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.