Friday, May 24, 2013

Memorial Day

A post for this weekend on what Memorial Day is for, besides barbecues.

The above image comes from the Memorial Day page at the US Department of Veterans Affairs, explaining that Memorial Day is a day for remembering those who died in the service of their country.  [Read the full text of the poem.]
Memorial Day is a United States federal holiday observed on the last Monday of May. Formerly known as Decoration Day, it commemorates U.S. men and women who died while in the military service. First enacted to honor Union soldiers of the American Civil War (it is celebrated near the day of reunification after the civil war), it was expanded after World War I to include American casualties of any war or military action. [source]
[More on the history of Memorial Day]

Unnamed Remains the Bravest Soldier - by Walt Whitman (From 'Specimen Days')

OF scenes like these, I say, who writes—whoe’er can write the story? Of many a score—aye, thousands, north and south, of unwrit heroes, unknown heroisms, incredible, impromptu, first-class desperations—who tells? No history ever—no poem sings, no music sounds, those bravest men of all—those deeds. No formal general’s report, nor book in the library, nor column in the paper, embalms the bravest, north or south, east or west. Unnamed, unknown, remain, and still remain, the bravest soldiers. Our manliest—our boys—our hardy darlings; no picture gives them. Likely, the typic one of them (standing, no doubt, for hundreds, thousands,) crawls aside to some bush-clump, or ferny tuft, on receiving his death-shot—there sheltering a little while, soaking roots, grass and soil, with red blood—the battle advances, retreats, flits from the scene, sweeps by—and there, haply with pain and suffering (yet less, far less, than is supposed,) the last lethargy winds like a serpent round him—the eyes glaze in death—none recks—perhaps the burial-squads, in truce, a week afterwards, search not the secluded spot—and there, at last, the Bravest Soldier crumbles in mother earth, unburied and unknown.

The cartoon above is by John T. McCutcheon - published circa 1900

Friday, May 17, 2013

Correction: These Sunken Gardens aren't those Sunken Gardens

A year ago I compared a photograph form the 1904 St. Louis World's Fair to a 1914 postcard of the construction of the St. Louis City Public Library headquarters.

I decided based on the similar design of the pathways and gardens, that the Sunken Gardens behind the library were likely the same Sunken Gardens from the Fair. (Actually, I didn't use the word likely. I should have hedged my bets.)

According to this map of the fairgrounds, the Sunken Gardens were in Forest Park. (Most of the fair was, and I should  have recalled this fact.) If you enlarge the image, you can see it in the center-left, by the northwest corner of the lagoon. Between the Liberal Arts building and the Mines and Metallurgy building. (D2)

The library has a new gallery of images from their construction, including this photo taken in 1908, indicating that their Sunken Gardens were created at the same time the library was built.

Monday, May 13, 2013

Researching Witnesses

Conducting a search at the St. Louis Genealogical Society database this weekend I found four transcriptions of Naturalization Index Cards of interest to my family history research.

Witnesses are there to testify that they know the individual. They might be neighbors, friends, colleagues, or even relatives.

In this case, it is the witnesses who are my relatives, and those in the naturalization process who are unknowns to me.  I am thankful that the database was set up so that the witnesses were indexed. That's not always the case.

I have a suspicion it is more likely they were friends, neighbors, or colleagues than relatives, so I'm not going to spend too much time on it. However, since these records date to 1900 and 1901, I'd like to at least see if I can match them up with someone in the 1900 census, and record that information for any future researcher who might wish to investigate more deeply.

I also want to positively identify which of my kin were the witnesses. The first step will be to find the microfilmed naturalization records at the local library, so I can see the signatures of the witnesses.

The names from the transcriptions appear to be:
  • Morris Cruvand
  • Ben Cruvand
  • B. Cruvant
The most likely kin include:
  • My great great grandfather, Moshe Leyb (Morris Louis) Cruvant
  • Morris's son, Ben Cruvant.
  • Morris's nephew, Ben Cruvand
Since multiple branches of the family settled on different spellings of the surname, it is very possible individuals weren't consistent throughout their life on their spelling of choice. But I have copies of signatures from other documents, so hopefully I will be able to match those up.

Ben Cruvant put down an 1883 birth year on his WWI Draft Card, which would imply he was only 17 in 1900. Witnesses most likely had to be at least 18, but that doesn't mean Ben didn't lie about his age in order to be a witness, or perhaps he lied on his draft card. His birth certificate hasn't been discovered in Lithuanian records.

Sunday, May 12, 2013

Myrtle Van Every Deutsch (1900-1951)

For Mother's Day I decided to honor my maternal grandmother, Myrtle Van Every Deutsch. I've written a lot about her on this blog, transcribed several letters she wrote, and shared several photographs, but not all of the ones below.

I don't know the dates for all of the photographs.

  • She was born in March of 1900, in Maxwell Texas, so the baby picture with her parents, Melvin and Margaret Denyer Van Every is fairly easy to estimate. 
  • The photograph in the upper right hand corner was taken at the Grand Canyon, likely in the early 1920s. 
  • The photograph with the horse, "Joe," was taken in the summer of 1919 - likely somewhere near El Paso, Texas.
  • She is nine years old in the center-left photo. 
  • The photograph center-right was also likely taken in the early 1920s. I think she was in Hollywood, as a caption indicated she was: looking for "the stars." 
  • In the photo in the lower-left she is on her honeymoon with my grandfather, Martin Deutsch. The year was 1937, and I believe they were in Mexico.
  • The photograph in the lower-right was taken in 1942, in St. Louis. 
  • The photograph with her sisters, Minnie and Evelyn, was taken in 1947, in Texas.

Friday, May 10, 2013


Several have left favorable comments about the collage on my recent Sepia Saturday post.

I originally included the collage in a 2010 post on Alternatives to Scrapbooking. I'm not fond of cutting photographs into weird shapes or finding cute backgrounds, however, I do enjoy making digital collages. A commenter in 2010 suggested that the collage is closer to the original idea of scrapbooking than what it has morphed into today.

I also made the argument back in 2010 that a blog could fit the OED defintion of a scrapbook, with a little flexibility for technology:

"A blank book in which pictures, newspaper cuttings, and the like are pasted for preservation.”

Here are a few other collages I've previously created for this blog.

1) Honoring my paternal grandmother, Belle "Sissie" (Feinstein) Newmark (1914-2002)

(clockwise around the baby picture in the center: with her older brother, Ben; with her younger brother, Seymour; with Seymour and their parents, Herman and Annie; a newspaper article announcing her engagement; a high school graduation photo; two photographs with her husband, Melvin; and the final photograph was taken in 1995 with me.) 
2) Honoring all the (deceased) female ancestors for whom I have photographs
(l to r: Myrtle Vanevery Deutsch, Margaret Denyer Vanevery, Helen Lichtman Deutsch, Bertha Cruvant Newmark, Minnie Mojsabovski Cruvant, Rose Cantkert Newmark, Annie Blatt Feinstein, Sissie Feinstein Newmark)
3) Honoring all the (deceased) male ancestors for whom I have photographs
(l to r: Melvin Newmark, Barney Newmark, Herman Feinstein, Samuel Newmark, Moshe Leyb Cruvant, Morris Blatt, Martin Deutsch, Melvin Vanevery, Samuel Deutsch, Samuel Vanevery)

Saturday, May 4, 2013

Sepia Saturday: Cancer and Cats

The theme photograph for this week's Sepia Saturday is to the left - a machine that dispensed lit cigarettes.

I instantly thought of the collage I created several years ago containing a photograph from my paternal grandparents' honeymoon, a cigarette my grandmother probably received for her 17th birthday, and lines from both of their death certificates.

One would think with everything we know today about cigarettes, no one would smoke. But alas, that isn't the case.

On a lighter note, the theme picture features "Black Cat" cigarettes, so I also thought about this photograph of my maternal grandmother, and an unnamed companion:

While my wife and I both grew up in 'dog families,' we now have two black cats of our own.

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

May Day! May Day!

Holidays on May 1st

  • Loyalty Day - a holiday created in America in the 1950s to 'counter-balance' International Worker's Day.
  • MayDay - "an initiative to protect cultural heritage from disasters." 

Note: the distress call "Mayday!" actually derives from the French words venez m'aider - meaning "come help me."

Data Backup Day: My Data Backup Plan

In the GeneaBloggers Community, the first day of every month is Data Backup Day.

For most of my backup needs, I rely on my Mac's Time Machine software, installed on an external hard drive. The software takes care of itself, every hour making an incremental backup of any and all changes, allowing me to go back in time an hour, day, week or month to see what my computer looked like then.

But there is still the slim possibility that my computer and external hard drive could be destroyed simultaneously. (A fire? I live in St. Louis, and know that it was a fire here in town that destroyed most of the 1890 census records.)

I store copies of several important files "in the cloud" using both Dropbox and Google Drive. I also have more than one Google Gmail account, and have mailed important documents to myself, storing copies in both email accounts.

Whatever means you use, it is important to have a plan, because otherwise it is too easy for important data to be lost in a computer crash.

[The image is a modified version of Winslow Homer's Blackboard (1877)]