Showing posts with label #52Ancestors. Show all posts
Showing posts with label #52Ancestors. Show all posts

Monday, February 18, 2019

Taking Care of 102 Year Old Photos

Yesterday was the day. I slit open the package of special archival acid-free buffered tissue paper I purchased at the end of last year, intended for interleaving within photo albums. This was on my genealogy to-do list for 2019, and now it is checked off!

Above, a photo of my late father-in-law's 1917 photo album, with the archival box in which I store it (note identifying label on the box).

This 1917 album is the oldest I've been entrusted with, as the genealogist of this generation. I've also been entrusted with my late father-in-law's 1926 Tufts College album.

It's up to me to safeguard these old photo albums so they survive for future descendants to enjoy. Each album has its own archival box, so it doesn't get jostled or damaged. But without interleaving between the pages, items on the pages might deteriorate or rub off on each other. That's why I needed to work on interleaving.

Along the way, I learned a couple of lessons about how to carefully place interleaving paper between pages of albums. Of course, begin by washing/drying hands and putting all materials on a clean, dry surface, far from liquids, foods, perfumes, etc. Then:
  1. Start from the back of the album and work your way forward. That way, the paper doesn't slip out or shift as easily. 
  2. Turn pages gently so they don't rip or flake as you slip in the archival paper.
  3. If pages have multiple overlapping items glued down, place a small piece of interleaving paper between these so they don't rub off on each other or discolor each other. Then place one piece of paper over all.
  4. Don't overstuff between album pages! 
  5. If archival papers hang off too much, carefully cut off the edges (leaving a small margin all around the album) at the end of the project. I used the extra paper cut off to "stuff" next to one album so it doesn't rattle in the box.
Thanks to Amy Johnson Crow for this week's #52Ancestors prompt of "family photo."

Sunday, February 10, 2019

Valentine Leads Me to Relearn Two Lessons

My husband's uncle, Wallis Wood (1905-1957), received a lot of penny postal greeting cards from "Aunt Nellie."

Most, like the Valentine's Day card at left, included the name and/or signature of "Uncle Arthur" (as shown below).

"Aunt Nellie" was Ellen Rachel "Nellie" Wood (1864-1954).

Nellie was a younger sister of Wallis's father. I know a lot about her. I've even written about her here, at least a dozen times over the years.

But this post is not really about the valentine. It's about how I had to relearn two key lessons.
Aunt Nellie married twice

For this week's #52Ancestors prompt of "love," I thought it would be fun to write a bit more about Nellie's two marriages: Her first to Walter and her second to Arthur.

Not long after Y2K, I added Nellie and her two husbands to my Wood family tree. So I clicked on the tree to check on what I know. Uh-oh.

Sources? What sources?

I found their names on the tree. I even had a marriage date and place for her Nellie's first wedding. But no sources.

Not good. I had put Nellie, Walter, and Arthur on my tree before I was consistent about citing my sources.

Now I'm forced to retrace my steps to demonstrate how I "know" what I think I know about Nellie, Walter, and Arthur. But that's not my only lesson.

Always read the original!

Nellie's first marriage, at the age of 20, was to Walter Alfred Lervis Sr. (1860-1897). Or so I had recorded all those years ago. I even had a specific date. But alas, no certificate attached.

After well more than an hour of finding nothing on the usual sites, I decided to look for Walter's son, whose existence I had noted on my tree, along with his wife's name.

Yay! I found his marriage cert. Gulp.

His father's surname is clearly shown, on the original cert, as Walter Lewis. Plugging that in, I immediately came up with Nellie and Walter's marriage cert. It showed LEWIS. Not Lervis. For all these years, I've had this man listed with an incorrect surname. Until now. Shame on me!

Capture the source as an image

Why blog about my mistakes? This re-do has one big advantage: Now that I've found the documentation, I'm doing screen shots and adding the media to my tree as genealogical proof.

This way, if the certs or other sources are ever withdrawn from public view or are otherwise unavailable, the images proving my sources will be on the tree. As images, not just links to online sources.

Sunday, February 3, 2019

"He Said, She Said" in Grandpa's Divorce

This is a photo of my husband's grandpa, James Edgar Wood (1871-1939). At the time of this photo, he was married to grandma Mary Slatter Wood (1869-1925), and they made their home in Cleveland, Ohio. After Mary died, James married his nephew's mother-in-law: Carolina "Carrie" Foltz Cragg (1871-?). The marriage was arranged to put a widow and a widower together, so neither would be alone, I was told by my husband's genealogist cousin.

Surprise! Wife #2 Before Wife #3

Several years ago, I unexpectedly discovered that James was married to wife #2 before he married Carrie. Wife #2 was Alice Hopperton Unger (1884-1930), who married James in Cleveland in September, 1926.

My late father-in-law (James's oldest son) said--in a 1980s interview--he believed his father married his housekeeper and there was some "hanky-panky" involved. With hindsight, it sounds like he was thinking of Alice, not Carrie, but he never named the woman and didn't have much to say about the whole thing.

Not so long ago, I found Alice's death cert and learned that she died in 1930 of heart problems. James married wife #3 in October, 1928. Obviously, James's marriage #2 was somehow dissolved before Alice's death and his marriage to wife #3. I narrowed the time frame to 1927-8 and began searching for divorce papers. I really wanted to know more to help round out our understanding of James as a person, and his relationships to people around him.

Surprise! James vs Alice AND Alice vs James 

Don't hesitate to look for divorce records. I called the clerk of the court at Cuyahoga County's to ask about divorce records from 1927-8. I was told to send an email with specific details. A few weeks later, the county clerk called me to say they had located the divorce records! They popped a photocopy in the mail to me for free. Twenty-five pages of divorce records! Surprisingly, not only did James try to divorce Alice, Alice filed her own petition for divorce soon afterward.

According to the paperwork, James filed for divorce on March 12, 1927. He complained that he and Alice had been separated since February, 1927. He charged she was "guilty of gross neglect of duty and extreme cruelty" toward him, saying she "refused to provide this plaintiff with his meals, laundry and care and neglected her household duties." He further complained that Alice "refused to bear children for him."

Bear in mind that James was 57 years old at the time he filed for divorce, and Alice was 43. James's youngest child was already 17. Hard for me to believe that James really wanted children with Alice,  or that Alice was eager to have children, but this is only speculation. I believe James's complaint relates to the "hanky-panky" my father-in-law remembered (his words, not mine).

For her part, Alice sued James for divorce in April, 1927. She said James hit her, causing her to leave their home the very next day; he was "quarrelsome" and was "penurious," not wanting to spend "for the necessities of life." Leading up to the separation, Alice had been ill and unable to perform household duties, yet James "refused and neglected to provide any help or assistance in the care of his household and was abusive in his talk."

Unfortunately, in this "he said, she said" situation, we can't really know the truth of what happened between James and Alice. All we have is the dueling divorce petitions.

James Wins Divorce, Alice Wins Alimony

By spring of 1928, the two divorce petitions were consolidated into one. James prevailed, winning his divorce and holding onto all the property he had brought into their brief marriage. Alice won a lump-sum alimony payment of $300 (the equivalent of $4,100 today). The payment was reduced to $250 if James paid within 30 days. Alice was most likely even sicker by this point and needed the money right away. .

Six months after the divorce from wife #2, James married wife #3, Carrie Cragg, and they moved to Jackson, MI. What happened to Carrie? I'm still searching for her death, because Carrie did not apparently accompany James when he returned to Cleveland and died in the home of his older son in 1939.

What Happened to Carrie?

Were James and Carrie divorced? Was he too ill for Carrie to care for? Or did Carrie not want to go to Cleveland with James at the end of his life? Where and when did Carrie die? My husband's cousin, who has been doing genealogy even longer than I have, gave me some intriguing ideas for answering these questions. The #genealogy adventure continues.

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

Friday, February 1, 2019

Looking for Teddy's Dairy in 1940

Click here to look for NYC building photos in the tax records
Wouldn't it be fun to go back in time and see what the residences and businesses of our ancestors looked like in, say, 1940? My ancestors on both sides were in New York City at the time, mainly in the Bronx, and I'm lucky that at least some photos are available in books (like Lloyd Ultan's The Beautiful Bronx, 1920-1950).

But not every building on every block is in those books. Even the New York Public Library's excellent digital photographic collection doesn't have every building on every street.

It turns out there is a super source of photographs of NYC buildings from 1940. It's free and it's online.

Photos in the NYC Municipal Archives

The NYC Municipal Archives holds these building photos, part of a database of 1940s tax records for all five boroughs. The photos were originally used to support property value assessments for every building in the city.

Now the digitized collection is a wonderful resource for genealogists whose ancestors lived in (or had a business in) New York City at that time. It's like Street View on Google Maps but set in the past of 1940, and only in black-and-white.

Searching For a Building Photo

The main portal to the photos allows visitors to choose a specific borough as the first step. At top, my choice of the Bronx. The next step is to browse or search for a building photo.

To search, you need the specific block and lot number of the property. That's not the same as the address. To find block and lot, click on the link on "NYCityMap" link and enter the street address and borough. Above is the result I got when I searched for 679 Fox Street, the Bronx address of the small grocery store called Teddy's Dairy, operated by Grandpa Teddy Schwartz and Grandma Minnie Farkas Schwartz in 1940.

Finding Teddy's Dairy

To see the actual photo, I plugged the block and lot number into the search box of the tax-photo page for the Bronx. Up came a black-and-white image of an apartment building with ground-floor retail space (see below). People are walking along, oblivious to the camera, and cars are parked along the curbs. It's an ordinary day in 1940.

Which storefront is Teddy's Dairy? The signs in the 1940 photo aren't crystal-clear. So I used Street View on Google Maps to confirm that the address is the corner store, with the entrance slightly up the street on the left. Today, that space is occupied by a food store, as it was in 1940, when my grandparents ran the corner store.

High-quality photos are for sale, but anyone can look at any building photo with a few clicks. More photographic time-travel is in my future as I click merrily through the Archives to see the buildings where these and other NYC ancestors lived and worked in 1940.

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

Wednesday, January 23, 2019

Imagining Breakfast with Bela Roth


Imagine if I could enjoy a delicious bagel for breakfast with Bela Bernath Roth (1860-1941). Bela is an in-law ancestor whose first wife was Zolli Sarah Kunstler Roth (d. 1893). Zolli was my great-grandma's sister.


Bela was born in Vasarosnameny, Szabolcs-Szatmar-Bereg, Hungary. Interestingly, due to clerical delays, his birth wasn't officially recorded until oh, well, actually 1889. There he is in the Hungarian records, above. Perhaps this was the year he married Zolli Kunstler?

They had three children together (Margaret, Alexander, and Joseph). Zolli died young in the 1890s. By 1901 or so, Bela had remarried, to a teenaged Bertha Batia Weiss (1885-1967). Bela and Bertha had three sons together and raised the other three children from Bela's first marriage.

Why Breakfast with Bela?

Why not wish to meet one of Bela's wives or children? Bela is a very important link between the Farkas family of my maternal Grandma Hermina Farkas Schwartz and the Kunstler, Roth, Weiss, and Wajman cousins I've found through genealogy. He was present in the Old World where the Farkas family lived and also in New York City, where he was definitely in touch with Grandma and her family. Bela died long before I was born, but he knew several generations of my family tree.

In fact, Bela was affectionately known as "Bela Basci" ("Uncle Bela") because he was the uncle, by marriage, of my Grandma Hermina and her siblings. Given his long life, residence on two continents, and the many branches of the family he knew personally, I have three questions I want to ask as we breakfast together.

Questions for Bela About Roth, Kunstler, Weiss, Wajman, and Farkas
  1. How did you meet your first wife, Zolli? I know that Zolli's mother's name was "Toby Roth" so I wondered whether she was related to you in some way?
  2. Why did was one of your sons named Joseph Roth, knowing that there were other Josephs in the Roth family?? Obviously, you and Zolli were honoring an ancestor by choosing this name. But I want you to know this created a mess of trouble for future genealogists. So now you have to explain how each of the three Joseph Roths is related to each other and to you and me. Please. I'll order us both a second cup of decaf while you explain.
  3. Was your second wife, Batia Bertha Weiss, a cousin? If so, please tell me how she was related to you (and to me)! Better yet, let's draw a tree together, showing how Farkas, Kunstler, Roth, Weiss, and Wajman relatives were related. Thanks, Bela Basci.
Thanks to Amy Johnson Crow for this week's #52Ancestors prompt.

Friday, January 18, 2019

Traditional and Patriotic Names in the Tree

My husband's family tree has lots and lots of traditional given names plus a few clearly patriotic names.

Among the most popular names on the tree is Thomas (there are 41 in the tree so far). Above, the 1860 Census record from Cabell county, VA (now Huntington, WV) showing Thomas Haskell Wood (1809-1890) and his son Thomas Jefferson Isaiah Haskell Wood (1848-1861). Sadly, young Thomas drowned before he turned 13 years old.

Young Thomas was born on the 4th of July, 1848. That was 22 years after President Thomas Jefferson died on the 4th of July, 1826. Perhaps that was one reason he was named after this president? The Wood tree contains only one other "Jefferson" given name, and he was born late in the 20th century.

Last year, I wrote about the 139 times John appears in this tree. Other popular male names on the tree are: Robert (43 instances), Charles (39 instances), and Samuel (21 instances).

On the female side, after the ever-popular Mary (121 instances), the most popular are: Elizabeth (54 instances), Ann/Anne/Anna (36 instances), and Margaret (35 instances).

My husband's family has a number of other patriotic-sounding names, including:
Benjamin Franklin Steiner, Benjamin Franklin Smith, and George Washington Howland.

Thanks to Amy Johnson Crow for this week's #52Ancestors prompt of "unusual names."

Sunday, January 6, 2019

Challenge: Personal Family History Scanfest 2019

Let Personal Family History Scanfest 2019 begin! This is the year my family's "modern history" photos (meaning since I was born, LOL) will be scanned and digitally organized and distributed.

I'm approaching the scanfest challenge as a process, to be accomplished little by little during the year:

  1. Gather albums from multiple sources. [Plenty are on hand, more to be gathered.]
  2. Rough sort photos by family, year, and/or theme (vacation, Christmas, etc). [Started.]
  3. Discard damaged and irrelevant photos and negatives. [One bag tossed today--photos with rips or stains were scanned and will be digitally repaired.]
  4. Separate good dupes to send to family members. [Going into the mail Monday.]
  5. Extract photos carefully from those awful magnetic albums, preserving labels. [In process]
  6. Scan a hundred or more at a time. (I love my Flip-Pal, set at high resolution, for speed and convenience.) Where appropriate, include handwritten label of place/date next to first photo scanned in a series. [One day scanned total: 181 good images!]
  7. Keep scanned snapshots in order in a temporary storage box, ready to be checked and then stored in a safe way. [in process]
  8. Arrange digital images into digital folders (again, by family/year/season/theme, etc.) and make digital dupes on flash drives for family members.
  9. Create a few special photobooks with descriptive captions to send to family members.*
  10. Have fun during the process, reminiscing and double-checking identifications and dates/places with family. 

Doing this little by little makes the scanfest and genealogical organization a lot less overwhelming. I highly recommend scanning with a family member, not just for the conversations but also for the extra hands ready to work with photos. Having my Sis partner with me doubles the fun--the time really flies by!

Have you been scanning your baby photos and other photos from "modern" family history, to preserve them and have digital versions backing up the physical images?

Thanks to Amy Johnson Crow for this second in the 2019 series of #52Ancestors prompts,  "challenge."

Special thanks to WikiTree for the Scan-a-Thon challenge, January 11-14, in coordination with GeneabloggersTribe.

Yes, I'm a bit early, but I'm also spreading my scanfest out over many weeks to share the fun with family!

*For privacy reasons, I will only upload selected photos of ancestors (not living people) to my online family trees.

Tuesday, January 1, 2019

January Genealogy Off to a Strong Start

Happy 2019! 

As the new year begins, I have four projects in the works for completion by January.

Two are for my husband's Wood family and two are for my Farkas family.


Above, project #1: Integrating the index entries for 1940-1944 meetings of the Farkas Family Tree association meeting minutes into the full index for the years 1933-1964.

I had previously created the index for minutes, not able to include most of the WWII years because they were missing from my cousin's collection. Then in 2018, a 2d cousin found the missing minutes and I scanned them and indexed just that collection.

Now I'm adding the 1940s entries from the separate index person by person into the larger index for the entire book (shown here at right). It's not difficult, just takes a bit of time to copy and paste entries. Little by little, it's getting done.

**UPDATE on 1/10: Completed!

Project #2: Assembling the complete Farkas Family Tree index, complete minutes, and updated introductory materials into a digital file and mailing a CD to my cousins. The package is way, way too large for email, and some cousins aren't into cloud storage. CDs are easy to mail and easy for recipients to read, copy, and store.

**UPDATE on 1/118: Final file was 1.5 GB, too large for even 2 CDs, so I bought a multipack of 4GB flash drives to mail. All were received by cousins and this project is OFFICIALLY COMPLETE.


Project #3: Interleaving acid-free buffered tissue paper between pages of the 1917 and 1926 photo albums created by my late father-in-law, Edgar James Wood (1903-1986). This will protect the photos for the long term. Tissue paper is in the house, ready to go!

Project #4: Reading carefully through the full divorce file from my husband's paternal grandfather, James Edgar Wood (1871-1939).

As shown at left, James filed to divorce wife #2, Alice Hopperton Unger, in April 1927, just 7 months after their marriage in September, 1926.

She counter-filed a few days later. Back and forth they filed. Now, thanks to the Cuyahoga County Clerk's office, which very kindly mailed me copies of all the paperwork (without charge!), I can finally figure out what happened, 92 years after the fact.

And this is only January, the first month--what a genealogy year it will be.

Thank you to Amy Johnson Crow for this #52Ancestors prompt to begin the new year.

Thursday, December 27, 2018

Preview of My Year in Genealogy - 2019

2019

I'm looking forward to a busy and rewarding year of #genealogy challenges, fun, breakthroughs, and connections in 2019.

As mentioned in my previous post, I went happily down the rabbit hole of unexpected family history developments in 2018 (including the very welcome surprise of receiving Farkas Family Tree documents, related to my mother's family, to scan, index, and share with cousins).

That's why I didn't accomplish all I'd planned to do when I previewed my 2018 agenda at the end of last December, so these two items are carried over to 2019.
  • I have two new family memory booklets in the planning stages. One will be about my mother (Daisy Schwartz Burk, 1919-1981) and her twin sister (Dorothy Helen Schwartz, 1919-2001). The other will be about my husband's parents (Marian McClure Wood, 1909-1983 and Edgar James Wood, 1903-1986).
  • I was planning more intensive investigations of my DNA matches, beginning with color-coding matches to see who fits where in the family tree. Then I heard about DNA Painter at RootsTech2018. Still, this went to the back burner in 2018. Not sure whether DNA will be a front-burner activity in 2019, but I will follow up the most promising of my DNA matches.
Another "resolution" for 2019 is to continue my genealogy education through attendance at Family Tree Live (London) and the Federation of Genealogical Societies Conference (Washington, D.C.). It will be wonderful to meet other genealogy buffs, chat with speakers, and connect with blogging/tweeting friends in person at these conferences. 

Most of all, I am excited about staying in touch with my cousins--perhaps even making contact with cousins I didn't know about. The family tree is alive with leaves representing cousins of all ages, all over the world, connected by our #familyhistory. I am so grateful for you, cousins, sharing what you know about our ancestors and forging new bonds that we hope will endure into the next generation.

--

This "resolutions" post is the final #52Ancestors challenge for 2018. As always, thank you to Amy Johnson Crow for a year of thought-provoking prompts. 

Wednesday, December 19, 2018

Remembering Aunt Jennie Farkas, the Nicest Aunt

Several of my cousins have shared fond memories of my great-aunt, Jennie (or Jenny) Katz Farkas (1886-1974).  She married Alex (Sandor) Farkas (1885-1948) on Christmas Eve, 1916, in New York City.

I remember Aunt Jennie as a constant, affectionate presence at Farkas Family Tree meetings. With no children of her own, she doted on her nieces, nephews, and their children.

I want to honor her as the "nicest aunt" for several reasons. Jennie was a top-notch professional dressmaker (not just family story, she also listed "dressmaker" as her occupation in 1920 Census).

Family legend is that she could look at a magazine photo or sketch of couture clothing and recreate it for herself or relatives. In fact, she made the bridal gown and all the ladies' dresses in the photo above, a family wedding celebrated in 1932. Jennie really went the extra mile to make the family look extra special, IMHO.

Another reason to honor and remember her is that the Farkas Family Tree organization was her idea in 1933. In the historian's report for 1959, her nephew Bob wrote: "Since the inception of the Tree, I would venture to say that she has been just about the most ardent supporter of our organization, and just about the most regular attender of meetings. With great respect and much love I dedicate this report to Jenny Farkas--AUNT JENNY."

Bob, I have to agree. Let me dedicate this week's #52Ancestors post to Aunt Jennie Katz Farkas, the nicest aunt and an ancestor to be remembered for her dedication to family.
PS: My great aunt's Hebrew name was "Sheindel" but never did I hear her called anything but Jennie.

Sunday, December 16, 2018

Not Naughty, But Not Necessarily Nice

My late father-in-law insinuated, during a family-history interview in the 1980s, that his father was doing something a bit naughty later in life.

Above, the man in question, James Edgar Wood (1871-1939). This was my husband's paternal grandfather, a carpenter and builder active in Cleveland Heights at the turn of the 20th century. His oldest son was my father-in-law, and the interview with him inspired me to hunt for more info decades later.

After the death of James's first wife, Mary Slatter Wood (1869-1925), James still had two teenaged sons at home. So 15 months after Mary's death, 55-year-old James married 35-year-old divorcee Alice Hopperton Unger (1880-1934). Alice listed her occupation as "none" while James's occupation was listed as "builder" on the marriage cert.

Sixty years after this marriage took place, my late father-in-law suggested that James married his housekeeper and there was some hanky-panky involved. The age difference may have been a factor in assessing this relationship. No mention of James's third marriage, by the way.

Well, this was not the whole story. Looking at the documents only, which is all I have, James may very well have married his housekeeper, if that's what Alice was in 1926. But he and Alice divorced some time in the next two years. I'm still trying to get that divorce record from Ohio. It's very likely the key to this family mystery.

In 1928, James married Carolina Foltz Cragg (1871-?), a match arranged by his nephew, Charles Francis Elton Wood. Why? Because Carolina was Charles's widowed mother-in-law and James was in need of a wife to run his household, is the way I heard the story from a Wood cousin in the know. No hanky-panky here, the family was in favor of this marriage so that neither of the older folks would be alone.
Why do I say that James wasn't necessarily nice? I took a closer look at the death of Alice, the second wife for a brief time. She was a "semi-invalid" at the time of her death in April, 1930. Her medical problems included a serious heart ailment and bronchial asthma. Poor Alice died less than a month after her 46th birthday.

Is it possible that James divorced Alice because her health prevented her from being a good housekeeper and step-mother to the two sons who remained at home? That would not have been nice, although I'm trying not to prejudge.*

*UPDATE: County Clerk responded and emailed me a poor quality divorce document, saying she would snail-mail a better copy. No charge! And guess what: I was correct--James sued Alice for divorce for (1) being unable to care for him and his two minor children from a previous marriage and (2) not speaking to him for long periods, among other reasons that are not clear on the copy of the copy. But the printed copy coming by mail will be more legible. Now, 90-odd years after the divorce, we will know what both sides said in court.

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

Wednesday, December 5, 2018

Winter Weddings in the Wood Family

The list of December weddings in my husband's Wood family tree is quite long. Here are just a few of the marriages in the calendar report generated by my RootsMagic software. Marriages from later in December will be shown in another post soon!

  • December 5: William Steiner and Catherine Evans Coder. Steiner (1827-1899) was my husband's 2d great uncle, born on the eve of Christmas Eve and married just weeks before his 22nd birthday. He was one of 6 boys and 3 girls, and worked as a plasterer in Tod, Crawford county, Ohio. The Steiner-Coder wedding took place 168 years ago today. In June of 1863, William registered for the Civil War Draft (see excerpt from ledger above) but did not serve, so far as I can determine.
  • December 11: Edson Larimer Everitt and Maggie Derr. Everitt (1862-1927) was hubby's 2d cousin, 3x removed. He was a farmer and married in Hocking, Ohio, at age 40, 116 years ago. His middle name, Larimer, comes from his great-grandfather, Isaac M. Larimer, a son of the original Larimer immigrant ancestor who was shipwrecked after leaving Northern Ireland.
  • December 18: Isaac Larimer Everitt and Ellen Smith. Isaac Everitt (1827-1892) was my husband's 1st cousin, 4x removed. He was also Edson's father...and he got married in December, as did his son 51 years later. Isaac registered for the Civil War Draft in 1863, listing his occupation as farmer.
  • December 12: Jessie Steiner and John R. Rummel. Jessie Steiner (1880-1947) was my husband's 1st cousin, 1x removed. Her marriage took place 117 years ago today, exactly one week and one day after her 21st birthday. She was a magazine agent, married to a druggist. She died one day after her 67th birthday. 
  • December 16: Emma O. Larimer and James Freeland. Emma (1848-1923) was hubby's 2d great aunt, the oldest daughter of Brice S. Larimer and Lucy E. Bentley. Emma was brought up in the rural town of Goshen, Indiana, married at the age of 21 and later, the family moved to New York City. Their wedding was 149 years ago.
Thanks to Amy Johnson Crow for this week's #52Ancestors prompt of "winter."

Friday, November 30, 2018

Remembering the Twins, 99 Years After Birth

My mother (Daisy Ruth Schwartz, 1919-1981) and her twin sister (Dorothy Helen Schwartz, 1919-2001) were born 99 years ago on December 4, 1919. Remembering them with love as their birthday approaches.

Their births were recorded by New York City, by county, as shown above in the index to 1919 births in the Bronx. Mom and Auntie were born in the family's apartment at 651 Fox Street, a walkup directly across the street from the elementary school they later attended.

Auntie Dorothy was always known as the older of the twins. Here's the proof: Above, the certificate numbers for Daisy R. Schwartz and Dorothy Schwartz are marked with arrows. Dorothy's certificate is 14223, and Daisy's is 14224. Clearly, Dorothy was born first!

The twins' older brother, Fred, was born in 1912. Like the twins, he was born at home, this time in the family's previous apartment at 202 Brown Place in the Bronx. That's a five-story walkup building that still stands, in the Mott Haven section.

So my aunt was actually the next-to-last child of her parents, Hermina Farkas Schwartz (1886-1964) and Tivador "Teddy" Schwartz (1887-1965). But only by about five minutes!

Thanks to Amy Johnson Crow for this week's #52Ancestors challenge of "next to last."

Thursday, November 22, 2018

The Fortune and the Mayflower


EVERYONE knows the name of the first ship from Europe to reach Massachusetts in 1620. But not everyone knows the name of the second ship, the Fortune, which arrived in November of 1621.

The Fortune is vitally important to my husband's family tree: young Thomas Cushman, a passenger on that second ship, later married my husband's Mayflower ancestor, Mary Allerton.

With Mayflower 2020 in mind, I've been doing a bit more research via the NEHGS and via the Hathitrust Digital Library, where there are more than 115,000 results for the phrase "Mayflower descendants" (as shown at top).

The four Pilgrim ancestors in my husband's family tree are:
  • Degory Priest, who planned to send for wife Sarah Allerton Priest later, unfortunately didn't survive the first winter. 
  • Isaac Allerton, whose first wife (out of three) was
  • Mary Norris Allerton...unfortunately, she didn't survive the first winter.
  • Mary Allerton, a daughter of Isaac and Mary, who lived into her 80s. Until she died on Nov. 28, 1699, she was known as the final surviving Mayflower passenger.
Wishing you all a happy and healthy Thanksgiving as my #52Ancestors "Thankful" prompt this week.

Friday, November 16, 2018

John and Mary Appear HOW Many Times in the Wood Tree?

Do you know exactly how many times certain common names appear in your family tree?

For this week's #52Ancestors challenge, I set out to count the number of males named John and the number of females named Mary in my husband's ancestry.  I knew there were a lot, but I was surprised at the actual number.

Using RootsMagic's Explorer function, I searched my husband's family tree (combining mother's and father's sides), which contains 2,665 people in all.

First, I searched for "Mary" in the given name field. As shown above, the software found "Mary" as either a first given name or a second given name. "Mary Elizabeth" was counted, as were entries like "Margaret Mary," because both have "Mary" in the given name field.

Then I searched for "John, which brought up "John" and "Johnathan" plus entries like "Thomas John" because "John" appeared somewhere in the field for given name.

In all, the software found:
  • 121 Mary entries            and
  • 139 John entries
So there really are a lot of John and Mary names in the tree! (Five "Mary Wood" entries and five "John Larimer" entries show how multiple generations followed this naming tradition.)

Try it for yourself and see how many "John" and "Mary" names are on your tree!

By the way, I noticed some less common given names for females in the Wood tree: Elvea, Perlina, Floyda, Melvina, Zula, Asenath, Ora, Sophronia, Capitola, and Tatsy.

Among the less common given names for males in the Wood tree are: Restcomb, Train, Green, Ormond, Degory, and Glynn.

Thanks to Amy Johnson Crow for this week's #52Ancestors prompt of "random fact."


Saturday, November 10, 2018

Two Beards and a Mystery

This week's challenge in the #52Ancestors series is "bearded." I have two bearded ancestors in old family photos. One is positively identified, one is a bit of a mystery.

Above, my bearded great-grandfather Herman Yehuda Schwartz (b. 1850s?- d. in 1920s). Herman was married to my great-grandma Hani Simonowitz (1860s-1930ish). They raised their family in Ungvar, Hungary (now Uzhhorod, Ukraine), a bustling market town back in the day that is now a regional administrative center. Herman and Hani were the parents of my maternal grandfather, Tivador Schwartz (1887-1965).

The wonderful photo of Herman came directly from my 2d cousin on that side of the family. Although I wish I had more specific info, at least Herman has been positively identified by his granddaughter, who treasured this photo as a link to the past.

Now for the mystery man with the beard. The photo shown here and a similar photo have been in the hands of my father's Burk family for decades. It is probably a photo of my great-grandfather Solomon Elias Birck (late 1850?-1900s?), the husband of Nekhe Gelle Shuham (1850s?-1900s?). They lived in Gargzdai, Lithuania, a town known by many names in many languages.

I know the names of these great-grandparents because my grandfather (Isaac Burk, 1882-1943) and his siblings listed their parents and/or hometown on various documents.

This mystery man with a beard bears a very close resemblance to my father and others in his family. That, plus the fact that my 2d cousin has an almost identical photo of this same man passed down in her part of the family, is why I believe it is Solomon Elias (or Elias Solomon, depending on the document).

Thanks to Amy Johnson Crow for the #52Ancestors prompt of beards.

Tuesday, October 30, 2018

Friendly, Not Frightful, Halloween Cards

In the 1910s, my husband's father and uncles in Cleveland, OH, frequently received penny-postcard holiday greetings from relatives across the miles. These were friendly (not frightful) messages to let the Wood youngsters know they were in the hearts of their family.

Here are two of my favorites. Rachel Ellen "Nellie" Wood (1864-1954) sent these and other colorful greeting cards to the four sons of her younger brother, James Edgar Wood (1871-1939). Nellie lived in Chicago, James lived in Cleveland, but they were able to visit each other from time to time.

"Aunt Nellie" Wood was married first to Walter Alfred Lervis (1860-1897) at the age of 20. After his death, she married Samuel Arthur Kirby (1860-1939).

"Aunt Nellie" had a special fondness for these nephews, as revealed through the messages on her holiday cards. She remembered their hobbies, sent get-well wishes when one broke an arm, and urged them to continue their studies.

Some of the penny postcards were signed "Uncle Arthur" (in another handwriting), which made me smile even more. The Wood boys were being treated, not tricked, for Halloween!

Amy Johnson Crow's #52Ancestors prompt for this week is "frightening."

Saturday, October 27, 2018

RIP, Bela "Bacsi" Roth

Bela Bernard Roth (1860*-1941) was married to my maternal great-grandmother's sister, Zolli/Sali Kunstler. I know Zolli died young because my wonderful cousin B saw her very worn gravestone while visiting the cemetery in NagyBereg (now in Ukraine) twenty years ago.

Bela and Zolli had three children together, Margaret, Alex (Sandor), and Joseph. After Zolli died, Bela married Bertha Batia Weiss (1885-1965) and they had three sons together: Hugo, Theodore, and Ernest.

Bela was affectionately nicknamed "Bela Bacsi" ("Uncle" Bela, in Hungarian) by my Farkas Family. Cousins still remember the family talking about him, and he is mentioned twice in the Farkas Family Tree monthly minutes.

First, he wrote to the tree in 1938, on the occasion of the death of his sister-in-law, Lena Kunstler Farkas (1865-1938--my great-grandma). The other mention was when the Farkas Family Tree sent a condolence gift on the occasion of Bela's death.

Sadly, Bela died on November 3, 1941, when he was hit by a truck on the street near his home in Queens, New York. He died the same day of internal injuries and was buried the following day in Riverside Cemetery, Saddle Brook, New Jersey.

If I could ask Bela one question, I would ask him to tell me how his son Joseph is related to the other Joseph Roths so I can untangle the Weiss and Wajman family branches of the tree! "Cause of Death" is this week's #52Ancestors prompt by Amy Johnson Crow.

*Bela apparently was born on 10 August 1860, according to his very, very delayed birth record documented in Hungary in . . . 1889. His wasn't the only delayed birth record documented on the same page in 1889. I'm wondering whether he recorded his birth so he could get married? His first child, with first wife Zolli Kunstler, was born in 1892, but I don't know their marriage date (yet).

Wednesday, October 17, 2018

Historical Fiction Reveals Real Conflict in Ancestral Town

If you haven't checked out both fiction and nonfiction to understand the lives of your ancestors, give historical fiction a try. Historical fiction is often (but not always) based on historical fact. The characters aren't real, but in many cases, the daily lives and family ups/downs described in a period novel or short story will provide a compelling sense of time and place.

Five years ago, while I was attending FGS 2013, my husband spent time in Wabash, Indiana, where some of his mother's ancestors were pioneering farmers. The local historian recommended we read a young adult book loosely based on a real family that lived in the area at the same time as Benjamin McClure and Sarah Denning McClure, hubby's 2d great-grandparents.

The book is The Wild Donahues by Elisabeth Hamilton Friermood. In an author's note, Friermood says "Years ago my father told me about a house he lived in as a boy, and about the rascally family that had built it long before his time, in pre-Civil War days."

Rascally is an understatement. Friermood read through actual news clippings from the time and learned a lot about the family's "dishonest dealings." She transformed the real family into the "wild Donahues" and wrote about the many conflicts caused by this family in rural Indiana in 1860. The human story (of a young orphaned girl coming of age) plays out against the backdrop of slavery, hostility toward Native Americans, and the rise of Abraham Lincoln. Not to mention the villainy of the Donahue family (murder is just the start).

Author Elisabeth Hamilton Friermood was born in Marion, Indiana, and grew up to be a librarian in the Marion Public Library and, later, in the Dayton, Ohio library. She heard stories from her parents and grandparents about the Indiana of their childhoods--and, with additional research, turned those stories into YA books that bring Indiana's past to life in a dramatic way.

So if you're interested, ask a historian or librarian to recommend historical fiction of the time and place where your ancestors lived. My brother-in-law read and enjoyed The Wild Donahues for the setting and atmosphere of the period as much as (or more than) the twists and turns in the heroine's life. The cover art, at top, suggests the bit of light romance that runs through the book, rather than the day-to-day realities and dastardly deeds depicted in the chapters.

Thanks to Amy Johnson Crow's #52 Ancestors for this prompt.

Thursday, October 11, 2018

Sports: Leaping Rooftops, Bronx Bombers, and Skating

Leaping across rooftops, no safety net in sight. That was my big-city-born-and-bred father's childhood "sport."

Harold Burk (1909-1978), my Dad, grew up in New York City's Jewish Harlem, on 109th Street near Fifth Avenue. As a teen, he and his friends would dare each other to leap across the rooftops of the 6 story tenements built close together in the neighborhood. When he told me this story, he seemed a bit amazed that he had survived--me too! No net, and no cape (it was before the invention of Superman).

Dad became a travel agent (at right, in his lobby office at the Savoy Plaza Hotel in New York City) and soon after marrying Mom, Daisy Schwartz (1919-1981), they moved to the Bronx. Only a short subway ride away from Yankee Stadium! No wonder Dad loved the Yankees as his spectator sport of choice. Every summer, he'd take his daughters to a few ball games. We were lucky enough to see many of the Yankee greats of the 1960s, stars like Mickey Mantle and Roger Maris. When not at the stadium, he would listen on those tinny 1960s transistor radios.

Of course, I still root for the Yankees (in vain, recently). But my personal spectator sport of choice is figure skating. Note I said "spectator sport" (meaning I don't actually skate, just attend skating events or watch on TV). Now you know why Winter Olympics, not Summer Olympics, are my favorite. 

#52Ancestors - Thanks to Amy Johnson Crow for this week's prompt.