Saturday, January 19, 2019

Saturday Night Genealogy Fun: Photographs through the Generations

This week's Saturday Night Genealogy Fun exercise from Randy Seaver is a fun one!

Your mission this week, should you decide to accept it (cue the Mission:  Impossible! music!), is:

(1) How many generations do you have photographs or portraits of your ancestors and descendants?  It can be any line—it just can't be broken!

(2) Tell us the line, or better yet, show us the unbroken line.  Provide birth and death years, and the approximate date that the photograph or portrait was made.

(3) Share your generation photograph line in a blog post of your own, in a Facebook post, or in a comment to this post.

I thought I wouldn't be able to compete with Randy on this, but I found one of my Jewish(!) family lines with eight generations of photographs.  It doesn't include me, because I don't have any descendants, but has my sister instead.

1.  3x-great-grandfather Gersh Wolf Gorodetsky, unknown birth and death dates, probably from Podolia gubernia, Russian Empire (now in Ukraine), maybe from Kamenets Podolsky or Orinin, no idea when photograph was taken.  (At least I'm pretty sure this is Gersh Wolf Gorodetsky.)

2.  Great-great-grandfather Victor Gordon (originally Avigdor Gorodetsky, Hebrew name Isaac), ~1866–1925, from Kamenets Podolsky, Podolia gubernia, Russian Empire, photograph from about 1890 (on the left in the photo).

3.  Great-grandfather Joe Gordon (originally Joine Gorodetsky), ~1892–1955, from Kamenets Podolsky, Podolia gubernia, Russian Empire, photograph from about 1914 (on the right in the photo).

4.  Grandmother Lillyan E. (Gordon) Meckler, 1919–2006, originally from Manhattan, New York, photograph from 1937.

5.  Mother Myra Roslyn (Meckler) Sellers Preuss, 1940–1985, originally from Brooklyn, New York, photograph from about 1972.

6.  Sister Stacy Ann (Sellers) Doerner Fowler, living, originally from La Puente, Califorina, photograph from 2019.

7 and 8.  Nephew Garry Travis Doerner, 1982–2012, from San Antonio, Texas; and grandniece Natalie Desiree Doerner, living; unknown date for photograph.

Tuesday, January 15, 2019

And the 8th Blogiversary Rolls Around

Wow, it has been eight years already?!  How time flies when we're having fun!  Lisa Hork Gorrell and I started our blogs the same day, after attending Craig Siulinski's class on blogging held at the California Genealogical Society.

My primary focuses are Jewish, black, newspaper, and forensic genealogical research, but I've posted about a lot of other subjects over the years, ranging from Africa to Ypres (France), Aaron Lansky to Zooey Deschanel, Abell to Zook (family surnames), and abolitionists to Zundapp (motorcycle).  I'm close to 1,500 posts at this point!

I've been having some health problems, so I wasn't as productive last year as I wanted to be.  My project to document the births, marriagees, and deaths in my family tree fell off at the beginning of June (also caused by my hard drive failing), and I've missed the past two seasons of Who Do You Think You Are?  I don't know if I'll be able to catch up on the latter, but I'm hoping to restart the former this June and pick up where I left off.  I also really need to return to the saga of Emma Margaret (Shaefer) Petit La Forêt, whose file I finally have found after my move from Oakland.  There's always so much to write about!

Well, it is a new year, which means new opportunities to try again.  So off we go!

Saturday, January 12, 2019

Saturday Night Genealogy Fun: Where Were They 150 Years Ago?

This wee's Saturday Night Genealogy Fun is an "encore" theme, but moved forward in time a few years.

Your mission, should you decide to accept it (cue the Mission:  Impossible! music), is:

(1) Determine where your ancestral families were on 12 January 1869:  150 years ago.

(2) List them, their family members, their birth years, and their residence locations (as close as possible).  Do you have a photograph of their residence, and does the residence still exist?  How many do you have in each generation living in January 1869?

(3) Tell us all about it in your own blog post, in a comment to this post, or in a Facebook Status  post.

So Randy posed this question almost four years ago, on May 16, 2015, but since we're now looking at 1869 instead of 1865, one additional ancestor of mine might have been alive.  One thing that has changed since 2015 is that I learned that my grandfather was a Sellers through informal adoption, so this time I am not posting about all the Sellers family ancestors.

Catherine (Stackhouse) Armstrong (born 1796–1800), my 4th great-grandmother, may or may not have been alive.  I have narrowed down her death to 1860–1870 (and I have not narrowed it down further since 2015).  If she was alive, she was living somewhere in Burlington County, New Jersey.  I don't know who she might have been living with or if she lived alone.

Franklin Armstrong (1825–after 1870), my 3rd-great-grandfather, was living in Mansfield Township, Burlington County, New Jersey with his son, Joel Armstrong (1849–~1921), my 2nd-great-grandfather.

Abel Amos Lippincott (1825–after 1885) and Rachel (Stackhouse) Lippincott (~1825–after 1885), my 3rd-great-grandparents, were living in Burlington County, New Jersey.  I don't know exactly where.

Sarah Ann Lippincott (1860–after 1904), my 2nd-great-grandmother, was almost definitely living somewhere in Burlington County, New Jersey.  In the 1860 census she was not yet born and in the 1870 census she was not with her parents, however.

James Gauntt (1831–1889) and Amelia (Gibson) Gauntt (1831–1908), my 2nd-great-grandparents, were almost definitely living in Burlington County, New Jersey.  I don't know exactly where.  They likely had three to five children living with them, but not my great-grandfather Thomas Kirkland Gauntt, because he was born in 1870.

Frederick Cleworth Dunstan (1840–1873) and Martha (Winn) Dunstan (1837–1884), my 2nd-great-grandparents, were living in one of the suburbs of Manchester, Lancashire, England.  I don't know exactly where.  They had four children living with them, but not my great-grandmother Jane Dunstan, who was born in 1871.

Zvi (died before 1903) and Esther Mekler, my 3rd-great-grandparents, were probably living in Kamenets Litovsk, Russia (now Kameniec, Belarus), with their son Simcha Dovid Mekler (died before 1903), my 2nd-great-grandfather, and his older brother Eliezer.

Bela (died before 1924) (I don't know her maiden name yet), my 2nd-great-grandmother, who would later marry Simcha Mekler, was probably somewhere in the area of Kamenets Litovsk, but that's just a guess.  She would have been young, maybe between 10–15 years old, and probably living with her parents, but I still don't know their names either.

Abraham Yaakov (died before 1896) and Sirke (died before 1893) Nowicki, my 3rd-great-grandparents, were probably living in Porozowo, Russia (now Porozovo, Belarus) with their son Gershon Itzhak Nowicki (~1858–1948), my 2nd-great-grandfather.

Ruven Yelsky (~1838–~1898) and Frieda (Bloom) Yelsky (~1838–~1898), my 3rd-great-grandparents, were probably living in Porozowo, Russia with their daughter Dora Yelsky (~1858–1936), my 2nd-great-grandmother.

Gersh Wolf Gorodetsky and Etta (Cohen) Gorodetsky (died before 1891), my 3rd-great-grandparents, were almost definitely living in Podolia gubernia, Russia, probably near Kamenets Podolsky (now Kamyanets Podilskyy, Ukraine).  Their son Isaac/Avigdor Gorodetsky (died 1925), my 2nd-great-grandfather, should have been with them; I have approximated his birth year to 1864–1868, so by 1869 he had probably been born.

Joine (died before 1893) and Chane Etta (died before 1891) Schneiderman, my 3rd-great-grandparents, also were likely living in Podolia gubernia, Russia, probably in the area of Kamenets Podolsky.  My 2nd-great-grandmother Esther Leah Schneiderman (died 1908) may have been with them; I have approximated her birth year as between 1868 and 1874.

Solomon (died before 1909) and Yetta Brainin, my 3rd-great-grandparents, were probably living near Kreuzburg, Russia (now Krustpils, Latvia) with their son Mendel Hertz Brainin (~1862–1930), my 2nd-great-grandfather.

I still don't have photographs of any of the residences and don't know if any of them exist today.  I really do want to work on that, though.

Without the Sellers family lines, it appears that I had 29 (maybe only 28) ancestors who were alive on May 16, 1865.  The breakdown is:
• 1 4th-great-grandparent
• 15 3rd-great-grandparents
• 13 2nd-great-grandparents

And still none of my great-grandparents had been born yet, but we're getting closer!

Monday, January 7, 2019

Ten Things You Should Always Carry with You

Today is January 7, which on the Jewish calendar this year (5779) is 1 Shevat, my mother's yahrzeit, commemorating the date of her death.  (Technically I'm writing this on 2 Shevat, as it is after sundown, but it's the first time I've had a chance to sit down and write all day.)  For a couple of years now I have written about my mother on her yahrzeit as part of my effort to record and share stories about her.

I think it was around the time I started college that my mother told me about the "ten things you should always carry with you."  These were the basics that she felt you needed to have on you wherever you went.  I vaguely recall her saying that someone had taught her the list when she was yonger, maybe when she started dating.

So what are the ten things, you ask?  They are:

driver's license
dime for phone
and . . . ?

And I'm so disappointed that's all I can remember now!  Did anyone else's mother teach them this?  I'm hoping someone can fill in the blanks for me.  I really did have this memorized at one time.

Of course, my mother's list looks somewhat dated now.  A dime for a phone?  It's difficult to find pay phones anymore, and when you do, they certainly don't cost a dime.  Besides, mobile phones are now ubiquitous.  Not as many people smoke nowadays, so a lot of people wouldn't be carrying the cigarettes and lighter.

If I were to redo her list based on what I actually carry around, it would be:

driver's license
mobile phone
lip balm

And that's about it, at least based on the parts of her list I can remember.


Update, January 15, 2019:

I was looking at a vintage compact at a store recently and realized that's what it should be instead of a mirror on the list.


Update, January 22, 2020:

Aha!  I think I remembered another item:  sunglasses.  And it had to be sunglasses, not regular glasses, because my mother didn't wear prescription glasses.


Update, October 12, 2020:

I'm almost there!  The current version of the list:

driver's license
dime for phone
credit card

Now I'm missing only one item.  It's possible that my mother had house key and car key as individual items, but I don't think that's it.

Saturday, January 5, 2019

Saturday Night Genealogy Fun: Your Best Find of 2018, and Research Challenge for 2019

It's Saturday, and that means it's time for Randy Seaver's Saturday Night Genealogy Fun challenge!

Your mission, should you decide to accept it (cue the Mission:  Impossible! music), is:

(1) What was your best research achievement in 2018?  Tell us — show us a document, tell us a story, or display a photograph.  Brag a bit!  You've earned it!

(2) We all have elusive ancestors.  What research problem do you want to work on in 2019?  Tell us where you want to research and what you hope to find.

(3) Put the answers in your own blog post, in a comment to this blog post, or in a Facebook post.

1.  I wasn't able to concentrate on research very much in 2018 due to ongoing health problems, so I had no huge achievements.  There were two significant finds, however, one positive and one not so much.

The positive discovery came when I was on the East Coast to give genealogy presentations in May and June.  I visited the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum library and learned from librarian Megan Lewis that the library had microfilmed and then digitized records from the former Grodno gubernia region of the Russian Empire, now the Hrodna area of Belarus.  Among the records are many, many documents relating to Jews in the area during World War II.  The digital records are all freely downloadable if you visit the library.  I loaded everything I could fit onto one flash drive, and a friend has volunteered to copy more for me when I send her a list.  I'm hoping to find information about family members who are said to have died during the Holocaust in this area.

The sad discovery, coincidentally also related to the Holocaust, was of another family related to me where almost all individuals were killed.  I have had the Goldsztern family names in my database for a while but only recently realized that they were Holocaust victims.  I added their names to my annual Yom HaShoah post so that they will always be remembered.

2.  I looked at last year's post on this subject, and my research challenges for 2019 haven't changed.  I am still trying to determine who my paternal grandfather's biological father was.  I have an excellent candidate, Bertram Mundy, who was a salesman from northern New Jersey.  He apparently was a philanderer whose first wife divorced him shortly after my grandfather was born.  My father has two excellent Y-DNA matches with men named Mundy, but they're roughly 6th cousins, so I have a lot more work to do on tracing back the two men's family trees and then bringing them forward to look for living relatives with whom I can try to talk.

The second challenge is looking for the son my 93-year-old aunt gave up for adoption in 1945.  This occurred in New Jersey, where adoptions after 1940 are tightly locked up and no information is given out.  Between my aunt and two of her children, I have every major consumer DNA database covered, but still no hits.  I don't know if Raymond Lawrence Sellers (his birth name) is alive or dead.  I don't know if he married or ever had children.  I just know that the only close matches showing up for my aunt and cousins are people we already know.  I think the most challenging part about this research quest is that I can't think of anything else I can do to help find Raymond.  I have to sit and wait, and I'm so bad at doing that.

Tuesday, January 1, 2019

Significant Anniversaries of 2019

Newspapers, particularly smaller local ones, often used to have a "memories" feature where they published synopses of stories and events that had been in the paper 50, 75, 100, etc. years ago.  Genealogists try to collect as many dates as possible about family members during their research.  This sounds like a great combination, right?  So I looked through my family tree (or at least the parts of it that I have access to, still being somewhat in limbo for a program) and found that 2019 will mark some important milestones in my family.  And it turns out that all of them are for my mother's side of the family.

100 Years Ago

My maternal grandmother, Lillyan E. Gordon (originally Esther Lillian), daughter of Joe Gordon and Sarah Libby Brainin, was born March 6, 1919 in her grandparents' home at 1575 Madison Avenue, Manhattan, New York.  My mother was very close to her mother, so we saw my grandparents on a regular basis.  My grandmother and my mother steeped me in family lore from the time I was just a little girl and definitely influenced my interest in genealogy.  If it weren't for them sharing their love of family with me, I may never have become a professional genealogist.

75 Years Ago

On March 5, 1944 — one day before she turned 25 — my grandmother gave birth to her second child, my uncle Martin Herbert Meckler, in Brooklyn, New York.  (My mother was the oldest child.)  So my uncle will be turning 75 this year.  I used to visit my uncle regularly when we both lived in California, and I miss seeing him and my aunt.  I have to make sure I remember to send a card out in time for this birthday.

50 Years Ago

For the 50-year category, I actually have a birth, a marriage, and a death to commemorate.

On June 29, 1969, my 1st cousin once removed Gail Arlene Gordon, daughter of Alexander Gordon (my maternal grandmother's brother) and Rose Rubin, married Stephen Roy Chepenik in Miami, Florida.  I actually attended this wedding.  I remember flying to Florida with my mother, brother, and sister.  My hair was all done up fancy for the event.  (Somewhere I still have the "rat" that was used to puff up my hair.)  My mother's 1st cousin Harriet Stein helped take care of us kids a lot during the trip.

My 4th cousin once removed Jake Socherman, who lives in the Portland area and whom I met only a few years ago, turns 50 this year, an important number for anyone.  He was born June 9, 1969.  His parents are Sam Socherman (originally Szocherman), one of my Cuban cousins, and Cecelia Keselman.  I hope he plans to celebrate big time!

Morris Garfinkel, my 2nd cousin 2x removed, died 50 years ago, on December 28, 1969.  He was the father of my dear cousin Esther Weinstein.  In Judaism, a person's death date, or yahrzeit, is commemorated every year, based on the date on the Jewish calendar.  December 28 was the 19th of Tevet in 1959; because of the way the Jewish calendar moves around in comparison to the Christian calendar, the 19th of Tevet for "this year" will actually fall on January 15, 2020.