Sunday, November 14, 2010

Sunday's Obituary - Isaac Burk

When paternal grandfather Isaac Burk died suddenly while visiting his wife's sister and brother-in-law in Washington, DC, the obit in the New York Times was quite terse, with nothing more than the basics. It read:
BURK--Isaac, on Oct. 8, 1943, husband of Yetta, father of Millie, Miriam, Harold and Sidney. Funeral 3:15 pm Sunday, Oct. 10. 1943.
This obit appeared on the day of the funeral service, which took place in New York City where Isaac lived, with the burial in New Jersey. "Yetta" was actually Henrietta (2022 update: Yetta was also her nickname in the family), and "Millie" was Mildred, Isaac's oldest daughter. Since Isaac's sons Harold and Sidney were fighting in Europe at this point, having enlisted for WWII, it must have been a very small group that attended the funeral, unfortunately. 

Isaac's name was recorded as "Birk" when he arrived as an immigrant, but he changed it sometime during his early years in New York City and Montreal, moving between the two places as a carpenter looking for work.

When Isaac married Henrietta MAHLER (my grandmother) in June, 1906, he listed his father's name as Elias (L. or S.) Burk and his mother as Necke (or Neche) Burk, although the "Burk" last name was clearly corrected on the marriage cert so it may have actually been spelled "Birk" or "Berk" the first time through the clerk's hands. Isaac said he was 26 and Henrietta said she was 19 at the time of their marriage. 

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Those Places Thursday - Ungvar (now Uzhorod)

Grandfather Teddy (Tivador) SCHWARTZ and his siblings (including Paula and Etel, above), came from Ungvar, then part of Hungary and now in the Ukraine. After Teddy, his older brother Sam, and their little sister Mary moved to New York, they periodically received photo portrait postcards like the above from the old country. Whether Grandpa sent photo postcards back, I don't know. Sadly, I also don't know for sure what happened to Etel Schwartz. 2022 update: Cousin confirmed that Etel was killed in the Holocaust, unfortunately.

Curious to see more about Ungvar, I located this site with vintage postcards of the city in the 19th and 20th centuries. Wow, it was more cosmopolitan than I expected. Even though Grandpa probably lived outside the city, it's interesting to see the skyline and buildings he would have seen in this market city itself.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Wedding Wednesday - 1946

The biggest social event of 1946 in my father's side of the family was the wedding of my parents (center, seated). Alas, Mom's gold lame wedding dress is long gone but it was quite glamorous!

Surnames: Burk, Birk, Schwartz, Volk, Mahler

Monday, November 8, 2010

Mystery Monday - Margaret Schwartz and son William

My great-uncle Samuel SCHWARTZ died in 1954, while married to his second wife, Margaret (his first wife, Anna, had died in 1940). According to family lore, Sam and Margaret drifted away from the family after their marriage and once Sam died, leaving nothing to the children of his first marriage, the rift was complete.

Looking for more on Margaret, I found a grave for someone with that name in the same cemetery where Sam & Anna are fact, Margaret's plot is in the same block and section as Sam & Anna, and the burial society (1st Hungarian Independent Lodge) is the same for all three. 2022 update: Cemetery is Riverside in Saddle Brook, New Jersey. Sam's Find a Grave memorial is here.

Now for the mystery: The next of kin listed on Margaret's cemetery info is "William Schwartz, son." Although I don't know whether this is the correct Margaret (I've guessed wrong before!), nobody has ever heard of Margaret and Sam having a son. Is William Schwartz a distant relative? Does he still have any of Sam Schwartz's family heirlooms?

Mystery partially solved! My cousin Bonnie just told me she remembers that Margaret had a child from her first marriage, so William must have been my great-uncle Sam's stepson. Where William might be and what he knows about the Schwartz family remains a mystery still. And in 2022, as I update this, it is still a mystery.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Talented Tuesday: Needlework Experts

My mother (Daisy Schwartz Burk) and my younger sister, shown above, were talented with a needle and thread or yarn. Mom did petit point and needlepoint when she was first married, but from an early age she had been crocheting afghans, doilies, etc. She never sewed her own clothes because her mother (my grandmother, Hermina Schwartz), was a proficient seamstress who made the family's clothes for many years--and when my mother was working and earning money, she wanted store-bought apparel, not home-made.

My younger sister embroidered, did needlepoint, crocheted, and was good at many different hand-crafts.

My mother taught us to crochet before we started school (I now quilt as well) and my twin sewed a lot of her clothes during high school and college. Now one niece is an expert crocheter and another loves to embroider. The tradition of needlework continues!

I still have some items embroidered by my grandmother and mother, which I treasure and take care of so the memories and stories of their talents remain alive.

Monday, November 1, 2010

Data Backup Day - Suspenders and Belt Edition

Having lived through several PC crashes that demolished my data in the bad old days, I now rely on the "suspenders and belt" strategy of ensuring that my stuff can be retrieved, even if my computer is a total loss.

First, I use and automatic backup that begins at 5 pm every day (this is my 2022 update).

Second, now that I've given up the PC world and become a Mac fan (remember, "fan" is short for "fanatic"), I have Apple's Time Machine backing up every hour to an external hard drive that sits right on my desk. Really worst case, I'll lose an hour. Who can beat that? This is the suspenders part, the extra bit of insurance that lets me feel secure about my data.

2022 update: I have another external hard drive for photos, videos, and other genealogical items I do not ever want to lose!

Sunday, October 31, 2010

Sentimental Sunday

 At left is my mom and below is her twin sister, a few minutes older. These are their high school graduation photos.

Remember those socks filled with chalk that children used to swing around on Halloween? Mom's Halloween memories weren't very positive because one Halloween she was socked in the mouth with a sock filled with rocks. Although she had a few sets of front teeth put in over the years, replaced as dental techniques became better, she always had to be careful what and how she ate. She even had to be careful how she kissed! 2022 update: letters written to her in 1940s mentioned her new teeth and the problem with kissing.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Those Places Thursday - European Band Tour

Edgar James Wood, born in Cleveland, OH, spent his summers in between college semesters touring Europe with a band. They'd get hired to play on an ocean liner crossing the Atlantic and then pick up gigs as they moved around Europe. This is a poster from 1926, when Edgar was playing in Dick Bowers' Band. Although they didn't make much money, they did have lots of adventures and see the world. Decades later, Edgar (my late father-in-law) was still talking about his summer band tours and cruise dates.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Wordless Wednesday: James Edgar Wood

James Edgar Wood was a builder in Cleveland Heights, OH, around the turn of the century (the sign, at right of the bicycle, is the giveaway). This is one of the homes he built. The woman with him is his wife, Mary Slatter Wood. Anyway, James's proficiency in carpentry has been inherited by later generations--at least 4 generations at current count. (updated in 2022 to confirm that the photo shows husband and wife, James and Mary)

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Black Sheep Sunday - Busted Because of a Coal Road

A Black Sheep Sunday story I remember my father telling. My dad, Harold Burk 1909-1978 (right, above), worked his way up to Sgt in the US Army during WWII, in charge of getting some supplies to certain Allied troops fighting in Europe. He was frustrated that he couldn't easily deliver coal to the barracks in a heavily wooded area, and with the weather getting very cold, and no official way to get the coal to freezing troops, he took matters into his own hands.

He ordered a tank (or heavy truck, not sure which) to knock down some of the smaller trees and create a narrow road that could then be used for transporting coal to the barracks! Higher-ranking officials weren't happy because they feared the narrow road would tip off enemy planes if they spotted the route, and my dad was busted, losing at least one stripe. But he always felt the men would not have survived the winter without some fuel for the stoves, so he made their day-to-day welfare his concern. 

Is this a Black Sheep story? My husband doesn't think so, but maybe that's because all ended well. 2022: No way to prove whether the story was true, but I'm retelling it anyway with the caveat that this is a "family legend" I heard directly from Dad.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Grandma, Upper Sandusky, and McGuffey's Reader

Years ago, my husband's parents gifted him with a beat-up old book, McGuffey's Sixth Eclectic Reader (revised edition). These days, McGuffey's is available for free, online, from the Gutenberg Project.

The book itself is too fragile to scan, unfortunately, so no picture here. The book has huge sentimental value because it belonged to my husband's grandmother, Floyda Steiner McClure, who used it in school in Upper Sandusky, OH, about 1890-91.

Interestingly, Floyda practiced her shorthand on the endpapers at the back of the book. She also scribbled some math sums back there. No highlighting in the book, of course. This is a family treasure because it connects us to older generations in a tangible way. How else would we know that Floyda read Shakespeare, Samuel Johnson, Lord Byron, and more?

2022 update: New image of cover.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Cousins--More Than Names on My Family Tree

I suspected that there were more 2nd cousins out there: In my great-grandmother's obit, I counted the number of great-grandchildren, of which I'm one.

One big reason I started this blog is so that cousins and other relatives could find me--and now Cousin Lois has done just that. We're excitedly exchanging family stories and talking over old times. I'm delighted to catch up with Lois's news and learn, through her, about more cousins scattered around the country. Wonder of wonders, Lois even has some treasured heirlooms that belonged to our great-grandpa.

So many cousins to meet, so many stories to tell, so many family connections to make. Here's to great cousin connections! 2022 update: I'm now in touch with descendants of Mrs. Sarah Mahler Smith, and have been in touch with Mrs. Mary Mahler Markell's descendants. 

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. 2022 update: An ancestor in the family was Brice Smith, clearly the reason why Brice was passed down in multiple generations.

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 Louis's 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! 2022 update: Connected with Volk descendants! 

PS Thank you to cousin L for correcting the Rodman St. info. 

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Isaac Burk was Lithuanian, Henrietta Mahler was Latvian

How do I know that my grandfather Isaac Burk was Lithuanian and his wife Henrietta Mahler Burk was Latvian? How do I know for sure that he appears at left in this photo (with my grandmother Henrietta Mahler Burk 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. UPDATED 2022: This is definitely Isaac, with his younger daughter Miriam, her new husband David, and Isaac's wife Henrietta. Photo from 1937.