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

Wednesday, July 18, 2018

Earworm Farkas Family Tree Song

Moritz Farkas, patriarch of Farkas Family Tree,
with twin granddaughters, Dorothy and Daisy 
When the Farkas Family Tree association held monthly meetings, 1930s through 1960s, members would all sing the family song, loud and strong. As a tyke, I quickly learned the melody, which is Battle Hymn of the Republic.

Why use the music from that song? My guess: It was easy for adults of ages to dredge up from memory and easy to teach to the littlest Farkas folks. Like me. It's an earworm to this day.

Here are the first stanza and chorus of the song, written by my great-aunt, Ella Farkas, a daughter of the Farkas patriarch and matriarch:
The Farkas clan has now all gathered
One and all are here
Time for all cares to be scattered
Faces bright and clear,
Jokes and puns and smiles and fun,
Are ready to begin,
The clan has gathered now!
CHORUS:
Farkas, Farkas is the password.
Sing on high that it can be heard
That we all are here and now cheer:
The Farkas Family Tree!
As the children of Moritz Farkas and Leni Kunstler Farkas married and had children of their own, Aunt Ella expanded the song. Eventually, she wrote two additional stanzas to include the married surnames of her Farkas sisters and the married surnames of the next generation. The final stanza concludes: A proud family tree . . . as the Farkas Clan grows on!

When a group of Farkas descendants got together a decade ago, we sang the song and recalled the fun of joining in the musical tradition during family tree meetings in our youth.

MUSIC - This week's #52Ancestors prompt from Amy Johnson Crow.

Saturday, July 14, 2018

Ancestral Travels to America

How much distance did my grandparents and great-grands cover in coming to America from their homelands in Eastern Europe? All apparently sailed in steerage, never telling descendants very much about what must have been a difficult and uncomfortable trip. None lived near a port, so their travels also included a journey by foot or wagon or train to the port where they boarded a ship to cross the Atlantic.
  • 4430 miles. Above, my maternal grandfather's "as the crow flies" route from Ungvar, Hungary (now Uzhhorod, Ukraine) to New York City in 1902. Grandpa Theodore Schwartz was a teenager and the first in his family to leave for America. With his encouragement (and probably his financial help), an older brother and a younger sister also came to America. Happily, I'm in touch with their grandchildren, my 2d cousins.
  • 4460 miles. My maternal great-grandparents, Morris Farkas and Leni Kunstler Farkas, left for America as adults, coming separately from where they had married and lived in the area of modern-day Berehovo, Ukraine. Morris arrived first, with Leni arriving later (and their first 8 children joining them afterward in two groups). Morris missed his homeland and longed to return, but Leni wanted a better life and more opportunity for their growing family. 
  • 4200 miles. My paternal Grandma Henrietta Mahler arrived from Riga as a preteen. She sailed past the Statue of Liberty in the year it opened (1886). I'm still following up on the possibility that Henrietta was a cousin of some kind to her husband, Isaac Burk, connected through the Shuham part of their family trees. 
  • 4670 miles. My twenty-something paternal Grandpa Isaac Burk took the journey to North America in two hops. First, he left Gargzdai, Lithuania for Manchester, England. After staying with relatives and learning some English for a year or more, he sailed to Canada but got very seasick. He got off the ship at the first stop in Canada and continued to New York overland. Of all my ancestors, Isaac Burk had the longest journey from his home town to America.
Thank you to Amy Johnson Crow for this week's "Travel" prompt in her #52Ancestors series.

Monday, June 25, 2018

The Mysterious David Mahler

My great uncle David Mahler (1882-1964) was a bit of a mystery in my paternal grandmother's Mahler family. And, I understand, a bit of a black sheep. I never met him in person, but I heard stories and found intriguing records that raised more questions than they answered.

David was born in Latvia, the second child of Tillie Jacobs Mahler and Meyer Elias Mahler. I believe he was named for Meyer's father, David Akiva Mahler (who was my 2d great-grandpa).

As an adult, David had a variety of occupations: paper hanger (age 18, according to 1900 Census); driver (age 23, according to 1905 NY Census); rigger (age 35, according to WWI draft registration); motion picture technician (age 58, according to 1940 Census); utility man, Columbia Studios, motion picture industry (age 82, according to California death certificate). He said he was living in High Point, NC in 1935--why? I haven't found him in the 1930 Census yet, so who knows what he was doing at that time!

There are a few other family mysteries surrounding this great uncle. His WWII draft registration card indicates he had a tattoo, D.M., which I'll bet his mother never saw (and would have disapproved of). When, where, and why did he get it? Maybe while a rigger in New Jersey during WWI?

An even bigger mystery: David told the 1940 Census that he was married, yet he was living in the "Universal Hotel" without his wife, along with dozens and dozens of other unrelated people.

His death cert mentions that he was widowed, the informant being his sister Sarah, who also lived in California. Well, the only David Mahler marriage record in California that seems remotely possible is in September, 1937 to Charlotte Schlyer, but I haven't sent for it at this point.

Although David bounced around during his life, he wasn't really a black sheep until the day he helped out in his brother-in-law Louis's New York City paint store.

The way Louis's granddaughter heard the story and shared it with to me, things were quiet in the store, so Louis decided (uncharacteristically) to leave just a little earlier than usual and take his wife out to dinner. He asked David to watch the store and lock up.

David went into the back room for a smoke (and a drink, if I recall). He fell asleep and the lit cigarette accidentally touched off a roaring fire that destroyed the store and financially ruined his brother-in-law. Not surprisingly, the family got upset with David.

Ne'er-do-well David was lucky to be "offered" a job 3,000 miles away, at Columbia Studios in Hollywood. This was thanks to the kindness of another Mahler in-law, who kept David on the payroll for years. In 1964, David died of cancer at the Motion Picture Country Hospital, his residence listed as the Universal Hotel (the same as during the 1940 census). Rest in peace, great uncle David, and know that you are remembered, warts and all.

Thank you to Amy Johnson Crow for this week's "Black Sheep" prompt in her #52Ancestors series.

Monday, June 18, 2018

Jane: The Name in the Middle

Margaret Jane Larimer McClure at right, with daughter Lucille Ethel McClure
and son-in-law Edward DeVeld
My sis-in-law has always told me that Jane is the traditional middle name for females in her family.

Not in the family tree of my late father-in-law, Edgar James Wood (1903-1986). One of Edgar's aunts was Jane Ann Wood Black (1846-1936), the eldest child of my husband's great-grandparents (Thomas Haskell Wood and Mary Amanda Demarest). None of the earlier Wood family females carry this middle name, so far as I can discover.

We learned that Jane is the most popular middle name in both sides of the family of the mother-in-law I unfortunately never met, Marian Jane McClure (1909-1983). She gave her daughter that middle name, and in turn my sis-in-law gave her daughter that middle name.

Marian's mother Margaret Jane Larimer (1859-1913) and grandmother Elizabeth Jane Rinehart (1834-1905) both had Jane as their middle name. Larimer and McClure ancestors often gave Jane as the middle name of one girl in each generation.

The McKibbin family, which intermarried with Larimer ancestors, included a number of women with Jane as their middle name. Same tradition in the Hilborn family, which intermarried with the Rinehart family.

By the way, I identified all the ancestors with "Jane" as a first or middle name by doing a search with my RootsMagic7 software. Very convenient way to prep for this #52Ancestors post.

Monday, June 4, 2018

Going to the Chapel - His Side of the Family

So many ancestors were married in June, in my husband's family tree and in my tree! I used RootsMagic7's calendar report to see who was married, when, and how long ago, tree by tree. This is a good opportunity to revisit my research, summarize what I know, see what's missing, and take the next step. Thanks to Amy Johnson Crow for this #52 Ancestors prompt.

Here are some of the early June marriages in my husband's tree:


  • June 3, 1903: Hubby's great-aunt Mary Amanda Wood married August Jacob Carsten 115 years ago in Toledo, Ohio. Sadly, Mary Amanda died at age 32, just months after giving birth to their fourth child. Mary Amanda was named for her mother, Mary Amanda Demarest Wood.
  • June 10, 1903: At top, the license application for hubby's Grandma Floyda Mabel Steiner and Grandpa Brice Larimer McClure, who married 115 years ago in Wyandot county, Ohio. Only through this record did I discover that Floyda had been married before. She was brave enough to divorce the first husband, who called her vile names and threatened her. Plus she won an alimony settlement!
  • June 12, 1856: My husband's 2d great-uncle Samuel D. Steiner married Maria L. Forrest 162 years ago in Crawford county, Ohio. While researching the Steiner family in Wyandot county a few years ago, I discovered that Samuel had been arrested for aiding/abetting burglary and not showing up in court. What happened? Don't know yet, but I did find Samuel at home in the 1880 census. 
  • June 13, 1847: My husband's 3d great-aunt, Elizabeth E. Bentley, married Emanuel Light 171 years ago in Elkhart, Indiana, as shown on the marriage license below. During the 1850s, Elizabeth and Emanuel left their home and traveled west, as her father had done in 1848 early in the Gold Rush. The Light family farmed in California. Despite years of research, the Bentley family's ancestors are still a bit of a mystery, one of my genealogical works in progress.


  • Friday, June 1, 2018

    DNA Results: Not Even Close






























    Dear cousins I don't yet know but hope are out there,

    Up front, I have to say I'm sincerely grateful for all the cousins I've connected with through genealogy! I treasure our kinship, our friendship, and the shared history of our ancestors.

    But I can't help wondering: Do I have more cousins I haven't yet found?

    Of course I'm using conventional methods to trace all the branches of my tree. I've also hopped on the genetic genealogy bandwagon, posting my results to multiple sites. New matches pop up regularly.

    However, as shown above in last week's Ancestry DNA matches (sorted by date, not relationship) most are not even close. At best, if I followed up on this lot, I might find a 5th cousin. And only one of these matches is in the "good confidence" range.

    Even more discouraging, just 4 of this week's crop have bothered to post any kind of family tree. Two of those are private trees, making it difficult to check out potential relationships. The latest matches on other DNA sites are also distant cousins, and therefore not high on my priority list.

    When Family Tree DNA finally delivers my long-awaited mtDNA analysis results (delayed three times already), I want to use that data to focus on my maternal line.

    So, dear cousins I don't yet know, I hope we connect with each other. Don't be a stranger.

    Thanks to Amy Johnson Crow for the #52Ancestors prompt, "so far away," my starting point for this post.

    Saturday, May 26, 2018

    Saving WWII Letters for the Next Generation

    One of my 2d cousins was kind enough to lend me a scrapbook of letters written by my mother's 1st cousins and her sister serving in World War II.

    The letter-writers were the American-born grandchildren of Leni Kunstler Farkas (1865-1938) and Moritz Farkas (1857-1936). Leni and Moritz, my great-grandparents, were born in Hungary and came to New York City at the turn of the 20th century. Their children (my grandma and her generation) formed the Farkas Family Tree (the FFT) association during the Depression to keep the family close-knit.

    One by one, as these grandchildren of the matriarch and patriarch joined the military in the 1940s, they wrote letters to be read out loud during the family tree's monthly meetings. In all, five men and one woman wrote home about their WWII experiences. They were dedicated, patriotic, and often quite candid about their military experiences.

    Above, a letter from my mother's first cousin Harry, who trained as an X-ray technician after enlisting in the Army in 1943. He was stationed at Camp Grant (Rockford, IL), Lawson General Hospital (Atlanta, GA), Fort Lewis (Tacoma, WA), and Fort Jackson (Columbia, SC), among other places.

    While being shipped cross-country every few months for additional training, Harry wrote about wanting to finally, finally work with patients, which he eventually did. After the war, he went to medical school, set up a practice in a small town, and was sorely missed when he passed away at age 89.

    My aunt Dorothy Schwartz (1919-2001) enlisted as a WAAC in 1942. She was keenly aware of what she was and wasn't permitted to say in her letters, describing where she was stationed without actually naming the place or revealing other details. In the letter above, she reassures her family by mentioning the beautiful countryside in England (no town mentioned) and gives the latest news about a WAAC controversy over wearing "overseas hats" when out and about.

    At the same time, my aunt didn't mince words when expressing her outrage about German prisoners of war being allowed to stand and watch while U.S. servicewomen handled jobs like cleaning mess halls that could and should have been performed by the POWs. She was also realistic about the dim prospects for an early peace in Europe, from her vantage point of being the administrative support for military officials.

    On this Memorial Day weekend, I salute my cousins and all the men and women who have defended our country over the years. This military post is for week 21 of #52Ancestors.

    Wednesday, May 23, 2018

    So Many Ancestors, So Many Languages

    For #52Ancestors #20, I'm trying to identify the different languages spoken by key ancestors in my family tree and my husband's tree.

    My paternal grandparents (above) probably spoke three languages apiece. Grandma Henrietta Mahler Burk (1881-1954) was born in Latvia, and surely spoke Latvian as well as English and, I'm guessing, Yiddish. Possibly she spoke Russian too, although I don't know for sure.

    Her husband, Isaac Burk (1882-1943) was born in Lithuania, and spoke that language plus Russian and maybe even Yiddish in addition. Isaac certainly picked up some English when he stopped in Manchester, England, to stay with family in 1901, en route from Lithuania to North America.
    My maternal grandparents also spoke multiple languages. Grandpa Theodore Schwartz (1887-1965), shown above escorting my mother down the aisle at her wedding, had a way with languages. His native Hungarian tripped off his tongue, but he could also speak several other languages, including English--which is why the steamship lines employed him in NYC as a runner around Ellis Island in the 1910s.

    His wife, Hermina Farkas Schwartz (1886-1964), was fluent in Hungarian, having been born there, and learned Yiddish in the Lower East Side of NYC as an immigrant. Also she learned English in NYC night school.

    In my husband's Wood family tree, there are three adult Mayflower ancestors (Degory Priest, Isaac Allerton, Mary Norris Allerton). Therefore, in addition to English, they may have learned some Dutch when the Pilgrims fled to the Netherlands prior to sailing to the New World. Once in Plymouth, perhaps they learned a few words to talk with Native American tribes? Photo above shows my late father-in-law (Edgar James Wood, 1903-1986) at left with two of his Wood brothers.

    Also in my husband's McClure line, his ancestor Halbert McClure (1684-1754) was born in County Donegal, and sailed to Philadelphia with his family in the 1740s. Because the McClures were originally from Isle of Skye, hubby's ancestor may have spoken Scottish Gaelic or Gaelic (or both). On arrival in the American colonies, however, the McClures would most likely have learned English, because they walked from Philadelphia to Virginia. They would probably need to speak English to buy provisions along the way. Once in Virginia, they bought land--again, a transaction that probably required English.

    Thursday, May 3, 2018

    A Close-up Look at One Brick-Wall Mother

    Combining two #52Ancestors challenges ("Close Up" and "Mother's Day") with this month's Genealogy Blog Party theme of "Marvelous Mothers," I thought it would be fun to take a closer look at a particular brick-wall mother on my husband's tree.

    Eleanor Kenny (1762-1841) was hubby's 4th great-grandma. She is intriguing because, according to some family trees, she is shown as the daughter of James Kenny, a private in the Cumberland County (PA) militia who died during the Revolutionary War in 1784. He served in the 7th Co., 1st Battalion of this militia.

    Eleanor's father (hubby's 5th great-grandpa) would be the first direct family connection to that war, if this is the right Eleanor and right James Kenny.

    Now, before you say "grain of salt," this James Kenny's will specifically lists his daughter "Elinor Kenny" (she wasn't yet married). That's not enough, of course, but consider that one of the witnesses was . . . Brice Smith, who married Eleanor Kenny one year after her father died. Seems more likely that this is hubby's family after all.

    The only other clues I currently have about Eleanor Kenny are:
    • Her marriage to Brice Smith took place on Aug. 23, 1785 in Carlisle, Cumberland county, PA. The Family Search transcription of the original ledger is shown above.
    • She is mentioned (as "Elenor") in her husband's will of 1828. So she was clearly alive when he died.
    • She is buried in Driver Cemetery, Bremen, Fairfield county, Ohio, alongside her husband. The Find A Grave memorial provided her birth/death dates and shows her as "Ellen Smith."
    So very possibly this James Kenny is hubby's 5th great-granddaddy and his only ancestor who we know fought in the Revolutionary War. And I discovered this link by taking a closer look at his probable daughter Eleanor, an elusive brick-wall mother on my husband's tree.

    Wednesday, April 25, 2018

    Sad Family History Buried in Oceola #2

    A few years ago, hubby and I took a genealogy trip to Ohio to see where his Steiner ancestors lived and pay our respects at their burial sites.

    Tucked away in a less-traveled part of Crawford County, Ohio, was Oceola #2 Cemetery, shown above. Since this week's #52Ancestors challenge by Amy Johnson Crow is all about cemeteries, I'm looking back at our time there.

    Edward George Steiner (1830-1880) and Elizabeth Jane Rinehart (1834-1905) were my husband's maternal great-grandparents. They were born, married, and lived their entire lives in Ohio. Both are buried in historic Old Mission Cemetery, Nevada, Wyandot county, OH, a couple of miles away from Oceola #2.

    Most but not all of Edward and Elizabeth Steiner's 9 children are also buried in Old Mission Cemetery. And yes, that's the cemetery where the famous gravestone for Christiana Haag is located--the stone showing her death date as February 31. (Of course, like everybody else, I took a photo as a reminder that gravestones are not necessarily correct!)

    Once we left Old Mission Cemetery and located Oceola #2 (a bit off the beaten track), we found the gravestones for two other children born to Edward and Elizabeth. Sad to say, their eldest, "infant son Steiner," was born and died on October 23, 1852. Their second child, Elvaretta, was born some time in 1854 and unfortunately died on February 17, 1855.

    As heartbreaking as those little grave sites were, we already knew that, thankfully, the next child born to the Steiner family was a son who lived to be 80 years old!

    Saturday, April 21, 2018

    Do the "Write" Thing for Genealogy: Set the Stage

    Harold Burk proposed to Daisy Schwartz on the last day of 1945 - a wintery, snowy day!
    When writing family history, we can help our readers envision the lives of our ancestors (and what influenced their actions and decisions) by "setting the stage."

    This week's 52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks challenge by Amy Johnson Crow, about "storms," is a perfect prompt for setting the stage. I've been researching how weather affected my ancestors, to make the everyday lives of my ancestors more vivid and add drama to my family history.

    Setting the Stage for My Parents' Engagement

    I wanted to know what the weather was like on the final evening of 1945, when my parents (Harold Burk and Daisy Schwartz) got engaged. They had been dating since mid-October--just a couple weeks after Harold got out of the Army. Daisy hoped and believed that he would pop the question soon, and he chose that special night to propose.

    Because both my parents were living in New York City, I researched the weather by clicking on Weather Underground's history tab. I entered the location (you can enter any city) and then the date of December 31, 1945. The result: It was a cold day (low of 28, high of 39 degrees F), but not windy. Just under a quarter-inch of snow fell that day. I can use this info when writing about my father proposing to my mother on a wintery New Year's Eve, with a dusting of snow all around. Sounds like a romantic setting, doesn't it?

    Who Lived Through the Blizzard of 1888?

    Another way to "set the stage" in family history is to consider who might have been affected by a terrible storm like the Blizzard of 1888. It came on suddenly, and dumped lots of snow on my ancestors who lived in New York City on Sunday, March 11, 1888. In fact, the city was paralyzed. Who in my family's past got caught in this snowstorm?

    My paternal great-grandparents, Meyer Elias Mahler and Tillie Jacobs Mahler, were then living on the Lower East Side of Manhattan, in a tenement on Chrystie Street. Their second son, Morris Mahler, was born on Sunday, February 27, 1888--exactly two weeks before the Blizzard.

    Did the heat stay on as the snow piled up? Did the family have enough food? How many days were they forced to stay inside until the city got the streets cleared? I don't know the answers to these questions, but raising them is a good way to show how ancestors were real people coping with real (and very challenging) situations.

    The Hail Storm That Brought My Family to New York

    Moritz Farkas
    My maternal great-grandpa, Moritz Farkas, supervised farmland and vineyards for his family and in-laws in Hungary. One year, he saved money by not buying crop insurance. That was the year a big hail storm destroyed the crops. Financially ruined, Moritz left for America and never returned. His wife followed him to New York City a year later, and they sent for their children to join them.

    So a huge hail storm in Hungary set the stage for my family's journey across the ocean. If not for hail, I might not be here today to keep these family memories alive for the next generation.

    For more ideas about bringing family history to life and sharing with relatives, please see my book, Planning a Future for Your Family's Past, available in paperback and Kindle

    Sunday, April 15, 2018

    One Memorable Tax Day in Family History

    April 15th was a special day for Theodore Wilson McClure (1834-1927), the eldest son of hubby's great-great-grandpa, Benjamin McClure (1812-1896).

    On April 15, 1858, Theodore was married to Louisa Jane Austin (1837-1924), in Wabash county, Indiana. Actually, this was Louisa's second marriage. (What happened to her first husband, John Donalson/Donaldson? They were married on May 17, 1855, but I haven't yet found his death record and of course no divorce record. Maybe a newspaper search will give me clues...)

    One hundred years ago today, on April 15, 1918, the Wabash Plan Dealer published a front-page account of Louisa and Theodore's 60th wedding anniversary. The newspaper wrote about the original 1858 ceremony:
    "The Rev. Cooper of the M.E. [Methodist] Church was the officiating minister, and conducted the service at 5 o'clock. The wedding feast was one of the bountiful ones, read about more often than seen in present times, and included venison, wild turkeys, and ducks."
    By 1918, Theodore and Louisa might well have been paying federal income tax...his occupation was "justice of the peace" according to the Wabash, Indiana city directory. Earlier in his career, he had been a farmer and storekeeper. His 1927 death cert says he was a miller.

    Thanks to Amy Johnson Crow's #52 Ancestors challenge, I looked up when Tax Day first took place (March 1, 1914)--and noted two other years when new tax deadlines took effect (March 15, 1918 and April 15, 1955). Family history brings American history alive!

    Wednesday, April 4, 2018

    Search for Maiden Aunt Dora Leads to New Discovery

    For years I tried to identify every single person in the dozens of photos taken at the 1946 wedding of my parents, Harold Burk (1909-1978) and Daisy Schwartz (1919-1981).

    However, one tall and elegant lady wasn't familiar. She appeared in all the photos of my father's Mahler family, but neither I nor the Mahler cousins I knew could identify this lady. Then I was lucky enough to hear from another Mahler second cousin interested in genealogy! He immediately recognized this fashionably-dressed lady as a favorite maiden aunt: Dora Lillie Mahler.

    Now I'm trying to pinpoint Dora's birth date. Here are her ages as recorded in each Census:

    • 1900 US census: 6 years old
    • 1905 NY census: 11
    • 1910 US census: 15
    • 1915 NY census: 20
    • 1920 US census: 24
    • 1925 NY census: 30
    • 1930 US census: 35
    • 1940 US census: ?? - FOUND! 45 years old 

    Where was Dora in 1940? I tried several sources for the 1940 Census, knowing that each site indexes records differently. Tillie was long widowed and Dora was unmarried and had health problems. I'm certain they were sharing an apartment in the Bronx. Well, I haven't yet found the records I expected, but I'll search by location and expect to find them very shortly.**

    Meantime, in researching Dora, I did stumble across a surprising discovery:

    As this transcription shows, great-grandma Tillie and great-grandpa Meyer Elias Mahler seem to have had a son named Wolf who was born in 1891 and died, sadly, at the age of 3 in 1894. I've just sent notes to two cousins, asking whether they ever heard any family stories about this boy who died so young.

    I might not have uncovered this clue to a previously unknown Mahler child if not for my research into Dora's background! (Of course I'm going to send for little Wolf's death cert to learn more.) So the lesson learned is: Keep plugging in the names of key ancestors (such as those in the direct line) because new records are posted and indexed every day.

    Honoring Dora, here is the death notice that appeared in the New York Times on June 11, 1950 to announce the funeral of this much-loved maiden aunt:

    Mahler, Dora Lillie, devoted daughter of Tillie and late Meyer Mahler, dear sister of Henrietta Burk, David Mahler, Sarah Smith, Morris Mahler, Ida Volk and Mary Markell. Services Sunday 1 pm, Gutterman's, Broadway/66 St. 
    My "Maiden Aunt" post is #14 in the 2018 #52Ancestors challenge by Amy Johnson Crow. Thank you to Amy for a fun and rewarding #Genealogy challenge.

    --


    ** Unable to find Dora and Tillie in 1940 Census using Ancestry, Family Search, or Heritage Quest's indexes, I used Steve Morse's ED Finder for 1940, which listed 15 Census Enumeration Districts into which the address 1933 Marmion Ave., Bronx, NY would be categorized. Then I clicked through to manually search each page, address by address, until on the 6th ED I tried, I found Tillie and "Dorothy" at their Bronx address (see excerpt above). They were indexed as "Tellie Mehler" and "Dorothy Mehler" in Ancestry. I submitted corrections right away.

    Monday, March 19, 2018

    Letters Home from My Aunt, the WAAC

    My mother's twin sister, Dorothy H. Schwartz (1919-2001), joined the Women's Army Auxiliary Corps on September 11, 1942. Her top-notch steno and typing skills earned her a spot in a cracker-jack admin company that supported Bomber Command. She became Sgt. Schwartz, honed her leadership skills, and won a Bronze Star in 1945.
    Sgt. Schwartz

    But Auntie Dorothy (as we always called her) never expected to be away from home for nearly three years. As World War II wore on, she felt pangs of separation from her parents, siblings, aunts/uncles, and many first cousins in the Farkas Family Tree.

    Transcribing the wartime letters Dorothy wrote to the tree while in the service (see a sample V-Mail above), I learned that she loved her time stationed near London. She wrote home often about the historic places, beautiful landscape, and opportunities to meet people from other nations.

    In fact, her January, 1944 letter written to her sister (living in the Bronx apartment building shown at left) states that celebrating the new year in England was a high point!

    Yet Dorothy was acutely aware of what she was missing each month when the Farkas Family Tree gathered for its regular meetings and enjoyed holiday meals together.

    Her letters mention being homesick a couple of times. Although family members apparently wrote optimistic letters about the war ending soon, Dorothy's answers indicate her realism, saying she didn't expect a quick end (no specifics, the censors were reading along).

    Dorothy also made it clear that she felt remarkably "at home" in London, with its big-city atmosphere, subways, and theater--all familiar from her civilian life as an apartment-dweller in New York City.

    This citified "Old Homestead" post is #13 of the 2018 #52Ancestors challenge by Amy Johnson Crow.

    NOTE: Most of Dorothy's letters were handwritten, but those written at the end of 1943 and during 1944 were microfilmed and shrunk into the V-Mail format. To transcribe, I first had to photograph them and blow them on my screen, then print the enlargements so I could read them as I typed. Totally worth it! More soon on my plans for a Farkas Family Tree World War II letters booklet.

    Sunday, March 18, 2018

    Researching "Misfortune" Mary Shehen Slatter

    My husband's great-grandma, Mary Shehen Slatter (1837-1889), was in and out of London workhouses during the early to mid-1870s. She married John Slatter (1838-1901) in 1859. From 1860-1869, they had six children. But John had no steady work as the years went on. He was out of their lives as Mary and the children bounced in and out of workhouses, trying to stay afloat amid their poverty.

    At top, Mary's workhouse discharge on January 17, 1874, indicating she had a bad leg, and was being sent to Newington workhouse. This time, she was without her children. Often, her children were also sent to the workhouse with Mary, to be sure they had meals and shelter.

    In 1875, as shown above, Mary was still "destitute" and released from this workhouse "to Poplar" workhouse while her children were kept a couple more days (to be fed) and then discharged to Forest Gate School in the notoriously poor area of Whitechapel, London.

    Thanks to my cousin Anna, who visited the London Metropolitan Archives last year, I know that Mary Shehen Slatter was diagnosed with "melancholia" when admitted to Colney Hatch Asylum and, later, sent to Banstead Asylum. The asylum's notes indicate that Mary's real problem was poverty and misfortune. She died in Banstead of tuberculosis.

    Yet every one of her children grew up and had a good life. One was taken in by Grandma Slatter at an early age. The others muddled through the school/workhouse system, and then the boys joined the British military as young teens. Both girls came to America, married, and had families of their own.

    Thanks to the many Rootstech sessions I attended on how to locate parish chest records, my plan is to flesh out the family's backstory by doing more research in their London parish. For background, see this Family Search wiki discussion of parish chest records, and another Fam Search article here. FindMyPast has some parish chest records here (not for "Misfortune Mary," however).

    This is my post #12 in Amy Johnson Crow's #52Ancestors challenge for 2018.

    Friday, March 16, 2018

    Lucky Me, I Married Him For His Ancestors!

    I've said it before, and I'll say it again: I married my wonderful husband for his ancestors! Lucky me.

    Actually, for the first decade of our marriage, I paid absolutely no attention to our families' roots. But once I caught the genealogy bug, it was full speed ahead, starting with the bits and pieces in the family's possession.

    As shown in the handwritten note passed down from his Granddaddy Brice Larimer McClure (1878-1970), there were clear clues to Irish ancestry on hubby's mother's side of the family. Following up on these and other clues, here's what I learned about his Irish ancestors:

    John Shehen and his wife, Mary, from somewhere in Ireland (possibly south) - Hubby's 2d great-grandparents. They were born around 1800 in Ireland but were in London by the 1830s. John and Mary’s daughter, Mary Shehen, married John Slatter in England. Their youngest daughter Mary Slatter grew up, married James Edgar Wood, and became hubby's grandma. [Too many Marys and Johns, don't ya think?]

    William Smith and his wife, Jean, were from Limerick – His 5th great-grandparents. Their son Brice Smith was the first Brice in the family and was the first son born to these ancestors in America. There have been several other men named Brice since then, including hubby's Granddaddy.

    Robert Larimer and his wife, Mary O’Gallagher, both from the North of Ireland - Hubby's 5th great-grandparents. Robert was shipwrecked while sailing from No. Ireland to America and then served as an indentured servant to work off the cost of his rescue. He finally ran away, married Mary, and settled down to farming. McKibbin and Short cousins from the North of Ireland were known to intermarry with the Larimer branch in America.

    Halbert McClure and his wife, Agnes, were born in County Donegal, in the North of Ireland (although the McClure family is originally from Isle of Skye in Scotland) - Hubby’s 5th great-grandparents. This family sailed to Philadelphia as a group and then walked 200 miles to Virginia to buy land for farming in the 1730s.

    Every year, I write my grandchildren to share the latest info about their Irish roots. There's always something new to investigate, someone new to discover among these branches of the tree. Lucky me, I married him for his ancestors.

    Thanks to Amy Johnson Crow for the "lucky" prompt in Week 11 of her #52Ancestors series.

    Sunday, March 11, 2018

    Leni Kunstler Farkas, Immigrant Woman in the Land of Dollars

    My great-grandma Leni Kunstler Farkas (1865-1938) was the prototypical strong immigrant woman. Just look at her, posing for a photo in the mid-1930s, and you can see her determination.

    Until I read Immigrant Women in the Land of Dollars, I didn't realize that Leni's strong-willed matriarchal tactics were typical of immigrant women running households in the Lower East Side of New York City.

    Leni (Americanized as Lena) married Moritz Farkas (1857-1936) in Hungary. They raised a family of 8 children while he leased land and supervised farming. When Moritz's crops were destroyed by hail in 1899--the one year he failed to buy insurance--he escaped his creditors by sailing on the S. S. Spaarndam to New York City, leaving wife and children behind with her mother.

    After a year, Leni sailed alone to New York to be with Moritz. Four of their children joined them a year later, and the remaining four were finally reunited with their family 18 months after that--having been forced to wait for forged documents so the boys could avoid conscription in Hungary.

    In America, Leni and Moritz had three more children, making a grand total of 13 mouths to feed. Finding herself in a dollar economy rather than a farming community where barter was common, Leni had to find a new way forward for the family.

    Leni was a strict disciplinarian, giving orders, assigning chores, and tolerating no backtalk. She sent the older children out to find work and made sure they went to night school to learn English; the youngest attended P.S. 188 on Lewis and Houston streets. On payday, she demanded the pay packets from all her working children and handed back some nickels for carfare (bus or subway) plus a bite of lunch. The older boys got some carefare but had to walk home many days.

    Leni's husband, Moritz, had weak lungs; he found work intermittently as an apple peddler and a presser. As a result, the children's wages were needed to cover household expenses. Still, there were some years when Leni put aside enough cash to vacation by herself in the Catskills for two or three weeks during the stiflingly hot New York City summers!

    The family thrived under Leni's control and as the children grew up, married, and had children of their own, all returned to Leni and Moritz's on a regular basis. The children formed the Farkas Family Tree to continue their close-knit relationships. The patriarch and matriarch were honorary members. Every March after Leni and Moritz died, the family tree would hold a moment of silence in their memory--a tradition started by my grandpa Tivador Schwartz, who married Leni and Moritz's oldest daughter.

    This post honors my great-grandma as a strong woman, the focus of week 10 in Amy Johnson Crow's #52Ancestors series. And a big thank you to my Cousin B, who began collecting family stories and cranking microfilmed Census records more than 20 years ago! She saved the memories of her mother's generation and now I'm passing them along to the next generation via my blog and in many other ways.

    Friday, March 9, 2018

    Where There's a Will, There's a Family Reunion (in Venice)

    Last week's #52Ancestors challenge (#9 in the series by Amy Johnson Crow) was "Where there's a will..." Since I was at RootsTech then, I'm catching up on my regular genealogy blogging now. My husband suggested today's post, about the wonderful way that a will turned into a family reunion.

    Hubby's granddaddy, Brice Larimer McCLURE, was born on Dec. 29, 1878 (in Little Traverse, Michigan) and died on Dec. 15, 1970 (in Cleveland, Ohio). He passed away just shy of his 92nd birthday.

    Brice's will left his only child, my late mother-in-law, Marian McClure WOOD (1909-1983), a bank account with a modest four-digit balance.

    Marian decided to take that money and treat her three children (and spouses) and three grandchildren to a trip to Venice. Her favorite city in the world!

    Since the three children were scattered across the country, this trip was both a family reunion and an opportunity to experience Venice together, paid for by Brice's legacy.

    Marian and her husband, Edgar James WOOD (1903-1986) were also big fans of trans-Atlantic cruises. The photo above is one of many cruise photos that Marian and Ed took during their yearly travels to Europe after he retired.

    For the reunion trip, they booked passage on the S.S. France, Cabin P252, from New York to Southampton. (Ed was a prodigious diarist, writing a few lines every day for more than 30 years--that's how I know who/what/when/where.)

    Ed and Marian and their children arrived in Venice starting on September 6, 1972, and did some sightseeing together for a week. Afterward, everyone scattered to visit other European destinations on their own, their flights home also paid for by Brice's legacy.

    This year, I'm creating a family memory booklet with photos from that delightful Venice trip and comments from hubby, his siblings, and the youngsters who played with pigeons in Saint Marks Square (now grown with children of their own). That's one of the many ways* I'm helping to keep the family's history alive for future generations to enjoy!

    --

    *For more ideas, please check out my genealogy book, Planning a Future for Your Family's Past, available in paperback or Kindle.

    Friday, February 23, 2018

    52 Ancestors #8: Did They Ever Think These Would Be Heirlooms?

    Over time, so many of the items left to me or given to me by relatives and ancestors have become treasured heirlooms, valued not for financial value but for emotional and sentimental reasons. This week's #52Ancestors challenge by Amy Johnson Crow is a great opportunity to think about accidental heirlooms, not just those intended to be special.

    Above, the silver napkin ring awarded by my mother's Farkas Family Tree association to each newborn child, male or female. For years--seriously, years!--one of my aunts tried to get the tree to give a different gift to baby boys (like her son, my 1st cousin R). She was voted down every time. This napkin ring was an honored gift tradition for decades.
    Above, another item that was an heirloom even in its own time. My grandma Hermina Farkas Schwartz kept this cut glass bowl close to her heart because, if I got the story straight, it came with the family from Hungary to America in the early 1900s. My mother inherited it and now I'm the lucky custodian, keeping it safe for the next generation.

    But other heirlooms were surely not intended or appreciated as such. At right, a velvet banner used by my late father-in-law Edgar James Wood to promote his piano trio during 1950s/60s gigs in Cleveland. Did Ed ever imagine this would be an heirloom in the 21st century? I bet the answer is no.

    We can never predict exactly what future generations will consider to be heirlooms. So we need to take good care of all these family items, just in case. And--most important--we need to tell the stories of why these are (or should be) heirlooms, so that information is passed down along with the items themselves.

    For more about sharing family history with future generations, please check out my book, Planning a Future for Your Family's Past, available in paperback and Kindle.

    Monday, February 12, 2018

    52 Ancestors #7: Valentine's Day Marriage of Adaline and John

    For this week's Valentine's theme in the #52Ancestors Challenge (thank you to Amy Johnson Crow for this theme), I consulted my RootsMagic calendar to see what happened in my husband's family on February 14. I found one member of his mother's Steiner family had a special event on that day.

    Adaline Elizabeth Steiner (1837?-1912) married John Dome (1824-1902) on Thursday, Feb. 14, 1861. Adaline was a daughter of Jacob S. Steiner (1802?-1860?) and his wife, Elizabeth (1802?-1864), the brick-wall great-great-grandparents of my husband.

    Adaline's Valentine's Day wedding was her second marriage. In July of 1857, when she was just 20, she married her first husband, Albert Sigler (1833-1858). Their Ohio marriage record is shown here.

    Sadly, Albert died only 6 months later. The next time I found widowed Adaline Elizabeth, she was living with her widowed mother, Elizabeth, in the 1860 Census, as shown at top (occ: Sewing). There are other siblings in the household. And the last person in the household is "Albert J." aged 2.

    On Valentine's Day of 1861, Adaline married her second husband, John Dome. By this time, Valentine's Day was a thing. I want to hope they chose the day for romantic reasons!

    By the time of the 1870 Census, Adaline and her 2d husband, John Dome, were living in Jasper, MO. At right, an excerpt from that Census. The two children listed at the end, Ora and Laverne, were born to John and Adaline.

    Since John and Adaline were married only 9 years earlier, the first three Dome girls listed in this census (Mary, Ida, Eva) can't be Adaline's daughters.

    But below these three girls, "Sigler, James A" aged 12 is shown in this same household. That is almost certainly James Albert Sigler, who I believe was born to Adaline two months after her first husband Albert died.

    Remember Albert J, the 2-year-old listed in the Steiner household during the 1860 Census? Bet it was Adaline's son from her first marriage. Since she was widowed, where else would she go but back home?

    True, I don't have absolute proof that James is their son--his death cert shows "Unknown" for mother's and father's names (excerpt shown here), because a non-family member was the informant.


    James Albert was very likely Albert James. Multiple family trees from other researchers show James as the son of Adaline and Albert, but until I see the actual documentation, I can't put the QED on this. Still, the evidence strongly favors that interpretation.