Sunday, May 30, 2021

Memorial Day 2021

 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.

Monday, May 24, 2021

Amanuensis Monday - The Death of Joseph Blatt (1894-1895)

 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 share a newspaper account and death certificate for Joseph Blatt, the infant half-brother of my great grandmother, Anna Blatt. The newspaper account is in German, but I took an OCR (optical character recognition) transcript and input it into Google Translate. The translation is likely not exact, but close.

Morris Blatt, who lives in house 2312 Franklin Ave, visited family friends who lived in house 1213 North 7th St. yesterday afternoon with his 18 month old son Joseph Blatt. While the child looked out of the window, he lost his balance and fell deep into the courtyard. He hit his head and suffered a broken skull and a concussion. Dr. Friedman, 809 Carr Str. And Dr. Frumson, 905 North Broadway were called, but could do nothing more for the child, who died about an hour later from the injuries suffered.

Anzeiger des Westens (Scoreboard of the West)
St. Louis, Missouri
20 Sep 1895, Fri - Page 8

City of St. Louis
Health Department
Certificate of Death

This Certificate must be fully and accurately filled out in ink as provided by Section 392 Revised Ordinance, 1893

Name of Deceased: Joseph Blast
Age 1 Years 6 months
Male, White, Single
Place of Birth St. Louis
Residence in St. Louis 2312 Franklin Ave
Place of Death: 1233 N. 7th Street
Exact Locality of Death
Ward No. 4
Date of Death Sept 19 / 95
Cause of Death: Fracture of Skull, Account of Fall (Accident)

I Certify that the person above named died of the disease stated on the dat above named.

Burial Permit
Office of Health Department
St. Louis Sept 20, 1895

I CERTIFY that the intended place of burial for the body of the above named person is Chesed Shel Emeth Cemetery - D. Goldberg


1) The newspaper says the house the Blatts were visiting was 1213 North 7th Street. The Death Certificate states 1233 North 7th Street. Without any other evidence I would go with the death certificate, but either could be wrong. I will try to figure out who was living at both residences and see if I recognize the names. Of course, if the child falls off a balcony and dies in a courtyard, the courtyard could be for both addresses. 

2) I have retrieved the exact plot location for the burial from the cemetery. There was no marker, and the child was buried in a charity section for infants. I will try to locate the plot on my next visit to the cemetery.  David Feinstein (1895-1896), the infant brother of my great grandfather, Herman Feinstein, is buried nearby in another unmarked grave. He died of pneumonia.

3) I am reminded of this news story from October 1904. Pearl Cruvand, the wife of my great grandmother's first cousin, witnessed a 6 year old fall off a balcony and rushed the child to a hospital.

Monday, May 17, 2021

Amanuensis Monday: Passport Application of Mala Blatt - May 1898

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 share the passport application for Mala (Mollie) Kellner Katz Blatt the second wife of my second great grandfather, Morris Blatt. She claimed citizenship based on his naturalization. 


MAY 18, 1898
STATE OF Missouri
CITY OF St. Louis

I, Mala Blatt, a NATURALIZED AND LOYAL CITIZEN OF THE UNITED STATES, hereby apply to the Department of State, at Washington, for a passport for myself.

I solemnly swear that I was born at [Wisniewitz?]. Russia on or about the 10 day of March 1864; that my husband emigrated to the United States, sailing on board the Steamer [Marsala?] from Hamburg on or about the 12th day of June 1888; that he resided 10 years, uninterrupted, in the United States, from 1888 to 1898, at St. Louis, Mo; that he was naturalized as a citizen of the United States before the St. Louis Court of Criminal Correction at St. Louis on the 14th day of May 1898, as shown by the accompanying Certificate of Naturalization; that I am the wife of the person described in said Certificate; that I have resided in the United States, uninterrupted, for 11 years, from 1887 to 1898, at St. Louis, Mo; that I am domiciled in the United States, my permanent residence being at St. Louis in the State of Missouri, where I follow the occupation of none; that I am about to go abroad temporarily; and that I intend to return to the United States within one year with the purpose of residing and performing the duties of citizenship therein.

Oath of Allegiance

Further, I do solemnly swear that I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies foreign and domestic; that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same; and that I take the obligation freely, without any mental reservation or purpose of evasion; SO HELP ME GOD

Sworn to before me this 14th day of May 1898
[Signature - Mala Blatt]
[Illegible Signature of Notary Public]

Age: 34 Years
Stature: 5 feet, 6 inches, Eng.
Forehead: low
Eyes: Brown
Nose: Small
Mouth: Small
Chin: Oval
Hair: Dark Blonde
Complexion: Fair
Face: Oval


I hereby certify that I know the above named Mala Blatt personal, and know her to be the wife of the person referred to in the within-described Certificate of Naturalization, and that the facts stated in her affidavit are true to the best of my knowledge and belief.

A. Jacob, 526 Pine St., St. Louis, Mo


1) I do not know why she intended to leave the country, and for how long besides it being less than a year. She gave birth to a son 6 months later. It might be possible she wasn’t aware yet that she was pregnant and postponed/canceled the trip. 

2) This record does indicate my second great grandfather was naturalized, and provides the details necessary to obtain a copy of his records. Since it predates the 1906 statutes standardizing the process, it is unlikely the record contains much more than a signature, date, and origin country. But I have located it in a Missouri Archives database, and will request a copy.

It also provides a date for when he immigrated. I had not been able to find his ship information yet, and it is difficult to read the name of the ship provided on this application, It looks like Marsala. There was an SS Marsala that made the trip from Hamburg to NY on May 2 of 1888, which seems like a good match since he might have arrived in New York about June 12 - the average crossing was 43 days, so it's spot on. I have not found him in any passenger manifests at I will try to get creative with the spelling in the search index since I am pretty certain I have zeroed in on the ship.