Showing posts with label Slatter. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Slatter. Show all posts

Sunday, August 18, 2019

Great-Great-Grandma Sarah Averts Tragedy

Sarah Harris Slatter marries John Shuttleworth in Surrey, UK 1862
My husband's 2d great-grandma, Sarah Harris Slatter Shuttleworth, was instrumental in saving at least one grandchild from the tragedy of grinding poverty.

This is my conclusion after reading UK Census data and workhouse records. Here's the story. (Watch out for the various family members named John, Mary, Thomas, and Sarah in successive generations.)

Great-great Grandma Sarah in the UK Census

The first mention I found of Sarah Harris Slatter was in the 1841 UK Census, where she is 25 years old and married to John Slatter, a cook in Oxfordshire. Sarah was born in Stratford on Avon, Warwickshire, around 1813. Sarah and John's children children Fanny, Thomas, and Sarah are in the household, along with Sarah's brother Richard. At this point, Sarah and her husband John had been married for 9 years (according to wedding records at St. Ebbe Church).
John Slatter and Sarah Harris Slatter in 1841 UK Census

By 1851, the UK Census shows her as a widowed hat sewer with four children: Fanny, age 18, b. 1833 in Middlesex, a gaiter maker; John (Jr.), age 14, b. 1837 in Middlesex, a printers' boy; William, age 5, b. 1846 in Christchurch, Surrey; and 14-month-old Daniel, b. abt 1850, in Christchurch, Surrey.

Slatter Family Crisis of Poverty

By 1861, the Census shows Sarah's son, John Slatter, Jr. married to Mary Shehen Slatter, living in notoriously poor Whitechapel. In that Census, they have one child, Thomas Slatter. During the next eight years, John and Mary Slatter have five more children.

Trouble is brewing: He is in and out of work, sometimes abandons the family, and Mary has to cope with children in dire poverty. Soon the records show that she and five children bounce in and out of workhouses and poorhouses.

Ultimately, Mary Shehen Slatter enters an insane asylum (diagnosed with melancholia as a result of extreme poverty and misfortune). She meets with a tragic end, dying of tuberculosis 15 years later. Meanwhile, the children go separate ways, three boys sent to a military training ship and two girls at school. Except for Thomas Slatter, the eldest child, who never appears in the workhouse and poorhouse records. Why? That's where Sarah Harris returns to the story of this family crisis.

Grandchildren Living with Sarah and Second Husband

I kept looking for Thomas Slatter because he was missing from the workhouse admission/discharge records. Finally, a wonderful blog reader located him in the 1871 Census in the household of his grandma Sarah Harris Slatter Shuttleworth and step-grandpa John Shuttleworth. I backtracked to find Sarah's 1862 remarriage to Shuttleworth, who were both widowed, in Christchurch, Surrey. This is the correct Sarah, according to her birthplace and other details.

By 1871, John Shuttleworth and his wife Sarah are living at 32 Gravel Lane in London. And lo and behold, they have several of Sarah's grandchildren living with them.

First listed is Thomas Slatter, age 10, who would otherwise have been in and out of workhouses with the rest of his siblings. Instead, he's here with his paternal grandmother and step-grandfather. Plus some first cousins, other grandchildren of Sarah.

Right under Thomas in the Shuttleworth household listing is grandchild Sarah Gardner, 13 years old. She is the second daughter of Sarah Harris's daughter Fanny Slatter and husband John C. Gardner. Other Gardner grandchildren were living with their parents in 1871 but not Sarah, who on this day was with her grandma and step-gramps. Why? Perhaps an early version of day care? After all, John Gardner was working.

Also in the household is grandchild Sarah Slatter, age 3. I believe this is Elizabeth Sarah Ann Slatter, daughter of Sarah Harris's youngest son William Slatter and wife Mary Anne. Again, was this a day-care situation or was the little girl actually living with the Shuttleworths? I don't know.

Saving Thomas from Possible Tragedy

Here's what I do know: Five children of John Slatter and Mary Shehen Slatter were in and out of workhouses (including hubby's grandma) for a few years after John deserted them. Mary couldn't work steadily or earn enough to maintain a household. She was extremely depressed and unable to cope.

Mary's oldest son, Thomas Slatter, avoided workhouses and poorhouses because his grandma Sarah Harris Slatter Shuttleworth took him in and raised him.

The entire family can be proud of what Sarah, with her husband John, did to keep Thomas safe.

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

Monday, July 1, 2019

Remembering Great Uncles on Canada Day


Happy Canada Day!

Both my husband and I have immigrant ancestors who settled in Canada . . . and by coincidence, these men were our great uncles.

About Great Uncle Abraham Berk (Burk/Burke)

Above, a snippet from the 1945 publication of Canadian citizenship for my great uncle Abraham Berk (1877-1962) and his wife, Annie Hurwitch Berk (1880-1948). A native of Gargzdai, Lithuania, Abraham was my paternal grandfather Isaac's older brother.

Abraham and Isaac left Lithuania in 1900 or 1901 and stopped in Manchester, England, presumably to learn the language and make some money. I found the Burk/Berk brothers in the 1901 UK Census in Manchester with "Uncle" Isaac Chazan (1863-1921) and his wife, Anna Hinda Hannah Mitav Chazan (1865-1940). After consulting with my Chazan cousins, we've come to the conclusion that Anna (not Isaac) was actually the relative.

Abraham got married in Manchester in 1903 and in 1904, he continued on to Montreal, Canada, his final destination, establishing his business in cabinetmaking. Wife Annie followed in 1905, bringing their baby Rose.

According to the Canadian Census, Abraham was originally naturalized in 1910. Still, he and Annie went through another naturalization process during 1944, results published in 1945, in accordance with the Canadian "Naturalization Act." When my father and mother married, his uncle Abraham served as patriarch of the Burk family and had pride of place in the wedding photos.

About the Slatter Brothers, Hubby's Great Uncles 

Three of the four sons of John Slatter and Mary Shehen Slatter grew up and left London, where they were born and raised, to become well-known military bandmasters in Canada. They were the brothers of my husband's maternal grandma, Mary Slatter Wood.

Albert William Slatter (1862-1935) was the older of the three sons who came to Canada. After a career in the Army, he married, came to Canada, and became part of the Ontario Band in 1906. By 1911, he was living in London, Ontario, with his family and listed his occupation as "bandmaster." By 1921, he was the bandmaster of the Western Ontario Regiment. After a long career in music, Albert retired in 1932 and passed away in November, 1935. Researching Albert again today, I found that he was a member of the United Grand Lodge of England Freemason from 1905 to 1907. Also found a document saying he was with the Shropshire Light Infantry, serving as "Color Sergt & Acting Sergt Major of Volrs" in 1906.

John Daniel Slatter (1864-1954) - at left - was the most famous of the Slatter brothers. At the age of 11, he served as "band sergeant" of the Boy's Band on the Training Ship Goliath, anchored in the Thames River in London. John left London for Toronto in 1884, married in 1887, and was appointed as the first-ever bandmaster of the 48th Highlanders of Toronto in 1896. Captain Slatter toured North America early in the 20th century with his renowned "Kiltie Band" and trained 1,000 buglers for WWI while at Camp Borden in Ontario. Capt. Slatter died in December, 1954.

Henry Arthur Slatter (1866-1942) enlisted at age 11
as a musician in the British Army! At top, a copy of his attestation, joining the Army in Dublin in 1877. He lied and said he was 14 years, 2 months." Later, he became part of the Grenadier Guards. By 1912, he had gone to Canada to become bandmaster of the 72d Highlanders of Vancouver. After his wife died, he remarried, and then went back to Vancouver as reappointed bandmaster of the reorganized 72nd Highlanders in 1920. Henry died in Vancouver on July 15, 1942. I'm still searching for "Jackie Slatter," born in England about 1915 to Henry and his second wife, Kathleen. Come out, come out, wherever you are, Jackie!

Saturday, May 18, 2019

The Ancestor with the Best PR--in 1900


Three of my husband's Slatter great uncles were military bandmasters in Canada, often featured in news items of the early and middle 20th century.

Capt. John Daniel Slatter (1864-1954), his brother Capt. Albert William Slatter (1862-1935), and another brother, Capt. Henry Arthur Slatter (1866-1942) were all born into poverty in Whitechapel, London, England. We found some clues to their early military training on the Training Ship Goliath when researching in the London Metropolitan Archives last month.

At left is a 1901 article from Westfield, Massachusetts, singing the praises of Captain John D. Slatter and his 48th Highlanders of Toronto military band, the original "Kilties." Yes, the same Kilties who kicked off the craze for such bands early in the 20th century! That's part of what made Capt. Slatter so famous.

The article below, "Every Inch a Soldier," points out that the good captain actually earned a combat service medal and is expert with a sword, rifle, bayonet, and other weapons. This is from a Dubuque, Iowa newspaper in 1900.

But the story about Capt. Slatter's military background wasn't based on a personal interview or fresh inside information. In fact, it's from a widely-circulated press release of the time. In 1900! 

I found very similar wording in lots of U.S. newspapers, as the band's publicity people drummed up interest in tickets to Kiltie concerts from coast to coast.

Clearly, my husband's well-known Toronto bandmaster ancestor had a very savvy public relations person paving the way for his Kiltie band's appearances. Lucky me to have all these news clippings of Capt. Slatter's travels and accomplishments.

PS - Any comments won't appear for a few days but I'll catch up very soon!

Wednesday, May 1, 2019

Researching at the London Metropolitan Archives


While in London for #FamilyTreeLive, my husband and I went to the London Metropolitan Archives for some genealogy research.

Some UK records can only be accessed in person, and that includes detailed records from London workhouses and poorhouses. We wanted to request documents about two related families in his tree: Shehen and Slatter.

Mary "Unknown Maiden Name" Shehen

Hubby's great-great-grandmother Mary (unknown maiden name) Shehen (1801-??), born somewhere in Ireland, was married to John Shehen (1801-1875).

During the 1871 Census, Mary Unknown was enumerated twice: Once in the medical ward of the Northumberland Workhouse, where she was suffering from chronic rheumatism, and once at home, with her husband, at Gray's Buildings.

We wanted to see any surviving records of Mary's stay in the medical ward and whether she was there before or after for another reason. We hoped to find clues to her death date.

Mary Shehen Slatter & Family

Mary Unknown's daughter, hubby's great-grandma, didn't escape the cycle of poverty, either. She was London-born Mary Shehen Slatter (1837-1889), who had 6 children with her Oxford-born husband, John Slatter (1838-1901).

Mary and the 5 younger children were in and out of poorhouses and workhouses while the children were growing up. The earliest admission I've found for Mary Shehen Slatter is 1873. In mid-1874, she was sent from a workhouse to the first of two insane asylums, diagnosed with melancholia. Sadly, she died in notorious Banstead Asylum at the age of 51. Cause: Phthisis (tuberculosis).

Although my wonderful cousin Anna has visited the London Metropolitan Archives to see many of this Mary's records, we wondered whether there was anything earlier that we can see--and perhaps something that explains why her husband John Slatter took off for America before his wife died.

More soon about the results of our research visit.
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Any comments won't be posted for a few more days. Thanks for reading!

Sunday, April 21, 2019

"Aunt Ada" Reinvents Herself


"Aunt Ada" living in Toledo, Ohio, sent this penny postcard for Easter, 1914 to her nephew, "Master Wallis Wood," in Cleveland, Ohio.

The recipient was then 9 years old and accustomed to postcards tumbling out of the mailbox from relatives on every conceivable occasion.

Even before he could read, he was receiving greetings from cousins, aunts, and uncles.

The sender this time was Adelaide Mary Ann Slatter Baker (1868-1947). She, unlike nearly every correspondent who sent a card to the young boy in Cleveland, spelled his name correctly!

"Aunt Ada" was the great aunt of my husband, a woman with a very, very difficult childhood.

Census Records Reveal Real Trouble 


Adelaide Mary Ann was the daughter of John Slatter (1838-1901) and Mary Shehen Slatter (1837-1889), living in the notoriously poor London neighborhood of Whitechapel. I didn't immediately recognize the hint of trouble beyond poverty when I found Ada for the first time in the 1871 UK Census, living at 3 Half Moon Passage in Whitechapel with her parents and 4 siblings.

In the previous Census of 1861, I easily found the parents and their first child, Thomas John Slatter. However, Thomas didn't appear in the 1871 Census with his parents and siblings. For a long time, I believed he had died young, not an unknown phenomenon in this poverty-stricken neighborhood.

One of my wonderful blog readers tipped me off to where Thomas John Slatter was in 1871. The UK Census shows him in Christchurch Southwark, another poor section of London, at the unimaginative address of "32 Gravel Lane." He's 10 years old, living with his grandmother and step-grandfather. Also in the household are 2 other grandchildren! So this grandmother and step-grandpa were apparently rescuing 3 grandchildren from desperately impoverished conditions.

With Thomas in another household, Ada and her siblings were only 5 mouths for their parents to feed. Alas, still too many for a simple laborer who wasn't always with the family. Ada and her Mom and 4 siblings were in and out of poorhouses and workhouses during the 1870s, I learned. Ultimately, Ada's mother entered an insane asylum and died there.

The children were then on their own. The girls were in a school for the poor, the boys went to a "training ship" on the Thames and ultimately joined the Army. During these years, Ada was accustomed to watching over her baby sister Mary (my husband's grandmother).

Ada Reinvents Herself

In spring of 1895, Ada sailed from Liverpool to Montreal, enroute to join her father, who had left London for Ohio a few years earlier. The outbound passenger manifest lists her occupation as "servant." Miraculously, her U.S. border documentation lists her occupation as "lady."

One year after arriving, Ada married James Sills Baker (1866-1937) in Cuyahoga County, Ohio (where Cleveland is located), just 3 weeks after Easter Sunday.

They moved to Toledo, where their first child was born 9 months and 1 day after their marriage. Their second child was born another 4 years after that.

Ada regularly kept in touch with her baby sister Mary and all of her family, in England as well as in Ohio and beyond. She sent penny postcards on many occasions and had her two children write greetings to their first cousins, including Wallis W. Wood, a son of baby sister Mary.

I continue to be impressed that Ada and her siblings grew up, married, and had productive lives after the grinding poverty and appalling workhouse experiences of their childhood.

Note: With my presentations at Family Tree Live coming up, I won't be able to look at any reader comments for a little while. Thanks for reading!

Tuesday, April 2, 2019

Was John Shehen a Bricklayer?

Marriage record of John Slatter & Mary Shehen in 1859, Parish of Christ Church, Middlesex, London, England
I keep saying I married my husband for his ancestors, an endless source of genealogical challenge and fun.

For this week's #52Ancestors ("brick wall" is the theme), I'm looking at my husband's great-great-grandfather, John Shehen (1801-1875?), who lived much of his adult life in a terribly poor section of London.

When his daughter Mary Shehen (1837-1889) married John Slatter (1838-1901) in London in 1859, she told UK authorities that her father was a bricklayer. You can see that in the marriage document at top. Well...not so fast.

John Shehen and the UK Census

John and his wife Mary were both born in Ireland, they consistently told the UK Census (see this snippet from the 1841 Census, where the "I" stands for Ireland).

John (but not his wife) was consistent about his age in the UK Census, saying he was 40 (in 1841), 50 (in 1851), 60 (in 1861), and 70 (in 1871). He lived in the same impoverished area of Whitechapel, London, all those years.

John was also consistent about telling the UK Census that he was a labourer. His wife was either a laundress or milkwoman, but he said he was a labourer. Although he may very well have worked in construction, even worked with bricks, he didn't call himself a bricklayer even once.

I need to investigate whether there are any guilds or unions that John Shehen might have belonged to in the London area. Meanwhile, I'm inclined to think his daughter Mary was exaggerating his status just a bit on the official marriage record. Alas, marriage records didn't ask for the mother's maiden name, so I'm out of luck at this time.

Shehen, Shehan, Sheen?

Where in Ireland were John Shehen and wife Mary from? I have no idea, since the UK Census only lists "Ireland" as their birthplace. The spelling of his surname varies from time to time, and I make my own life simple by calling him "Shehen" here and on Ancestry, aware that creative spelling is needed when conducting research.

He's gone from the 1881 Census, and I think I found his death from bronchitis in 1875. The name on that form is Shehan. But not enough details to know for sure.

About Mary

What about John's wife, Mary? She was actually counted by the UK census twice in 1871. I found her admitted to Northumberland Workhouse due to "chronic rheumatism" in March, and released exactly one month later. Her age was shown as 70. Despite being in the medical ward of the workhouse at the time of the Census on 2 April 1871, she was also shown as living at home.

I don't know when or where Mary Shehen died, unfortunately. I may have found her in the 1881 Census, but I'm not sure whether to hope it's her or not.

A "Mary Sheen" born in Ireland was enumerated in the District Middlesex Lunatic Insane Asylum in 1881. Shown as age 77, this Mary has the occupation of "charwoman."

Also, Ancestry shows a number of people with Mary's given name but varying spellings of the "Shehen" surname as being imprisoned, acquitted, and/or in London court registers for different offenses such as theft, from the 1830s on.

Was this my husband's great-great-grandma? The dates are in between the Census, so I can't know for sure, but my guess is no. Why? Because Mary and John remained in their same lodgings for so many decades, I suspect they had just enough financial stability for Mary to not resort to theft. Or so I hope.

Monday, February 4, 2019

City Directories: Who's There? Who's Missing?



City directories were published frequently, making them an important source of info during years that fall between the Census. There's some element of luck--are directories available for the town or city where an ancestor lived? Are the directories available for the years being researched? But when the answer to both questions is yes, directories are fabulous for showing who was there, at that time and place. Equally important, a directory can indicate who is NOT there.

I just used directories to help solve a long-standing family history mystery. It all started with the complicated marital affairs of my husband's grandfather, James Edgar Wood. As I wrote yesterday, he married Mary Slatter in 1898, and when she died in 1925, he married Alice Hopperton Unger. In the spring of 1928, James divorced Alice. Later that year, James married Carolina "Carrie" Foltz Cragg (an in-law of his nephew).

Looking for Carrie Wood's Listing  

What became of Carrie? She wasn't with James when he died. In fact, his death cert says he was widowed, and lists his deceased wife as Mary (the first wife). The informant was James's oldest son, who presumably was aware of at least one of the two marriages after Mary Slatter Wood's death. Like I said, it was complicated. Anyway...

My next stop was the Census, where Carrie was shown with James in 1930 in Jackson, Michigan, the same city where they were married in 1928.

Next, I looked at the city directories for Jackson, Michigan. Carrie was listed with James up to the year 1933. See the entry, at top, for that year.

But Carrie was missing from James's listing in 1935 in Jackson. Where did she go?

The wonderful cousin who's our long-time Wood genealogist suggested I look in Toledo (where James was born and where one of Carrie's grown children lived) or Cleveland (that's where James died). I found no Carrie Wood in the Toledo city directory, not even in the household of her daughter and son-in-law, who were listed in the directories. Then I tried something different.

Breakthrough Via Carrie's Grown Children

I looked at Carrie's other two children in the 1930s. One was married in 1935 in Jackson, MI. His actual marriage license was available and when I looked closely, I noticed one of the witnesses was . . . Carrie, his mom! There was her address--in Toledo, living with a daughter. Carrie was missing from the Toledo city directory, but she was noted on her son's marriage license in Jackson, where she must have gone for the wedding.

Now I returned to Family Search and looked for the death of Carolina Wood in Toledo, Ohio, between 1935 and 1939. I chose 1939 as the end date because that was when James died.

Immediately, up popped the death certificate for Caroline Wood. She had been diagnosed with cancer in 1933 and died in October, 1935, in Toledo.

This is definitely the correct Carrie because her daughter is the informant and lists Carrie's father's name, country of birth, and so on. The details are a good match, except for the name being "Caroline" instead of "Carolina." Carrie's address at the time of her death was the same as that of her daughter, the informant. So when Carrie became ill, it seems she went to live with her daughter, who took care of her until her death.

And to think it was Carrie's absence from the Jackson city directories after 1933 that provided a crucial clue in the trail of research that led to finding her final resting place in Woodlawn Cemetery, Toledo.

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 About Carrie?

Were James and Carrie divorced? Not that I can find. 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?

Turns out, she went back to Toledo, where she died (informant for death cert was one of her children). Why she and James split up, I don't know.

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

Saturday, December 29, 2018

Happy New Year 2019

Sent in 1913 to a cousin in Cleveland, OH, the message on this nostalgic penny postcard was handwritten in cursive by the mother of the sender. The mother was Adelaide Mary Ann Slatter Baker (1868-1947) and the sender was her daughter, Edith Baker (1901-1989).

The recipient was Wallis W. Wood (1905-1957), Adelaide's nephew and Edith's first cousin on the Slatter side of the family. Wallis was my husband's uncle and we are so lucky to have been able to scan many of the colorful postcards he received from family during the early 1900s.

Happy new year 2019 to all!

Wednesday, December 26, 2018

My Year in Genealogy - 2018

Time to look back at 2018, an exciting and also a satisfying year for genealogy.

One of the high points was attending RootsTech 2018 and meeting so many of my genealogy blogging friends in person! (I'm in the center of the front row in this photo, wearing a white sweater.) It was a joy to say hello and chat with you, genea-folks. Also I attended the New York State Family History Conference, learning from experts and enjoying the company of genealogy friends from around the northeast.

I came away from both conferences with new ideas and new techniques to add to my momentum. Leaving RootsTech, I crammed into my suitcase specially-priced DNA kits, a new genealogy T-shirt and socks, and several of Nathan Dylan Goodwin's genealogy mysteries. Joining VGA, I learned a lot from watching webinars and lurking in VGA discussions.

Alas, not a single family history breakthrough during a day's research at the fabulous Family History Library in Salt Lake City. Still, ruling things out counts as some progress in the Wood, Steiner, Rinehart, and Burk/Birk trees.

Another high point was hearing from a second cousin who had a set of "missing" monthly minutes and letters related to my mother's Farkas Family Tree. These were all from the WWII period, and were long thought to be gone. Receiving these to scan and index was a gift beyond measure.

Now my Farkas cousins and I have documents spanning the entire life of the family tree association, 1933-1964. I'm still integrating the index from the 1940s into the index for the complete set of minutes, with completion scheduled for very early 2019. Work on the Farkas family tree (including collaborating with cousins who helped identify all ancestors/relatives in large family portraits) was a very satisfying way to end the year.

During 2018, a sad discovery: the early death of a boy born into my Mahler family, a child who was previously not known to me or any of my cousins. And a happy gift: the full anniversary booklet of the Kossuth Society, a group in which my Farkas and Schwartz ancestors were active. Their photos are in the booklet!

In my husband's family, I finally learned the truth about the long-standing mystery surrounding his grandfather Wood's divorce from wife #2. Also I gained a deeper understanding of the poverty endured by his Slatter and Shehen ancestors, using the Charles Booth maps of poor areas in London. Through contact with a Gershwin expert, I received a detailed news clipping that explained the background behind a prize-winning song written by my late father-in-law Wood.



Another exciting moment was when my book, Planning a Future for Your Family's Pastwent to number one on the Kindle genealogy best-seller list in the middle of June!

This year, I made 15 genealogy presentations and led two hands-on workshops, with my husband, about writing family history.

Next year, I'm thrilled to be leading two sessions and participating in a panel discussion at Family Tree Live in London, April 26-27.

Quite a year in genealogy. Yet I didn't actually accomplish all I planned to do when 2018 began. More in my next post!

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 12, 2018

More Winter Weddings in the Wood Family Tree

My husband's Wood family tree has lots of December marriages. Here are three more of the many that popped up when I used RootsMagic's calendar report.
  • December 18: Mary Shehen and John Slatter. Mary (1837-1889) was my hubby's great-grandma, and the saddest figure in his family tree. Born into terrible poverty in London, she married great-grandpa John Slatter (1838-1901) 159 years ago, and had 6 children with him. As the years went on, she and the children were in and out of workhouses, seemingly abandoned. Eventually, Mary was admitted to an insane asylum due to depression. She died there 15 years later, of TB. John, meanwhile, left for Cleveland, Ohio and a new life, with a new wife and a new occupation. He died at his youngest daughter's home in Cleveland, having been widowed again and chronically ill. I'm still trying to get back a generation and learn more about Mary's parents, who were themselves born in Ireland around 1801.  
  • December 19: William Smith and Janet "Jean" UNK. Born in Ireland, Smith (1724-1786) and his wife Janet (?-1805) were hubby's 5th great-grandparents. Alas, I know very little about either of them, although it appears they were married in 1751, which is 267 years ago. A Smith researcher whose work I respect indicates that two of William and Janet's sons were doctors. Not sure I'll be able to learn more about these long-ago ancestors, given the "Smith" name and the dates/places.
  • December 24: Francis "Frank" Ellery Wood and Louisa Mary Schultz. Frank (1857-1933) and his bride Louisa (1860-1948) were married on Christmas Eve, 1883, in Toledo, Ohio, where Frank and most of his brothers were working as carpenters. Frank was my husband's great uncle. The snippet at top from the Lucas county ledger shows their marriage a mere 135 years ago, when he was 26 and she was 23. Frank died after an operation in 1933...then 17 months later, his widow Louisa married his younger brother, Marion Elton Wood. (Unfortunately, Marion had lost two wives by then, as well as one of his two children.) Louisa was again widowed in December, 1947; she lived just 5 months longer.

Sunday, November 11, 2018

Armistice Day: Remembering Slatter Ancestors Who Died in WWI

My husband's Slatter ancestors created a tradition of military service. Two of the Slatter family unfortunately lost their lives in World War I. I'm remembering their service and sacrifice today, the 100th anniversary of the end of the Great War.

The three younger sons of Mary Shehen Slatter (1837-1889) and John Slatter (1838-1901) epitomized this military service tradition. Living in extreme poverty in Whitechapel, the adolescent boys (John Daniel, Albert William, and Henry Arthur) were placed on a training ship in the Thames to gain skills that would help them qualify for the military. Not only did they qualify, they eventually became renowned military bandmasters.

This tradition continued into later generations, with many UK and Canadian descendants of the Slatter family answering the call to military service.

Arthur Albert Slatter, a son of Henry Arthur Slatter, enlisted in the Royal Fusiliers in 1901, at 16 years old. Like his father, he became a military musician.

In 1914, Arthur Albert joined the London Regiment, 20th Battalion, and was sent to the "Western European Theatre" during WWI. I was saddened to learn that he was killed in action on May 20, 1917. His name is inscribed on the memorial at Arras, Departement du Pas-de-Calais, Nord-Pas-de-Calais, France.

Arthur Henry Slatter, a cousin of Arthur Albert, was married with two children, making a living as a house painter and decorator when he received his military notice to serve in 1915.

Arthur Henry enlisted in the Duke of Cambridge's Own (Middlesex) Regiment, London, at the age of 40. At top, you can see his "attestation."

Two years later, he was wounded in battle and sent to Etchinghill Hospital near Kent, England, where he died on October 2, 1917. Private Arthur Henry Slatter is buried in Shorncliffe Military Cemetery in Kent, England.

Today we mourn the loss of all the brave men and women who served in WWI and other wars, fighting for democracy and freedom.

Tuesday, September 4, 2018

How Our Grandparents Made a Living (or Not)

For this week's #52Ancestors prompt, "Work," I'm taking a look at how my grandparents and hubby's grandparents made a living. Both of us had one grandfather who worked with wood. That's where the similarities end. And this is another case of "don't believe everything in the census."

His grandparents (one immigrant, three grandparents with families long established in America)
  • Maternal grandpa Brice Larimer McClure (1878-1970) was a master machinist. When he married maternal grandma Floyda Steiner in June of 1903, Brice was working for the "big four" railway shops in Wabash, Indiana (see newspaper clipping). His skills were in demand--especially during World War II, when he lied about his age to seem young enough to work in a Cleveland, Ohio machine shop vital to the war effort. 
  • Maternal grandma Floyda Mabel Steiner (1878-1948) was a full-time mother, but also supplemented her husband's income during the Depression by working in a Cleveland-area store and stretching the family's income as far as possible. 
  • Paternal grandpa James Edgar Wood (1871-1939) was a carpenter and builder in Toledo, Ohio and, after his marriage, in Cleveland Heights, Ohio. Alas, this grandpa was a good builder but not as good a businessman, according to his oldest son. In fact, most of the homes he constructed are still standing and solid after more than a century. James was the last of this line of the Wood family to be a carpenter. None of his four sons worked in carpentry or wood, nor his grandsons.
  • Immigrant paternal grandma Mary Slatter (1869-1925) was, according to the London workhouse admission register, a servant at age 19 in 1888. My guess was it was more of a low-level maid's position. She lived in Whitechapel and came from extreme poverty. Her mother had been confined to an insane asylum for years at that point. How Mary supported herself after arriving in America in 1895 and before marrying grandpa Wood in 1898, is a mystery.
My grandparents (all four were immigrants from Eastern Europe)



  • Maternal grandpa Tivador Schwartz (1887-1965) was a "clerk" in 1909-10, working as a runner for the steamship lines and working with immigrants like himself (according to census and his naturalization papers). By 1915, he listed his occupation on the NY census as "steamship agent," technically a correct interpretation of what I suspect was commission-based sales of tickets or insurance or both to immigrants. By 1917, he owned his own grocery store in the Bronx, work he continued until he finally retired in the late 1940s/early 1950s. His grandchildren have exhibited some of his entrepreneurial drive!
  • Maternal grandma Hermina "Minnie" Farkas (1886-1964) used her sewing skills to help support her family after arriving as a teenage immigrant in late 1901. A Roth cousin "did her a favor" (according to my Mom) and found her paid work as a necktie finisher (census backs this up). She continued to work on "gents' neckwear" until she married grandpa in 1911. Once her husband owned his own grocery store, she worked alongside him--long hours on their feet, which hurt their health in later years. Minnie passed her love of needlework, as a hobby, to a daughter and granddaughters.
  • Paternal grandpa Isaac Burk (1882-1943) left his hometown of Gargzdai, Lithuania with training as a cabinet maker. He and his older brother, Abraham, made their living through carpentry. The UK census of 1901 shows them both living with family in Manchester, England, occ: cabinetmakers, true because I've seen Isaac's work. The 1910 US census lists Isaac as a "storekeeper, candy" but I'm not sure how true or long-lasting that was--maybe a quick stopgap in between his carpentry work. Isaac's 1942 WWII "old man's draft" card says he was a manufacturer of dress forms, but again, I'm not sure this is strictly accurate. One of Isaac's brothers-in-law had a dress-forms business. Isaac might have worked there part-time, especially to qualify for what was then a fairly new Social Security program.
  • Paternal grandma Henrietta Mahler (1881-1954) is shown as being employed as a "stenographer," according to the 1900 census. Mind you, she was in the country for 14 years. She was 19 at the time of that census and, I gather, a quick study, but I'm not sure she really took dictation. Probably she worked at some office-type clerical job (typing) to help support the family. Very likely she did some work in the garment trade, because her younger sisters worked in lace, millinery, and garment factories, cousins tell me. After she married grandpa, Henrietta took care of their growing family and transported the kids back and forth between New York City, where her widowed mother and siblings lived, and Montreal, where Isaac sometimes worked with his brother Abraham.

Saturday, August 25, 2018

Happy Blogiversary #10


Hard to believe that this is my 10th blogiversary. Above, the very first post I wrote in 2008, searching for when and where paternal Great-Grandpa Meyer Elias Mahler died. And, as sometimes happens, I had to retrace my steps and look at clues I'd already seen, checking with fresh eyes.

Making progress on family history projects begun since my last blogiversary:
  • Farkas Family Tree index. Thanks to a 2d cousin getting in touch, I have more family-tree association minutes to scan, index, and add to the thick book of minutes and historians' reports dating from 1933-1963. This will be finished before my next blogiversary. Here's a link to my popular post on how to index.
  • Farkas Family Tree letters. My wonderful cousin B has been helping me by proofreading my transcriptions of the WWII letters written by members of the Farkas Family Tree who served in the military. Almost done with that project.
  • Slatter and Shehen families. With the help of the Charles Booth poverty maps, I've been deepening my understanding of hubby's Slatter and Shehen family background in London. Turns out they were even poorer than I had imagined.
  • Wood family. Slowly continuing to scan and crop photos from the Wood family's 1972 trip to Venice for a planned photo book. The adults on that trip (and one or two kids) have shared memories to fill out the narrative. I need to begin arranging the photos and typing the captions, so the photo book will be ready by end of this year.
It was a year of learning and making connections! For the first time, I attended the amazing RootsTech conference and used the giant Family History Center in Salt Lake City. Next month, I will be at the New York State Family History Conference. In between, I've gone to numerous genealogy club meetings and gained new ideas from many expert speakers.

Speaking of speaking, my latest genealogy presentations include Do the "Write" Thing, Using Twitter and Facebook for Genealogy, and Genealogy 101. For next year, I'm prepping another new talk, Find Real Clues in Other People's Family Trees. And I was thrilled that my book, Planning a Future for Your Family's Past, became a #1 Amazon Kindle best-seller this year.

As my 11th year of genealogy blogging begins, I want to say thank you. Thank you, dear cousins, for finding me and getting in touch. Thank you, dear readers, for being along on the journey.

Thursday, August 2, 2018

Mapping the Shehen Family in London (Mary in Two Places at Once)

Today I'm using Charles Booth's London maps and notebooks for context about my husband's 2d great-grandparents. I know very little about John & Mary Shehen (or Shehan or Sheen). But Booth's info indicates that they were truly poor. 

The 1841-1871 UK Census entries for the Shehens consistently say they were born in Ireland around 1801. He is a "labourer," she is usually a "laundress" or "charing." They never left a quadrangle known as Gray's Buildings, shown above on Booth's maps in the Marylebone section of London. Census entries on the same page with the Shehens in 1871 indicate that a good number of the residents were also Irish-born. Given the devastating Irish Famine, it's not surprising to find so many Irish people in London in that period.

Above, a snippet from Booth's notebook entry about Gray's Buildings, in which he writes there are "a great many Irish" and also notes: "most of the doors open but few broken windows." Based on the poverty he observes, Booth considers the area of Gray's Buildings to be "very poor . . . chronic want."


Poor isn't the end of it. Alas, hubby's great-great-grandma Mary Shehen (whose maiden name I don't yet know), was admitted to the medical wing of the crowded Northumberland Street Workhouse on March 15, 1871, due to"chronic rheumatism." One month later, she was discharged (or, as the record shows, "reliesed").

Two places at once? Mary Shehen was enumerated both in Gray's Buildings and in the Northumberland workhouse for the 1871 Census. Interestingly, that Census was supposed to be as of April 2. But even though Mary Shehen is listed as being in the household with her husband John, the workhouse admission record AND the 1871 Census, below, are evidence that she was actually ailing in the workhouse. Probably it was her husband John or someone else who reported her at her usual residence, unsure of how to tell the Census about her temporary stay in the workhouse.

When I started looking for the Shehen family in Booth's records, I hoped they would not be in as dire economic shape as their daughter Mary's family. Unfortunately, that wasn't the case, as the maps and then the workhouse documents indicate. (Sadly, their daughter Mary Shehen, who married John Slatter in 1859, was in and out of workhouses and then two asylums for years.)

Wednesday, August 1, 2018

How Maps Helped Me Understand the Slatter Family

After watching Helen Smith's excellent "Mapping Your Ancestors" VGA webinar, I decided to learn more about my husband's Slatter ancestors by checking their London-area addresses against the Charles Booth maps.

Who was Charles Booth?

His notebooks and maps make up Life and Labour of the People in London, a detailed study of urban poverty at the end of the 19th century. Helen demonstrated this free and informative resource for understanding the social and economic context of London in that period.

I looked at the maps for three London addresses where hubby's great-grandparents lived. John Slatter (1838-1901) and Mary Shehen Slatter (1837-1889) always lived in and adjacent to Whitechapel, the city's infamous poor district. Even allowing for some turnover in population and changes in local conditions year to year, knowing what Charles Booth observed in the area gave me a better sense of the daily lives of these ancestors.

1859. At top is an excerpt from the Booth map of London's Christ Church section, directly adjacent to Whitechapel. The green arrow shows 2 Heneage Street, where Mary and John were living at the time of their marriage in 1859. Booth says this part of Heneage Street was "very poor," almost as poor as it gets. Not the very bottom of the economic barrel, but close.

1861. Here, above, is an excerpt from the map for 55 Leman Street in the St. Mark area (also adjacent to Whitechapel), a short walk from where the Slatters lived when they married two years earlier. When the UK census was taken in 1861, Mary & John had a young son, Thomas, and they lived in an area that was considered "mixed"--some poor, some comfortably off. She was a cook, he was a porter, so their combined income may have helped them improve economically from their 1859 situation.

1871.  Above, an excerpt from the Charles Booth map for 3 Half Moon Passage in the St. Mary section of Whitechapel, where the Slatter family lived at the time of the UK census. No color coding by Booth, so I suspect the Slatter family was living in "mixed" surroundings, meaning some poor and some comfortable. Since John is now listed as a "labourer," and there are 5 children in the household, money must have been much tighter.

Poverty takes a toll. According to workhouse and poorhouse records (accessed via Ancestry and in person by my cousin, at the London Metropolitan Archives), Mary Shehen Slatter and 5 of her 6 children were in and out of institutions from 1873 on. Above, the discharge for 5 Slatter* children from Newington Workhouse in London to Hanwell School, both notorious places.

Mary was apparently abandoned by John at that time, and she struggled to keep body and soul together. According to UK records, she developed "melancholia" and was committed to two different (and awful) asylums starting in 1874. Her children were then in and out of workhouses**, poorhouses, and slum residential schools like Forest Gate. Mary died in the asylum in 1889. But her children all grew up to have productive lives!

When I tell the story of the Slatter family to their descendants, I marvel at the resiliency of the Slatter children and express admiration for their accomplishments. Three of the boys went from Forest Gate School to the Exmouth and Goliath Training Ships, then grew up to be celebrated military bandmasters and strong family men. The two girls seem to have been fairly close all their lives, even after they married and raised families. The ultimate trajectory of the Slatter children's lives is quite amazing.

*The eldest Slatter son, Thomas, actually lived with his paternal grandmother and step-grandfather (according to census data from 1871 on). As a result, he never seems to have been in a workhouse or a poorhouse.

**NOTE: The Ancestry database I used is called: "London, England, Workhouse Admission and Discharge Records, 1764-1930."

Friday, July 13, 2018

Lessons Learned in My Virtual Research Trip

Today, when I was clicking my merry way through online records pertaining to my husband's Slatter family, I discovered one shortcut and was reminded, yet again, of the value of checking originals.

Above, the shortcut I found to cut through the clutter of hints. My husband's Slatter family tree on Ancestry has more than 9,000 outstanding hints. Most of those are for ancestors too distant to be a priority. So I clicked on "records" to choose only those hints, then brought up the "filter by name" sorting option. (The default is "most recent" which means when Ancestry added that hint.)

By entering "Slatter" in the surname search box, I was able to view only record hints containing that name. Of course, I could have searched by first and last names, but given the creative spelling in so many records, I wanted to click through all Slatter record hints individually. Focusing on one surname enabled me to make progress, rather than being sidetracked by hints unrelated to my current research.


Now for the reminder about original records vs. transcriptions. The three dates on this record of marriage banns from a London church are 1 Dec, 8 Dec, and 15 Dec. The handwriting is very clear. At top of the page, not shown here, is the handwritten year--1907. Yet the transcription of this record says the year is 1908.

By reading the handwritten record, I was able to enter the correct dates for the marriage banns of Thomas Albert Slatter and Jessie Alice Elms. Also, the marriage license original confirmed the actual wedding day as 28 December 1907.

It's never safe to assume a transcription is accurate, let alone complete. It took only a few more clicks to view the originals and extract every possible data point.

My starting point for today's post was Elizabeth O'Neal's Genealogy Blog Party, July edition: Virtual Research Trippin'.


Sunday, July 1, 2018

Independence for Canadian and U.S. Ancestors

My husband's Slatter ancestors and my Burk/Burke/Berk ancestors both have strong ties to Canada and the United States. For Canada Day and the Fourth of July, both days celebrating independence, I'm summarizing their moves to these adopted home nations. And, of course, doing a little extra research in case new records have become available for these treasured ancestors. Note: Long post ahead!

HUBBY'S SLATTER ANCESTORS

Hubby's paternal great-grandfather was John Slatter (1838-1901), who married Mary Shehen (1837-1889) in Christ Church, Southwark, England, in 1859. John left London for Cleveland, Ohio, in 1888. That struck me as unusual, because his wife Mary died in 1889. Then I found out about her being confined in an asylum and...well, the light dawned.

Of the six children that John and Mary had together, three sons settled in Canada after the turn of the 20th century. They were the "Slatter bandmaster brothers" I've written about in the past. Two daughters settled in Ohio before the turn of the 20th century, following their father to that state. New career opportunities and new family lives awaited them as they left the past behind in England.
  • Albert William Slatter (1862-1935) was a distinguished military bandmaster trained in England who married Eleanor Marion Wilkinson (1865-?). He came to Canada in 1906, joined by his wife and six surviving children one year later. Albert long served as bandmaster of the 7th London (Ontario) Fusiliers, rising to the rank of Captain before his retirement.
  • John Daniel Slatter (1864-1954) became a world-renowned bandmaster who popularized the kiltie band. He was the first of his family to settle in Canada, in 1884. A few years after his 1887 marriage to Sophie Elizabeth Marie LeGallais (1862-1943) in Montreal, John moved his damily to Toronto and was the founding bandmaster of the 48th Highlanders Regiment of Toronto. That's Captain John Slatter pictured above, in full bandmaster regalia. He was, by all accounts, both kind and thoughtful.
  • Henry Arthur Slatter (1866-1942) was trained in  England and served in the military there before going to Vancouver with his wife, Alice Good (1864-1914). He became bandmaster of the 72d Seaforth Highlanders and soon enlisted to serve in WWI, despite being widowed with three children. After the war, he resumed his high-profile bandmaster role with the 72d Seaforth and was lauded for his leadership.
  • Adelaide Mary Ann Slatter (1868-1947) came to America after arriving in Quebec in 1895. She paid her own passage across the pond and told border authorities she was going to see her father, with $2.50 in her pocket. "Aunt Ada" (as she was known in the family) wound up marrying James Sills Baker in Toledo, OH. Her two grown daughters, Dorothy and Edith, later moved to Cleveland and were guests at the wedding of my sis-in-law.
  • Mary Slatter (1869-1926) was the baby of the Slatter family. She went from England to Toledo, Ohio in 1895, the same year as her sister Adelaide, and got married in 1898 to James Edgar Wood (1871-1939). By 1901, she and James had moved to Cleveland, where her father John Slatter was ailing (he died in her home that August). Mary had four sons with James and was a soothing and loving presence. Her unexpected death due to heart problems in 1925 was a terrible blow to her family.
MY BURK/BERK/BURKE/BERG ANCESTORS

My paternal great-grandfather was Solomon Elias Birck and paternal great-grandmother was Nekhe Gelle Shuham. To my knowledge, both were born and died in Lithuania (probably Gargzdai). I think they had seven children, of whom one remained in Lithuania (fate unknown) and the other six came to North America, seeking better lives and fleeing religious persecution.
  • Nellie "Neshi" Block (1865 or 1875?-1950) seems to have been the first in the family to arrive in North America, which surprised me. My grandpa Isaac said, on crossing from Canada to America in 1904, that he was going to see her in NYC. How Nellie got here, and when, I don't yet know. She was a fur operator, according to the Census, and the only Burk who never married.
  • Abraham Berk (1877-1962) and his brother Isaac left Lithuania and stayed in 1901 with an aunt and uncle in Manchester, learning English and earning money for the trans-Atlantic trip. A skilled cabinetmaker, Abraham married Anna Horwitch in Manchester, England, 117 years ago this month. He sailed to Montreal in 1902 while Anna remained behind to give birth to their first child. Abraham stood in as the patriarch of the Burk family when my father (his nephew) was married.
  • Isaac Burk (1882-1943) married Henrietta Mahler (1881-1954) in 1906. The photo at right shows them in 1936. I think their relatives in the old world knew each other, since Isaac and his brother Meyer "boarded" in the NYC apartment of Henrietta's family in 1905, and the surname "Shuham" is in both family trees. Isaac first went from Lithuania to Manchester, than to Canada, then crossed the border and took a train to New York. His sister Nellie was living in the same apartment building as the Mahler family. Isaac and family crossed from Canada to US numerous times before settling in the Bronx, NY. My quest to learn when and where my grandpa Isaac died started me in genealogy 20 years ago!
  • Meyer Berg (1883-1981) and his brother Isaac were "boarders" in the Mahler apartment, says the 1905 NY census. I learned more from Meyer's wonderful granddaughter, found via genealogy. In America, Meyer married Anna Peretz (1888-1981, maiden name might be Paris or Peris), and they had five children. One of Meyer's children was named Harold Berg, and he was the first cousin of my Dad, Harold Burk. Two Harolds in one generation, most likely named after the same dead ancestor, following Jewish naming traditions! Meyer died days after his 98th birthday.
  • Jennie "Shayna" Birk (1890-1972) was only a name in the Census, "boarding" in the Mahler apartment in 1910, until Meyer Berg's granddaughter told me more about her life. It looks like Jennie arrived in NYC from Lithuania in 1909 and worked in the garment industry. She married Paul Salkowitz (1889-1957) in 1919. They had no children together but were always loving and generous to their nieces and nephews. 
  • Matel "Max" Birk (1892-1953) was a complete mystery until recently. He arrived at Ellis Island in 1906, saying he was going to his brother Isaac Burk c/o M. Mahler (there's the Mahler family connection again). Tracked via the Census, Max was in the jewelry business, in Chicago and then in New York, where he married Rebecca Simon Chaiken (1897-1984) in 1936. They had no children but, like Jennie and Paul, were an affectionate aunt and uncle to their nieces and nephews.
Thanks, as always, to Amy Johnson Crow for this "independence" #52Ancestors prompt.

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!