Tuesday, January 10, 2023

Tombstone Tuesday: Robert Lee (1895-1971) and Mabel Ada (1901-1991) Gober

 Robert Lee Gober (1895-1971) and Mabel Ada (Fulkerson) Gober (1901-1991) were my wife's great grandparents. The photograph below was taken July 3, 2015.

Monday, January 9, 2023

Amanuensis Monday: 1925 Trip of Myrtle Van Every

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 found at Newspapers.com mentioning my maternal grandmother. It's very brief, but corroborates some photographs I have in my collection.

El Paso, Texas
28 Jun 1925, Sun
Page 13

Myrtle Van Every, formerly of El Paso and now of St Louis, is visiting her aunt Mrs. A.A.. Benold, of 908 Octavia street Last week Miss Van Every visited her sister at Fort Hancock. She will leave soon for California, stopping at the Grand Canyon. She will also go over the Canadian Rockies while she is away


1) Mrs. A. A. Benold (Minnie) was my grandmother's sister. Not her aunt. There were 16 years separating them in age. There were eight years separating my grandmother from her sister, Eva, who lived in Fort Hancock. 

2) I have some photographs from the Grand Canyon. I do not know who her companion was.

3) I also have a photograph I believe is from California. While I suspected she was in Hollywood from the caption, the article confirms she went to California as part of the same trip. I don't know her companions here, either. However, I do know she had first cousins living in California, and there is a good chance these may have been them. (Her father was one of over 20 siblings. While not all lived to adulthood, she had a lot of cousins.)

Thursday, January 5, 2023

Tracking Down a Death Record

A search on a local genealogy society website uncovered a burial record for an infant in 1908. No given name, so I knew the child, if not stillborn, lived only a brief period of time.

Unfortunately, while the index survived, the actual microfilm records for the particular month in 1908 did not survive. 

So I contacted the cemetery. Only the book containing names and dates survived. The book with other information, such as parent names, did not. 

That left me contacting the County Clerk. I was trying to avoid that until I verified that the infant was a kin. There are a limited number of potential fathers with the surname in the area, but not all are related to me. And I really do not like spending money on documents for non relatives, even if it is minimal. And in this case it was $20 plus VitalChek’s processing fee, which I do not consider minimal.

I emailed the clerk and asked if they had any other process than VitalChek for non-certified copies. I got a very kind “Not usually, but I checked to see if we had the record, and there’s not much info on it. Here’s the scan. Happy New Year!” (Not exact wording.)

It never hurts to ask. The clerk was correct - there wasn’t much info, but it did have the birthplace for both parents. (Not their names - just the birthplaces.) If that info is correct, the infant was not related to me. Related to somebody, though, so I will save it in my files in case I ever run into a researcher for that family.

Sunday, November 27, 2022

Ancestry U.S. Social Security Applications and Claims Index - App vs Website

The information presented by Ancestry.com for the U.S. Social Security Applications and Claims Index is different depending upon whether you view it on a web browser, or their phone app.

Here is what I see on a web browser (With name and SSN info removed. The individual is a second cousin of a grandparent. I am not in contact with their descendants.)

____ in the U.S. Social Security Applications and Claims Index 

Birth Date:26 Nov 1915
Birth Place:St Louis, Missouri
Death Date:14 May 1986
Notes:Nov 1936: Name listed as ________; Oct 1943: Name listed as _____; : Name listed as _______; 24 Mar 1988: Name listed as _______

Here is what I see on my iPhone app for the exact same record:

U.S. Social Security Applications and Claims Index 

Gender: Female
Birth Date: 26 Nov 1915
Birth Location: St. Louis, Missouri
Death Date: 14 May 1986

As you can see there are a handful of fields that are completely left off of the record on the app. 
  • Race
  • SSN
  • Notes
There is absolutely no indication on the app that they have expurgated this information from the record. Some sort of warning would be nice - informing the researcher they need to use a web browser to view all available information. (Or even better, include all of the information on the app.)

In this case, the Notes information is critical. This is an index, and transcription errors can occur easily. While there is no reason to call into question the death date when viewed on the app, when viewed on the browser, the Notes section clearly indicates something is fishy. Why is a change in how the name is listed recorded two years after the supposed death?

The tombstone and obituary for this individual indicate that the date of death was indeed in March of 1988. I fully suspect that something did occur in May of 1986. Possibly the change in name listing that has no date in the notes. And this somehow got recorded as the death date in the indexing. However, without having the additional records to refer to, if I relied solely on the information presented on the app, I would enter the wrong information into my tree, without questioning it at all.

Sunday, November 6, 2022

Did my second great grandfather, Samuel Newmark, make up a cousin while crossing a border?

When my great grandfather, Barney, in July of 1907 crossed the Canadian border into the US, the Border Crossings document indicates the following:

Barney Newmark, age 22, Tailor, Citizen of Canada, Hebrew, Last Resided in Winnipeg, Nearest Relative Mother Rosa Newmark in London, Final Destination St. Paul Minnesota, Joining a cousin, Joseph Newmark, on 344 Eagle Land Street, place of birth London England.

Barney's father, Samuel, indicated at the same border crossing that he was:

45, a tailor, citizen of Canada, Hebrew, Last resided in Winnipeg, Nearest relative wife, Rosa in London, visiting the same cousin, Joseph in St. Paul, and place of birth Warsaw, Poland. 

Barney was not born in London. Later, for a local Who's Who of businessmen, he would claim he was born in Dublin, Ireland. It is almost certain he was born in either Warka or Warsaw, Poland, like his father. They were also not citizens of Canada. They had only spent three months in Canada, and I don't believe anyone in the family obtained citizenship in London even though they were there for 15 years. 

Who is the cousin, Joseph, in St. Paul Minnesota? Is he another figment of  imagination? Eagleland is a very curious name for a street since America has an eagle for a symbol, and I am unable to find such a street in St. Paul or its vicinity The only Eagleland Street I can find is in Texas. Samuel's middle name was Joseph.

However - nearby in Minneapolis, in 1907, there were families with the surname: Newmark, Neimark and Naymark. None that I can find with the given name Joseph. I suspect this cousin was an invention. But there remains a possibility that they existed.

Tuesday, November 1, 2022

Tombstone Tuesday: Sarah and Sol Newmark

It’s been awhile since I participated in Tombstone Tuesday. I think I’ve shared all the images I have of ancestral tombstones, but I do have some of their siblings. 

Sol Newmark was the eldest brother of my great grandfather, Barney Newmark. His wife, Sarah, was the daughter of Nathan Sandler. She alternated between using Nathan and Sandler as her maiden name.

The Hebrew on the tombstone indicates that Solomon Hyman's religious name was the inverted Chaim Shlomo. Sarah's religious name was Sarah Tzerel, the latter a common Yiddish diminutive for Sarah. Her father's religious name was given as Nachum Aaron. The engraving on his tombstone is mostly gone, and only the first initial of his name readable. The rest of the Hebrew inscription provides the Hebrew calendar date for their deaths.

Monday, October 31, 2022

Amanuensis Monday: 1804 Origin of the Kruvand Surname

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 found in The Historical Jewish Press archives at the National Library of Israel.

Print Date: 29 October 2022. Source: Page 9, Indiana Jewish Post & Opinion, 15 October 1976 *** "Historical Jewish Press", The National Library of Israel and Tel Aviv University

Your Name

Dear Mr. Pearlroth: I would like to know the meaning of, and whatever information you can give me on the following: KROOVAND - Father born in Lithuania. Very sincerely, William H. Kroovand.

Kroovand is a family name of geographical origin. It is derived from the name of the district of Kruwonda located near Kovno in Lithuania. Kroovand is apparently an anglicized version of the geographical name. The district contained no villages or towns. It embraced 15 landed estates belonging to 15 land owning families. Your ancestor who adopted the name in 1804 was probably an employee of one of those landowners. 


1) Norbert Pearlroth (1893-1983) was the primary researcher for Ripley's Believe it or Not, 1923-1975, and wrote the weekly Your Name column for the Jewish Post of New York, researching origins of Jewish surnames.

2) William H. Kroovand (1915-1987) was my second cousin twice removed. His father, Clarence, was indeed born in Lithuania in 1885 according to my records. The ancestor who adopted the surname in 1804 was either my 4rh great grandfather, Me'er Kruvand, who we only know was born before 1790, or his father, whose name we do not know.

3) I wondered as to Pearlroth's source for the surname adoption in 1804, as well as the information on the number of estates. Pearlroth seems to imply the 15 estates existed around the time of the surname adoption. Though this is not clear. My ancestors left in the 1880s.

The 1804 date turns out to almost certainly be based on Czar Alexander I's Edict of 1804, which

required all Jews living in the Pale of Settlement (the territory where Jews were permitted to live in the Russian Empire, encompassing modern Poland, Lithuania, Belarus, Ukraine and Moldova) to adopt permanent surnames.

Using the spelling of the town Pearlroth uses, which appears to be a Polish spelling, I found a source for the 15 landowners: Słownik geograficzny Królestwa Polskiego i innych krajów słowiańskich. T. 4, Warszawa : nakł. Filipa Sulimierskiego i Władysława Walewskiego, 1880-1914 (Geographical Dictionary of the Kingdom of Poland and other Slavic countries. T. 4, Warsaw: nakł. Filip Sulimierski and Władysław Walewski, 1880-1914)

Computer translation of 2 entries:
  • Kruwonda, n. , the left tributary of the Łazdona, which flows into Dubissa, near her sink with the Nemunas. 
  • Kruwondy, the area of ​​gentry, on the riverside Kruwonda, poviat, Kaunas, parish Czekiszki, it has a wooden chapel, 15 owners, a loamy, fertile ground
This may actually have been Pearlroth’s source, as bios say he knew multiple languages. If Polish was one of them, this is a likely book to be on his shelf if he’s going to write this weekly column. It's still not clear what year(s) the 15 owners references, but it seems to suggest it was true in the 1880s when my ancestors left. This adds to some information I learned about the town a few years ago.