Tuesday, April 16, 2019

JewishGen Features ~ SIG Mailing Lists and KehilaLinks

As you probably know, JewishGen is a necessary online resource for Jewish Genealogy. The link is in the sidebar of this blog and is also a tag, meaning that all the posts that I've written about JewishGen are tagged with JewishGen.

Do you know what country your ancestors were from? If so, you should check out the SIG (Special Interest Group) mailing lists. These are online discussion groups for researchers to ask questions and to receive news from the JewishGen volunteers about new resources that are coming online at the website.

I subscribe to only four SIG mailing lists:
Gesher Galicia SIG (Galicia, where the Levites/Lewites/Levitt family was from)
H-SIG (Hungary, where the Handlers and Hollanders were from)
Romania SIG (Romania, where the Goldstein (possibly Yancowitz) family was from)
Ukraine SIG (Ukraine, where the Segal family was from)

You can even search archived messages within each SIG for surnames and other topical information.

The mailing list subscription page looks like this for me:

However, there are 31 possible SIGs to subscribe to ranging from DNA to rabbinic genealogy to Early American.

It occurred to me this morning that I wanted to be sure that all JewishGen users were aware of this (free!) benefit because in each of the SIG emails I got today (and no, they don't all have daily posts), there was an update on the KehilaLinks projects (which I have shared before at KehilaLinks at JewishGen) noting that the KehilaLinks page for  Farming Communities of New Jersey had been updated. I don't know if the page for Woodbine was updated, but this web page has good information about the history of the town that my mother-in-law and her mother before her grew up in. Both the town-specific page and the main page give a wonderful sense of what life was like in rural southern New Jersey at the turn of the last century.

Take advantage of all that JewishGen has to offer, and if you are able, consider making a donation to this non-profit organization, not only because it's doing great work, but a donation of at least $100 gives you greater flexibility in searching their databases.

Wednesday, February 27, 2019

A Jitney Driver in Miami Between Censuses

Thank you to the cousin of my husband's who let me know (a couple of years ago) that he found Joseph Handler as a jitney driver in a Miami, Florida, City Directory in the 1920s, thus confirming the family story that my husband's grandfather moved his family to Florida to see if he could be more successful there than in Akron, Ohio.

A jitney is a small bus which got its name because jitney was a term for a nickel and that's what it cost to ride the early jitneys.

This image from the Library of Congress website is a photograph of a New York City jitney in about 1915 to 1920.

Library of Congress, Prints & Photographs Division, [reproduction number, e.g., LC-B2-1234]

Census records show the following addresses and occupations for Joseph Handler:

1910Cleveland2515 Woodland AvenueNone, Factory
1920Akron644 Bell StreetLaborer, Rubber Works
1930Akron553 Rhodes AvenueSalesman, Junk
1940Akron553 Rhodes AvenueIndustrial Salvage, Own Truck

But what happened between the times that the U.S. federal census was taken? It turns out that a lot can happen in ten years.

The following table shows where I have found Joseph Handler in city directories in the early 1920s.

Akron1922Joseph Handler [Lena]jitney driverh 406 Raasch ave
Akron1924Joseph Handler [Lena]jitney driverh 406 Raasch ave
Akron1925Joseph Handler [Lena][no occupation]h 406 Raasch ave

Joseph Handler doesn't appear in Akron City directories before 1922, though he was living there by 1917 when his daughter Belle was born. (Prior to that, he was living in Cleveland.) His 1918 World War I Draft Card reports that he was living at 646 Bell Street and working as a bartender for his cousin, Herman. He lived in Akron until at least the fall of 1922, when youngest son, Harry, was born.

But in 1925, Jos Handler appeared as a jitney driver in Miami, Florida.

Sunday, February 10, 2019

NERGC 2019 Interview ~ Schelly Talalay Dardashti

The 15th biennial New England Regional Genealogical Consortium conference will be held in Manchester, New Hampshire, from April 3-6. Visit the website for all the conference information and register before February 28 to get the early bird discount! For those of you in New England, this is the best, closest conference you'll get a chance to attend. This will be the third NERGC conference that I have attended and I'm looking forward to it!

Several New England Geneabloggers have been invited to interview some of the speakers and I have the pleasure of sharing my interview with Schelly Talalay Dardashti. Following are the questions I posed and her answers:

Elizabeth Handler: Your bio says you have been researching your family for 30 years. What got you interested?
Schelly Talalay Dardashti: It’s all my daughter’s fault. I was a happy needlepointer until then. She was 12, and studying for her bat mitzvah. She came home one day with a form asking for parents, grandparents, great-grandparents and their English and Hebrew names. That night, we attended an engagement party for my husband’s niece and we began asking questions about my husband’s Persian family. We came home with hundreds of little cocktail napkins with names and relationships scribbled on them. That was the start. Then she said, “OK, we worked on daddy’s side and now we have to do yours.” That was challenging because, unlike my husband’s massively huge Persian family, mine was really small with few people to ask. But we persevered and I was hooked. I haven’t completed a needlepoint since then, as my daughter often reminds me!

Since then, I have continued to work on the DARDASHTI tree, and now co-admin the Jewish Persian DNA Project with a newfound DNA cousin, Nika Hazini, in London, UK, and the connections we are finding are groundbreaking. It seems that all Persian Jewish families are related (and quite closely!). I also co-founded the IberianAshkenaz DNA Project with Judy Lefkowitz Simon, which is based on the premise that Ashkenazi families often have stories about Sephardic origins. Both Judy and I had this story in our families. The large group has been extremely successful in connecting known Sephardic families with ostensible Ashkenazim, as well as Hispanics of Jewish ancestry (conversos) and with Hispanics who really had no idea they had Jewish ancestry. Both projects are at FamilyTreeDNA.

Elizabeth: Do you have both Sephardic and Ashkenazi Jewish ancestry? For those who are not familiar with the differences, can you summarize them briefly?
Schelly: Our story, confirmed via archival documents in Catalunya, Spain, is that our TALALAY side is Sephardic and we left Spain very early, by 1398. We eventually wound up in Mogilev, Belarus. Sephardim, in the narrowest definition, are those Jews who lived in Iberia (Spain and Portugal) who then migrated elsewhere. There were many difficult times resulting in forced conversions, exiles, etc. 1391 was a major one, with many going to North Africa, but 1492 saw the complete exile of all Jews from Spain. It was either convert to Catholicism, be killed or leave. Ashkenazim are those Jews who went up the Rhone Valley into Central and Eastern Europe. However, researchers of Sephardim, and DNA evidence also shows, that Sephardim did migrate into Eastern Europe. Not all families passed down that tradition so it was lost, but people today see DNA surprises. This also skews medical research studies when they try to pin a specific condition to Ashkenazim, but the researchers (and their study participants don’t really know that some may actually be Sephardim) are not aware that some participants are actually descendants of Sephardim.

Elizabeth: How is researching Sephardic Jewish ancestry different than researching Ashkenazi Jewish ancestry?
Schelly: There are linguistic challenges and repository challenges. Ashkenazi researchers need Hebrew, Yiddish and a few secular languages (German, Polish, Russian, etc.). Sephardic researchers cover communities in North Africa, Sicily, Italy, Turkey, Greece, the Balkans, the Middle East, as well as Asia. A third group are Mizrahi or the Jews of Iran and Iraq. So immediately there are numerous languages to deal with. Even working with Spanish archives, documents are in Latin, Castilian, Catalan, numerous local dialects. Languages mean different alphabets as well. For Ashkenazim, we have the alphabets for Hebrew, Yiddish, Cyrillic and others written in the familiar Roman lettering. For Sephardim/Mizrahim, we are talking Hebrew, Arabic (several varieties), Italian, Sicilian dialect, Turkish, Greece, Farsi and others. However, the good part is that surnames were used in Spain back to the year 1000, so that is easier. In some European countries, Ashkenazim didn’t have surnames until the 1800s, and prior to that only patronymics were used such as X son of Y. For Ashkenazim, it is hard to trace back an Eastern European name past the 1700s. However, we have documents from Catalunya dated 1353-1398 where the family name is clearly indicated, and I have seen many archival documents much earlier (1200s) – all with clear surnames used today.

Elizabeth: Tracing the Tribe – Jewish Genealogy on Facebook is one of the best resources for those researching Jewish ancestors. When did you start this group and what gave you the idea?
Schelly: I was the genealogy columnist at the Jerusalem Post (1999-2005) with a popular column, It’s All Relative. Then I started the first, pioneer Jewish genealogy blog, called, Tracing the Tribe – The Jewish Genealogy Blog. Facebook prompted many geneabloggers to switch over, and Tracing the Tribe – Jewish Genealogy on Facebook began in 2007. Today we have nearly 28,000 global members and grow by about 1,000 each months. Facebook gave us the global reach necessary to help each other with research, translations and more.

Elizabeth: I see from your bio that you are a journalist as well as a genealogist. Do you have any recent or upcoming articles that you would like to share?
Schelly: I have written stories for JTA, The Forward, Hadassah Magazine, Family Tree Magazine, Reform Judaism and others. As the US Genealogy Advisor for MyHeritage, I also write and edit blog posts for the MyHeritage Blog.

Elizabeth: Have you attended NERGC in the past? What are you most looking forward to at NERGC 2019 (besides enjoying the company of hundreds of other genealogists)?
Schelly: This will be my first time presenting at NERGC. I was sorry to have missed Springfield last year, as the earliest branch of our Talalay (Tollin) family settled there in 1898 and I had been there previously and met those cousins. I love genealogy and genetic genealogy conferences – and present at many each year. I usually go to RootsTech, Jamboree, NGS, IAJGS, CeCe Moore’s Institute for Genetic Genealogy and many others, as well as presenting to many societies. It is so stimulating to be in the company of hundreds, if not thousands, of others who share the same interests and common challenges. Regional conferences are important, as they can bring together many people who may not always attend the major national events. All these events are important for sharing our somewhat obsessive interest, to learn about new topics, new developments in specific fields, and for making lasting connections. I have friends today whom I met at conferences 20+ years ago – It is fascinating to connect with them at the same events today.

Schelly will be teaching "Sephardic Research: Jewish Genealogy's Other Side" (Friday, 3:15 to 4:15). Let me know in the comments if you are planning to attend NERGC.

I have also interviewed Elissa Scalise Powell at my other blog, From Maine to Kentucky.

Saturday, February 2, 2019

Obituary for Herman Handler

Herman Handler died on March 19, 1961, in Youngstown, Ohio. There was a brief obituary in the Akron Beacon Journal the following day, which wonderfully ties together much of what I've found about the family.

"Herman Handler," Akron Beacon Journal, 20 March 1961, p. 24, col. 1;
digital image, Newspapers.com (https://www.newspapers.com : viewed 7 October 2018).

Tuesday, January 22, 2019

City Directories Tell a Story for Herman Handler

Herman Handler appeared in a few city directories after he immigrated to America. Although I don't find him every year, I find him in enough directories that I can see that he moved several times and worked at a variety of occupations to support his family.

These city directories tell a story of a man whose occupation was affected when Prohibition was enacted, but he continued to do what he could in order to make a living and support his family.

All of these city directories were found at Ancestry in their U.S. City Directories, 1822-1995 database.

Because I could find no Herman Handler in any other city directories in 1906-1908, I am only guessing that these two entries may be for Herman Handler:

Cleveland1906Herman Handlerporter2554 (old 436) Woodland av
Cleveland1907Herman Handlerclk [clerk]4735 Woodland av SE

Once he married Sarah in February 1909, when I see [Sarah] next to his name, I know I've got the right one:

Akron1909Herman Handler [Sarah]Goodrich Co897 S Main
Detroit1910Henry Handlertailor1031 14th av.

From the 1909 Akron, Ohio, City Directory.

He appeared to have moved to Detroit for a year or two, because that's where he was found in the 1910 census. This directory listed him as Henry Handler, tailor, living at 1031 14th Avenue, which was the same address as in the 1910 census. The occupation here was tailor; the occupation in the census was presser (a specific job in the tailoring industry).

From the 1910 Detroit, Michigan, City Directory.

Wednesday, December 12, 2018

Herman Handler Moved Between 1930 and 1940

Previous posts about Herman Handler:

Herman Handler ~ Naturalization Record
Herman Handler ~ Birth Record
Herman Handler ~ Passenger List
Herman Handler ~ Marriages and Divorces 
Herman Handler ~ Draft Card WWI 
Herman Handler ~ Census Records, 1910 and 1920

There were big changes in this family between 1930 and 1940 and the U.S. Census records reflect the changes, as well a few similarities, helping to confirm that I have the same family.


By 1930, Herman Handler's family had moved again, to 629 Minerva Place in Akron.

1930 U.S. census, Summit County, Ohio, population schedule, Akron, enumeration district (ED) 77-60, sheet 11B, dwelling 155, family 176, Herman Handler; image, Ancestry.com (https://www.ancestry.com : accessed 20 November 2018); citing NARA microfilm publication T626, roll 1876.

Herman Handler, age 48, rented this property for $40 a month. His wife, Sarah was 41 and they had been married about 20 years. The entries for place of birth for him and his parents had Croatia crossed off and Austria written in, though at that time the area he was from was in the country of Yugoslavia (see Mappy Monday ~ Where the Handlers Were From). Wife Sarah was from Galicia - Austria. His original language was German and hers Polish, but I wonder if their original language was perhaps Hebrew. Herman reported immigrating in 1904 and Sarah in 1906 and they were both naturalized citizens. He worked as the proprietor of a produce company.

The family also happened to have a radio in the house.

Children, Arthur, Irwin, Milton, and Shirley were born in the U.S.: Arthur in Michigan (in about 1909-1910) and the younger three in Ohio. The younger two were in school. Arthur worked as a Manager in a dry goods store and Irwin worked as a clerk in a restaurant.


At first, I had trouble finding the family in 1940, but remembering that Sarah divorced Herman in 1931, I determined that yes, Herman Handler living at 3326 East Street in Hallidays Cove, West Virginia, was the same man who was in Akron, Ohio, in 1930.

Friday, November 23, 2018

Herman Handler - Census Records, 1910 and 1920

Previous posts about Herman Handler:

Herman Handler ~ Naturalization Record
Herman Handler ~ Birth Record
Herman Handler ~ Passenger List
Herman Handler ~ Marriages and Divorces 
Herman Handler ~ Draft Card WWI


At first I couldn't find Herman Handler in the 1910 U.S. Census. He was easy to find in the 1920 census with wife and children, so I did some creative searching in 1910 and found his young family in Detroit, Michigan. It's no wonder I couldn't find Herman Handler; for some unknown reason, he was enumerated as Wilbur Handler.

1910 U.S. census, Wayne County, Michigan, population schedule, Detroit Ward 10, enumeration district (ED) 155, sheet 12B, dwelling 253, family 279, Wilbur [sic] Handler; image, Ancestry.com (https://www.ancestry.com: accessed 30 August 2018); citing NARA microfilm publication T624, roll 684.

Although the head of this household was "Wilbur," everything else matches the expected information for Herman Handler. He was 27 years old (implying a birth year of about 1882-1883) and born in "Hun. Magyar" (Magyar is another term for ethnic Hungarian), as were both his parents. He immigrated in 1903, had his papers (the first step to becoming naturalized), and was able to speak English. He worked as a Presser in the clothing industry, working for himself. He had not been out of work for the entire previous year. He could read and write and he rented his home at 1031 Fourteenth Avenue, which appears to have eight apartments in it, based on what is seen on the full census page.

Wife, Sarah, was 20 years old (implying a birth year of about 1889-1890) and born in "Aust. German" as were both her parents. "Aust" would refer to the Austrian-Hungarian Empire which, before World War I, covered a large area of Europe. Sarah and Wilbur / Herman were in their first marriage (M1) and she had one child who was living. She immigrated in 1905 and spoke English. Note that as a woman, she didn't have any notation by her name for citizenship because her citizenship status derived from her husband's status.

They had one child, a "daughter" named Arthur. Note that all subsequent records reported Arthur as a male so this one instance where he is listed as a daughter is an anomaly. Arthur was listed with an age of 4/12, which suggests a birth date in December 1909. The birthplace was Michigan, implying that soon after Herman and Sarah married in Akron in February 1909, they moved to Michigan.

This is not the Arthur (born January 1910) who was the oldest son of Joseph and Lena Handler of Akron, nor was he Arthur (born January 1912), son of Sam and Sadie Handler of Cleveland.