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 at least one of her children, Zoltan. Her husband Noe had died in 1939, prior to the Shoah.

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!