Monday, December 19, 2011

Amanuensis Monday ~ Bonyhád, Hungary Birth Record

An Amanuensis is a person employed to write what another dictates or to copy what has been written by another.

My husband's mother, known as Bubbie Lena, was born in Bonyhád, Tolna District, Hungary. Bonyhád is 87 miles SSW of Budapest, Hungary. Lena married Josef Händler in Hungary and followed him to America with her first-born son, Arpad in 1911. Those passenger lists were very helpful in providing me with her birthplace and her father's name, Samuel Holländer.

As well as obtaining the book written about Bonyhád, (Bonyhád: a destroyed community: the Jews of Bonyhád, Hungary, by Leslie Blau (1994)), I also found that the Family History Library has a microfilm of Jewish records covering the period from 1851 to 1895, which I borrowed and examined last month.  (Hungarian Civil registration began in October 1895.)
Registers of Jewish births, marriages and deaths for Bonyhád, Tolna, Hungary.
Text in Hungarian and German.
FHL microfilm no. 642923, Family History Library, Salt Lake City, Utah.
This is the page from the FHL microfilm that shows Lina Hollander's birth record. The headings are in Hungarian and German.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Simche Segel's Death Certificate

My husband's second great grandfather, Simche Siegel, died on July 7, 1919. Although the name on the death certificate is Samuel Segel, enough other information matches that I know this is Simche, whom I have already written about.

New Jersey, Department of Health of N.J.; Bureau of Vital Statistics, Death Certificates,
Wildwood, Cape May County. Samuel Segel, died July 7, 1919.
He lived at 5006 Arctic Avenue in Wildwood, Cape May County, New Jersey. The death certificate states that his age was "about 70" when he died, implying a birth year of 1849. However, his passenger list record suggests a birth year of 1835 and his naturalization records suggest a birth year of 1845. Therefore, he could have been as old as 84 when he died.

Samuel's wife is Rebecca Segel. She is remembered by family members as Blume. His occupation at his death is Junk Dealer. His birthplace is Russia and name of his father is Israel Segel, but unfortunately, his mother's name is unknown.

He died of Arteriosclerosis (and something else I can't read) which he had suffered from for two years with a contributory cause lasting one year. The handwriting is challenging. Update on June 2, 2015: Thank you to tkrupar who notes that the secondary cause is Nephritis. (Initially I couldn't read it.)

Item 19 indicates that he was buried in Woodbine on July 7. We have looked in the "older" cemetery in Woodbine, where it is believed he is buried and have not been able to find his gravestone. I believe he had at least six children survive him. Although family tradition is to visit family gravestones in Woodbine a couple of times a year, it is not remembered if his daughter, Golda (Segal) Levitt or his granddaughter, Rose (Levitt) Goldstein ever visited his gravestone.

The informant (the person providing personal information for the record) is Benj[amin] Katz, who also lived at 5006 Arctic Avenue with the Segels. Benjamin ended up marrying Simche's widow Rebecca, and in the 1930 census, I find them at this same address as husband and wife.

I again thank Robert, my husband's second cousin once removed, for providing this death certificate and helping me piece together this family.

Monday, November 21, 2011

Naturalization Record for Simche Siegel

My husband's second great grandfather, Simche Siegel, immigrated from Russia to New York City in 1891. He made his way to southern New Jersey and became a naturalized citizen of the United States in 1899. Following is his Declaration of Intention and his Petition for Naturalization, filed in Cape May County, New Jersey.

Declaration of Intention for Simche Siegel
The first page (of three) is the Declaration of Intention, made on November 1, 1892 before the Clerk of the Common Pleas Court of Cape May County, in the State of New Jersey. Simche Siegel, an alien, a native of Russia, aged about 46 (indicating that he was born about 1846), declares his "intention to become a citizen of the United States of America." He declares that he arrived in the United States on the "First day of August A.D. 1891." (However, the family's passenger list indicate that he left Hamburg, Germany in November, arriving in New York City on December 15, 1891 and that he was born about 1836.) It wasn't until 1906 that these kinds of things were more closely checked by immigration officials.

Monday, November 7, 2011

Mystery Monday ~ Where was Morris Goldstein in 1920?

Morris Goldstein immigrated from Romania to New York in July 1914. I have posted about Morris Goldstein's marriage in 1922 and that he is found in Woodbine, Cape May County, New Jersey in the 1930 Federal census.

For years I have tried to find "my" Morris Goldstein in the New York City 1920 Federal census in various census indexes, and using various census search strategies, but have had no luck. I know that he was born in 1897, lived in the lower East Side, and worked as a tailor. In fact, his World War I draft card indicates all this and that he was living with and working for his brother, Max Goldstein, at 138 Forsyth. However, it looks like they both had moved by the time of the 1920 U.S. Census.

Sunday, November 6, 2011

One Goldstein Family in 1930

In 1930, Morris Goldstein's family had settled down in Woodbine, New Jersey, where his wife, Rose (Levitt) Goldstein had spent most of her youth. The following image is from the 1930 U.S. Federal Census.

1930 U.S. Federal Census, Woodbine, Cape May County, New Jersey; Roll: 1325; Page: 12A;
Enumeration District: 28; Record for Morris Goldstein.

The previous page of this census lists Rose's parents. In fact, they lived across Jackson Avenue from each other.

Monday, October 17, 2011

Military Monday ~ Morris Goldstein in WWI

Following is the (June 5, 1918) World War I Draft Registration Card for Morris Goldstein, my husband's grandfather. I know that this is "my" Morris Goldstein because the birthday (April 20, 1897) is what is remembered by family members; the birthplace is Yassy, Romania; his citizenship is of Romania; and his workplace (no. 8 below) and residence (no. 9 below) are with his brother, Max Goldstein at 138 Forsyth, NYC, NY. (See his passenger list for confirmation of some of this information.)

World War I Draft Registration Cards, 1917-1918 [ database on-line]. Original data: World War I Selective Service System Draft Registration Cards, 1917-1918. Registration Location:  New York County, New York; Roll: 1765855; Draft Board: 108. Record for Morris Goldstein

This confirms what my mother-in-law remembers, which is that her father served in World War I, but only for a brief time. The draft card shows that he registered for the draft in June 1918. The "Great War" ended less than six months later, in November 1918. I have not been able to find "my" Morris Goldstein in naturalization indexes for New York, but it's possible that he was naturalized as a soldier. Another task for my genealogy "to-do" list.

January 2014 Update: I found a bit more about Morris Goldstein's World War I service.

Military Monday is a daily blogging prompt from GeneaBloggers, the genealogy community’s resource for blogging. It is used by many genealogy bloggers to help them tell stories of their ancestors.

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Passenger List for Morris Goldstein and his sister

Morris Goldstein was my husband's maternal grandfather (his Pop-pop). He came to the United States from Romania in July 1914, leaving Rotterdam, Netherlands on July 25, 1914, and arriving in New York City on August 3, 1914, on the ship S.S. Rotterdam. Knowing his Hebrew name was Moische certainly helped me find him on this passenger list. Below, I have transcribed the information in the passenger list with the handwritten parts underlined. New York Passenger Lists, 1820-1957. Arrival Date:  August 3, 1914;
Microfilm Roll:  T715_2356; Page Number:  68; Line:  13. Record for Moische Goldstein.

Family Name: Goldstein
Given Name: Moische
Age: 17
Sex: "   [ditto from above: Male]
Married or Singer: S   [single]
Calling or Occupation: Taylor
Able to Read / Write: Yes
Nationality (Country of which citizen or subject): Rumania
Race or People: " [ditto from above: Hebrew]
Last Permanent Residence (Country / City or Town): Rumania / Yassy

The name and complete address of nearest relative or friend in country whence alien came:
Father Itzik Goldstein
Stradă Ruksanska Yassy  [I think]

The second part of page 68 of the passenger list has additional information. New York Passenger Lists, 1820-1957. Arrival Date:  August 3, 1914;
Microfilm Roll:  T715_2356; Page Number:  68; Line:  13. Record for Moische Goldstein.
Final Destination (State / City or Town): NY / New York
Whether holding a ticket to such final destination: -
By whom was passage paid? brother
Whether in possession of $50 and if less, how much? 0
Whether ever before in the United States: "   [ditto from above: No]
Whether going to join a relative or friend and if so, what relative or friend, and his name and complete address: brother: Max Goldstein, 130 Forsyth St., New York
Additional columns not shown above indicate that Moische was 5'6" tall, fair complexion, brown hair, grey eyes and no marks of identification.

His sister, Anna Goldstein, arrived on the same ship, but was listed on a different page.

Monday, October 10, 2011

Matrilineal Monday: Rachel Segal Seigel

Family stories tell me that Simche/Samuel Segal came to America after his first wife died, with three daughters (Golda, Rachel and Hannah) and one son (Eddie or Itzik). (See a photograph of the four adult children.)

There were two passenger lists (Hamburg to Glasgow, Glasgow to New York) showing Simche and his second wife grouped with Golde (age 22), Hinde (age 19), Itzig (age 17), and infant, Lea (presumably Simche's children.)

Listed with them in the Hamburg to Glasgow list are Wolf (age 27), Rachel (age 25), Reisel (infant), Mayer (age 26), Freide (age 25), Aron (age 4), and Basse (infant). Wolf, Rachel, and Reisel are not listed with Simche's family in the Glasgow to New York list, but are on the same page, listed with another Segal family which I have not placed as a relation to Simche.

In a conversation with my mother-in-law, I asked if she remembered a "Wolf Segal." She didn't know that name. I then asked if she remembered who her great aunt Rachel Segal married and was she married in Russia or America? All of a sudden, she remembered, that yes, Rachel married a Segal, and she remembered him as Uncle Velvul!

A quick Internet search, and I found that Velvul is Yiddish for "little wolf".

Thursday, October 6, 2011

More on the Simche Segal Family

After writing about Simka (Samuel) Segal in the 1895 New Jersey State Census and 1910 Federal Census and finding him as Simche Siegel in International Passenger Lists arriving in 1891, I continued digging for more records of him and his descendants in New Jersey.

There were two passenger lists (Hamburg to Glasgow and Glasgow to New York) and the Siegel families were grouped differently on the two lists. This helped a little bit in tracking the family units after they reached America.

Using a strategy of searching for children when unsure of the parents' names, I searched for Lena Segal and found the family in the 1900 U.S. Census in Dennis Township, in the section which in 1903 became the Borough of Woodbine.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Tuesday's Tip ~ Another Interview Strategy

I have interviewed my mother-in-law ("A") many times over the years and listened to lots of wonderful stories of immigrant ancestors and extended family in the U.S. I have taken copious notes. I also had the opportunity to know A's mother, Rose (click here to see Rose's gravestone) and interviewed her a few times before she died in 1996.

Experienced genealogists know that one strategy to use when interviewing older relatives about about their family is to show them a picture of someone and ask them to tell you about that person. Because I only see A once or twice a year, but speak with her often, it's nice to have another memory prompt to get her talking and remembering other family groups that we have not discussed much.

Recently, I have been sharing new discoveries with A, by phone, about her Segal ancestors.

When my husband and I speak with A weekly (using the speakerphone on my husband's iPhone), I have gotten in the habit of having open. I find that when I talk about what I have found and ask her if she remembers a name or how many children were in a relative's family, she tells me what she remembers and, as well as taking notes, I search in Ancestry and see what comes up. As I read a family group of names and a location from a census record to her, she is able to confirm that this is the right family and this often triggers additional memories about how many children this cousin had or about the job that another cousin had.

She is as excited as I am when I find a record in Ancestry and I tell her something about a family member that she didn't know!

Using this strategy, I have been able to identify the extended Seigel/Segal family that I found in passenger lists. Upcoming posts will be about the different Seigel aunts, uncles and cousins. I will also work on the Levitt (or Levitas) side of the family based on a more recent conversation about a great aunt that I previously knew very little about.

I am grateful to A for being genuinely interested in what I'm finding!

Tuesday's Tip is a daily blogging prompt from GeneaBloggers, the genealogy community’s resource for blogging. It is used by many genealogy bloggers to help them tell stories of their ancestors.

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Surname Saturday ~ Josef Handler's Naturalization papers

While searching for naturalization records for my husband's immigrant ancestors, I found the entire file for his grandfather Josef/Joseph Handler at Fold3 (formerly Footnote) as one long PDF. The source file is titled: Naturalization Petition and Record Books for the US District Court for the Northern District of Ohio, Eastern Division, Cleveland, 1907-1946. For this post, I have separated it into the different documents that illustrate the steps that Josef had to take between 1910 and 1920 to become a U.S. citizen.

The Certificate of Arrival confirms that Josef Handler arrived at New York, New York on April 14, 1910 on the ship Oceanic. See my post about the Handler immigration for details.

Next came the May 27, 1914, Declaration of Intention, which has information that doesn't quite agree with the information found on the passenger list.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Wordless Wednesday ~ Segal Family

Segal Family photograph, early 1890's.
Written on the back (about 100 years later) is Golda, Eddie, Leah, Rachel
However, I believe the sisters' names are Golda, Hannah and Rachel.

See Thankful Thursday for details about the family's immigration to America in 1891.

Wordless Wednesday is a daily blogging prompt from GeneaBloggers, the genealogy community’s resource for blogging. It is used by many genealogy bloggers to help them tell stories of their ancestors.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Thankful Thursday ~ International Passenger Lists

And connecting with distant cousins...

As I mentioned in an earlier post, I recently received an email from a second cousin of my mother-in-law who has done quite a bit of research on their common Segal (Siegel) immigrant ancestor. He was able to tell me the exact dates and ships that Simche Siegel and his family traveled on to get to America in 1891.

The Siegel family first traveled from Hamburg, Germany, to Glasgow, Scotland, on the ship Coblenz leaving Hamburg on November 27, 1891. This is where I am thankful to for providing free access to their international passenger lists from August 29 to September 5, because with my U.S. Membership, I do not have access to passenger lists between Hamburg and Glasgow. I took advantage and found the following. (Click to enlarge.)

Staatsarchiv Hamburg, Hamburg Passenger Lists, 1850-1934
(Provo, UT, USA, Operations Inc, 2008),, Database online. Record for Simche Siegel.

With a little help from Google Translate, I find that this is a list of people who are going to America via Glasgow on the steamship Coblenz. The paragraph above Zuname (Surname) and Vornamen (First name) says that people belonging to a family must be listed together and denoted as a family by a bracket. In looking at the list of people bracketed with Simche Siegel above, it looks like there were more family members who came with him than I originally thought:
Simche, age 56
Blume, age 26
Golde, age 22
Hinde, age 19
Itzig, age 17
Lea, age 10/12
Wolf, age 27
Rachel, age 25
Reisel, age 3/12
Mayer, age 26
Freide, age 25
Aron, age 4
Basse, age 6/12

Sunday, September 4, 2011

Census Searching: Listen to All Family Stories

When I first started searching for family in the U.S. Federal Census, I started with what I knew. That meant talking to family members about what they remembered about their parents, grandparents, and those ancestors' siblings. When there are several people with the same name in a census year, or when people go by different names, as happened with Jewish immigrants who had a Hebrew given name and an Americanized name, sometimes the best way to find a family is not by searching for the name of the head of household, but by searching for a family member.

From family stories, I have some information about my husband's grandmother's grandfather, the father of Golda Segal Levitt (also known as Goldie or Gussie). I was told that he had four children with his first wife (name unknown): Golda, Eddie, Hannah, and Rachel; they all immigrated to America from Russia around 1890. He married again and had three children, two boys and a girl. Based on what I found on her tombstone and what my mother-in-law could tell me, I started looking for Simcha Segal in Cape May County, New Jersey. I found him in the 1895 New Jersey state census in Dennis Township, Cape May County. database online. New Jersey State Census, 1895,
page 43, Family 336, Record for Simka Segal
Members of this household include:
Simka Segal, "male all other nationalities," age between 20 and 60
Rebecca Segal, "female all other nationalities," age between 20 and 60
Isaac Segal, "male all other nationalities," age between 20 and 60
Golda Segal, "female all other nationalities," age between 20 and 60
Lillie Segal, "female all other nationalities," age 5 years and younger
Barnet Napadensky, "male all other nationalities," age between 20 and 60
Hannah Napadensky, "female all other nationalities," age between 20 and 60
Ollie Napadensky, "native born female," age 5 years and younger

Now, I question some of this information, but it gives me a start. Hannah Segal was sister to Golda Segal and she married Barnet Napadensky (later Nappen), so that confirms for me that this is the right family unit. After finding this state census record, I couldn't find any more record of a Simka/Simcha Segal/Siegel in southern New Jersey in the U.S. Federal Census records, so I set this family aside for the time being.

Yesterday, I received an email from a second cousin once removed of my husband. He is descended from the second wife of Simcha Segal. He was able to give me the names of the three children that Simcha fathered with his second wife: Lena, Lewis/Louis, and Israel/Edward. This gave me more names to search in the U.S. Federal Censuses.

I searched for Lewis Segal with an approximate age of 5 (i.e. born in 1905 +/- 5 years) in the 1910 census and found the family with the head of household as Samuel Segal.

1910 U.S. Federal Census, Holly Beach, Cape May County, New Jersey; Roll: T624_870;
Page: 5B; Enumeration District: 90; Record for Samuel Segal.
The federal census tells me so much more - Rebecca is the name of his wife (family, both sides, remembered her name as Blume), and there are the children: Lena (age 19, born in Russia), Louis (age 10, born in New Jersey), and Israel (age 7, born in New Jersey). Also listed is a Benjiman Levin, a brother-in-law. Perhaps Rebecca's maiden name is Levin? There is a lot more digging to do.

There are several places online to find U.S. Federal Census images, some indexed and some not. I've found that names can be indexed differently at different sites, so it's always worth it to try searching for that elusive ancestor at multiple websites, if possible. has just announced that it is providing census images at

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Shopping Saturday ~ Buy a radio at Levitt's

Levitt's Electric Service, Woodbine, New Jersey

One of my favorite photographs from my husband's family collection is of Levitt's Electric Service storefront. Unfortunately, the quality is not so great. This is a scan of a photograph of a photograph. The writing at the bottom notes that the man at the left is Artis Baker; the man standing near the door is Eddie Levitt, and the man at the right is Morton Levitt. I'm guessing this is from the early 1930's.

Morton (b. 1904) and Edward (b. 1908) Levitt were the youngest two sons of Max and Golda (Segal) Levitt (my husband's great grandparents).

Monday, August 8, 2011

Military Monday ~ WWII brothers die in action

World War II was a defining period in U.S. (and World) History. As a mother of boys, I can't imagine being a mother and sending three sons to fight!

Joseph and Lena Handler had six children, four boys and two girls. I am able to track the family from their immigration, to Joseph's naturalization in 1919, through the 1920 U.S. Federal Census to the 1930 U.S. Federal Census, in Akron, Summit County, Ohio. The three youngest sons enlisted in the U.S. Army and saw action in WWII.

Two of them did not return home.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Getting Ready for the 1940 Census

Because there won't initially be an every-name index to find ancestors in the 1940 U.S. Census when it is released in April 2012, it helps to know the Enumeration District (E.D.) of the ancestor I'm looking for. There are a couple of ways to find the 1940 Enumeration Districts of the ancestors I hope to find once the 1940 Census is released in April 2012. Thank you to Randy Seaver of Genea-Musings for his July 18 post about the availability of 1940 Census Enumeration District Maps at NARA's website. Another option is to go to Steve Morse's 1940 Census Quiz which I believe I first read about in Dick Eastman's newsletter in late June.

In 1940, my husband's father, Joseph Handler, and his family were living at either 553 or 557 Rhodes Avenue in Akron, Ohio. (553 was the address in the 1930 U.S. Census, and 557 was the address I found on Joseph Handler's 1947 death certificate.) To find the E.D., I started at the 1940 Census Quiz looking for what Enumeration District this neighborhood was in. I found this E.D. by using the One-Step Large City E.D. Finder Tool. Entering "Ohio", the city of "Akron", and the street names "Rhodes Av" and cross street "Bishop" (I got a little help from Google Maps to find the cross street), up popped the Enumeration District of 89-70. I can click on "View" under the microfilm number T1224 to see a verbal description of the E.D. where I see that this neighborhood is in Ward 3, Tract F8, Block 15.

I then went to the Archival Research Catalog of the National Archives and entered as search terms: "1940 census maps Akron Ohio". The result with the digital icon at the left brings up maps in thumbnail view. There are only eight maps for Akron, and they do not appear to include the entire city. As I looked through each of these images, I looked for Tract F8, but couldn't find it. (Image 4 has F1, F2, F4, F5, and F6.) When I searched for the county of Summit, Ohio, I did find a county map, and Akron, in general, is in the center of it.

Close-up of 1940 Enumeration District map for Summit County, Ohio
I have marked where I guess that Tract F8 is with a little help from Google Maps. I hope that ARC will update these maps and provide more-detailed maps of the southern half of Akron.

Monday, July 25, 2011

Mystery Monday ~ Levitts in Woodbine

The Levitt home on Jackson Avenue,
Woodbine, New Jersey, photographed in 2003.
As I wrote about in Those Places Thursday ~ Woodbine, New Jersey, the family of Max Levitt moved from New York City to Woodbine soon after arriving in the U.S.

In good genealogical fashion, I will work backwards from what I know to share the history of this Levitt family in Woodbine.

In the 1930 U.S. Federal Census, I find my husband's great grandparents, Max Levitt and his wife Gussie, on Jackson Avenue in Woodbine.

1930 U.S. Federal Census, Woodbine, Cape May County, New Jersey; Roll: 1325; Page: 11B; Enumeration District: 28; Record for Max Levitt.

He owns his home, worth $1,500. Max is 73 (born about 1857) and Gussie is 60 (born about 1870). They and their parents are all listed as having been born in Poland. First mystery about this family: His age at first marriage is 34 (married in about 1891) and her age at first marriage is 21 (married in about 1891). That would seem logical, except that based on family stories and earlier census records (see below), Max was married and fathered at least three children before he married Gussie. The language spoken before they came to the U.S. was Yiddish. Max immigrated in 1891; Gussie immigrated in 1890 and they are both naturalized citizens. One son lives with them, Israel [a.k.a. Eddie], born about 1910 in New Jersey, and he is a radio salesman. Another mystery is that this son sold radios, but the household did not own one.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Tuesday's Tip: Passenger Lists...

... and following up on family stories.

In my husband's family there is a story about his paternal grandmother, known to her grandchildren as Bubbie Lena, feeling homesick and wanting to return home after immigrating to America. After having followed her husband Joseph Handler to America, she returned home to Hungary with her two oldest children for a visit with her family. They ultimately returned to America with her daughter contracting polio on the return trip. She survived the bout with polio, but had a limp for the rest of her life.

To verify the story, I looked for the passenger lists.

The Oceanic from Passenger Ships and Images [database on-line].
First, I found the passenger list for Josef Händler. Josef arrived in New York City on the ship Oceanic on April 14, 1910. It had sailed from Southampton, England on April 6, 1910.

The image of the passenger list is below. For any of these images, you should be able to view a larger image by clicking on them., New York Passenger Lists, 1820-1957, Year: 1910, Microfilm: T715_1453, Page: 82, Line: 14, record for Josef Handler
Josef Händler was 26 years old (born about 1884) with an occupation of baker. My father-in-law remembers hearing that his father was not a baker, but a delivery man for a bakery. The next marks indicate that, yes, he could read and write and that his nationality is Hungary. The next column is headed "Race or People" and he is listed as "Hebrew." The following columns are "Last Permanent Residence" in which he is listed with a country of Hungary and a town that I originally thought was Jeok. (Jeok is also how it is transcribed by The following column is how I know this is "my" Josef Handler: the name and address of nearest relative in country whence alien came is wife Lina Handler, in "Jeok."  The last column indicates that his final destination is New York.

Another thing to know about passenger lists, at least at this time (1910's) is that there is a second page. The information on the second page of Josef's passenger list record shows that he arrived with $15 in his pocket and that he had not been in the U.S. before. The next column notes that he is going to join a cousin, Morris Levin (?) in New York. Another task will be to try to find this cousin!

Page 2 of Josef Handler's passenger list record
This also indicates that he was 5'9" tall, white (complexion), with brown hair and brown eyes.

All the way to the right notes that his birthplace is Ilok, Hungary, reproduced at the right. You can see why I thought for years that it read Jeok!

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Those Places Thursday: Woodbine, New Jersey

My husband's mother was born in New York City, but by 1930, she and her brother were back in Woodbine, New Jersey, where their mother, Rose (Levitt) Goldstein was born (in 1902) and raised.

The Borough of Woodbine's website has a wonderful summary of the community and its early history. Although the community of Woodbine was founded in 1891, within Dennis Township in Cape May County, New Jersey, it was not until 1903 that it was incorporated as a Borough. In 1891, the Baron DeHirsch Fund purchased the 5,300 acres (about 8 square miles) in Dennis Township to start an agricultural settlement for immigrant Eastern European Jews. The town's website indicates that Woodbine was known as the "First self-governed Jewish community since the fall of Jerusalem" because most of the original settlers were Jewish.

Baron DeHirsch
Baron Maurice DeHirsch (1831-1896), known as Baron DeHirsch, was a wealthy German Jewish businessman who wanted to support Jewish immigrants once they arrived in the U.S. by teaching them trades and occupations. One of his many philanthropic endeavors was the Baron DeHirsch Fund, established in 1891 in New York City. The Fund's Board of Directors were given great flexibility in what organizations and activities the Fund could support, and developing an agricultural community in southern New Jersey was one of their projects. More information about the Fund can be found at the Center for Jewish History website. Note that because of poor soil, Woodbine was not successful as an agricultural community, but became a manufacturing town.

The story that has come down in my mother-in-law's family is that Baron DeHirsch went around to the Jewish immigrants in New York City and encouraged them to come to Woodbine to work, that there were plenty of jobs. (My guess it that it was likely a representative of the Fund, as the Baron died in Hungary in 1896, at age 64.) According to my grandmother-in-law (Rose (Levitt) Goldstein, who died in 1995), her father, (my husband's great grandfather), Max Levitt, a widower with three children, was interested in this opportunity and planned to come to Woodbine with his family. The oldest son, Manuel (or Emanuel?), didn't want to go to New Jersey and ran away from the family in New York. There was a search for him, but he was never found, so Max went to Woodbine with his two younger children, David and Rebecca, where he met and married Golda Segal and had four more children, one of whom was my husband's grandmother, and became an established member of the Woodbine Community. See my earlier post for their gravestones. The family never found out what happened to the oldest Levitt son.

The Woodbine Brotherhood Synagogue was the center of religious life in Woodbine. Now that there are very few Jewish families in Woodbine, the Synagogue is only open on the High Holidays for out of town members who enjoy returning to the old synagogue. About ten years ago, the synagogue was renovated and the lower floor made into The Sam Azeez Museum of Woodbine Heritage, which includes much information about the establishment and history of Woodbine.

The Woodbine Brotherhood Synagogue, now The Sam Azeez Museum of Woodbine Heritage

Thank you to my husband, for this photograph taken June 2011.

Those Places Thursday is a daily blogging prompt from GeneaBloggers, the genealogy community’s resource for blogging. It is used by many genealogy bloggers to help them tell stories of their ancestors.  

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Tombstone Tuesday ~ Woodbine Brotherhood Cemetery (Part 3)

This is the third in a series of Tombstone Tuesday blog posts from the Woodbine Brotherhood Cemetery in Woodbine, New Jersey.

Stanley Goldstein was the only son of Morris Goldstein and he was a beloved uncle. He fought in World War II and when recovering from injuries suffered in battle, he met his wife, Betty Coleman, an English nurse and married her in England before returning home to the U.S.

The Hebrew reads:

Simcha ben Moshe Hersh Halevi

"ben" means "son of"
"Halevi" means he understands himself to be a Levite

"Always Fighting Windmills" is in reference to Don Quixote by Cervantes, which was Stanley's favorite literary character.

Betty (Coleman) Goldstein was born in Liverpool, England. She met her American in-laws after having married Stanley in England. They settled in southern New Jersey.

The Hebrew reads:

Basher (or Beser or Baser) bat Yosef v'Sarah

"bat" means "daughter of"
"Yosef v'Sarah" means "Joseph and Sarah"

My grateful thanks to Rabbi Todd Markley of Temple Beth Shalom, Needham, MA for his assistance in the translation of the Hebrew.

Tombstone Tuesday is a daily blogging prompt from GeneaBloggers, the genealogy community’s resource for blogging. It is used by many genealogy bloggers to help them tell stories of their ancestors.  

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Tombstone Tuesday ~ Woodbine Brotherhood Cemetery (Part 2)

As I mentioned last week, we visited New Jersey and my husband took some wonderful photographs of family gravestones in the Woodbine Brotherhood Cemetery.

Goldie (Segal) Levitt is my husband's great-grandmother. She was the mother of Rose (Levitt) Goldstein, my husband's grandmother. She was born in Russia or Poland, depending on which census I look at. She immigrated (presumably with family) around 1889 or 1890. The translation of the Hebrew reads:

Here lies
Our Mother The Beloved/Dear
Golda daughter of Simcha Lev
Died on the 4th of Elul 5712 

The last line of five Hebrew letters is an abbreviation of a verse from the Bible, the first book of Samuel, 25:29, which means:

May her soul be bound up in the bond of eternal life

Max Levitt is my husband's great-grandfather. He was born in Austria or Russia (depending on which census I look at). He presumably immigrated in 1891, 1893, or 1896, again, depending on which census I look at, but he is in Dennis Township, Cape May County, New Jersey, by 1900, with a family that puzzles me. I expect his wife to be Goldie (or Golda or Gussie), but his wife's name is listed as Rebecca, (as is a daughter, so I think this is in error and should be Goldie) and there is a one-year-old son, Daniel, who my mother-in-law does not recognize as an uncle. (Perhaps a child who died very young?) There are also three additional children listed from his first marriage, but only two of them fit into what I've been told about the family. The translation of the Hebrew reads:

Here lies
The Levite
My husband Beloved/Dear
Mordecai son of Moshe Eliezer Levitt
Died on the 1st of Iyar 5695

The last line of five Hebrew letters is an abbreviation of a verse from the Bible, the first book of Samuel, 25:29, which means:

May his soul be bound up in the bond of eternal life

My grateful thanks to Rabbi Todd Markley of Temple Beth Shalom, Needham, MA for his assistance in the translation of the Hebrew.

Tombstone Tuesday is a daily blogging prompt from GeneaBloggers, the genealogy community’s resource for blogging. It is used by many genealogy bloggers to help them tell stories of their ancestors.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Tombstone Tuesday ~ Woodbine Brotherhood Cemetery (Part 1)

A week ago, we were visiting my husband's family in southern New Jersey. I spent much time (as I always do during these visits), asking my mother-in-law about memories of her family. We also visited the Woodbine Brotherhood Cemetery in Woodbine, Cape May County, New Jersey, where many relatives and friends of my mother-in-law are buried. Thank you to my husband for taking these great photos. (It's great when our hobbies can be shared!)

Monday, June 6, 2011

Death Certificate for Joseph Handler

You often hope that a death certificate will give you lots of great information about an ancestor. For example, a mother's maiden name...

Sometimes it's not as helpful as you hope, but it gives you information nonetheless. (a free online resource) has Ohio death certificates available for 1908-1953. Joseph Handler died of a heart attack on December 2, 1947, in Akron, Summit County, Ohio.

Death Certificate for Joseph Handler from the Ohio Department of Health, Ohio Deaths 1908-1953 at website: Family Search Record Search.

Information on the death certificate was provided by his youngest son, Harry Handler (see item 16), who was able to say that his father 's father was Aaron Handler, but did not know the name of his father's mother. He does provide the information that his father and grandparents were born in Yugoslavia, and that his father was born on August 24, 1883.

Thursday, June 2, 2011

What did Bubbie Lena say to the census taker?

Before I decided to set up a separate blog for exploring my husband's Jewish genealogy, I made one post on my first family history blog, From Maine to Kentucky about errors in census records and how an immigrant's accent could affect how a member of the family could be recorded in the census.

See Tuesday's Tip: Errors in census records for that story.