Friday, September 10, 2010

The McClure Family - Ohio Branch

I'm researching my husband's family at the are two photos of his grandparents. Above is Floyda Mabel Steiner McClure (1878-1948), of Nevada, Ohio (d. Cleveland).

And here's Brice Larimer McClure, (1878-1970), affectionately known as "The Old Gentleman" in the family. He was born in Little Traverse, Michigan (d. Cleveland). He's named after Brice S. Larimer, his maternal grandfather. We're not sure where the name Brice comes from or why it was chosen, since the family tree doesn't yet reflect that name, but we're not very far into this family's research. More discoveries are ahead!

Monday, September 6, 2010

Looking for Louis Volk

Louis VOLK (father Samuel, mother Celie Leboff) was an important part of my father's family. He married my great-aunt Ida Mahler in 1920. When brother-in-law (Isaac Burk) died unexpectedly while visiting him in 1943, Louis gave info for Isaac's death certificate. Born in Sukian, Russia, around 1891 or 1892, Louis lived in the Bronx in the 1930s and somehow got to the ritzy Rodman Ave Street NW section of Washington, DC by the 1940s. His children were Myron and Sylvia. Hope to connect with Volk descendants!

PS Thank you to Lois for correcting the Rodman St. info. 

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Isaac Burk was Lithuanian, Henrietta Mahler was Latvian

How do I know that my gfather Isaac Burk was Lithuanian and his wife Henrietta Mahler Burk was Latvian? How do I know (almost certainly) that he appears at left in this photo (with my gmother Henrietta at right, taken at the wedding of their youngest daughter, in center)?

Because his Declaration of Intention to apply for citizenship has his nationality AND a photo! It also has his terrible signature--clearly writing English was still a struggle, after all his years away from his homeland.

Isaac came from "Kovna" according to these documents. He and Henrietta married in New York City, but where, when, and how they met is a mystery (at this point). More research is in my future.

Friday, August 27, 2010

Speedy NYC Marriage Cert

With unprecedented speed, NYC has sent me my grandparents' marriage license from 1906. It's some help with genealogy but has less detail than I'd hoped.

I didn't know where Isaac Birk/Berk lived at that time, and now I do. Below is a photo--the tenement is still in existence, although the storefronts have obviously been updated (not necessarily "improved") since Grandpa's time.

Grandpa was 26 and Grandma was 19 when they married, the first time for both. This license may be where some of the confusion about Grandpa's name came about. The official who wrote out the info calls Grandpa "Isaac Burk" but he signs himself "Isaak Berk." He gives his birth place as simply "Russia" and writes that his occupation is "carpenter." His father's name was Elias L. Burk (but the last name has been clearly corrected in some way). His mother's name was Necke Burk (again, both names heavily corrected, suggesting that they didn't translate well?). I see more research in my future, as usual!

PS Here's where my Grandma lived at the time, another address I never knew (here we are between the US Census years, so they may have moved every year for all I know). Another tenement still standing but with changed storefronts.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Not MY Rachel Jacobs

Wonder of wonders, the NYC authorities turned my death cert request around in only one week, a new speed record. And now I know that I was wrong about my g-g-grandma Rachel Jacobs being buried in the cemetery plot devoted to patients from the Montefiore Home for Incurables in NYC.

The death cert I received shows a Rachel Jacobs dying in 1904 and being buried in that plot. It can't be my family's Rachel Jacobs because this one was just 56 yrs old, married, and born in US. None of that fits the profile of MY Rachel Jacobs.

I feel sorry for this Rachel Jacobs, however, because she had a cerebral hemorrhage in 1902 and finally died in 1904, having been at the Montefiore Home for 21 months, according to the death cert.

Lessons learned: (1) just because someone with the same name as an ancestor is buried within walking distance in the same cemetery as a known relative, doesn't mean he or she is in my family; (2) if the known relatives have expensive headstones and paid $ for perpetual care, but the mother of one of those relatives has a nearly impossible-to-see, insignificant headstone in a charity plot, chances are that mother is not a relative.

I'm going to have to take a different approach to finding my Rachel.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Where Great-Great Grandma Is Buried

If I'm correct about where the mother of Tillie JACOBS is buried, I have more clues to my great-great grandma's life in New York. The cemetery shows her in a plot set aside for the Montefiore Home for Incurables, an institution founded in the 1880s (shown below). I was wrong, this is not MY Tillie JACOBS, see later post!

Again, thank you to wonderful, friendly cemetery personnel who are willing to help family researchers like me!

The gravestones were, alas, too worn to be read, and I searched for her a good long time before giving up. Once her death cert arrives (4-6 wks), I'll be able to confirm that this is indeed my great-great grandma. She came to the US in 1886, was shown in the Census of 1900 as living with her daughter and son-in-law and their children. Unfortunately, she died in 1904, apparently of a chronic disease (cancer perhaps?).

The 1900 Census shows great-great grandma as widowed and having 2 children, of whom 2 were living. One was obviously her daughter. The other, I think, was a son who lived in another apartment in the same tenement house. In those days, small families were rare, so my conclusion is that she was widowed early and rather than be left behind when her 2 children moved to the US, she came along. That must have taken courage, IMHO, knowing that she might never see her other relatives and friends again.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Tracing My Mahler Ancestors

Today I visited the graves of great-grandparents Meyer and Tillie MAHLER--thank you for responsive, caring cemetery staff members! They helped me locate the graves in the middle of very crowded plots and photocopied the cards on file. Although I had their death certs, I never knew the middle names of these ancestors, so this was helpful. Although they died decades apart, their stones were side by side.

Feeling like Peter Falk's Columbo, I turned back to the cemetery office before leaving and said, "Just one more thing..." This cemetery has a searchable online database and I had previously searched for Tillie's mother, Rachel Jacob (or Jacobs). I found a Rachel Jacob, but not in the same cemetery section. Almost didn't ask but as long as I was in the office, I did. All I knew was her name and that she died after 1900 (because of her appearance in the 1900 Census).

The cemetery staff checked a big ledger book and there was Rachel JACOBS, along with her death date which I would never have found otherwise. Sadly, it was impossible to find her grave stone (must have weathered away since her death in 1904) but as soon as I arrived home, I searched out and found her NYC death cert number. Yes! In approximately one month, I'll know her full name, parents, place of birth, and anything else that NYC records on death certs from that era. This was a very good genealogy day for me!

Friday, July 30, 2010

New Citizen 110 Years Ago Today

Exactly 110 yrs ago today (July 30, 1900), my ancestor Mayer Mahler became a US citizen.

Mayer married his wife, Tillie, and had 2 children in Russia before leaving the Kovno region (see above map, now Kaunus, Lithuania) to arrive in America in 1885. He renounced his citizenship as a subject of the Emperor of Russia, and with Adam Adler as his reference, became a new US citizen in 1900. Tillie and Mayer had 5 more children in America, where he lived for 25 years before his early death. His wife Tillie lived to be 99 years old!

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

California slang, circa 1946

I'm once again transcribing letters sent to Mom. One of her friends (temporarily living in California) mentions local slang, circa spring 1946. Lush means luscious, as in "that coat is lush." Icky means, well, icky--but apparently that wasn't slang familiar to a young lady from the Bronx. This was interesting enough to merit a paragraph in a one-page letter. Who knew?

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

"Auntie" and Other Family Honorifics

In our family, calling an aunt "Auntie" was (and is) a mark of respect and affection. My sisters and I had a few aunts, but only one Auntie, our favorite (my mom's twin). No other name was needed--she was just Auntie. Now, as an adult, I'm delighted to be one of the Aunties of my generation.

It's the same with "Cousin" or "Cuz," which in our family are affectionate terms rather than being formal honorifics. I enjoy calling one of my cousins and saying, "Hi Cousin, it's Cousin Marian" or just "Hi, Cuz." And if you get called "Sweet Cuz," you're really the top!

I'm certainly going to note these honorifics in the family story. What are your family's honorifics?