02 September 2014

Tombstone Tuesday: Reisel, Labun Cemetery

In June of 2013 I had the pleasure of visiting Ukraine and several ancestral family communities. Labun (now Yurovshchina; once called Lubin in Yiddish), my paternal grandparents' community was my principal goal. We were able to visit the old Jewish cemetery, which I discussed in an earlier post. Over the next several Tuesdays I will post photos and translations (as I am able to decipher) of tombstones from that cemetery. Most do not feature surnames.

An important and modest woman
Mrs. Reisel daughter of
Yehoshuah Avraham
Died 6 Shevet
Sabbath, in the year 5673
May her soul be bound in everlasting life

In using Steve Morse's Hebrew calendar conversion tool, we find that Reisel died on 14 January 1913 (in today's Gregorian calendar), or in 1 January 1913 in the Julian calendar (which was in effect in the Russian Empire, where she died, until 1918).

28 August 2014

Treasure Chest Thursday: The Wilson Family

Selig Wilensky arrived in the United States in November 1891.[1] In his new land he became Saul Wilson. It was more than five years before his family joined him from Kasan, Russian Empire (today Kozyany, Belarus).[2] From 1898 through 1904 they lived in Hudson, New York. Their youngest daughter, Esther, was born in September 1898 in Hudson - their only child born in the United States.

Saul Wilson, Nina Wilson Herman, Benjamin Wilson, Esther Wilson Marwit Wasmflash, Joseph Wilson, Hoda Wilson (circa 1903); family collection.
I have a copy of this photograph and, therefore, have no information about the studio in which it was taken. I do not know if any family members have the original.

Hudson city directories for 1901 and 1902 list four photography studios:
Charles Booth, 551 Warren
Sullivan Brothers, 425 Warren
Nelson E. Weeks, 609 Warren
Volkert Whitbeck, Forshew's Photograph Gallery, 441 Warren [3]
Weeks' studio is no longer listed in 1903 and 1904 Hudson directories.[4]

1."New York Passenger Lists, 1820-1957," digital images, Ancestry.com (http://www.ancestry.com : accessed 20 October 2008), manifest, Polaria, Stettin to New York, arriving 23 November 1891, passenger number 196, Selig Wilenski; citing National Archives Microfilm Serial M237, Microfilm Roll 579.
2. "New York Passenger Lists, 1820-1957," digital images, Ancestry.com (http://www.ancestry.com : accessed 7 September 2009), manifest, Pisa, Hamburg to New York, arriving 1 June 1897, list 7, Hode, Nachame, Josef and Benjamin Wilensky; citing National Archives Microfilm Serial M237, Microfilm Roll 579.
3. J.H. Lant, Hudson City, Claverack and Stottville Directory (Hudson: J.H. Lant, 1901), 176; also 1902, 179; digital image, Ancestry.com (http://www.ancestry.com : accessed 28 August 2014). 
4. J.H. Lant, Hudson City, Claverack and Stottville Directory (Hudson: J.H. Lant, 1903), 174; also 1904, 170; digital image, Ancestry.com (http://www.ancestry.com : accessed 28 August 2014). 

26 August 2014

Tombstone Tuesday: a milestone/millstone

"Sisyphys" by Titian (Wikipedia.com)
I've been absent from blogging during the last two weeks. I had good reason. During that time I vacationed with my husband in a location that was Internet challenged and photographed all gravestones in the First Hebrew Congregation Cemetery in South Haven, Michigan (and created and submitted a spreadsheet to the JewishGen Online World Burial Registry). But, part of the reason for a small hiatus in the Tombstone Tuesday posts is that in the last 1-1/2 years I've managed to blog about every family gravestone I've thus far recorded.

There are more family graves to record, but they are located in a variety of cemeteries and will require special effort to photograph (if you are a family member, I will repeat my usual pre-Jewish New Year plea: if you will be visiting family graves, please take digital photos of all relations' tomstones and, then, share the images with me.)

My goal* in posting all these gravestone images has been three-fold:
  • to share the images (and make them locatable via search engines on the Internet, i.e. cousin bait);
  • to tell a few stories about these relatives and the major events in their lives;
  • to examine records for the individuals buried in these graves and develop citations for my sources (if I'd not done that before); and
  • to keep me on a blogging schedule (good medicine). 
Early on in my research I found that tombstone records were useful documents. When I first visited the First Lubiner Progressive Benevolent Association plots in Montefiore Cemetery, Queens, NY, I knew that some relatives were buried there. Since recording all graves in both plots, I've discovered several more relations within the plots. One of the big advantages of traditional Jewish gravestones is that they list the Hebrew (and sometimes Yiddish) names of fathers - a great way to make family connections among those hitherto unknown relatives.

With regard to the last goal of consistent blogging, this effort has been a success and I will not tamper with it. So, I've decided to celebrate the milestone and not the millstone of work yet to be completed.

In keeping with one of my research goals of learning about and documenting the town of Labun/Lubin/Yurovshchina (my father's family's community in Ukraine), I will proceed with Tombstone Tuesday posts. I have many more gravestone photos from First Lubiner Progressive Benevolent Association (FLPBA) and the United Old Konstantin Benevolent Society burial plots in Montefiore Cemetery, Queens, NY and the FLPBA plot in Beth Moses Cemetery in Pinelawn, NY; the cemetery in Yurovshchina, Ukraine; and the Polonnoe Cemetery on Baker Street in West Roxbury, Massachusetts. If you, dear reader, are a Lubin descendant and have relatives' gravestone photos from other cemeteries in other places, please share them with me so that I may post them, as well.

And to all of you conducting research: when you visit a cemetery, take your camera or cell phone and record all the graves in a plot or in the cemetery. Photos and inscriptions are key to our research. There are too may graves recorded on the JewishGen Online Burial Registry and Find A Grave and other sites like them without photos or dates of birth and death. Full records may help us link to others that may support our research findings.

Just do it! I would not be at all surprised if your effort results in more family connections.
* And special thanks to Thomas MacEntee of Geneabloggers for suggesting Tombstone Tuesday as a blogging prompt.

07 August 2014

Treasure Chest Thursday: Isidore Morris World War I Draft Card

It took a while to locate this record. When at first I couldn't find it in either Ancestry's or FamilySearch's indices, I considered that, perhaps, my great grandfather, Isidore Morris, had been too old for World War I draft registration. My estimate of his birth year (1874) was just on the cusp of ineligibility. Isidore registered in the third registration of men eligible for the selective service during World War I.

The Selective Service Act of 18 May 1917 (P.L.65-12, 40 Stat. 76) authorized raising an army. Three draft registrations (and a supplemental one) ensued:
  • 5 June 1917: all men between ages of 21-31 (born in years 1885 - 1896).
  • 5 June 1918: all men who had turned 21 after 5 June 1917 (1885 - 1897)
  • 24 August 1918: supplemental registration for all men be became 21 after 5 June 1918 (1885 - 1897)
  • 12 September 1918: all men ages 18-45 (1873 - 1900)
It turns out Isidore's first name was just written incorrectly on the card as Ididore (and I do not know why, but when I query on surname Morris, born in Russia in 1874, his record does not come up among the results in FamilySearch).

"World War I Draft Registration Cards, 1917-1918," digital images, Ancestry.com (http://www.ancestry.com : accessed 14 August 2010), card for Ididore [Isidore] Morris , no. 3138, New York County Draft Board 160, citing World War I Selective Service System Draft Registration Cards, 1917 - 1918, National Archives microfilm publication M1509; imaged from Family History Library microfilm roll 1,786,852.

Items in red text will be discussed further.
SERIAL                                                            ORDER
NUMBER 3138                                               NUMBER A2381

1. Name: Ididore Morris
2. Permanent Home Address: 243 E. 105 New York, City
3. Age by Years: 44
4. Date of Birth: May 18, 1874
5. Race: White
14. Alien - Non-declarant
15. If not a citizen of the U.S., of what nation are you a citizen or subject? Russia
16. Present Occupation: glacier
17. Employer's Name: self
18. Place of employment of business: 239 E. 105 New York, N.Y.
19. Nearest Relative Name: Sarah Morris
20. Nearest Relative Address: 243 E. 105 N.Y. City
I affirm that I have verified above answers and that they are true.
Registrant's signature or mark: /s/ I. Morris

Description of registrant
Height: tall
Build: medium
Color of eyes: black
Color of hair: black

Date of registration: 9 12 18
Isidore's first name is variably spelled on records as either Isidore and Isador (with or without the letter e at the end). So, I had not anticipated "Ididore." Of course, his name is the old country had been Yitzchak, so any spelling of the new name would do in the new country.

I have thus far been unsuccessful in determining whether Isidore ever became a citizen. If he did, he did so after his eldest daughter married on 12 August 1916. [1] She naturalized in August 1943.[2] At some point I may have to contact USCIS and have them search for me.

We genealogists always say that spelling does not count. In this case, I think it does. Since I do not think my great grandfather worked as a slow moving mass of ice, I believe that his occupation should have been written as "glazier."

1. New York County, New York, Certificate and Record of Marriage no. 19923 (12 August 1916), Jacob Garber and Dora Morris, New York City Municipal Archives, New York.
2. Dora Garber Petition for Naturalization (1943), Volume 1354, petition number 378602, U.S. District Court, Eastern District, Brooklyn, New York.

06 August 2014

IAJGS2014: Heard in the Hallways

I am a relative newbie at IAJGS conferences - 2014 was only the third one I have attended - but, it's clear that a great deal of the conference value takes place in the hallways between  (or sometimes instead of) sessions. A few observations.

Methods in the Madness

The contrast between International Association of Jewish Genealogical Societies conferences and other non-Jewish national genealogy conferences is interesting. Understandably after years of record deprivation, Jewish genealogists are obsessed with finding new records. Sometimes this is almost to the exclusion of discussions about what one might do with them once one has them. Times are changing. There is just not enough talk about methodology. 

My impression after my attendance at the National Genealogical Society conference in Las Vegas in 2013 and RootsTech in 2011 was that presentations and interest in methodology give those conferences a completely different feel.

Now, there was definitely excitement at IAJGS. For Jim Tanner of Genealogy's Star blog, who has attended and taught at several national genealogy conferences, the IAJGS was an eye-opening experience. He told me that not only were our presenters highly qualified, but also attendees seemed to have an admirable fervor for their pastime.

To me, however, the excitement still seems oriented toward new record groups, and not enough to problem solving and evidence analysis. I noticed that the printed conference Daily Planner (which I never once looked at during the conference because I was using the conference app on my iPad) identified "program focus codes" for each presentation. This told people whether a presentation was deemed beginning, intermediate or advanced and whether it was focused on archives, databases, technology, Holocaust, Sephardic research, etc., and methodology. Unfortunately, these codes did not appear on the app. So, if one wanted to select sessions with a particular theme, it was not easily accomplish.

Several like-minded genealogists would like to see more emphasis on methodology at IAJGS conferences. I agree. I think the best way to achieve such a goal is for more presenters to provide interesting talks on the joys (and results) of methodologically sound research. My presentation, "Beyond the Manifest: Methods for Confirming One's Ancestral Origins," was well-attended last year in Boston and this year in Salt Lake City. After my talk, I was very pleased that many people approached me during the next several days to tell me how excited they were about what I had presented. 

If you agree that the IAJGS conference would benefit from additional presentations geared to evidence analysis and methodology, let's make sure to provide bunches of presentation proposals for IAJGS 2015 (Israel) and 2016 (Seattle). Research success is the most eloquent speaker.

Ukraine Special Interest Group

Make no mistake, I do get excited when there are new records for my eastern European geographical research areas, too. Ukraine SIG has about 12,000 lines of data translated and in the pipeline for sharing within JewishGen databases. That's promised this fall on JewishGen.org.

In addition, the SIG has an incredible backlog of records needing translating/indexing to make them accessible for researchers. These include Kiev Gubernia records that are on Family History Library microfilm and record collections from Khmelnitskyy, Zhitomyr and Kiev Archives that have been acquired by the Central Archives for the History of the Jewish People in Jerusalem. These are exciting times [full disclosure, I am a Ukraine SIG board member]. If your community is listed among those with records, take the lead to volunteer or donate and help move these record acquisition projects forward.


Conference organizers chose to make the ever-popular Family Finder available early (weeks before the conference), but only online. This bothered some conference attendees. Perhaps the answer would be to make the Family Finder accessible via the conference app? The app, available for the last two conferences, has been a clear winner. Including access to the Family Finder would be sublime. 

The biggest problem I encountered during the conference was poor Internet access. I could not access the Internet for email, blogging or the conference app on any of my electronic devises upstairs in my hotel room. I could use the Internet on the first and second floor conference venues. The upstairs situation was unacceptable.

One for the Books

What's a conference without booksellers?! There were no book sellers as exhibitors. Avotaynu, was represented by the Mokotoffs and Sallyann Sack at the conference, but they were not selling books. I did not speak to them about that, but I assume that transporting inventory to Salt Lake City from the east coast was deemed uneconomical - although I do recall at least two or three booksellers at the Los Angeles IAJGS conference in 2011, including Avotaynu.

IAJGS: Stretching and Building Muscle

IAJGS under Marlis Humphreys' leadership is thinking big - and I like that. They have been taking a cue from other high-profile genealogy organization partnerships by reaching out to people in other organizations who have skills that may benefit IAJGS in both the long- and short-term. Shipley Munson of FamilySearch, for example, has marketing genius. His team at FamilySearch has, in a very short time, turned the Rootstech Conference into a juggernaut that has eclipsed the NGS conference and the Federation of Genealogical Societies conference in terms of attendance. In fact, FGS is combining their annual conference with RootsTech in early 2015.

Whether Munson sets his sights on the IAJGS conference or on providing services to member societies, or both, is yet to be seen. Regardless, I think we are in for some exciting times. Moribund societies may be challenged to think differently about defining their audience and developing instruments and methods for sharing and communicating genealogically relevant  information. As a new JGS chair, I am sitting at attention hoping to catch as many words of wisdom as possible.

IAJGS2014 - Success!

I'm not sure why attendance was a bit down this year at the conference. Surely the quality and variety of presentations was excellent. Overall, the conference was quite well done. 

I cannot even imagine the two+ years of obsession that was required to make this event a success. My congratulations to all for providing a wonderful experience in Salt Lake City last week. "Hiccups" aside, I would not have missed it. 

Don't forget to review individual presentations on you app. Most speakers do value your opinions (I know I do).