Wednesday, November 24, 2021

Surname Spelling Variations

The Dutch brothers Myndert & Carsten Fredericksen (sons of Frederick Van Iveren) immigrated to the US in the 1600s. Most if not all with the surname Vanevery are descendants of Myndert. Most if not all with the surname Vanavery are descendants of Carsten. 

My second great aunt, Katie Newmark, married Philip Dzeikops, which he changed to Jacobs. 

My wife has some Wallace and Wallis ancestors who are likely related. 

These spelling variations are slight. Even Dzeikops to Jacobs which appears to me to be an Anglicized Yiddish spelling. 

My kin with ancestors from the town of Kruvandai Lithuania probably have the surname with the most spelling variations in my tree. To date, these are the six variations I’ve found:


These are just the spellings in recorded documents. It doesn’t include additional interpretations by census takers or database indexers.

The most intriguing spelling to me is the last one. Some might try to argue it is almost a name change, not realizing that in Hebrew the V and B sound are made with the same consonant. They are only differentiated by a diacritical mark. Similarly - the O and Oo vowels are differentiated by the position of a diacritical mark. The system of diacritical marks, known as Niqqud, was invented in the Middle Ages. Ancient Hebrew didn’t have them. I don’t know the rules of Hebrew that dictate when the letter Bet is pronounced Vet, or when certain vowels are appropriate, but it is my understanding that the originator of this spelling was trying to Hebraicize the name. 

In genealogy we are taught to ignore spelling, or be creative with spelling, in our searches. Names can be recorded or indexed in multiple ways. But differences in spelling can also sometimes tell us something about our ancestors and why they may have chosen that spelling. 

Saturday, November 20, 2021

My great grandfather’s birth record

A few years ago I found the below “birth record” on Ancestry. It is for my great grandfather. However, Ancestry doesn’t have the images, and FamilySearch has the images, but no index. 

The problem with browsing the images is I’m pretty certain this isn’t a birth record. The title of the database is Hungary Civil Registration 1895-1973. 1861 is not in that range. However my great grandparents were married in the late 1890s. The marriage records do provide dates of birth, places of birth, and parent names. I think Ancestry created a birth record from a marriage record. Why they don’t have the marriage record in their database I’m uncertain. It’s possible the record page was damaged in some fashion and the bride’s information was not legible. It’s supposition until I find the record. 

So I browse the marriage records, right? They’re divided by location, naturally. I did look at all the Vitka marriage records. I can’t read the Hungarian, but it’s not too difficult looking for the names on each document. The record wasn’t there, so I suspect my great grandparents were not married in Vitka. So what town were they married in?

I don’t know. That’s the problem. And there are a lot of towns in the database.

My great grandmother was born in Margitta. She doesn’t turn up in the Ancestry search, and there are no Margitta records in the FamilySearch database. I suspect they were married in some town nearby one of their births. 

I did search for the birth records of my grandfather and his siblings - without success. I have a copy of my grandfather’s birth certificate which he had in his records. But I don’t have that for his siblings. I also searched for the record of death for one of his siblings. Browsing through the images I couldn’t find the town of Nagyalmas where they were born. Those records may not have survived. 

It would be really nice if FamilySearch could index this database. 
Or I have a lot of records to browse through. 

Sunday, September 26, 2021

Timeline for William Sliver Denyer (1834 - circa 1896)

Earlier this month I wrote about my 2nd great grandfather's brother, William Sliver Denyer. I had found his Civil War Pension file, which mentioned both a widow, Sarah E Denyer, and a guardian of a minor, Nancy Denyer. I identified Nancy as his wife, and wasn't sure who Sarah was - wondering if she could be my second great grandmother, sister-in-law of William.

Since that post I have found the death certificate of Sarah E Denyer in Arkansas, indicating her maiden name was Trapp, and she was a third wife of William.

This is the timeline for William S Denyer I have from the documents

  • 1834 - William is born in Bucks County, Pennsylvania
  • 1840 - William's mother, Elizabeth Sliver Denyer, dies in Gonzales, Texas (5 years before Texas joined the United States)
  • 1848 - William's father, William Denyer, dies in St. Martin, Louisiana
  • 1861 - William marries Susannah Dilly
  • 1861-1862 - William serves for the Confederacy.
  • 1863 - William's first wife, Susannah, dies.
  • 1864-1865 - William serves for the Union.
  • Feb 1865 - William marries Nancy Rhodes
  • Nov 1865 - Son Andre Denyer is born
  • 1880 - Pension is filed for minor, Nancy as guardian.
  • 1880 Census - William is married to Sarah. No child in the household.
  • 1886 - William files for a pension as an invalid
  • 1896 - Sarah files for a pension as a widow.
  • 1900 census - Son Andre has been married for 3 years.

It is a shame that the 1890 census was destroyed. Though hopefully Nancy and Andre can be found in the 1870 or 1880 census. It  does seem that there was a divorce and not a death in their case. Best guess for death of William would naturally be 1896, since I doubt it would take long for Sarah to file for a pension as a widow.

Wednesday, September 8, 2021

William S Denyer & Danyer - Confederate & Union Soldier

The below Pension Record appeared in my ‘hints’ on Ancestry. 

William S Danyer - Union Soldier in Louisiana Cavalry Scouts

The record identifies a Widow named Sarah E Danyer, who filed from Arkansas in 1896, and a minor with a guardian named Nancy E Danyer, who filed in either 1880 or 1890. The handwriting isn’t clear. I am unsure if the Certificate No. column indicates that the first two applications were successful, and the one for the minor was not.

Could this be William Sliver Denyer, brother of my 2nd great grandfather?

William S Denyer, my great great granduncle, definitely served under the Confederacy 1861-1862 in Louisiana. He was injured in 1862 and his hospital records are the last in the file at Fold3. Both of his brothers Ebenezer and Samuel served under the Confederacy in Texas. However, their father had died in Louisiana in 1848, and William appeared to stay there until the war. (All three sons were born in Bucks County Pennsylvania, and their father was born in England, so traveling was in their blood.)

William S Danyer also has a file on Fold3.  Here is his enlistment record. William S Danyer enlisted in the 30th Regiment of Missouri while in Vidalia, Louisiana in Feb of 1864. He was born in Buck County, Mississippi.  

There is currently no Buck County in Mississippi. I suspect there wasn't in 1864. My 2nd great granduncle was born in Bucks County, Pennsylvania.  This is almost definitely him, and we now have evidence that he fought for both the Confederacy and the Union.  Why he claimed to have been born in Mississippi is a mystery, but that could have simply been a clerical error. Other documents in the Fold3 folder indicate William S Danyer deserted in April of 1865, (Perhaps only a couple days before the war ended.) During his year of service between April 1864-April 1865 he was listed on muster rolls as under detached service in Louisiana, which may be why the pension application indicates he was with the Louisiana Cavalry Scouts.

The pension file indicates William's widow filed from Arkansas. If he is my relative, who are Sarah E and Nancy E? That is a question with a potentially intriguing answer. 

William S Denyer had two known wives - Susannah Dilly (who died in 1863) and Nancy E Rhodes, who he married in February of 1865 in Illinois (shortly before he deserted, and likely the reason he deserted.) They had a son, Andre, 9 months later. He would have been 25 in 1890, so it’s likely the year on the document is 1880. But Nancy should be the widow too. Who is Sarah Denyer?

Could she be the widow of William’s brother -- My 2nd great grandmother, Sarah Hartley Denyer Foster. Her father had died in Little Rock Arkansas in 1840. His children ended up in Texas, but Sarah might have returned after her husbands died. 

I don’t have a date of death for William. He could have been deceased and his widow could have tried to help her sister-in-law draw a Union pension since her sister in law’s first husband, Ebenezer Denyer, served the Confederacy. He died in 1872. I’m not sure when her husband George Foster died but it is likely he died before she did. My great grandfather testified in 1900 in front of the Dawes Commission that she was living with them in 1898 when she died. So in September 1896 she could have been a widow again. But while I have been unable to find her 1898 death records, I have not looked in Arkansas for them. And my primary focus has been searching for the name Sarah Foster. But there’s a chance she returned to the name Denyer.  

I like how these documents indicate that there was at least one Denyer who fought, however briefly, for the Union. Just like my ancestor, David Vanevery, fought in the American Revolution on both the Patriot and Loyalist sides. It also seems to show that there was a close relationship between my 2nd great grandmother, Sarah Hartley Denyer Foster, and her sister-in-law.  If Sarah was living with her daughter's family when she died, as the Dawes Commission was told, she almost certainly died in Texas, but she may have briefly been in Arkansas, and I might be able to find records for her there.

Sunday, August 22, 2021

Where my ancestors lived: Losice, Poland

I am writing a series of posts where I provide information about the towns where my ancestors lived. Geography is an essential part of genealogy and family history. We need to know where to look for records, and what we learn about the towns fills in information about how our ancestors may have lived.

My Blatt/Blatyta ancestors are from Losice. My second great grandfather, Morris Blatt, and his daughters Bryna/Blanche and Chana/Anna were likely born there.

Losice (Polish: Łosice; Russian: Lositsy; Yiddish: Loshits).

Province: Masovian Voivodeship / Lublin Voivodeship (before 1939)
GPS: 52.2113° N / 22.7185° E, 52°12'40" N / 22°43'6" E

Jews likely first settled in Losice at the end of the 17th century. On May 30, 1690 the Jewish cemetery was established - a privilege granted by King John III Sobieski. and also allowing Jews to settle in Łosice.

“In 1700, King August the Third [1696–1763] ordered the magistrates of Losice to carefully observe the dealings of Jewish merchants. The historical chronicler of the time reports that the magistrates aligned themselves with the Jews and did not bother them, but instead made things easier for them.”

The community numbered 654 (42% of the total population) in 1827, and 2,396 (71%) in 1897.

There is record of a pogrom in Losice in 1920. The community was liquidated 79 years ago on Aug. 22, 1942, when all the Jews of the town were deported to the Treblinka extermination camp.

Sources and Further Information:



3) Jewish Virtual Library



6) Wikipedia

Sunday, August 15, 2021

Where My Ancestors Lived: Varalmas, Hungary / Almasu, Romania

I am writing a series of posts where I provide information about the towns where my ancestors lived. Geography is an essential part of genealogy and family history. We need to know where to look for records, and what we learn about the towns fills in information about how our ancestors may have lived.

Váralmás / Almașu (Transylvania)

Latitude: 46.950
Longitude: 23.133

In 1907 my maternal grandfather, Martin Deutsch, was born in Váralmás (or Nagy-Almás), Hungary - which is now Almașu, Romania. The photographs on this page were taken in 2012.

The Jewish population, as recorded by census, was 11 in 1880, 51 in 1900, 35 in 1910, and 30 in 1930. As long as the census recorded all ages, my grandfather's family of 8 may have accounted for the entire drop between 1910 and 1930, if there were only a handful of births. While the Jewish population was small, nearby towns had larger populations. 

9 miles away in Huedin (where the train picked up my great grandfather and his family when they left) the Jewish population was 1,073 in 1900. 

Historic sights include a castle, and a citadel.

In May of 1944, the remaining Jewish population was moved 49 miles away to the Cehei ghetto, then to Șimleu Silvaniei. They were deported to Auschwitz between May 31 and June 8.

Sources and further information:

Sunday, August 8, 2021

Where My Ancestors Lived: Warka, Poland

I am beginning a series of posts where I provide information about the towns where my ancestors lived. Geography is an essential part of genealogy and family history. We need to know where to look for records, and what we learn about the towns fills in information about how our ancestors may have lived.

I am beginning with Warka, Poland, where my Newmark and Cantkert ancestors resided in the late 19th century, leaving in 1893. Either branch may have at one time resided nearby in Warsaw, but that is not certain. I believe my great grandfather, Barney Newmark, was born in Warka. While a small town, it was apparently a heavily Jewish town.

Warka, Poland 

Warka is a town in central Poland, situated in Grójec County, currently in the Masovian Voivodeship, but in the Warsaw Voivodeship prior to 1939. Latitude: 51°47'00 Longitude: 21°12'00 

Warka obtained its city charter in 1321. A village called Winiary, which today is part of Warka, was the countryside residence of the Pulaski family where General Casimir Pulaski spent his childhood. Pulaski is known for his assistance in the American Revolution, and there is a Casimir Pulaski Day on the first Monday of March in Illinois, celebrated mostly in areas of large Polish population, such as Chicago. Warka has also been known for its famous brewery since the 15th century. 

Jews settled in Warka in the second half of the 18th century. In 1800, 339 Jews lived in Warka, which was 51.5% of the total population. In 1921 the percentage had held with 50.5%. Warka is known for a Hasidic dynasty, and its founder, Isaac Kalish (1779–1848), became one of the most noted ẓaddikim in central Poland in the first half of the 19th century. After the outbreak of World War II, many Jews escaped Warka, seeking refuge in the Soviet occupation zone. In 1940 many died of disease in the ghetto. In February 1941, Jews were deported from Warka to Treblinka. Few survived.

Sources and more info: