moritz Farkas and Leni Kunstler, the original ancestors who left Hungary and came to America at the turn of the 20th century.

The children of Moritz and Leni created the Farkas Family Tree association to keep family members in close contact. It was active from 1933-1964, meeting up to 10 times a year, not including social events like a Thanksgiving party and fishing trips.

During WWII, service-members wrote home to the family tree about their military experiences. Happily, I have those letters and for Veteran's Day, I am excerpting from the letters to honor the service of two brothers on Veteran's Day: George and Bob, sons of Albert Farkas and Sari Sadie Klein Farkas. George and Bob were among my mother's first cousins.

George Farkas

In 1942, at the age of 19, George Eugene Farkas (1922-1949) enlisted in the U.S. Army Air Corps. His letters home to the Farkas Family Tree traced his movements through training and posts around the country, then his flights around the world. George initially trained at Maxwell, an air base in Alabama. He wrote home:
"This flying game is no cinch and you have to keep on the ball. You need a dozen hands and eyes to see and do everything at once. The first day he [the instructor] showed me some turns and glides and elementary stuff."
However, George wasn't particularly good at landing, so he was shifted from pilot's training to navigator's training, where he did very well. More than a year after enlisting, George graduated as a lieutenant in the U.S. Army Air Forces.

In January, 1944, he wrote about his first full foreign mission: "twenty-three days travel during which time were in four continents, crossed two oceans, the equator, and changed seasons six or seven times." Their mission was a vital one: over and over, they delivered planes to various bases worldwide and repositioned planes as needed for the war effort.

While in London, George visited with his first cousin, WAC Sgt. Dorothy Schwartz (my Auntie, twin to my Mom) and experienced first-hand the bombing blitz. His letters home were candid, detailed, and vivid, eagerly awaited by everyone in the family tree.

Robert Farkas
Robert A. Farkas received a medal for WWII service
George's younger brother, Robert Arthur Farkas (1924-2014) enlisted in the U.S. Army in 1943, at age 18. He was placed in the medical corps, and he wrote home regularly about his rigorous training.

One of Bob's letters is about being drilled in the use of firearms: "...the Garand, .45, carbine, Tommy gun, light and heavy machine guns, and the new anti tank gun, the bazooka. We are quite sure to be armed if we get to the Pacific theatre of operations."

By October of 1943, Bob was on a troop ship to England, then on to France and Belgium. By December, he was in the thick of the fray in Germany. He wrote home:
"I learnt more in the first couple of days of actual combat than I did in all the time that we trained in the States."
Bob was stationed in Germany in 1944 and the early part of 1945. He wrote home to praise the troops he helped to patch up and to tell of the vast destruction the U.S. military had caused as it drove German troops away, town by town.

Bob also impressed his family with descriptions of the high level of care the medical corps provided in the field, including the use of plasma and a powerful new medicine, penicillin. Very conscious of the family's worries, he sought to reassure them with his letters and his positive spirit.

Saluting these and all veterans on this Veteran's Day. 

Thursday, November 7, 2019

Hugh Benjamin McClure, Inventor and Entrepreneur

Folder patent received by hubby's great uncle H.B. McClure
My husband's great uncle, Hugh Benjamin McClure (1882-1960) was a successful inventor and entrepreneur who ran a thriving manufacturing firm and received patents on industrial devices. Above, one of his patents from 1954. Don't ask me what it is, but it apparently was a plus for the manufacturing side of the business. (I found it by doing a general online search for his name.)

Ben's Early Life

Hugh Benjamin--called "Benjamin" or simply "Ben"--was born on February 3, 1882, in Wabash, Indiana, the youngest child of William Madison McClure and Margaret Jane Larimer. He married Olivette Georgia Van Roe in 1902, at the age of 20, and their only child was born the following year.

Sorry to say, Olivette died of TB in 1905. In the 1910 Census, Ben was living in Wabash with his daughter and his Van Roe brother- and sister-in-law. Ben's occupation was listed as "shipping clerk, cabinet factory."

In 1913, Ben completed a legal transfer of some real estate lots in Wabash to his then 10-year-old daughter. The paperwork adds "love and affection" along with the transfer. He sounds, to me, like a warm-hearted Dad.

Ben, Rebekah, Family, and Factory

It was 101 years ago this month that Ben remarried, to Rebekah Venice Wilt (1896-1975). He was already working for a Fort Wayne, Indiana, company. The family moved to Fort Wayne by 1920, where he told the Census he was based as a "commercial traveler, cabinet." But then they moved to Peoria soon afterward, so Ben could get into the manufacturing business.

In 1930, the Census shows Ben, wife Rebekah, and three daughters in a home they owned in Peoria. The home's value was $6,500 at that time (about $95,000 today). It wasn't the most expensive home on the block, but many others were renting, so clearly Ben was well off enough to be an owner. His occupation in 1930 was "manufacturer, filing equipment."

By 1940, Ben and Rebekah had four daughters and he was listed as the president of his office equipment firm. His WWII draft registration card shows him as 60 years old in 1942, self-employed, living in Peoria--but, curiously, he listed one sister, Lola McClure Lower, as a "person who will always know your address."

During the 1950s, Ben received patents like the one at top, and he continued to expand his manufacturing firm. The company was now a family operation, with Hugh as president, his wife Rebekah as vice-president, and his sister-in-law as secretary. H.B. McClure Manufacturing provided employment for many people in Peoria over the years.

Families Stayed in Touch

Ben died in August, 1960, at the age of 78, leaving his wife and five daughters, 10 grandchildren, two great-grandkids, and a successful family business that his wife Rebekah and several in-laws continued to operate for years.

By reading my late father-in-law's diary, I learned that the McClure family stayed in touch with Rebekah for some time after Ben died. Ben's brother, Brice Larimer McClure, visited with Rebekah and family in 1964, an occasion for McClure relatives to gather together.

When Rebekah's sister and family came east in 1965, they visited with Ben's brother Brice, Brice's daughter, and my late father-in-law (whose diary entries reflect pleasure at this surprise visit).
Hugh Benjamin is my focus ancestor for this week's #52Ancestors prompt of "rich."

Tuesday, November 5, 2019

Part 2: What Happened to Mary (Unknown) Shehan

When I left off my saga of Mary (maiden name unknown) Shehan, in Part 1, I was following a hunch about her whereabouts in 1881. Since the last place I could place her was in the London workhouse in 1871, I decided to look there.

There's Mary! Discharged...

I went to the Ancestry search page for the UK workhouse/poorhouse collection and entered Mary's name, birth year, birth place of Ireland. I checked the results for entries for the Northumberland Street Workhouse in London, where she was in March of 1871.

And I found her, in a "discharge" record from 1874 (see the record at top)! The register for the workhouse showed her birth year as 1800, her age as 74, and the date of discharge was January 3, 1874. Very likely this is Mary Unknown Shehan.

At a quick glance, it sure looks like I should keep looking elsewhere for her, right? The transcription says she was discharged.

Always Look at the Image

Having been disappointed by transcription errors many times in the past, I always, always look at the image. I want to see for myself how the person's name is spelled and find every last detail that hasn't been transcribed.

And that's how I learned the real reason for her discharge. Mary was the first name on the page for Saturday, January 3, 1874. Her last meal in the workhouse was breakfast, according to the register. On the far right of the page, not transcribed, was why she was listed as supposedly discharged. See the image below right.

"Dead." Poor Mary and the other two people listed at the top of this page died in the workhouse.

Officially, however, she was discharged. Sigh. I had hoped for a less sad ending. I already knew the even worse fate of Mary Unknown Shehan's daughter.

Sad Endings for Mother and Daughter

Daughter Mary Shehan Slatter had been admitted to St. George's Workhouse on Mint Street, Southwark, London in September 1873 and again that November. The register for November shows the reason for admission as "married, destitute, no home."

Exactly two weeks after her mother's workhouse death in January, 1874, daughter Mary was admitted to a different workhouse. I can't help but imagine she was distraught over the mother's death.

But then, in April of 1874, she was admitted to an insane asylum, having been deserted by her husband and left with five children in her care. She was suffering from "melancholia," and the symptoms were "depressed, imagines she is dead."

Mary, like her mother, was never really discharged. The lunacy register has a column for "date of discharge or death" and a few columns for details. As shown here, Mary was listed as having died on April 19, 1889.

I really hope Mary Shehan Slatter was aware, before her untimely death, that all of her children grew up to lead much better lives.

Monday, November 4, 2019

What Happened to Mary (Unknown) Shehan? Part 1

Mary (UNK) Shehan in medical ward of Northumberland Street Workhouse, March, 1871
My husband's 2d great-grandma was Mary (maiden name unknown) Shehan, married to John Shehan.

What little I know of these ancestors is based on the U.K. Census.

Mary and her husband were always listed as born in Ireland. Where, exactly? I don't know.

So I retraced my research and began reviewing what I've found to date, hoping to find their county of origin in Ireland. Alas, the trail led me to yet another sad tale in my hubby's family.

Finding the Shehan Family in the UK Census

Here is what I've learned about Mary UNK Shehan, based on the UK Census:

  • 1841: Living in Gray's Buildings (a terribly poor London neighborhood). Husband John Shehan, age 40, is a laborer. Mary, 35, is a milkwoman. Children: Thomas (7), Mary (3), and Michael (8 months). Lots of laborers (men), charwomen, washerwomen, milkwomen, laundrywomen in Gray's Buildings. Many born in Ireland, as well.
  • 1851: Living in #4 Gray's Buildings. Husband John Shehan, 50, is a laborer, born in Ireland. Mary, age 51, a laundress, born in Ireland. Their son, Thomas, 17, is a porter, born in Marylebone (London). Their son, Michael, 11, is a scholar, born in Marylebone. A niece, Bridget Warringer, 6, born in Ireland, is also in the household. What has happened to daughter Mary? 
  • 1861: Living in #20 Gray's Buildings. Husband John Shehan, 60, is a laborer, born in Ireland. Mary, age 57, no occupation, also born in Ireland. Son Michael, age 21, unmarried, is a laborer, born in Middlesex county, London. No children Thomas or Mary. I know the younger Mary married in 1859, and is with her own husband (Slatter) and family in 1861. Presumably Thomas moved out and possibly married, I'm still searching for him.
  • 1871: Living in Gray's Buildings. Husband John Sheehan, age 70, is a laborer. Mary, wife, 70, occupation is laundry. Both born in Ireland. ALSO Mary Sheen is enumerated as being in the medical wing of the Northumberland Street Workhouse, age 70, married, a laundress, born in Ireland. As shown at top of this post, I found her in the admission register for this workhouse, suffering from "chronic rheumatism."
John Disappears from Census, Where Is Mary?

I looked for John and Mary Shehan in the 1881 Census in Gray's Buildings. No luck (even with creative spelling). I even asked my UK geneabuddies in the #AncestryHour Twitter group how to search the Census by specific residence, and followed their instructions. Still no sign of John and Mary.

At this point, I tend to believe John Shehan died after the 1871 UK Census but before the 1881 Census. I've tentatively narrowed his death date to 1875, and will try to verify via official records.

What of Mary UNK Shehan? Living in poverty in Gray's Buildings for at least 30 years, with occupations such as millkwoman and laundry, she was undoubtedly in dire straights, possibly homeless.

I checked the Census, and she was not living with her daughter Mary Shehan Slatter in 1881. If she was living with son Thomas or son Michael in the 1881 Census, I couldn't find her.

I again looked at my research. The last time I had found Mary Shehan was in the 1871 Census, where she was enumerated twice: at home in Gray's Buildings and in the medical wing of the Northumberland Street Workhouse.

That was my clue. If she wasn't in Gray's Buildings, I had a hunch where she was in 1881.

Part 2 will continue the saga of Mary Unknown Shehan. Get your hanky ready!

Friday, November 1, 2019

Honoring Burk/Mahler Grandparents on Ellis Island

Finding the Moritz Farkas Family inscription on Ellis Island Wall of Honor
Yesterday, I submitted an order to honor my paternal grandparents, both immigrants, by having their names inscribed on the Ellis Island Wall of Honor.

Maternal Ancestors Already on the Wall

This is the second set of immigrant ancestors to be inscribed on the Wall of Honor. Years ago, my mother's first cousin submitted "The Moritz Farkas Family" to be inscribed on Panel 132.

Moritz Farkas and his wife Lena Kunstler Farkas were my maternal great-grandparents. They came from Hungary just at the turn of the 20th century and settled in New York City.

The photo at top shows my Sis, our cousins, and me visiting Ellis Island in 1996 to photograph the Farkas inscription. It was a stunning beautiful day and we were proud to see "The Moritz Farkas Family" on the wall honoring immigrants.

Burk and Mahler Names to Be Added

Now, with only 5 panels remaining on the Wall of Honor, I decided it was time to pay for ancestors on my father's side to have their names inscribed.

I submitted an order to inscribe the name of my paternal grandpa Isaac Burk and his wife, my paternal grandma Henrietta Mahler Burk. The cost would have been one name for $150, but I ordered a husband-and-wife inscription for $225.

Both deserve to be honored for having the courage and initiative to leave their homelands (Isaac was from Lithuania, Henrietta from Latvia) and make a new life in North America.

Because the Ellis Island order form requires a middle initial (for the format I chose), I had to get a little creative. I never heard or found any middle name for Isaac, so I added "I" for his original name in Lithuania, Itzhak. Similarly, Henrietta had no middle name that I know of, so I added "Y" for her nickname, Yetta.

Schwartz and Farkas Names to Be Added Also

Sis was so excited about memorializing our ancestors on the Ellis Island's Wall of Honor that we immediately ordered our maternal grandparents' names for the wall. The format I chose this time is "Theodore and Hermina Farkas Schwartz" from Hungary.

Ordering before the end of 2019 ensures that these inscriptions will be installed by summer of 2020. I'm looking forward to seeing the names on the wall next year!

Tuesday, October 29, 2019

Happy Halloween to the Wood Boys in Cleveland

Penny postcard sent by Rachel Ellen "Nellie" Wood Lewis Kirby
to her nephew, Walter W. Wood, around 1910.
When my late father-in-law Edgar James Wood (1903-1986) and his three brothers were young, they would receive seasonal greeting cards like this from their aunts, uncles, and cousins.

Above, a postcard sent by Aunt Nellie, who lived in Chicago, to her nephew in Cleveland, Ohio, around 1910.

Wishing you only #Genealogy treats, no #FamilyHistory tricks, this Halloween.

Sunday, October 27, 2019

From Blog Posts to Ancestor Booklet

Sample page from "Three Ancestors Who Caught Ohio Fever"
Will the younger generation think the #FamilyHistory booklet I wrote this week is a trick or a treat?

Just in time to mail this for Halloween, I combined and edited three recent blog posts into a colorful seven-page booklet about my husband's pioneer ancestors in Ohio. One of these ancestors was born in the American Colonies, the year before the Revolution began; the other two were born in the newly-independent United States. All caught "Ohio fever" and went west for fresh, fertile farm land. That's my theme for the booklet.

The Pioneer Lives of Denning, McClure, and Larimer

To introduce the booklet, I created a cover page with a large, colorful map of the United States in 1785. It shows descendants where their ancestors Job Denning, John Larimer, and John McClure lived in the East before they moved.

The map also shows their wilderness destination in the Northwest Territory, then the western frontier of the fledgling country. Land beyond that belonged to Spain. Ohio statehood was years in the future when these ancestors began to clear trees for farming. All this is historical context that helps descendants understand and appreciate what their ancestors faced as pioneers.

Two Pages Per Ancestor

After the cover page, each of the ancestors has a two-page spread, including a full-color regional map (where he lived, where he moved). This is followed by a brief biographical sketch, written simply but in vivid terms, tracing each man's life from birth to marriage to children to final resting place.

The women in their lives figure prominently in my narrative because they, too, were pioneers--wives for all but also daughters, in some cases.

Where I had enough details, I mentioned specific pioneering activities, such as helping to found a church or serving in the local militia.

The excerpt at top shows the second page of Job Denning's ancestor sketch. I tried to succinctly sum up his life in context (above, I called Job Denning a "pioneer turned civic leader").

Descendants Want to Know: How Are They Related to ME?

These ancestors lived, like, a l-o-n-g time ago, right? I want my grandkids to see at a glance how, exactly, they're related to each of these ole-timey ancestors. 

So at the end of each sketch, I included a quick pedigree of the ancestor couple and the descendants in the direct line to my grandkids.

This will, I hope, give the youngest a very concrete idea of the family connections between them and their pioneering great-great-great-great-great grandparents!

Maybe the booklet will "trick" them into understanding that their ancestors weren't just old-fashioned characters from family history--they were true pioneers who actually made American history.

It was a treat for me to put this together.

This week's #52Ancestors prompt is "trick or treat" - thanks to Amy Johnson Crow.

Wednesday, October 23, 2019

McClure Ancestors Worked on the Railroad

1909 marriage of John A. Logan McClure and Alice Williams
The northern region of Michigan was home to a cluster of my husband's McClure ancestors for several decades, beginning in the late 1800s.

Some tried farming, some worked on the railroad. One did both! One had a succession of transportation-related jobs.

From Farm to Railroad 

My husband's great-great uncle John N. McClure was born in Wabash county, Indiana, the son of a prominent farmer.

He farmed in Indiana for several decades, then uprooted the family to move to the northern tip of Michigan, in Little Traverse (see map).

In the 1900 Census, John said he was a tenant farmer. But by 1910, at age 69, he said he was a railroad engineer. This was a golden age of railroading in the area, where tracks were laid to haul lumber out. 

Two Sons in Transportation 

Not surprisingly, one son, John A. Logan McClure, had an affinity for the railroad.

You can see a snippet of John's marriage record from 1909 at top of this post. He said his occupation was "railroading." He lived and worked in Grand Traverse, Michigan, a hub of railroad activity.

Another son, Edgar Addison McClure, also born in Indiana, became a teamster in Illinois (1900), a driver for Wells Fargo in California (1910), and finally worked as a chauffeur in Los Angeles (1920).

Lots of transportation occupations! Thanks to Amy Johnson Crow for this week's transportation prompt in the #52Ancestors series.

Sunday, October 20, 2019

Hint, Hint--Ancestor Adventures with Hints

Once upon a time, I wished for hints, hoping for clues that would lead me to learn more about ancestors.

Be careful what you wish for!

My husband's family tree is now overflowing with hints, as you can see from the above summary.

Filtering Hints

Many of these hints are for too-distant ancestors. Many of the photos are of DNA or ships or flags.

To winnow down the avalanche of hints, I sort by last name and filter by last name. Above, an example of an ancestor I am quite interested in. He's the first of many ancestors named Work with hints waiting to be evaluated. I can see, at a glance, hints for all ancestors named Work by sorting and filtering, making my adventures in hint-land easier and more productive.

Hints for Ancestors Near and Far

Some of the hints I'm reviewing turn out to be  helpful, even if they refer to ancestors on the outskirts of the tree.

Here, for instance, is a newspaper clipping about the wife of a 2d cousin 3x removed. It led me to names of other ancestors slightly closer to those I'm actively researching.

More adventures in hint-land are in my future.

Thanks, as always, to Amy Johnson Crow for this week's #52Ancestors prompt, "adventure."

Wednesday, October 16, 2019

Grandma Minnie in Costume for the Kossuth Society Ball

Hermina Farkas in costume for the Kossuth Society Ball, 1909
My Grandma Hermina "Minnie" Farkas (1886-1964) was a member of the Kossuth Ferencz Hungarian Literary Sick and Benevolent Society.

On December 4, 1909* she dressed in costume for the Kossuth Society's 5th anniversary gala ball. The ball raised money to further the society's aims of helping new immigrants get established in New York City and supporting a library for literacy.

The photo at top, showing Grandma at age 23 in 1909, was taken by the Society's official photographer, Gustav Beldegreen, in his studio on Manhattan's Lower East Side.

Earlier this year, a professor in Hungary contacted me after reading about Beldegreen and the Society on this blog. He is researching Hungarian-American photographers and is interested in Beldegreen's involvement with the Society.

I provided him with a high-resolution version of Grandma Minnie's photo, including the dimensions, and high-resolution versions of pages scanned from the Society's special anniversary souvenir booklet.

When the professor's book is published, Grandma Minnie's photo will be included, along with a mini-bio (born in what is now Berehove, Ukraine; arrived at Ellis Island on November 12, 1901, just two days after her 15th birthday; married Theodore "Teddy" Schwartz, in 1911; died in the Bronx, NY on March 20, 1964.)

It makes me feel good that Grandma Minnie will live on in the pages of this book, forever young.
* Exactly 10 years later, Grandma gave birth to twin girls, my mother and aunt, Daisy and Dorothy Schwartz.

Sunday, October 13, 2019

Ancestral Home I'd Most Like to Visit: Gargzdai

Grandpa Isaac Burk's hometown of Gargzdai
This week, Randy Seaver's Saturday Night #Genealogy Fun topic is "Which ancestral home would you most like to visit?" (Topic suggested by Linda Stufflebean, thanks!)

My paternal Grandpa Isaac Burk (1882-1943) and his siblings were from Gargzdai (confirmed by numerous documents).

Near a Baltic port, the town changed borders over the years as powerful neighboring empires acquired or relinquished it. To see this hometown as Grandpa and his siblings saw it, I would have to go back in time more than a century.

Gargzdai in Grandpa's Day

When Grandpa Isaac was born, Gargzdai was part of Russia, in the Kovno Gubernia (province), Telsiai Uyezd (district), slightly east of the border with Germany.

The area was then thickly forested, with lumber a significant resource fueling the local economy. No wonder my Grandpa and his brother became skilled cabinetmakers, always able to make a living by working in wood.

Grandpa arrived in North America in 1903. Moving between Montreal and New York City for years, he worked as a carpenter and cabinetmaker to support his growing family. I can find no record of Grandpa ever returning to his hometown after leaving. I really doubt he had the money to go back.

By the time of the 1920 Census, even though Grandpa  listed his birthplace as "Russia," Lithuania was then independent (for the time between the two world wars).

Did Grandpa know that Lithuania allowed women to vote as early as the 1919 elections? That's earlier than American women were allowed to vote!

Gargzdai In and After WWII

During World War II, Grandpa Isaac would have been aware that Lithuania was caught between Germany and Russia. On Grandpa's WWII draft registration card, he proudly listed his birthplace as Lithuania.

Alas, many Jewish residents of Gargzdai were exterminated when Germany occupied Lithuania during WWII. Grandpa died before Russia wrenched control of Lithuania from Germany in 1944. I wish he had lived to see Lithuania declare its independence from what was then the USSR in 1990.

Wikimedia Commons - photo of a Jewish cemetery in Gargzdai
Looking for Grandpa's Ancestors

The place in Gargzdai that would help me learn more about Grandpa Isaac's family is the cemetery where his ancestors are buried. Above, a recent photo of one Jewish cemetery in the area. How many still remain intact, I do not know.

If I could locate the correct cemetery (a BIG "if"), and if the gravestones were still readable (another big "if"), I would probably learn the names of each ancestor's father. Each ancestor's gravestone would show his or her first name and the "son of" or "daughter of" the father's name, in Hebrew.

Friday, October 11, 2019

Larimer Ancestors: Patriots and Pioneers with Ohio Fever

Western migration of pioneer ancestor John Larimer (1794-1843)
Yet another ancestor of my husband's caught "Ohio fever." He was Isaac M. Larimer. His son, John Larimer, continued the Western migration and pioneered in Elkhart county, Indiana, as shown above on the map.

Isaac Larimer, Son of Immigrants, Patriot and Ohio Pioneer

Isaac Larimer (1771-1823) was born in the south-central Pennsylvania county of Cumberland. He was the son of the original journey-takers in my husband's Larimer family, who left Northern Ireland and crossed the Atlantic to start a new life in what was then the American colonies.

Isaac married Elizabeth Wood (or Woods, 1773-1851), in Pennsylvania. Caught up in Ohio fever, they migrated West to Fairfield county, OH, where they brought up their 10 children.

Isaac fought in the 1812 War and lived to see tremendous growth in Ohio as settlers streamed in from the East decade after decade. Two of his sons, John and Robert, decided to move further West when they grew up, perhaps hankering for wide open spaces and additional farmland.

John Larimer, Patriot and Indiana Pioneer

John Larimer, my husband's 3d great-grandfather, was born in Pennsylvania (see #1 on map above). By the time he was a teenager, he was living in Fairfield county, Ohio (#2 on the map above). During the 1812 War, John fought as a 90-day enlistee alongside other Larimer relatives.

In 1818, he married Rachel Smith (1799-1838) in Lancaster, Fairfield county, Ohio. About 1835, John and Rachel left Ohio and moved their growing family to what was then the wilderness of Elkhart county, Indiana (#3 on map). At this point, Indiana had far fewer residents than Ohio, which was increasingly crowded.

Sadly, Rachel took ill and died during what locals called the "sickly season" of 1838. Left with youngsters to care for, John remarried in 1840 to Nancy Orr Smith (1799-1853).

Unfortunately, John Larimer died just three years later, reportedly from an infection in his throat caused by a deer bone splinter, and was buried in Elkhart. His second wife, Nancy, died ten years later, and was buried in Ohio, where her first husband was buried.

Saluting these patriots and pioneers in my husband's family tree!

Wednesday, October 9, 2019

Pioneer Ancestor John McClure had "Ohio Fever"

Hubby's great-great-grandpa John McClure left Rockbridge County,
Virginia to settle in Ohio by 1810.
Another of my husband's ancestors had "Ohio Fever" as described in David McCollough's excellent book, The Pioneers. (I wrote about my husband's ancestor Job Denning in my previous post about Ohio Fever.)

The McClure Family from Donegal

John McClure was born in Rockbridge County, Virginia. His father, Alexander McClure (1717-1790), was one of the original journey-takers in the McClure family.

Alexander and a number of siblings and his father (Halbert McClure) were born in Donegal and sailed across the Atlantic during the 1730s. Landing in Philadelphia, they walked as a group to Virginia colony, where they purchased farmland for the family. (This detail is from the well-researched book, Following the McClures--Donegal to Botetourt).

Alexander lived about two miles from his father, Halbert, in Virginia, close to his brothers who had come with the family from Donegal. He himself purchased land from the Borden Grant during the 1740s. Like many men of that time and place Alexander served in the militia, from about 1742-1766.

Alexander married Martha Moore and their son John was born in Virginia in 1781, by that time a state, no longer a colony following the American Revolution.

John's "Ohio Fever"

John McClure married Ann McFall (1780-1815?) in Virginia in 1801. The next record I can find mentions the birth of their daughter Jane McClure in 1810 in Ohio. Their son Benjamin McClure was born in Adams county, Ohio, in 1812. This early 1800s-period coincides with "Ohio Fever" in the area.

Given the McClure family's long-standing desire for acquiring fresh, fertile farmland, it's not much of a leap to see John uprooting his growing family to settle more than 300 miles away in Ohio (see map at top). John McClure and Ann McFall McClure settled down in Ohio, but some of their descendants kept moving West to Indiana.

Life in the Land of The Trees

What was life like on the Ohio frontier during the "fever" period? David McCollough mentioned a book he remembers from when he was young, part of a trilogy by Conrad Richter. It's called The Trees and it's historical fiction, following the Luckett family as they leave western Pennsylvania at the end of the 1700s to settle north of the Ohio River.

At one point, the characters look out on what seems to be a veritable sea of trees. No cabins, no trails, no clearings. Just sturdy, majestic trees as far as the eye can see in Ohio. Trees that provided fuel, were good for cabins and furnishings, and needed to be cleared--by hand!--to create space for seedlings.

Daily life was most likely even more challenging than described in the book, but it's a good starting point for thinking about trying to feed and clothe a family on its own in the Ohio wilderness. I'm going to read the next two novels in the trilogy to see what happens to descendants of the Lucketts!

Sunday, October 6, 2019

Pioneer Ancestor Job Denning Had "Ohio Fever"

Reading David McCullough's latest book, The Pioneers: The Heroic Story of the Settlers Who Brought the American Ideal West, I was struck by his description of "Ohio fever."

Several of my husband's ancestral families pioneered in Ohio around the time covered by McCollough's history--after the Revolutionary War, through the War of 1812, and into the 1840s/50s.

Hubby's ancestors weren't famous or well-known, just farmers and families who felt compelled to go West as a result of Ohio fever. Some received bounty land on the frontier as a result of military service to the new nation and eagerly arrived to clear away timber so they could plant crops.

Here's a bit of what McCollough says about the background of this historic movement in which my husband's ancestors participated.

Seeking Fertile Farmland Out West*

As the Revolutionary War ended, financial panic set in and farmers in the fledgling United States were hit hard, sometimes imprisoned due to debts they had no way to repay.

Farmers from New England (and other areas) were increasingly looking west for what they heard was an almost too-good-to-be true area for farming along the Ohio River. Pamphlets and newspapers highly touted Ohio as a place so heavily wooded that the land was obviously very fertile. Many accounts spoke of the great abundance of turkey, deer, bison, and fish.

McCollough shows us how the early settlers left New England late in 1787 and, near Pittsburgh, boarded the galley Mayflower (yes, renamed in homage to the Pilgrims) to float through the Ohio River to a likely landing place. Slowly but steadily, these and later pioneers with Ohio fever cleared woodlands, planted crops, built homes, and founded towns.

McCollough vividly describes their hopes and fears, confrontations with Native American tribes, death from smallpox and other diseases, and the struggle of trying to live through the harsh winters--no doubt what my husband's ancestors experienced in Ohio more than 200 years ago.

Denning Caught Ohio Fever

Job Denning Sr, hubby's 3d great-grandpa, was one of the early "Ohio fever" settlers in what became Adams county, Ohio. He was probably born about 1775, possibly in Massachusetts, and he died in 1836 in Adams county. (His birth year is based on the age transcribed from his gravestone, which is barely legible today.)

"A History of Adams County" - excerpt from page 437, with Job Denning highlighted
as one of the first to build a cabin outside the stockade.
Job Denning's name appears multiple times in A History of Adams County, Ohio by Evans and Stivers (a 1900 publication searchable by name, thanks to the Internet Archive and digitization by Google). It also appears in the Journal of the House of Representatives of the State of Ohio, vols. 26 and 29. From these historical sources, I learned:
  • Denning was among the first settlers to build a cabin outside the stockade in Manchester, circa 1795-6. (Excerpt from the book, above, is my source.)
  • When the court met on September 12, 1797, for its first-ever session in Manchester, Denning was named "court cryer."
  • Denning was soon named one of two constables for Manchester.
  • He also applied for and was granted a tavern license by the court. (I don't know whether he actually operated the tavern.)
  • On May 17, 1804, Denning purchased lots in West Union township, Adams County, for $9.
  • Denning was appointed a county commissioner on November 17, 1806, a post he held until he resigned in March, 1814.
  • In 1810, he received the contract to haul stone from the quarry for the building of the new Presbyterian Church in West Union.
  • Denning served as an associate judge for Adams county, with a term expiring in January, 1828.
  • In 1831, he was named a commissioner on road works in Adams county.
Job Denning and his wife Mary had seven sons and three daughters. His oldest son (Daniel Denning) and his youngest (William Henry Harrison Denning) served as executors when their father Job died in 1836, to be remembered as a pioneer settler in what was once a wilderness close by the Ohio River.
Many thanks to Amy Johnson Crow for this week's #52Ancestors prompt.

*At the time, Ohio really was the Western frontier. These days, most people would consider it the midwest. Except my husband, who insists that his hometown of Cleveland, Ohio, is an Eastern city. Sorry, honey, Ohio is not in the East! ;)

Tuesday, October 1, 2019

Family Drama: Harvest Destroyed by Hail

Moritz Farkas and his twin granddaughters, Dorothy and Daisy
In his homeland of Hungary, my great-grandpa Moritz Farkas (1857-1936) managed crops for the family of his in-laws and leased land to grow other crops. (I've seen notes in Hungarian records confirming his occupation.)

Moritz's crops did well and he prospered for a long time . . . until the year a hail storm wiped out the harvest. (Family story about the hail and his financial ruin was so consistent and believable that I am relying on it.) 

That was the one year my great-grandpa did not insure his crops. His finances were wiped out along with the harvest.

No Harvest Was a Turning Point

With no harvest and a wife (Leni Kunstler, 1865-1938) and eight children to support, Moritz faced a difficult decision about his family's future.

He ultimately decided to leave Hungary and his debts behind and try to make a new life in New York City. He was the first in the family to make this life-changing journey, but not the last.

Moritz arrived in New York in 1899. Like many new immigrants in my family, he initially lived as a boarder in a crowded apartment in the Lower East Side. (Two families of four each plus Moritz meant a total of 9 people shared that one small apartment.)

Slowly Reuniting the Family

Moritz's wife Leni followed him to New York City a year later, in 1900. Meanwhile, the eight children remained with her mother and father in Hungary.

Finally, Moritz and Leni were established enough to begin sending for their children. My grandma Hermina "Minnie" (1886-1964) came with the first group of four in 1901, leaving Hungary when she was just 14 years old.

The four remaining children arrived in 1902, having not seen their father for three years and having missed their mother for two years. Three more babies were born in New York City as the family reunited.

In New York City, Moritz learned skills to work as a presser in the garment trade. Leni and a number of the children also worked in the clothing business for a time. My grandma Minnie was a finisher of fine silk ties, a job she got because of Leni's connection to the Roth family that manufactured the ties.

No Harvest Led to a New Life--and Descendants Like Me!

If not for hail destroying my great-grandpa's harvest, my ancestors would not have left Hungary...

...my grandma would not have met my future grandpa in a New York City deli...

...my mother (a twin in the photo at top, with her grandpa Moritz) would not have been born...

...and I wouldn't be here to retell their tale!

        Thank you to Amy Johnson Crow for this #52Ancestors prompt.

Saturday, September 28, 2019

Researching Regina's Penmanship Award

Penmanship award earned by Regina Farkas
A cousin kindly sent me this Penmanship Certificate honoring my maternal great aunt Regina Farkas (1905-1987). Cousins know I'm collecting miscellaneous items like this, storing them in archival boxes, and passing them down to the genealogist of the next generation (who has already agreed to be custodian of the family's history!).

Of course I could not resist researching when this might have been been awarded to Jeanne, as she was known in the family. Maybe she was about 10 or so when she won the award? That was my initial starting place for the research.

Finding Regina in 1915 NY Census

In the past, I had not found the family in the 1915 New York State Census. This gave me the motivation to look harder.

Although I had no luck at Ancestry, I redid my search on FamilySearch.org. On both sites, I was looking for the family as a group (Regina/Jeanne with her siblings and her parents).

On the first page of Family Search results, near the bottom, I found the Farkas family in the 1915 NY Census. Not as "Farkas" of course. Too easy!

Sound Out the Name!

1915 New York Census showing the Farkas family as "Forcash"

The enumerator listed Regina and her family under the surname "Forcash" which was how the parents would have pronounced it with their Hungarian accents.

This isn't the first time my Farkas family was elusive because of the way someone heard their surname pronounced. Earlier this year, I wrote about another cousin finding Regina's father Morris Furkosh in the 1900 Census by sounding out his name as he would have spoken it. Furkosh and Forcash probably sounded very similar to Census enumerators. Found you, Farkas family!

Moving to the Bronx

What about Regina and her penmanship award? The Farkas family was still living in the Lower East Side of Manhattan at the time of the 1915 NY Census I just found. Logically, she didn't win the award in 1915 or earlier, since the family wasn't yet living in the Bronx, New York.

That meant I had to examine later records in search of a Bronx ddress.

In 1920, according to the U.S. Census, the Farkas family was living at 843 Whitlock Avenue in the Bronx.

As the map shows, the school was a good 20 minute walk away from Whitlock Avenue, marked on the map with a red star near the Soundview section of the Bronx. At the time, this was a desirable area of the Bronx, where many immigrants moved to escape the crowds of the Lower East Side.

Narrowing the Period for Regina's Award

In the 1925 New York Census, the Farkas family was still living at the same Bronx apartment on Whitlock Avenue. By that time, however, Regina was out of school and working as a bookkeeper.

I'm therefore narrowing down the period when my great aunt won her award as the time between about 1916-1920. After 1920, she would have been older than 15 and very unlikely to be in an elementary school.

Wednesday, September 25, 2019

Grandparents' Birthplaces: All Over the Map

Birthplaces of McClure, Wood, Steiner ancestors - plus Slatter in London, England
For this week's #52Ancestors challenge (thank you to Amy Johnson Crow), I mapped where in the world my grandparents and my husband's grandparents were born.

They were born all over the map.

Hubby's Grandparents - Larimer, Steiner, Slatter, and Wood

Three of my husband's grandparents were born in the American Midwest, one in England.

  • Maternal grandpa Brice Larimer McClure (1878-1970) was born in Little Traverse, Michigan, while his parents tried farming there for a short time.
  • Maternal grandma Floyda Mabel Steiner (1878-1948) was born in Nevada, Ohio. Her birth certificate was really "delayed" (only issued in 1944, most likely so she could apply for Social Security).
  • Paternal grandpa James Edgar Wood (1871-1939) was born in Toledo, Ohio. He was one of 17 children, 8 of whom were born in Toledo.
  • Paternal grandma Mary Slatter (1869-1925) was born in London, in the poorest of the poor sections of Whitechapel. (Her birthplace is not on the map at top--just couldn't fit it in!)
My Grandparents - Farkas, Schwartz, Burk, and Mahler

Birthplaces of Farkas, Schwartz, Mahler, and Burk ancestors

None of my grandparents had America roots--all were born in Eastern Europe and settled in New York City soon after the turn of the 20th century.

  • Maternal grandma Hermina Farkas (1886-1964) was born in Berehovo, Hungary, not very far from where her future husband was born.
  • Maternal grandpa Theodore Schwartz (1887-1965) was born in Ungvar, Hungary, but met his future wife in a Hungarian delicatessen in the Lower East Side of New York City, according to family lore.
  • Paternal grandma Henrietta Mahler (1881-1954) was born near Riga, Latvia, according to her husband's naturalization paperwork. I hope someday to better pinpoint her birthplace.
  • Paternal grandpa Isaac Burk (1881-1943) was born in Gargzdai, Lithuania and married his wife Henrietta in New York City.

Monday, September 16, 2019

HeritageQuest Off the Connecticut State Library Website--Updated!

Very disappointed to learn that the Connecticut State Library's ongoing budget crunch has caused it to reluctantly axe HeritageQuest Online. **Update: It's back on the CT State Library website and available with a CT state library card, which is completely free!

Heritage Quest is free, and available from home at any hour, with a local library card in many states.

I've been showing CT genealogy clubs how to use HeritageQuest for months. Response has been very positive as more people realize how much of a gold mine it is!

Free Access to City Directories, Census, Wills, and More

In addition to U.S. Census records and special schedules (showing Civil War veterans, industrial and agricultural enterprises, and deaths), this wonderfully useful database has city directories for many areas, Canadian Census, Revolutionary War records, books, wills and probate records, immigration records (limited), and much more.

If You Live in Connecticut...get a CT state library card.

For several months, this wonderful free database was  removed from the Connecticut State Library's listing of databases, victim of budget issues.

All you have to do access this genealogy resource from home at any hour is live in CT and get a free CT state library card. Here are the instructions.

Please use HeritageQuest so that the library recognizes it has real value to genealogy enthusiasts. Thank you!

If you live in the Nutmeg State, please consider contacting your state legislators and the governor to say:

  • Genealogy is more popular than ever before, a fast-growing hobby of interest to all ages and in all parts of the state.
  • Genealogy searches are the most common type of search on the CT State Library's website. 
  • The CT State Library can't just juggle money--it's been cut for too many years and yet it must stretch its shrinking budget to retain legally-required databases for education purposes.
  • Look for ways to increase the State Library's budget so we can afford a database that serves all ages, seniors and other adults as well as students.
  • We like HeritageQuest, we use HeritageQuest, and we really, really, really want it back.

Sunday, September 15, 2019

McClure Cousin Bait on FamilySearch

Cousin Bait on Family Search 
I married my husband for his ancestors!

His many ancestors left photos, genealogical paperwork, diaries, newspaper clippings, and more. Lucky me!

Thanks to cousin L, the Wood family historian, we know a great deal about the Wood side of the family. My late father-in-law Edgar James Wood (1903-1986) had five Mayflower ancestors.

Cousin Bait on Family Search

So far, we don't have connections with too many McClure cousins--those related to ancestors of my late mother-in-law, Marian Jane McClure Wood (1909-1983).

Now I'm adding cousin bait to my husband's McClure ancestors on the Family Search family tree. See the screen shot above of some McClure ancestors and how I've begun personalizing their profiles on Family Search.

Personal Photos = Cousin Bait

Because Family Search has only one collaborative tree, any researcher who comes across these personal photos will see me as the source.

I'm easy to contact via Family Search (my email contact is up to date). And since Family Search is free, I know a lot of people use it for research and documenting family trees.

Sometime soon, I hope McClure cousins will get in touch after noticing the personal photos I posted on ancestor profiles.

Watchlist of Ancestors

Also, I'm "watching" other McClure and Larimer ancestors to see whether other researchers post any personal photos or other personalized details. Then I can check the source and contact those people, offering to share info.

Here's a watchlist of 7 people I'm watching so far on Family Search. I take a look every so often for any changes or photos posted to these ancestors, hoping that I'll connect with a few more McClure cousins.


Thanks to Amy Johnson Crow for this #52 Ancestors prompt of "cousins" for week 38.

Monday, September 9, 2019

Grandma Minnie's "Mistake"

Daisy & Dorothy Schwartz, mid-1920s
Mom (Daisy Schwartz Burk, 1919-1981), tried to break into freelance writing during the 1960s, drafting a children's book and several magazine articles that never got printed.

One draft that my twin sis and I recently found was for a magazine article titled, "I'm Proud of My Twins, But . . . " It was about Mom's experience growing up as a twin (her sis was Dorothy Schwartz, 1919-2001), and her experience raising twins.

Mom writes that her mother (Hermina "Minnie" Farkas Schwartz, 1886-1964, my maternal grandma) made a big mistake.

Mom Waits for Her Baby 

Early in the article, Mom thinks back to a remark she herself made late in her own pregnancy. This was in the old, old days, the time before ultrasound. Nobody knew whether a baby would be a boy or a girl, let alone how many.

Mom told a neighbor just days before going to the hospital to give birth:
"If I ever have a set of twins, I'll never make the same mistake my mother did."
Surprise! Twins

It was quite a surprise to the whole family when Mom had two little girls, only two minutes apart, neither weighing 5 lbs.

My father (Harold Burk, 1909-1978) spent an entire roll of dimes making calls to family and friends from the pay phone on the maternity ward. (I did say it was the old, old days.) Happy phone calls, spreading the surprising news about Mom having twins! Even a week later, my Grandma Minnie was quite speechless when asked how it felt to have twin granddaughters.

Grandma Minnie's Mistake

Eleven years after her twins were born, here's what my Mom wrote about Minnie's mistake. The all-caps are from the original typewritten draft.
"What was The Mistake my mother made that I set out to rectify? It was PRIDE . . . dressing twins alike, urging them to follow the same bent, keeping them in each other's company constantly, and sharing everything."
My mother and her twin sister were dressed alike until age 18, and sat together in classrooms throughout their school careers until graduating high school. Mom was the younger twin, and often looked to her sister for emotional support and friendship. During WWII, when Auntie Dorothy joined the WAACs and was away from home for several years, Mom had to learn a new kind of independence, which was challenging but also rewarding, she writes.

Avoiding the Mistake

In the rest of the article, Mom writes about encouraging each twin to be an individual and be independent. She mentions specifics, including separate wardrobes, separate classes, separate friends, and separate interests for each child.

However, as my Sis points out, separating us meant that one twin sometimes had a better teacher while the other twin was in a far less-desirable class situation. Mom and Dad didn't acknowledge or appreciate that separating us in school could have negative consequences for the twin who was not with the better teacher or better class.

As my husband points out, parents try their best, and wind up making different kinds of mistakes than our parents made. That's what happened when Mom tried to avoid her mother's mistake while raising twins.

Yet in the end, Mom accomplished her goal of encouraging Sis and me to choose our own ways of life, with our own friendships, interests, careers, and tastes.


Thanks to Amy Johnson Crow for the "mistake" prompt for week 37 in her long-running #52Ancestors series.

Friday, September 6, 2019

The Mayflower Left England 399 Years Ago Today

Mayflower in Plymouth Harbor, by William Halsall.jpg
By William Halsall - Pilgrim Hall Museum, Public Domain, Link

On this day in 1620, the Mayflower sailed away from Plymouth, England, bound for America.

The ship held five of my husband's ancestors:

  • Isaac Allerton
  • Mary Norris Allerton, Isaac's wife
  • Mary Allerton, their daughter
  • Francis Cooke
  • Degory Priest
Alas, of these five, only Mary Allerton and Francis Cooke survived that first winter.

Remembering hubby's Mayflower ancestors on this day and honoring their memory.

Sunday, September 1, 2019

When Did The Schwartz Twins Start Kindergarten?

The Schwartz twins at P.S. 62 on Fox Street in the Bronx, New York
Finally I'm writing a new Family Memory Booklet about my mother (Daisy Schwartz, 1919-1981) and her twin sister (Dorothy Schwartz, 1919-2001). In the process, I've been assembling photos and stories from their childhood. I'm also doing my best to date each photo for the sake of future generations.

Together in Kindergarten 

Above, a photo from the Schwartz twins' kindergarten class at P.S. 62 on Fox Street in the Bronx, New York. The school was directly across the street from their apartment building.

In the photo, I think Daisy is on the left, Dorothy on the right. I'll let my Sis weigh in, perhaps her eyes are keener than mine.

Judging by the jack-o-lanterns, the photo was taken in October--but which year?

Checking the New York Census

As shown above, the twins (Dottie and Daisy) were 5 years old on June 1, 1925, the date that this New York State census was taken. The twins' 5th birthday was December 4, 1924.

In the household with the twins were their parents, Theodore and Hermina Schwartz, and older brother, Fred. Hermina didn't tell the enumerator her correct age, as usual. She was actually a bit older than her husband, but often shaved a year or two or three off her age when answering questions like on this census.

I noticed that in this 1925 NY census, 12-year-old Fred's occupation was "school" but the twins had nothing written in that column.

So I now believe the twins began kindergarten in the fall of 1925, when they were still 5. I'm dating the kindergarten as October, 1925.

Thank you to Amy Johnson Crow for this "School Days" #52Ancestors prompt.

Friday, August 30, 2019

Honor Roll Project: War Memorial in North East, New York

Veterans Park in Millerton, town of North East, New York
Another beautifully-kept veterans park, another war memorial for Heather Rojo's Honor Roll Project. (BTW, this is my 100th blog post of 2019, with more to come!)

Memorial in town of North East, New York
These memorials are located in Millerton, NY, within the town of North East, New York.

Because blooms and shrubs partially obscure some names at the height of summer, I'll have to go back another time to photo and transcribe names from WWII.

Meanwhile, here are the visible names carved in the memorial stones, remembering those who served in the following conflicts.

War memorial in North East, NY - Thank you for your service!
Serving in Lebanon and Grenada: 

  • Brian A. Roux
  • Edward Watson, Jr.
Serving in Beirut:

  • Daniel Cuddeback, Jr.
  • John Boice, Jr.
  • Craig Furey
Serving in the Persian Gulf:

  • Robert Cuddeback
  • Michael Humbert
  • Thomas H. Garnto
  • Erik Breen
  • Adam H. Zies-Way
  • Joshua Malarchuk
  • Stephen K. Valyou
  • Victor Strickland
  • Clyde Miller
  • Thomas J. Stickles, Jr.
  • Robert Murphy
  • Luke Nelson
  • Louis Simmons

War memorial in North East, NY - thank you for your service!

Wednesday, August 28, 2019

Honor Roll Project: WWII Memorial in Gaylordsville, CT

World War II Memorial in Charlie Jones Veterans Memorial Park
Gaylordsville, Connecticut

As part of Heather Rojo's Honor Roll Project, I recently photographed this WWII memorial tucked into neat little Charlie Jones Veterans Memorial Park on Route 7 in Gaylordsville, Connecticut. You can see a closeup of the plaque at bottom of this post.

(Tip: Want to know where war memorials are located in Connecticut? Take a look at this website. And you can go to the site's main page to find other state's memorials as well.)

The names inscribed on this World War II memorial are:

Angell, Herbert L.
Atkins, George E.
Collins, Harold C.
Cornwell, Elizabeth
Dahl, Frederick H.
Dodd, Thomas J.
Dolan, Edward A.
Dolan, James R.
Donnelly, Edward M.
Dwy, Robert H.
Edeen, Adolph R.
Eslinger, Joseph D.
Flynn, John D.
Giddings, Henry W.B.
Grisell, Henry T.
Hills, Gordon E.
Hills, Richard C.
Hills, Robert L.
Jennings, Amos E.
Johnson, Robert A.
Parker, Allen R.
Parker, Hugh M.
Parker, Lawrence G.
Rosati, Leo J.
Rosati, Vincent V.
Strid, Burton L.
Thomas, Richard F.
Thomas, Thomas T.
Thomas, Willian E.
Townsend, Henry G.
Travis, Eugene R.
Wyble, Rupert D.

Gaylordsville, CT - Thank you for your service!

Saturday, August 24, 2019

Entrepreneurial Dad and His Travel Agency

Harold Burk, travel agent, arriving in Honolulu
My Dad, Harold D. Burk (1909-1978), had a long-time goal to be his own boss and work in the travel business. Entrepreneurship runs in the family--both of my grandfathers owned their own businesses.

During the 1930s, when in his 20s, Dad began working his way up to becoming a travel agent. He started in big New York City hotels, getting bonded so his employers would know they could trust him with money and blank travel tickets, which were negotiable. Soon he was issuing railroad and bus tickets, as well as booking flights for his customers, the old-fashioned way--on paper.

Burk Travel Service

By 1948, Dad had established his own company, the Burk Travel Service, in the lobby of the swanky Savoy Plaza Hotel. This was diagonally across from the famous Plaza Hotel on 59th Street in the heart of Manhattan. In the late 1950s, the Trader Vic's tiki restaurant opened on the ground floor of the Savoy Plaza, adding even more glamour and attracting celebrities to the place.

During the years he was in business, Dad and his younger brother Sidney Burk (1914-1995) worked together to make travel arrangements for all sorts of clients, including big-wigs and celebs who stayed at the Savoy Plaza Hotel. My sisters and I squealed with delight when Dad would bring home signed photos or 45 rpm records from rock groups at the hotel, including Gerry and the Pacemakers, known for Ferry Across the Mersey (among other hits).

Through Dad's work, our family also got free tickets to the New York World's Fair in 1964-5, admission to the Ed Sullivan TV show in New York, the Circle Line boat trip around Manhattan, and even sightseeing flights around LaGuardia Airport.

By 1960, the Savoy Plaza hotel was owned by Hilton and renamed the Savoy Hilton, as shown in the above 1960 Manhattan phone directory listing for Dad's Burk Travel Service. Alas, the hotel was soon torn down to make way for the General Motors Building. Dad never again had his own travel agency, although he worked in parts of the industry for several more years.

Hawaii for the Weekend

With a growing family of three girls, Dad rarely had the opportunity to actually travel despite being in the business. Still, one time he was able to go on a free travel agents' trip to Hawaii, one of his dream destinations.

Dad had barely arrived in Honolulu and gotten a welcome lei (photo at top) when we three girls all became ill. After only a weekend in paradise, Dad flew back home to New York to help out. He never got to Hawaii again, although my sis and I and our families went there in early 2000!

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