21 February 2017

Tombstone Tuesday: Irving Cohen, age 5, Montefiore Cemetery, Queens , NY

Irving Cohen's short life ended tragically.  His grave stone, shaped as a cut-off tree truck, testifies to this sad fact.

Here lies
Yisrael Meier
son of David
Died 3 Nisan 5691
DIED MAR. 21, 1931

On 18 March, Irving was playing in front of his house at 457 Georgia Avenue, Brooklyn, when another child started a bonfire. Irving's clothes caught fire and he sustained third-degree burns on his abdomen and legs.[1]

An article in the Brooklyn Eagle fills in some of the story.[2]

Boy, 5, Burned While
Playing at Street Fire 
Irving Cohen, 5, was severely burned yesterday while playing in front of his home at 457 Georgia Ave. Police say that another youngster lighted a street blaze and that Irving's clothing caught fire. Attracted by the screams of the other children, neighbors called a physician who removed the child to the Knickerbocker Hospital. Irving's parents were not at home.

Irving was moved to Trinity Hospital and died there three days after the accident.

Irving's parents were David and Rose Cohen, both immigrants from Russia. Rose's maiden name, as written on Irving's death certificate, was Karchman

In 1930, the family lived at the same address, 457 Georgia Avenue, Brooklyn. In addition to Irving, David and Rose had an elder daughter, Anna, who had been born about 1922.[3]

Dave and Rose may have had two more children after Irving's death: Melvin and Ruth.[4] 

It appears that David Cohen, Rose Cohen and Melvin Cohen  are buried in another First Lubiner Progressive Benevolent Association plot in Beth David Cemetery, Pinelawn, Long Island.

Irving's grave is located in gate 156N, block 89, line 2R, grave 4, Montefiore Cemetery. 

1. Kings County, New York, death certificate no. 7465 (1931), Irving Cohen, 21 March 1931; Municipal Archives, New York City.
2. "Boy, 5, Burned While Playing at Street Fire," Brooklyn Eagle (Brooklyn, New York), 20 March 1931, p. 3, col. 2; image, Newspapers.com (http://www.newspapers.com : accessed 19 February 2017).
3. 1930 U.S. Census, Kings County, population schedule, Brooklyn, enumeration district 24-1215, sheet 17A, dwelling n/a, family 337, Dave and Rose Cohen family; images, Ancestry (http://www.ancestry.com : accessed 19 February 2017); citing NARA microfilm publication T626, roll 1492.
4. 1940 U.S. Census, population schedule, Brooklyn, enumeration district 24-1530, sheet 10B, household 24, David and Rose Cohen family; images, Ancestry (http://www.ancestry.com : accessed 19 February 2017); citing NARA microfilm publication T627, roll 2585.

14 February 2017

Tombstone Tuesday: Morris and Rebecca Berman, Montefiore Cemetery, Queens, NY

Last week I documented Anna Chalewsky. She was the mother of Bertha Myers and, one of this week's subjects, Rebecca Berman.


Here lies
Moshe Aharon son of Naftali
May his soul be bound in the bbonds of the living
DIED APRIL 30. 1988

Here lies Votah daughter of Meier
May her soul be bound in the bonds of the living
DIED JAN. 17, 1972


Rebecca, born Votah Chalewsky, came the the United States in 1907 with her widowed mother, Henie, and her sister, Taube (who became Bertha).[1] The town of residence on this manifest is not clear, but it may have been the community where Henie's family resided, rather than where Rebecca and Taube were born. Additional information be required before town(s) of origin may be ascertained.

In 1912, Rebecca married Morris Berman, who worked in ornamental iron.[2] They gave their address as 207 E. 100th Street in Manhattan - the same address given by her sister Bertha and her husband Jacob Myers when they had married in 1911.[3]

They had two sons, Nathan (born about 1912) and Meyer (born about 1918). By 1920, the family lived at 218 146th Street, New York, New York.[4]

In 1925 they lived in the Bronx at 2162 Valentine Avenue.[5] They were in Yonkers by 1929, living in their single-family home at 141 DeVoe Avenue. The 1930 census indicates that they owned their house.[6] According to Zillow.com this home was built in 1927.

The Great Depression was probably not kind to this family. After 1931, they are no longer listed in Yonkers City directories. The 1940 census enumeration found Morris, still providing ornamental iron for the construction industry, renting a room from Louis and Celia Cohen in the Bronx.[7] I have not yet found the rest of the family. Morris' World War II Draft Registration card from 1942 indicated that the "person who would always know" his address was Celia Cohen - not his wife Rebecca.[8] Morris worked for Town Iron Works in the Bronx.

It appears that neither Morris nor Rebecca naturalized until the 1940s. I have not yet ordered their records.

Rebecca and Morris are likely interred in one of the First Lubiner Progressive Benevolent Association burial plots in Montefiore Cemetery because Rebecca's sister, Bertha Myers, marred a Jacob Myers, who was related to people from the community (and may have lived there, a some point, himself).

As noted in the previous post about Rebecca's mother, the family may have lived in Staro Konstyantiniv - a larger community, not far from Lubin/Labun.

Morris' and Rebecca's graves are located in Montefiore Cemetery, Queens, NY, Gate 567W, Block 5, Line 4L. There appears to be a mistake in the Montefiore Cemetery online index. Morris' grave is identified as grave 1 and Rebecca's as grave 21. My guess is that Rebecca's is actually grave 2.

1. Manifest, S.S. Vaderland, 3 July 1907, stamped p. 18, lines 28-30, Henie [indexed as Henri] (age 55), Votte (21) and Taube (19) Chalewski; images, "New York, Passenger Lists, 1820-1957," Ancestry (http://www.ancestry.com : accessed 17 January 2017).
2. New York County, New York, marriage certificate no. 6428 (5 February 1912), Moris Berman and Beckie Cholawsky; Municipal Archives, New York City.
3. New York County, New York, marriage certificate no. 29954 (20 December 1911), Jacob Myers and Bertha Goldman; Municipal Archives, New York City.
4. 1920 U.S. census, New York County, New York, population schedule, Manhattan, enumeration district 1449, sheet 15B, dwelling 26, family 400, Morris and Rebecca Berman family; images, Ancestry (http://www.ancestry.com : accessed 27 November 2010); citing NARA microfilm publication T625, roll 1225.
5. 1925 NewYork State census, Bronx County, NY, enumeration of inhabitants, assembly district 8, election district 27, page 4, lines 12-16, Morris and Rebecca Berman family; images, Ancestry (http://www.ancestry.com : accessed 6 February 2015); citing New York State Archives, Albany.
6. 1930 U.S. census, Westchester County, New York, population schedule, Yonkers, enumeration district 60-381, sheet 2B, dwelling 44, family 44, Morris and Rebecca Berman family; images, Ancestry (http://www.ancestry.com : accessed 27 November 2010); citing NARA microfilm publication T626, roll 1668.
7. 1940 U.S. census, Bronx County, New York, population schedule, Bronx, enumeration district 362, sheet 3B, household 66, Morris Berman; images, Ancestry (http://www.ancestry.com : accessed 12 February 2017); citing NARA microfilm publication T627, roll 2469.
8. Morris Berman, World War II draft card, New York, fourth registration, serial number U 894"U.S., World War II Draft Registration Cards, 1942," images, Ancestry (http://www.ancestry.com : accessed 12 February 2017).

10 February 2017

Know Them at a Glance: Immigrants at Castle Garden

Without a doubt the most common myth in immigrant genealogy is the name change at Ellis Island. Family stories usually include the notion that staff at Ellis Island could not communicate effectively with confused immigrants. When asked for their names, the immigrants might say something odd and the Ellis Island staff member, not knowing any better, would say, "That will be your name from now on!" 

The immigrant, not knowing any better, would keep the newly assigned name in perpetuity [I do find it interesting that the communication was bad enough to generate new names, but good enough that immigrants understood they had to keep their new American names!].

I cannot count the times I have had to try to dispel this myth with those who heard it from their grandmother or grandfather. I am never quite sure I have been successful. Many people just do not want to believe that Zeidie did not tell the truth about how and when the family name was changed.

We do know that passenger manifests were created by shipping company clerical staff at ports of embarkation and that information for each immigrant was provided when tickets were purchased - whether in the United States, in the immigrant's hometown, or at the port of embarkation. 

Ellis Island staff were told to check information with the immigrant. They were not authorized to change any information on the manifests provided by the shipping companies. I have read that about 45 languages were represented among the Ellis Island staff. And since the staff knew which ships from which ports were to dock on a particular day, the processing center would have had staff with the appropriate skills on hand. 

A couple of days ago I searched for historic articles about immigration on some newspaper websites and located the following 1889 article from the Beverly Citizen on Genealogy Bank.

This article talks about Castle Garden, the precursor to Ellis Island (which opened in 1892). Castle Garden, run by authorities in New York, was known as chaotic place. Ellis Island, a federal facility, was designed to remedy some Castle Garden short-comings as a processing center. So, it is safe to assume that Ellis Island actually improved the processing and experience of immigrants as depicted in this article.

Citizen (Beverly, Massachusetts), 30 November 1889, p. 3; image, Genealogy Bank (http://www.genealogybank.com : accessed 29 January 2017).

07 February 2017

Tombstone Tuesday: Anna Chalewsky, Montefiore Cemetery, New York

I have been documenting gravestones from the three First Lubiner Progressive Benevolent Association plots in New York cemeteries. Most of the people interred were from the organization's home community of Labun/Lubin, Volhynia gubernai, Russian Empire. And most of those not from Labun can be linked to those who were. Such is the case with Anna Chalewski.
Here lies
Our beloved mother
A modest and important woman
Hentsya daughter of Avigdor
28 Nisan 5686
At the age of 85 years
May her soul be bound in the bonds of the living
Anna Chalewsky
Died April 12, 1926
Age 85 Years 

One would think that with a surname like Chalewsky, that finding her would be a snap. But, I have been unable, thus far, to locate her death record in New York City records. 

Two of her daughters are also in the First Lubiner plot at Montefiore Cemetery: Rebecca Berman and Bertha Myers.

Rebecca's marriage record on 5 February 1912, shows Becky Cholawsky marrying Morris Berman.[1] Her mother is identified as H. Cholawsky and her father, M. Cholawsky. Her gravestone indicates that her father's name was Meier.[2] She was born about 1891.

Bertha's marriage record is a bit confusing. She married Jacob Myers (my great grandmother's first cousin) on 20 December 1911 and identified her parents as M. Goldman and Anne Cholewska.[3] Bertha's maiden name is listed as Goldman. She was born about 1892.

There are a variety of scenarios in which Bertha might have become Goldman. But, so far I have no proof pushing me toward any one of them.

Bertha's death certificate tells a different story. Her father was identified as Meyer Chale and her mother as Anna Chale.[4] Her son, Fred Myers, was the informant. Ordinarily, one would think that Bertha's word was worth more than her son's when it came to her maiden name. But, I am not so sure.

But, back to Anna! She arrived in New York City as Henie Chalewski, age 55, on 3 July 1907.[5] She was a widow accompanied by her two daughters, Votte (age 21) and Taube (age 19). 

In most Jewish genealogy we find that adopted American names usually start with the same sound as the original Hebrew and Yiddish names. That's a tradition, however, not a rule. And neither of Anna's daughters followed convention.  

Rebecca Berman's Hebrew name on her tombstone was Votah (the same as entered on her passenger manifest). Bertha Myers' Hebrew name on her gravestone is Tova. The Yiddish equivalent of that name was Taube (the same as her passenger manifest). Both sisters' gravestones identify their father as Meier. 

Bertha Myers' naturalization record confirms that she was the Taube who arrived with Henie (Anna) Chalewski and sister Votte in 1907.[6]

The 1925 New York State census found Annie Chalewsky living with her son, glazier Isidor Chalewsky, his wife Sarah and their children at 235 East 103rd Street, New York, New York.[7] I believe Anna had one or two other sons who also became glaziers in New York City.

The Chale name, I believe, comes from some of Anna Chalewsky's sons (and their offspring) who, after a time, shortened their surname to Chale.

Isidore's arrival in the United States is recorded in a U.S. border crossing in October 1909 in Quebec, Canada.[8] His name was Itzik Chalewski and he was going to his mother Ensy Chalewski in New York City. 

He had sailed on the S.S. Laurentic from Liverpool on 14 September 1909.[9] His name is crossed off the Laurentic's passenger list with the note "Erased by purser - changed destination to Canada." The crossed-off entry also included this tidbit: Itzik was planning to join his mother Hensya Chalewski c/o Morris Mohlman, 118 W. 3rd St., New York. 

118 W. 3rd Street is significant in my family because it was the address, starting about 1909, of my great grandfather Isidore Morris' and his business partner (and likely relative ) Benjamin Molthman's glass store, called Morris Molthman Glass. So, I think the "Morris Mohlman" on Itzik Chalewsky's passenger manifest was actually not a person, but my great grandfather's store and home address. 

Isidore Chalewsky's death record identified his parents as Meyer Chalewsky and Anna Shukart.[10] The informant for this record was Isidore's daughter, Bessie Taffel.

The town of origin for the Chalewsky family is unclear. A couple of the sons identified Staro Kostyantiniv as their town of birth on manifests. Naturalization documents identified "Volin" - the gubernia, rather than the town name. Staro Kostyantiniv is about 25 miles south southwest of Labun. 

On Sarah Chalewsky's naturalization petition, she identified her husband Isidore Chalewsky's town of birth as Scharovka [11]. The town, today called Sharivka, is located south of Khmelnitsky (Proskurov).

Anna Chalewsky's grave is located within the First Lubiner Progressive Benevolent Association plot in Montefiore Cemetery, Queens, NY: block 89, gate 156N, line 3L, grave 5.

1. New York County, New York, marriage certificate no. 6428 (5 February 1912), Moris Berman and Beckie Cholawsky; Municipal Archives, New York City.
2. Rebecca Berman, gravestone, died 17 January 1972, Montefiore Cemetery, Queens County, New York.
3. New York County, New York, marriage certificate no. 29954 (20 December 1911), Jacob Myers and Bertha Goldman; Municipal Archives, New York City.
4. Kings County, New York, death certificate no. 1421 (19 January 1954), Bertha Myers, Municipal Archives, New York City.
5. Manifest, S.S. Vaderland, 3 July 1907, stamped p. 18, lines 28-30, Henie [indexed as Henri] (age 55), Votte (21) and Taube (19) Chalewski; images, "New York, Passenger Lists, 1820-1957," Ancestry (http://www.ancestry.com : accessed 17 January 2017).
6. Bertha Myers, petition for naturalization (1943), naturalization file no. 393317, Eastern District of New York; Record Group 21: Records of the District Courts of the United States; National Archives - Northeast Region, New York City. 
7. 1925 New York State census, New York County, New York, enumeration of inhabitants, Manhattan, assembly district 18, election district 15, p. 29, Isidore and Sarah Chalewsky family; images, Ancestry (http://www.ancestry.com : accessed 22 April 2014).
8. "U.S., Border Crossings from Canada to U.S., 1895-1956," images, Ancestry (http://www.ancestry.com : accessed 17 January 2017); passenger list, Dominion, October 1909, sheet 3, line 1, Itzik Chalewski, age 34.
9. Manifest, S.S. Laurentic, 23 September 1909, p. 9, line1, Itzyk Chalewsky (age 35); images, "Canadian Passenger Lists, 1865-1935," Ancestry (http://www.ancestry.com : accessed 28 January 2017).
10. New York County, New York, death certificate no. 10535 (3 May 1944), Isidore Chalewsky; Municipal Archives, New York City.
11. Sarah Chalewsky petition for naturalization petition (1943), naturalization file no. 431566, Southern District of New York; Record Group 21: Records of the District Courts of the United States; National Archives - Northeast Region, New York City.

15 January 2017

Tziril Liebross of Radautz and Zaleszczyki: New access to Radauti Jewish vital records

2017 is already shaping up to be a banner year for those of us family historians researching Jewish family members from Radautz (or, in Yiddish, Radowitz), Bukovina, Austrian Empire (now Rădăuţi, Suceava County, Romania). Up until recently, the Bukovina Vital Records database on JewishGen did not capture the years of interest to me. Birth records ended in 1879, marriage records in 1878 and death records in 1887. 

My grandmother and all her siblings were supposedly born in Radautz after the mid-1880s and my great great grandmother, Tziril Liebross, died in Radautz in 1891. While earlier Radautz records had been indexed in the "Bukovina Vital Records Database" on JewishGen, later records (during the time periods when my relatives were in the city) had not been accessible to researchers for indexing. Previously, the records office had only allowed researchers to view their family members' records and no others.

Enter researcher Edgar Hauster. In August, after some negotiation, Edgar announced acquisition of images of Jewish vital records stored in the Civil Records Office in Rădăuţi. He took digital photos and Martina Lelgemann has been transcribing and indexing the records. 

A few weeks ago, Edgar announced the availability of the expanded marriage database. Thanks to technical skill provided by Bruce Reich using Steve Morse's One-Step Search Tool Generator, indexed Radautz "Marriage Records 1870-1929" are now available and searchable online. Indexing of additional vital records is ongoing and the team plans to roll out searchable databases for births and deaths shortly.

Since I was anxious to see the records and appreciative of the ongoing efforts, I offered to contribute. Since Radautz records are well in hand, I am indexing some other Bukovina records: Campulung Moldovenesc deaths and births (some of the death records are already online). I do not know (yet) of any relatives who settled in Campulung, but this is my way of participating in a good project in a meaningful way.

But the best news: I have acquired my great great grandmother Tziril's (or Zirl's) death register record! 

It's always exciting for me to see what the actual register books look like. The image, above, is the two page spread with my great great grandmother's record, number 115 (third entry from the bottom).

And here is a detail of the entry, acquired courtesy of the Rădăuţi Town Hall/Romanian National Archives.*

Page 112, entry 115.

Page 113, entry 115

While I already know from her gravestone that her father's name was Asher Zelig, I was hoping to learn her maiden name and her mother's name. Unfortunately, no. Tziril's death register record does confirm, however, that the Zirl documented in the record and on her associated gravestone was, indeed, the wife of Mane. Mane was my great grandfather's, Louis', father. The pieces are fitting together.

Perhaps the nicest information is that Mane (and, perhaps, Tziril) was a former resident of Zaleszczyki, Galicia. Family lore only spoke of Radautz as the birth place of my grandmother and all her siblings. My research has been indicating that my great grandparents and their children were originally from the Zaleszczyki area (today in Ukraine). Now I have some additional confirmation that Louis Liebross' parents were from Zaleszczyki.

This is terrific, because I already knew that my great grandmother Bertha's (Louis Liebross' wife) Wenkert family was also from Zaleszczyki. While, due to records loss, it is unlikely I will ever find vital records from Zaleszczyki, if I can place both the Wenkert and Liebross families there, I will have a good notion about where my great grandparents met and started their family. When I visited the Lviv Archives in 2013, I did find other people surnamed Wenkert and Liebross in Zaleszczyki and Usciezko (Ustechko) in the 1850s. I cannot yet directly link to those people, but, again, the pieces are starting to look good.

The record shows that Tziril was 81 years old at death. That means she was born about 1810. I think that is earlier than probable. Rivke Liebross Schaffer, Tziril's eldest known child, was, based upon her records, probably born around 1850. After Rivke's birth, Tziril had at least three additional children: Ruchel, Eliezer (Louis) and Simon. United States records for Louis and Simon indicate they were born in the early to mid 1860s. If Tziril had been born in 1810, she would have been over 50 when she had the last two children. Not likely.

Tziril's death record also identifies a house number in Radautz. The house number will allow me to place her home, no. 1102, on a Radautz map. But, that's another post!

I am now anxiously awaiting birth records, which should include most of my great aunts and uncles. A sneak-peek at a list of names dashed my hope that birth records for Tziril's and Mane's two eldest Liebross children, my grandmother, Tillie, and my great aunt, Rose, will be among the mix. Perhaps they were actually born in Zaleszczyki (I may never be able to confirm that with birth records). But, it does look like I will find birth records for Tillie's and Rose's siblings - my great uncles Max, Sidney, Jerry and Irving and my great aunt Celia. Stay tuned! 

*Citation for this record:
Zirl Liebross, death record entry 115 (19 October 1891), Radautz Deaths, vol. III, 1887-1902, pp. 112-113; Rădăuți Civil Records Office, Rădăuți, Suceava County, Romania.