Thursday, November 16, 2017

Poem: A Cry of the Foreign Born - by St. Louis poet, Leah Rachel Yoffie (1883-1956)

The following poem by Leah Rachel Clara Yoffie appears in Contemporary Verse, Volume 9 (1920), p. 144, as well as the St. Louis weekly newspaper, The Modern View, April 2, 1926, p. 27.  While I originally found the poem browsing through the microfilm at the library, the Google Books scan of the 1920 volume is a lot clearer than the microfilm printout, so I will share that below.
I suspect from her references she may have grown up in the same slums that my Polish, Russian and Lithuanian ancestral immigrants to St. Louis did. Her plea rings strong today.

Posted for the Great Genealogy Poetry Challenge

Wednesday, November 15, 2017

Wordful Wednesday: Oxenhandler Funeral Home advertisement - with photographs

December 1937 advertisement. From The Modern View, a local community newspaper.

Edward Louis Oxenhandler was the brother-in-law of my great-grandfather, Herman Feinstein. Willard Z. Oxenhandler was Edward and Pearl (Feinstein) Oxenhandler's son. Aaron was another sibling of my great-grandfather.

Note: An agreement between the Chauffeur and Undertaker unions abolished Sunday funerals in St. Louis in 1928. In 1930 the Oxenhandlers created a non-union Orthodox Jewish funeral home.

Tuesday, November 14, 2017

Alleged photographs of my great grandfather, Melvin Van Every

In an online family tree, I found two alleged photographs of my great grandfather, Melvin Van Every. I communicated with the owner of the tree, and the photographs came from his grandmother's collection, and she was a niece of my great-grandfather. I would normally consider that a good source of identification, but my great-grandfather had about twenty siblings. It would have been easy for a niece to get confused.

There are three photographs below. The one in the middle is a definite photograph of my great-grandfather, taken in 1900, shortly after the birth of his daughter, and my grandmother, Myrtle. (It was colorized in the 1940s, but I have the original photograph as well, which contained my grandmother as an infant.)

My inexpert opinion is that the individual in the oldest photograph isn't the same as the individual in the middle. The shape of the head is different. However, the ear, mouth, and nose look identical. If it were my great-grandfather, it would likely have been taken in 1883, at the time of his wedding, when he was 20.

I am much more willing to believe the man in the last picture is my great-grandfather. He lived until 1929, age 66. Visually, I'd guess the picture is from his final decade.

Monday, November 13, 2017

Amanuensis Monday: Birth Record for Salamon Deutsch - Dec 1861

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 transcription from a record at No image is available. The source information says it is from FamilySearch, but the record isn't there, either. At least, not yet.

Name: Salamon Deutsch
Gender: Male
Event Type: Szulettek (Birth)
Birth Date: dec. 1861
Birth Place: Vitka, Szabolcs, Hungary
Father: Abraham Deutsch
Mother: Sara

Source Information: Hungary, Civil Registration, 1895-1978 (database on-line), Provo, UT, USA. Operations, Inc., 2014.

Original data: Hungary, Civil Registration, 1895-1980. Salt Lake City, Utah: FamilySearch, 2013.


1) The database is labeled with the years 1895-1978. The year of birth is 1861. Without seeing the record, it is uncertain what record it is taken from. I am curious whether it might be a marriage record, which could have contained the names of his parents, and birth information, from which Ancestry created a 'birth record'.

2) This is my great grandfather. The date of birth matches family records, as do the names of his parents. It is nice to have documentation to back up their names. It's a shame the maiden name for the mother isn't indicated. We believe it was Weiss. My grandfather's application for a certificate of citizenship indicated his father was born in Vitka, so this is confirmed as well.

3) The existence of these records gives me hope that I may be able to break down some brick walls in my Transylvanian ancestry.

Friday, November 10, 2017

Veterans Day/Remembrance Day 2017

Caption for photo to left: Human Statue of Liberty. 18,000 Officers and Men at Camp Dodge, Des Moines, Iowa. Colonel William Newman, Commanding. Colonel Rush S. Wells, Directing. Mole & Thomas, 09/1918. (source)

November 11 is Veterans Day in the US, and Remembrance Day in the UK, Canada, Australia, France and Belgium. In Poland it is celebrated as National Independence Day.

Below are the names of ancestors, and their siblings, who I know served their nation's military, either in a time of war, or in a time of peace. I am including my Loyalist ancestors; their nation was Great Britain. Canada became their country after the war. I am including my Confederate ancestors too, despite their desire to form a separate nation. I am also including a Conscientious Objector ancestor since the DAR counts him as a Patriot.

Fifth Great Grandfathers
McGregory Van Every (1723-1786) Loyalist/Butler's Rangers
Michael Showers (1733-1796) Loyalist/Butler's Rangers
Mark Fretz (1750-1840) Patriot (Inactive Duty) Pennsylvania militia

Fourth Great Grandfather
David Van Every (1757-1820) Loyalist/Butler's Rangers (served briefly as a Patriot in the NY militia)

Fifth Great Uncle
Benjamin Van Every (1759-1795) Loyalist/Butler's Rangers (served briefly as a Patriot in the NY militia)
William Van Every (1765-1832) Loyalist/Butler's Rangers
Peter Van Every (1771-bef 1816) Loyalist/Fifth Lincoln and Second York regiments (War of 1812)

Fourth Great Uncles
David Van Every Jr. (1782-1847) Loyalist/Second York regiment (War of 1812)
Michael Van Every (1790-?) Loyalist/Fifth Lincoln and Second York regiments (War of 1812)

Second Great Grandfather
Ebenezer Denyer (1828-1872) (Mexican-American War) (Confederate Army)

Third Great Uncles
Samuel Jennings Denyer (1822-1861) (Gonzales County Minute Men - Republic of Texas -1841)
Samuel T Hartley (1830-1920) (Confederate Army)

Great Grandfather
Samuel Deutsch (1861-1938) (Franz Josef's Austro-Hungarian Army)

Second Great Uncle
Nelson D Van Every (1845-1926) (Union Army)

Melvin L Newmark (1912-1992), WWII
Martin J Deutsch (1907-1991), WWII

Great Uncles
Jerry Deutsch (1909-1950), WWII
Allen Deutsch (1914-1988), WWII
Harold Newmark (1915-2003), WWII
Mandell Newmark (1923-1945), WWII (KIA)
Bernard Feinstin (1913-1968), WWII
Seymour Feinstein (1917-1999), WWII

Stevan J Newmark (1942-1997) Army Reserves

Photographs of those who served in World War II

My grandfathers Melvin Newmark (1912-1992) and Martin Deutsch (1907-1991)

Allen Deutsch (1914-1988) and Maurice "Jerry" Deutsch (1909-1950).

Harold Newmark (1915-2003) and Mandell Newmark (1923-1945).

Bernard "Benny" Feinstein (1913-1968) and Seymour "Babe" Feinstein (1917-1999)

Monday, October 23, 2017

We're Related Notable Kin Update

It's been a year since Ancestry released their We're Related mobile app.

The app has identified 151 celebrities who might be related to me.
  • If the alleged ancestry for me is correct. 
  • If the alleged ancestry for the celebrity is correct. 
It is based on Ancestry's collection of online family trees which are of highly variant accuracy.

Here is a selection of alleged kin Ancestry has identified for me. In the below cases, I have confirmed our alleged shared ancestor is actually my ancestor. (I haven't researched the alleged ancestries of the celebrity.) The alleged shared ancestor is emboldened.

Betts, Capt. Richard 1613-1713
1. Elizabeth Montgomery
2. Jim Varney
3. John Kerry
4. Johnny Depp
5. Mark Twain
6. Newt Gingrich
7. Tom Hanks
8. Truman Capote

Chamberlain, Joanna 1620-1711
[Note: Joanna Chamberlain married Capt. Richard Betts. Ancestry isn't consistent when choosing which spouse to list as the shared ancestor.]
9. Meryl Streep
10. Mitch McConnell
11. Bill Clinton

Chamberlain, Robert 1590-1639 
[Note: Robert Chamberlain married Elizabeth Stoughton. See below]
12. Stephen King
13. Theodore Roosevelt

Frederickse, Myndert 1640-1706 (Son of Frederick Van Iveren)
14. Vincent Price

Horton, Barnabas 1600-1680
15. Henry Fonda
16. Humphrey Bogart
17. Norman Rockwell

Horton, Barnabas 1666-1705
18. Tobey Maguire

Horton, Penelope 1690-1746
19. Robin Williams

Magdalena, Anna 1679-1734
20. Lindsey Buckingham

Rosenberger, Heinrich 1680-1746 
21. Blake Shelton

Schauer, Michael 1679-1710
22. Les Brown

Stoughton, Elizabeth 1600-1647
23. Ulysses S Grant

Swazey, John 1621-1692
24. Owen Hart
25. Amelia Earhart
26. Roy Orbison

Swazey, Joseph 1653-1717
27. Richard Gere
28. Warren Buffett

As I have noted in the past, I have not been able to research my ancestry back to John Lathrop, through his daughter Abigail, as the app alleges. However, John Lathrop's son, Samuel, married the daughter of my ancestor, Elizabeth Stoughton. Here are the celebrities that the app claims are Samuel's descendants. [While the app indicates our shared ancestor is John Lathrop, I know if the celebrity ancestry is accurate, we do share Elizabeth Stoughton as an ancestor, at an equal distance.]

1. Alec Baldwin
2. Billy the Kid
3. Carrie Underwood
4. Edgar Allan Poe
5. George H.W. Bush
6. George W Bush
7. Mitt Romney
8. Paul E Brown

There are a total of 36 individuals listed above. The other 115 allege an ancestor for me that I haven't yet been able to confirm. Nor have I found a workaround similar to the Lathrop-Stoughton connection. (It doesn't mean the app is wrong. I'm not claiming that my end-of-line research is anywhere near complete, but it does suggest a lot of the allegations are based on family trees where the researcher has made leaps without documentation.)

Tuesday, September 19, 2017

Jewish Pirates: Ahoy Vey!

Repost with slight changes

Today is International Talk Like a Pirate Day. The Jewish New Year begins tomorrow night at sundown.

What would be an appropriate topic, albeit perhaps a little afield from the subject of genealogy, for a blog post combining the two?

How about Jean Lafitte, the possibly Jewish Pirate?

[image - late 19th century artist's conception. [source]

The facts of his origins, and those of his demise as well, depend upon whether you believe the "Journal of Jean Lafitte" is a forgery or not. Discovered in the possession of a claimed descendant.
"My grandmother was a Spanish-Israelite. ... Grandmother told me repeatedly of the trials and tribulations her ancestors had endured at the time of the Spanish Inquisition. ... Grandmother's teachings ... inspired in me a hatred of the Spanish Crown and all the persecutions for which it was responsible -- not only against Jews." [source]
According to one account, Jean Lafitte was killed upon the General Santander, an armed private vessel in the service of Columbia, on Feb. 5, 1823, at the age of 41. In the Gulf of Honduras, the General Santander encountered two Spanish privateers or warships, and was mortally wounded in a brief battle with the vessels and buried at sea ...  
According to Lafitte's Journal ( which many believe to be a hoax, claimed to have been found by a great grand son of Lafitte) written by Lafitte himself in 1851, he took the name John Lafflin and died in St. Louis in his 70s. [source]
As a St. Louisan, this last definitely interests me. Though I have been unable to determine where John Lafflin (whether or not in reality Jean Lafitte) is supposed to be buried. Mysteries tend to surround pirates, don't they?

However, while the origins of Jean Lafitte are controversial, in Jewish Pirates of the Caribbean, author Edward Kritzler makes the claim for several others. Some of the earlier ones are said to have gone into the piracy business as revenge against the inquisition.
One such pirate was Moses Cohen Henriques, who helped plan one of history's largest heists against Spain. In 1628, Henriques set sail with Dutch West India Co. Admiral Piet Hein, whose own hatred of Spain was fueled by four years spent as a galley slave aboard a Spanish ship. Henriques and Hein boarded Spanish ships off Cuba and seized shipments of New World gold and silver worth in today's dollars about the same as Disney's total box office for "Dead Man's Chest." [source]
Of course, pirates tend to break a few commandments in their daily routine. Ends rarely justify the means, and revenge isn't generally considered a morally appropriate explanation for deeds. One wonders if the above Jewish pirates recited the Al Chet (confession of sins) yearly on Yom Kippur.