Sunday, May 31, 2020

1913 Benton Basketball Team - Robert Lee Gober - Genealogy and Algebra


Robert Lee Gober (1895-1971) is on the far left in the photograph below, holding the basketball. He is my wife's great grandfather. Benton is the County Seat for Scott County, in Southeastern Missouri. 

Born in 1895, Robert Lee Gober would have been 18 in 1913. We know as an adult he was 6'4" tall, though we do not know if he had stopped growing by the time of this photograph. I don't know the identities of any of the other young men, but I was curious how much they varied in height. Let's assume he was 6'4" tall. Can we estimate the height of the shortest teammate? Definitely. 

Examining the photograph in my photo-editor, RL Gober is 1,775 pixels in height, and the shortest teammate is 1,515. (I measured from the top of the head to the bottom of the foot, choosing the back foot for both individuals)

76 inches / 1775 pixels = X inches / 1,515 pixels
Solving for X, he is 64.87 inches tall. Or 5'5. Almost a full foot shorter than Robert.
Naturally, there is some room for error in how I calculated the pixels.

(You didn't realize algebra would come in handy for genealogy, did you?)

Sunday, May 24, 2020

Memorial Day Weekend 2020

Below is my annual post for Memorial Day.

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

The above image comes from a past version of 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

I have many ancestors and kin who served in their nation's armed forces during war-time. I honor them on Veterans Day.

However, the closest relative who was killed in action was my grandfather's brother, my great-uncle, Mandell Newmark.

Mandell was born Jan 31, 1923. He was almost certainly named after his great-grandfather Mandell Mojsabovski. He enlisted in the army on Feb 22, 1943, and served as a Sgt. Technician Fifth Grade, in the 163rd infantry. He was killed in action on April 15, 1945. Less than a month prior to VE day

My grandfather also had a second cousin, Arnold Kruvant, who was killed in action during the D-Day invasion.

Saturday, May 16, 2020

Ancestry’s Indexing of Newspapers.com Obituaries

Here’s a research tip that probably should go without saying, but sometimes as humans we get tired or sloppy, and forget. Indexes made by humans have errors in them. Indexes made by computers do too. Perhaps more.

Ancestry’s indexing of their obituaries from Newspapers.com should not be trusted without looking at the actual obituary. A computer has done the indexing, and not a human. The algorithms are good, but not perfect. This is a great illustration. Patrick Swayze never resided in a town called “Ghost,” and he didn’t marry “Jennifer Grey.” While these mistakes are humorous, and obvious to any fan of the actor, consider what other mistakes the computer algorithms may be making with the obituaries of those in your tree. (I have distant Swayze ancestors, and Patrick is possibly a 9th cousin.)

Thursday, April 2, 2020

MyHeritage InColor App

Through April 22nd, MyHeritage is making their new InColor app, free for everyone to use for an unlimited number of photographs. You need to create an account (which is free), but then you can upload as many black and white photos as you wish and see what they look like in color.

Of course, I wanted this 1947 photograph of my paternal great grandparents in Miami. The story goes that they had enough difficulty with Miami hotels, as they were Jewish, but as their vacation lengthened, their difficulties grew, because my great grandfather Herman Feinstein had a very dark tan.

Here is my maternal grandmother at the Grand Canyon in 1925 - age 25.

And my paternal grandparents on their honeymoon. My grandfather's leg illustrates that the inColor app sometimes has difficulty with parts of photographs that are in shadow. But I really don't mind the small colorization errors. The results overall are outstanding.


Here are my maternal great grandparents Samuel and Helen Lichtman Deutsch, and all their children, early 1920s. 
(Their youngest was born in 1914.)

Tuesday, March 31, 2020

Tombstone Tuesday - Andrew David Van Every

Andrew David Van Every (1795-1873)
St. George Baptist Cemetery, Brant County, Ontario
My third great grandfather

My only maternal Van Every ancestor who lived his entire life in Canada. His father, David Van Every, a United Empire Loyalist, fled the colonies after the Revolution. His son, Samuel Andrew Van Every, immigrated back to the United States.

(Image source: Find a Grave, with permission)

Monday, March 30, 2020

Amanuensis Monday: Declaration of Intent for Jacob Perlik

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.

Today I transcribe a Declaration of Intention completed by Jacob Perlik, a brother of my second great grandmother, Annie Perlik Feinstein.

No. 86276 
US DEPARTMENT OF LABOR NATURALIZATION SERVICE
UNITED STATES OF AMERICA
DECLARATION OF INTENTION

Invalid for all purposes seven years after the date hereof

State of Illinois County of Cook In the Circuit Court of Cook County

I, Jacob Perlik, aged 41 years, occupation Carpenter do declare on oath that my person description is: Color white, complexion Ruddy, height 5 feet 9 inches, weight 176 pounds, color of hair Black, color of eyes Brown, other visible distinctive marks None.

I was born in Zdobietzen, Russia on the 12th day of April, anno Domini 1879. I now reside at 1438 So. Turner Ave, Chicago, Ill.

I emigrated to the United States of America from Quebec, Canada on the Canadian Pacific R.R.; my last foreign residence was Russia; I am married; the name of my wife is Bessie; she was born at Russia and now resides at With me.

It is my bona fide intention to renounce forever all allegiance and fidelity to any foreign prince, potentate, state, or sovereignty, and particularly to THE PRESENT GOVERNMENT OF RUSSIA, of whom I am now a subject; I arrived at the port of Detroit, in the State of Michigan, on or about the 12 day of May, anno Domini 1905.

I am not an anarchist; I am not a polygamist nor a believer in the practice of polygamy; and it is my intention in good faith to become a citizen of the United States of America and to permanently reside therein; SO HELP ME GOD.

Jacob Perlik

Subscribed and sworn before me in the office of the Clerk of said Court At Chicago, Ill, this 10 day of April anno Domini 1918

August W Miller Clerk of the Circuit Court
By G, Sienneschen, Deputy Clerk


Notes:

1) You may note that while I underlined all handwritten text, 'White' after 'Color" is not underlined. That is because if you look at the image, it is not handwritten. It is part of the typed form. Non-whites could naturalize after the Naturalization Act of 1870, so Non-white individuals declaring their intention to become naturalized either received a different form, or had to cross White out.

2) We're not exactly sure what town in Russia Jacob came from. There is no town named Zdobietzen. But it could be Dobryzn or Szczebrzeszyn.

Friday, March 27, 2020

Poetry Friday: The Influenza, 1890 - Winston Churchill

The Influenza, 1890 - Winston Churchill, age 15
Oh how shall I its deeds recount Or measure the untold amount Of ills that it has done? From China's bright celestial land E'en to Arabia's thirsty sand It journeyed with the sun. O'er miles of bleak Siberia's plains Where Russian exiles toil in chains It moved with noiseless tread; And as it slowly glided by There followed it across the sky The spirits of the dead. The Ural peaks by it were scaled And every bar and barrier failed To turn it from its way; Slowly and surely on it came, Heralded by its awful fame, Increasing day by day. On Moscow's fair and famous town Where fell the first Napoleon's crown It made a direful swoop; The rich, the poor, the high, the low Alike the various symptoms know, Alike before it droop. Nor adverse winds, nor floods of rain Might stay the thrice-accursed bane; And with unsparing hand, Impartial, cruel and severe It travelled on allied with fear And smote the fatherland. Fair Alsace and forlorn Lorraine, The cause of bitterness and pain In many a Gaelic breast, Receive the vile, insatiate scourge, And from their towns with it emerge And never stay nor rest. And now Europa groans aloud, And 'neath the heavy thunder-cloud Hushed is both song and dance; The germs of illness wend their way To westward each succeeding day And enter merry France. Fair land of Gaul, thy patriots brave Who fear not death and scorn the grave Cannot this foe oppose, Whose loathsome hand and cruel sting, Whose poisonous breath and blighted wing Full well thy cities know. In Calais port the illness stays, As did the French in former days, To threaten Freedom's isle; But now no Nelson could o'erthrow This cruel, unconquerable foe, Nor save us from its guile. Yet Father Neptune strove right well To moderate this plague of Hell, And thwart it in its course; And though it passed the streak of brine And penetrated this thin line, It came with broken force. For though it ravaged far and wide Both village, town and countryside, Its power to kill was o'er; And with the favouring winds of Spring (Blest is the time of which I sing) It left our native shore. God shield our Empire from the might Of war or famine, plague or blight And all the power of Hell, And keep it ever in the hands Of those who fought 'gainst other lands, Who fought and conquered well.

Source

Saturday, March 21, 2020

Surname Saturday: Mojsabovsky or Mezhibovsky

Back in 2012 for a Surname Saturday I wrote about the Surname Mojsabovsky

I wrote I didn’t know the etymology of the name, or exactly how to spell it. With a lot of ancestral surnames I’ve learned spelling is often phonetic, and this is especially true with names of Hebrew or Yiddish origin. Since these languages use a different alphabet than English, names go through a ‘transliteration’ that doesn’t have set rules.

I’ve recently come across a surname that may be what I was searching for: Mezhibovsky. There are a handful of hits with the surname on Google, as well as in the JewishGen databases. It’s about as common as my ancestral surname, Cruvant, but it does exist. And, like ‘Cruvant,’ it seems to be a location-based surname, referencing the town Mezhybozhe/Medzhybizh in the Western Ukraine. (Dictionary of Jewish Surnames from the Russian Empire, Alexander Beider). The town is considered the birthplace of the Hasidic movement, as the movement’s founder, the Baal Shem Tov, lived there from 1742-1760. The Hasidic movement definitely spread to Lithuania where my second great grandmother Minnie married Moshe Leyb Cruvant. Whether Minnie’s family was originally from Mezhybozhe, is uncertain, but an intriguing possibility.

Thursday, March 19, 2020

Where were my ancestors during the 1918 Spanish Flu Epidemic

Recent news stories have compared the reaction in 1918 by the cities of St. Louis and Philadelphia to the Spanish Flu. This got me wondering which of my ancestors were alive in 1918, where they were, how old they were, and what the local reactions were.

Grandparents
My paternal grandfather, Melvin Newmark - St. Louis - 6 years old
My paternal grandmother, Belle Feinstein - St. Louis - 4 years old
My maternal grandfather, Martin Deutsch - Chicago - 11 years old
My maternal grandmother, Myrtle Vanevery - El Paso - 18 years old

My paternal grandfather was only one year younger than my twin sons. He may have had some memories from that year. I am certain my maternal grandparents had memories. They are no longer around to ask.

Great Grandparents:
Barney and Bertha Cruvant Newmark - St. Louis - Both 32 years old
Herman and Annie Blatt Feinstein - St. Louis - 32 and 28 years old
Samuel and Helen Lichtman Deutsch - Chicago - 57 and 37 years old
Melvin and Margaret Denyer Vanevery - El Paso - 55 and 50 years old

Great Great Grandparents
Samuel and Rose Cantkert Newmark - St. Louis - 56 and 53 years old
Minnie Mojsabovsky Cruvant - St. Louis - 55 years old
Anna Perlik Feinstein - St. Louis - 50 years old
Morris Blatt - St. Louis - 56 years old

Great Great Great Grandparents
I am not aware of any third great grandparents who were still alive. If there were any, they were in Poland, Russia. or Transylvania.

There were no Spanish Flu related deaths among my ancestors or their immediate families.

Sunday, March 15, 2020

The Wives of Uncle Sam

Back in 2008 I wrote about the FBI file for my great uncle, Samuel "Stanford" Ophan Van Every

A wife of his had written the following in July 1918

War Department
Information Bureau
Washington, DC

Gentlemen: I was married to S.O Van Every, March 20, 1917 in Jacksonville Fla., my husband gave his age then as 28 but on June 5th of last year he very suddenly grew to be 32 he did not register for the draft ... Mr. Van Every deserted me last December in Little Rock Ark. when he went to Oroville Calif. and Martinez, Calif. and became engaged to another ... Mr. Van Every I learn has been married before he married me but had not a divorce.

I would like to know where I stand...He is a native of Texas, his parents live in Fabens, Texas ... Before the war he was pro-German.

Very Truly
Mrs. SO Van Every

The FBI file also indicated that an agent visited the parents of my great uncle, and evidence was provided that Samuel was actually 32 years old. His wife had been the one lied to, and not the government, so the government was fine with that. The FBI apparently also wasn't interested in investigating the accusations of bigamy. (There was a war; their focus was elsewhere, perhaps.)

By 2010 I had answered most of my questions about the FBI file. With a few exceptions.

1) I had names, and dates of marriage for wife #1, and the author of the above letter, but no evidence of divorces

2) I had no name for the woman he allegedly became engaged to in 1918. And I didn't know if they actually got married. Half of that has changed.

Below is a timeline with the information I now have.

  • Jan 15, 1886 - Birth, San Marcos, Texas
  • Jan 22, 1906 - Marriage to Esther Dahlin, Travis, Texas
  • Aug 1, 1906 - Birth of Son, Everett Vanevery
  • June 1, 1910 - Divorce filed
  • 1911-1916 - Marriage to Elsa/Elsie Diebel
  • 1914-1917 - Death of Elsa/Elsie Diebel
Several un-sourced online family trees state the marriage occurred in 1916, and Elsa died in 1917.
There is a tombstone in Goliad, Texas, for an Elsa D. Vanevery, and it says she died on May 21, 1914.

Elsie's name appears in family history notes of one of Samuel's sisters, so I am sure she was at one time married to Samuel. I'm just not certain about the dates. If the tombstone is hers, the marriage obviously occurred prior to May 1914. My grandmother's first husband, Alfred "Jack" Connevey, was a boarder of the Diebels in the 1910 census, so I would like to find out more about Elsie.
  • March 20, 1917 - Marriage to Amy Johnston, Jacksonville, Duval, FL
  • April 14, 1918  - ex-wife Esther Dahlin marries Charles Haynie
  • June 4, 1918 - Engagement to Blanche Shuttler, Oroville, Texas (this is the newest information. Newspaper clippings below)
  • July 1918 - Amy Johnston writes to the War Department
  • Feb 1920 - Blanche Shuttler and "Mr. Van Every" are attendants at another wedding in Oakland, CA.
  • April 1, 1924 - son Everett drowns in Barton Creek, Travis, TX
  • 1930 Census - Samuel is living in Kansas City, Missouri, and allegedly has a wife named, Myrtle. His sister, Myrtle (my grandmother) may have visited her brother enough that a landlord, or neighbor, may have provided inaccurate information.
  • Sept 18, 1933 - He is listed as a widow on his death certificate. The informant was my grandmother.

Wed, Jun 5, 1918 – 6 · The San Francisco Examiner (San Francisco, California) · Newspapers.comFeb 27, 1920, Le Mars Semi Weekly Sentinel, (Le Mars, Iowa)


Further Notes:

1) Enough time elapses between June of 1918 and Feb 1920 that it isn't clear if my great uncle married Blanche Shuttler, and then they divorced, or if they were never married. It is possible that the letter Amy Johnston Van Every wrote to the War Department stopped the marriage from happening. It does make me wonder whether Blanche and my great uncle remained friends, and how tense the situation was when they were both attendants at another wedding in 1920.

2) As to Amy Johnston Van Every’s charges of bigamy, if Elsa/Elsie Diebel died before Samuel married Amy, he appears to be exonerated. Which is the case, if the tombstone is for Elsa, which I suspect it is. Samuel was married twice before Amy; one marriage ended in divorce, and the other in death. The 1918 engagement doesn't appear to have been followed by a marriage. Unless there is yet another wife that I have not uncovered.

Monday, February 24, 2020

Amanuensis Monday: The Petition for Naturalization of Herman Deutsch - 1927

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.

Today I transcribe a Petition for Naturalization completed by Herman Deutsch, a first cousin of my maternal grandfather, Martin Deutsch.

United States of America
PETITION FOR NATURALIZATION

To the Honorable the District Court of the United States, Northern District of Illinois:

The petition of Herman Deutsch, hereby filed, respectfully showeth:

First: My place of residence is 1251 Irving Ave., Chicago, Illinois.

Second: My occupation is Upholsterer.

Third. I was born on the 7th day of April, anno Domini 1895, at Bucium, Roumania.

Fourth. I emigrated to the United States from Liverpool, England, on or about the 1st day of March
anno Domini 1921, and arrived in the United States at the port of New York, on the 11th day of March anno Domini 1921 on the vessel Imperator.

Fifth. I declared my intention to become a citizen of the United States on the 29th day of May, anno Domini 1922 at Chicago, Ill. In the Superior Court of Cook County.

Sixth. I am married. My wife’s name is Dora; she was born on the 1st day of May, anno Domini 1893 At Roumania, and now resides at with me, Chicago, Illinois. I have 5 children, and the name, date and place of birth, and place of residence of each of said children is as follows:

Sarah, born 29th July 1914 in Roumania
Sollie, born 22nd June 1916 “
Pearl, born 2nd June 1921 Chicago
Albert, born 31st December 1922 “
Lillian, born 21st May 1924 “
Reside in Chicago, Ill

Seventh. ….. renounce absolutely and forever all allegiance and fidelity to any foreign prince, potentate, state, or sovereignty, and particularly to Ferdinand I, King of Roumania, of whom at this time I am a subject, and it is my intention to reside permanently in the United States

Eighth. I am able to speak the English language

Ninth. I have resided continuously in the United States of America for the term of five years at least immediately preceding the date of this petition, to wit, since the 11th day of March, anno Domini, 1921, and in the State of Illinois, continuously next preceding the date of this petition, since the 13 day of March, anno Domini 1921, being a residence within this State of at least one year next preceding the date of this petition.

Tenth. I have not heretofore made petition for citizenship at any court.

Signature – Herman Deutsch

Declaration of Intention # 14316 and Certificate of Arrival from Department of Labor filed this 21st day of April, 1927.

Affidavits of Petitioner and Witnesses

Witnesses:
Abraham Glick, occupation Tailor, resideing at 1452 Western Ave., Chicago Illinois
And Joseph Schwartzman, occupation Unemployed, residing at 1215 Irving Ave., Chicago Illinois

Subscribed and sworn to before me by the above named petitioner and witnesses in the offices of the Clerk of said Court at Chicago, Ill, this 21st day of April, anno Domini 1927


Notes:

1. Starting in 1922 women had to start filling for Naturalization separately from the husbands, so there is a corresponding petition filled out for Dora (Diamant) Deutsch dated in 1929.

2. The passenger manifest indicates Herman's brother, Joseph, as the contact in America to which they were headed. Until finding the manifest, I wasn't positive Herman was Joseph's brother. I knew he was related, and my grandfather and siblings recalled him as the brother of Joseph in a tape recording they made in the 1970s, but memories of family relationships can be imprecise at times. But due to the petition and manifest I can definitively place him in the tree.

3. Bucium is also the birthplace of my great grandfather, Samuel Deutsch. Though it was part of Hungary at the time of the births for both Samuel and Herman. The border-changing is part of the reason I stick with "Transylvanian" when describing that part of my ancestry.

4. For some reason Sollie is listed on the Passenger Manifest as Bela, and identified as a daughter. I suspect it was a clerical error in reading the information from their Passport Book. I have the passport book my great grandfather's family traveled under in 1913, and I'm sure it was similar. I suspect they would show the book to the ship authorities, who would then transcribe the information.

5. I do not yet know if the witnesses are relatives or friends.

Friday, January 24, 2020

Mineral Wells Texas - What Were Morris & Mollie Blatt Doing There?

Back in 1987, my paternal grandmother was interviewed, and she stated that her mother, Anna Blatt Feinstein, first arrived in the United States in Mineral Wells, Texas. In 2010, when I transcribed the interview, I knew there had to be some story behind this, as no one comes up with the town Mineral Wells, Texas out of thin air.

However
  • My great grandmother, Anna, was born in 1890, in Poland.
  • In 1893 my great great grandfather Moshe "Morris" Blatt married his second wife, Mollie, in St. Louis.
  • In 1898 their first child, Henry, was born, in St. Louis
  • In 1900 they, and his daughters from his first marriage, Anna and Blanche, are all recorded in St. Louis
  • In 1903 Morris and Mollie's second child, Pearl was born, in St. Louis
  • In the 1910 census they are all still recorded in St. Louis.
So I was left wondering.

Below is a page from the 1907 Mineral Wells, Texas City Directory

There is a Moses (and Mallie) Blatt
And in the next line there is an Annie.

Moses is a tailor, which matches my 2nd great grandfather's profession.

In 1909 Moses and Mallie were still in Mineral Wells, though Annie doesn't appear in that city directory.

City directories prior to 1907 currently aren’t available online.

So, while these could be different Blatts, it is likely I have confirmed they did spend some time in that city, and have an approximate time-span.

But why did they move to Mineral Wells, Texas, and why did they return to St. Louis? Will I ever know?

I will also note I still have not found my great grandmother's immigration records. So it is possible that at some point in time between 1890 and 1900 she did immigrate to the US through Texas, with other relatives perhaps, met up with her father in St. Louis, and then returned briefly around 1907.

Possible record sources for further research might include researching the community to see if there were any synagogues in or near Mineral Wells at the time and seeing if any membership records still exist.

Wednesday, January 22, 2020

Wordless Wednesday: Advertising Slogans

My second great grandfather, Selig Feinstein, and my great grandfather, Herman M Feinstein, may not have been the best at coming up with advertising slogans for their laundry.

Royal Laundry AdvertisementRoyal Laundry Advertisement Fri, Aug 26, 1910 – 1 · The Jewish Voice (St. Louis, Missouri) · Newspapers.com