Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Family History in Newspaper Articles

The topic for the 57th Carnival of Genealogy is:
I read it in the news! Newspapers can be a wonderful source of family history information. Share some aspect about your family history that you learned about in a newspaper. Articles, advertisements, obituaries, classified ads, photos... all are fair game if they appeared in a newspaper.
I've written several times in the past about newspaper items.

I found out about my great grandfather, Melvin Van Every's, Cheese manufactory in Ancestry.com's newspaper databases.

And while I originally found out about my great grandfather, Selig Feinstein's, service to the community in a book, the book cited several newspaper articles that I was able to research on microfilm.

I also found out about my grandfather, Melvin Newmark's, participation in the Veterans of Future Wars at Ancestry.

Newspaper obituaries have provided the greatest advancements in my family tree, helping me to find the names of distant cousins. Such an obituary led me to 100 Dudelsack cousins back in May.

However, a few months ago, I received a copy of the obituaries for my great grandparents, Herman and Anna Feinstein. Here's Herman's:

Most of the information wasn't new. I did learn the name of the Masonic Lodge to which he belonged. However, the obituary was in an unusual location. At the bottom of a death certificate:

This isn't the death certificate I would get if I ordered it from the State of Missouri. It's from the funeral home. I'm pretty sure it is identical, except for the bottom section which contains the notes for the funeral home. Often the Diagram of the Lot, and the location of the burial, this funeral home inserted a newspaper clipping of the obituary along with the name of the Rabbi who officiated over the funeral.

Herman Feinstein died in 1963, so his death certificate won't be available for download from the Missouri State site until 2013. It would cost $13 from the State Vital Records office, and it's not clear they would provide the certificate to a non-immediate family member. The person who sent me copies of the death certificates, obtained from the funeral home likely at a minimal copying fee, was an independent researcher who was completely unrelated.

This is a useful tool to remember when you run across states with heavy restrictions on their copies of the death certificates. If you can find the obituary, it often includes the name of the funeral home.

Finally, a slight digression. The Rabbi who officiated over my great grandfather's funeral: Rabbi Jerome Grollman. He was also the Rabbi who officiated at my Bar Mitzvah back in 1982, and over many family bar mitzvahs, weddings, brises and funerals. A Rabbi at United Hebrew Congregation in St. Louis since 1948, he passed away on August 9th at the age of 86. A few quotes from the St. Louis Post Dispatch article:
In 1960, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. was a guest of Rabbi Grollman and members of the congregation. King had just been released from jail and was exhausted prior to his speech to the congregation. He napped in a chair in Rabbi Grollman's study and then gave a passionate speech. Rabbi Grollman never parted with that chair.
"He was a passionate civil rights advocate, and participated in so many efforts," recalled the rabbi's second cousin, Bernard Lipnick, rabbi emeritus of B'nai Amoona. "He was very courageous and a disciplined person. He took positions that were not popular with all, such as the state of Israel. He expected Israel to act in moral ethical ways; he did not hesitate to criticize the Israeli government."
Every year since I was a toddler, when I've attended High Holy Day services at the synagogue, he would be on the bimah, leading the congregation in prayer. His role has diminished over the years as he was promoted to 'Rabbi Emeritus'. but he has still been there. Last night was the start of Rosh Hashana, and I could feel his absence.

He has been a major part of my family's lives for decades. I learned a lot about him from several newspaper obituaries I wish I had known beforehand. In August I enjoyed talking with my parents about their recollections, as they remember King's speech well.

Sunday, September 28, 2008

During this Week: Sept 28-Oct 4

Birth, marriage and death anniversaries for my ancestors and their kin during the upcoming week:

George Van Every - Born Sept 28, 1888 (1st Cousin, Twice Removed)
Blanche Blatt - Born Sept 28, 1887 (2nd great aunt)
Emma Van Every - Born Oct 1, 1856 (2nd great aunt)
Caleb Horton - died Oct 3, 1702 (8th great grandfather)
Harry Cruvand - born Oct 4, 1898 (2nd cousin twice removed)
Stevan Newmark - died Oct 4, 1997 (uncle)

28th of Elul - 5th of Tishrei
Bertha Cruvant - born 1st of Tishrei 5647/5648 (Great Grandmother)

I can't use the Gregorian calendar for my great grandmother. She was born on New Year's Day on the Hebrew calendar, but she wasn't sure whether it was 1886 or 1887. If 1886 it would have been September 30th. If 1887 it would have been September 19th. It was the First of Tishrei, though, which once again falls on September 30th this year.

I have searched the St. Louis City Birth Registers for September and October from 1885 to 1888. I haven't found her. Her father is supposed to have immigrated to the US in 1885, though his first appearance in the St. Louis City City Directory is 1890. It's possible Bertha was born outside of Missouri (maybe in East St. Louis, IL). Or it's possible the Cruvants just didn't bother to register her birth. I've only found the birth registry of one of her three younger siblings - Sol, the youngest.

Monday, September 22, 2008

Google API

Google has released some APIs that allow you to embed a book-preview on your own website or blog

Browse Fretz Family History by Rev AJ Fretz:

If the coding explanation is beyond comprehension they have a Preview Wizard that generates a simple script that can be copy and pasted into a blog post or into a webapage.

The only thing you need is the BookSearchID which is the alphanumeric code that follows ID= in GoogleBooks search results.

During this Week: Sept 21-Sept 27

Sept 23, 1666 - Barnabas Horton born (7th great grandfather)
Sept 25, 1961 - Sarah Ann Foster died (2nd great aunt)
Sept 26, 1911 - Moshe Leyb Cruvant died (2nd great grandfather)

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Choctaw Ancestry

Minnie Van Every Benold (1884-1969), the sister of my grandmother Myrtle Van Every Deutsch, at some point in her later years, the exact date is uncertain, wrote a few pages about her experiences as a child.


Then too, after Indian Territory was opened for settlement (about 1888?) my father filed on a claim on Sac and Fox Reservation, possessed it and built a log house, a good barn, and sent for his family – all on the fact that mother was part Indian – in December 1891.

After a snowy winter, he planted a crop, and made many trips to the County seat (Chandler) consulting his lawyer as his right to the land was being contested. In a fit of discouragement he loaded us all in a wagon and started back to Texas. He said he could not find an honest lawyer. We left in Spring 1892, after we could not get a hearing on our claim. I do know, or at least have been told that no records were kept during those years.

So it was last night I put the name Samuel Denyer into Footnote. The brother of my second great grandfather, Ebenezer Denyer. I was looking for his Civil War record. Instead I found a reference in the Dawes Packets.
The Amercan Dawes Commission, named for its first chairman Henry L. Dawes, was authorized under a rider to an Indian Office appropriation bill, March 3, 1893. Its purpose was to convince the Five Civilized Tribes [Cherokee, Choctaw, Creek, Chickasaw, Seminole] to agree to cede tribal title of Indian lands under an allotment process to the individual Indian, enacted in 1887 (See Dawes Act for other tribes). In November 1893, President Grover Cleveland appointed Dawes as chairman, and Meridith H. Kidd and Archibald S. McKennon as members.

During this process, the Indian nations were stripped of their communally-held national lands, and the land was divided up into single lots and given to individual members of the nation. However, to prove you were a member of a tribe, you had to declare membership in one and only one tribe to a national registry known as the Rolls
Footnote has almost all of the Application Packets (98% complete).

This was exciting. It wasn't for Ebenezer's brother, Samuel, it was for Ebenezer's son, Samuel, the uncle of my grandmother. Ebenezer married Sarah Hartley who family lore says claimed to be 1/8 Choctaw. And in the Dawes packets at Footnote I have found the applications for admission to the Choctaw Tribe made by all of Sarah Hartley's children, from both of her husbands, Ebenezer Denyer and George Foster. As well as those made by her brother, Samuel Hartley. Apparently several years after they tried unsuccessfully to claim land, they tried again when the Dawes Commission was formed. The applications are dated November of 1900.

Refused. Every last one of them. (Well, logically, one would assume if one was refused, all of them would be. And if they had been successful, they'd have claimed the land, so I shouldn't have been surprised. The decision by the commission: insufficient evidence.)

I don't care. OK, I do care. If they had been accepted my grandmother would likely have grown up somewhere other than Texas, with possible repercussions on her adult life. I might not exist. Refusal, naturally, doesn't mean they weren't Choctaw, just that the commission wasn't satisified with the proof. But each application has between 10-25 pages, and they go into detail about the relationships between all those applying. Names of spouses, children, etc. And most importantly, the names of the parents of Samuel and Sarah Hartley: George W Hartley and Eliza Beasley.

Samuel Hartley claimed to be 1/4 Choctaw, not 1/8. If accurate, this would double the percentage of my Choctaw ancestry from what I previously thought. Unfortunately, the claim was through their father, dashing any hopes that a test of my, or my mother's, mtDNA might contribute to the solution of this mystery. It would still be interesting to find out where my maternal ancestry originated, but it's much less likely to be Native American.

Also, unfortunately, while the applications make reference to marriage certificates that were entered into evidence, none of these certificates are part of the files online.

It does seem that my previous suspicions regarding the 1850 census are likely correct. The Eliza Hartley who is recorded as living with two sons Samuel and William is my third great grandmother, and Sarah was recorded in another household, likely as some sort of servant.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

St. Louis County Marriage Records

When you get most of your news online, like I do, it's easy to miss a local story. Thankfully David at OakvilleBlackWalnut blogged about St. Louis County opening up internet access to marriage records (and property deeds) for a reasonable fee ($5.95 +50 cents/page). Access to the marriage and real estate indexes will be free, and it is supposed to go online October 1st.

The newspaper article doesn't state whether there will be any privacy window on the marriage records, or how far back the records go.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

During this Week: Sept 15-20

Harry Odelson - Born Sept 15, 1896 (1st cousin, three times removed)
Pearl Odelson - Died Sept 15, 1957 (1st cousin, three times removed)
Sarah Ann Foster - Born Sept 16, 1887 (2nd Great Aunt)
Samuel Ophan Van Every - Died Sept 18, 1933 (Great Uncle)

Saturday, September 13, 2008

The importance of backup

My beloved Mac iBook which I have had for several years won't boot, I get a folder with a question mark when I try to start up. And while I have followed all the suggestions in the online support documents, I haven't had success.

I have scheduled an appointment tomorrow morning with the local Apple Retail Store at their Genius Bar. We'll see how much of a genius the bartender is, and whether or not s/he can get it working without initializing the hard drive.

I'm not in horrible shape if all is lost. I would have been in much worse shape a year ago, but my backup system has improved greatly in the last year.

I have an external 200gb hard drive -- though the last time I backed up to it was several months ago. But when I did, I backed up everything.

I also have a wristwatch with 4gb of storage. I've backed up much more recently to that (I like the idea that if there is a fire, the only thing I really need to grab, besides the cat I am caring for for a friend, is my watch.)

I don't have room to save everything there, but I was saving what I consider my most important stuff. My fiction and poetry writing, as well as my family history folders. I was very good at saving new scanned documents immediately to my wristwatch. For some reason though, the last save of my GEDcom was in June. There hasn't been a lot of new people added to the database in these three months, but the work I did adding citations in August would be lost.

I think my primary losses will be a few downloads from iTunes, but not many, and I've heard they sometimes allow you to re-download lost items for free. And some personal photographs I took -- though the most important ones I ended up emailing to friends or family so I have at least a reduced-size stored in my Gmail Sent Mail folder.

Old hard drive declared deceased by M.E. (Mac Examiner). New hard drive has been ordered. It will take 10-14 days. Luckily I have a work laptop PC so I can access my Gmail account, and the internet, so I still have some connectivity.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

An American Tisha B'Av

Three years ago, Jonathan Gurwitz at the Jewish World Review suggested the creation of an American Tisha B'Av.

What does that mean?
The Jewish people set aside one particular day to commemorate the many calamities that have befallen them throughout history. Tisha B'Av is literally the ninth day of the month of Av on the Hebrew calendar. Normally it falls in August.

According to tradition, it is the date of the destruction of the First Temple in Jerusalem and the beginning of the Babylonian exile. It is also the date of the destruction of the Second Temple by the Romans and the beginning of the Diaspora. And it is the date of the decree expelling the Jews from Spain in 1492.
While traditionally all three of those disasters fell on the same date, other disasters are also mourned on that date. Many consider it inappropriate to create a new day of observance for new disasters, so there is some dispute over the appropriateness of a separate date for Yom HaShoah (Holocaust Remembrance).

Why just one day? As Gurwitz explains:
The human ability to do evil often appears to be unbounded. Our capacity for sorrow, on the other hand, is limited. If we can bind up all the terrible things in life on one single day, the remainder of the year in some sense becomes bearable.

There is another possible motive. We owe the dead our reverence — the men and women who perished in burning buildings, the children shot in a gymnasium, the people drowned in the storm. But our grief must not be allowed to consume the rest of our days and immobilize us from the duty to the living.
The two American events Gurwitz combines in his article are both recent: 9/11 and Hurricane Katrina. Of course, if one followed the model, several other days could be included in the observance.

August 24, 1814: British troops invade DC and burn down the White House
December 7, 1941: The Attack on Pearl Harbor
September 8, 1900: The Galveston Hurricane (Still the deadliest natural disaster in US history)

There are many who would object to the combination of Patriot Day and Pearl Harbor Day, understandably, as both events are still fresh and distinct in our minds. But over time new disasters - natural and man made - are bound to occur. The nation might see the advantages for combining the two, with other events that were just as devastating in their day but have been replaced over time (and sadly forgotten by many) because our capacity for mourning is limited.

My own personal preference for the day of choice would be September 1 - since it seems to be roughly in the middle of several of the more prominent disasters. Though there would be advantages to having it in the summer sometime when more older youth are at home with their families.

SSDI Comparison

GenealogyBank has announced that their database for the Social Security Death Index is now freely accessible.

GenealogyBank has the only SSDI database that is updated weekly. They also provide more information than some other sites, and as I will show below, in some cases, more accurate information.

I will compare the results for a great uncle of mine, Israel David Newmark, the youngest brother of my great grandfather Barney Newmark. I will compare GenealogyBank's results with Ancestry/Rootsweb's since that is probably the best known alternative.

[Note: it's public information so there really isn't an issue, but I removed the actual number from both results below]


Name / Birth / Death / Last Residence / Last Benefit / SSN / State of Issue
ISRAEL D NEWMARK 03 Apr 190316 Oct 2004 (V)63005 (Chesterfield, Saint Louis, MO)(none specified)


Social Security Death Index
Name: Israel D. Newmark
Date of Birth: Friday April 03, 1903
Date of Death: Saturday October 16, 2004
Est. Age at death: 101 years, 6 months, 13 days
Last known residence:

City: Chesterfield; Clarkson Valley; Gumbo; Wildwood

County: Saint Louis

State: Missouri

ZIP Code: 63005

Latitude: 38.6405

Longitude: -90.6464

Confirmation: Verified
Social Security details:

State of Issue: Missouri


GenealogyBank's provision of the GPS coordinates is very useful for some mapping software, and they also provide a much more exact description of the location. Both provide the location in the traditional City, County format. However, all four "cities" listed at GenealogyBank are part of the same zip code, and it seems that Ancestry/Rootsweb just lists the first in the series, which isn't necessarily the correct one.

Not being exactly sure which of the four cities my great uncle lived in, I verified this with a relative who died in the 63105 zip code. Ancestry/Rootsweb says she lived in St. Louis City, and GenealogyBank says " Saint Louis; Clayton; University City." She lived in Clayton.

Furthermore, Ancestry/Rootsweb says that my grandmother, Belle Feinstein Newmark, died in St. Louis, St. Louis, MO. Which most would interpret as St. Louis City, but they would be wrong. No portion of the zip code of her last residence, 63141, is in St. Louis City.

GenealogyBank is correct with "Creve Coeur, St. Louis, MO". How does Ancestry/Rootsweb get it wrong? I think it may be due to Creve Coeur being part of an unincorporated section of St. Louis County.

I also like how GenealogyBank provides the day of the week, and the estimated age at death. Those are nice additions.

It should be noted that while in the above example it appears Ancestry/Rootsweb has a location field for "Last Benefit", and GenealogyBank doesn't - when there is data for that field, it is provided at GenealogyBank as well. It's just left out of the results when the information is blank.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Home is Where You Hang Your Hat

The word prompt for the 5th Edition of Smile For The Camera is Crowning Glory. Show us those wonderful photographs of hairdos and maybe even a few don'ts. Don't limit yourself to just hair fashion through the ages, got a great photograph of a hat, helmet, bonnet, or some other interesting headgear? Share!
I start with my great grandparents Herman and Annie (Blatt) Feinstein. The year is 1928, and the location is Cuba. My great-grandfather is wearing a fez with the word "Moolah" on it. As in the Moolah Shriners of the Moolah Shrine Temple. The Shriners is a masonic organization composed solely of master masons. My great grandfather submitted his petition to join the Shriners in December of 1927, so in this photograph he hadn't been a member for very long. He was born in 1886, so he was 42 years old. I don't know how to describe the hat my great grandmother is wearing.

Next up are my paternal grandparents, Melvin and Sissie (Feinstein) Newmark. Neither are wearing hats in this picture, nor can you see their hair. That's because both are wearing wigs. (Note: I'm not sure, but a toupee is officially only a partial wig, and I don't think there's anything partial about what my grandfather is wearing.) The year is 1975, and my grandmother is 61, and my grandfather 63.

Third up is a photograph of my Great-Grandfather Melvin Van Every and a niece, most likely Mabel Ruth Van Every Creamer. The photograph was taken in 1909. My great grandfather would have been 46, and Mabel would have been 28. My great grandfather has removed his hat, and it sits on the table. Mabel's hat is impressive.

I finish with my maternal grandfather, Martin Deutsch, in a photograph most likely taken in 1931 when he graduated from DePaul University Law School. He would have been 24. It's possible this is his high school graduation, but it is less likely.

Sunday, September 7, 2008

During This Week: Sept 8-Sept 14

Thomas MacEntee at Destination: Austin Family has recently been posting daily historical births, marriages, and deaths for his family. I like this idea, however, I'm not confident I can do this daily. A weekly post seems manageable, limited to individuals who are deceased.

Sept 8th - Sept 14h

Sept 8, 1994: Death of Ida Odelson, age 88 (2nd cousin, twice removed)
Sept 11, 1951: Death of Myrtle Van Every Deutsch, age 51. (Grandmother)
Sept 14, 1914, Birth of Willard Oxenhandler (1st cousin twice removed)
Sept 14, 1933, Death of Harry Feinstein, age 49 (2nd great uncle)

So far this month
Sept 1, 1846: Birth of Samuel C Van Every (2nd great uncle)
Sept 1, 1868: Birth of Margaret Jane Denyer Vanevery (Great grandmother)
Sept 4, 2001: Death of Meyer Odelson, age 85 (2nd cousin, twice removed)
Sept 5, 1934: Death of Alvin Feinstein, age 24 (1st cousin twice Removed)

Monday, September 1, 2008

Sarah Louise Heath Palin's genealogy

I thought I could focus my attentions elsewhere, and then Tom Kemp on his GenealogyBank blog says he's a cousin to Alaska Governor, Sarah Palin, and that she is descended from a Rev John Lathrop. I remembered Lathrops interconnecting with the descendants of Rev. Thomas and Katherine Stoughton, of which I am one as well. Kemp provided no links to any sources, so I had to go looking myself, and I didn't find anything I could trust.

I found her in the Dowling Family Genealogy at WorldConnect. Dowling doesn't have her descended from the Stoughtons. And I found Dowling's pedigree for my ancestor Samuel Swayze, and our lines as he has them don't seem to intersect.

Why don't I trust Tim Dowling's research? I have no idea who he is beyond his heady claim to be related to every single president of the United States. His pedigree for my ancestor Samuel Swayze says that Robert Chamberlain, who married Elizabeth Stoughton, is descended from the first three Kings Henry. Which is all well and good. But William Addams Reitweisner doesn't make the claim that John Kerry is. He provides no known parents for Robert Chamberlain. even though he carries Kerry's other lines a couple more generations. Surely if Reitweisner could find some reliable sources for Chamberlain's parents, he would have.

Further, I lack confidence in Dowling's attention to sources, as he often doesn't provide sources, especially with earlier generations. Since I don't trust his claim of Heath's ancestry, and I can't find her genealogy anywhere else, until I do find a source with a little more credibility, I am happy to accept that I might not be related to the Alaskan Governor.

Note: I missed a post at GeneaMusings on Friday. Randy linked to Robert Battle's Ahnentafel for Sarah Palin. Battle provides sources, and notably doesn't go any further back than 1600.