Monday, December 22, 2014

Great-Grandmother Sarah or Sally Handler

At Connecting with a Handler Cousin, I shared the link to a 1988 video interview that my husband's second cousin did with his aunts, my father-in-law's cousins Esther and Helen Solomon.

At about 18:45 minutes in, the sisters start talking about their mother's father, Aaron Handler. Their mother's name was Regina (younger sister to Sam and Joseph Handler). According to Helen, her grandfather, Aaron Handler, was a wealthy farmer who owned a large farm. He had four sons with his first wife, whose name they don't know. The sisters share a little bit of what they remember of these older sons of Aaron (Herman, Leopold, Philip, and "the one who made his career in the service").

After taking a brief break, the video interview continues and it comes out that after Aaron's first wife died, he married his brother's daughter: his niece, whose name is Sarah Handler, as remembered by Helen and Esther. They don't know Sarah's father's name.

I have written about this great-grandmother of my husband's before at: Finding A Jewish Great Grandmother (which includes her death certificate) and Great-Grandmother Handler Married Twice. And at one of my favorite blog posts: Passenger Lists...And Following Up on Family Stories.

JewishGen's JOWBR (JewishGen Online Worldwide Burial Registry) has a record for Sally Handler, buried in Lansing Avenue Cemetery in Cleveland, Ohio. With some additional digging, I found that she is buried in row 15 of the Knesseth Israel section of the cemetery and I'm hoping someone will fulfill the FindAGrave photo request I have made.

JewishGen has this cemetery in its index and the record for "Sally Handler" indicates that her tombstone reads: "Chaya Sara bat Zvi."

If this is correct (and I'd love to see the tombstone to be sure), then Zvi Handler is brother of Aaron Handler and father of Sarah / Sally Handler.

Another interesting thing to think about: In looking up the given name Zvi at JewishGen's Given Names Database (for Hungary), the U.S. equivalent is Herman or Harry.

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Tombstone Tuesday ~ Rebecca Levitt

Rebecca (Neminroff) Levitt was the first wife of David Levitt, a son of Max Levitt and his first wife. (David was a half brother to Rose (Levitt) Goldstein, my husband's grandmother.) Rebecca is the only person I have in my genealogy database who died during the 1918 influenza epidemic. She left her husband and three young daughters.

She is buried in Har Jehuda Cemetery, Upper Darby, Delaware County, Pennsylvania.

Photo courtesy volunteer Sheila Peascheck

Beloved Wife
And Mother
Rebecca Levitt
Died Oct. 7, 1918
Aged 35 Years
Photo courtesy volunteer Sheila Peascheck

The Hebrew is roughly translated as:
Here lies
My dear/beloved wife
Mrs. Rivka daughter of
Yerachmiel died
On the first of the month of Cheshvan
5679. May her soul be bound up in the bond of eternal life.

Translation help is from the Tracing the Tribe Facebook page and JewishGen's How to Read a Hebrew Tombstone.

Her FindAGrave memorial can be found here.

Monday, December 8, 2014

Connecting with a Handler Cousin ~ Blog as Cousin Bait

Thanksgiving is a wonderful time to discuss family and think about those family who are no longer with us. When I opened my email the day after Thanksgiving this year, I found an email from a second cousin of my husband's who did just that. Gary has been making video recordings of family members for almost 30 years, knowing that they would be interesting to family members. He wrote: "I figured that either someday I would have the time to start exploring our history based on these histories or perhaps my kids or grandkids would." After watching one of his older videos (which my husband and I have now watched - it's a treasure), he thought he would search on the Internet for some of the information mentioned by his aunts in the video.

Well, up comes my blog with a good bit of family information about Handler ancestors and relatives in Ohio. He and I started an email conversation and this past weekend, enjoyed a Google chat with our respective spouses.

Sisters Esther and Helen
Well, the treasure can be found at YouTube in a two and a half hour video called: "Mishpacha Tape Helen and Esther 1988." Gary's aunt Helen and aunt Esther are first cousins of my father-in-law; their brother, Gary's dad, Morton, died at age 44 in 1972. All these cousins were born in Ohio to Regina (Handler) and Jake Solomon.

Just mentioning these aunts to my mother-in-law reminded her that my father-in-law introduced Morton (who lived in Cleveland) to Gary's mother (who lived in Akron, in an apartment in the Handler home). Gary's mother is still living and was visiting for Thanksgiving. She was thrilled that we connected online!

Some of the information about the family that Helen and Esther talk about in this video is new to me (including several photographs shared near the end); some information reinforces what I already knew; and some is in error. For example, they say that their cousin Margaret Handler was born in Hungary, as well as her older brother Arthur. However, passenger lists show otherwise.

I will share some new findings about the Handlers that I found in this video in future blog posts. I thank Gary for taking this video almost 27 years ago and sharing it at YouTube. I especially thank him for contacting me and look forward to seeing photographs that I haven't seen before!

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Connecting with a Segal Cousin

In late October, I was contacted by user of Family Tree DNA, suggesting that there was a strong DNA connection between us. Since she mentioned the Segal surname, I knew it would be a match with my mother-in-law and my husband.

I'm still getting used to exploring the chromosome browser and there are several chromosome matches to my mother-in-law, but fewer with my husband. The match that is the same is on chromosome 21.

After several emails, and inviting each other to view our respective online trees, we think that her second great-grandmother, Henda Segal Gershman was a sister of my husband's second great-grandfather, Simche Segal/Siegel.

Amazingly enough, although the immigrant Segals settled in Philadelphia and Woodbine, New Jersey, this new-found fourth cousin lives in the town next to ours in Massachusetts. We met for a couple of hours the night before Thanksgiving to share pictures and talk family history. I do see a similarity in some of the Segals in the first couple of generations.

The other helpful thing is that Henda Segal and her husband Louis Gershman had six children (five daughters and a son) and my mother-in-law remembers those sisters who lived in Woodbine; she remembers that they were cousins on the Segal side, but was never clear on exactly how they were cousins. It was a pleasure to confirm for her that those sisters were first cousins to her grandmother, Golda (her photo at right).

I have blogged about Simche Segal's gravestone translation. I also have images of his passenger lists. I blogged about him and his family in census records here and here. I have also shared his 1919 death certificate.

Below is an attempt to graphically display the generations descended from the unknown third great grandparents.

Unknown parents (father possibly Yehuda)
|                                          |
Simche Segal                  Henda Segal Gershman
|                                          |
Golda Segal Levitt                      Sadie Gershman Seltzer
|                                          |
Rose Levitt Goldstein                       Annie Seltzer Walowitz
|                                          |
Mother-in-law                    New-found 3rd cousin
|                                          |
Husband                       New-found 4th cousin

Simche Segal's gravestone indicates his father's name is Yehuda; his death certificate indicates his father's name is Israel. (I'm inclined to believe the gravestone.) Henda (Segal) Gershman died in 1909. Her death certificate indicates "unknown" for her father's name. She is buried at Har Nebo Cemetery in Philadelphia and I am looking forward to seeing if the Hebrew on her gravestone can confirm a father's name of Yehuda.