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Where Were My Three Great Aunts in 1905?

18 Apr

I have all the census records for my grandfather and his family starting in 1900 through 1930.  I can see the birth of the children through the additions in each census, till finally there are eight living children.   I can see as children disappear, one died, one to an asylum, several to get married.  And two who stayed with their mother even after her divorce. (Abraham and Sarah Rosenberg, Kings, Bronx, New York; Sometimes Aaron, one time Rosenbery.)

I know there is the rumor that my great grandfather left the family and moved to Seattle sometime around the turn of the century.  In the 1900 Census, it seems that they are living together with their five children, aged 1 through 14.

In 1905, the family shows up, but some of the children are missing.  The four oldest children and the newest baby are all there, as are two borders.  But the three other daughters, Bertha, Edith and Hattie, are not listed.   Where are they?  One was found, Bertha is living with Louis and Rosa Salomon, also in Brooklyn, Kings.  She is listed as a niece, living with her aunt and uncle and their seven children.  Bertha is 11.  Her cousins range in age from 13 to 22.

But how are they related?  Is Rosa the sister of Bertha’s mother or her father?  Or is Bertha somehow related to the father of the family?  Is Bertha really their niece, or some other distant relative, so Rosa and Louis are doing a favor for Abraham and Sarah?    Where are the other two girls?  Are they with other family members or in an orphanage? What happened to Edith and Hattie?

The questions keep coming into my mind.  Is this when my great grandfather abandoned the family.  If so, did Sarah give her daughters to other people to care for during this time.  Perhaps, even though Abraham is listed on the Census, he is NOT really living there.  Perhaps Sarah was too embarrassed to tell.

I do know the story that my grandfather was sent to search for his father and bring him home.  That at age 13, which would have been in 1903, he crossed the USA with a friend from New York all the way to Seattle in an effort to bring his father home.  I remember being told that my grandfather’s friend was Italian, and during that trip is when Grandpa learned to speak Italian.

So we know this is a posed photo, but it is when Grandpa (on right) crossed the USA looking for his father.

Did his father come home with him?  I understand that it took almost two years for the journey there and back.  Perhaps this is when they returned, but they had not yet collected the girls from the places where they are staying.

I do know that they came back.  Because the 1910 Census lists all of them.  It is the last time that they would all be together in a census.  Here both parents and all eight children are listed in age order.  The sons always keep the same names, Samuel, Harry/Henry, and Jacob/Jack.  But I must say the girls have many names: Celia/Cecelia is the oldest, but I know she also had a Hebrew. Rose/Bertha is the oldest of the four younger children.  Esther/Edith is the third oldest. Hattie also had another name, but almost always was Hattie or Hady.  Minnie/Marion/Muriel is the youngest.

In 1915, they are all listed, but Samuel is listed as a farmer.  I know now that he was not really living at home, rather he was an inmate in an asylum. (See blog below.)

By 1920, the world of the Rosenberg family is disrupted forever. Sarah and Abraham are divorced.  Sarah is the head of the household, but two children are missing.  Samuel is at the asylum and Celia has died at the age of 24.

In 1925 my grandfather, the oldest of the remaining children, is gone from Sarah’s home, as he has married my grandmother. In 1930, Jacob is also gone.  It is Sarah and her four daughters.  But now Bertha is listed as the head of the household.  Perhaps by then Sarah is already sick.   She died in 1936 from cancer.   Before she died, she did get to see two of her daughters get married.  Muriel, who married in 1924, named her first child after her mother.  Sarah died on January 28, 1936.  And on November 13, 1936, Muriel had a son she named Stanley and used her mother’s maiden name as his middle name.  That made me happy.  I am also named for Sarah, but I was born almost 20 years after Stanley.

Standing: Great Uncle Lenny, Great Aunt Hady/Hattie, Grandpa Harry, Grandma Esther. Seating are my great grandmother and great aunt from my Grandma’s side.

Aunt Hattie married Lenny Greenberg. I knew them.  In fact, it was Aunt Hattie who introduced my Dad to my Mom.  Aunt Hattie and Uncle Lenny never had children.

Bertha and Edith never married and always lived together.

But my questions continue. Where were Bertha, Edith and Hattie living in 1905.  How was Rosa and Louis Salomon related to Bertha?

Once again thank you to Sherri V. who connected information for me when I posted on Tracing the Tribe Facebook Group!

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 Sherrie 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 Sherri 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.

Sherri 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 Sherri, 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 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.

Sherri 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 him 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 Sherri 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!

(I want to thank Evan W. for all his help in the past in originally finding some of the documentation.)

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

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

Oy Vey Rosie Rosenberg!

30 Dec

Somewhere out there is more information about my Grandfather’s supposed sister, Rose/Rosie/Rossie, who was born on May 3, 1904, and died before the 1910 US census. 

First, I have to start by saying, I have known for a while that though we were told my grandfather was the oldest of six siblings, I know that he was actually the third oldest of 8 siblings who lived to adulthood.

I also know that his mother gave birth to 12 children.  For three I have no records, so I assume they were still births.  However, for one, I have a name and a date of birth.  Rose/Rosie.  That name touches my heart.  My father’s nickname when he served in Korea was Rosie.  To this day when I visit a memorial stone I put in the local Korean War Memorial, I always bring a rose.

But he never knew he had aunts who died tragically young: one named Celia, who lived to 24, (see blog below) and Rosie, who probably only lived for a couple of years or less.

But I cannot find Rosie except for this one document which includes her birthdate and her parent’s names.  I know it is correct, because it has Sarah Ritt/Rith for the mother’s maiden name. Also the family did live in Brooklyn in Kings County. I am not sure about the street. I know at one point they lived on a Sackman Street. But that was later. And I have found that this family seemed to move a bit.

Also I know Rosie was born before the youngest daughter Minnie/Muriel.  I remember seeing her name in a list of the family members at some point after 2017.  At that time, I wrote a blog about searching for my grandfather’s family.  Someone sent me an email or a private message with information about all the children from research he/she had done.   At the time I did not believe it was correct because I was still under the assumption that grandpa was the oldest of six, not the third of eight, or even nine.  But somewhere along the way I have lost that document.  And now I need it.

That teaches you to have absolutely NO assumptions about your family’s history and to never disregard a document.

I have found several Rosie or Rose Rosenbergs who died between 1905 and 1909. I am not sure if any of them is my family’s Rosie. Since her sister, Celia, was buried in 1920 at Montefiore Cemetery in the Queens, I was hoping to find Rosie there as well. But the only Rose Rosenberg buried in Montefiore, Springfield Gardens, had no date of birth or death. Could it be her? The memorial ID number is 148979659. But there is no other information or photo.

I am hoping someone who researches better than I can find out more about Rosie! I used Ancestry and Family Search as the two sources for the information I do have. Thank you!

My Grandfather’s Mysterious Family is Slowly Unveiling

3 Nov

I recently wrote a blog about my Grandfather’s sister Celia.  In it I call her my grandfather’s younger sister.  That might or might not be true.  Her date of birth ranges from 1890 to 1895.  She could be a year older or perhaps four years younger.  But then my Grandfather’s birth dates range as well from 1890 to 1892.  Who knows?  What I do know is that keeping records was not that easy in the late 19th and early 20th centuries.

That blog brought a response from Amy, one of my friends, who I met through Tracing the Tribe.  She recommended that I go to Family Search, part of the Mormon genealogy sites to try to find my great aunt Celia’s death certificate. 

Although I have used JewishGen and Ancestory, I never used Family Search on my own before. It was wonderful. Although I already had my Great Aunt’s, death certificate, someone had found it for me, I did not have a photo of her head stone. Family Search had it! Celia’s Hebrew name is Tzipa Gittal. (Thank you to Robin of Tracing the Tribe for figuring out the first name for me.) Like those of many who die young, the stone is in the shape of a tree cut down. There are palm leaves engrave on it along with the words, Beloved Daughter and in big letters SISTER. (I plan to put this photo on the other post as well!)

I found my grandfather’s family on the 1910, 1915, 1920 and 1925 Census.  In the 1915 Census, the last name was misspelt as Rosenbery.  In the 1920 Census, I found out that my great grandparents had divorce before then.  I knew that they were divorced, but somehow knowing they divorced before Celia died made me a little sad.   In the 1925 Census only five of her children were still living with Sarah.  Samuel disappeared after the 1915 Census, Celia died before the 1920 one, and my Grandfather married before the 1925 Census.  All four daughters: Bertha, Edith, Hattie and Minnie, who in this Census was renamed Muriel, were stenographers.  Jacob was already a lawyer.  (See blog below.)

Finding success with Celia, I decided to look for more information on my grandfather’s other missing sister, Minnie/Muriel. I found her as well. She also has a number of birth years ranging from 1904 to 1910. On the census from 1910, 1915, 1920 and 1925, it was either 1904 or 1906. But then I found her marriage license, there she is listed as being born in 1910. It makes sense, even with using 1910 as her birth year, she was still two years older than her husband. In reality, she was about 5 or 6 years older.

Muriel got married May 26, 1934, to a man named Harry Moskowitz in Kings, New York.   She and her husband had four children, three boys and one girl.  Since some of them are still alive, I will not name them.  Muriel died in the New York City area in January 1991.  That actually made me sad.  It means that my Grandfather did not live far from his sister, but he had no contact with her.  Why?  I honestly wish I know the answer!

He did have one sister who he did stay in contact with and whom I knew, Aunt Hattie and Uncle Lenny.  I wrote about them in the blog below.  I also found their marriage license. Besides seeing several birth years for her, 1901 to 1903, I found out that her legal name was not Hattie, even though that is what everyone called her.  On. December 16, 1934, Ethel H. Rosenberg marred Levert Greenberg, the son of Joseph and Rebecca (Schneider).  Uncle Lenny served in WW 2.  They never had any children.  But I remember them fondly.  Although over the years, Aunt Hattie made my Dad crazy at times.

Using Family Search was easy and helpful.  I am glad Amy suggested that I use it.  I do not know why I have never used it before now.  However, I know that I will continue to use it as I double my efforts to find Samuel, as he is the only sibling I have been unable to find.

Did Great Aunt Celia Die From the Spanish Flu?

31 Oct

With the Covid pandemic in its second year, I decided to write about my Grandfather’s younger sister who died over 101 years ago.

As I have written in other blogs, much about my paternal grandfather’s family was a mystery.  My Grandmother told me that my Grandfather was the oldest of 6 children, I now know that his mother actually gave birth to 11 children. I now also know that eight siblings that survived to adulthood and that my Grandfather was the second oldest of these eight.  

I know a bit about his one brother (See blog below) and I actually knew one of his five sisters.  (see blog below.) Three sisters and brother I know their names and perhaps some information, but it nothing definite.  I know Muriel married and had two children.  And I know there were two ‘maiden’ aunts.   I know Samuel supposedly went west in the early 1900’s.  But there was one sister that I had absolutely no information about his younger sister Celia.  I did not even have her name, as Celia died before my grandparents became engaged and married.

But now I know Celia.  Born on the Fourth of July in 1895, Celia was five years younger than my grandfather.   But whereas my grandfather lived until he was 95, Celia died when she was just 24 years old on February 6, 1920, from pulmonary edema and pneumonia, which was a major cause of death from the Spanish Flu.

According to Wikipedia, the Spanish Flu continued from February 1918 to April of 1920.  And the CDC website that discusses the Spanish flu has this information: 

“The 1918 influenza pandemic was the most severe pandemic in recent history. It was caused by an H1N1 virus with genes of avian origin. Although there is not universal consensus regarding where the virus originated, it spread worldwide during 1918-1919.  In the United States, it was first identified in military personnel in spring 1918.

It is estimated that about 500 million people or one-third of the world’s population became infected with this virus. The number of deaths was estimated to be at least 50 million worldwide with about 675,000 occurring in the United States. Mortality was high in people younger than 5 years old, 20-40 years old, and 65 years and older. The high mortality in healthy people, including those in the 20-40 year age group, was a unique feature of this pandemic.”  (The bold high lights are mine.)

By the winter of 1920, the Spanish flu had begun to ebb.  But people were still dying.  One of the symptoms was lungs filling with fluid, pulmonary edema, which killed them.   Was Celia one of the victims of this pandemic?  I might never know, but with the Covid pandemic on my mind, I cannot help but think it was the Spanish Flu that killed my great aunt Celia.  Sadly, a few months after she died the pandemic was officially over. 

Celia is buried in the old Montefiore Cemetery in New York.  She is in the Adath Israel of B’ville section.  I do not think any other members of our family are buried there, or at least any that I have found so far.   Most are buried in Washington Cemetery.  The fact that she is there alone saddens me.

I have not been able to find a picture of her grave online. But I do have the information needed to find it.  I hope one day that I will.  In the meantime, I wonder if my Great Aunt Celia was one of the millions of people who died during the Spanish Flu.  In my heart the answer is yes.

Update: I now have Celia’s Headstone. See the additional Blog for more information.

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

Update About My Grandfather’s Mysterious Brother Jacob

1 Mar

I had a wonderful surprise on my blog last week.  A blog I wrote about my grandfather’s mysterious family focusing on his brother ( see blog below) had a message from my great uncle Jacob’s granddaughter.  There has been NO contact as far as I can tell since 1957.

The comment: “Rupert John Rosenberg was my father; Jacob was my grandfather.
Jacob did not come to England (but died in New York c 1957) but (Rupert) John did . I never met Jacob and I know little about my American family but I know Delilah had two children…” (I do not want to go into too much personal detail to keep the anonymity of my cousin.)

I was startled, but immediately answered her sending my work email address.   Since that first contact, she and I have been emailing, sending photos and information.  And finally, we had a face-to-face conversation through Facetime.  Later this month, she will meet more of the family, as we have a family Zoom with her.

In my original blog, I mentioned that my great uncle disappeared in 1957.  I searched for him everywhere. But no mention.  I thought he went to England to live with his son.  No mention.  Now I know that he died in 1957, when he was only 62, from cancer.  This would also impact his son, who also died in his late 50s from cancer as well.

But what I did not know is that the father and son had been estranged.  I am not too surprised, as Jacob also distanced himself from his own family.  His siblings basically had little contact with him after his mother passed away.  But it is a mystery.  My cousin thinks it is because her father did not want to serve in the Korean War, so left the country after he completed college. And that was the cause of the estrangement.   After his father passed away, her father did continue to have contact with his mother.

In the meantime, his son started using his middle name, John, as he progressed in his career as a writer of novels and working in the British film industry. One of the movies he worked on is one that I remember.

For me part of the excitement, besides finding my second cousin and her family, was learning that I was correct in my research.  I had found my father’s first cousins Rupert and Delilah.  Rupert was married exactly as I thought.  And, although I did not write about his sister’s marriage, the Delilah I found was correct.  She married the man I thought, Leonard Raphael, and was a concert pianist.  She had two children. (Since they are living, and I have no contact with them, I will not name them.)

When pieces of the puzzle come together, it is joyful!

My second cousin told me she had an older sister who lived in a Mediterranean country and she wanted to save the cats.  That made me laugh, as my daughter, who has name very similar to this yet unmet second cousin, also lives in a Mediterranean country and has saved many cats and volunteered at a shelter.  Another coincidence is that the cousin who contacted me, has the same name as my niece.  I find that so serendipitous.  My daughter and the sister have virtually the same name, with just one letter change.  And my niece and this cousin have the same name with just one letter change.

To continue the similarities, my newly found cousin has four children.  Her oldest son and my son have the same name. 

Finally, we had a long discussion about our family’s thick and wavy hair.  When she saw a photo of my brother, my found cousin commented that her Dad and sister have the same hair.  The men in my family are known for not having the male baldness gene!  Even the women are known for their thick and wavy dark hair.

I must admit I write my blogs for my family, but also to find out what happened to the people who disappeared.  In my mother’s family that pertains to those who were murdered in the Shoah.  In my father’s family, it is the mystery of his father’s siblings.  There are still two missing, Samuel and Minnie/Muriel.  I hope one day to find them as well.

https://zicharonot.com/2019/12/10/back-to-my-grandfathers-mysterious-brothers-first-jacob/

A Quest Completed! Thanks to My Cousin!

19 Aug

In my quest to discover more about my ancestors and my family’s immigration to the USA, I have enlisted the help of my family.  My sister, an attorney, was given the job of research. When I could not find something, I often sent her an email and said ‘try to find this’.  And she did. Sometimes we argued about whether we really found who we thought we found. But in the end, we would determine the truth.  She is named for my paternal great grandmother, Raisha.

My cousin’s son, when he graduated college, and before he got a job, became interested in family as well, and created a marvelous family tree of my paternal side. I still send him updates when I get more information. He keeps it current as cousins marry and babies are born. Other cousins have sent me photos as they search through their parent’s albums. We have had great discoveries through these albums, including the only known photo of my other paternal great grandmother. (See blog below.)

For years I have wanted to find the graves of my paternal great grandparents.  I knew they were buried in New York somewhere. I actually remember my great grandmother.  Before COVID, I found what I thought was my great grandfather’s grave, and sent it out to my cousins, asking what they thought.  It was not the grave. Two of my cousins remember going to visit the grave with my grandmother, to see her parents.

My Great Grandfather Louis and Great Grandmother Rae in 1894 around the time of their wedding.
My Great Grandparent’s grave!

They said, it is in Washington Cemetery in Brooklyn.  OY, I really wanted to have pictures of the graves.  But I live in Kansas. I just needed this photo, to complete a desire in my quest to answer questions. Where were they?  Were they with other family?  No one wanted to make the journey out to the cemetery. They were all busy.

But, I have a fantastic cousin.  I call him the king of the cemeteries.  He does not like that title. But I give it to him out of love.  He is the one who makes sure the family plot where all my grandparents, my parents, his parents, my uncle and others rest, is always cared for by the cemetery.   When we have gone and seen something not right, we have emailed him. And he makes sure it is fixed. He is named after this great grandfather.  And they are both Baruch Lev, blessed hearts.

This week, when I got a call from him, I was worried.  He doesn’t call me that often.  And with me in Kansas, and most of my family in New Jersey and New York, I wondered did anything happen.  “Do you have Facetime?” he asked.  The next thing I know he was calling me back, and I was walking with him in Washington Cemetery seeing the graves of my great grandparents.  I have tears in my eyes now, but at that moment, I was elated.  “Take pictures.”    Of course, he was taking pictures.  He said, with nothing to do right now, he thought he would take a ride out and find the graves.

He could not find the grave of their child who died as an infant.  He did not see the graves of any of our great grandparents’ siblings.  And although my cousins thought that my grandparents were not buried together, the memory was wrong. They share a grave site.  

My cousin took pictures of the grave and the entrance to the section where they are buried, in the Bialystoker area.

Above the gate it says: Bialystoker. And under it UNT VEREIN SOMACH NOFLIM.  My grandfather was the president of the Bialystoker Free Loan Society, the Somach Noflim. This is the area where he was buried.  He was also a vice president of the once famed Bialystoker Home for the Aged, which he helped establish.  The blog below explains the goodness of my great grandfather

Above the Gate: Bialystoker Unt Verein Somach Noflim

Baruch Lev ben Yaacov Zev, died July 24, 1941, just a few months before my father’s bar mitzvah. He was 71 years old. And Rushka, or Raisha or Rae, or Rachel, she has all those names: Rushka the daughter of Avigdor, who died on November 29, 1956, on my brother’s third birthday. I was not quite two. I actually have a memory of her.

I once told my Dad, that my memory was Grandma Ray sitting in a chair in my grandparents’ Bronx apartment. She was not moving very much and she had lace on her head.  Later I told Dad it must have been a doily on her head.  And my Dad laughed. He said she had very little hair, and her scalp showed through, making it look like lace.

I consider myself so fortunate to have a family who appreciates my desire to have the history of our family written down for the next generations.   I appreciate my sister who does research; my cousins who send me photos, especially the ones with inscriptions on the back; my cousin’s son who does the family tree; and my cousin, Baruch Lev,  who took a day to go to the cemetery for me and give me this gift of our great grandparents’ graves.

https://zicharonot.com/2016/03/08/louis-of-the-blessed-heart/

https://zicharonot.com/2019/11/23/the-gift-of-a-photo-becomes-a-gift-of-genealogy/

Loving My Mother’s Wedding Memory Book

28 Jul

Spring and summer are usually wedding time. Although COVID-19 has altered many wedding plans, I believe we should still celebrate weddings.  About once a week I see photos on Facebook of an outdoor wedding in a backyard or a park, where a small group of people gather for a family wedding.  Other weddings, I know, have been put on hold.  But with all that going on, weddings are on my mind.

In June I wrote about finding my in-laws wedding album during our move.  Among the other items I discovered in my move, was a wedding memory book that my Mother filled out after she and Dad were engaged.  Funny how you grow up hearing family stories, but some important facts were left out. Those facts are chronicled in this memory book.

For example, I knew my parents met on a blind date set up by my Dad’s Aunt Hady and Uncle Lenny.  They shopped at my grandparent’s bakery and liked my Mom.  So they arranged for their nephew, my Dad, to meet Mom.  I guess she liked him, because she loaned him the book, Animal Farm, and he had to come for a second date to return it.

What I now know is that first date was held on July 4, 1949.  Dad always said how difficult it was to go from the Bronx to West New York, New Jersey.  Now I truly believe him. It was a holiday. It must have been nuts using mass transit to go on a date.

But Mom must have liked the date. She remembered: “We went to the Roxy and then to Roth’s for supper.  I wore my black silk print and Don wore a tan sport jacket with dark brown pants.”  Can you imagine a blind date now on the Fourth of July with the man wearing a sport jacket and the woman wearing silk?  It would be perhaps a summer dress and the guy would wear nice slacks or shorts and a polo shirt. I think.

Mom was still in college.  They were both 20 years old on their first date.

They announced their engagement 19 months later on March 23, 1951, in Santa Barbara, California.  Amazingly they married just three months later.  I knew it was a quickly planned wedding. But I did not realize how quickly!

I never knew the exact date of their engagement. But it answers a question I always had.  I got married on March 22, a Saturday night. But my Mom pushed for a while for a Sunday afternoon wedding on March 23, which would have been the anniversary of their engagement! I am sorry I did not ask her why that date was so important.  I will just believe that March 22 still counts!

The story of their engagement I had heard many times. Mom and my Grandma Esther, my Dad’s mom, flew to California where my Dad was in basic training before going to Korea.  My Mom’s parents were extremely upset and worried that they would get married there. In fact, there is a photo of my parents by the courthouse in Santa Barbara that created a stir.  But no, they did not get married then.  They waited till Mom graduated college and Dad had a two-week furlough before going off to war.

They even got a few engagement gifts, mainly from close family.

My Mom even had a surprise shower on May 27, 1951.  I have photos and even a movie of the shower.  Dad was still in California.  I assume my uncle recorded the shower. My Dad’s sister, Leona, and sister-in-law, Mickey, hosted the shower at my paternal grandparent’s apartment, for 50 guests!  My Great Aunt Minnie, who was part of my childhood and even came to my wedding, gave my Mom the bridal book, I am looking at now.

My Mom, Aunt Leona, Grandma Esther and Great Grandma Ray at the surprise shower.

But the memory book had another surprise that was important in my genealogy research. I knew almost all the people at the shower.  A few I know basically who they are, but do not remember them.  And a few were a bit of a surprise, they are my grandmother’s first cousins and aunts for the Lew family. (See blog below.) These women have shown up in my genealogy research before.  It was actually these names in reference to my great grandmother that confirmed that my great grandmother was in fact from the same family in Russia as other members of the Tracing the Tribe Group I belong to.  And connected me with distant relatives here in Kansas.   This wedding memory book makes the relationship very clear.  It states, “Aunt Rose, Grandma’s sister”.  With this shower list, I am able to realize how closely in contact the family was in the 1950s.  

Of the 50 people at that shower, I only know of three still alive today. My Aunt Mickey, who hosted it; and my Mom’s two best friends Wini and Judy.

My parents married on June 17, 1951 at Talmud Torah in West New York.  My Dad’s sister was the maid of honor. My Mom’s brother was the best man. My Mom wore my Aunt’s wedding dress. As this was a quickly planned wedding, there was no time to order a wedding dress.  And my aunt, the maid of honor, wore the gown my Mom wore when she was in the bridal party of her brother’s wedding!  Sixty-seven years later, my niece married her husband on the same day.

I even have the list of everyone who attended the wedding.  Sadly, as was the time, everyone is listed as Mr. and Mrs., so I do not have many names of the women who were there, unless they were single and came by themselves.  But many of the names I know.  Many are family members. Many are people I knew throughout my life. 

The Lew/Wolf Family members who came to the wedding.

Those first cousins of my grandmother, who came to the shower, were also at the wedding with their spouses.  I met them a few times as a child and quickly forgot, as children will do. But I know I met them, as my grandmother’s family had a Cousins’ Club for many years. And I remember going and running around with lots of children in a big room. But like many children, my memory of the adults has slipped away.

After the wedding, my parents went on their honeymoon to New York City, spending two nights at the Waldorf Astoria!  They then went to the Catskills and spent five nights at Grossingers!  A true destination spot for honeymoons.

My grandparents owned a small bungalow colony in the Catskills. My Dad always joked that his in laws came to be with him on his honeymoon.  And they did. They had dinner with them one night.  And with that dinner, my Dad had a funny story to tell for the rest of his life.

This tradition continued when my daughter and her husband got married. She wanted to show her husband our Catskills’ home. So they spent three nights of their honeymoon at our home in Kauneonga Lake. My sister went with them, as my daughter had never been there alone as an adult and did not really know her way around. But I like to tease my sister that she was continuing a family tradition.  (My daughter also got married on the anniversary of my husband and my first date.)

I am so glad my Mom kept records of everything in her beautiful and precise handwriting.  Reading through this book brought back stories and memories.  And brought back the joy of the wedding season that we are all missing.

https://zicharonot.com/2016/09/10/a-kansas-wedding-with-a-catskills-honeymoon/

https://zicharonot.com/2019/12/19/the-descendants-of-esther-lew-and-victor-avigdor-wolff-wolf/

Bright Smiles

16 Jan

I absolutely love this photo.

It is 1951. My parents are engaged. Dad is in the army and will be deployed to Japan and then Korea. They will marry in June 1951, when he is on a two-week leave before his deployment.

In this photo, my Mom, far left, is with her future family. My father’s sister, mother and grandmother. (My Aunt Leona, or Yoey, Grandma Esther, and my Great Grandma Rae.) I believe it is at the shower held at my Grandma’s apartment in the Bronx, when Mom met all the women in the family. We actually have a movie of this event.

I love their smiles and faces of joy. My Grandma is looking at my Mom with so much love.

I smile whenever I see this.

Taking A New Name In America

29 Dec

We always hear of people saying the family’s name was changed at Ellis Island.  Well my family came before there was an Ellis Island.  They came through Castle Garden in New York City.  And they themselves changed their names.  This is the story of the Litvak/Goldman side of my family.

Here are the descendants of my great great grandparents Rasha (Goldberg) and Yaacov Litvak who were bakers in Bialystok, Russia.

As they came to the United States each of my great grandfather’s brothers changed their last name from Litvak to Goldman.  I guess it makes some sense as their mother’s maiden name was Goldberg.  My great grandfather was the last of the brothers to venture to the USA, but once here he changed his name as well.  Baruch Lev Litvak officially became Louis Goldman.

In a previous blog I recounted my maternal grandmother’s mother’s family (see blog below.  The information in this blog also comes from conversations I had with my grandmother in the 1970s as well as a document my aunt wrote with my grandmother.  We are lucky to have all of this information.

Yaacov and Rasha Litvak, also known as Jack and Ray, had seven children.  All of them immigrated to the United States in the late 1800s.  Avram/Abe, Duddie/David, Barnett, Leah, Tzipora/Tzippy, Chia/Chaya, Louis/Baruch Lev.

Avram/Abe had two daughters, named Martha and Florence, and one son

Duddie, or David, had three children. They also have both English and Yiddish names.  Chappie/Louis was married to Bessie.  They had two sons, Bennie and Miltie.  Itzacast/Harry and Lobel/Sophie were Duddie’s other children. (My grandmother remembered much more about those cousins she saw more often.)

Barnett married Sarah and had six children. Hymie, Ray, Bessie, Phil, Dora and Jack. She remembered a lot about this family. Hymie married Mary and had three daughters.  Phil married Selma and had two daughters.  Bessie married Harry Brinsley.  They had one son, Bert, who died young.  Ray Berber married two times, but never had children.

Then there is the somewhat sad story of Dora who supposedly died by suicide when she as just 18 years old.  The family legend is that she was pregnant by her boss.  This would have been in the early 1900s.

However, I decided to look into this story.  Is it true?  Did she die?  I am not so sure.   I did find her in both the 1900 US census living with her parents, Barnett and Sarah Goldman with siblings as mentioned and a few more: Abe, Hyman (Hymie), Rachel (Ray), Harry, Bessie/Betsy, Solomon, Philip, Jacob/Jack and Dora who was just two.  I know there are extra children here.  Some of these could be cousins who were living with their uncle.  Perhaps my grandmother’s memory was not quite correct.   Or perhaps some of them did not live to adulthood. And so my grandma and aunt did not know of them.

I did find two women name Dora Goldman who died around the time she would have been 18. But I also found a Dora Goldman on someone else’s family tree who has her linked to my Barnett and Sarah. This Dora Goldman married and had a daughter in 1922.  She had a second child in 1923.  But her first husband must have died young, because, Dora remarried in 1934.  She lived in New Jersey.  Is this the right Dora?  I do not know. The tree that linke them did not have a marriage license or a death certificate where I could check Dora’s parents’ names.

I guess I hope that she did marry and did not die by suicide.  I have to continue to research her and see if I can find the marriage license.

The next child of Jacob and Rasha was Leah Kramer and her husband who had six children: Ray, Issac, Louis, Bernie/Dverie, Jack and Rasay/Rashie. Rashie married but died quite young.  ( Rashie’s daughter Rachel/Ray had several children including one son who perished from injuries sustain in World War 2.  She also had several daughters.)

I think it was Louis/Label Kramer who had two sons, Irwin and Donald. A one son had or daughter (not sure if the name was Bernie or Dverie) had four daughters, Shaunie, Peralie, Shushkie and Rosie and one son, Hymie.

Tzippy/Tziporah was married twice, as her first husband died. She had Fannie/Chifeque, Harry and Jack.  Fannie had three daughters, including Ruthie Abrams.  It is funny because Grandma said we were close to her.  And I actually vaguely remember this name. Tzippy’s other daughters were Lillian and Shaynie.

Back to Ruth Abrams. She had a daughter named Berenice, who was married, last name Inhober (?). Who lived in NY and wintered in Florida.   Ruthie also had a son who was a cab driver.  Now this is a story I heard hundreds of time.  One day he picked up a fare and was shot to death!   There were family  debates about this incident.  Some say he was perfectly innocent and just a crazy guy killed him.   But then there are those who said he might have been a ‘wise guy’ who got into trouble with the Jewish mob.

I wish I had answers to this question.  But I don’t. Having his first name would help, I am sure.

Chia/Chaya never had children and died quite young.

Louis Goldman, my great grandfather, who married Ray/Rachel Wolf and had five children. This family has been identified in other blogs.

Of course, the questions are always there. What happened to these families?  After the third generation they lost touch.  My father and aunt and uncle knew them.  But we, the next generation, only have vague memories about a scattered few of these cousins.  But I know that the next generations are spread out in the world and show up in my DNA feeds as third, fourth and distant cousins.

 

https://zicharonot.com/2019/12/19/the-descendants-of-esther-lew-and-victor-avigdor-wolff-wolf/

 

https://zicharonot.com/2016/03/08/louis-of-the-blessed-heart/