Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Tombstone Tuesday ~ Simche Seigel, 1919

A couple of years ago, my husband and I explored Tifereth Israel Cemetery in Woodbine, New Jersey, looking for the gravestone of Simche Seigel, his second great grandfather and had no luck.

Well it turns out the gravestone was all in Hebrew.

Photo courtesy L. Seigle, via R. Seigle, Jerusalem
A third cousin of my husband was in the southern New Jersey area in September and took this photograph. Her father, who previously shared Simche's death certificate with me, sent me this photo and his translation:
"My eyes were like springs of water because of my dear and honorable husbands death Rabbi Simcha son of Yehuda Seigle (סיגעל). Passed away in old age. Died on second and buried on third of Tamuz in year 5679."
He also notes that "The numbers slightly do not match as the second of Tamuz is about 1 July and on the death certificate his death is July 7th."

I shared the image at JewishGen's ViewMate and got a slightly different translation from Lara Diamond of Lara's Family Search blog:
"Fountains of water fall from my eyes
On the death of my husband
The dear and honored Reb
Simcha son of Yehuda Siegel
What like sleep his rest
On the 20th day and was buried on the ?? day
Of the month of Tamuz in the year 5679
May his soul dwell in everlasting life"
Another translation from Sheindle Cohen at ViewMate:
"Streams of water shed from my eyes
On the death of my husband
The dear and honorable Reb
Simcha son of Reb Yehuda Segal
[Who]died in good old age on day Two (Monday)
and was buried on day Three (Tuesday)
10th(?)day of the month of Tamuz
Year 5679
May His Soul Be Bound in the Bindings of Life"
Monday, July 7, 1919, corresponds to 9 Tamuz 5679, so "Day Two" (two days after Shabbat) makes sense, and he was likely buried on July 8, which was 10 Tamuz 5679.

There is something to be found in each of these translations, and I thank everyone for their assistance.

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Tombstone Tuesday ~ Sam and Sadie Handler

Photo credit Alan Simon

Shalom son of Aaron (I think; at least that's what it should read).
Sam Handler
Husband - Father
1887 - 1954

See his Find A Grave Memorial with additional pictures and links to family members. His death certificate names his father as Arthur.

Photo credit Alan Simon

And his wife, Sadie, who outlived Sam by over 30 years. Link to her Find A Grave Memorial.

Friday, December 13, 2013

Y-DNA and Haplogroup Result

There are a few different companies that do DNA testing for genealogy. I have written before about my experience using AncestryDNA, first at AncestryDNA - One Jewish Result, then at AncestryDNA Updates Ethnicity Results ~ Jewish Results. AncestryDNA does autosomal testing, which means it is a test that provides a breakdown of one's ethnic percentages, to find out where all your ancestors may have come from going back hundreds of years. However, you don't know which ancestors (maternal or paternal or your mother's grandfather) these ethnic percentages apply to.

Family Tree DNA is another testing company which does Y-DNA testing and mtDNA testing, in addition to autosomal DNA testing.

Y-DNA testing, which only men can take, traces a man's father's father's father's line, which can be used for surname studies for men trying to confirm if they descend from the same man (assuming the surname has remained the same over the years). This doesn't really apply to Jewish genealogy, as surnames do not apply for enough generations to go back very far.

Then mtDNA (maternal) testing, which traces a person's (either male or female) maternal ancestors (mother's mother's mother, etc.), lets that person know what his or her maternal origins are 20,000 to 100,000 years ago.

Awhile ago, I had my husband take the Y-DNA test (at 37 markers), and the results show that his haplogroup is R-M198, also known as R1a1a. [Update: this has been updated and his haplogroup is now identified as R-M512.]

According to my notes from Bennett Greenspan's talk at the IAJGS Conference in August, this Haplogroup goes back to Eastern Europe or Western Asia. Half of Levites are in this Haplogroup, so the story that has been passed down orally in my husband's father's family that they are Levites is supported by this testing result. It has been suggested (via Wikipedia) that the R1a1 Haplogroup originated about 21,000 years ago in southern Russia. This Haplogroup is most often associated with Russians, Hungarians, Poles, Ukrainians and Belarusians (also Wikipedia).

Below is a screenshot of the map that shows where the R Haplogroup split and then where R1a ended up - in Eastern Europe.

My husband's grandfather, Joseph Handler (1884-1947) was born in Ilok, formerly in Hungary, then Yugoslavia, now in Croatia. I know nothing more about his father than his name was Aaron (or Adolf, or Arthur), that he was believed to have been born in Yugoslavia (based on that notation on the death certificates of his sons, Joseph and Sam), and that his Y-DNA was the same as my husband's.

For better explanations of genetic genealogy, visit Your Genetic Genealogist blog, written by CeCe Moore. She also wrote an article for Geni.com explaining Y-DNA testing, where she explains it much better than I ever could.

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Wordless Wednesday ~ Uncle Meyer Levine

Meyer Levine served in World War II from August 1942 to September 1944. I am guessing this photo was taken sometime in the 1940s. He was married to Aunt Margaret, whom I wrote about previously. Uncle Meyer died in 1977.

They did not have children, and upon Margaret's death, this photo was included in the bag of photos and other mementoes offered to me. Thank you Cousin Karen!

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Sunday, October 27, 2013

AncestryDNA Updates Ethnicity Results ~ Jewish Results

Initial AncestryDNA ethnicity results were not particularly helpful or interesting for those with primarily Jewish ancestry. The results have been updated. I don't know if they are more helpful, but they certainly are more interesting. I look forward to seeing if matches with other Ancestry users are more fruitful now.

I first wrote about AncestryDNA-One Jewish Result over a year ago. At that time, the autosomal results for my husband indicated that his genetic ethnicity (going back many hundreds of years) was 82% European Jewish, 13% British Isles (which didn't make sense to us), and 5% Uncertain.

The updated results show an increased number of genetic regions and provide more information about the possible ranges of ethnicity. The updated summary page is below, showing an approximate amount of European Jewish ancestry of 92%.

My husband's updated genetic ethnicity (according to AncestryDNA)

Okay, this makes more sense - 92% European Jewish with some trace regions... let's look at these results more closely:

Specific ethnicity results for European Jewish from AncestryDNA

The links in this information box provide additional information about how AncestryDNA came up with the percentage and range for each ethnicity. The link after "Surprised by your ethnicity estimate?" includes a good explanation of the reasons for variations, which include: the genetic influence of neighboring regions, the estimate is on the edges of our predicted range, the random nature of genetic inheritance (with a nice graphic representation showing how genes can pass quite differently from parents to multiple children), and the fact that ethnicity estimation is still an open problem.

Trace Regions is an interesting addition to the AncestryDNA results. (I like this better than "Uncertain" as a result.)

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Workday Wednesday ~ Patent for Suspensory Device (Garter Belt Improvement)

When I discovered information about the Emanuel Levitas family (see Max Levitt's Brother is Emanuel Levitas) based on my mother-in-law's memory that her maternal grandfather's brother ran a garter factory in New York City, my husband looked for Levitas and found a patent under the name of Sarah Levitas.

You can search patents at http://www.google.com/patents and when you search for Sarah Levitas, there are two results.

The first result is for Patent No. 842,893, patented Feb. 5, 1907 to S. Levitas for "Suspensory Device for Garters, &c.," Application filed Apr. 4, 1905.

The initial result page is an OCR'ed version of the patent (Optical Character Recognition), so it's not a 100% accurate transcription of the patent, but you can click on a button for the PDF of the patent, and here it is, with Sarah Levitas' signature on the first page:

The second search result is a 1958 update to this device by Sidney Baruch and references the 1907 Levitas Patent, among others.

So, although only Emanuel is listed as Garter Manufacturer in census records, it looks like his wife had something to do with his success in his business.

Sunday, October 13, 2013

Anna Goldstein's Death Certificate 1918

The story about the death of my husband's great aunt Anna Goldstein (sister of Max Goldstein and Morris Goldstein) is that she was hit by a trolley in New York, and didn't tell her family. Supposedly her untreated injuries caused her death sometime in the late 1910s.

My mother-in-law was named after her father's sister.

I recently obtained her death certificate.

New York, New York, Manhattan Deaths: FHL Microfilm 1322427,
Certificate No. 17223. Anna Goldstein, May 27, 1918.
She died at a private hospital at 41 E. 78th Street in Manhattan at 6:00 A.M. on May 27, 1918. The cause of death is "Carcinoma of ovary; Exploratory operation May 24th." She had suffered from this for two years.

I am guessing that in 1918, family members were not comfortable talking about their sister's death by ovarian cancer and the story about being injured by a trolley was an easier way to explain a young person's death.

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Emanuel Levitas in Census Records, Part 2

This is a continuation of the census records for the family of Emanuel Levitas, my husband's second great uncle. See the family in 1895-1915 census records here.

1920 U.S. Federal Census

Brooklyn, Kings County, New York, Roll 1168, E.D. 945, Page 3A
2036 65th Street

Mathew Levitas is head of household, age 27, single, born in New Jersey. You can't see it in this image, but his occupation is Doctor.
Emanuel Levitas, father, age 55, born in Austria (mother tongue: German). His occupation is listed as a manufacturer of garters.
Sarah Levitas, mother, age 50, born in Russia (mother tongue: Jewish). Both Emanuel and Sarah are listed as having immigrated in 1888 and having been naturalized in 1891.
Hana Levitas, Mother-in-law (sic), age 85, born in Russia (mother tongue: Jewish). She is listed as widowed, having immigrated in 1870, and having been naturalized in 1875. She wouldn't be Mathew's mother-in-law, as he is not married, and I believe she is Sarah's mother, since she was born in Russia.

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Emanuel Levitas in Census Records, Part 1

As I noted, once I learned about Emanuel Levitas (brother of Max Levitt), I was able to find his family in just about every census record between 1895 New Jersey State Census through the 1940 U.S. Federal Census. There are a few discrepancies, but the following censuses show the basics of the family. All of the following census records were found at Ancestry.com, except for the 1905 New York State Census, which was found at FamilySearch.org.

1895 New Jersey State Census

Newark, Essex County, New Jersey, page 23, Family 148

Herman (sic) Levitas, age between 20-60, considered "Male, German"
Sarah Levitas, age between 20-60, considered Female, all-other nationalities (not Irish or German)
Marain Levitas, age under 5, white male, native-born
David Levitas, age under 5, white male, native-born


1900 U.S. Federal Census

Manhattan, New York County, New York, Roll 1082, E.D. 53, Page 22B

Emanuel Levitas, head, born Oct 1864 in Austria, age 35, married 13 years
Sarah Levitas, wife, born Jun 1865 in Russia, age 35, married 13 years. Mother of 3 children, all living
Muse Levitas, son, born April 1892 in New Jersey, age 8
David Levitas, son, born Jan 1894 in New Jersey, age 6
Lena Levitas, daughter, born May 1896, age 4

Thursday, September 19, 2013

Emanuel Levitas Naturalization in New York Eastern District

Interestingly, the surname of Levitas is not that common, so once I found Max Levitt's brother, Emanuel Levitas, in New York City, I was able to find quite a bit about him by searching for the surname Levitas.

Since I shared Max Levitt's Cape May County, New Jersey, Naturalization records, I thought I would share Emanuel Levitas' Naturalization records.

I found these records at Fold3.com, and they're available on Ancestry.com as well. The source information is Petitions for Naturalization, Eastern District, New York, New York, 1904; Petition Volume: 60. Petition Number: 246, for Emanuel Levitas.

Emanuel arrived in the U.S. before his brother Max, and he lived in Newark, New Jersey, for a short time. It was here that he first filed a Declaration of Intention to become a citizen.

On July 3, 1893, in Essex County, New Jersey, Emanuel Levitas declared his intention to become a citizen of the United States and to renounce his allegiance to the Emperor of Austria.


Sunday, September 15, 2013

Max Levitt's Naturalization in Cape May, New Jersey

As I have mentioned before, one of the family stories is that my mother-in-law's grandfather, Max Levitt, changed his name from Levitas, because he thought it sounded "too fancy." I have been trying to find proof of this, but in the late 19th century, there wasn't always a requirement that someone making a name change had to do it officially through the courts.

So I'm trying to see if he ever used Levitas, but I have only ever found him as Levitt, starting in the 1900 U.S. Federal Census. (See Levitts in Woodbine. And I have not found him in the 1895 New Jersey State Census.)

More recently, I found that he became a naturalized citizen using the name Max Levitt. Sometimes naturalization paperwork will indicate a name change, noting that the person used another name previously, but not in this case, so I'm guessing that he had been going by the name of Levitt by the time he filed the following paperwork.

On FamilySearch.org, I recently found New Jersey, Cape May County, New Jersey, County Naturalization Records, 1749-1986, which is not indexed, so I had to browse to find Max Levitt. I was pretty sure he was in Cape May, New Jersey, and sure enough, he was the only Levitt in Declarations of Intention 1896-1906.

This Declaration of Intention, made at the Court of Common Pleas in Cape May County (New Jersey) tells me that on October 20, 1900, Max Levitt, a native of Austria, now residing at Woodbine, Cape May County (New Jersey), age about 35, renounces his allegiance to the Emperor of Austria. This is his first step to becoming a U.S. Citizen.


Sunday, September 1, 2013

Max Levitt's Brother is Emanuel Levitas

For some reason, the most viewed post on this blog is Amanuensis Monday ~ Max Levitt's Death Certificate. His father is listed as Moses L. Levitt, born in Austria.

The family story is that Max Levitt (d. 1935) changed his name to Levitt from Levitas because he thought Levitas "sounded too fancy." My mother-in-law remembers that her maternal grandfather Max Levitt had a sister, Sophie, who married Samuel Litwin, (I wrote about one of their sons here) and a brother, who ran a garter manufacturing company in New York City. I am collecting more information on these siblings with the hope of finding out more about Max Levitt's origins.

Since my mother-in-law couldn't remember Max's brother's given name, I started by searching census records at ancestry.com for the surname Levitas in New York City (all boroughs), no first name, born in Austria in 1865 +/- 5 years. The top results show a given name of Emanuel (or a variation on the name):

Sure enough, when I looked at a couple of the images, the occupation is Manufacturer of Garters:

1910 U.S. Census, Brooklyn, NY: occupation for Emanuel Levitas

1920 U.S. Census, Brooklyn, NY: occupation for Emanuel Levitas

So I've started with census records (Federal census records, 1900, 1910, 1920, 1930, N.Y State census records for 1905 and 1915, and New Jersey State census record for 1895) and pieced together this family. Soon I hope to share more of what I have found on this Levitas family beyond census records.

See the family in a variety of census records from 1895 to 1915 here. And see them in more census records from 1920 to 1940 here.

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

(Almost) Wordless Wednesday ~ The Photo Genealogist Looks at Hollanders in Hungary

Last week, when I attended the IAJGS 2013 Conference, I had the opportunity to have Ava Cohn, the Photo Genealogist, take a look at a photo that I shared in May 2012. It is believed to be of the Hollander family in Bonyhad, Hungary.

As I noted in the original post, family members believed that the woman sitting on the left was the mother of Lena (Hollander) Handler, named Anna Honenvald (or Honevald). However, Ava took a look at this photo and the one I have of Lena with her first-born son, Arthur, which I also shared in May 2012,

Arthur Handler (b. 1910), and his mother, Lena (Hollander) Handler

and said that she couldn't be Lena's mother; there was no family resemblance. Ava does think that the woman who is standing in the group photograph is related to Lena and could be a sister. She also noted that the two men at the right look like father (sitting) and son (standing).

Ava agreed that the 1911 date of the photo of Arthur and Lena is accurate and feels that the group photo is from the 1920's, 1919 at the very earliest. As I noted when I originally shared this photo, I need to continue to explore Hungarian Civil Records at FamilySearch.org to learn more about the family who remained in Hungary and see if I can possibly identify anyone else in the above photo. My working theory is that this is Lena's sister and family and she sent the photo to Lena in Ohio to remember her family by.

Friday, August 9, 2013

IAJGS 2013 Conference - Second Half Report

IAJGS 2013 is a five and a half day conference. I wrote about my first three days of learning here. I took a break on Wednesday, and returned for more on Thursday and Friday.

Following are the sessions I attended on the last two days of the conference and my comments on them. I heard mostly very good things about this conference and the speakers. I am glad that I was able to take advantage of attending such an extraordinary conference so close to home.

The Coming "Big Bang" in Genealogical Research: Automated Matching of Databases and Family Trees with Adam Brown & Randy Schoenberg, who are actively involved with Geni.com, an online collaborative family tree.
Adam and Randy talked about Geni.com, a moderated online family tree and resource for collaborative genealogy research. This website also provides opportunities for researchers to set  up a Geni project and invite researchers to collaborate.

Who the Heck is Ida Gerskill: Some Challenges of Researching Jewish Names with Meredith Hoffman, a professional genealogist with a degree in linguistics.
This session built on the session I attended on Monday, with Warren Blatt, on Jewish surnames. The take away is to remember that spelling doesn't count when you're trying to research your Jewish ancestors - there are a ton of reasons why names appear differently in all these records. Meredith also provided a few ideas about looking for a mother's maiden name and an ancestral town name.

Immigrant Clues in Photographs with Maureen Taylor, an internationally-known photography expert. Her knowledge complements that of Ava Cohn, whom I heard at the start of the conference.
Her talk focused on late 19th century and early 20th century photographs, of which she had many examples. She used these examples to explain what to look for to help identify the date, location and reason for the photo.

Best Search Strategies on Ancestry.com with Crista Cowan, whom I heard speak on Monday.
I enjoy listening to Crista speak (she handles a crowd very well), but I realize that I know how to explore Ancestry.com pretty well now. I did hear a couple of good reminders that I will share with you. First, a user can set the Collection Priority when doing a search; scroll down to the bottom of the Advanced Search page to find the Collection Priority box. (See an example of the drop-down box at right; you can see that "Jewish" is one of the choices.) Also, when you have done a search and have that results page, RIGHT-CLICK to open a the result in a new tab so you don't lose that initial results page if you want to systematically work through the results.
And in some cases, you might want to search by location: where you see "Any Event," enter a location with no name - this will give results for that location. As you may guess, this only works well for smaller locations in the U.S. and in some foreign collections.

Interestingly, in her introduction, Crista emphasized that if you have your tree on Ancestry.com, it remains yours; you collaborate with other Ancestry.com users only if you want to. This, of course, is in contrast to Geni.com, the collaborative family tree site. Neither system is "right" or "wrong" and I appreciate that there are multiple options out there for researchers, depending on how one views his or her research.

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

IAJGS 2013 Conference - First Half Report

IAJGS 2013 is the first major genealogy conference I have attended and it has been an incredible learning experience. Not only have I learned that I already know a lot, but that there is always more to learn. Below I list the sessions I have attended and a bit of what I learned from each one.

Finding Genealogy Data in U.S. Court Records with Diane Freilich JD, who has been a licensed Michigan attorney for 40 years.
I learned that I should call the county courthouse where I believe records might be (for example, the legal name change for Max Levitas to Max Levitt very possibly happened in Cape May County, New Jersey) to find out the best time to visit. I should not be afraid to ask questions of the court personnel and I should not take no for an answer.

It's News to Me! Online Historical Newspaper Research for Genealogists with Pamela Weisberger, a professional genealogist and internationally-known lecturer who specializes in map and newspaper resources.
I learned about some additional online newspaper resources beyond GenealogyBank and Ancestry.com's Historical Newspapers and was reminded of some I have used in the past. For example, Old Fulton NY Post Cards website can be a challenge to search, but it is a great resource for New York news items that may not be in the New York Times.

Clued-In: The Stories are in the Details with Ava Cohn (a.k.a. Sherlock Cohn), The Photo Genealogist with a specialty in Jewish family photographs.
I learned how to look at a photo with the eyes of the different people involved, not only those sitting for the photo, but the photographer, the keeper of the photo, and the genealogist. As a genealogist, I need to look closely at all the details in a photo including facial expressions and positioning of those in the photo, as well as their clothing and hairstyles.

One-Step Website: A Potpourri and Hodgepodge of Genealogical Search Tools with Stephen Morse, the brilliant creator of the One-Step website.
I learned that there is a lot more to Steve Morse's One-Step website than just finding enumeration districts for the 1920, 1930, and 1940 U.S. Censuses. If you are already somewhat familiar with his website and it looks really full of information (it is), scroll all the way to the bottom and click on where it says you can "click here to close all the folders." Then you can more easily explore one folder of tools at a time. If you want to get a sense of what his talk covered (as well as a taste of his sense of humor) read About This Website and How to Use It, which is a link just about at the top of the home page.

Thursday, August 1, 2013

IAJGS Conference Next Week

I plan to attend most of the IAJGS (International Association of Jewish Genealogical Societies) Conference in Boston next week. I figured that since I live in suburban Boston I should take advantage of the fact that this annual international conference is a commuter rail ride away from where I live. See IAJGS2013 for all the details.

I hope to learn from some of the best Jewish genealogists in the field and explore some new strategies to figure out some of the puzzles in my husband's ancestry. I also look forward to meeting some fellow geneabloggers and networking with other genealogists.

Will I see you there?

Monday, July 22, 2013

Mystery Monday ~ Who Was the Father?

I have been researching my husband's paternal grandmother's family in Hungary, where the records have been microfilmed by the Family History Library. His grandmother's mother, Anna Honevald, was from Hőgyész, one of eleven children of Jacob Honevald and Marie Weisz.

Anna had an older sister, Betti. The last entry in the following image of 1878 birth records is a birth record for a child born out of wedlock:

Hőgyész, Tolna, Hungary, "Registers of Jewish births, marriages and deaths for Hőgyész (1842-1895)"
Birth no. 935. Salomon Honevald. February 20, 1878; Family History Library microfilm #642928.
Salomon was born on February 20. The mark in the column after the Hebrew indicates the baby is male. The following two columns indicate whether the birth is (ehelich) in wedlock or (unehelich) out of wedlock. You can see that Salomon has a mark in the "out of wedlock" column and the column for a father's name is blank.

The mother's name is Betti Honevald, of Hőgyész. The midwife was Regina Wimmer and the bris was 27 February.

The interesting thing about these birth records is that if a child died soon after its birth, the death date was recorded in the birth record. Salomon died on July 21, 1878.

I am able to confirm his death in this volume of 1878 death records on the same microfilm.

Hőgyész, Tolna, Hungary, "Registers of Jewish births, marriages and deaths for Hőgyész (1842-1895)"
Death no. 495. Salomon Honevald. July 21, 1878; Family History Library microfilm #642928.
The bottom entry here notes that Salomon Honevald died on July 21, 1878. The next marks note that he is male and unmarried. I'm not a reader of German or Hungarian, but I'm guessing the word in the next column (Unnfelich) means unknown or unnamed. Betti Honevald is the mother, living in Hőgyész.

Salomon died of Schwindsucht, which translates to Consumption. He was five months old, and was buried in Hőgyész cemetery.

Betti later went on to marry and have children, but there will always be a mystery as to who was the father of her firstborn son.

Sunday, July 14, 2013

George Levitt and Sarah Brodsky in 1920 Philadelphia

In the 1920 U.S. Census, Uncle George Levitt was living as a boarder in the John Cromley household at 2111 S. Hicks Street in Philadelphia.

1920 U.S. Federal Census, Philadelphia, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania;
Roll: T625_1629; E.D.: 811; Page: 7A. Record for George Levitt.

He reported that he was 21 in the census, though he was only 19. (He also reported his age as two years older on his WWI Draft Registration Card.)

He was a retail merchant in the auto supplies business.


Sarah Brodsky, age 37, lived with her daughter, Elizabeth, age 20, at 35 Cecil Street in Philadelphia.

1920 U.S. Federal Census, Philadelphia, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania;
Roll: T625_1629; E.D.: 1763; Page: 11A. Record for Sarah and Elizabeth Brodsky.

She owned the home, and carried a mortgage on it. The census reports that Sarah is widowed and that they immigrated in 1905. The "Na" means that they reported that they were naturalized citizens, but they didn't become naturalized citizens until 1927.

Sarah's occupation was "Dressmaking at home" and Elizabeth's occupation was "Saleslady, Shoes."

I don't know how they met, but sometime in the 1920's (1923 according to the 1930 census), George Levitt married Elizabeth Brodsky. I shared their census record information in Uncle George in U.S. Census Records.

Friday, July 12, 2013

Sarah Brodsky's Naturalization

My mother-in-law's Uncle George Levitt (born in New Jersey) married Elizabeth Brodsky, who immigrated to the U.S. with her mother, Sarah Brodsky. I previously shared their 1930 and 1940 U.S. census information.

In 1924, Sarah Brodsky submitted her Declaration of Intention to become a citizen of the United States to the District Court of the Eastern District of Pennsylvania.

Pennsylvania, U.S. Naturalization Originals, 1795-1930, Ancestry.com.
Record for Sarah Brodsky: Declaration of Intention

This declaration has lots of great information about Sarah Brodsky. She was 41 years old, born on May 5, 1883, in Balto, Russia, and a dressmaker. Her physical description notes that she had a ruddy complexion, was 5'5" tall and 175 lbs in weight with brown hair and hazel eyes.

She arrived at the port of New York from Odessa, Russia, on June 26, 1906, but doesn't know the name of the ship. I haven't found the passenger list with Sarah and daughter Elizabeth on it. Her address at this time was 35 South Cecil Street, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania (which is where I find her and daughter, Elizabeth, in the 1920 U.S. Census).

Note that the signature of the declarant is in Hebrew.

Sunday, June 30, 2013

Uncle George Levitt in U.S. Census Records

Rose (Levitt) Goldstein's oldest brother George had been living in Philadelphia for more than two decades by the time of the 1940 U.S. Federal Census. I shared his 1918 WWI Draft Registration Card last week. See his 1920 U.S. Census record here.

In 1930, George Levitt owned his home at 2136 South Melvin Street in Philadelphia.

1930 U.S. Federal Census, Philadelphia, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania;
Roll: 2119; E.D.: 428; Page: 17A. Record for George Levitt.

The value of his home was $6,950, which was the value of each of the other row houses in this city neighborhood. The "R" in the next column indicates that there was a radio in the home.

The census reports that George was 30 years old and his wife, Elizabeth G. was 29 years old and they were married at the ages of 23 and 22, (about 1923). Also in this household is Sarah Brodsky, age 47, who is George's mother-in-law, and confirms Elizabeth's maiden name.

I don't show here, but New Jersey is noted as George's birth place, and Russia is the birth place for Elizabeth and Sarah, who immigrated in 1903. They are listed as naturalized citizens.

In 1930, George's occupation is Salesman for Automotive Supplies.


In 1940, George and Elizabeth were living at 2136 Melvin Street, which I am assuming is the same house as above. The home is now worth $4,500, as are the other homes along this street.

1940 U.S. Federal Census, Philadelphia, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania;
Roll: T627_2324; E.D. 51-1152; Page: 19B. Line 43. Record for George Levitt.

The circled X by George's name means he was the one who answered the census taker's questions. He reported that he was 40 years old and his wife 38. He completed three years of high school, and his wife completed 8th grade. He was born in New Jersey and his wife in Russia. They now have two children, Ruth, age 8 and Mathew, age 4, both born in Pennsylvania. His widowed mother-in-law, Sarah Brodsky, age 55, is living with them. She is also noted as having eight years of schooling.

He is now a merchant for electric appliances. This and similar occupations tended to run in this family. See Uncle Morton in Woodbine in 1940 and see Uncle Eddie in Springfield in 1940.

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Wordless Wednesday ~ Levitt Family

I have shared this before, but thought I would share it again since I am blogging about the Levitt family.

This photograph from my mother-in-law's collection is of (standing:) Eddie Levitt (1908-1988), Morton Levitt (1904-1977), (seated:) Harold Reisner (1912-1990), Golda (Gussie) Levitt (circa 1870 - 1952), Rose Levitt (1902-1995). Harold was the son of Rebecca Levitt (Reisner), Golda's step-daughter.

I estimate the date as 1918 and the location as Woodbine, New Jersey. After sharing the WWI Draft Card for the oldest brother, George, showing that he now lived in Philadelphia, I wonder if this photograph was taken for George to remember his family by (even though he wasn't that far away).

Monday, June 24, 2013

Military Monday ~ WWI Draft Card for Uncle George Levitt

Rose Levitt Goldstein's oldest brother, George, was living in Philadelphia by September 1918, when he was required to register for the draft for World War I.

He was living at 2421 N. 31st Street in Philadelphia. Although he claims his age as 19, he was not yet 17, based on his date of birth of November 10, 1900. He was working as a Machinist for the government at the Navy Yard in Philadelphia.

The reason I know this is Rose's oldest brother is that he lists his nearest relative as his father, Max Levitt, living in Woodbine, Cape May County, New Jersey.

Uncle George was of medium height and build with brown eyes and black hair. He registered on September 12, 1918 in Philadelphia.

I wonder what made him decide to move out of his home in small Woodbine, New Jersey, to the big city before he was even eighteen years old?

The above images are from Ancestry.com. U.S., World War I Draft Registration Cards, 1917-1918 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations Inc, 2005. Original data: United States, Selective Service System. World War I Selective Service System Draft Registration Cards, 1917-1918. Washington, D.C.: National Archives and Records Administration. M1509, 4,582 rolls. Imaged from Family History Library microfilm.

Friday, June 21, 2013

Uncle Morton Levitt in 1940

My husband's grandmother, Rose, was one of four children of Max Levitt (about 1858 - 1935) and Golda Segal (about 1869 - 1952). I wrote about this family early on in my blog at Mystery Monday - Levitts in Woodbine, where I reviewed the family in the U.S. Federal Censuses from 1900, 1910, 1920, and 1930.

I just realized that I had not found all of Rose's brothers in the 1940 Census, so I decided to see where they were.

In 1940, I found Morton Levitt in Woodbine at 603 Adams Avenue. His was the 129th household enumerated in this district.

1940 U.S. Federal Census, Woodbine, Cape May County, New Jersey;
Roll: T627_2324; E.D.: 5-48; Page: 8A; Line 5: Record for Morton Levitt

Morton, age 35, owned his home, which was worth about $2,500. The family lived in the "Same House" five years earlier, in 1935. His wife, Marian, is a year younger and was born in Pennsylvania. She had three years of high school education and Morton only had one year of high school education.

Sunday, June 2, 2013

Celebrating Blogiversary #2

It has been two years since I started this blog and I have learned a tremendous amount about my husband's ancestry. I would like to share some of the resources I have discovered and/or rediscovered during these past two years.

Hungarian records are relatively easy to find, with civil records from October 1895 forward online at FamilySearch.org and Jewish records before October 1895 on microfilm at the Family History Library (click here to search the catalog). I have learned how to rent these microfilms and have learned a great deal about the family of Bubbie Lena, my husband's paternal grandmother. Among other records, I have shared the March 10, 1909 marriage record for my husband's grandparents, my husband's Bubbie Lena's birth record from Bonyhád, found her siblings born in Bonyhád, and in upcoming blog posts, I will continue to share what I have found out about Bubbie Lena's mother's family in Hőgyész, Tolna, Hungary.

JewishGen is a tremendous resource for Jewish genealogists. I'm sure I have only taken advantage of a few of its resources. The JewishGen Gazetteer contains the names of one million localities in 54 countries in Europe, North Africa, the Middle East, and Central Asia. I blogged about looking for Erdevick and Illok, Hungary at JewishGen. More recently I learned about JewishGen's ViewMate, which I explained in detail how to use to request translations for family gravestones.

JewishGen also has an online Worldwide Burial Registry which has helped me find burial locations for a few family members. This works with FindAGrave, where I can enter a memorial and request that a volunteer take a photograph of a gravestone for me. (See my Handler memorials at FindAGrave.)

I also recommend JewishGen's Reading Hebrew Tombstones to anyone trying to decipher the Hebrew on a tombstone.

I have met some fellow bloggers and Jewish genealogy researchers on Facebook, where I have found a Jewish genealogy group and a Hungarian genealogy group. These friends have been very helpful in translating handwritten records that I have found in my microfilm searching. Being able to share electronic images is great. I am also grateful for cousins who have contacted me and shared information - one second cousin on the Handler side, and another second cousin on the Segel / Siegel side.

I have also enjoyed sharing other information - newspaper articles, census records, naturalization records, passenger lists - from a variety of other websites.

Thanks for reading!

Friday, May 31, 2013

Honevald Family in Hogyesz, Hungary

Tolna County, Hungary.
Image courtesy Wikipedia
As I noted in my last post, I have been researching Bubbie Lena's mother's family in the village of Hőgyész, Tolna, Hungary by way of a Family History Library microfilm. The names in parentheses below are variations on the names I have found (and there are many).

From birth and marriage records, I find that Jacob (Jakob) Honevald (Honewald, Honenwald) and his wife Marie (Mari) Weisz (Weiss), who were married on November 14, 1854, had the following eleven children. Not all were born in Hőgyész.
  • Johanna (Hany), born September 3, 1855. Married Salomon Heller on November 28, 1876. They moved to Bonyhád and had children born there.
  • Betti, born about 1856. Married David Weisz.
  • Moritz born about 1858. Married Sali Strasser.
  • Lentsi (Anna) born November 6, 1861. Married Samuel Hollander on March 16, 1886. They moved to Bonyhád and had children there, including my husband's grandmother, Lina Hollander.
  • Israel born June 5, 1863. Married Rozalie Fuhrmann on April 29, 1888.
  • Leopold born May 14, 1865. Died December 3, 1866.
  • Michel born November 15, 1866. Died December 15, 1866.
  • Rosi born December 31, 1867.
  • Rubi (Robi) born October 6, 1869.
  • Josef born May 7, 1871.
  • Sandor born November 23, 1873. Died August 23, 1874.

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Wedding Wednesday ~ 1886 in Hungary: Hollander-Honevald

When I found Bubbie Lena's birth record in Bonyhád, Hungary, I learned that her mother was from Hőgyész, Hungary. So last month, I rented the microfilm from the Family History Library for Hőgyész and have been into my local Family History Library (NEHGS in Boston) to work my way through this microfilm to see what I can find out about this branch of my father-in-law's family. (I'm still not done.)

On March 16, 1886, in Hőgyész, Tolna, Hungary, Samu Hollander of Bonyhád married Lentsi Honevald of Hőgyész. Interestingly, I found that these records, unlike those from Bonyhád, included some Hebrew.

Groom's information: Samu Hollander, a pipafaragó (pipe cutter) from Bonyhád, son of Lipot Hollander and Betti Kohn, 23 years old, nőtlen (unmarried).

It looks like both Samu (Samuel) and his father Lipot (Lipod) were pipe cutters; they would have carved pipes from wood for smoking.

Bride's information: Lentsi (also known as Anna) born in Hőgyész, daughter of Jakob Honevald, a szabo (a tailor) and Maria Weisz, of Hőgyész.

Bride's information continued: born in Hőgyész, age 24, hajado (unmarried).

The next column indicates where and how many times the marriage was publicized. It looks like three times in both Bonyhád and Hőgyész. If my Hungarian experts want to weigh in on the exact translation, please do so in the comments. The next column notes the wedding date of March 16, 1886, and I would guess that the Hebrew below notes the date in the Hebrew Calendar (9 Adar II 5646?). (I use the Hebrew Date Converter at www.hebcal.com.)

The next column notes the wedding location in Hőgyész, and the last column notes the witnesses. Based on all of the other records I found, I believe Salamon Heller is Anna's brother-in-law and Lipod Hollander is, of course, Samuel's father.

From this marriage record, I learned Anna was also known as Lentsi, that she was born about 1864, and her parents' names were Jakob Honevald and Maria Weisz. From here, I found more birth and marriage records and still need to finish reviewing the microfilm for any death records.

My husband is descended from this set of second great-grandparents as follows:

Jakob Honevald = Maria Weisz
daughter, Anna Honevald / Honenvald = Samuel Hollander
daughter, Lena Hollander = Josef Handler

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Tombstone Tuesday and Genealogy Serendipity

Last month, my husband and I decided to fulfill one of my own longtime Find A Grave photo requests and we drove to a group of Jewish cemeteries in West Springfield, Massachusetts from our home in eastern Massachusetts.

I knew that Great Uncle Eddie Levitt and wife, Great Aunt Adele (Reisner) Levitt were buried in Beth El Cemetery in West Springfield. The Find A Grave page for Beth El Cemetery includes a map which notes that there are four Jewish cemeteries on Kings Highway in West Springfield: Beth El (in two sections), B'nai Jacob, Kodimoh, and Beth Israel.

I parked my car in a rather central location near a small building, and a man approached asking if he could help us. It turned out he worked for a vault company and was there to prepare a vault and assist with a burial later in the day.

Well, I explained about Find A Grave and that we were looking for the gravestones for Edward and Adele Levitt and he was the one to walk ahead and let us know where it was.