Saturday, October 17, 2020

Thoughts on Geni and Relationships to Celebrities

 Five years ago I made fun of Geni's twisted relationship finder that determined how William Shatner was 'related' to Leonard Nimoy.


A month ago, I uploaded portions of my family tree data to Geni, and have been playing with it for the past month. I still find what they term an "in-law relationship" to be rather silly at times. For example, Ruth Bader Ginsberg is my first cousin twice removed's wife's niece's husband's second cousin once removed. Can you follow that?

George Washington is my "fifth great uncle's great uncle's wife's niece's 2nd husband." Neither of these are as tortuous as Kirk and Spock's relationship above, though neither is a blood relationship. The George Washington connection goes through the ancestry of my fourth great grandmother, Sarah Showers Van Every. I have not confirmed all of the steps. I do know that I have a much less tortuous in-law relationship to our first President, but I didn't upload the data in my family tree for a cousin, so Geni doesn't tell me about it. George Washington's father is an ancestor of some first cousins, through one of his half-siblings. 

If one can confirm ancestry to Colonial Americans, which I can, in a lot of cases connections to European royalty have been traced by others. Whether these connections are all accurate and truthful is open to question at times. As I did with Ancestry's discontinued We're Related App, I use the information it provides for my 'new' ancestors as a basis to research, and I essentially trust the ancestry done for the famous celebrities. 

Geni makes it easy to search for the closest in-law and closest blood relationship paths of pretty much any public figure. (I do have a fourth cousin who is fairly well-known, but who isn't on the Geni website. I didn't upload his data to the site, and don't plan to. My second cousin twice removed, David "Jay and the Americans Black" Blatt isn't on the website either. As long as he is living, I won't be the one to enter his data, and if I did, I'd mark it as private.) I have discovered that I am 90th+ cousins with a few celebrities. How is that possible?

Well, those royal families had their ancestries traced back to the Bible. Some people trust those ancestries. So Abraham the Patriarch is my shared ancestor for a few. Intriguingly, Isaac is a great...great-uncle. I have not been able to trace my Jewish ancestral lines far enough back. And while I thought the Royals traced their ancestry back to King David, apparently my Royal ancestors did not, and their line to Abraham is through Ishmael. To connect with Isaac, a lot of Jewish lines go through Rashi. Rashi's Biblical descent is missing a few generations. 22 generations, traditionally. That's a lot of generations to skip, and trust, based on Tradition. Traditionally, my great grandfather was a Cohen, and thus a direct descendant of Aaron, Moses's brother. That's skipping a lot more generations, but the tradition is equally acceptable to my mind.

While seeing the connections to famous people still fascinates me at times, I hope to use the blood relationships it provides to actually help research/confirm some of my own ancestral lines a little further than I have.

Friday, September 25, 2020

The Three Sisters of Selig Dudelczak Feinstein

 Back in 2018 I found the obituaries of my 2nd great grandfather's sisters - Sylvia Dudelczak Blufston Babchick, Lottie Dudelczak Getz Goldstein, and Rebecca Dudelczak Portnoy. While I had found photos of some of the gravestones online, I didn't have a chance to visit the cemetery to look for them myself, until today.

When I looked up online the locations of the sisters' graves, I learned they were all in the same numbered section of the cemetery, but that's all I knew. I wondered how close they would be to each other.

This close. 
All three were married, but none of their husbands are buried next to them.

Here lies Woman, Baila, daughter of R. Shmuel Zvi, Portnoy...
Ylota, daughter of R. Shmuel Zvi...

Shprintze, daughter of R. Shmuel Zvi...

I did find Sylvia/Shprintze's husband. 

I was under the impression that Sylvia had two husbands. A Jacob Babchik and a Jacob Blufston. Her death certificate records her name at death as Sylvia Babchik. Her obituary states Sylvia Blufston Babchik, and lists her children with the surname Blufston. Jacob's death certificate lists his name as Jacob Babchik, and his father as Wulf Babchik.

His tombstone has the additional surname of Blufston on it. I guess there is a small chance his children put their father's surname on their step-father's tombstone - which would be highly irregular. It makes more sense that there is only one husband, and at some point he changed his surname from Blufston to Babchik, and his wife followed suit, but not the children. Why did he change his name? That is not what I would consider an Americanization of an Eastern European surname.
Yakov Meyer, son of Zev Babchik...
(Zev is Hebrew, and Wulf is Yiddish. They are the same name.)





Sunday, September 20, 2020

Ancestral photographs

It's been a long while since I've been able to add a photograph to my ancestral montages below. It's exciting to be able to do so.


Left to Right: Grandfather, Melvin Newmark; Great Grandfather, Barney Newmark; Great Grandfather Herman Feinstein; Great Great Grandfather, Samuel Newmark; Great Great Grandfather, Moshe Leyb Cruvant; Great Great Grandfather, Morris Blatt; Grandfather, Martin Deutsch; Great Grandfather, Melvin Van Every; Great Grandfather, Samuel Deutsch; Great Great Grandfather, Samuel Van Every; Great Great Grandfather, Israel Lichtman [2 grandfathers, 4 great grandfathers, 5 great great grandfathers]

I have three un-photographed great great grandfathers. 

  1. Ebenezer Denyer died in 1872, so I doubt I will find a photo of him.
  2. I might have a photograph of Abraham Deutsch. This photograph was originally found in the same folder as the one of Israel and Sarah Lichtman. It would make logical sense if they were the other set of my maternal grandparents' parents. But there is no way I can make that assumption. 
  3. The remaining un-photographed great great grandfather is Selig Dudelczak Feinstein. He died in 1915, so it is conceivable that there is a photograph out there in some cousin's archives.


Left to Right: Grandmother, Myrtle Van Every Deutsch; Great Grandmother Margaret Denyer Van Every; Great Grandmother, Helen Lichtman Deutsch; Great Grandmother, Bertha Cruvant Newmark; Great Great Grandmother Minnie Mojsabovsky Cruvant; Great Great Grandmother, Rose Cantkert Newmark; Great Grandmother, Annie Blatt Feinstein; Grandmother Belle "Sissie" Feinstein Newmark [2 grandmothers, 4 great grandmothers, 2 great great grandmothers]

I have 6 un-photographed great great grandmothers. 
  1. Chaia Bela Boksern Blatt died in 1892 in Poland. 
  2. Sarah Weiss Deutsch may be in the same photograph I link to above which might contain Abraham Deutsch. 
  3. Israel Lichtman's first wife, Betty Adler, probably died in the early 1880s.
  4. Abigail Stuart Van Every died in 1866. 
  5. Sarah Hartley Denyer died in 1898. There is a photograph of her grandchildren from the 1890s, but I doubt I will find a photograph of her.
  6. Annie Perlik Feinstein died in 1932. If I am going to find another female ancestor's photograph, hers is the most likely. I feel a photograph has to be hiding somewhere in some cousin's archives. 
There are a handful of ancestors who might have had portraits done of them. So far I have not found any.

Thursday, September 17, 2020

Israel and Sarah Lichtman - 1915

 

I posted the below photo in 2009 as an Unidentified Family phOto. Going through some family folders, the image was used on a family reunion packet back in 1992, and the photo was identified as Israel and Sarah Lichtman, 1915, Austria-Hungary. 

Israel was my 2nd great grandfather, and Sarah Jonas Lichtman was his second wife. (My 2nd great grandmother was his first wife, Betty Adler.) I have no other photographs of Israel to compare, so I will just accept the identification from the family reunion packet. Especially since there was a date given, with no indication that it was an estimate, the information probably came from the back of the original.

My Great grandparents (Samuel and Helen Lichtman Deutsch) immigrated to the US in 1912 and 1913, so this photograph was apparently taken after they had left.

Sunday, August 9, 2020

Belle Wyman Korn and Cary Grant - 1972

Belle Wyman Korn (1914-2015) was my grandmother's first cousin. They were the same age, and were best of friends. The Wymans moved to California in the 1930s, and this is Belle at a pool in 1972. That is Cary Grant standing next to her. I am told that it was at Charlie (Kewpie) Rich’s estate. (Charlie Rich and Belle’s brother, Sid Wyman, were co-owners of the Las Vegas Dunes hotel.) For comparison, I've included a photograph I found online of Grant and Ingrid Bergman from 1972. It's definitely him.
 

Thursday, August 6, 2020

Two Affidavits of Birth - One Person - Two Dates

My maternal grandmother, Myrtle Vanevery Deutsch, had her sister sign an affidavit of birth for her twice. In 1942, and again in 1945.

In 1942 my grandmother was living in Clayton, Missouri (part of St. Louis County). In 1945 she was in West Palm Beach, Florida. In 1945 my grandfather was returning to the states after serving in Africa and the Middle East during WWII. My grandmother took the kids to Florida to join him for the remainder of the war.

In 1942 my great aunt declared my grandmother was born on March 21, 1900. In 1945 she declared my grandmother was born on March 21, 1905. In both she states she was present at the birth. She provides several more details in 1942, such as the attending physician. In 1945 she simply states she was present. (I suspect she wasn't all too happy about filling out the affidavit in 1945, but was willing to do it for her sister. I suspect my grandmother was looking for a job and wanted to be five years younger.)

There is no question as to which is the correct affidavit. My grandmother is on the 1900 census, and is mentioned in the testimony given to the Dawes Commission in 1901 on the family's alleged Choctaw ancestry.

I have had a copy of the 1945 affidavit in my records for several years, having uncovered it in some folders at my parent's house over a decade ago. My parents gave me 20 boxes of family photos and documents this week, and in one I found the 1942 affidavit.

Update: I’ve been given another explanation for the second affidavit. My grandmother didn’t want anyone at the army base to know she was 7 years older than my grandfather. 

Tuesday, August 4, 2020

Days of Love - 2020

Tu b'Av is a relatively obscure Jewish holiday that falls on the fifteenth day of the month of Av (sundown Tuesday Aug 4 to sundown Wednesday Aug 5 this year).

The fifteenth day of each month on the Hebrew calendar falls on a full moon, and the holiday was observed as a sort of fertility festival during the period of the Second Temple. After the destruction of the Second Temple, it was forgotten for the most part in the Diaspora, only to be revived in modern times as a Jewish alternative to St. Valentine's Day.

To some, St. Valentine's Day, or Tu B'Av, may feel manufactured for greeting card companies, florists, and chocolatiers. However, most couples have their own personal "Days of Love." Whether the annual date commemorates a first date, an engagement, a marriage, or another anniversary, it's significant only to the individual couple. The memories connected with these dates are often stronger than the ones associated with the annual religious or societal holidays. Still, any reason for two people to celebrate their love for one another is a good reason.

To A Lady
by Victor Hugo,
From Les Feuilles D'Automne

Child, were I king, I'd yield my royal rule,
     My chariot, sceptre, vassal-service due,
My crown, my porphyry-basined waters cool,
My fleets, whereto the sea is but a pool,
     For a glance from you!

Love, were I God, the earth and its heaving airs,
     Angels, the demons abject under me,
Vast chaos with its teeming womby lairs,
Time, space, all would I give--aye, upper spheres,
     For a kiss from thee!

translation by Thomas Hardy
photogravure by Goupil et Cie, from a drawing by Deveria, appears in a collection of Hugo's poetry published by Estes and Lauriat in the late 1800s.