Cemetery Records Impacts Family Stories

11 Jan

Recently I received a cemetery record from a friend of mine, who grew up with my husband’s cousins.  Her grandfather and my husband’s grandfather were great friends.

In any case, she is researching her family history and did research on the Jewish Cemetery in Leavenworth, Kansas, where my husband’s grandparents and aunt are buried.  (Mount Zion Cemetery or Sons of Truth. )She found their funeral records as well, and sent them to me and other family members.  I sent it on to one more.  For me they were enlightening.  My husband’s mother had told me many stories about her family before she died.  And these records impacted these stories.

Story Number One:  Her mother, Esther, died in childbirth when she was in her 40s.   The cemetery records make this clear.  She died in the early 1930s and was buried with an infant.  This would have been child number 11, although her oldest daughter had died years before.  Born in 1889, she died in 1933, when she was just 43.  On another note,  her birthday was October 4; and many of her grandchildren are born October!

Story Number Two:  My mother in law was named for her older sister, Molly, who died in May.  I was told she died in the swine flu epidemic in 1918 or 1919.  Not true.  Molly died from the pneumonia in May 1924, when she was 19 years old.  What amazes me as well is that she was born and died on the same day in May just 19 years apart!Still a tragedy!  But what is true is that my mother in law was born almost exactly a year later.  And so was given her sister’s Hebrew name, along with another name.  This impacts me, as my daughter is named for her grandmother and so also for this great aunt.

A story we did not know, is that Malvina or Molly or Malcha, was first buried in Wichita, Kansas, where the family lived.   The family moved to Leavenworth some time after she died, leaving her grave behind.  But after her mother died, Molly’s remains were moved to Leavenworth in 1935, to be with her mother.

My mother in law told me that her father went every to visit the grave of his wife and daughter.  I have been at the cemetery and I know there is a bench there where he sat.

Story Number Three:  My husband’s grandfather died in the middle of World War 2 in Leavenworth, which impacted his three youngest children.  So true.  His date of death is listed as December 6, 1942.  Just one year after Pearl Harbor.  He had been a widow for nine years.  And was just 64 when he died.  The same age my husband is now!

At the time of his death, three children were minors, the others were married or serving in the military.  The oldest of these three was my mother in law.   She was a senior in high school.  We think she stayed with friends for the rest of the school year.  We know after high school, she moved to St. Louis to attend Washington University and live with an older sister and her family.

My mother in law told me that one day when she came home she saw her brother and sister sitting on the steps.  Some family friends were there. And she just knew something horrible had happened.  It had.  After losing her mother when she was only 8, she was now an orphan.

The two youngest, 12 and 14 at the time, were first taken to Wichita.  Remember the good friend?  She told me that her grandfather drove through a horrible storm to get the youngest children so they would not be alone.  He brought them back to Wichita.  From there they went to Arkansas to live with their oldest brother and his family.  Officially they were supposed to live in Kansas, according to my mother in law, but the state gave permission for them to leave the state to live with family during the war.

After the war was over, the youngest son was still a minor.  He went to live with another brother and his wife in Wichita.  The next youngest, a daughter, was in nursing school,  at St. Francis Hospital in Wichita,  but would stay with this brother as well during vacations.

That two of these youngest children went to college and one to nursing training,  I find amazing!  But I remember my husband’s aunt, the one who lived in St. Louis, telling me that although there was not a lot of money left after their dad died, there was enough for education, and the older siblings made sure the younger siblings went.

After I received the cemetery records, there was some serious texting back and forth between this friend and I, as well as an older first cousin who grew up in Wichita.  Her parents are the ones who took in the youngest sibling.

It is just amazing that different people know different parts of the same story.  But when you put it all together, a truer picture appears.   Most  amazing how finding the right records can answer so many questions!


Thank you to /www.findagrave.com/.  I was able to see grave stones.

20 Responses to “Cemetery Records Impacts Family Stories”

  1. Amy January 11, 2019 at 8:29 pm #

    How sad for your mother-in-law and her siblings. But they obviously were a resilient group of children/young adults.

    • zicharon January 11, 2019 at 8:41 pm #

      There was over 20 years between the youngest and the oldest. I think when someone has 10 children the older ones help to raise the younger ones. And here more so because their mom died so young.

      • Amy January 12, 2019 at 6:36 am #

        Yes, and that seemed to happen a lot. The family I am working on now (and will blog about starting next week) had a similar situation. The couple had 14 children, the mother died when she was in her 40s, leaving behind three youngish children (around 10 years old), and her widower moved to be near his brother, who was 20 years younger than he was, I assume to have support in raising the remaining children at home.

      • zicharon January 12, 2019 at 8:05 am #

        That was impossible here as his family was in Europe. I have found previously records of him sending money overseas. Good luck with your research.

      • Amy January 12, 2019 at 9:12 pm #

        Thanks, you, too!

  2. Luanne January 12, 2019 at 9:45 am #

    I love how you were able to put together all this information into coherent stories. Why would children have to stay in a certain state?

    • zicharon January 12, 2019 at 9:47 am #

      Thank you. Because they were orphans, they were wards of the state. Eventually the older brother who returned from the war was named his legal guardian in Wichita.

      • Luanne January 12, 2019 at 9:48 am #

        It was a good thing he was available.

      • zicharon January 12, 2019 at 9:50 am #

        Yes. There were other siblings. But Fred was living in the right state and married.

      • zicharon January 12, 2019 at 9:50 am #

        But the siblings really rallied to support the younger ones!

      • Luanne January 12, 2019 at 4:52 pm #

        So good to hear that kind of family support!

  3. Ester Katz Silvers May 21, 2019 at 11:29 am #

    My mother never went to college, rather nurse’s training at St Francis Hospital in Wichita. As I understood it, your mother-in-law was with Richard and my mom, at least in the beginning, in Little Rock.

    • zicharon May 21, 2019 at 11:41 am #

      Yes. They all started out with Joe in Little Rock. Then Lee went to St. Louis to go to Washington University to college. Richard went to be with Fred because he was supposed to live in Kansas as he was a minor, as was your Mom. Kansas allowed them to go to Joe because of the war. But when the war was over they had to go to Kansas. That is what Lee told me.

    • zicharon May 21, 2019 at 11:45 am #

      Okay, I changed Aunt Barbara to Nursing training at St. Francis.

      • Ester Katz Silvers May 21, 2019 at 12:42 pm #

        Also she was fourteen when her father died.

      • zicharon May 21, 2019 at 12:51 pm #


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