Showing posts with label Jacobs. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Jacobs. Show all posts

Friday, May 11, 2018

Remembering Ancestral Mothers with Love

A tribute to the ancestral mothers in my family . . . 
And in my husband's family . . . 

They are loved and remembered, not just on Mother's Day!

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

Thursday, April 19, 2018

Mind the Gap--Between Children

NYC death cert of Wolf Mahler, who died at age 3
Only two weeks ago, I learned that my paternal great-grandparents (Tillie Jacobs Mahler and Meyer Mahler) had a young son (Wolf Mahler) who sadly died in 1894 in New York City.

Of course, Wolf's short life shouldn't have been entirely "new" news, since Tillie said on the 1900 US Census that she had 9 children in all, with 7 alive at the time. But I suspected the two children might have been born and died in Latvia, before Meyer came to America in 1885, followed by Tillie in 1886. Take a look at the gaps between children:

Henrietta, b. 1881 in Latvia
David, b. 1882 in Latvia
-------6-year GAP----- Children born/died before move to America?
Morris, b. 1888 in NYC
Sarah, b. 1889 in NYC
-------2-year GAP-----
Ida, b. 1891 in NYC
-------2-year GAP-----
Dora, b. 1893 in NYC
-------3-year GAP------
Mary, b. 1896 in NYC

Now I have Wolf Mahler's death cert in hand. I can confirm he was definitely part of my family. Sorry to say, he died of "acute Bright's disease" (meaning liver problems).

The next step was to place little Wolf in the correct gap between children born to his parents.
No birth date was given on Wolf's death cert, so I used Steve Morse's very handy page for determining the time between two events "in one step." As shown above, I plugged in the date of death as January 13, 1894. The cert said Wolf's age was 3 years, 4 months, and 3 days old. Thanks to Morse's calculator, I now know the boy was born on September 10, 1890. Ta-da, one gap accounted for, between Sarah and Ida.

While I look for clues to the second baby who died, I'll also make a Find a Grave memorial for Wolf and link him to his parents. Luckily, I can still use the old interface to do this!

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.

Thursday, March 9, 2017

Those Places Thursday: My Mahler Ancestors in Jewish Harlem

Professor Jeffrey Gurock recently published his authoritative The Jews of Harlem, with additional research and updates to his earlier book on the subject, When Harlem Was Jewish, 1870-1930. I got my hands on a copy of the new book after reading about it in the New York Times.

My Mahler ancestors lived in that area of upper Manhattan, during the period Prof. Gurock describes. This book gave me a window into their Jewish immigrant experience, arriving and living in the Lower East Side, then moving uptown to Harlem.

Prof. Gurock writes that the opening of the elevated subway (1904) brought many immigrants to Harlem, escaping the teeming crowds and cramped tenements of the Lower East Side. He also notes that the move allowed many to find work locally in Harlem rather than commuting to jobs in midtown or, more commonly, in lower Manhattan.

Interestingly, Prof. Gurock points out that the density of population in Jewish Harlem tenement neighborhoods was, in fact, quite intense. Later, as families had a bit more money, they moved to the "subway suburbs," including the Bronx.

My Mahler family followed this pattern. Great-grandpa Meyer E. Mahler (1861-1910) and great-grandma Tillie Jacobs Mahler (185?-1952) originally lived in the Lower East Side when they arrived from "Russia" (really Eastern Europe). Around the turn of the 20th century, they lived on Chrystie Street and a bit later at Allen Street. Then the "el" opened and life changed.

By 1905, the NY Census shows the Mahler family at 1956 Third Avenue, between 107th and 108th Streets--a walkup tenement in Jewish Harlem. Meyer Mahler worked as a tailor in 1909 at 63 E. 117th Street. I can imagine him walking to work there, half a mile north of his residence (in a building no longer standing).  

By 1910, the family was living at 7 E. 105th Street, a much less crowded area of Jewish Harlem, as I understand Prof. Gurock's explanation. Poor Meyer died of stomach cancer that year, but his widow and children remained at that address until well after WWI. The younger son, Morris Mahler, seems to have been the main breadwinner at that point, and he commuted to work outside Jewish Harlem.

By 1925, the NY Census shows that the Mahler family had moved to the "subway suburb" of the Bronx, living at 2347 Morris Avenue (the first of a few addresses in and around the Bronx). The timing corresponds with what Prof. Gurock writes in his chapter, "The Scattering of the Harlem Jewish Community, 1917-1930." 

Wednesday, January 25, 2017

Tombstone Tuesday: Jacobs in the Plungianer Unterstutzungs Verein plot

Pauline Jacobs, daughter of Joseph Jacobs and Eva Michalovsky, was buried on the last day of 1907 in the family's plot in Mt. Zion Cemetery in Queens. Joseph Jacobs (1864-1918) was my great-great-uncle, brother of my paternal great-great-grandma Rachel Shuham Jacobs (?-1915). Pauline would have been my 1st cousin, 2x removed.

Both of Pauline's parents and my g-g-grandma Rachel are also buried* in the plot of Plungianer Unterstutzungs Verein (Plungianer Support Club). Others on my father's side of the family were born and brought up in or near Telsiai, Lithuania.

The Plungianer Support Club is listed in the American Jewish Yearbook 1900-1901 as a New York-based organization, and it was incorporated in 1890.

There were two such organizations in Manhattan, listed on the Ackerman & Ziff Family Genealogical Institute pages. More research is in my future to learn about these groups, which may still have records in existence at Jewish genealogical societies.

Name: Plungianer Unterst├╝tzungsverein
Address: 26 Orchard Street, New York, NY 10002
Borough: Manhattan
Associated Towns: Plunge (Lithuania)



Name: Plungianer Unterst├╝tzungsverein
Address: 66 Essex Street, New York, NY 10002
Borough: Manhattan
Associated Towns: Plunge (Lithuania)
*PS: I just linked Pauline with her family on Find A Grave. Every time I post for Tombstone Tuesday, I'll make sure I've edited those relationship links. It's a good way to keep up with my resolution to flesh out the Find A Grave memorials for ancestors. I previously linked everyone else in Joe & Eva's family, but Pauline slipped through the cracks.

Saturday, January 14, 2017

Sorting Saturday: Great-Aunt Dora Mahler's Birth Date

I'm still working on my Genealogy Go-Over, and looking more closely at my father's Mahler ancestors.

As shown above in the 1900 Census, my paternal grandmother (Henrietta Mahler Burk) was one of 7 living children of Tillie Jacobs Mahler and Meyer Elias Mahler.

The next-to-youngest girl was my great-aunt Dora Mahler, born in July 1893, according to this 1900 Census. Alas, I never met her, but she is fondly remembered by one of my 2d cousins.

Despite looking in New York City birth indexes and searching in Family Search records, I can't find Dora's actual birth certificate. When was she really born?
  • The June, 1905 New York Census showed Dora as 11 years old.
  • The April, 1910 US Census showed Dora as 15 years old.
  • The June, 1915 NY Census showed Dora as 20 years old.
  • The January, 1920 US Census showed Dora as 24 years old.
  • The June, 1925 NY Census showed Dora as 30 years old.
  • The April, 1930 US Census showed Dora as 35 years old.
  • Still searching for her and her Mom in the 1940 US Census.
  • Social Security's records show Dora's birth as July 11, 1894. But then again, her name is listed as Dorothy Lillian, not a name she was ever called in the family.
After Dora died on June 9, 1950, probably of heart failure, her brother told authorities that Dora was about 44 years old, pegging her birthday as July 11, 1905. Nope, he wasn't even close.

Dora is buried at Beth David Cemetery on Long Island, NY, but I haven't yet ventured out to see her grave (nor is she in Find A Grave or on Beth David's grave locator). So for now, I'm going to say Dora's birth date was July 11, 1893. Until new evidence emerges!

Wednesday, November 2, 2016

Wordless Wednesday: "Carved in Stone" Date Is Wrong


My great-great-uncle Joseph Jacobs (1864-1918) did not die on November 22, 1919, as his headstone at Mt. Zion Cemetery in Queens, NY, indicates. He was the younger brother of my great-great-grandma Tillie Rose Jacobs Mahler (1857?-1952).

Actually, Joe died 98 years ago, on November 3, 1918, but his headstone was erected just over a year later. The date carved in stone reflects the date of "unveiling" the stone, not the date that great-great-uncle Joe died.

How did I find out the truth? I obtained Joe's death cert and I also checked with the cemetery. But the "age 54 years" part of the stone is entirely true.

Now I know: Dates "carved in stone" aren't always correct, so dig deeper to confirm.

Saturday, October 22, 2016

Sorting Saturday: Who Lives, Who Dies, Who Tells Your Family's Story?

Tillie Jacobs Mahler
Watching the Hamilton documentary on PBS, I couldn't get one of Lin-Manuel Miranda's songs out of my mind: "Who Lives, Who Dies, Who Tells Your Story?" Who, the characters sang, would keep their stories alive?

As the genealogists of our generation, we're stepping up to tell our family's stories, and keeping the stories alive for future generations.

But we can't always sort out what the true story actually is. And I wonder, what story would our ancestors themselves tell if they could reach across time to us?

My family has two versions of a story about great-grandma Tillie Rose Jacobs (185_?-1952), born in Telsiai and married in Latvia to Meyer Elias Mahler (1861-1910) before coming to America before the turn of the 20th century.

In one version, Tillie lives to the age of 99. In the other, she is actually 100 when she passes away, but hasn't admitted her real age.

Which is the real story? Which way would she want to tell it to her descendants?

Either way, I know Tillie was a strong matriarch who outlived her husband by more than 40 years. The family often gathered at her Bronx apartment for holidays and other occasions.

Tillie had 14 grandchildren and 22 great-grandchildren at the time of her death--a large family to remember her and keep her memory alive through the ages.

Wednesday, May 6, 2015

Ancestor Landing Pages Draw Visitors

Ancestor landing pages: How many visits as of today?
Ancestor landing pages were new to my genealogy blog as of January, 2013. Over the past two years, I've posted additional family landing pages, a Mayflower ancestor page, a mystery photo page, and pages to summarize my posts in the Genealogy Do-Over and 52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks.

The goal is to attract visitors who are researching certain family names or members and make it easy for them to know what I know about the family trees I'm researching, with links to individual posts about particular people.

As of today, the most visited ancestor landing page here is "Schwartz family from Ungvar (608 visits)." The least visited page is the newest, "Rachel & Jonah Jacobs" (60 visits in just a couple of weeks).

Looking forward to more visits, more posts, and more cousin connections in 2015!

Thursday, April 23, 2015

Tombstone Tuesday: The Three Death Dates of Joe Jacobs

My great-grand uncle Joseph Jacobs (son of great-great-grandma Rachel Shuham and great-great-grandpa Jonah Jacobs, married to Eva Mikalovsky) was a brick wall for years. Great-aunt Ida (sister to my grandma Henrietta Mahler Burk) kept a notebook of birth/death dates and she wrote that Joe, her uncle, died on November 22, 1919.

Well, not exactly, but now I understand why that date stuck in her mind.

Only last month, I located Joe in Mount Zion Cemetery, Queens, NY, with a death date of November 3, 1918 (Findagrave #81028376). That death date was confirmed by his New York City death cert. 

Today the cemetery sent me a photo of Joe's headstone, which says he died on November 22, 1918.

Why three death dates for Joe Jacobs?

The answer has to do with the Hebrew calendar. Elsewhere in Great-aunt Ida's notebook, she records death dates according to day and month in the Hebrew calendar. So I checked two of the death dates of Joe Jacobs (Nov. 3, 1918 and Nov. 22, 1919) and it turns out that both are the 29th of Cheshvan. That's what the stone says, too (on the line just above Joe's name in English).

Because of the tradition of erecting the gravestone one year after someone passes away, Great-aunt Ida apparently used that later date as Joe's date of death. And the stonecarver who created Joe's stone was obviously given the Hebrew calendar date in 1918, not the secular date, which is why the stone says November 22nd.

Thursday, March 19, 2015

Sympathy Saturday: Sad Times for My Jacobs Family, 1915-1923

A few weeks ago, I was able to locate the final resting place of my 70-year-old great-great-grandma Rachel Shuham Jacobs plus her 65-year-old son Joseph Jacobs, his 70-year-old wife Eva Michalovsky Jacobs, and Eva & Joseph's 30-year-old daughter Flora Jacobs. All were buried at Mt. Zion cemetery in Queens, NY.

Rather than go to NYC or send to the Municipal Archives for their death certificates, I ordered the microfilms from the Family History Library--half the price and much faster than going the official route.

Now I know that my Jacobs family had a stretch of sad times from 1915 to 1923. First, in 1915, the matriarch (Rachel Shuham Jacobs) died of liver problems. (Her death cert, above, also tells me her parents' names were Moses ___ and Sarah Levin, new info.)

In November, 1918, Rachel's son Joseph, a tailor by trade but later a janitor, died of paralysis agitans (Parkinson's disease) at Montefiore Home & Hospital in the Bronx.

Meanwhile, Rachel's grandson (Joseph's son) Frank Maurice/Moritz Jacobs had been serving in WWI since he enlisted on April 18, 1917. He participated in a number of fierce battle engagements in France, including Toulon, the Aisne Defensive and Aisne-Marne Offensive, and the Battle of Chateau-Thierry (under the overall command of "Black Jack" Pershing, see map at right). Corporal Jacobs was wounded in France on July 19, 1918 and brought to New York for treatment on August 20, 1918. Probably Frank was able to attend his father's funeral that November because he wasn't sent to Virginia for additional recuperation and treatment until 1919. 

According to the 1920 Census, Frank Jacobs was at home with his widowed mother Eva and his two sisters, Hilda and Flora. Frank's "occupation" was "wounded soldier" (see excerpt above). His sisters, both in their 20s, were breadwinners for the family, Flora working as an operator on knitted goods and Hilda as a stenographer in insurance.

Sadly, in 1923, Flora (aka Florence) died of rheumatic endocarditis (infection of the heart after rheumatic fever). She was buried in the same plot as her father Joseph and her grandmother Rachel. Eva Michalovsky Jacobs lived on until 1941, and is also buried in the same plot.


So 1915-1923 was quite a difficult period for the Jacobs family.

With all this new info, I decided to create a new ancestor landing page for Rachel and Jonah Jacobs. 

Saturday, March 7, 2015

Surname Saturday: GGGM Rachel Jacobs and the Plungianer Unterstutzungs Verein

Finally, I've located where in Lithuania my great-great-grandma Rachel Shuham Jacobs (1840s-1915) came from and where in NYC she spent her last days.

Both Rachel's early years and her whereabouts after the 1905 NY Census have been mostly a mystery. In 1905, Rachel was living at 88 Chrystie Street with her daughter, Tillie Jacobs Mahler (and her son Joseph lived in the same tenement).

The only clues to her death (and those of her son) were dates listed in my great aunt's notebook. Alas, those dates weren't exactly correct, as I learned by plugging them into various sites (including the usual suspects like Ancestry, ItalianGen.org, Family Search, and Findagrave).

As part of the Genealogy Do-Over, I tried not only different spellings (Jacob/Jacobs, Rachel/Rachael, etc.) but also different years of death, sometimes using the same month as my great aunt listed.
Rachel Shuham Jacobs with a Mahler granddaughter

Findagrave came up with a hit for Rachel Jacobs in Mount Zion Cemetery in Queens, NY, with a burial date that was only one year off from the family notebook

Happily for me and other genealogy researchers, the cemetery has a handy-dandy interment search linked from its home page. And that's where I located GGGM Rachel, buried in the Plungianer Unterstutzungs Verein [translation: Plungianer Support Club] plot. She's there along with her son Joseph Jacobs (d. 1918), daughter-in-law Eva Michalovsky Jacobs (d. 1941), and granddaughter Flora Jacobs (aka Florence, d. 1923).

Now it seems clear that GGGM Rachel was born or  brought up in the Plungian district of Telz, Lithuania, close to the border with Poland. That area had a Jewish population of nearly 2,200 when she was born in the 1840s, according to the informative Lithuanian Jewish Communities. We have other evidence linking Rachel and family to Lithuania, just nothing that gives us a specific town.

Of course I called the cemetery and received scans of the burial cards, which gave me exact dates and, in some cases, death cert numbers for the Jacobs family. Rachel's card says that her last address was 47 Allen Street in Manhattan, a now-gone tenement on the Lower East Side (see map at top). This is only 3 blocks from her Chrystie Street address in 1905, also on the Lower East Side.

Next, I ordered the death certs on microfilms from the Family History Center. Before the month of March is over, I should know more about my Jacobs ancestors, thanks to New York's vital records. And when the snow finally melts, I'll have photos of the Jacobs headstones!

Monday, March 2, 2015

Matriarchal Monday: "Immigrant Women in the Land of Dollars"

For Women's History Month, and for insights into the lives of my immigrant grandmothers, I just finished reading Immigrant Women in the Land of Dollars by Elizabeth Ewen.

This nonfiction book gave me valuable background for understanding the lives of immigrant women like Minnie Farkas and Henrietta Mahler who came to New York City between 1890 to 1925. Although the book focuses on Jewish and Italian households, some of the observations apply to immigrant households in general.

One insight, from the "Our Daily Bread" chapter, explained why my great-grandma (Lena Kunstler Farkas) insisted that her children (including my grandma Minnie) hand over their pay packets in their entirety. Immigrant families simply couldn't be supported by the wages of the father alone--if he found steady work--and as soon as children were able, they went to work to help pay for food and rent and clothing.

The book observes that mothers had to exert control over the children's pay early (before the children learned to spend) or they wouldn't have enough money to keep the family going. Some immigrant families also needed money to pay for bringing other family members from the home country to America. So teenagers and even children in their 20s gave the pay packet to Mom, who then doled out car fare and maybe a bit for snacks or lunch and kept the rest for the household's expenses. This was the pattern in my Farkas family, for sure.

Another tidbit I learned is why my elderly Schwartz cousin made a point of mentioning that the clothes worn by my female ancestors in Hungary were good quality. Newcomers from Europe came to realize that in New York (and probably throughout America), "greenhorn" ladies needed to wear stylish clothing -- even if inexpensive -- if they wanted to be accepted into the mainstream, as the author points out in her chapter titled "First Encounters."

Quality was very important in the Old Country as a mark of financial achievement, and that's why my cousin emphasized that point. However, being seen in the latest styles was much more important for ladies in the New World. Luckily, my Farkas grandma and great aunts were super with a sewing machine and could whip up fashionable dresses for their daughters.

My immigrant grandfathers both boarded with immigrant families in NYC tenements before marrying. This book says (in the "House and Home" chapter) that boarding with immigrants who were originally from the same area was extremely common, especially among men who arrived alone and needed someone to cook for them, etc. The book also points out that a boarder often got the best bed and/or the only bedroom.

Grandpa Isaac Burk boarded with his future in-laws, the Mahler family, for a short time after arriving in NYC.  Unfortunately, I'll never know whether Grandpa Isaac knew Grandma Henrietta before he was a boarder in her family's apartment, or whether love blossomed once he was part of the household.

PS: Today is the 125th anniversary of the wedding of my great uncle Joseph Jacobs to Eva Michalovsky. They married in Manhattan on this date in 1890, a Sunday. 

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Wishful Wednesday: Where Art Thou, Great-Great-Grandma Rachel Jacobs?


At the risk of sounding like a broken record, I wish I could find the death date and final resting place of my great-great-grandma, Rachel Shuham Jacobs.
 Background: Born in Russia (or Eastern Europe) and widowed with two children, Rachel came to New York City in 1886. I found her at 88 Chrystie Street in Manhattan in the 1900 US Census, living with her daughter Tillie Jacobs Mahler and Tillie's family. She doesn't appear in the 1905 New York Census, the 1910 US Census, or the 1915 New York Census (or if she's there, I've been unable to find her--looking for Jacob, Jacobs, or Jacoby, plus looking for her two children). 
According to one of her granddaughters, Rachel died in December, 1916, but so far, I've found no trace of her. I'd like to know more about her and visit her grave. I've checked possibilities at ItalianGen.org and ordered some microfilms from FamilySearch, showing New York City deaths in 1914-16.

Above are snippets from two death certs I viewed on these microfilms today. Neither seems to be MY Rachel, sorry to say. Where art thou, great-great-grandma?

UPDATE: Rechecking my search, Rachel is definitely NOT in the households of either of her two children in 1905. Nor is she with either in 1910. (Of course Joe Jacobs isn't with his wife Eva in 1910, when she and 4 children were living in Brooklyn...she said she was married, and he must have been at work.)

BUT: In the 1905 NY Census I was sad to find a Rachel Jacobs, age 60 (a little younger than I expected), from Austria (not Russia?) in the Manhattan State Hospital on Ward's Island. The area for "where inmate lived before coming to the institution" is left blank for every patient in this hospital. Too bad for me. Even sadder for her.

Is it possible Rachel was in a hospital or institution for years after 1900? And stayed there until her death? Unfortunately, that would explain why she wasn't with either of her children in any of the NY or US censuses after 1900. Still not giving up!

Sunday, September 21, 2014

Sentimental Sunday: Roaring Twenties Graduation Photo

Grandma Henrietta Mahler Burk and her husband, Grandpa Isaac Burk, celebrated their eldest daughter's graduation with this studio portrait. Her outfit is so 1920s--which makes sense, since the date was between 1921 and 1924!

Look very closely, and you'll see that Henrietta is wearing a portrait pin--it's surely a photo of her mother and father, the same one that her mother Tillie Jacobs Mahler wore all her life after Tillie's husband, my great-grandpa Meyer Mahler, died young in 1910.

Friday, September 5, 2014

52 Ancestors #34: Rachel Shuham Jacobs--Granny of 13, Great-Granny of 8+

Rachel and a Mahler granddaughter (before 1910)
My 2d great-grandma, Rachel Shuham Jacobs (?-1916), was the Russian- (or Latvian-) born matriarch of my father's family. She lived to see 13 grandchildren and at least 8 great-grandkids--with even more great-grandkids born after she died.

Rachel and her husband Julius/Jonah Jacobs had two children (that I know of): My great-grandma, Tillie Jacobs (1857?-1952), and my grand-uncle, Joe Jacobs (1864-1919). Joe left home in 1882, arriving in New York to scout out possibilities for the family.

Rachel was widowed sometime before 1886, when she came to New York with her daughter Tillie Jacobs Mahler and Tillie's growing family. 

If only the 1890 Census hadn't burned up, I'd know a bit more about Rachel and her children and grandchildren. The first and only Census record I have for Rachel is in 1900, when she's living in the 88 Christie Street apartment of her daughter Tillie and son-in-law Meyer Mahler. Down the hall, in the same building, lived Rachel's son Joe Jacobs and his family.

I'll keep looking for Rachel in the 1905 NY Census, but so far, no luck. Another avenue to explore is the New York City directory for Manhattan. Maybe her name will be listed for some year between 1887 and 1916?

According to Rachel's granddaughter Ida, who kept a detailed book of names and dates, Rachel died in December of 1916. Alas, I've never been able to find Rachel's burial place or even a death cert. I came close once or twice, and I'll keep looking. Meanwhile, here's to you, Matriarch Rachel!

Saturday, July 5, 2014

Sorting Saturday: Magnifying Glass + Brooch = Mahler Identification

This photo of a mystery lady was in a batch of old photos lent by my Cousin E for me to scan and (hopefully) identify.

I got out my magnifying glass and studied her brooch after scanning the photo.

Look at the two adults at the right of the photo below--Tillie Jacobs Mahler and her husband, Meyer Elias Mahler. (Thanks again to Cuz Lois for identifying this photo.)

The mystery lady's pin clearly shows Tillie and Meyer, taken in the same studio at the same time as the big group photo.

The family portrait was taken around 1900, judging by the ages of the children. Knowing that Meyer died in 1910 helped Lois and me guesstimate the timing.



Other, later photos in Cousin E's batch show the mystery lady wearing the same brooch.

In the photo below, taken at the site of Meyer Mahler's grave, the now much older mystery lady has the brooch pinned on.

No magnifying glass needed this time since I blew up part of the photo and put it below.

Wait! There's more . . .


One final photo confirmed the identification and solved the mystery.

At bottom, a cropped version of a photo my cousin Ira lent me several years ago--a photo we know to be of my great-grandma Tillie Jacobs Mahler.

But we never noticed the brooch, which was not sharply defined in this photo from the 1940s.

Now we know Tillie kept this brooch as a memento of a happy family time.

She wore it for four decades after her husband's death, until she died in June, 1952 and was buried next to her beloved husband.

Monday, January 20, 2014

52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks #3: What Happened to Joe Jacobs?

Great-grand uncle Joe Jacobs (1864-1919?) is one of two children of my great-grandma Rachel Shuham Jacobs (?-abt 1916). Joe was born somewhere in Russia and arrived in New York in 1882, according to his naturalization papers.

But what happened to Joe after 1905? He seems to disappear from official records, although family notes say he died in 1919. Sometimes his surname was recorded as "Jacob," sometimes as "Jacobs," which only complicates my search for Uncle Joe.

In 1900, Joe was living at 88 Christie Street in the Lower East Side of Manhattan, in the same apartment building as his mother and his brother-in-law Mayer Mahler. Joe's occupation was peddler (above).

In 1905, Joe was still living at 88 Christie Street, now shown as the janitor (at right).

But after that, his wife Eva Michaelovsky Jacobs and the children are shown by themselves, living in Brooklyn, in the 1910 US Census and the 1915 NY Census. No Joe in either of these records.

In the 1920 Census, Eva Jacobs is listed as a widow living in Brooklyn. Where did Joe Jacobs spend the time between 1905 and his death in about 1919? If he registered for WWI, I can't find his paperwork. But I'm still on Joe's trail!

PS Joe Jacobs was naturalized on 25 October 1888 by the Common Pleas Court of New York County (see above image of index). How to obtain his actual papers? NARA doesn't seem to be the right place for a NY state court. UPDATE: These papers were not much help, only saying what the index card said (see below).
*I received an excellent comment from Steve, who says:
"Copies of local court naturalization records in New York City from 1792-1906 are held by the New York branch of the National Archives. So you should be able to order a copy of a naturalization by the New York County Common Pleas Court from the National Archives website.

However, I don't think the Joe Jacobs from the naturalization index card is the same person as your Joe Jacobs.  I checked both the 1900 and 1905 census records mentioned above.  In the 1900 census it says that Joe had only filed first papers and had not become a citizen yet. In the 1905 census he's listed as an alien.  So I don't think he could be the same person who naturalized in Oct. 1888."
Steve has a very good point--and I also appreciate knowing that I can order this naturalization from the National Archives website. I have to investigate further, but since the Joe Jacobs on the index card was living at 49 Clinton Street, and that's the exact address where Joe and Eva were living when they married in 1890, my guess is there's some connection worth pursuing. Thank you, Steve! UPDATE: As shown above, the papers provided no other information, unfortunately, so the hunt continues.

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Thankful Thursday: Thanks to our ancestors who made Thanksgiving 2013 possible

On Thanksgiving, I'm giving thanks to the courageous journey-takers who came to America and made it possible for me and my family to be here today.

My side:
  • Farkas ancestors: Above, a Thanksgiving dinner with the Farkas Family Tree, descendants of Moritz Farkas and Lena Kunstler, who arrived in New York City in 1899 and 1900, respectively, bringing their children from Hungary just a little later. I'm one of the "hula girls" near the back at far left.
  • Schwartz ancestors: Tivadar (Teddy) Schwartz left Ungvar, Hungary (now Uzhorod, Ukraine) in 1902. He encouraged two siblings to join him in New York City, Sam (who arrived in 1904) and Mary (who arrived in 1906). Teddy married Hermina Farkas (daughter of Moritz and Lena) and settled in the Bronx.
  • Burk and Mahler ancestors: Isaac Burk, a skilled cabinet maker, arrived in New York City from Lithuania in 1904. His bride-to-be, Henrietta Mahler, was a small child when she came to New York City from Latvia in 1885 or 1886, with her parents Meyer Mahler and Tillie Rose Jacobs
Hubby's side:
  • Mayflower ancestors: My hubby has four Mayflower ancestors, but only two survived to give thanks on the first Thanksgiving in 1621: Isaac Allerton and his young daughter, Mary Allerton. The Allerton line connected with the Cushman line and eventually married into the Wood family.
  • Wood ancestors: John "The Mariner" Wood, Sr., was the journey-taker in the Wood family. Born in England about 1590, he died in Portsmouth, RI in 1655, leaving a tradition of carpentry and sea-faring occupations throughout the Wood family for many generations. 
  • McClure ancestors: Halbert McClure and his family journeyed from Raphoe Parish, County Donegal, to Philadelphia and then walked to Virginia to settle down. I'll be researching these ancestors more thoroughly at next year's NGS Conference, which takes place in Richmond on May 7-10.
  • Larimer ancestors: Robert Larimer took the perilous voyage from the North of Ireland to Philadelphia--but was shipwrecked along the way. I've told his story before.
  • Slatter ancestors: John Slatter Sr. was probably the first journey-taker in this English family, arriving in Ohio around 1889. I haven't yet located the ship records for his daughter Mary Slatter, who married James Edgar Wood in 1898.
  • Steiner and Rinehart ancestors: Still on my to-do list is the task of identifying the first ancestors of Jacob S. Steiner to arrive in America. Jake himself was born in Pennsylvania about 1802. Joseph W. Rinehart wasn't the first journey-taker, either. He was born in Pennsylvania in 1806, but I can't find much on his parents (yet).
Thank you, journey-takers. Happy Thanksgiving to all!