Wednesday, July 29, 2015

New Ancestry Database (Social Security Applications and Claims Index)

I've been checking out the new U.S., Social Security Applications and Claims Index, 1936-2007 at Not every possible name is going to be found in this relatively new database (not by a long shot), but for those which are there, it is possible to find some new information or confirm theories.

In this database, I found Adele (Reisner) Levitt, a granddaughter of Max Levitt, my husband's great-grandfather who changed his name from Levitas to Levitt because he thought Levitas sounded too fancy. I have found no record of him or his descendants using the surname Levitas in America. (However, Max's brother Emanual still used the surname Levitas.)

Well, according to this database, in Adele's Social Security application, she listed her parents as Jacob Reisner and Rebecca Levitas. I have never seen Rebecca's last name referred to as Levitas - only Levitt. Although Max (Rebecca's father and Adele's grandfather) had been using Levitt since at least 1903, when he became a naturalized citizen, it appears that the family still recognized that the name used before immigration was Levitas (or Lewites).

Saturday, July 25, 2015

Surname Saturday ~ Goldstein of Romania and New Jersey

I am using the Surname Saturday prompt to review the ancestral lines for my husband's family.

The earliest Goldstein whose name I know may not have even been a Goldstein!

Isaac lived in Iasi, Romania. Family lore said that his surname was Yancu and that the name was changed to Goldstein at Ellis Island. However, (1) names were never changed at Ellis Island, and (2) I found Moische Goldstein on a passenger list with the surname Goldstein AND referencing his father in Iasi, Romania, as Itzik Goldstein. Moische Goldstein arrived in New York on August 3, 1914. This is the second page of his passenger list record.

The name and complete address of nearest relative or friend
in country whence alien came:
father: Itzik Goldstein
Strada Ruksanska Yassy
Isaac Yancu was married to Sheva Moskowitz (listed as Scheiba on her daughter's death certificate). I have one photograph of her. They had six sons and one daughter. I'm not sure of the birth order and don't have much primary source information for the following:
  • Max (1892-1956) - lived in New York City and was the first to emigrate to America. I have written about him and his family.
  • Anna (1895-1918) - emigrated with Morris in 1914 and died in New York. I shared her death certificate here.
  • Moische / Morris (1897-1965) - see below.
  • Mendel - maybe emigrated to Israel; maybe remained in Romania (dying young?)
  • Shmuel-Leib Yancu - emigrated to Israel. See a photograph of him here and here.
  • Pineu Goldstein - remained in Romania. See his photograph here, though my mother-in-law always thought that this photograph was of the youngest brother.
  • Usher - is remembered as the youngest and he emigrated to Israel.
Son Morris' gravestone has the inscription: Moshe Hersh bar Yitzchak Halevi, which indicates his father, a Levite, was named Yitzchak. I'm still waiting on FindAGrave photo requests for sister, Anna, and brother, Max, of Morris (buried at Mount Judah Cemetery, Ridgewood, Queens) in order to see what the Hebrew on their gravestones is.

Based on my mother-in-law's memories, I believe Sheva died in the mid-1930s and Isaac died in the late 1930s, both in Romania. Although there is a story that Sheva came to America and was sent back to Romania for health reasons, I have not found any evidence of this.

Saturday, July 11, 2015

Surname Saturday ~ Handler of Yugoslavia and Ohio

Surname Saturday is a daily blogging prompt from GeneaBloggers, the genealogy community’s resource for blogging. I have decided to use this prompt to review the ancestral lines for my husband's family.

The earliest Handler whose name I know are brothers Aaron Handler and Tzvi Hersh (or Harry) Handler. After Aaron's first wife died (they had four children together), he married the daughter of his brother, whose name I believe is Rozalia (She also went by Rosie, Szali, and Sally - see Different Names-Same Person.) According to U.S. records that I have found, they lived in or near Ilok, in a part of eastern Europe that is currently in Croatia, but has previously been considered part of Hungary and Yugoslavia. It is believed that Aaron was a large landowning farmer.

Here is a website (Macrohistory: Worldhistory) with a changing map of Europe from WWI to 2000. I have taken screen shots and done my best to show where Ilok is situated: at the point of the arrow in each map.

1914: Ilok was in Hungary

1919-1938: Ilok was in Yugoslavia

1956: Ilok was still in Yugoslavia

2000: Ilok is now in Croatia.