Sunday, May 22, 2016

Some Mistakes I've Made

Little Bytes of Life
Elizabeth O'Neal over at Little Bytes of Life is trying to breathe some life into the old Carnival of Genealogy, rebranding it a Genealogy Blog Party. For May she asks:
For this month's Genealogy Blog Party, tell us about a mistake you've made in your genealogy research, how you discovered it, and ultimately, how you solved it.
The point, of course, is for others to learn from the mistakes you made, so they don't have to learn it the hard way.

Instead of just one, I'll admit to having made a handful of mistakes.

1) The first one is illustrated by two photographs of the same gravestone. Front and Back.



Do you notice anything unusual?

Yes! They were taken in different seasons. (Leaves had fallen in the photograph on the right.)
Just like a photograph, a tombstone has a backside. Make sure you look.

2) Here's another mistake I made in a cemetery. You may be searching for one tombstone in particular, but don't be in such a hurry that you don't look around at neighboring stones.


[My own camera alerted me to my mistake, but only after I got home. Cissie Newmark Gold was a daughter of Samuel and Rose.]

3) Don't upload private information to a public database

That pretty much goes without saying, but I did so without realizing it, and correcting the mistake wasn't simple. Not only did I have to remove the data from the entry, I had to remove the cached pages on multiple search engines. Each search engine has different procedures for removing a page.

4) Keep an open mind to the possibility that you have transcribed a document incorrectly

I originally read the manifest clipping above to indicate the passengers (a great grandfather, and a great great grandfather) landed in Quebec in May of 1904 on the Tunisian, and crossed the Canadian border into the US on July 15, 1907. I knew that 4s and 7s often look similar, but the document is in a single individual's handwriting. The year in column 31 is definitely a different number than the year in column 33. Well, it looks that way. But, no. I found the manifest for the Tunisian from May of 1907. My ancestors were only in Quebec for two months.

I've made other mistakes, but that's enough for now.

Monday, May 16, 2016

Amanuensis Monday: Melvin Newmark on Being a Judge

Amanuensis: A person employed to write what another dictates or to copy what has been written by another.

I continue my project to transcribe family letters, journals, newspaper articles, audiotapes, and other historical artifacts. Not only do the documents contain genealogical information, the words breathe life into kin - some I never met - others I see a time in their life before I knew them.

Below I transcribe a quote from my grandfather, Melvin Newmark, which appeared in a much longer news article that interviewed several local municipal judges. (The image is from family records, and not the newspaper.)

St. Louis Post-Dispatch, Feb 22, 1972, page 5.

Once a municipality has obtained a good judge, it may have a problem keeping him.

Melvin L. Newmark, a lawyer who resigned after several years on the municipal bench in Olivette, did so because he had become discouraged about the public’s attitude toward the lower courts.

“I quit because being a judge got to be a problem, “ Newmark says. “Friends expected me to do favors for them. I thought my job was to enforce the ordinances, but some of my neighbors wouldn’t talk to me because I wouldn’t fix a ticket.”

“I’m disappointed about the attitude of the public towards traffic courts,” Newmark said. “Often the people who yell and scream for strict law enforcement are the same people who would not hesitate to get a ticket fixed.”

Notes:

1. My grandfather was municipal court judge from 1962-1967, so this quote  is from five years after he resigned. It's great to have 'on record' the reason he left the position.

Thursday, May 12, 2016

The Amen Stone - by Yehuda Amichai

In honor of Israeli Independence Day and Jewish Heritage Month, here is part of a poem by Yehuda Amichai (1924-2000) - considered by many to be one of Israel's greatest modern poets.

The Amen Stone

By Yehuda Amichai
Translated by Chana Bloch

On my desk there is a stone with the word “Amen” on it,
a triangular fragment of stone from a Jewish graveyard destroyed
many generations ago. The other fragments, hundreds upon hundreds,
were scattered helter-skelter, and a great yearning,
a longing without end, fills them all:
first name in search of family name, date of death seeks
dead man’s birthplace, son’s name wishes to locate
name of father, date of birth seeks reunion with soul
that wishes to rest in peace. And until they have found
one another, they will not find a perfect rest.
Only this stone lies calmly on my desk and says “Amen.”

The rest of the poem

Monday, May 9, 2016

Amanuensis Monday: Minnie Van Every Visits Her Uncle - June 1898

Amanuensis: A person employed to write what another dictates or to copy what has been written by another.

I continue my project to transcribe family letters, journals, newspaper articles, audiotapes, and other historical artifacts. Not only do the documents contain genealogical information, the words breathe life into kin - some I never met - others I see a time in their life before I knew them.

I transcribed several letters back in 2010 which my great-aunt, Minnie Van Every, wrote to the Houston Post's Children's Section 1897-1902. I discovered a handful of other letters at ChroniclingAmerica which hadn't turned up in my earlier searches. (They still don't, if I only search for her surname. But each letter's byline had the town along with the name, and searching for the towns I knew she lived in, I uncovered  the additional letters.)

From the earlier letters, I knew the Van Every family had left Maxwell, Texas in November of 1897 for Ganado, Texas, and was back in Maxwell by May 1899. These new letters narrow that gap down.

June 19, 1898, Houston Daily Post

CAUGHT PLENTY OF FISH
Maxwell Texas 

Dear Happyhanmers: After an absence ever since February, I will endeavor to wrlte to our growing band. Last April about Easter time, papa, my brother, and 1 went to my uncle's. I intended to tell
the Haps of our trip down here but as space is precious I will just tell about going fishing on Green lake while we were there.

My uncle and family and ourselves went on Easter Monday We got there by dinner. We fished until nearly sundown and by that time had caught one fish weighing about two pounds and another about twenty-five pounds. Then my aunt and I set our hooks and went to get supper. Papa and Uncle Willlie were busy taking care of the hooks. By bedtime we had five fish weighing about twenty pounds each and five more which weighed about five pounds each. I saw some alligators but
would not go near them.

Haps, I have the sweetest little brother you ever saw. 1 think we will name him Melvin Theodore.

Guy Fagen's death is surely a blow to the club for he was loved by all. His name was
mentioned so much in the letters that papa asked me If he wasn't the leader ouf our band.
I agree with Mrs. Lewls about putting a monument over his grave. I now contribute 10 cents to help pay for n monument. A true and faithful Hap. 

Minnie Van Every


Notes:

1. It's not completely clear whether Minnie means April 1898 or April 1897 by her phrase "Last April." Regardless, the family is back in Maxwell by June of 1898. I know from the Dawes Testimony filed by Minnie's father that Minnie's grandmother, Sarah Hartley Denyer Foster, died in 1898 while she was living with her daughter and grandchildren. My conclusion that they were in Ganado when she died is put into question since I don't know the month of her death.

So, I now know that they left Maxwell for Ganado in November of 1897, were still there in February of 1898 (due to another letter), and were back in Maxwell by June of 1898. Possibly spending April of 1898 near Green Lake in Calhoun County.

2. Minnie's "Uncle Willie" would be Samuel William Denyer, the brother of her mother Margaret Denyer Van Every. While it seems she went with her father on the trip, her father had no brothers named William who survived infancy.

3) Melvin Theodore died in 1899.

Monday, May 2, 2016

Amanuensis Monday: Mandell Newmark Comes Home - 1948

Amanuensis: A person employed to write what another dictates or to copy what has been written by another.

I continue my project to transcribe family letters, journals, newspaper articles, audiotapes, and other historical artifacts. Not only do the documents contain genealogical information, the words breathe life into kin - some I never met - others I see a time in their life before I knew them.

This week I look at newspaper articles concerning the death and burial of my great uncle, Mandell Newmark.


St. Louis Post-Dispatch, May 1, 1945, page 5.

Sgt. Mandell Newmark, 21, medical corpsman, died April 15 of wounds suffered in action in the Philippines. His parents, Mr. and Mrs. Barney Newmark, live at 5573 Delmar Boulevard.



St. Louis Post Disptach, Aug 14, 1948, page 8

BODIES OF WAR DEAD BEING BROUGHT HERE
34 From This Area, Originally Interred in Philippine Cemeteries.

Bodies of 34 service men from the St. Louis area who lost their lives during World War II are being brought here. They are aboard the United States Army transport Dalton Victory, which will dock at San Francisco. Most of the dead originally were interred in temporary cemeteries in the Philippine Islands.

The names, branch of service and names and addresses of next of kin were announced by the Army as follows:

St. Louis

….Cpl. Mandell Newmark, Army, Barney Newmark, 5573 Delmar boulevard.



St. Louis Post-Disptach, Aug 29, 1948, page 33.

NEWMARK, MANDELL, Technician 5th Grade; killed in action Apr. 15, 1945 at Jolo Island, dear son of Barney and Bertha Newmark, dear brother of Melvin and Harold Newmark, our dear brother-in-law, cousin, uncle and nephew.

Graveside service Sun., 12 noon, at Mt. Olive Cemetery. OXENHANDLER Service.

Notes:

1) Before the Post Dispatch put their digital archives online recently, I only knew of the 1945 notice. I had found a copy of the form my great grandfather filled out in 1948 to order a headstone, so I had a good idea when the body was transferred, but I hadn't searched the microfilm archives yet to verify.

Monday, April 25, 2016

Amanuensis Monday: Arson at 1106 North Eighth Street - 1892

Amanuensis: A person employed to write what another dictates or to copy what has been written by another.

I continue my project to transcribe family letters, journals, newspaper articles, audiotapes, and other historical artifacts. Not only do the documents contain genealogical information, the words breathe life into kin - some I never met - others I see a time in their life before I knew them.

My second great grandfather, Selig Feinstein, first appears in the St. Louis City Directories in 1892. He is recorded as a Shoer, working at 1106 North Eighth Street.

He arrived in America in 1890, but his wife and children didn't arrive until October of 1891. It's possible they migrated to St. Louis after that. When did they arrive? When did he start working at 1106 North Eighth? The 1892 directory was published in April of 1892.

The below newspaper article, dated Feb 11, 1892, describes a fire at 1106 North Eighth Street.



ACCUSED OF ARSON
Two Men Charged With Burning Stable and Horses
WARRANTS ISSUED AGAINST SAM BANKS AND HENRY STERNS
They Are Alleged to Have Set Fire to the Place of Rival Junk Dealers – Both Men Assert Their Innocence – An Insane Butcher’s Deed – Other Police News of the Day

Six horses perished in a stable in the rear of 1106 North Eighth street which was destroyed by fire early this morning and Henry Sterns and Sam Banks are locked up at the Four Courts accused of setting fire to the place. Sam Banks, who has been arrested before on charges of arson, is a junk dealer, in business at 616 Lucas avenue, formerly Christy avenue, and lives with his wife and several children in a suite of rooms over his shop. His is about 80 year of age and has been in the junk business about eight years. He was taught the business by Wm. Welsman, whose stable was burned and who owns another junk shop in partnership with William Larner at 607 Lucas avenue, a few doors further east on the same street. Harry Sterns is about 2? Years of age, in the employ of Banks, and lives with his parents at Seventh and Wash streets. There is an intense business rivalry between Banks, his man Stern and Welsman and Larner, but Banks claims it was only business rivalry and not prejudice or unfriendly feelings.

Welsman and Larner kept six horses, their harness, feed and other belongings in a stable in the rear of 1108 North Eighth street. Every morning very early Moses Welsman and Charles Slinsky in the employ of Welsman and Larner, go to the stables to groom and feed the horses and prepare for the day’s work. When they reached the stable this morning they saw flames breaking out of the structure in several places and at the same time noticed two men sneaking away. They chased the men some distance, but the fellows were more fleet on foot than their pursuers and escaped.. Slinsky ran to the engine house on Eighth street and gave the alarm. When the firemen arrived the stable was one great flame in which the fire was too hot for the firemen to attempt any rescue, and they saw the horses fall one by one before the water thrown on the fire had any perceptible effect on the flames. The stable and outhouses were completely destroyed, causing a loss of $100 to the structure and $400 to the horses, harness and feed. There was no insurance on either the building or contents.

Notes:

1) There is more to the news story, but I haven't transcribed it all, since my ancestor isn't mentioned. According to a later news article, Sam Banks was acquitted of the charge. I do not know about Henry Sterns. What interests me is that we know there was a stable, and horses, which might mean there were shoers employed as well as groomers.

2) In 1900, when Selig finished his career as a shoer/blacksmith, he entered into the junk store business himself.

Monday, April 18, 2016

Amanuensis Monday: Selig Feinstein Elected President of Tpheris Israel Congregation

Amanuensis: A person employed to write what another dictates or to copy what has been written by another.

I continue my project to transcribe family letters, journals, newspaper articles, audiotapes, and other historical artifacts. Not only do the documents contain genealogical information, the words breathe life into kin - some I never met - others I see a time in their life before I knew them.

This week I look at the newspaper article concerning the congregation my second great grandfather helped found in 1899. In 1899 he was the initial vice president.

November 22, 1903, St. Louis Post-Dispatch

Israel Congregation Elections

At the fifth annual election of the Tpheris Israel congregation, Ninth and Wash streets, the following officers were elected for the ensuing year: S. Feinstein, president; F. Yedlin, first vice-president; D. Yavitz, second vice-president; M. Rich, secretary; S. Weisberg, financial secretary; J. Ellman, treasurer; L. Kaupman, M. Rubenstein, S. Siegel, trustees; D. Goldberg sexton; M. Shapiro, first gabi; H. Spector, second gabi; S. Rosenberg, reverend.

Notes:

1) This is another instance where searching for a surname is unhelpful, because the search engine at Newspapers.com returns no matches for 'Feinstein' on this page. Why not? Probably another instance of Optical Character Recognition failure. But I knew my ancestor helped found the congregation, so I conducted a search on 'Tpheris."

2) It is still difficult for me to get used to seeing Rabbis referred to as 'reverend,' as apparently it was a custom at the time. 'Gabi' is likely an alternate spelling for 'gabbai', which may have performed multiple roles.