Saturday, April 9, 2022

1950 US Census Records

The 1950 US census records went online on April 1. It’s not easy finding records. There is a machine OCR index, but most of the census is cursive and OCR technology isn’t great with script. (Some have commented machines can read cursive better than *some* members of Gen Z. Of course, that’s because the computers have been given instruction.) When the index fails, you have to browse the records. Fortunately I already knew the neighborhoods my ancestors should be in, so I have retrieved the records for all of them. I’ll have to wait for human indexing on most other kin. 

Below is the 1950 census record for my maternal grandparents, mother, and aunt. (I have deleted the information for my mother and aunt from the image, as they are still alive.) My grandmother's sister was recorded with them. According to my mother’s recollection, she was still living primarily in Texas, and working as a teacher, but my grandmother was sick (Colon Cancer) and her sister would visit when she could. I’m guessing it was “Spring Break.” The third no in Minnie's line may be wrong. Columns 16 & 17 ask about employment during the past week. However, 18 asks, if they didn't work in the past week, do they still have a job. If my mother’s recollection is accurate, the answer should have been, "yes," and her employment as a teacher should have been recorded.

I'm slightly curious if she got recorded in Texas as well. It probably depends if she usually resided with someone else, like one of her children. If so, they may have mentioned her. If she usually lived alone, then her home may have just been marked "vacant." I will need to wait for Texas records to be better indexed.

A few houses down from my grandparents - Fred and Marjorie Helmkampf. They were good friends of my grandparents, and were mentioned a lot in the letters they wrote back and forth during WW2. My grandmother died in 1951. Fred would die in 1962. In 1965 my grandfather married Marj. I was born 4 years later, and would grow up thinking of her as my grandmother.

Here are my paternal grandparents. My father's info has been removed, but his brother passed away in 1997. 

My grandmother was on one of the "Sample" lines and was asked additional questions.

Both of her parents were born in Russia. (Actually, one was born in Losice, Poland, and the other Volhynia, which is now part of Ukraine.) She completed 12th grade. Being over 30 years old, she didn't have to answer whether or not she attended school in the past two months. She did indicate that in the past year she worked 42 weeks outside of the home. Though she earned no money from it. She probably was referring to volunteer work.

My paternal grandmother's parents, Herman and Annie Feinstein.

Here, it is properly recorded that Annie was born in Poland. It is indicated that in the past week, Herman only worked 24 hours as manager of a laundry.

My paternal grandfather's parents, Barney and Bertha Newmark, barely get recorded. A lodger has all their information recorded. However, my great grandmother doesn't have her name recorded, and all of the other columns are blank. In the notes section, it is stated that a neighbor claimed their census was taken in Miami Beach, Florida. It is recalled that they were simply on vacation, so this is unlikely. I’ll have to wait until Miami records are better indexed. 

Friday, March 4, 2022

More Tax Assessments for Selig and Anna Feinstein - And Fun with OCR

A month ago I found the 1910 Tax Assessment for my second great grandparents Selig and Annie Feinstein published in the St. Louis Globe Democrat 

I had been searching on his name and it came up. It was the only year it came up for, and I didn't dig much deeper.

This past week I was searching for his business partner, fellow blacksmith, Max Wieselman. A tax assessment list for 1907 came up:

I scrolled back a few pages and found my second great grandfather.

One nice thing about is you can view the Optical Character Recognition (OCR) text. Since I knew that it wasn't reading it as, "Feinstein," I was curious what it was reading it as. Felnatein. Reading an "i" as an 'l' isn't surprising. Neither is reading an 's' as an 'a.' So I started conducting more searches with various character replacements.

Then I went to the header on the first page. I wanted to find the list for as many years as possible. The opening sentence in the body of the article says "The Globe-Democrat, following its custom of many years, presents the complete list of St. Louis Taxpayers whose assessments are $5000 or more." How long was this custom?
Searching for "Assessments for Taxation" yielded no lists.
Searching for "St. Louis Taxpayers Who Are Listed" yielded none of the lists.
So I wondered - what was being indexed for the clipping above?

It looks like headline-size text is not read very well - which is the opposite of what I would expect. I searched for "Increase over last year" without much success. 

So far I have only uncovered 1902, 1907, 1909 and 1910 listings in my search from 1900-1915. I have found references to the listing in other years saying something to the effect "this list appears in today's paper," but the list isn't there. I think some years it may have been published in a separate pull-out section that didn't get scanned when the microfilm was made, and thus didn't get digitized. Though it is possible there are some years that have been digitized, but I just haven't had any luck finding the listings yet.


                                            Selig and Anna Feinstein didn't make the 1902 list




Selig's assessment dropped a little from 1907-1909, but a joint assessment with his wife appeared. From 1909 to 1910 the individual assessment remained the same, but the joint assessment grew. So far, this is all I know about the financial success of his real estate business.

Sunday, February 20, 2022

Timeline for Moshe Leyb Cruvant - 1858-1911

Timeline for my 2nd great grandfather, Moshe Leyb Cruvant
  • June 12, 1858 (*) - Moshe Leyb Cruvant was born in Ceki┼íke, Kauno, Lithuania, to Mina and David Aron Orel Kruvant.
  • Before 1877 - Father David Aron Orel dies. 
  • 1881 - Moshe Leyb Cruvant married Minnie Mojsabovsky in 1881 when he was 24 years old. 
  • Dec 11, 1882 (*) - Son, Benjamin born in Pereyaslav, Lithuania 
  • March 17, 1885 - Son, David, born in Pereyaslav, Lithuania 
  • 1885 - Immigrates to US 
  • Sept 29, 1886 - Daughter Bertha born in either St. Louis Missouri or East St. Louis, Illinois 
  • May 8, 1889 - Daughter Stella born in St. Louis, Missouri 
  • March 1892 - Daughter Flora born in St. Louis, Missouri 
  • Jan 1, 1893 - Son Solomon born in St. Louis, Missouri 
  • April 7, 1895 - Brother Simon dies in St. Louis 
  • 1895 - Resides at 1128 North Eighth Street, St. Louis
  • 1900 - Resides at 1111 Morgan Street, St. Louis
  • 1903 - Seeks work in Chicago with son, Ben 
  • 1904 Returns to St. Louis 
  • May 26, 1904 - Son Ben marries Lillian Goldian White in Chicago Illinois 
  • July 19, 1904 - Grandson Clifford Edward born to Ben & Goldie in Chicago 
  • July 22, 1905 - Granddaughter Sarah Ruth born to Ben & Goldie in Chicago 
  • April 1907 - Ben leaves Goldie 
  • May 2, 1907 - Daughter Stella marries Louis Stern in St. Louis, Missouri 
  • June 1908 - Ben & Goldie divorced in East St. Louis, Illinois (appears in newspaper June 20) 
  • Oct 29, 1908 - Grandson Aaron Stern born to Stella and Louis in East St. Louis, Illinois 
  • June 27, 1909 - Son David marries Anna Rubin 
  • Aug 2, 1909 - Brother Girsh dies in Cekiske, Lithuania 
  • Before 1910 - Brother Notka dies in Lithuania or Ukraine.
  • 1910 - Resides at 435 Collinsville Ave, East St. Louis, Illinois
  • Feb 14, 1911 - Grandson Bernard Alan born to David & Anna 
  • Aug 27, 1911 - Daughter Bertha marries Barney Newmark in East St. Louis, Illinois 
  • Sept 26, 1911 - Moshe Leyb dies in East St. Louis, Illinois
(*) These dates are based on Lithuanian records and are Julian calendar dates. In both cases the individuals observed their birthdays about 20 days later. 12 days to adjust to the Gregorian calendar, and they were probably observing the anniversary of their Brit Milah at 8 days.


1) By noting the vital records of his children and grandchildren, kernels appear of the story of Ben and Goldie, which I have written several blog posts about. What I don't know is whether Moshe Leyb knew about the relationship when he left Chicago, and what he thought about it. I do know that when Ben and Goldie returned to St. Louis, all heck broke loose, because Goldie wasn't Jewish, and Ben was given an ultimatum. Ben chose his parents over his wife and children. (Though divorce records indicate he tried and failed to gain custody of one child.)

2) The exact date of daughter Bertha's birth is uncertain. She always observed her birthday on the Jewish holiday of Rosh HaShana, and wasn't certain whether she was born in 1886 or 1887. The date given in the timeline is Rosh HaShana 1886.

3) Moshe Leyb's brother, Notka, married a woman from Kiev, Ukraine - and family lore isn't certain where they resided and where he died.

4) Moshe Leyb died of liver cancer. His death certificate indicates the doctor began seeing him about a week before his daughter, Bertha's, marriage.

Saturday, February 19, 2022

Timeline for Moshe (Morris) Blatt 1862-1926

Timeline for 2nd great grandfather, Moshe (Morris) Blatt

1862 - Morris Blatt was born on May 1, 1862, in Losice, Mazowieckie, Poland, to Perl Kipersztok, age 26, and Yankiel Blatyta, age 25. 
1865 - Brother Yitzhak born 
1867 - Brother Nuta born 
1869 - Brother Nathan born 
1871 - Brother Aaron born 
1885 - Marries Chaia Bella Boksern 
1887 - Daughter Bryna Blanche born 
1890 - Daughter Channa/Anna born 
1890 - Immigrates to St. Louis, Missouri 
1892 - Chaia Bella dies in Poland 
1893 - Marries Mala Mollie Kellner Katz (Note: Her brother Nathan Kellner lived next door to Selig Feinstein in 1900. Selig & Morris’s children Herman and Anna would marry.) 
1894 - Son Joseph born 
1895 - Son Joseph died. 
1897 - Dry goods store burglarized 3 times 
1898 - Wife Mala files for a Passport- reason unknown 
1898 - Son Henry born 
1903 - Daughter Pearl born 
1903 - Daughter Blanche married Jacob Wyman 
1904 - Grandson Joseph Wyman born 
1905 -Grandson Louis Wyman born 
1908 - Grandson David Wyman born 
1907-1909 Residing in Mineral Wells, Texas with wife. (In 1907 Anna is with them.) 
1909 - Grandson David Wyman died 
1910 - Morris and Mala have returned to St. Louis
1910 - Grandson Sidney Wyman born 
1912 - Daughter Anna marries Herman Feinstein 
 1913 - Grandson Bernard Feinstein is born 
 1914 - Granddaughter Belle Feinstein is born 
 1914 - Granddaughter Belle Wyman is born 
 1917 - Grandson Seymour Feinstein is born 
 1926 - Morris dies on April 23, 1926.


1) I am accepting that the Moshe Blatyta born on May 1, 1862 to Yankiel & Perl was my 2nd great grandfather. Many in the Blatyta family changed their surname to Blatt. There is a small chance there were two Moshe sons of Yankiel born at a similar time. (A blog post on the records I have found.

2) Similarly I am accepting that Chaia Bella Boksern was his first wife, and my 2nd great grandmother. Though I am leaving open the possibility that a different Moshe Blatyta/Blatt married someone else. This potential second Blatt family would still somehow be related to the other Blatytas in Losice at the time, as DNA evidence confirms.

3) Besides vital records, I have not uncovered a lot of information about his life. I don't know why his wife filed for a passport (and he didn't) in 1898 - and I don't know what impact the birth of their son had on her plans. I don't know why they were living in Mineral Wells Texas in 1907-1909. In a family history interview conducted in the 1980s, my grandmother talked about her grandparents having lived in Mineral Wells for a period of time. She wasn't very clear on when it happened, but there is no question that the Blatts in the Mineral Wells City Directory is them. I don't know what impact the death of their infant grandson had on Morris and Mala's decision to return to St. Louis from Mineral Wells. However, putting all these events in the timeline does create possible hypotheses.

Monday, February 7, 2022

Amanuensis Monday: 1910 Tax Assessment for Selig & Annie Feinstein

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.

Today I share the Tax Assessment for my second great grandparents, Selig and Anna Feinstein. A Tax Assessment being the total value of the property owned upon which property tax is calculated. The local newspaper in 1910 listed the tax assessments for every individual or company above $5,000. (Over 12,000 people.) While theoretically property value is still public information, one would not expect a list like this to appear in a newspaper today.

As I mentioned in some recent posts, Selig and Annie were living in the tenement section in 1900, though according to the census, they owned the tenement. I have not been able to verify this yet by finding the deed, though I have looked in microfilm for it. They went into the real estate business between 1900 and 1910. Family lore has said that Selig was moderately successful, but somehow lost a lot of his money.

St. Louis Globe-Democrat, St. Louis, Missouri, 23 May 1910, Page 14

ASSESSMENTS GO UP $28,508,000 

St. Louis 1910 Valuation, Including State Board Estimate, Will Reach $568,000,000 


Many New Names Get Into List of Big Taxpayers This Year — James Campbell Has the Largest Individual Figure on List, with Daniel Catlin and D.R. Francis Next — Rate Remains Unchanged, but City Will Get $632,000 More in $12,610,000 of Revenue — More Than 12,000 Owners Rated at $5,000 and Over — Eighty-Seven Corporations, Estates and Citizens Hold $132,296,000, or Nearly One-Fourth of the Grand Total.

Combining the individual assessment for my second great grandfather, with the joint assessment with his wife, the total is $29,860. 

1) The CPI Inflation Calculator begins with January 1913. $29,860 in January of 1913 is equivalent to $849,492.62 in December of 2021. I do not know how many pieces of property they owned, or the difference between the property Selig owned individually, and what they owned jointly. 

Friday, February 4, 2022

Melvin Newmark at age 1

Scanning a box of family photos. 

The back of the photograph reads, "Melvin, 1 Year 1912"
My grandfather, Melvin Newmark, was born on Aug 27, 1912
My great grandparents Bertha Cruvant and Barney Newmark were married on Aug 27, 1911

If that were a newborn child, I would assume the note was an indication of their 1 year anniversary. But that is no newborn. A year old looks about right, and the year would be 1913.

According to the St. Louis City Directories they lived at 6135A Plymouth Ave, which is in the current city of Wellston, in St. Louis County. (Unincorporated in 1913)That may be their yard in the photograph.


Saturday, January 29, 2022

Timeline for Selig Dudelczak Feinstein (1858-1915)

I've decided to create some timelines for my ancestors to organize the information I have on their lives.

Here is a timeline I have created for my second great grandfather, Selig Dudelczak Feinstein 

  • 1858-1862 Simcha Zelig (Selig) Dudelczak is born, likely somewhere in Volhynia, Ukraine.
    • Simcha means "Gladness" or "Joy" in Hebrew. Zelig means "Blessed" in Yiddish.
  • 1858 Brother, Yidel (Julius) born (Possible Twin)
  • 1860 Sister, Zlata (Lottie) born (Possible Twin)
  • 1868 Sister, Toba (Tillie) born
  • 1871 Sister, Bella (Rebecca) born
  • 1874 Sister Shprintze (Sylvia) born
  • 1883 Selig marries Nechama (Anna) Perlik (Source: 1900 census)
  • 1885 Son Shmuel Zvi (Harry Samuel) born. 
  • 1886 Son Chaim (Herman Max)  born 
  • 1888 Son Benjamin born 
  • 1889 Immigrates to US by self (Port of arrival: Castle Garden)
  • 1890 Wife, Children & Mother immigrate under the surname Feinstein 
  • 1890 Daughter, Pearl, born (Descendants share DNA with descendants of Selig’s siblings, so paternity is likely)
  • 1892 First appears in St Louis City Directory as a Shoer
  • 1893 Son, Morris, born
  • 1895 Son, David, born
  • 1896 Son, David, died 
  • 1898 Son, Aaron, born
  • 1898 Patents an improvement to fire hydrants with business partner Max Wieselman (who also immigrated from Volhynia)
  • 1899 Appears in City Directory as both Grocer and Blacksmith 
  • 1899 Son, Joseph, born
  • 1899 Vice President of new Tpheris Israel congregation
  • 1900 Blacksmith, residing at 1122 North Eighth Street, and according to the census, owner,
  • 1901 Opens Western Junk Shop - lasts until 1905
  • 1901 Daughter, Rose, born. Son, Joseph, died.
  • 1902-1913 Member of Progressive Order of the West fraternal organization
  • 1906 Mother, Gitel (Gertrude) died. 
  • 1906 Selig on Chesed Shel Emeth Society committee to build an Old Folks Home
  • 1906 Moves to 5600 Garfield. 
  • 1907 Sells property on Garfield to brother Julius Odelsohn
  • 1908 Opens real estate business with Son, Harry
  • 1910 Lives at 1941 Burd Ave
  • 1911 Selig & Anna purchase lot of Carr Primary School
  • 1911 Opens Central Laundry business with Son, Herman
  • 1912 Incorporates Famous Laundry
  • 1912 Charged with violating "Anti-Smoke Ordinances" at Central Laundry. (Coal smoke) 
  • 1914 Opens another laundry business with daughter, Pearl
  • 1915 Selig Feinstein died. 
  • 1915 Selig is recorded as donating $6 to Jewish Charitable & Educational Union
  1. I have yet to uncover a document with his date of birth. Years on documents vary. 
  2. No European vital records have been found so dates which appear on later records are less certain. 
  3. Between 1860-1868 it is likely other siblings were born. Family history suggests at least one named Gershon survived childhood and remained in the Ukraine as an adult. What happened to him is unknown.
  4. I do not know for certain where Selig (and his family) were between 1889-1892. They may not have moved to St. Louis until after everyone had immigrated.
  5. I have searched through deed indexes on microfilm, but have been unable to uncover the deed indicating Selig purchased 1122 North Eighth Street as the 1900 census suggests.  The vast majority of neighbors are listed as renters, and few addresses in the neighborhood have owners listed. Most owners of the tenements likely lived in other neighborhoods. Being a resident owner would have been unusual, but Selig's later interest in real estate might have started earlier. 
  6. He was possibly a member of the Progressive Order of the West fraternal organization prior to 1902, but that was the first year he appeared in the newspaper as a delegate to their annual convention. Similarly, he likely remained a member until his death.
  7. I have not uncovered Selig’s will so I don’t know if the donation was part of it or given before he died. A list of donations appeared in the newspaper. 
  8. I’ve found six occupations so far. Shoer, Blacksmith, Grocer, Junk Dealer, Real Estate Management, Laundry Management.