Archive | January, 2022

Mysteries, Mysteries, Mysteries: The Continuing Saga of My Grandfather’s Family

17 Jan

It has been a crazy investigation that started when I found a birth notice for a daughter named Rossie Rosenberg for my great grandparents.  I could not find any other information about her.  Just that one document.  So, I posted on my favorite Facebook group for help.  Once again, another Tracing the Tribe member came through…in a GIGANTIC way. 

First of all, a MAJOR thank you to Sylvia V. who connected the dots and solved the mystery of Rossie Rosenberg.  She was born on May 3, 1904.  But her name did not show up in other records.  However, another child, Minnie/Marion/Muriel does appear.  She was born on May 5, 1904.   Close enough.  I have to assume they could not think of a name when their last of eight living children was born, so just called her Rossie.  Once she got home, a final name, Minnie, was selected.  The mystery of Rossie/Minnie is now solved.

I do know that Muriel got married in 1934 to a man named Harry Moskowitz and they had four children.  But what makes it very evident that this is the right Muriel Rosenberg Moskowitz, is that she named her first son Stanley RITT Moskowitz (He has passed away so I mention his name.).  Ritt was my great-grandmother, and Muriel’s mother’s maiden name, which really helped in following the trail.

But Sylvia did not stop with Muriel.  Something caught her eye about my grandfather’s oldest brother, Samuel.

First some back story.  My grandfather’s oldest brother disappeared.  I could not find him anywhere except on census documents up until 1915.  However, now I know that I did find him, I just did not realize what I was finding.

My grandfather never mentioned his family.  When I spoke to my grandmother about her family, she filled me in a bit about his family, but she was not very forthcoming.  She told me that they were all crazy.  Her information was basic and not totally correct.  In her rendition, he was the oldest of six children.  He supported them because his father ran off and abandoned the family.  He helped put his younger brother through law school, he helped his sisters go to school.  And then they left him.  (See blogs below for information on them.)

Her most important message to my sister and me, was “Be careful who you marry.  Check out the family.  You have to be sure that they are not crazy.  Look what happened to me.”  My sister remembers this being told to us over a long weekend when my grandmother stayed with us.   But that is not the only time she told this story.  She repeated over and over again to me when I was dating my husband and finally engaged. 

My grandfather, just so you understand, was not the oldest of six children.  He was really the third of eight children who survived childhood.  My great-grandmother Sarah, had 12 births and 8 living children.  I found Grandpa’s older sister, Celia, who died at age 24.  (See blog below.)

But I never could find Samuel…till now.

Sylvia sent me New York and Federal census lists starting in 1900 through 1925.  Many of them I had seen before and had acknowledged as my family.  Others I had looked at and thought no, it can’t be them.  But with Sylvia, I could see how my great grandfather could be listed as Aaron and not Abraham, especially when all the other names and dates matched up.  But she had a bit of knowledge that I did not know about the about the Kings Park State Hospital. A place which I never heard of before, but I have learned much more.   Now my grandmother’s rants and stories all make sense.

In the 1915 New York census, it showed Samuel living at home, but listed his occupation as a farmer.  Before that, in 1910 he was the foreman at a tailor shop. When I saw this, I thought, hmmm this is why he disappeared. He left the tailor business and tried his hand at farming. Perhaps he farmed in New Jersey or Long Island and came home to sleep at night.  Okay, I was naïve.  But I honestly could not understand why he was a farmer.

Sylvia posted the following note: Is there any anecdote about one of the ‘kids’ being hospitalized? The occupation of “farmer” in the 1915 census makes me wonder whether Samuel was institutionalized at the Kings Park State Hospital which used farming as therapy for mental illness. There is a WW1draft registration and census records there through 1940 for a patient named Samuel Rosenberg, b. 1888. It appears he died in 1944 but I don’t see a burial online.”

Wow!  That put a shock through my system.  I had seen the WW1 draft form, which I found when I found my grandfather’s and other great uncle’s registration.  But I assumed it was not him.    And since my grandparents never spoke about him, and I think my Dad never knew about hi either.   But then my brain started working and connecting and thinking:  Grandma! She probably knew all about the crazy brother, hence her tirade on checking out families before you got married.  If he died in 1944, I wonder if my grandfather was contacted. Since his mother had died in the 1930s.  Perhaps that is when grandma found out about the crazy brother who she knew nothing about. 

I had found the military registration for a Samuel Rosenberg in Kings Park, but I just blew it off.  I had no idea that a farmer could mean a patient/inmate in the hospital. But now I had to know more.  And Wikipedia had the information.  Kings Park Psychiatric Center opened in 1885.  It was unique in its efforts to actually help people. The idea was to be a farm community where patients worked or helped on the farm as part of their treatments.  My great uncle being listed as a farmer was the information Sylvia needed to understand what happened.  Why was he still listed on their census form? I am not sure. But perhaps because they did not want to say he was mentally ill.

In 1895 the hospital was over-crowded and the state of New York took it over, renaming it Kings Park State Hospital. The residential area around the hospital was also called Kings Park.  The hospital became self-sufficient and grew its own food.  It finally closed 100 years later in 1996.

Over the years there are a few records of Samuel.  And I will say it is a bit difficult to see the words inmate after his name, as well as the words insanity!  What would he be today, bi-polar, psychotic, schizophrenia?  I have no idea, but I cannot help but wonder!

It also made me think about my great grandparents getting divorced by the 1920 census. In those days people did not divorce that easily.  It was considered a Shanda, a shameful event.  But Sarah is divorced and head of the household in 1920.  Celia is dead by the time of the census and Samuel is no longer listed as part of the family, while the six other children are living with her. Abraham is gone.

I think about being a parent.  With one child, who is  in hospital for mental illness by 1915, the age of 27, and another child that dies in February of 1920 at the age of 24, perhaps the stress was just too much.  Or perhaps one of them was also a bit crazy! We will never know why they divorced.

In any case, I am not quite done with my research.  I am trying to get a copy of Samuel’s death certificate, information on his burial and finally perhaps his records from the hospital.  Actually, when I say I am trying, I am hoping my sister takes care of the paper work for the family.  She has a talent for details!

I will admit, while it is nice finally knowing what happened in my grandfather’s brother, I would liked to have found out that he had a family and did something special. Finding him as the inmate in a mental health institution is just sad.

I am left with just one mystery. I just need to find out what happened to my great grandfather!  Where did Abraham go!

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kings_Park_Psychiatric_Center

https://www.cdc.gov/flu/pandemic-resources/1918-commemoration/1918-pandemic-history.htm

Relating To The Kuchisabishii Feeling

7 Jan

Why are Japanese words so relatable?

My newest Japanese word describes me so well:  Kuchisabishii is the Japanese word for eating when not hungry.   It means “Lonely mouth” or eating just to fill your mouth because you are stressed or bored.  I absolutely relate to this feeling.

During the last two pandemic years, much of what I have put into my mouth falls under these categories.  But honestly, not as often as I once would have because since January 2017, I have been an active member of Weight Watchers (WW).  In fact, during the first four months of Covid, I kept very strictly to my program allowing me to reach my goal weight in June 2020 becoming a life member.  I lost 48 pounds in all.

I kept it all off for until January 6, 2021.  There were several reasons why I started to gain weight.  The first was political.  Watching the attack on the Capitol truly stressed me out.  For a week I was in full kuchisabishii mode.  I wanted to eat even though I was not hungry. I just needed to fill my lonely mouth mainly with chocolate and salty snack foods. Food released something in my mind that helped me cope! The feeling of chewing and the wonderful textures delighted my tastebuds.

But it wasn’t only political stress that got me eating.  Up until Januay 2021 I was participating in virtual WW workshops with local leaders which included a few of the people who had been at my meetings before Covid. After January, the last of my local workshops with leaders I knew, was cancelled. The meetings were now either national or at times that did not fit my schedule. 

Finally, there was COVID.  After a while the stress and the worry of avoiding the pandemic got to me.  Even with my vaccines and my booster, I felt uneasy.  Perhaps because so many people still did not want to be vaccinated or wear masks.  I began to see others as the enemy, which is so against my normal attitude. This all made me want to eat…for no reason.

With no workshops to give me the moral support I needed and the stresses of the world, I reverted to some hard core Kuchisabishii.  I was not hungry, but my mouth was lonely for food. I just wanted to chew on something!

To be honest, I gained almost 12 pounds this year.  The good news, is that my original loss was almost 50 pounds, so I am still over 35 pounds lighter than I was when I started my healthy eating program.  I might have eaten more than the portion called for, but I did not revert back to my extremely bad eating habits.  I did not take a bag of peanut butter M&Ms in my lap and just eat.  Instead I took ten or 12 M&Ms and slowly ate them. 

A year has passed since the world upset my equilibrium. Although the world is still not where I want it to be, I am now going in-person to WW meetings.  After a year of not following sensible eating and relying on kuchisabishii to get me through these uneasy times, I decided I had enough.  I plan to bulk up on my vegetables, stick to eating the Zero point foods and do something else when I feel stressed!

I still love the word, kuchisabishii, but I am not going to let unintended eating define my life.

https://nihongomaster.com/japanese/dictionary/word/65067/kuchisabishii