Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Corned Beef on Rye

Corned Beef and Cabbage on Rye

To the left is a bio my great-grandfather Barney Newmark submitted to the North St. Louis Businessman's Association for their 1925 publication.

Are such bios trustworthy sources? Let's take a look.

Proprietor of a tailor shop, 1520 St. Louis avenue;

Native of Dublin, Ireland;
Attended public schools in Ireland;
Not quite. While we don't have a birth certificate, all evidence suggests he was born in what I like to call a suburb of Dublin, known as Warka, Poland. Google Maps will provide driving directions, and it will only take you 23 hours. (With the help of some ferries.)

Student at Oxford;
Barney doesn't say "Oxford University" or "Oxford College". During the 14 years spent in London, England, he lived within walking distance of Oxford Street, and the Oxford Circus Railway Station. He was a student of life. Perhaps there was even a local school on Oxford Street.

Learned the tailoring trade at the London Polytechnic, London, England;

For a while it was assumed this was also a stretch of his imagination. But research revealed that the London Polytechnic was short for The London Polytechnic Young Men's Christian Institute, and like some branches of its American cousin, they provided skills training to local youth. Certainly, Barney learned the tailoring trade from his father, who was also a tailor. However, he may have had instruction at the local Y as well.


Everything after that is also true. So the only outright fib was his country of origin. There was a large Irish community in St. Louis, and my suspicion is that since "Barney" isn't an uncommon Irish name, many of his customers would ask him if he were Irish, and he finally decided to say "yes." (With his fourteen years in England as an explanation of the absence of the accent.)

He also would say that his birthday was March 17th. His birthday appears as March 25th and April 14th on a few documents. I discussed recently how the Gregorian and Julian calendars might partially account for the different dates.

Eight years ago, after I discussed my great grandfather's 'blarney', a friend sent me a link to an online census document. I had always been interested in my ancestry, but had no clue what was available online. The rest, as they say, is family history.

Happy St. Patrick's Day

Past St. Patrick's Day posts

March 16, 2014: Happy St. Patrick's Day 2014
March 16, 2013: Happy St. Patrick's Day
March 17, 2012: Happy 126th Birthday to my Great Grandfather
March 17, 2011: Happy St. Patrick's Day
March 17, 2010: Barney's Birthday and Birthplace
March 17, 2009: On St. Patrick's Day Everyone is Irish
March 17, 2008: My 'Irish' Great Grandfather
March 15, 2007: Corned Beef and Cabbage on Rye

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