Monday, June 4, 2018

Amanuensis Monday: Ebenezer Denyer's Muster Roll Index Cards

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.

The service record of Ebenezer Denyer, my second great grandfather, is described in A Brief History of John and Christian Fretz, Rev. A.J. Fretz, 1890.

"Mr. Denyer served in the Mexican War of 1848, with Captain Henry McCohlogh, and was with the Ohio Rangers for several years. About 1858, he moved to Onion Creek, Hays County, Texas, where he remained until the breaking out of the Civil War, when, after moving his wife to her mother's home in Eastern Texas, he joined the 2nd, Texas Company Volunteers, mustered at Marcos, Hays County, in the summer of 1861, and served throughout the war in the Confederate service. He was taken prisoner at Vicksburgh, Mississippi, was exchanged, and laid in the hospital at Galveston until the close of the war."

My grandmother wrote to the Department of Interior in 1933, providing what she knew from the above family history, and requesting confirmation of her grandfather's war service. She was seeking membership in the Daughters of the Confederacy, and her nephew was seeking a scholarship. She received responses from both the Department of War and the Texas Library and Historical Commission State Library.

Several years ago I found his muster roll records at Fold3.

Recently I found  his name in the Texas Muster Roll Index Cards database at Ancestry. There wasn't any new information, which isn't surprising. They're index cards for the muster rolls I had already found. But in addition to providing a summary of his activities, there was a surprise waiting for me on the last index card below.

Ancestry Database: Texas, Muster Roll Index Cards, 1838-1900

Source Texas, Muster Roll Index Cards, 1838-1900 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Operations, Inc., 2011.

Original data: Civil War Muster Rolls index Cards (both Confederate and Union). Also Texas State Rangers. Austin, Texas: Texas State Library and Archives Commission.
Name: Ebenezer U. Denyer
Rank: Private
Com. off: Capt. Henry E. McCulloch
Organ: Texas Vols.
Date enlist: Oct 25, 1848
Date disch: Dec. 8, 1848
Age: 20
Remarks: 1 month. 13 days service. Ranger Muster Rolls.
Name & Rank: Denyer, Ebinezer, Pvt.,
Comm. Off: Collins, Thos. B. 2nd Lieut.,
Organ: Co. "E", 2nd Tex. Vol. Inf., Col. Ashbel Smith, CSA.
Enlist: June 12-62 in Hays Cty. for the war.
Disch: Served 3 months at $11 per month
Remarks: R&F 61; Roll dated Dec. 31-62 to Feb 28-63; En.Off. Randall; Last paid D.1-62; Am't of Pay $33; Bal. Paid $33; Transferred from June 11-63; Detached service as Teamster Ja.17-63; Stationed at Camp Maury, Miss.; Disc. Instr., Arms,
Accoutr. & Clothing good; Military appearance fine; Co. moved to Yazoo City Feb. 10th; N.L. McGinnis Insp. & Mus. Off.;
Name & Rank: Denyer, Ebenizar, O[phan], Pvt.,
Comm. Off: Holder, Wm., Capt.,
Organ: Co. E, 2nd Regt., TVI, Col. Ashbel Smith Comdg., CSA
Enlist: Je.12-62 in Hays City. for the war
Descrip: R&F 62; En.Off. Randall; Mus.Off. Col.Ashbel Smith; Last Paid Ja.12-'63; Disc.,Instr.Mil.App.&Cloth.good; Arms & Accoutr, in good order; Change of sts.F26-63 from Camp Maury near Yazoo City to Ft. Pemberton; from Ft. Pemberton Ap.11-64 to Camp Timmons near 
Vicksburg; Sta. in the field in Miss. Ap.30-63. Detached service as teamster Ja.17-63; [Married Sarah Ann Hartly. This information received from his granddaughter, Miss Myrtle Van Every, St. Louis, MO.]


1) The information on the last index card above clearly matches the information the Texas Library and Historical Commission State Library gave my grandmother in 1933. I love that they added to their record some of the information she had given them, and cited her as the source. I'm certain that the bracketed part of Ebenezer Denyer's middle name also came from my grandmother.

Tuesday, May 29, 2018

JRI-Poland Record Indexing and Morris Blatt (Jewish Records Indexing - Poland) is a must for anyone researching their Polish Jewish roots. Four of my 16 second great grandparents came from Poland - Samuel Newmark, Rose Cantkert, Morris Blatt, and his wife, Belle.

Not only have they indexed a lot of records, and are slowly digitizing those records and linking to the images from the index, they provide a summary of the records that are available from each town, and the status of the indexing.

As can be seen below, while they aren't done, they've done a great job indexing the available records from Losice, where my Blatt ancestors came from. Unfortunately, my great grandmother, Anna Blatt, was born in 1888, and her older sister, Blanche, in 1886. Neither year is available. I interpret that to mean that the records from those years haven't survived. If so, no amount of waiting will make them magically appear online.
That means I have to rely on the records that do exist.

1) Anna's father was Morris (Moshe) Blatt, son of Jacob or Yankiel Blatt. (Source: tombstone)
2) Moshe Blatyta, son of Yankiel Blatyta married Chaia Beila Boksern in 1885. (record indexed, and digitally available online). Chaia Beila was 16 and Moshe Blatya 22. It was the first marriage for both of them. Many other individuals with the Blatyta surname shortened it to Blatt.
3) Anna's daughter, Belle, and Blanche's daughter, Belle, were both named after their grandmother (Family history).

Family history indicated Moshe Blatt's wife was named Belle Wyman. Jokes were made because their daughter, Blanche married a Wyman. While their mother died in Poland, there wasn't enough of a generational gap to yield too much confusion. However, Chaia Beila Boksern could have had a Wyman ancestor in her family tree, which could have been conflated to mean that it was her maiden name.

4) Moshe Blatyta was born in 1862 (Record indexed). According to his death certificate, Morris Blatt was born in 1864. Both 1862 and 1864 birth records have been indexed. That doesn't mean there weren't birth records from 1864 that have been lost.

There could have been two Moshes son of Yankiel born two years apart. But absent contrary evidence, I'm leaning towards accepting that there was only one. I admit that the availability of the birth records for both Moshe and his father, Yankiel Blatyta (though not yet digitized) is an influencing factor. I'm also slightly influenced by the fact that if the relationship is correct, according to the research of another genealogist, my grandmother was second cousins with Jay Black (David Blatt) of Jay and The Americans.

Monday, May 28, 2018

Memorial Day - 2018

Below is my annual post for Memorial Day.

A post on what Memorial Day is for, besides barbecues.

The above image comes from a past version of the Memorial Day page at the US Department of Veterans Affairs, explaining that Memorial Day is a day for remembering those who died in the service of their country.  [Read the full text of the poem.]
Memorial Day is a United States federal holiday observed on the last Monday of May. Formerly known as Decoration Day, it commemorates U.S. men and women who died while in the military service. First enacted to honor Union soldiers of the American Civil War (it is celebrated near the day of reunification after the civil war), it was expanded after World War I to include American casualties of any war or military action. [source]
[More on the history of Memorial Day]

Unnamed Remains the Bravest Soldier - by Walt Whitman (From 'Specimen Days')

OF scenes like these, I say, who writes—whoe’er can write the story? Of many a score—aye, thousands, north and south, of unwrit heroes, unknown heroisms, incredible, impromptu, first-class desperations—who tells? No history ever—no poem sings, no music sounds, those bravest men of all—those deeds. No formal general’s report, nor book in the library, nor column in the paper, embalms the bravest, north or south, east or west. Unnamed, unknown, remain, and still remain, the bravest soldiers. Our manliest—our boys—our hardy darlings; no picture gives them. Likely, the typic one of them (standing, no doubt, for hundreds, thousands,) crawls aside to some bush-clump, or ferny tuft, on receiving his death-shot—there sheltering a little while, soaking roots, grass and soil, with red blood—the battle advances, retreats, flits from the scene, sweeps by—and there, haply with pain and suffering (yet less, far less, than is supposed,) the last lethargy winds like a serpent round him—the eyes glaze in death—none recks—perhaps the burial-squads, in truce, a week afterwards, search not the secluded spot—and there, at last, the Bravest Soldier crumbles in mother earth, unburied and unknown.

The cartoon above is by John T. McCutcheon - published circa 1900

I have many ancestors and kin who served in their nation's armed forces during war-time. I honor them on Veterans Day.

However, the closest relative who was killed in action was my grandfather's brother, my great-uncle, Mandell Newmark.

Mandell was born Jan 31, 1923. He was almost certainly named after his great-grandfather Mandell Mojsabovski. He enlisted in the army on Feb 22, 1943, and served as a Sgt. Technician Fifth Grade, in the 163rd infantry. He was killed in action on April 15, 1945. Less than a month prior to VE day

Friday, May 18, 2018

Legacy's ObitMessenger email alerts aren't completely reliable

Below on the left you see an obituary that appeared in the August 11, 2017 St. Louis Post Dispatch.

Legacy has an ObitMessenger service that is supposed to send you alerts if certain keywords show up in a specified newspaper's obituaries. You can specify up to five keywords per alert, and you can set up multiple alerts. Perfect for keeping track of obituaries with surnames of interest.

On the right is an email I received on August 12th, 2017 stating that no obituaries had appeared in the past 14 days with the specified words. (The alert is localized to the St. Louis Post Dispatch.) I have deleted the surnames from the email image that aren't applicable. I've also deleted my email address.

I don't know why the obituary wasn't found.
A search today on the website returns the obituary.
I may have to stop relying on the email service.

Monday, April 30, 2018

Amanuensis Monday: The Wedding of Harry Feinstein and Dora Serwinsky

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 an article on the wedding of my great grandfather's brother, found at

St. Louis Republic, 16 Aug 1905, page 4.


Harry S Feinstein Weds Miss Dora Serwinsky With Elaborate Ritual, at Westminster Hall Last Night.

Gayety characterized the wedding of Miss Dora Serwinsky of No. 826 Carr street and Harry S. Feinstein of No. 1122 North Eighth street, who were married last night at 8 o’clock at Westminster Hall, No. 3906 Olive street.

Rabbis Z. Rosenfeld and S. Rosenberg of Tpherish Israel Temple, Ninth and Wash streets, jointly performed the ceremony. More than 1,000 guests were present.

One hundred candles were burned during the ceremony, in accordance with the orthodox custom.

The hall was decorated for the event. Weil’s orchestra furnished the music and rendered the wedding march. The attendants were H.M. Feinstein, brother of the groom, best man; Miss Lillian Serwinsky, sister of the bride, maid of honor; the Misses Sarah Raskas, Jennie Masta and Anna Seigel, bridesmaids; M. L. Serwinsky, Louis Kaufman of Elizabeth, N.J., and Mose Kaufman, groomsmen.

After the wedding a reception and banquet were tendered to the bridal party at Westminster Hall, followed by dancing. In the festivities the entire membership of Tpherish Israel Congregation participated.

Miss Serwinsky is a daughter of A. Serwinsky and is an elocutionist. Mr. Feinstein is a young business man.

The couple were the recipients of many presents and several hundred telegrams. A present of $250 was given to them by the various lodges of which the groom’s father is a member. Among the guests were officials of the Franklin Bank and teachers from the faculty of the Jefferson and Shields schools. Mr. and Mrs. Feinstein departed at 2 a.m. for the East on their wedding trip. They will live at No. 5606 Garfield avenue.


1. The photograph above is from the wedding. Some family members had identified the five men as the five Feinstein brothers. I've known for awhile this isn't the case as the youngest Feinstein brother would have only been 7 years old in 1905. The Bridal Party was a complete unknown.

But now I have a list of the Groomsmen and Bridal Party. Harry Feinstein, the groom, is most likely in the center, behind his bride, Dora Serwinsky. I believe Herman Max Feinstein, my great grandfather, and Harry's best man, is to Harry's right (our left). The other three men are M.L Serwinsky, and Louis and Mose Kaufman. My suspicion is that Dora's sister, Lillian, the bridesmaid, is to her right. The other three women being Sarah Raskas, Jennie Masta, and Anna Sigel. The two young girls aren't identified in the news article.

2. "Weil's Orchestra" refers to an orchestra conducted by William Weil. There are references to the orchestra performing at the St. Louis World's Fair in 1904, as well as being the house orchestra for the St. Louis Browns baseball team in the late 1890s.

3. My second great grandfather, Selig Feinstein, father of the groom, was elected President of the Tpheris Israel congregation in 1903, which could explain why the entire congregation showed up at his son's wedding. Or it's possible the entire congregation showed up at the wedding of every congregant.

4. "Elocutionist," is a surprising, and impressive job for the daughter of an immigrant family. Dora was born in Poland in 1884, but was only three when the family immigrated.

5. I was unaware that my second great grandfather was a member of any fraternal lodges. I will need to see if I can find out which ones, and check if there are any records. My great-grandfather's application for the Moolah Shrine Temple in 1927 is where I discovered his alleged birthplace. The most likely fraternal organizations for Selig Feinstein are B'nai B'rith (which still exists), Order of B'rith Abraham, and Progressive Order of the West.  Progressive Order of the West was headquartered in St. Louis.

6. Harry's address is given as 1122 North Eighth. The Feinsteins hadn't yet moved out of the tenements in the Carr Square/Little Jerusalem neighborhood. 826 Carr, the address of the bride, is also in the same neighborhood.

Saturday, March 17, 2018

Happy St. Patrick's Day 2018

My Great-Grandfather, Barney Newmark, celebrated his birthday on March 17th, and claimed to have been born in Dublin, Ireland. It's significantly more likely that he was born in Warka, Poland - on the outskirts of Warsaw. The dates of March 25th and April 14th also appear on some documents as his date of birth, but no birth records have been uncovered, so anything is possible. There may be some significance to the fact that there are 20 days between March 25th and April 14th. (12 days adjustment between the Gregorian and Julian calendar, and 8 days between birth and circumcision.) There are also 8 days between March 17th and March 25th.

To the left, he is with his sister, Nellie, likely in 1907 or 1908.

While my Irish ancestry may be somewhat mythological, my wife's isn't. According to some sources, her 3rd great grandfather, Thomas Muldoon, was born in Ireland in 1817, in County Fermanagh.

After a holiday post in 2007, a friend introduced me to online genealogy, and the rest is family history.

Past St. Patrick's Day Posts
2017: Happy St. Patrick's Day 2017
2016: Corned Beef on Rye
2015: Corned Beef on Rye
2014: Happy St. Patrick's Day 2014
2013: Happy St. Patrick's Day
2012: Happy 126th Birthday to my Great Grandfather
2011: Happy St. Patrick's Day
2010: Barney's Birthday and Birthplace
2009: On St. Patrick's Day Everyone is Irish
2008: My 'Irish' Great Grandfather
2007: Corned Beef and Cabbage on Rye

Thursday, March 8, 2018

I Know Jack! The Identification of my Maternal Grandmother's First Husband

Ockham's Razor is the problem-solving principle that, when presented with competing hypothetical answers to a problem, one should select the one that makes the fewest assumptions. The idea is attributed to William of Ockham (c. 1287–1347), who was an English Franciscan friar, scholastic philosopher, and theologian. (source)
Nine years ago I asked the question, "Do you know Jack?"

I knew that my grandmother had received letters in 1919 from her parents consoling her on her divorce from a man named, Jack.

Looking back, I know that I knew back then that Jack was a ubiquitous nickname that any man could use. I also knew back then that divorces take awhile between filing and finalization. How did I conclude there was another marriage in such a short span of time? My grandmother's marriage to Dale Bowlby Ridgely in 1927 only lasted three months, but her first marriage could have lasted longer.

I have found several pieces of evidence recently strongly suggesting Alfred Connevey was Jack.

From the 1919 El Paso City Directory. My grandmother is already using the address 'Miss,' even though she is still using the surname, Connevey. (It is interesting that Alfred Connevey is working at the same address, though for a different company. I am positive this is my grandmother, as she provided a letter of recommendation from China Palace to the St. Louis Post Office when she applied after her divorce was final in 1920.)

From the June 5, 1918 El Paso Herald - my grandmother is listed as Myrtle Connevey, and enrolling in the summer session of high school. She was 18 years old. I know from her application to the St. Louis Post Office that she had attended El Paso High School.

And the clincher: The 1910 Census record for a Jack Connevey residing as a boarder with a Diebel family. I am fairly certain Elsie Deibel was married to my grandmother's brother, Samuel O Van Every, for a period of time. I have not been able to find dates, however, an Elsa Diebel is listed as a wife in the family history notes left by one of my great grandfather's sisters. 

This census record indicates that Jack Connevey was born in 1889. My grandmother was born in 1900. If they were married in 1918, he would have been 29, and my grandmother 18. There is a possibility the marriage may have been in 1917. If Jack was boarding with the Diebels in 1910, there is a question of the ages of him and my grandmother when they first met. My grandmother's brother, Samuel, was born in 1886.