Sunday, November 27, 2022

Ancestry U.S. Social Security Applications and Claims Index - App vs Website

The information presented by for the U.S. Social Security Applications and Claims Index is different depending upon whether you view it on a web browser, or their phone app.

Here is what I see on a web browser (With name and SSN info removed. The individual is a second cousin of a grandparent. I am not in contact with their descendants.)

____ in the U.S. Social Security Applications and Claims Index 

Birth Date:26 Nov 1915
Birth Place:St Louis, Missouri
Death Date:14 May 1986
Notes:Nov 1936: Name listed as ________; Oct 1943: Name listed as _____; : Name listed as _______; 24 Mar 1988: Name listed as _______

Here is what I see on my iPhone app for the exact same record:

U.S. Social Security Applications and Claims Index 

Gender: Female
Birth Date: 26 Nov 1915
Birth Location: St. Louis, Missouri
Death Date: 14 May 1986

As you can see there are a handful of fields that are completely left off of the record on the app. 
  • Race
  • SSN
  • Notes
There is absolutely no indication on the app that they have expurgated this information from the record. Some sort of warning would be nice - informing the researcher they need to use a web browser to view all available information. (Or even better, include all of the information on the app.)

In this case, the Notes information is critical. This is an index, and transcription errors can occur easily. While there is no reason to call into question the death date when viewed on the app, when viewed on the browser, the Notes section clearly indicates something is fishy. Why is a change in how the name is listed recorded two years after the supposed death?

The tombstone and obituary for this individual indicate that the date of death was indeed in March of 1988. I fully suspect that something did occur in May of 1986. Possibly the change in name listing that has no date in the notes. And this somehow got recorded as the death date in the indexing. However, without having the additional records to refer to, if I relied solely on the information presented on the app, I would enter the wrong information into my tree, without questioning it at all.

Sunday, November 6, 2022

Did my second great grandfather, Samuel Newmark, make up a cousin while crossing a border?

When my great grandfather, Barney, in July of 1907 crossed the Canadian border into the US, the Border Crossings document indicates the following:

Barney Newmark, age 22, Tailor, Citizen of Canada, Hebrew, Last Resided in Winnipeg, Nearest Relative Mother Rosa Newmark in London, Final Destination St. Paul Minnesota, Joining a cousin, Joseph Newmark, on 344 Eagle Land Street, place of birth London England.

Barney's father, Samuel, indicated at the same border crossing that he was:

45, a tailor, citizen of Canada, Hebrew, Last resided in Winnipeg, Nearest relative wife, Rosa in London, visiting the same cousin, Joseph in St. Paul, and place of birth Warsaw, Poland. 

Barney was not born in London. Later, for a local Who's Who of businessmen, he would claim he was born in Dublin, Ireland. It is almost certain he was born in either Warka or Warsaw, Poland, like his father. They were also not citizens of Canada. They had only spent three months in Canada, and I don't believe anyone in the family obtained citizenship in London even though they were there for 15 years. 

Who is the cousin, Joseph, in St. Paul Minnesota? Is he another figment of  imagination? Eagleland is a very curious name for a street since America has an eagle for a symbol, and I am unable to find such a street in St. Paul or its vicinity The only Eagleland Street I can find is in Texas. Samuel's middle name was Joseph.

However - nearby in Minneapolis, in 1907, there were families with the surname: Newmark, Neimark and Naymark. None that I can find with the given name Joseph. I suspect this cousin was an invention. But there remains a possibility that they existed.

Tuesday, November 1, 2022

Tombstone Tuesday: Sarah and Sol Newmark

It’s been awhile since I participated in Tombstone Tuesday. I think I’ve shared all the images I have of ancestral tombstones, but I do have some of their siblings. 

Sol Newmark was the eldest brother of my great grandfather, Barney Newmark. His wife, Sarah, was the daughter of Nathan Sandler. She alternated between using Nathan and Sandler as her maiden name.

The Hebrew on the tombstone indicates that Solomon Hyman's religious name was the inverted Chaim Shlomo. Sarah's religious name was Sarah Tzerel, the latter a common Yiddish diminutive for Sarah. Her father's religious name was given as Nachum Aaron. The engraving on his tombstone is mostly gone, and only the first initial of his name readable. The rest of the Hebrew inscription provides the Hebrew calendar date for their deaths.

Monday, October 31, 2022

Amanuensis Monday: 1804 Origin of the Kruvand Surname

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.

Below I transcribe an article found in The Historical Jewish Press archives at the National Library of Israel.

Print Date: 29 October 2022. Source: Page 9, Indiana Jewish Post & Opinion, 15 October 1976 *** "Historical Jewish Press", The National Library of Israel and Tel Aviv University

Your Name

Dear Mr. Pearlroth: I would like to know the meaning of, and whatever information you can give me on the following: KROOVAND - Father born in Lithuania. Very sincerely, William H. Kroovand.

Kroovand is a family name of geographical origin. It is derived from the name of the district of Kruwonda located near Kovno in Lithuania. Kroovand is apparently an anglicized version of the geographical name. The district contained no villages or towns. It embraced 15 landed estates belonging to 15 land owning families. Your ancestor who adopted the name in 1804 was probably an employee of one of those landowners. 


1) Norbert Pearlroth (1893-1983) was the primary researcher for Ripley's Believe it or Not, 1923-1975, and wrote the weekly Your Name column for the Jewish Post of New York, researching origins of Jewish surnames.

2) William H. Kroovand (1915-1987) was my second cousin twice removed. His father, Clarence, was indeed born in Lithuania in 1885 according to my records. The ancestor who adopted the surname in 1804 was either my 4rh great grandfather, Me'er Kruvand, who we only know was born before 1790, or his father, whose name we do not know.

3) I wondered as to Pearlroth's source for the surname adoption in 1804, as well as the information on the number of estates. Pearlroth seems to imply the 15 estates existed around the time of the surname adoption. Though this is not clear. My ancestors left in the 1880s.

The 1804 date turns out to almost certainly be based on Czar Alexander I's Edict of 1804, which

required all Jews living in the Pale of Settlement (the territory where Jews were permitted to live in the Russian Empire, encompassing modern Poland, Lithuania, Belarus, Ukraine and Moldova) to adopt permanent surnames.

Using the spelling of the town Pearlroth uses, which appears to be a Polish spelling, I found a source for the 15 landowners: Słownik geograficzny Królestwa Polskiego i innych krajów słowiańskich. T. 4, Warszawa : nakł. Filipa Sulimierskiego i Władysława Walewskiego, 1880-1914 (Geographical Dictionary of the Kingdom of Poland and other Slavic countries. T. 4, Warsaw: nakł. Filip Sulimierski and Władysław Walewski, 1880-1914)

Computer translation of 2 entries:
  • Kruwonda, n. , the left tributary of the Łazdona, which flows into Dubissa, near her sink with the Nemunas. 
  • Kruwondy, the area of ​​gentry, on the riverside Kruwonda, poviat, Kaunas, parish Czekiszki, it has a wooden chapel, 15 owners, a loamy, fertile ground
This may actually have been Pearlroth’s source, as bios say he knew multiple languages. If Polish was one of them, this is a likely book to be on his shelf if he’s going to write this weekly column. It's still not clear what year(s) the 15 owners references, but it seems to suggest it was true in the 1880s when my ancestors left. This adds to some information I learned about the town a few years ago.

Saturday, September 24, 2022

Mineral Wells Texas Mystery Solved - With Pictures

Back in 2010, when transcribing an interview my grandmother gave back in 1987, I heard her mention that her mother and grandfather spent some time in Mineral Wells, Texas. She didn't know the details, but I assumed there had to be some basis to the story. One does not make up a town like Mineral Wells, Texas.

In 2020 I found evidence that they were there in 1907 and 1909. But they were back in St. Louis by the 1910 census.

This week I received from a cousin some photographic evidence - and an explanation for what they were doing there.

Morris, Molly, Henry and Pearl Blatt riding donkeys in Mineral Wells Texas

Morris, Molly, Henry and Pearl Blatt in Mineral Wells Texas. They pose in front of a log cabin. Henry is holding a rifle.

These pictures are of my second great grandfather, Morris Blatt, his second wife, Molly/Mala Kellner Katz Blatt, and their two children Henry and Pearl. Blanche and my great grandmother, Annie, Morris's children with his first wife, were adults at the time of the photographs. 

Annie was 19 in 1907, and is recorded in the 1907 Mineral Wells city directory. She is not in the 1909, and likely returned to St. Louis on her own by then. That might mean these photographs are from after she left, or she just wasn't in them.

These have the feel of vacation pictures to me. My cousin says Molly had arthritis and they were there for her health. This may be accurate as apparently the Mineral Wells were trendy in the early 1900s as a place to cure ailments. 

My cousin stated that Henry ultimately would own land in Mineral Wells, and a son of Molly’s from her first marriage, Harry Katz, lived there as a shoe salesman. I have found Harry living 90 miles north in Wichita Falls, and sufficient records to verify it’s him. 

Sunday, July 31, 2022

Calendar Whiplash in the Hudson Valley 17th Century

I have written before about keeping track of what calendar is being used with my Eastern European ancestors, since some territory went back and forth between Julian and Gregorian depending upon changing government borders. 

I was not aware that there was even greater confusion in North America. In general, one is told that the British colonies adopted the Gregorian calendar in 1752. And that is that. Of course, Britain was not the only one to have colonies in North America. The Netherlands were an early adopter of the Gregorian Calendar.

My ancestor, Myndert Frederickse (and his brother Carsten) were among the founders of the First Lutheran Church of Albany. In a history of the church (Swan of Albany, Henry H. Heins, 1976) there is a discussion about the calendar changes for the Hudson Valley.

1664 - The British annex New Netherland

It is difficult to ascertain the exact date of the British annexation of New Netherland beyond “late summer, 1664,” because at that time there was a difference of ten days between the calendar used by the Dutch and that used by the English. The Netherlands had already switched from the Julian (Old Style) to the Gregorian (New Style) calendar in 1583, while the English would not do so until 1752. Thus in 1664, the Dutch settlers’ calendars were ten days ahead of the ones used by their new government. 

With Peter Stuyvesant’s surrender, therefore, the calendar went back to Old Style in the Hudson Valley, and the dates of the previous week or two were relived for a second time by the Lutherans and everyone else who was already there. (P. 15) 

1673 - The Dutch retake the colony. 

Since the Dutch naturally retook the colony with every intention of holding on to it, the restoration of the Dutch calendar (New Style) quickly resulted. The ten days that were added in 1664 were taken away again: anyone in New Orange or Willemstadt who had a birthday during the changeover lost it in 1673. (P. 20)

1674 - Less than a year later, the Dutch lost the colony again. 

The days of the week were the same on both calendars, and the actual day of the changeover — October 31 (OS) November 10 (NS) was a Saturday. This made the transition easier, but it also meant, since the difference was not 14 but only 10 days, that the dates of the month which then had to be repeated fell on different days of the week than they had the first time around. Here is how the month of November was actually observed in the year 1674, as we have reconstructed the situation: (P. 21)

The author then explains that this was at the tail end of the Trinity season on the liturgical calendar. Apparently there are 27 readings for a potential 27 Sundays between Easter and Advent, though a 27th Sunday is rare. Unfortunately, Easter fell early in 1674, and a November with Six Sundays created a 28th Sunday before Advent. The author wonders whether the pastor preached the same sermon twice.  

Any dates for events in this time period for the Dutch colonies need to be looked at carefully to ascertain what calendar is most likely being used.

Saturday, July 2, 2022

On the Anniversary of the Stonewall Riots (June 28-July 3)

I’ve been thinking about this post for many months. How to write it. What to state. What not to state. This is one of the more disturbing events I have uncovered in my research.

The number of times he was stabbed in his own home varies between news articles. Somewhere between 75 and 200 times. The killer admitted to fleeing, and then returning the next day and attempting to burn the body and all the evidence.

The killer was convicted of arson and sentenced to a handful of years in jail.

He was found not guilty of murder, despite his confession.

Different newspaper accounts use different terms for his defense. One has him claiming that the victim attacked him. Another has him claiming that the victim made a pass at him. All reports indicate the victim was unarmed. Completely unarmed from his head to his feet, by most accounts. The exact details of the claim I have yet to uncover. I do know the two met in a bar, and the victim invited the killer back to his home. One would think the number of stabbings was a bit excessive if the intent was merely to escape the attack, even if that word was appropriate. (Drug use by both parties was indicated.)

The victim is/was a cousin of mine. First, Second, Third, Fourth, Fifth, I’m not going to state. Nor am I going to state the location, beyond the United States, prior to Lawrence v Texas (2003). But in my lifetime. I am hopeful the results of the trial would have been different today. I fear there are people trying to move our country backwards to the culture that influenced these events and the outcome of the trial. 

The victim had no offspring, but close kin are still living.

From an internet search, it appears the killer is also alive. The given and surname combination isn’t common.

If you believe you know the particulars of the case, please do not add any information in the comments. I don't want readers to know the particulars; they don't matter. I have intentionally phrased this so that this blog post will not come up in searches, nor will it be easy for readers to figure out the identities.

I've downloaded lots of newspaper articles that will not appear in upcoming Amanuensis posts. My cousin's death will be documented for any family members who view my research.

Friday, May 27, 2022

Memorial Day 2022

  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

Saturday, April 9, 2022

1950 US Census Records

The 1950 US census records went online on April 1. It’s not easy finding records. There is a machine OCR index, but most of the census is cursive and OCR technology isn’t great with script. (Some have commented machines can read cursive better than *some* members of Gen Z. Of course, that’s because the computers have been given instruction.) When the index fails, you have to browse the records. Fortunately I already knew the neighborhoods my ancestors should be in, so I have retrieved the records for all of them. I’ll have to wait for human indexing on most other kin. 

Below is the 1950 census record for my maternal grandparents, mother, and aunt. (I have deleted the information for my mother and aunt from the image, as they are still alive.) My grandmother's sister was recorded with them. According to my mother’s recollection, she was still living primarily in Texas, and working as a teacher, but my grandmother was sick (Colon Cancer) and her sister would visit when she could. I’m guessing it was “Spring Break.” The third no in Minnie's line may be wrong. Columns 16 & 17 ask about employment during the past week. However, 18 asks, if they didn't work in the past week, do they still have a job. If my mother’s recollection is accurate, the answer should have been, "yes," and her employment as a teacher should have been recorded.

I'm slightly curious if she got recorded in Texas as well. It probably depends if she usually resided with someone else, like one of her children. If so, they may have mentioned her. If she usually lived alone, then her home may have just been marked "vacant." I will need to wait for Texas records to be better indexed.

A few houses down from my grandparents - Fred and Marjorie Helmkampf. They were good friends of my grandparents, and were mentioned a lot in the letters they wrote back and forth during WW2. My grandmother died in 1951. Fred would die in 1962. In 1965 my grandfather married Marj. I was born 4 years later, and would grow up thinking of her as my grandmother.

Here are my paternal grandparents. My father's info has been removed, but his brother passed away in 1997. 

My grandmother was on one of the "Sample" lines and was asked additional questions.

Both of her parents were born in Russia. (Actually, one was born in Losice, Poland, and the other Volhynia, which is now part of Ukraine.) She completed 12th grade. Being over 30 years old, she didn't have to answer whether or not she attended school in the past two months. She did indicate that in the past year she worked 42 weeks outside of the home. Though she earned no money from it. She probably was referring to volunteer work.

My paternal grandmother's parents, Herman and Annie Feinstein.

Here, it is properly recorded that Annie was born in Poland. It is indicated that in the past week, Herman only worked 24 hours as manager of a laundry.

My paternal grandfather's parents, Barney and Bertha Newmark, barely get recorded. A lodger has all their information recorded. However, my great grandmother doesn't have her name recorded, and all of the other columns are blank. In the notes section, it is stated that a neighbor claimed their census was taken in Miami Beach, Florida. It is recalled that they were simply on vacation, so this is unlikely. I’ll have to wait until Miami records are better indexed. 

Friday, March 4, 2022

More Tax Assessments for Selig and Anna Feinstein - And Fun with OCR

A month ago I found the 1910 Tax Assessment for my second great grandparents Selig and Annie Feinstein published in the St. Louis Globe Democrat 

I had been searching on his name and it came up. It was the only year it came up for, and I didn't dig much deeper.

This past week I was searching for his business partner, fellow blacksmith, Max Wieselman. A tax assessment list for 1907 came up:

I scrolled back a few pages and found my second great grandfather.

One nice thing about is you can view the Optical Character Recognition (OCR) text. Since I knew that it wasn't reading it as, "Feinstein," I was curious what it was reading it as. Felnatein. Reading an "i" as an 'l' isn't surprising. Neither is reading an 's' as an 'a.' So I started conducting more searches with various character replacements.

Then I went to the header on the first page. I wanted to find the list for as many years as possible. The opening sentence in the body of the article says "The Globe-Democrat, following its custom of many years, presents the complete list of St. Louis Taxpayers whose assessments are $5000 or more." How long was this custom?
Searching for "Assessments for Taxation" yielded no lists.
Searching for "St. Louis Taxpayers Who Are Listed" yielded none of the lists.
So I wondered - what was being indexed for the clipping above?

It looks like headline-size text is not read very well - which is the opposite of what I would expect. I searched for "Increase over last year" without much success. 

So far I have only uncovered 1902, 1907, 1909 and 1910 listings in my search from 1900-1915. I have found references to the listing in other years saying something to the effect "this list appears in today's paper," but the list isn't there. I think some years it may have been published in a separate pull-out section that didn't get scanned when the microfilm was made, and thus didn't get digitized. Though it is possible there are some years that have been digitized, but I just haven't had any luck finding the listings yet.


                                            Selig and Anna Feinstein didn't make the 1902 list




Selig's assessment dropped a little from 1907-1909, but a joint assessment with his wife appeared. From 1909 to 1910 the individual assessment remained the same, but the joint assessment grew. So far, this is all I know about the financial success of his real estate business.

Sunday, February 20, 2022

Timeline for Moshe Leyb Cruvant - 1858-1911

Timeline for my 2nd great grandfather, Moshe Leyb Cruvant
  • June 12, 1858 (*) - Moshe Leyb Cruvant was born in Cekiške, Kauno, Lithuania, to Mina and David Aron Orel Kruvant.
  • Before 1877 - Father David Aron Orel dies. 
  • 1881 - Moshe Leyb Cruvant married Minnie Mojsabovsky in 1881 when he was 24 years old. 
  • Dec 11, 1882 (*) - Son, Benjamin born in Pereyaslav, Lithuania 
  • March 17, 1885 - Son, David, born in Pereyaslav, Lithuania 
  • 1885 - Immigrates to US 
  • Sept 29, 1886 - Daughter Bertha born in either St. Louis Missouri or East St. Louis, Illinois 
  • May 8, 1889 - Daughter Stella born in St. Louis, Missouri 
  • March 1892 - Daughter Flora born in St. Louis, Missouri 
  • Jan 1, 1893 - Son Solomon born in St. Louis, Missouri 
  • April 7, 1895 - Brother Simon dies in St. Louis 
  • 1895 - Resides at 1128 North Eighth Street, St. Louis
  • 1900 - Resides at 1111 Morgan Street, St. Louis
  • 1903 - Seeks work in Chicago with son, Ben 
  • 1904 Returns to St. Louis 
  • May 26, 1904 - Son Ben marries Lillian Goldian White in Chicago Illinois 
  • July 19, 1904 - Grandson Clifford Edward born to Ben & Goldie in Chicago 
  • July 22, 1905 - Granddaughter Sarah Ruth born to Ben & Goldie in Chicago 
  • April 1907 - Ben leaves Goldie 
  • May 2, 1907 - Daughter Stella marries Louis Stern in St. Louis, Missouri 
  • June 1908 - Ben & Goldie divorced in East St. Louis, Illinois (appears in newspaper June 20) 
  • Oct 29, 1908 - Grandson Aaron Stern born to Stella and Louis in East St. Louis, Illinois 
  • June 27, 1909 - Son David marries Anna Rubin 
  • Aug 2, 1909 - Brother Girsh dies in Cekiske, Lithuania 
  • Before 1910 - Brother Notka dies in Lithuania or Ukraine.
  • 1910 - Resides at 435 Collinsville Ave, East St. Louis, Illinois
  • Feb 14, 1911 - Grandson Bernard Alan born to David & Anna 
  • Aug 27, 1911 - Daughter Bertha marries Barney Newmark in East St. Louis, Illinois 
  • Sept 26, 1911 - Moshe Leyb dies in East St. Louis, Illinois
(*) These dates are based on Lithuanian records and are Julian calendar dates. In both cases the individuals observed their birthdays about 20 days later. 12 days to adjust to the Gregorian calendar, and they were probably observing the anniversary of their Brit Milah at 8 days.


1) By noting the vital records of his children and grandchildren, kernels appear of the story of Ben and Goldie, which I have written several blog posts about. What I don't know is whether Moshe Leyb knew about the relationship when he left Chicago, and what he thought about it. I do know that when Ben and Goldie returned to St. Louis, all heck broke loose, because Goldie wasn't Jewish, and Ben was given an ultimatum. Ben chose his parents over his wife and children. (Though divorce records indicate he tried and failed to gain custody of one child.)

2) The exact date of daughter Bertha's birth is uncertain. She always observed her birthday on the Jewish holiday of Rosh HaShana, and wasn't certain whether she was born in 1886 or 1887. The date given in the timeline is Rosh HaShana 1886.

3) Moshe Leyb's brother, Notka, married a woman from Kiev, Ukraine - and family lore isn't certain where they resided and where he died.

4) Moshe Leyb died of liver cancer. His death certificate indicates the doctor began seeing him about a week before his daughter, Bertha's, marriage.

Saturday, February 19, 2022

Timeline for Moshe (Morris) Blatt 1862-1926

Timeline for 2nd great grandfather, Moshe (Morris) Blatt

1862 - Morris Blatt was born on May 1, 1862, in Losice, Mazowieckie, Poland, to Perl Kipersztok, age 26, and Yankiel Blatyta, age 25. 
1865 - Brother Yitzhak born 
1867 - Brother Nuta born 
1869 - Brother Nathan born 
1871 - Brother Aaron born 
1885 - Marries Chaia Bella Boksern 
1886 - Daughter Bryna Blanche born 
1888 - Daughter Channa/Anna born 
1890 - Immigrates to St. Louis, Missouri 
1892 - Chaia Bella dies in Poland 
1893 - Marries Mala Mollie Kellner Katz (Note: Her brother Nathan Kellner lived next door to Selig Feinstein in 1900. Selig & Morris’s children Herman and Anna would marry.) 
1894 - Son Joseph born 
1895 - Son Joseph died. 
1897 - Dry goods store burglarized 3 times 
1898 - Wife Mala files for a Passport- reason unknown 
1898 - Son Henry born 
1903 - Daughter Pearl born 
1903 - Daughter Blanche married Jacob Wyman 
1904 - Grandson Joseph Wyman born 
1905 -Grandson Louis Wyman born 
1908 - Grandson David Wyman born 
1907-1909 Residing in Mineral Wells, Texas with wife. (In 1907 Anna is with them.) 
1909 - Grandson David Wyman died 
1910 - Morris and Mala have returned to St. Louis
1910 - Grandson Sidney Wyman born 
1912 - Daughter Anna marries Herman Feinstein 
 1913 - Grandson Bernard Feinstein is born 
 1914 - Granddaughter Belle Feinstein is born 
 1914 - Granddaughter Belle Wyman is born 
 1917 - Grandson Seymour Feinstein is born 
 1926 - Morris dies on April 23, 1926.


1) I am accepting that the Moshe Blatyta born on May 1, 1862 to Yankiel & Perl was my 2nd great grandfather. Many in the Blatyta family changed their surname to Blatt. There is a small chance there were two Moshe sons of Yankiel born at a similar time. (A blog post on the records I have found.

2) Similarly I am accepting that Chaia Bella Boksern was his first wife, and my 2nd great grandmother. Though I am leaving open the possibility that a different Moshe Blatyta/Blatt married someone else. This potential second Blatt family would still somehow be related to the other Blatytas in Losice at the time, as DNA evidence confirms.

3) Besides vital records, I have not uncovered a lot of information about his life. I don't know why his wife filed for a passport (and he didn't) in 1898 - and I don't know what impact the birth of their son had on her plans. I don't know why they were living in Mineral Wells Texas in 1907-1909. In a family history interview conducted in the 1980s, my grandmother talked about her grandparents having lived in Mineral Wells for a period of time. She wasn't very clear on when it happened, but there is no question that the Blatts in the Mineral Wells City Directory is them. I don't know what impact the death of their infant grandson had on Morris and Mala's decision to return to St. Louis from Mineral Wells. However, putting all these events in the timeline does create possible hypotheses.

Monday, February 7, 2022

Amanuensis Monday: 1910 Tax Assessment for Selig & Annie Feinstein

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 Tax Assessment for my second great grandparents, Selig and Anna Feinstein. A Tax Assessment being the total value of the property owned upon which property tax is calculated. The local newspaper in 1910 listed the tax assessments for every individual or company above $5,000. (Over 12,000 people.) While theoretically property value is still public information, one would not expect a list like this to appear in a newspaper today.

As I mentioned in some recent posts, Selig and Annie were living in the tenement section in 1900, though according to the census, they owned the tenement. I have not been able to verify this yet by finding the deed, though I have looked in microfilm for it. They went into the real estate business between 1900 and 1910. Family lore has said that Selig was moderately successful, but somehow lost a lot of his money.

St. Louis Globe-Democrat, St. Louis, Missouri, 23 May 1910, Page 14

ASSESSMENTS GO UP $28,508,000 

St. Louis 1910 Valuation, Including State Board Estimate, Will Reach $568,000,000 


Many New Names Get Into List of Big Taxpayers This Year — James Campbell Has the Largest Individual Figure on List, with Daniel Catlin and D.R. Francis Next — Rate Remains Unchanged, but City Will Get $632,000 More in $12,610,000 of Revenue — More Than 12,000 Owners Rated at $5,000 and Over — Eighty-Seven Corporations, Estates and Citizens Hold $132,296,000, or Nearly One-Fourth of the Grand Total.

Combining the individual assessment for my second great grandfather, with the joint assessment with his wife, the total is $29,860. 

1) The CPI Inflation Calculator begins with January 1913. $29,860 in January of 1913 is equivalent to $849,492.62 in December of 2021. I do not know how many pieces of property they owned, or the difference between the property Selig owned individually, and what they owned jointly. 

Friday, February 4, 2022

Melvin Newmark at age 1

Scanning a box of family photos. 

The back of the photograph reads, "Melvin, 1 Year 1912"
My grandfather, Melvin Newmark, was born on Aug 27, 1912
My great grandparents Bertha Cruvant and Barney Newmark were married on Aug 27, 1911

If that were a newborn child, I would assume the note was an indication of their 1 year anniversary. But that is no newborn. A year old looks about right, and the year would be 1913.

According to the St. Louis City Directories they lived at 6135A Plymouth Ave, which is in the current city of Wellston, in St. Louis County. (Unincorporated in 1913)That may be their yard in the photograph.


Saturday, January 29, 2022

Timeline for Selig Dudelczak Feinstein (1858-1915)

I've decided to create some timelines for my ancestors to organize the information I have on their lives.

Here is a timeline I have created for my second great grandfather, Selig Dudelczak Feinstein 

  • 1858-1862 Simcha Zelig (Selig) Dudelczak is born, likely somewhere in Volhynia, Ukraine.
    • Simcha means "Gladness" or "Joy" in Hebrew. Zelig means "Blessed" in Yiddish.
  • 1858 Brother, Yidel (Julius) born (Possible Twin)
  • 1860 Sister, Zlata (Lottie) born (Possible Twin)
  • 1868 Sister, Toba (Tillie) born
  • 1871 Sister, Bella (Rebecca) born
  • 1874 Sister Shprintze (Sylvia) born
  • 1883 Selig marries Nechama (Anna) Perlik (Source: 1900 census)
  • 1885 Son Shmuel Zvi (Harry Samuel) born. 
  • 1886 Son Chaim (Herman Max)  born 
  • 1888 Son Benjamin born 
  • 1889 Immigrates to US by self (Port of arrival: Castle Garden)
  • 1890 Wife, Children & Mother immigrate under the surname Feinstein 
  • 1890 Daughter, Pearl, born (Descendants share DNA with descendants of Selig’s siblings, so paternity is likely)
  • 1892 First appears in St Louis City Directory as a Shoer
  • 1893 Son, Morris, born
  • 1895 Son, David, born
  • 1896 Son, David, died 
  • 1898 Son, Aaron, born
  • 1898 Patents an improvement to fire hydrants with business partner Max Wieselman (who also immigrated from Volhynia)
  • 1899 Appears in City Directory as both Grocer and Blacksmith 
  • 1899 Son, Joseph, born
  • 1899 Vice President of new Tpheris Israel congregation
  • 1900 Blacksmith, residing at 1122 North Eighth Street, and according to the census, owner,
  • 1901 Opens Western Junk Shop - lasts until 1905
  • 1901 Daughter, Rose, born. Son, Joseph, died.
  • 1902-1913 Member of Progressive Order of the West fraternal organization
  • 1906 Mother, Gitel (Gertrude) died. 
  • 1906 Selig on Chesed Shel Emeth Society committee to build an Old Folks Home
  • 1906 Moves to 5600 Garfield. 
  • 1907 Sells property on Garfield to brother Julius Odelsohn
  • 1908 Opens real estate business with Son, Harry
  • 1910 Lives at 1941 Burd Ave
  • 1911 Selig & Anna purchase lot of Carr Primary School
  • 1911 Opens Central Laundry business with Son, Herman
  • 1912 Incorporates Famous Laundry
  • 1912 Charged with violating "Anti-Smoke Ordinances" at Central Laundry. (Coal smoke) 
  • 1914 Opens another laundry business with daughter, Pearl
  • 1915 Selig Feinstein died. 
  • 1915 Selig is recorded as donating $6 to Jewish Charitable & Educational Union
  1. I have yet to uncover a document with his date of birth. Years on documents vary. 
  2. No European vital records have been found so dates which appear on later records are less certain. 
  3. Between 1860-1868 it is likely other siblings were born. Family history suggests at least one named Gershon survived childhood and remained in the Ukraine as an adult. What happened to him is unknown.
  4. I do not know for certain where Selig (and his family) were between 1889-1892. They may not have moved to St. Louis until after everyone had immigrated.
  5. I have searched through deed indexes on microfilm, but have been unable to uncover the deed indicating Selig purchased 1122 North Eighth Street as the 1900 census suggests.  The vast majority of neighbors are listed as renters, and few addresses in the neighborhood have owners listed. Most owners of the tenements likely lived in other neighborhoods. Being a resident owner would have been unusual, but Selig's later interest in real estate might have started earlier. 
  6. He was possibly a member of the Progressive Order of the West fraternal organization prior to 1902, but that was the first year he appeared in the newspaper as a delegate to their annual convention. Similarly, he likely remained a member until his death.
  7. I have not uncovered Selig’s will so I don’t know if the donation was part of it or given before he died. A list of donations appeared in the newspaper. 
  8. I’ve found six occupations so far. Shoer, Blacksmith, Grocer, Junk Dealer, Real Estate Management, Laundry Management. 

Saturday, January 8, 2022

Who Cleaned Up The Eighth Street Yard?

What was the Eighth Street Yard? 

St. Louis Globe Democrat, November 14, 1892

The police of the Third District are constantly annoyed by rows between whites and blacks in what is known as the Eighth Street Yard. This yard,  which covers nearly a half block, is situate on Eighth street, between Carr and Biddle.

St Louis Post Dispatch, January 6, 1895

There are only four blocks in this territory, but within its sacred precincts are located Castle Thunder and the Eighth Street Yard, both of which have done more than their share toward making local history...It is one of the hardest beats in the city, and for one man to walk it alone at night would be an extremely hazardous undertaking.

Where exactly was the Eighth Street Yard? The first clipping above says it covered half a block on Eighth Street between Carr and Biddle. The clipping below provides an address.

St. Louis Globe-Democrat, March 6, 1893

1122 North Eighth. The tenement my 2nd great grandfather, Selig Feinstein, lived in, and owned, according to the 1900 census. The Eighth Street Yard appears a lot in the news between 1890-1895. Then it disappears. 

When and how was the 8th Street Yard, one of the toughest police beats, cleaned up? When did Selig Feinstein purchase the address? What was his role? In the early 1890s he is listed in city directories as residing on Seventh Street, but working as a shoer/blacksmith at 1106 North Eighth. So he would naturally have had an incentive to move to the same block he worked. Once he owned the property, did he just kick out the rowdy residents and recruit new ones?

I hoped to get to the library this weekend to research deeds on microfilm, to pinpoint the exact year he purchased the property, and whether he purchased any other property in the area. There is some family lore that he may have.  I do know that he went into the Real Estate business with his children starting in 1905, but he may have been a landlord of multiple properties before then. It doesn't look like I will get to the library this weekend due to weather and other factors. Maybe next weekend. 

Sunday, January 2, 2022

1122 North Eighth Street, 1900

In the 1900 Census my second great grandparents Selig and Annie (Perlik) Feinstein, their seven children, and Selig's mother Gertie were living at 1122 North Eighth Street in St. Louis, Missouri. They were in the front section, and are listed in the census as the owners. In the rear were several families: The Finkelsteins, Buchmans, Portnoys, and Shparbergs.  There were also several individuals - Sarah Freeman, Samuel Feingold, Morris Klingermann, Charles Mutsnick, and Wolf Simon. In total, there were 36 people residing at 1122 North 8th. 10 in the front, 26 in the rear. The country of origin for all adults was Russia.

Over the years I've written several entries on the Carr Square Neighborhood, and on the subsection called Little Jerusalem. Over the last week I decided to start with the families at 1122, and see what I could find out about their descendants. The term FAN Principle (Friends, Associates, Neighbors), credited to Elizabeth Shown Mills, is somewhat applicable. However, my primary intent wasn't to find out more about my ancestors through researching their neighbors. I was genuinely interested in what happened to the families living with my ancestors in the tenement.

Most of the single boarders are difficult to trace. I already knew that Rebecca Portnoy was Selig's sister, and she and her husband were childless. My new database after a week of researching Ancestry Hints is up to 275. A good proportion are the descendants of my second great grandparents, but unrelated surnames include Bernhardt, Buchman, Finkelstein, Friedman, Green, Kanefield, Klayman, Safron, Shcolnik, and Sparberg.

I'm ready to move on to the next address. I will probably move next door on the census, but I might make a detour to North Seventh Street where Selig's brother, Julius, was residing. Why am I interested? Having lived in St. Louis for my whole life I do expect to run across surnames that while not related to me, are still familiar. I'm also interested in fleshing out this community of Little Jerusalem where all of my paternal second great grandparents lived at one time. My Newmark ancestors arrived in 1909 and settled perhaps a block or two outside of the boundaries. The Cruvants, Blatts & Feinsteins all resided within the boundaries at some point.

I have created a secondary blog - Little Jerusalem 1900 to write about discoveries that aren't directly related to my family history. Today I posted a transcription of a news article about a War Between Candy Shops. It's a humorous story about competing businesses, and is a refreshing counterpoint to the disturbing descriptions of the tenement conditions I have read elsewhere. It also suggests that Candy Apples were introduced in St. Louis in 1900, 8 years prior to when they are said to have been invented in New Jersey. Some people might question how these two candy apples compared. Certainly many people confuse Caramel Apples with Candy Apples. But Caramel Apples are said to have been invented by Kraft Foods in the 1950s. It's not clear what was introduced in St. Louis in 1900 and how it may differ from what was introduced in 1908, but the description given in the newspaper article appears to resemble what we know today as Candy Apples. The origin story of the confection may need to be rewritten if Candy Apples were being sold by two candy shops in St. Louis in 1900.