Monday, February 29, 2016

Amanuensis Monday: Selig Feinstein and Tpheris Israel Congregation

Amanuensis: A person employed to write what another dictates or to copy what has been written by another.

I continue my project to transcribe family letters, journals, newspaper articles, audiotapes, and other historical artifacts. Not only do the documents contain genealogical information, the words breathe life into kin - some I never met - others I see a time in their life before I knew them.

This week I look at a newspaper article from the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, which mentions my second great grandfather, Selig Feinstein.

St. Louis Post Dispatch, July 24, 1899, page 8.

New Congregation

Judge Flitcraft granted a pro forma decree of incorporation to the congregation of Ipheris Israel Monday. The officers are Dr. M. DeVorkin, President; S. Feinstein, Vice-President; J. Louis, Secretary, and Louis Blank, Treasurer.


1) In 1959 Tpheris Israel merged with another congregation, Chevra Kadisha. Tpheris Israel Chevra Kadisha still exists today. (Chevra Kadisha was the elder of the two, so I can't technically claim my ancestor was a founding father of the current congregation.)

2) While this only provides the first initial, there were only two Feinstein families in the St. Louis area in the 1900 census. The other head of  household was named Aaron. So this is most likely my second great grandfather, Selig Feinstein.

3) I previously knew that he had been active in the Chesed Shel Emeth Society, but I didn't know what synagogue he attended, much less that he was one of the founding officers. According to Zion in the Valley, Volume 2, Tpheris Israel was a merger of several early St. Louis minyans. (A 'minyan' defined simply as a gathering of at least ten Jewish adult males for worship.)

Sunday, February 28, 2016

St. Louis Post Dispatch Archives Searchable Back to 1874

A week ago, the St. Louis Post Dispatch announced that their archives back to 1874 were now searchable. They are being hosted by (It's not part of the Basic subscription you receive through Ancestry's "All Access" pass. It has to be purchased separately, or through their Publishers+ subscription, which allows you access to other newspaper archives they are hosting.)

I was previously able to access 1874-1922 and 1988-current through ProQuest databases at St. Louis County Library, and my library card. However, this opened 66 additional years of articles. All of my paternal second great grandparents arrived in St. Louis between 1880 and 1910, and my maternal grandparents arrived in the 1920s, so this opened a potential goldmine. Additionally, no digital search yields complete results due to fading newsprint. I have already found at least one pre-1922 article on the database that hadn't turned up in my ProQuest searches. (The article is in the ProQuest archive; using a different search term I have retrieved it.)

Can I share here the post-1922 articles that I find?

Everything pre-1923 is in the public domain. With more recent material, one needs permission from the source. Here's what the St. Louis Post Dispatch now says on their archives page:

"You can save or print clippings or entire pages and share what you find on social media."

Despite all my years of education, I am going to interpret 'can' to mean 'may.' This appears to be a blanket permission statement, as long as one keeps it to social media, which should include personal blogs like my own. [However, I am not going to apply the permission to articles from the Associated Press or other syndicates. I fully realize the Post Dispatch doesn't have the authority to grant permission for those. They aren't the source of the articles. I have previously requested permission from the AP on some news stories, and found their fees to be too high for my liking. Fortunately, it is the local stories that I am most interested in.]

Note: They are advertising that the dates available are up to 30 days ago. Currently, I can only find articles up through 2003. That will hopefully change. However, I still have access to current articles through the St. Louis County Library ProQuest database.

Friday, February 5, 2016

Riots and Rebellions: When is Violence the Answer?

Violence is never the answer to anything. - millions of people
  • The June Rebellion, also known as the Paris Uprising of 1832, was a failure. But without it, we wouldn't have one of the greatest novels and one of the greatest musicals of all-time. (Les Miserables)
  • The Warsaw Ghetto Uprising of 1943 was crushed. However, I'm not going to be the one to say that the Jewish community should have willingly and peacefully gone to their deaths.
  • There was a rebellion in the late 18th century in America that was quite successful, and another in the mid 19th century which wasn't.
  • Violent protests in the late 19th century led to the 40-hour work week, child labor laws, and safer working conditions for all.
Sometimes, in the course of human events, violence becomes necessary. In my opinion, with a government or society that is willing to listen, non-violence tends to work better. The key question becomes - how long do you wait before you decide that society isn't really willing to listen to you? And who gets to make that decision?

Have any of your ancestors or relatives participated in riots, rebellions, or revolutions?

Here's a list of "incidents of civil unrest" in the United States and another list from Colonial America.
Here's a worldwide list of riots and another worldwide list of revolutions and rebellions.

The difference between a riot and a rebellion can sometimes be a matter of who is writing the history. Some people argue riots are more spontaneous and don't have a unified purpose. However, participants in what society decides to call a 'riot' might argue with whether the event was spontaneous or without a cause.

Do I have kin who participated in civil unrest?

I will ignore late 20th century and more recent unrest, as I may or may not have relatives who participated, but if I did, they, or their close families, are still alive.

I've blogged before about my great grandmother's brother, who appears in some news reports related to the East St. Louis Race Riot of 1917. He wasn't a participant, but testified about the whereabouts of an employee who may have been.

An Elisha Horton is listed among the participants of the Boston Tea Party. He may or may not be related to my Horton ancestors.

Warsaw Ghetto, 1940-1943

When I discovered the Warsaw Ghetto Database, I knew I had to search for my Newmark surname. My Newmark ancestors left the Warsaw area in the 1880s, but were any of these ghetto residents related? If so, what were their roles in the uprising? The closest relation they could  be to me would be second cousins to my grandfather (assuming that my second great grandfather, Samuel Newmark, may have had some brothers in Warsaw.)

Entries for four Neumarks and three Najmarks appear, though there may be some duplicated individuals within them. The database provides details taken from various sources - some lengthy; some short. Some of the Polish has been translated into English already; some hasn't. I went in search of more information on some of the events mentioned. The information wasn't necessarily what I was hoping for - but the decisions ghetto residents had to make certainly weren't easy ones.
  • Lejbus Najmark - Judenrat
  • Stanislaw Najmark
    • Polish: starszy syn autorki , zastrzelony w związku ze sprawą Kotta
    • English: author's elder son, shot in connection with Kott's affair
  • Najmarkowa - [basically: Mrs. Najmark. -owa indicates a married woman] 
    • Polish: żona jednego z dyrektorów Zakładu Zaopatrywania; w getcie warszawskim działała społecznie - organizacja koncertów; w czasie akcji straciła matkę, jeden syn zginął w związku ze sprawą Kotta, drugi na wschodzie, mąż w czasie akcji styczniowej; przeszła na stronę aryjską po I akcji, ukrywała się na Saskiej Kępie; autorka relacji
    • English: wife of one of directors' of the Supply Section; in the Warsaw ghetto she was active socially - organised concerts; during an action she lost mother; one son died in connection with Kott's case, the other one in the East, husband during the January action; she crossed to the 'Aryan side' after the First Action, she hid in Saska Kepa; author of testimony.
  • Juliana (?) Neumark [This appears to be the same woman as Najmarkowa, providing a possible first name, and reinforcing that despite the different spelling, these are matching surnames. The Warsaw Ghetto Database doesn't yet have an English translation, but Google Translate provides a clumsy translation] 
    • Polish: żona Juliana; miała dwóch synów: jeden z synów zginął w styczniu 1940 roku w związku z aferą Kotta, a drugi syn w lutym 1940 roku przepadł podczas przechodzenia granicy sowiecko-niemieckiej pod Bełżcem; pracowała wraz z aktorem Turkowem w dziale oświaty; jako Elżbieta Kucharska schroniła się po stronie aryjskiej dzięki pomocy Gerarda Gadeyskiego, przedwojennego dyrektora programowego Polskiego Radia, który po wojnie został jej mężem; do niedawna pracowała w Towarzystwie im. Fryderyka Szopena; obecnie mieszka na Saskiej Kępie i jest na emeryturze."
    • English (Google Translate): wife, Juliana; had two sons: one of the sons died in January 1940 in connection with the scandal Kott, a second son in February 1940 was lost when passing the border of the Soviet-German at Belzec; she worked along with actor Turkow in the department of education; as Elizabeth Kucharska refuge on the Aryan side with the help of Gerard Gadeyskiego pre-war Polish Radio program director, who after the war became her husband; Until recently, she worked in the Society of them. Frederic Chopin; now lives in Saska Kepa and is retired.
      • Is it possible instead of Juliana, the Polish actually means: Wife of Julian?
  • Julian Neumark (Intelligentsia)
    • Polish:  serdeczny przyjaciel Jana Kucińskiego; naczelnik działu w Zakładzie Zaopatrywania Dzielnicy Żydowskiej; zginął w styczniu 1943 roku; miał dwóch synów: jeden z synów zginął w styczniu 1940 roku w związku z aferą Kotta, a drugi syn w lutym 1940 roku przepadł podczas przechodzenia granicy sowiecko-niemieckiej pod Bełżcem.
    • English (Google Translate): good friend John Kuciński; Head of department at the Department of Procurement Jewish Quarter; He died in January 1943; He had two sons: one of the sons died in January 1940 in connection with the scandal Kott, a second son in February 1940 was lost when passing the border of the Soviet-German at Belzec.
  • Regina Neumark - Activist; Collaborator of the CKI (Central Commission for Entertainments)
    • [source] "Finally, more resourceful musicians, supported by the Head of the Community, Adam Czerniaków, and his wife Dr Felicja Czerniaków, and Central Commission for Entertainments operating in the ghetto, decided to found the Jewish Symphonic Orchestra (ŻOS). It also had a moral aspect: it kept appearances of "normality”, met the spiritual needs of a vast number of music lovers, gave musicians a chance not only to get minimal resources, but also to remain in good musical condition. Many historians believe that the cultural activity was one of the forms of civil resistance, an activity in the teeth of the extermination actions of the occupier. It is, however, worth mentioning that from mid 1942 the people in ghettos had no idea of the planned extermination in the death camps (apparently they were being transferred to "work camps”) and they still had faith in the intervention of the allies and quick ending of the war."
    • The CKI set up concerts. The entry for Najmarkowa indicates she organized concerts. It's possible these are the same individuals. With the database information coming from multiple sources of testimony lots of redundancy is likely.
  • Wera Neumark - Artists/Writers; A pianist, plays in a concert in 'Gospoda' on 18 March 1942 - represents the old piano school.
Some activists; Some Judenrat. (Some Judenrat-connected activists) The Judenrat (or Jewish council) was set up by the Germans to administer the ghettos.
On the one hand, many viewed these councils as a form of collaboration with the enemy. Others saw these councils as a necessary evil, which would permit Jewish leadership a forum to negotiate for better treatment. In the many cases where Jewish leaders refused to volunteer to serve on the Judenrat, the Germans appointed Jews to serve on a random basis. Some Jews who had no prior history of leadership agreed to serve, hoping that it would improve their chances of survival. Many who served in the Judenrat were arrested, taken to labor camps, or hanged. 
This timeline provides some details on the events mentioned above.

January 1940 ["Kott Affair"]
1 - a decree comes into force forbidding Jews to change their place of residence without special permission.
14-25 - after the arrest of Andrzej Kott (who was of Jewish origin) belonging to the underground group PLAN and his escape from the gestapo, particular repressive measures are taken against the Jewish intelligentsia in Warsaw (255 Jews arrested). 
July 1942 ["First Action"]
22 - the beginning of the great deportation action in the Warsaw ghetto; transports leave from the Umschlagplatz for the gas chambers of Treblinka.
January 1943 ["January Action"]
9  - Himmler arrived for an inspection of the Warsaw ghetto; he ordered the deportation of 8,000 Jews and the evacuation of German enterprises to the Lublin area.
18-21  - the second deportation action in the Warsaw ghetto. The first armed resistance. The Germans deported c. 5,000 people. In January, just after the second deportation action, Józef Szeryński, the commander of the Jewish police, committed suicide.
More on the Kott Affair. [The Holocaust: A History of the Jews of Europe During the Second World War, Martin Gilbert, Macmillan, 1987.]

Tuesday, February 2, 2016

Let it Gleam, Let it Glimmer

Phil didn't see his shadow this morning. The first day of spring will be March 20th. (These two sentences are independent of each other.)

It hasn't always been groundhogs.
One day, in the course of that winter, the sun had come out for a while in the afternoon, but it was the second of February, that ancient Candlmas-day whose treacherous sun, the precursor of six weeks of cold, inspired Matthew Laensberg with the two lines, which have deservedly become classic:

Let it gleam or let it glimmer 
The bear returns into his cave.
(Victor Hugo, Les Miserables, 1862, p. 730)
Bears and groundhogs are both hibernating animals.  I suspect it's a little safer to use groundhogs as official prognosticators. By the time Hugo published Les Miserables, it had already been uncovered that the name of the author of the Almanac of Liege was in doubt.

The celebrated almanac of "Francis Moore, physician," to whose predictions thousands are accustomed to look with implicit confidence and veneration, is rivalled, on the continent, by the almanac of Liege, by "Matthew Laensberg," who there enjoys an equal degree of celebrity.

Whether the name of Laensberg is a real or an assumed nаme is a matter of great doubt...The earliest of these almanacs known to exist is of the year 1636. It bears the name of Matthew Lansbert, mathematician, and not Laensberg, as it is now written.

-- The Table Book, W. Tegg, 1827, p. 138

 More on the Candlemas origins of the holiday.

Monday, February 1, 2016

Amanuensis Monday: Myndert Frederickse and Hercules

Amanuensis: A person employed to write what another dictates or to copy what has been written by another.

I continue my project to transcribe family letters, journals, newspaper articles, audiotapes, and other historical artifacts. Not only do the documents contain genealogical information, the words breathe life into kin - some I never met - others I see a time in their life before I knew them.

This week I look at records concerning my 8th great grandfather, Myndert Frederickse(n), and his slave, Hercules. I discussed these records several years ago, but haven't posted the transcriptions.

Source: Albany Chronicles: A History of the City Arranged Chronologically, from the Earliest Settlement to the Present Time; Illustrated with Many Historical Pictures of Rarity and Reproductions of the Robert C. Pruyn Collection of the Mayors of Albany, Owned by the Albany Institute and Historical and Art Society. J. B. Lyon Company, printers, 1906 - Albany (N.Y.), p. 112.


Mayor Pieter Schuyler and Common Council hold first session, among the minutes recorded appearing the following transaction: “The court of (the) mayor and aldermen having considered ye case of ye negroe of Myndert Frederikse called Hercules, who hath stole a chest of wampum belonging to ye poor of ye Lutheran parich out of ye house of his master, where he went in at night throw ye window, all which he confesseth, and considering how evil consequence it is and how bad example it is for ye negers, the court have ordered ye sd neger Hercules to be whipt throw ye towne att ye cart tale by ye hands of ye hangman forthwith, for an example to oyrs, and his master to pay ye costs.”

Source: Bi-centennial History of Albany: History of the County of Albany, N.Y., from 1609 to 1886, Volume 2, WW Munsell & Company, 1886, p. 463.

The Mayor’s Court, as it was called, possessed the powers and duties of a Court of Probate of Wills, and those now held by Surrogates. They also decided the time and place of holding elections. The first meeting, or Court, of the Mayor and Aldermen was held at City Hall in Albany, August 31, 1686. It was both a Court of Justice and a meeting of the Mayor and Aldermen for the transaction of municipal business.

Among the legal cases was one of a negro, Hercules, charged by Myndert Frederickse with stealing wampum out of his house, belonging to the churchwarden of the Lutheran Church. The negro, having confessed the theft, was sentenced “to be whipped through ye town at ye carte tale by ye hangman, for an example to others.” His master was ordered to pay the costs.

Source: The Manual of the First Lutheran Church in the City of Albany, First Lutheran Church (Albany, N.Y.)., Samuel P. Sprecher, Thomas Spencer Lloyd, J. Munsell, 1871 - Albany (N.Y.) - p. 102.

Among the early records of the common council we find the following curious entry:
Att a Court of Mayor and Aldermen held for ye Citty of Albany, ye 17th day of August, 1686. Present Peter Schuyler, Jan Jans Bleeker, Johannes Wandel, Dirck Wessels, Adrian Gerritse, Levinus Van Schaik. Hercules, ye negro of Myndert Frederickse being brought before ye Court by warrant of ye Mayr to answer ye fellonious taking out of his master’s house a small chest wherein some bags of wampum was contained, belonging to ye Poor of ye Lutheran Church, and being examined doth confess ye fact yt upon Thursday night last he came to his master’s house, and finding ye window of ye chamber open, went in and stole away ye small chest wherein ye money of ye poor of ye Lutheran Church was kept, and broke ye chest open without ye gate, at ye water side with an axe. Ordered, yt ys sd Negro be committed and secured in ye Common Goale till ye next Court of Sessions, when he is to be brought to his tryall. – Albany Records, III, 4.
Source: Swan of Albany: a history of the oldest congregation of the Lutheran Church in America, Henry Hardy Heins, First Lutheran Church, 1976 - pp 34-35.

It had been hoped by many in both congregations that the new pastor would be able to make it to Albany in time to minister to the venerable Myndert Frederickse in his last illness. He was the sole remaining elder of the Albany congregation, and we have encountered him already in the 1680 accounts of the courtroom scene and the church deed. Old Myndert was a blacksmith from Oldenburg, widely celebrated up and down the river for his craftsmanship, and in addition to his regular business he had been given the post of armorer at Fort Frederick. His home and shop in Albany were on the approximate site of the present office building at 41 State Street. He had an assistant named Hercules, who was once hailed into court (1686) on a charge of stealing the Lutheran Church’s poor box, containing some bags of wampum, from the elder’s home and breaking into it with an axe.

But unfortunately, events conspired to keep Pastor Falckner in New York City until mid-spring…They reached Albany too late, and found that the old blacksmith was dead. Among the treasured possessions in his will, the loyal old churchman had specifically mentioned, “my church book with the silver chain and clasps.”


1) The 1871 transcription appears to be an attempt at a faithful transcription of the original court record, down to spelling and abbreviations. The case appears to have been noted in several historical collections because the verdict of the trial was announced at the first meeting of The Mayor's Court on August 31, 1686. However, it appears the case had been previously discussed and sent to trial at a meeting on August 17th, of a court under a different name. Albany was officially chartered as a municipality on July 22, 1686. [source]

2) When I last discussed this, I hadn't found a copy of Swan of Albany, but only had access to snippets of a preview from Google Books. I found a copy not too long after. This isn't the only section of the book with information on Myndert and I will share some other selections later. I assume the amount of text I will quote will be minimal enough to not crossover fair-use guidelines.

3) Swan of Albany uses the word 'assistant' to describe Hercules at Myndert's death. Is that a euphemism or does it indicate my ancestor ultimately freed his slave? I have seen a transcription of Myndert's will, and Hercules isn't mentioned in it. Even if he were to be freed upon Myndert's death, I think that would be stated in the will, suggesting it may well have happened prior.