Thursday, December 31, 2009

2010 Genealogy Resolutions?

Image: HMS Resolution in a gale, by Willem van de Velde, the Younger, circa 1678
87th EDITION OF THE Carnival Of Genealogy
This year is almost over and a new decade is knocking on the door. This is the perfect time to make your New Year resolutions, goals, aims, declarations, intentions, aspirations, objectives, plans, targets, schemes, wishes, or whatever you want to call them!

This issue of the Carnival of Genealogy asks us for New Years Resolutions, or whatever we wish to call them. Do I have any?

I have no problem resolving to continue my pursuit of family history. At this point in the obsession, it's almost like resolving to continue to breathe. Though I have learned enough about this pursuit that I am unable to predict what I will achieve. So resolving to achieve some end is akin to setting myself up for failure. I will uncover information about ancestors near and far. Which ancestors those will be is not up to me.

At least not entirely. Setting research priorities tends to have an effect. If I'm not looking for something, it's less likely I will find it. (At least slightly.) Those priorities can, however, change depending upon what I uncover. They could change tomorrow. However, right now my highest priorities involve a handful of vital records that I know I *should* be able to find.

I similarly have no problem with resolving to continue to blog. I've been doing it steadily since 2002 and I see no signs of stoppage. If the internet crashes, I'm likely to find somewhere else to write down my thoughts. Though I enjoy sharing them with a wider audience, because I know I have been helped by suggestions I have read on other blogs, and hope to return in kind. So hopefully the internet won't crash.

What I will blog about is less certain. I definitely see my weekly Amanuensis Monday series continuing. My recent discovery of old newspaper articles has briefly sidetracked my transcription of audio tapes and my great uncle's war journal, but I have so much material, and have received a lot of positive feedback from relatives. Transcription is something entirely within my control, which is helpful when it comes to resolutions.

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

When Does the New Decade Begin?

You may recall the endless debates about whether the New Century began on January 1, 2000 or January 1, 2001. (I tried to argue with friends that it wouldn't occur until the year 5800, which wouldn't occur until 2040, but they didn't listen to me.)

The whole question revolved around whether or not there was a "Year Zero." And obviously, with respect to the Christian/Gregorian Calendar, there wasn't. So, the argument went, the "21st Century" began on January 1, 2001.

However, as I liked to point out -- a new century begins every second. Some centuries are just more popular than others. The same applies for decades, and years.

"The 1900s" began on Jan 1, 1900, and ended Dec 31, 1999. It seems logical to me to define "The 1900s" as any four-digit year beginning with the digits '19'. "The 2000s" would be defined similarly.

What about Decades?

No one referred to the past decade as "The 201st Decade." If we referred to decades as such, the 202nd Decade would begin on January 1, 2011. But we don't. The 2010s begin on January 1, 2010. It doesn't make any sense (to me) to look at it in any other way.

Wikipedia may be helpful if you are confused.

Monday, December 28, 2009

Google Alerts - What it Does, and Doesn't Do

Legacy News (the news blog for the genealogy software company) on December 17th wrote How to Create a Google Alert

By creating a Google Alert, whenever Google finds your word or phrase that you are interested in, Google will automatically send you an email. For example, I am searching for an ancestor....If, today, I don't find anything relevant, I can create a Google Alert for his name, and then work on other things, ... Then, if someone publishes new information to a website that Google finds, I'll get an email with a direct link to the new page.

I've seen this tip on a few other blogs since then. It is very misleading in a crucial manner. In my Year in Review entry I linked to my July post on this topic, but it bears repeating since several people seem to be misled.

To quote the second question and answer from the Frequently Asked Questions page for Google Alerts (emphasis added):
2. What are the different types of alerts I can sign up for?

Google Alerts currently offers 6 variations of alerts - 'News', 'Web', 'Blogs', 'Comprehensive', 'Video' and 'Groups'.

* A 'News' alert is an email aggregate of the latest news articles that contain the search terms of your choice and appear in the top ten results of your Google News search.
* A 'Web' alert is an email aggregate of the latest web pages that contain the search terms of your choice and appear in the top twenty results of your Google Web search.
* A 'Blogs' alert is an email aggregate of the latest blog posts that contain the search terms of your choice and appear in the top ten results of your Google Blog search.
* A 'Comprehensive' alert is an aggregate of the latest results from multiple sources (News, Web and Blogs) into a single email to provide maximum coverage on the topic of your choice.
* A 'Video' alert is an email aggregate of the latest videos that contain the search terms of your choice and appear in the top ten results of your Google Video search.
* A 'Groups' alert is an email aggregate of new posts that contain the search terms of your choice and appear in the top fifty results of your Google Groups search.
How often do you find that one hit you're searching for on the third, fifth, or 10th page in the Google Search results? Google Alerts will NEVER alert you to that hit, unless it makes it to the first two pages (twenty results) for a web search. If you're using a News Alert or Blog Alert, it will only tell you if it makes the first ten results.

So if you set up those Google Alerts and think everything is done for you and you never need to search Google manually again --- you're wrong. Unless you're OK with only knowing about the top 10 or 20 results. If that's all you want, then Google Alerts is perfect for the job.

Amanuensis Monday: Free Schools for Jewish Children

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, 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.

Back in April of 2008 I wondered if the Missouri Sanborn Maps told me where my great grandfather, Herman Feinstein, went to school.

This St. Louis Post Dispatch article from 1909, which I found in the St. Louis Post Dispatch 1874-1922 archives, reminded me of this conundrum, even if it didn’t answer all of my questions.

St. Louis Post Dispatch – March 24, 1909

Thefharas Zion Talmod Thora Association Buys Tabernacle.

The old Memorial Tabernacle at the corner of Fifteenth and Carr streets has been bought from the Second Presbyterian Church by the Thefharas Zion Talmod Thora Association, which will conduct there a free school for Jewish children. The price was $13,100 and $3500 of it was paid in cash. The balance will be raised by contributions and by entertainments that will be given from time to time in the school.

The officers of the association are M. Appalman, president; S. Segoloff, treasurer; S. Meisinberg, secretary; and S. Feinstein, chairman. It was largely through the efforts of Dr. M. J. Birenbaum of 1697 North Tenth street that the old tabernacle was bought for the school for Jewish children.

One day a few months ago he went into the present school of the association at 913 North Ninth street and found 200 Jewish children crowded into a small place there.

He began looking around for a larger place that he might buy. He found it in the old tabernacle. It is being repaired now and the school will be in it within two weeks.

It is expected that 600 children will attend there. They will attend the free school from 7:30 to 8:45 am and from 3:30 to 7p.m. The free school is designed to keep the children off the streets during the hours before and after the hours of the public schools.

My great great grandfather, Selig Feinstein, and his children lived at 1122 North Eighth from 1896-1906. The 1909 Sanborn map places a Jewish school immediately behind 1122. So that clearly isn’t the school at 913 North Ninth. But the school on North Ninth had 200 students, and the new school at 15th and Carr was predicted to have 600, which suggests it would be getting some additional students who were possibly crowded into similar small spaces.

My great grandfather, Herman, was 23 by 1909, so this new school wouldn’t have had an impact on him. However, his brother Aaron, who would have been 11 in 1909, or his sister Rose, who would have been 8, may have attended this new school.

Most importantly perhaps this news article indicates Selig Feinstein was chairman of the the Thefharas Zion Talmod Thora Association (aka Tiphereth Zion Talmud Torah).

I already knew he was active in the Chesed Shel Emeth Society.

(note: I have only found two Feinstein families in St. Louis in the early 1900s, so I am able to differentiate most references even with initials.)

If you choose to join me in Amanuensis Monday and post your transcriptions, feel free to add a link to your post below, or in the comments.

Sunday, December 27, 2009

Year in Review

Now is a common time to reflect and review.

Here are a list of eighteen blog posts I found in this year's archives, which I feel some readers may find informative, or entertaining, whether they are rereading or reading for the first time

Genealogy tips, resources, and fun
  1. May I Ask you for a Date?
  2. Accuracy of Census Information
  3. St. Louis Post Dispatch Obituaries - and other area newspapers
  4. Gamers Guide to Genealogy
Family History
  1. My area of expertise
  2. My first Amanuensis Monday post
Blogging and Computer Tips
  1. Free art for your blog
  2. Data Backup Day
  3. Don't Rely Completely on Google Alerts
St. Louis History
  1. July 2, 1917 - East St. Louis
  2. St. Louis Snow Event of 1982
  3. This Post is a DISASTER!
Web Technology
  1. Wolfram/Alpha
  2. Wolfram/Alpha for Genealogists
  3. Web Annotation - More Competition
  4. Kutano - Combining Twitter and Google's Sidewiki in one App
  5. Google Wave is Coming
  1. June 2009 - A Month Like Any Other

Weekly Genealogy Picks

Weekly Genealogy Picks -- December 20 to December 26
from genealogy blogs, newspaper articles and elsewhere

The St. Louis Post Dispatch has an installment of their "Letters Back Home" series where readers write letters sharing their memories with the current residents of childhood, or other family homes. Here's the first installment from back in November.

St. Louis Mayor, Francis Slay, writes about the importance of the census.

Randy Seaver at Genea-Musings links to several posts from his blog, Chris Dunham's Genealogue, and an article by Megan Smolenyak Smolenyak at The Huffington Post listing funny names from the Census. If you enjoy those, you might enjoy my Friday Five series.

James Tanner at Genealogy's Star writes Privacy, Identity Theft, and Genealogy - First in a Series. I look forward to the rest of the series.

Relatively Curious writes about the Internet Archive (which is also where I have managed to find most of the books that I discovered were no longer available from Google.)

Thomas MacEntee at Geneabloggers announces that Unclaimed Persons has solved it's 100th case! Unclaimed Persons is where researchers help coroners and medical examiners find the families of deceased who are 'unclaimed.'

Be sure to read Apple's and Randy's lists as well -- they usually find things I don't.

The Weekly Rewind at Apple's Tree
The Best of the Genea-Blogs at Genea-Musings

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

A simple reminder

When you find something online that is useful to your genealogy research -- don't assume it will remain there to return to and review at a later date. If it's downloadable, download it and save it to your hard drive. If not, copy and paste it into a word document.

This may be easy to remember with personal, educational, or other amateur websites. But don't forget even the big websites can be forced to take things down by lawsuits, etc.

Google has faced some recent lawsuits over their Google Books project. I'm not positive it's related, but I have discovered that several books that used to be "Full View" (and downloadable in PDF form) are no longer available except in "Snippet View" at best, and in some cases no preview at all.

These are all books published prior to 1920, most prior to 1900, so it's not an issue of whether or not they were in the public domain. I'm not entirely certain what the issue was.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Tombstone Tuesday: Virgin Gorda Cemetery

Virgin Gorda Cemetery, Church Hill RdVirgin Gorda Cemetery, Church Hill Rd 4
Click for larger images

No relatives here, but this is the Caribbean island where I am spending some vacation. I've been to this island a few times before, and have driven past the church without seeing the cemetery -- I had to find pictures and information online.
During the 19th century, worshippers from nearby St. Thomas (which was Danish at the time) joined the congregation here. In the churchyard, the foundation of an old mission house is visible, as is a very old cemetery. The graves span three centuries. Note the piles of conch shells at the gravesites. Some islanders believe these shells have special powers that drive away evil spirits. The island's only health facility--a clinic--is nearby. -- Source: The Free Library
Maybe I will convince some family members to join me on a little excursion...

Monday, December 21, 2009

Welcome fans of the Mid Continent Public Library

It has come to my attention that this blog was mentioned in the December issue of the Mid-Continent Public Library's Genealogy News Bytes. Located in Independence, MO, the library is home to the Midwest Genealogy Center, and I am honored they found my blog worthy of mention.

Visitors may be interested in my list of Missouri and Illinois Resources as well as those posts I have tagged with the labels St. Louis Missouri or Illinois.

Here's also a list of my surnames. I am naturally always interested in discussing possible connections.

Amanuensis Monday: Of Jitney Upsets - and mysteriously absent pretty girls

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, 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 is a transcription from news articles I found in the St. Louis Post Dispatch 1874-1922 archives. The articles informed me of a side-occupation for my great grandfather, Herman Feinstein.

St. Louis Post Dispatch, May 10, 1915, page 4.


Car in Collision with Auto of Granite City Water Superintendant

Two women and four men were thrown from a jitney auto at Ninth street and Franklin avenue about 1 a.m. today when it was struck by the automobile of Arthur Lynn, Superintendant of the Granite City Water Department. Miss Mamie Thornburgh, 4550 Easton avenue, was cut on the left shoulder. The others were uninjured.

The jitney was being driven west on Franklin avenue by Herman Feinstein, of 1935 Burd avenue. In addition to Miss Thornburgh his passengers were Miss Grace Hawkins of 4550 Easton avenue, Claude and Louis Waldron of 4775 Ladue street and James Gallagher of 4828 Cottage avenue.

Lynn was accompanied by his brother, Arthur Lynn of New York, and Charles M. Horn of East St. Louis. He was driving south on Ninth street. The jitney was knocked 30 feet and overturned. Lynn and Feinstein were charged with carelessness. They furnished bond at the Carr street station.
Since fortunately no one was seriously injured in the accident the first question that comes to my mind is: My great grandfather, Herman Feinstein, drove a Jitney? What’s that?

Elizabeth Powell Crowe had a blog entry a little over a week ago about the etymology of the word, and mentioned its uses to mean a nickel, something shoddy, or another term for ‘Ford buses.’ The usage here is closest to a bus, but not quite the same. Wikipedia provides another definition which I think fits the usage here, a type of Share Taxi:
A jitney is a North American English term, which originally referred to a livery vehicle intermediate between a taxi and a bus. It is generally a small-capacity vehicle that follows a rough service route, but can go slightly out of its way to pick up and drop off passengers. In many U.S. cities (e.g. Pittsburgh and Detroit), the term jitney refers to an unlicensed taxi cab.

While jitneys are fairly common in many other countries, such as the Philippines, they first appeared in the U.S. and Canada. The first U.S. jitneys ran in Los Angeles, California in 1914. By 1915, there were 62,000 nationwide. Local regulations, demanded by streetcar companies, killed the jitney in most places. By the end of 1916, only 6,000 jitneys remained. Similarly, in Vancouver, Canada, in the 1920s, jitneys competed directly with the streetcar monopoly, operating along the same routes as the streetcars but charging lower fares. Operators were referred to as "Jitney Men." They were so successful that the city government banned them at the request of the streetcar operators.
With another search in the Historical Post Dispatch archive I found some background information on the start of the Jitney service in St. Louis. I think the reporter had a lot of fun writing the story as the antics of Richard McCulloch, general manager of United Railways (a streetcar company) provided some good fodder.
St. Louis Post Dispatch, Feb 7, 1915, page A2

United Railways Head Finds His Car in the Lineup – Comments on Absence of Girls.

One Passenger Leaves Street Car and is Taken to Grand Avenue in Machine.

The first “jitney” auto parade in St. Louis took place yesterday afternoon over the first regular “jitney” route in St. Louis, preliminary to the inauguration tomorrow morning of the first organized jitney service in St. Louis.

A dozen cars lined up at the courthouse for the start. Each carried a banner proclaiming it a “jitney,” associated with the Motors Service Co., the name under which co-operating auto-owners have organized to establish “jitney” transportation.

It had been announced that the “jitneys” would be loaded with pretty girls in the parade. The pretty girls were not on hand. That was the thing that struck General Manager McCulloch of the United Railways Co, as the most interesting, or it was at least the only phase of the “jitney” operation on which he chose to bestow a comment.

His Car in Lineup

The “jitneys” were drawn up on Chestnut street and Broadway at the courthouse when McCulloch came out at the Chestnut street entrance and walked rapidly toward Broadway, casting a glowing glance at the trolley rivals. “Where are all the pretty girls?” he asked. Nobody within earshot could tell him and he quickened his steps toward his own machine, which he had left at the Broadway curb and which he now discovered, to his considerable consternation, was temporarily a part of the “jitney” lineup.

He lost no time in cranking up and climbing into his machine, but before he could start the “jitney” in front of him sent a cloud of black smoke against the McCulloch machine. McCulloch swung his machine out into Broadway and into Chestnut street coughing defiance at the “jitneys.”

Manager William A Fears jockeyed his forces around into Fourth street and was lining them up for the start when a street car came along. A man loaded with bundles was just climbing on when he noticed the “jitneys.” He came tumbling off and wanted to know if he could be “jitneyed” out to Grand avenue. It was not the intention to carry any passengers on the parade trip, but the man was so disappointed that Fears told him to climb in.


Sixty automobile owners have signed the cooperative agreement and within a few days other routes will be established. The owners bind themselves to turn over 5 percent of each day’s earnings for the maintenance of the headquarters office in the Times Building.

“Jitney first and safety” is the slogan that has been adopted.

I don't know how long the Jitneys lasted in St. Louis, and I don't know how long my great grandfather drove one. His primary occupation was the laundry business. His address isn't new information, but it does confirm this is the correct individual, even though I haven't run across any other Herman Feinsteins in St. Louis at this time in my research.

Apparently (according to the Wikipedia article) the idea of share taxis are making a comeback in some parts of the US. I think they would be a great idea in St. Louis.

If you choose to join me in Amanuensis Monday and post your transcriptions, feel free to add a link to your post below, or in the comments.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Weekly Genealogy Picks

Weekly Genealogy Picks -- December 13 to December 19
from genealogy blogs, newspaper articles and elsewhere

Bobby Family Tree suggests using Skype as a genealogy tool. Naturally, using Skype as a method of 'cold-calling' potential relatives doesn't work with more common surnames. And not everyone would be comfortable sending even an 'instant message' to a complete stranger. But technology is producing multiple ways of tracking down relatives.

James Tanner at Genealogy's Star discusses FamilySearch's Community Trees

Craig Manson at GeneaBlogie begins to contribute his views on a discussion of Standards and Certification, which he promises to continue in later posts. Raised in a legal family, I like the mock-courtroom dialogue he presents.

Thomas MacEntee at Destination: Austin Family won a 19th century diary on Ebay. The diary wasn't of anyone related, but he still bid on the auction, and he explains why. He also asks for input on how best to transcribe and share it.

In April, St. Joseph, MO will celebrate the 150th anniversary of The Pony Express

NARAtions provides The Real Scoop About Name Changes in Immigration Records. I can't imagine a more authoritative source than the National Archives for debunking the popular family myth of names being changed by US Immigration Officials.

Vickie Everhart at BeNotForgot shares a Christmas poem by John Greenleaf Whittier.

Randy Seaver at Genea-Musings looks at the timelines created by OurTimeLines

Google has recently released some Translation and Transliteration tools. I noticed that out of the 17 languages for which they are providing transliterations, Hebrew isn't on the list. Perhaps it will be the 18th.

The Jewish History Channel has an entry on Claiming Descent from the Maccabees. On why some consider it similar to claiming descent from George Washington...and others don't.

Taking the Mystery out of Copyright, a website presented by the Library of Congress, and aimed towards children. (hat/tip: MoSGA Messenger)

Here are three other lists of genealogy-related links of interest from fellow genea-bloggers:

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Everett Clarence Van Every (1906-1924)

I've mentioned Everett before...most recently in my post on Orphans...but my information on him has become a little more confused. He died childless at age 17, but was (possibly) the only child of Samuel Van Every, brother of my grandmother Myrtle.

Why the possibly? Well, there are two reasons. As I have mentioned in some of my earlier posts, Samuel appears to have had relationships with other women which might have led to currently unidentified children. However, there also turns out to be a chance Everett wasn't Samuel's child.

Here's what I know and how I know it.

From his death certificate, image obtained from FamilySearch:

Name : Everett Van Every
Death date : 01 Apr 1924
County: Travis, Texas
City: Near Austin, in Barton Creek
Birth date : 01 Aug 1906
Birth place : Texas
Age at death : 17 years
Gender : Male
Marital status : Single
Race or color : White
Spouse name :
Father name : S. Van Every
Birth place of father: Texas
Mother name : Esther Dahlin
Birth place of mother: Austin, Texas
Informant: G.A. Dahlin
Doctors note: "I hereby certify that I attended deceased from **saw soon after removed from water April 1, 1924** The cause of death was **drowning**
Place of Burial: Oakwood Cemetery
Date of Burial: April 2, 1924

From genealogy notes drawn up by Marguerite Benold Spencer (born in 1906- 1st cousin to Everett - daughter of Samuel Van Every's sister, Minnie)
Everett was the son of Samuel and Esther Dahlin, and he drowned at age 17.
From _X_, 2009 (born in 1917 - 1st cousin to Everett - daughter of a brother of Esther) - She is still alive, but the information was relayed through an email conversation with her son.
Everett was the son of Esther Dahlin and a Van Landingham. Marriage between Esther and Samuel Van Every was very brief, but Everett was given Samuel's surname.

Everett drowned in Deep Eddy Pool at a high school graduation party.

GA Dahlin (informant on Death Certificate) would have been Gustav Dahlin - another brother of Esther's.
In reading the death certificate I assumed "Near Austin, in Barton Creek" literally meant that is where Everett drowned. But research shows Barton Creek is also the name of a city in Travis County. Deep Eddy Pool is about 10 miles from the physical Barton Creek. It seems strange that a high school graduation party would be held on April 1 - but it could have still been a school-related event.

In evaluating the two sources, _X_ and Marguerite Spencer are both first cousins of Everett. (By marriage if not blood.) _X_ would have been 7 years old when Everett died, and her recollection of events might be mostly second-hand. Marguerite would have been 17 or 18, the same age as Everett. _X_ may have lived in the Austin area, while Marguerite, in 1924, was likely living in El Paso. (600 miles away) However, for the first 11 years of her life, she would have lived on the outskirts of Austin, and could have known Everett well.

I don't know the details of their separation, or if my Great-Uncle kept in contact with his ex-wife and son. I do know that in the 1910 and 1920 census he was living in California, and from about 1920 until his death he was living in Missouri.

I can imagine that by the time _X_ was born, Esther may have been trying to distance herself from an ex-husband who had long since left her and Everett behind. It's harder for me to imagine why my great uncle would tell his family Everett was his, if he wasn't. It's a huge mark against a man to even appear to abandon a child. (Though to repeat, I don't know if he kept in touch or not, despite the miles he put between himself and them.)

However, I can imagine Esther telling Samuel that Everett was his, and Samuel thinking this to be the case, even if it wasn't.

On the one hand, Everett didn't live long enough to have any children. ( least there is currently no evidence to the contrary.) So his paternity doesn't pose any major genealogical dilemmas. But I am saddened by the question mark that is now by his name, and which is likely never to be resolved completely, as there is no DNA to test.

Everett's birth certificate has not been found. Certificates are supposed to go back to 1903 in Texas. However, even if the Ancestry database were complete, of the 23,000 births in Texas in 1906 that it lists, over 17,000 are just recorded as "Infant of X" where X is the father's name. Since I'm no longer certain what should appear in that location, it's not too useful.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Wordless Wednesday: Truman Receives a Menorah

Caption: Photograph of President Truman in the Oval Office, evidently receiving a Menorah as a gift from the Prime Minister of Israel, David Ben-Gurion (center), and Abba Eban, the Ambassador of Israel to the United States.: 05/08/1951 [National Archives]

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Tombstone Tuesday: Herman Max Feinstein (1886-1963)

My great grandfather, Herman Max Feinstein, was born in Poland, in 1886, the son of Selig and Annie (Perlik) Dudelsack. Upon their arrival in the United States the family changed their surname to Feinstein. The date of birth on his tombstone matches that of his WWI draft registration in 1917, and his Social Security Application in 1936.

He married Anna Blatt on May 26, 1912 in St. Louis, Missouri.

He and Anna are buried in the Newmark-Feinstein plot at United Hebrew Cemetery.

Monday, December 14, 2009

Amanuensis Monday: The Greatest Mitzvah

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, 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.

"Tzedaka is equal to all the other commandments combined." (Bava Batra, 9A).

Tzedaka means deeds of justice, often translated as charity, and the Talmudic quote above illustrates its religious importance. During Khanike/Hanuka it is traditional to give children money (gelt) and encourage them to use the money for tzedaka.

Below are transcriptions from several news articles I found in the St. Louis Post Dispatch 1874-1922 archives. They illustrate acts of tzedaka by young St. Louisans, including some relatives.

St. Louis Post Dispatch, Sept 5, 1911, page 4.

Saucy Comedy of This Name Given for Babies’ Benefit as Real Schools Open

On the very verge, as it were, of the new school term’s opening today, the big feature of an entertainment recently given by three little girls at 5962 Bertha avenue, which realized $6 for the Post-Dispatch Pure Milk and Free Ice Fund, was a sketch entitled “School Day Troubles,” bless your life!

And they were very typical and diverting school day troubles, too, as set forth by little Misses Lucille Kregesman, Louise B Wilcox, and Catherine Connolly, to the keen amusement of their audience.


Four other little girls gave a show for the Pure Milk Fund’s benefit at 1935 Burd Avenue the other night, earning $6.22 with which to help in saving the lives of the poor babies of the tenements. The helpful girls who gave this show were Edna Wyner, Estelle Kreisman, Rose Feinstein, and Lillian Kreisman, and they are properly proud of their show’s success.


All honor to the helping girls and the helping boys of St. Louis! They have covered themselves with glory this summer.

St. Louis Post Dispatch, October 29, 1913, page 9.


Six young folks living on the 1900 block, Burd avenue, sold lemonade for the benefit of the Post-Dispatch Pure Milk and Free Ice Fund and earned $1.68 with which to help save the tenement babies.

Those who took part in this good enterprise are Rose Feinstein, 1941A; Clara and Jessie Seidel, 1938A; Tillie Cohen, 1947A; and Ben and Mollie Steinberg, 1935A Burd avenue.

St. Louis Post Dispatch, July 23, 1918, page 10.

Miss Susan Barnes and Associates to Present Play Thursday Night in University City

Miss Susan Barnes of 6312 Washington boulevard and associates, who last year presented “The Toy Shop” so successfully for the benefit of the Post-Dispatch Pure Milk Fund and Free Ice Fund, will produce another play Thursday night, on the lawn at 6307 Westminster place, to help the babies. The title of the play is “What Can I Do?” and the performance will start at 8:30 o’clock. The children who will participate are organized this year as the University City Chapter of the Children’s Loyalty League of America and the affair is under the auspices of the chapter.


A show consisting of recitations, dancing, and singing numbers was given at 4724 Newberry terrace, July 20. All but one of the children traking part live on Newberry terrace. With the street numbers, they are: Henrietta Racine, 4717; Mabel Cohen, 4730A; Ethel Smith, 4718A; Belle Gerber, 4724; Adeline Feinstein, 4732; Mildred Steinwolf, 4748; Helen Gerber, 4724; George Cohen, 4730; Burton Cohen, 4730A; Shalben Baskem, 4733. The other participant was Marian Fisher, 4713 Vernon avenue. The receipts were $12.51.

Rose Feinstein was born in 1901 in St. Louis, Missouri, the youngest daughter of my second great grandparents, Selig and Annie (Perlik) Feinstein. So she would have been ten years old in 1911, and twelve in 1913.

Adeline Feinstein was born in 1908, daughter of Selig and Annie's oldest son, Harry. So in 1918 she would have been ten. (She was one of the orphans who moved in with my great grandparents circa 1930.)

Selig, Annie, and their children were likely living in tenements themselves through 1905.

If you choose to join me in Amanuensis Monday and post your transcriptions, feel free to add a link to your post below, or in the comments.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Dear Genea-Santa

The below is written for the 86th Carnival of Genealogy

Dear Genea-Santa

You didn’t bring me anything I asked for last year. Not my great grandfather’s military uniform, not a bagpipe constructed or played by my Dudelsack ancestors, not my grandfather’s copy of Les Miserables, and none of the photographs I specified.

I thought I was a good boy, Santa. I remember sitting on your lap as a child and sharing my long lists with you. You always brought me at least one of those items.

Were you responsible for some of the things I did discover this year? If so, thanks!

What do I want this year? Well, I still want everything I asked for last year, but if that’s not possible here are a few more items:

1) There’s a lot of information I want to know. A lot of mysteries to solve. A lot of brick walls to break down. I was told last year to stick to material things, as opposed to clues to my family history. I wasn’t given that restriction this year. So if you could help me in just one of my quests, that would be much appreciated!

2) Now I've discovered photographs of my Newmark ancestors from when they were in London, I want more of them. So far I have my great grandfather Barney, and his sister Nellie. There were six other siblings, and two parents. I have photographs of the parents thirty years later, but I'd love to see them a bit younger. Maybe some photographs that were taken in 1902 at the wedding of Barney's brother, Sol?

3) The Van Every family bible. According to a letter my great grandfather, Melvin Van Every, wrote my grandmother, Myrtle, it was lost in 1925 during a move.

4) Finally, the computer I have is great, and the information on the internet is wonderful, but I want a computer system like Batman has. I think it might help me in my research. Thanks!

[Poster created by footnoteMaven]

Weekly Genealogy Picks

Weekly Genealogy Picks -- December 6 to December 13
from genealogy blogs, newspaper articles and elsewhere

Both Tamura Jones at The Modern Software Experience and Randy Seaver at Genea-Musings look at Ancestry's new web-offering, Mundia.

Elizabeth at Little Bytes of Life shows us how to add a Copyright watermark to photographs

footnoteMaven at the Graveyard Rabbit Online Journal shares some information she has learned on Victorian post-mortem photography. (Not for the squeamish.)

Ellizabeth Powell Crowe at Crowe's Nest discusses the Genealogy of the word 'Jitney'. I, too, am a logophile (one who loves words), and often find word etymologies interesting. However, I was especially intrigued by this entry as the word 'Jitney' has popped up in my own family research, and should appear in a post a week from tomorrow.

The MoSGA Messenger
has some information on some proposed renovations at NARA, a congressional subcommittee meeting coming up, and ways to contact the congress members involved.

In Soul Word Art "The Story Teller" discusses How to See a Story of an Ancestor. It may seem slightly unscientific to some, but could appeal to others as something enjoyable to do after returning from your trip to the library or cemetery.

Megan Smolenyak Smolenyak at Ancestry Magazine tells the story of how she found a silver spoon a home.

James Tanner at Genealogy's Star asks: is certification of genealogists necessary?

Legacy News shows us how to create a font of our own handwriting.

NARAtions tells us to Expect the Unexpected in our research, providing an example.

ArchivesNext discusses Online access to moving images at the National Archives

Khanike Links

In Chanukah: How Do You Spell It, Schelly Talalay Dardashti at Tracing the Tribe presents some statistics on how often each spelling is used.
[She doesn't list one of my favorite spellings -- A Google search reveals there are slightly over 31,000 hits for 'Khanike', confirming it is one of the least common spellings.]

Diane at Genealogy Insider offers links for those interested in researching the holiday, and Jewish genealogy in general. presents the first of 8 Blogs of Chanukah (one entry for each night).

The Next Two Weeks

In a few days I will be headed south on a vacation with family. I'm not 100% certain of internet access while there. So there could be a short break in my weekly genealogy picks, and depending upon how many entries I am able to prepare in advance, those too could see a hiatus.

Happy Holidays

Saturday, December 12, 2009

SNGF: Database Wishes

Randy at Genea-Musings for his weekly Saturday Night Genealogy Fun, challenges:
Define one or more genealogy or family history databases, that are not currently online, that would really help you in your research. Where does this database currently reside?
It almost seems like copying his selection, but I've found newspaper archives so helpful. My selections:

1) The St. Louis Post Dispatch

1874-1922 is online, if you have access to ProQuest. 1988-current is also online, if you have access to NewsBank, or through the newspaper's own archives, though they charge to read the articles. The 66 years inbetween aren't online to my knowledge. The St. Louis Public Library has a great index of the Post Dispatch obituaries (1880-1930, 1942-1945, 1960-1965, 1992-2008). As wonderful as it is, there are gaps. Bob Doerr's website has the obituaries indexed from 1975-1977. (Bob Doerr edited the Missouri State Genealogical Association Journal from 1992-2009. He passed away in September.)

2) The St. Louis Globe Democrat

The Mercantile Library is working on an index of their massive (1930-1986) Clippings file. This too is wonderful, but I'm greedy and want more.

It would be great if a historical archive similar to ProQuest's for the Post Dispatch was created. The St. Louis County Library has the paper on microfilm back to 1853, when it was The Missouri Democrat. (The library does have an index of obituaries for the Globe for the year 1880. It's a start.)

3) St. Louis Jewish Newspapers

An index or database for
  • The St. Louis Jewish Tribune 1879-1884
  • The St. Louis Free Press 1885-1887
  • The St. Louis Jewish Voice 1888-1920
  • The St. Louis Jewish Light 1947-1977
The above four papers for the years above are available on microfilm at the St. Louis County Library. The Jewish Light is still in existence; Bound copies from 1947 to current can be found at the Saul Brodsky Community Library.

Friday, December 11, 2009

Happy YouTube Hanuka

Regardless of how you spell it, Hanuka/Khanike/Chanukka begins tonight at sunset. In honor of the holiday I thought I would share a few videos from YouTube

Whether you know him as "The Hairy Hound from Budapest" in the musical My Fair Lady, as Fiddler on the Roof's Tevye, as Worf's adoptive father from Star Trek: The Next Generation, or any other of his numerous acting roles, he released several albums of folk songs in the 50s and 60s, and he was a co-founder of the Newport Folk Festival with Pete Seeger and George Wein. Here's Theodore Bikel singing a holiday song:

In 1972 Don Mclean, reeling from the effects of fame from his hit single American Pie, wrote a song:

My world is a
constant confusion
My mind is prepared to attack
My past, a persuasive illusion
I'm watchin' the future it's black

What does this have to do with Chanukah? The name of the song: Dreidel (It hit #21 on the US charts)

The year I struggled to celebrate Khanike without a menorah (see Wordless Wednesday entry) I could have also used the method suggested in this video

Somehow it seems appropriate -- Irving Berlin wrote White Christmas, so now Sen. Orrin Hatch has written a Hanuka Song! (It's actually pretty good.)

There's not much I can say about this strange song, except that it does provide a small amount of background to the holiday. The Hanukkah Dreidel Song (courtesy of

A few weekends ago I helped judge some debate rounds at a tournament hosted by my high school alma mater. Here's a video of a Rabbi debating himself in the style of many high school debaters on a controversial topic when it comes to Jewish holidays:

And finally, here's the LeeVees, trying to decide how to spell Channukkahh. (Or is it Janucá with a silent J?)

Here's a list of now 145 videos including all of the above, and more!

(If you are reading this on Facebook, you're not going to see any of the videos above. Click on the "View Original Post" link at the bottom of the post.)

Thursday, December 10, 2009

1910 - Marital Motivations - Part II

I consider myself careful regarding what I conclude from evidence. I try to assume as little as possible. I'd say I try to assume nothing -- but there is an anecdote of Mark Twain being told to assume nothing as a reporter, and turning in the following news story:
"A woman giving the name of Mrs. James Jones, who is reported to be one of the society leaders of the city, is said to have given what purported to be a party yesterday to a number of alleged ladies. The hostess claims to be the wife of a reputed attorney."
(This anecdote appears many places, but I've been unable to locate a definitive source.)

Where was I? I have a tendency to focus my research on my ancestors, and their descendants. With limited exception, I haven't done a lot of research on the spouses of collateral relatives. However, if I am going to make suppositions about marriages, I really need to research both bride and groom.

So last Wednesday
I noted that Nellie and Bella Newmark, two sisters of my great grandfather, were married in January of 1910, nine months after arriving in St. Louis. I was surprised at the shortness of time involved.

I failed to ask where their husbands were nine months earlier. A grandchild of Nellie quickly informed me that her husband, Morris Fudemberg, had a nice stable job as a tailor on Savile Row in England, with at least one regular customer without a surname -- George. He left that behind to follow the woman he loved. (George had a major career advancement in May of 1910, due to the death of his father, Edward. If the family story is accurate, Morris likely worked for Davies and Son.)

I quickly found Morris's passenger record. He traveled on the SS Philadelphia in June of 1909, three months after Nellie. Under the column of "Friend or Relative" he was joining, he listed the Newmarks. So there is no question in my mind that Morris and Nellie met in London.

What about Charles Cohen, Bella's husband? I wasn't able to locate his passenger record. All the censuses said he immigrated in 1909. Though its not uncommon for the same year to be put down for husband and wife, even if they immigrated in different years.

I found his name in the St. Louis Naturalization Index, which indicates he declared his intent between August and December, 1910, suggesting that 1909 might be an accurate year for him.

So on Saturday morning I visited the library, and discovered his Declaration of Intent said he arrived in December of 1904. (The handwriting is clearly a 4, and not a 9.) Almost five years before the Newmarks arrived. Assuming the document is correct, this means that he met Bella in St. Louis, right?

Well...perhaps I shouldn't be so quick to make that decision. His last prior residence was London. He may have known Bella before he left, and they were reacquainted when Bella arrived in St. Louis in the Spring of 1909. It is thought he was six years older, and would have been 20 to Bella's 14 when he left in 1904. They were unlikely romantic, but Charles, like Morris, and all the Newmark men, was a tailor. It's not unlikely they knew each other, at least professionally.

And there was another bit of information on that Declaration of Intent that jumped out. Charles Cohen's town of origin - before he moved to England - Sokolov, Russia. The exact same town of origin for Morris Fudemberg.

So I could easily write a story of two friends from Sokolov, traveling to London, starting tailoring businesses. One heads for America in 1904. Where does he settle? I can't answer that question yet. But the other friend travels to America in 1909, following his love, and they head for St. Louis. Perhaps Charles was already there. Perhaps Morris wrote to Charles and suggested he join them in St. Louis. Maybe told (or reminded) Charles that this girl he knew, Nellie, had a sister.

The two couples took out a marriage license on Jan 3, 1910, and were married in what was likely a double wedding on January 30, 1910. At least they were married on the same day by the same Rabbi at the same address. (Source: marriage licenses - also in the library's microfilm department.) The picture on the left is of Morris and Nellie.

I'm not currently in contact with any descendants of Charles and Bella, though there is some hope that situation could change. They might certainly be able to help me out here. I will continue my attempt to assume as little as possible.

Note: On Charles Cohen's intent, it says he arrived on the passenger ship, Seawick. I'm thinking this is likely the Sedgwick, which may have been going by the name Arizona by 1904. I've been unable to even find record online of what dates this ship made the London-NY passage in 1904, or thereabouts.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Tombstone Tuesday: Melvin Elijah Van Every (1863-1929)

Copyrighted photo taken by Laurel Indalecio on Feb 28, 2009, at the Evergreen Alameda Cemetery, El Paso, TX. Posted with permission.

My Maternal Great Grandfather, Melvin Elijah Van Every, was born August 30, 1863 in Thornapple, Michigan. He died May 26, 1929 in Dona Ana, New Mexico.

As part of my Amanuensis project, I've transcribed several letters from Melvin to his daughter (my grandmother) Myrtle, as well as his testimony in front of The Dawes Commission.

To the left is a photo taken in 1900 with his wife, Margaret (Denyer) Van Every, and my grandmother.

Monday, December 7, 2009

A Day That Will Live In Infamy

Amanuensis Monday: Anti-Smoke Violator

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, 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.

As I mentioned on Monday I recently discovered the St. Louis Post Dispatch archives from 1874-1922 were searchable online with a St. Louis County Library card. I found a lot of news articles on family members. Not all of them were positive revelations.

St. Louis Post Dispatch: May 6, 1912, p. 3

15 Warrants for Anti-Smoke Law Violation Issued

Attorney Frank A Thompson, Representing Col. J.H. Butler, Obtains Them.

Fifteen warrants charging violation of the anti-smoke ordinance were issued Monday at the request of Attorney Frank A. Thompson, representing Col. James Gay Butler, who is financing the war on smoke. The following men are the defendants:

Harry Israel, Savoy Hotel, 4 North Thirteenth street.

Charlie Jahle, apartments, 3193 South Grand avenue.

H. Ruecking, Reucking Construction Col, Marine and Gasconade avenue.

Charles Kern, Union Biscuit Co., Sixth and Carr streets.

C. Homer Mason, Rodham Apartments, 5701 Julian avenue.

Albert Baumgartner, Normandie Hotel, Theresa and Franklin avenues.

S. Feinstein, Central Laundry, Twenty-third and Carr streets.

M.S. Fuqua, Lotta-Hord Laundry, 2800 Laclede avenue.

Joseph Mesmer, Barbers’ Supply House, 18 South Broadway.

H.J. Cummings, L & N freight house, Dickson and Collins streets.

S.S. Pingree, F.C. Taylor and Co., 109 North First street.

A.R. Chappell, Chappell Oil and Grease Co., 200 North Levee.

S. Feinstein is undoubtedly my second great grandfather, Selig Feinstein, as he had entered the laundry business by 1912. Since I was aware that the yellow fog mentioned in T.S. Eliot's 'Prufrock' has been said to reference the St. Louis factory smoke at the turn of the century, I wasn't confused into thinking that St. Louis was passing anti-cigarette/cigar ordinances 100 years ago. Further research has shown that their 'war on smoke' was indeed against coal smoke.

I knew my second great grandfather was a blacksmith, junk dealer, laundrist, and real estate broker. I can now add 'polluter' to his list of accolades. (Of course, I don't know for certain whether he was convicted on the charges.)

Note: It is my belief that my inclusion of the image of the news article falls within ProQuest's Permitted Uses, under 'educational. scientific, or research purposes.' (ProQuest Terms & Conditions) It is also my belief that the content, and therefore my transcription, is in the public domain, due to being published in the US prior to 1923.

If you choose to join me in Amanuensis Monday and post your transcriptions, feel free to add a link to your post below, or in the comments.

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Weekly Genealogy Picks

Weekly Genealogy Picks -- November 29 to December 5
from genealogy blogs, newspaper articles and elsewhere

Randy Seaver at Genea-Musings shares how he found a family home on Google. Randy also reminds us that online databases are not free from error -- this includes the Social Security Death Index.

in a continuing case-study orders a death certificate and shares that some places to order it from are less expensive than other.

Katrina McQuarrie at Kick-Ass Genealogy has an entry on how to batch genealogy tasks. As a former mainframe computer programmer, I wish that meant: execution of a series of programs on a computer without manual intervention. Alas, it doesn't. But it's still good advice.

Taneya's Genealogy Blog has an entry on creating your own Home Microfilm Digitization.

The MoSGA Messenger reminds us that The St. Louis Globe Demcrat 'returns' Tuesday with an online version. As I stated back in October I'm not entirely convinced the new online newspaper deserves to be credited with the 134 year history of the former Globe, which ceased publication in 1986. For one thing, they don't have the news clippings from the old Globe. The St. Louis Mercantile Library has that. (see previous post.)

The National Archives has a countdown clock for the release of the 1940 census records. It's now at 847 days. (hat/tip: MoSGA Messenger)

Heather Wilkinson Rojo has an entry on poet, Robert Frost, including some of his ancestry.

The St. Louis Beacon reports on the US Census Bureau Dirctor's visit to a St. Louis elementary school

The House Sub-Committe on Information Policy has oversight of the census. The chair of that sub-committee is Representative Lacy Clay from St. Louis (St. Louis Post Dispatch blog entry).

The History Man (an employee at has a fun post entitled Dancing in the Rain.

For history buffs, BBC News has an article on The Man Who Smuggled Himself Into Auschwitz. shares a Behind the Scenes video (hat/tip: Granite in my Blood)

Tech News

Craig Newmark believes Wikipedia is at a turning point. (Disclaimer: We share a surname, but any additional relationship is uncertain.)

Google is introducing Google Public DNS. If you use their DNS instead of your ISP's, it is possible that new websites will be reachable quicker. What's really interesting about this is that Google will have access to the data of what sites people visit. Not that they are less trustworthy than your ISP with that data, but they could include that information in their formula for search results. (A website that gets visited a lot, but with less links to it from other websites, could move up in the rankings.) This is just speculation.

St. Louisan, Jack Dorsey, founder of Twitter, has a new idea he's calling 'Square.' The St. Louis Riverfront Times has an explanation of the device. The St. Louis Beacon interviewed several St. Louis entrepreneurs for their reaction.

Saturday, December 5, 2009

St. Louis Globe Democrat Clipping File

I just learned that the St. Louis Mercantile Library at the University of Missouri - acquired St. Louis Globe Democrat's clippings file - also known as the newspaper's 'morgue' - when the paper ceased publication in 1986. Over 10,000,000 separate articles.

They are in the process of compiling an online database. (I'm not certain how many articles they've indexed so far, but I've found several articles to look up on a future outing.)

If one finds an article of interest, one can go to the Mercantile Library to find the clipping. If you don't live in St. Louis, there are also research guidelines if you'd like someone to copy the clipping for you.

One could also go to the St. Louis County Library, which has the newspaper on microfilm. For those who don't live in St. Louis, they too have research guidelines if you'd like someone to copy the article for you. (And their prices are a bit less.) Unfortunately, the Mercantile Library's database doesn't provide a page number - just a date, and description. This is enough for the County Library to do the research for you if it's an obituary. But they might not search the entire issue for an article.

85th Carnival of Genealogy has been Posted

The 85th Carnival of Genealogy has been posted. It's filled with stories about orphans, and orphans.

The 86th Carnival appears to be a two-parter
The topic for the next edition of the Carnival of Genealogy will be: The Other Holiday Happenings! Often times December to mid-January birthdays and anniversaries get over shadowed by the Christmas/Hanukkah/New Year holidays. So we're going to shine a spotlight on those family members and ancestors this time around. Select one or more December to mid-January birthdays and/or anniversaries on your family tree. Write a short tribute to or memory of those birthday guys and gals and write a toast to the anniversary couples. Share it in the COG!

And this edition will have a Part 2 as well (separate blog post)! We can't go into the Christmas holiday without our genealogy wish lists for Genea-Santa!!! So write up a list of what you'd like Genea-Santa to bring you and share it in the COG :-) The deadline for all entries is December 15th.
More information here.

Friday, December 4, 2009

The Meaning of Khanike

This is the first of what may become a somewhat regular weekly post on the intersection of religion and my family history research. No guarantee that it will be every week, though it is on a topic that interests me, and intersects often with my family history research, so there's a good chance I will be able to come up with something to say. I will try to time the posts for early afternoon on Friday. The Jewish sabbath (Hebrew: 'shabbat') lasts from sunset Friday to sunset Saturday.

Khanike is a week away. It begins next Friday night, December 11. I suspect some readers are a little puzzled. You've probably seen the holiday spelled many ways, but I deliberately chose one of the least common. However, paradoxically, it may have more scholarship behind it than the more common spellings.

Hebrew word: חנוכה

Hebrew uses a completely different alphabet from English, so any English spelling is a phonetic approximation. Arguably, as long as the spelling suggests the correct pronunciation, it's legitimate -- though some spellings may become more common than others through use.

There's a problem with this. Biblical Hebrew doesn't use vowels, and Modern Hebrew rarely uses them. If there were vowels, they would appear as dots and dashes below the letters. So sometimes there is debate over the proper pronunciation of the Hebrew words.

Khanike is the spelling that was determined by the YIVO Institute for Jewish Research as the closest approximation of the Yiddish or Ashkenazic pronunciation of the Hebrew word. It differs slightly from more common pronunciations. But besides liking it for being slightly unusual, and for having scholastic research behind it, I also like it because there is no way for anyone to confuse the opening 'Kh' with the soft 'Ch' in 'Chair.' And I cringe whenever anyone pronounces it that way. (How a phonetic spelling that is so easily misunderstood became so common I will never know.)

One of the traditions associated with the holiday is lighting the 9-branched candelabra and setting it in the window of your home. (It's either called a 'Hanukiah' or a 'Hanuka menorah.' Often the latter is shortened to just 'menorah', but there is also a 7-branch Shabbat menorah.) Why is the Hanukiah set in the window? Some say to publicize the miracle of the holiday. Though I was taught it was also a display of one's religious identity, as one of the main themes behind the holiday is to stand against forced assimilation. The holiday celebrates the victory of the Maccabees and their followers over King Antiochus' attempts to force them to bow down to a Greek idol, as well as other attempts to eradicate the religion. And I was taught that hiding who we are is one step closer to forgetting who we are.

I believe I was given a gift either in December of 1976 or January of 1977. I'm not sure, because my birthday falls in January. However, there is a photo of me with the gift, and the writing on the back says 'Age 8'. I turned 8 on January 21, 1977.

Regardless of when I received the gift, I feel the photograph can be used as an illustration of the meaning of Khanike.

The thoughts of the 8 year old child are clear 33 years later. I know I'm 'supposed' to wear this underneath my sweater, but I want everyone to see! I'm sure that excitement wore off after a few days. My older siblings would have exerted enough peer pressure and ridicule otherwise to get me to conform to fashion. So the photograph was likely taken the day I received it, or shortly thereafter. Because of this, and because it's clearly (from the background) a professional photo, I suspect it's a birthday photo, and a birthday gift.

The symbol at the end of the chain is the Hebrew word 'Chai.' It means 'Life. (Those familiar with the musical Fiddler on the Roof may recall the song lyrics, "Li Chaim, Li Chaim, To Life, To Life, Li Chaim." You may not have realized it was a mini-language lesson.) 33 years later there is still a chain around my neck. The chai has been replaced with a mezuzah. I've told many friends that I've worn a necklace since age 13. It's not too surprising that I would recall the gift as one I got for my Bar Mitzvah, but this is further evidence that personal narrative isn't always an accurate source of information.

This entry was also written as a submission for the 19th edition of the Smile for the Camera Carnival - theme: Gifts.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

January 1910 - Marital Motivations

Among the many news clippings I found in the St. Louis Post Dispatch (1874-1922) database I mentioned on Monday were listings of marriage licenses. Below is one of them from January of 1910.
I've placed a box around the two couples that interest me: Sisters Nellie and Bella Newmark, and their two future husbands, Morris Fudemberg and Charles Cohen. Nellie and Bella were both sisters of my great grandfather, Barney. Last Tuesday I posted a picture of Nellie and Barney in London.

This actually isn't new information for me, as I found their marriage information in the microfilm department of the St. Louis County Library early in my research.

But their marriages do raise a question in my mind to which I suspect no one alive knows the answer. Nellie and Bella arrived at Ellis Island in March of 1909. They were in St. Louis by April. They both took out a marriage license the following January. If family information is correct, in January of 1910, Nellie would have been two months shy of 21, and Bella two months shy of 20. Two whirlwind romances? Or was there a hidden impetus to marry someone?

Or perhaps one not so hidden - a desire for better living conditions. Their home on Wash Street was two blocks west of the area studied by the Civic League of St. Louis in their 1908 study of tenement conditions (see previous entry). But I fear those two blocks didn't make too much of a difference.

Update: Just discovered that Google Books scanned the Civic League's study shortly after I wrote my blog post last October. In my opinion, the text is easier to read online at Google, but the copy at Harvard has better scans of the images.

[I drove this afternoon down Cole (nee Wash) Street, and there is a building with the address 1613. I am unsure of the age of the building. Selby Pl, where Charles Cohen lived, intersects Cole one block East.]

Wordless Wednesday - Wash Street - St. Louis - 1908

Yard of Lodging House on Wash St. in Which Forty-Five Persons Occupy Nine Rooms.

If you want to know more, read this post from October of 2008.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Tombstone Tuesday - Joseph Feinstein (1899-1901)

Hebrew Transcription:
Yosef son of Simcha Zelig
Died on the 11th of Elul, 5661 (August 26, 1901)

One of the sadder discoveries in family history research are those who died in infancy, usually from disease. In some branches of my family, more notably on my mother's side, records of these children were kept by the family. In other cases, knowledge of their existence wasn't passed down. If it weren't for the tombstones or the death certificates, they would be completely forgotten. It's unclear whether the parents and siblings were blocking painful memories, or didn't feel it was important.

Joseph was the son of my second great grandparents, Selig and Annie (Perlik) Feinstein. He is buried in the Feinstein plot at Chesed Shel Emeth Cemetery in St. Louis, Missouri.