31 October 2012

Avrum's Women, Part 5: Finding Feiga

Avrum's Women, Part 2: Feiga Grinfeld
Avrum's Women, Part 3: Following Feiga (and Raya)
Avrum's Women, Part 4: The Trouble with Harry
Avrum's Women, Part 5: Finding Feiga 
Avrum's Women, Part 6: Added Confirmation
Avrum's Women, Part 7: Feiga's Family
Avrum's Women, Part 8: Fannie's Story
Avrum's Women, Part 9: Fannie's brother Morris
Avrum's Women, Part 10: Morris Lederman - Who's your Mama?
Avrum's Women, Part 11: Garber Y-DNA = Lederman Y-DNA
Avrum's Women, Part 12: Finding Family with Family Finder  
Avrum's Women, Part 13: Bond of Brothers   


When last we met on this family history saga, we were traveling circuitously (but purposefully) trying to find the back door to Feiga Grinfeld's location. I am hoping to to determine who she was and how she was related to my Garber family. I found that, initially, the information I had collected solely from her manifest (her approximate age, her birth in Baranovka, her mother's likely name of Frida Liderman) was not enough to find and identify her in other records in the United States.

I did, however, determine a possible work around. I'd located a manifest for 14 and 15 year-old sisters Raya and Leja Grinfeld who, like Feiga, were from Baranovka. They had identified their mother as Feiga Grinfeld. I was not certain that their Feiga was my Feiga, but I reasoned that if she was one and the same, they might lead me to her.
    In Part 3 of this series I'd found Raya, now called Ray Greenfield, in 1922-23 in Ashland, Kentucky living with her uncle Charles Greenfield's inlaws. After that sighting, I lost her. In Part 4, I had hoped to find Leja with her uncle Harry Greenfield in Lexington, Kentucky, but did not. What I did find was that Harry, before moving to Lexington, had lived, married and had his first two children in Cincinnati. I decided to find out if I might locate additional members of the family there.

    Forty-five Fanny's

    While immigrants had no rules for selecting new American names, practically every Feiga I'd come across in my research had renamed herself Fanny/ie once resident in the USA.  Grinfeld was a no-brainer for transition to Greenfield.  At the outset, I had considered the more direct route for research surmising that Feiga Grinfeld might have taken the name Fanny (or Fannie) Greenfield. But Fanny Greenfield was too common a name, especially when one knows so little about the principal one is chasing. In the 1925 New York State Census there were 15 Fannie Greenfields and seven Fanny Greenfields.[1] And, since I did not have much information about my Feiga from Baranovka, how was I to choose among them?

    Initially, I was focused on New York City, but when no one Fanny seemed correct, I tried more general geographic searches on Ancestry for Fannie/y Greenfield. I'd found numerous suspects (11 Fannys and 34 Fannies) in the 1930 US Census, two of whom were in Cincinnati and one of whom was about the right age.[2] As a result of my research on Harry Greenfield in Lexington, Kentucky, I now saw Cincinnati as a new clue to the whereabouts of Feiga. I reopened the case.

    In the 'Nati

    1930 U.S. Census for Ohio, Hamilton County, Cincinnati
    In 1930, Fanny and her children Robert and Ray Greenfield lived at 442 Prospect Place, Cincinnati.[3]
    • Fanny was a 50 year-old (born about 1880) widow born in Russia. She had arrived in the USA in 1922 and had filed her papers to become a citizen . She worked as a tailoress.
    • Ray was 22 (born about 1908) and single. She had arrived from Russia in 1922 and had filed for citizenship. She worked as a saleslady in a department store.
    • Robert was 23, single and also born in Russia. He had come to the USA in 1921, was already a citizen and worked as a salesman in a tailor shop.
    Based on her age and arrival year in the USA, Ray Greenfield was a pretty good fit for Raya Grinfeld. Fanny was possibly Feiga. Her age was a year or two off from that on Feiga Greenfield's (born about 1878) manifest, but close enough to still be considered.[4] I'd still found no Leja. Mistakes do happen in Census records, but I didn't think Leja had been mistaken for Robert!

    In the 1940 US Census, I found Fannie Greenfield living with Ray, Ray's husband Harry Young, and their son, Sheldon, on 3990 Parker Place, Cincinnati.[5] The 1940 Census also showed Robert with his wife Faye and a son, Sheldon.[6] I found the family in several other records. But I still did not have confirmation that this was my Feiga Grinfeld.

    Finding Feiga

    The break came in the FamilySearch.com collection, "Ohio, Deaths, 1908-1953."

    Death Record for Fannie Greenfield, 30 Nov 1942, Cincinnati
    Fannie Greenfield, who'd been living at 3990 Parker Place, Cincinnati died in 30 November 1942. Her date of birth was given as 6 Jan 1879. Her late husband was listed as Sheldon. Her parents were listed as Levy and Freida Lederman (!). Her son Robert had signed the death certificate.[7]

    At least now I knew that Fannie Greenfield of Cincinnati had been Feiga Liderman Grinfeld who'd accompanied my great grandfather, Avrum Garber, to the United States in November 1922.[8] I still did not know how or if she was related to my family. Fannie's late husband was identified as Sheldon Greenfield. My initial thought that, perhaps, my great grandfather and Feiga were not really married as was stated on their manifest (perhaps they just said they were in an effort to smooth their entry to the United States) is probably correct. My fondest hope would have been that Feiga's mother, Freida Liderman's, maiden name would not have been "unknown" on the death certificate. (I was hoping it would have been "Garber," and I could have ended my search! But, I'm afraid that genealogy puzzles rarely get gift wrapped.)

    Further confirmation of family ties among the Greenfields I'd researched during my Feiga quest came from tombstone inscriptions at the Adath Israel Cemetery in Cincinnati. Information and photographs may be found online at Jewish Cemeteries of Greater Cincinnati website. Fannie, Ray (14 Aug 1907-23 Nov 1977) and Harry Young (11 Sep 1904-25 May 1989), and Robert (27 Dec 1905-11 Nov 1970) and his wife Faye (19 Oct 1909-28 Nov 1994) are all buried there. Charles Greenfield (22 Oct 1881-20 June 1952) and his wife Flora (10 Oct 1890-2 Apr 1957) are there, as well. Harry Greenfield and his wife Sophia were buried in Lexington, Kentucky and Billion Graves has photographs of their gravestones.

    Hebrew/Yiddish Name
    Father’s Name
    Levi Yitzchak
    Shalom Shachna
    Shalom Shachna

    Next Moves

    While it's nice to know that my hunch about following Raya and Leja led me to Feiga/Fannie, I still have not determined how she is related to the Garbers. The next step is to contact any living family members and try to learn more about Fannie Greenfield of Cincinnati.

    1. "New York, State Census, 1925." Database. Ancestry.com (http://www.ancestry.com : 2011), search on "Fanny Greenfield" and "Fannie Greenfield."
    2. "1930 United States Federal Census." Database. Ancestry.com (http://www.ancestry.com : 2011), search on "Fanny Greenfield" and "Fannie Greenfield."
    3. 1930 U.S. Census, Hamilton County, Ohio, population schedule, Cincinnati, Enumeration District 31-151, sheet 23-A, dwelling  223, family 442, Fanny Greenfield; digital image, Ancestry.com (http://www.ancestry.com : accessed 23 October 2011).
    4.  "New York Passenger Lists, 1820-1957," digital images, Ancestry.com (http://www.ancestry.com: accessed 18 June 2012), manifest, Aquitania, Southampton to New York, arriving 10 November 1922, list 4, Feiga Grinfeld; citing National Archives Microfilm Serial T715.
    5. 1940 U.S. Census, Hamilton County, Ohio, population schedule, Cincinnati, Enumeration District 91-208, sheet 65-B, household 100, Fannie Greenfield; digital image, Ancestry.com (http://www.ancestry.com : accessed 23 June 2012).
    6. 1940 U.S. Census, Hamilton County, Ohio, population schedule, Cincinnati, Enumeration District 91-208, sheet 61-B, hoisehold 41, Robert Greenfield; digital image, Ancestry.com (http://www.ancestry.com : accessed 6 April 2012).
    7. "Ohio, Deaths, 1908-1953," index and images, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/pal:/MM9.1.1/XZP6-FVZ : accessed 31 October 2011), Fannie Greenfield, 1942; citing reference fn 69916, Ohio Historical Society, Columbus, Ohio. 
    8. For additional confirmation, I've ordered naturalization records for both Fannie and Ray from the National Archives and Records Administration branch in Chicago. I will probably get those in a few days. 

    24 October 2012

    Catch and release fiching

    An emailed comment from Mark Jacobson regarding yesterday's post on Family History Library microfilm and document acquisition made me realize that I'd left out a pretty important bit of advice: before one orders a film or a record: 
    • check to see if the desired records have been already posted online at FamilySearch.org, and
    • check with your local Family History Center to see if they already own the selected film.

    Is the film already online?


    Direct method

    Go to the FamilySearch website and query the collection in the online records. Select "Records" from the tab on the upper left. If the collection of interest has been indexed, one may only need to type a name in the search boxes provided. If one wishes to search on the exact name, click the little box to the immediate right of the box or click on the small box immediately to the left of "Match All Exactly," then search. The results will provide all the records that FamilySearch has online for that name in all collections.

    If one would rather look for a particular collection, then do not search on names. Go to the bottom of the page and browse by location. To see the records collections from the United States, for example, click on United States.

    All 636 (more coming soon) online collections will be listed alphabetically. One may sort by latest update by clicking "Last Updated" in blue on the upper right. Or, scroll through the state list in the left column and select the location of interest. I selected New York.

    One may ford through the collection from New York, or sort them by date, record type or data type (records with or without online images) using the topics in the left column. Those collections with small cameras to the left of the name have images. Those that indicate "Browse Images," have not yet been indexed by name. You may find, however, that they may have been presorted by county. 


    Search the Microfilm 

    This takes us back to where we were in my previous post. Start at the FamilySearch home page, select catalog and, for this example, type in New York, New York. The results will include all collections on film for New York County. If one selects "Census - 1905," note that last segment of the description for that collection includes "availability: Online." This is the first indication that one may view the documents from the comfort of ones own computer.

    Click on "New York state census records for Manhattan Borough and Bronx, 1905." The resulting page will provide the expected list of available microfilm. But also, the red text provides definitive information about and a link to the online records for these films.

    If one goes through this exercise and there is no red text on the results page (as in yesterday's post), then be assured that there are no current online images for the queried collection on FamilySearch.org. Go fiche!

    23 October 2012

    Teaching us to fiche

    See update of this post, below, under the section "Ordering just the Document from FHL." (26 Jan 2013)

    A couple of recent posts on the JewishGen Discussion Group (JGDG) indicate that not everyone is familiar with a quick and inexpensive remote source for acquisition of many documents: the Family History Library (FHL). More and more, FHL is digitizing records from their microfilm vault and putting them online for free. But it will be quite a while before they have everything online. So, for those records not yet online, the old fashioned methods of looking through microfilm or using regular mail to order document copies are still useful.

    In the most recent JGDG post, a researcher wanted to know how to acquire a particular naturalization record filed in 1910 with the Kings County, NY Supreme Court. I will use this record as my example, but any vital record or census record FHL holds may be ordered in a similar fashion with similar resources.


    Finding the Record in an Index

    I initially found the record via stevemorse.org , but one may go directly to the Kings County Naturalization Index page on the Jewish Genealogy Society of New York webpage, and find a large box with information on acquiring naturalization records from Kings County Supreme Court. One option is to contact the Kings County Clerk’s Office, directly. This may entail a wait of several months for ones order to be filled.

    For those of us too anxious to wait, the better (less expensive and faster) option is to order either the microfilm containing an image of the record or a paper copy of the record, itself, from the Family History Library in Salt Lake City.

    Search in the JGSNY naturalization database located the following indexed naturalization record:
    Swoff, Barnett; Declaration Volume – 33; Dec. Page – 21; Dec. Year – 1910; Petition Volume – 46, Pet. Page – 152
    Since Barnett Swoff appears to have completed the naturalization process, the important information is related to the Petition, not the Declaration (also known as the first papers). Usually, documents filed earlier in the naturalization process will be placed with the final papers once the naturalization process is complete.


    Locating the Correct Microfilm Number

    JGSNY has, conveniently, provided a link to FamilySearch.org (the online arm of the FHL) so that one may easily locate the appropriate FHL microfilm. They have not, however, updated their information with the fact that microfilm must now be ordered online at https://familysearch.org . Since, one would have to go to that website anyway to order the microfilm and since I want to teach one how to fish (or fiche), I will walk through locating the microfilm number via familysearch.org .


    FamilySearch.org Microfilm Search

    From among the options near the top of the page, click on “Catalog.” A search box will appear. FamilySearch lists the larger jurisdiction first.  For the NY Kings County Supreme Court naturalization record, one would put in “New York, Kings, Brooklyn.” The resulting list will include numerous databases or records held by FHL from Kings County, NY. 

    Scroll down to the ones for Naturalization. FHL has microfilm rolls of both indices and images of the documents. Since we already have the indexed results for Barnett Swoff (above), click on the option for the actual images.

    Scroll through the microfilm roll index to find the roll that contains Petitions in volume 46. It is roll number 2,317,635.

    If one would like the microfilm to be sent to the Family History Center of ones choice, one must have a free account with FamilySearch. It’s pretty simple to get one and set up a password. Microfilm rental is $7.50 for each film. And one may expect that the Family History Center one designates will receive the film in 10 days to a few weeks. One may track the progress of ones order online.


    Ordering just the Document from FHL

    As of 25 January 2013, FamilySearch has changed their document ordering procedure so that it is now better than ever(!). One may now order online and receive ordered images via email. And now there is NO FEE for the service - as long as the documents are sent via email. A few weeks ago I ordered some documents via snail mail and enclosed a $4 check. I received the documents via email with a very nice note saying my fees would be remitted and that they would soon provide ordering via email. Now it's live.

    If one has the date, petition volume and page number or document number, one might consider ordering a copy of the document, rather than the whole microfilm from FHL. Given enough good information, the wonderful people at FHL will find the document on the microfilm, make a copy and send it to you. Understand, however, this is not a research service. One must first do ones own research and provide the information needed to easily find the image on the microfilm. This is a phenomenal service provided by the Family History Library. For those without a local respository of original records or a Family History Center nearby, this may be your best choice.

    Once one has the film number (and make sure to check and recheck the number – one doesn’t want to make a mistake on the order), download the order form (unfortunately this process still requires paper and snail mail). These days the form is a tad difficult to locate on the familysearch webpage. 

    Go to “Help” which is located on the upper right of the page and put “photocopies” in the search box. Among the returns on your search will be one for a form for ordering copies of documents from microfilm/fiche ("Request for Photocopies - Census records, Books, Microfilm, or Micofiche"). Save the form on your computer. The form is fillable .pdf, so one may type in the information and then print (the typed information cannot be saved on the form) or print and fill in by hand.

    Fill in the first page with your contact information and decide how you will pay. Note that each page copied will be $2 and that the minimum order is $4. The maximum number of documents that may be requested in one order is 8. For a naturalization petition document, expect four pages: the Declaration of Intention, the Certificate of Arrival, the Petition of Naturalization and the Affidavit. There may be fewer pages, but sending money for four ($8) is the best bet. If you send too little, you may not get your copy with the first request. If you send too much they will send you a credit toward your next order.

    Once you’ve filled out page one, go to page two and fill in the middle area. Write the document’s microfilm number with appropriate commas (i.e., 2,317,635) – this makes it easier for FHL employees to read it correctly. Then, move across the table filling in the subject's name, name of the document, date (as much as known) of the document, location of the court or original repository, volume number, document number, etc.

    Make a copy of the order for your records. Write a check for the correct amount or provide your credit card information. Send the form to the address shown on the top of the first page.

    If all goes well, in about a month your mailbox will be filled with a large white envelope containing your FHL prize!

    For a follow-up post, see "Catch and Release Fiching"

    18 October 2012

    My Genealogical Journey to Hudson, NY, Part 6

    If I were to give one piece of advice regarding using city directories for family history research, it would be "Don't stop!" Continue your search through directories several years before and after you think your family would have been in the area. You may be pleasantly surprised. 

    508 State Street, Hudson, NY
    When I first began my Hudson research I knew that:
    • my great grandfather, Saul, arrived in the New York Harbor on 23 November 1891 [1]
    • Hoda, Nina, Joe, and Ben landed at Ellis Island on 1 June 1897 [2]
    • the family was in Hudson for the 1900 U.S. Federal Census [3]
    • The family was in New York City in the 1910 U.S. Federal Census [4]
    I did not know when they'd arrived in Hudson and I did not know when they'd left. 

    I ordered a couple of rolls of Family History Library microfilm and checked every Hudson City directory from 1891 through 1910. After I did not find the Wilson's in the 1905 directory, I kept on checking. And it was good I did. In 1906, Joe Wilson was listed living as a boarder at 508 State Street. [5] He was about 16 years old. The rest of his family was not in Hudson.

    Unfortunately, the 1906 city directory did not list what Joe was doing in Hudson - whether he was still a student or was working. But, I think, based upon some prior analysis of newspaper records  and the 1940 Census, that Joe had probably ended his school days in Albany in 1905 and was probably living with friends in Hudson. After 1906 he seems to disappear again until he shows up in the 1910 U.S. Census with his whole family at 1408 Fifth Avenue, New York, New York. [6]

    1. "New York Passenger Lists, 1820-1957," digital images, Ancestry.com (http://www.ancestry.com: accessed 20 October 2008), manifest, Polaria, Stettin, Germany to New York, arriving 23 November 1891, passenger 196, Selig Wilenski, citing National Archives Microfilm Serial M237.
    2. "New York Passenger Lists, 1820-1957," digital images, Ancestry.com (http://www.ancestry.com: accessed 7 September 2009), manifest, Pisa, Hamburg to New York, arriving 1 June 1897, list 7, Hode, Nachame, Josef and Benjamin Wilensky, citing National Archives Microfilm Serial M237.
    3. 1900 U.S. Census, Columbia County, New York, population schedule, Hudson, Enumeration District 19, sheet 8A, dwelling 126, Family 172, Cyrus Wilson; digital image, Ancestry.com (http://www.ancestry.com : accessed 10 August 2008).
    4. 1910 U.S. Census, New York County, New York, population schedule, New York City, Enumeration District 489, sheet 19A, dwelling 40, Family 403, Saul Wilson; digital image, Ancestry.com (http://www.ancestry.com : accessed 17 January 2012).
    5. J.H. Lant Hudson City, Claverack and Stottville Directory for 1906 (Hudson, NY: Bryan Printing Co., 1903), page 138 , Family History Library microfilm 1,759,798.
    6. 1910 U.S. Census

    14 October 2012

    My Genealogy Journey to Tortillaville (Hudson, NY), Part 5

    My visit to 351 Warren was . . . well . . . south of the border. The Wilson family lived at this address in 1904. [1]

    I was optimistic as I strode boldly up Warren from S. Front Street. After all, Warren was the centerpiece of the Hudson story and economic resurrection. Surely the building at this address would be in place! 

    I got to 345Warren (a realty office) and began to worry. There did not appear to be a building next door. But tucked in the back of the next lot (347 Warren) was what appeared to be an old garage that now housed an antiques store. Next to that, where a building might once have been was a food truck in a semi-permanent location. I walked beyond the food truck hoping that the building next door would sport the number 351. Actually, I could find no number on that storefront, but later located an address for the "Dogs of Hudson" (dog training): 355 Warren.

    It was clear now, that my grandfather's home in 1904 was somewhere between 347 and 355 and the only place that could be was either the food truck called "Tortillaville" that has its own screen door - a nice touch - or something between that and 3FortySeven Warren (the antiques store).

    3FortySeven, has a nice video on its website that travels northwest down Warren from Fourth Street and then turns into the lot. At about 24 seconds into the video look where the picnic tables are located. That's the place.

    I spoke with someone from Tortillaville (in English) and he told me that there had been a theater in the space and probably also a glass store. The theater had burned down some time ago, presumably taking its next door neighbor (351) with it. I could see that some research would be required. 

    At the Hudson Area Library I was able to find a photograph taken (perhaps in the 1890s) from the intersection of Fourth and Warren, looking west. I took a photocopy of this photo with me to the intersection, located the existing buildings and the ones no longer there. In addition, I contacted Hudson blogger Carole Osterink of "The Gossips of Rivertown." She sent me a photo or two and let me know that the name of the theater had been the Hudson Playhouse. She has done a couple of posts about the theater: "Hudson in another era" and "More Hudson in another era." The earlier post includes a 1932 photo of the theater.

    With that information and the fact that the theater also had the year 1912 in its name, [2] I searched through Hudson city directories from 1903 through the 1920s and determined that, in this case, the demise of the Hudson residence of my Wilson family had not been urban renewal but the more standard growth and renewal of the urban landscape.  The 351 Warren that my grandfather had known had probably been destroyed in about 1911 to make way for the theater and several associated shops. 353 Warren, the address of the Playhouse, had been a residence through 1910. The 1911 directory did not indicate anyone living at that address. In 1912, the Hudson Playhouse is at 353 Warren and there are no residents thereafter. [3]

    Likely building (ca 1890s) at 351 Warren (detail and annotation of larger photo) [4]
    After 1904 the Wilsons left Hudson and spent one year in Albany. My grandfather Joe returned to Hudson by himself in 1906 while the rest of the family moved to New York City. Next up, 508 State Street. Hasta luego.

    1. J.H. Lant Hudson City, Claverack and Stottville Directory for 1904 (Hudson, NY: Bryan Printing Co., 1903), page 150 , Family History Library microfilm 1,759,798.
    2. Searching on Hudson newspapers in the Old New York State Newspapers website (http://fultonhistory.com/Fulton.html : accessed 14 October 2012), turned up several Hudson Playhouse advertisements with 1912 as part of its logo.
    3. "Hudson City Directories 1862-1959." Database. Ancestry.com. http://www.ancestry.com: 2012.
    4. Photo from the collection of the Hudson Area Library Association, Hudson, New York.

    10 October 2012

    My Genealogy Journey to Hudson, NY, Part 4

    When I first started to plan my trip to Hudson I found that there were no motels of any description to be found. To stay in Hudson means, for the most part, staying in a bed-and-breakfast establishment, most of which were more expensive than I'd anticipated. Then I found the Front Street Guest House. Not inexpensive, but a tad less dear than the others I'd queried. But really, the main excitement was its location at 20 South Front Street, Hudson, just two doors down from the Wilsons in 1903.[1]

    I anticipated awe at being able to feel the aura of their presence 109 years later. Of course, if one has been following my Hudson posts, one already knows that the likelihood of finding a intact Wilson home is slim. And I was once again presented with an empty lot.
    24 S. Front Street, Hudson & the 1810 house next door

    But the location was, indeed, interesting. The Front Street Guest House actually takes in both 20 and 22 S. Front Street and I was staying in a room on the second floor of number 22 (at the corner of S. Front and Union). So, my grandfather's lot was right across Union, essentially next door.

    The house immediately to the east of the lot on Union was busy with workmen walking in and out. A woman sat in a chair outside on the sidewalk. I asked her if they were restoring the home. She said, "No, stabilizing." The building dated to 1810. She told me that she'd seen a map that indicated a small home on the empty lot next door where my grandfather had lived.

    Map from 1903 Hudson City Directory
    View on S. Front Street looking north. The gray-white building in the background is the 20-22 S. Front Street. The fence is the location of 24 S. Front. The brick building this side of the fenced property had been recently renovated. Rooms were for rent.

    Byrne Fone, in his book about Hudson architecture, states that during the 1950s-1970s "The entire area below Promenade Hill [partially covered in the map, above, with the red arrows], which included some of Hudson's earliest houses, was demolished... replaced with bland contemporary structures."[2] On page 174 he included an aerial photograph that shows the buildings (as well as the ones in the photograph, above) prior to the demolition on the west side of Front Street. One can barely make out a small building at 24 S. Front.

    The bland buildings cited by Fone, across from 24 S. Front Street

    1. J.H. Lant Hudson City, Claverack and Stottville Directory for 1903 (Hudson, NY: Bryan Printing Co., 1903), page 154 , Family History Library microfilm 1,759,798.
    2. Fone, Byrne. Historic Hudson: An Architectural Portrait. Hensonville: Black Dome Press Corp, 2005. Page 171.

    09 October 2012

    My Genealogy Journey to Hudson, NY, Part 3

    There is definitely something rewarding about visiting the home of ones ancestors. The first three Hudson addresses I'd visited in my search for the Wilsons were either parking lots or much more recently constructed buildings. But with 14 Union Street I struck it rich. 

    14 Union Street - Home of the Wilsons in 1901 & 1902
    I was on the phone with my husband, walking along South Front Street, when I realized that I was only steps away from visiting my first intact Wilson home. I gave him a play by play describing the rehabilitated brickwork, the building permit (issued 18 November 2011) on the green-painted door and the cat in the upper open window. It is a beautiful, sturdy place, only about 30 feet wide, and, it seemed, the renovations were nearly complete. Unfortunately no one was home except the cat who, while observing me with some interest, did not deign to invite me in (presumably busy hoarding cat toys).

    Union Street heads slightly uphill from South Front Street which is only a couple of blocks from the Hudson River and a block from the railroad tracks that run parallel to the Hudson. 

    I was pleased with the look of the street. There were quite a few buildings that must have been here when my relatives lived in the neighborhood. Most were occupied and well cared for. It was clear, based on my walks around town (especially along Warren Street), that there were buildings of a variety architectural styles and vintages on this street. While Warren Street is clearly the jewel of Hudson, this portion of Union Street could, with a little work, be just as impressive and pleasing.

    In the 1900 U.S. Census two families rented space at 14 Union Street: Loren and Emma Edwards and Thomas and Cashanne Pendergast with their three children.[1] I assume the Wilsons had one floor of the house, but I have not been able to find if any other families were at that address in the Hudson city directories for 1901 and 1902. In the 1905 New York State Census, Isaac Winstian and his wife lived there with their seven children.[2]

    14 Union Street, looking WNW toward So. Front Street

    Across the street: view to the south from 14 Union Street

    Across the street: view to the west from 14 Union Street
    1. 1900 U.S. Census, Columbia County, New York, population schedule, Hudson, Enumeration District 18, sheet 4B, dwelling 59, Families 88 & 89, Loren & Emma Edwards and Thomas and Cashanne Pendergast; digital image, Ancestry.com (http://www.ancestry.com : accessed 9 October 2012).
    2. 1905 New York State Census, Hudson City, Columbia County, NY, population schedule, Ward 1, Enumeration District 1, page 12, Isaac and Rachael Winstian; digital image, FamilySearch.com (https://www.familysearch.com: accessed 9 October 2012).

    08 October 2012

    My Genealogy Journey to Hudson, NY, Part 2

    My first entree into the world of Hudson's past was the 1900 U.S. Federal Census. This was way early in my genealogy career (early 2008, before I'd splurged on Ancestry) and I was using Heritage Quest (thank you, Maricopa County Public Library!) at home on my computer. The names were all kerfloo-ey, the birth months were all probably wrong, but the ages and relationships were right. 

    1900 U.S. Census, Hudson, New York [1]
    "Cyrus" should have been Saul.
    "Annie" should have been Hoda or Hattie.
    "Nina" was correct.
    "Daniel" should have been Joseph.
    "Benjamin" was correct.
    "Ester" was correct.
    Hudson map from 1898 City Directory
    It definitely was my Wilson family and it was, in fact, one of the first documents I ever found on my Wilson line. While I have found no 1900 Hudson city directories online (and neglected to look for one when I was in the Hudson Area Library), I did get Esther's birth register record [2] in Hudson. I'd already found the family in 1898 (60 Chapel St.), 1899 (19 Diamond St.) and in 1901 - 1904 Hudson city directories.[3]

    From 1899 Hudson City Directory
    19 Columbia Street (Sept. 2012)

    254 Columbia Street (Sept 2012), on the corner with 3rd St.
    After I'd noted the 1900 Census address (254 Diamond Street), I queried in Google Maps to find the current location. There was no 254 Diamond Street in Hudson. This encouraged further Googling on Diamond Street and Hudson. It was clear that, at some point, Diamond Street had been renamed Columbia Street. 

    I contacted Hudson City Historian, Patricia Fenoff, and asked if she could confirm the name change, determine whether the house numbers had remained the same and find out whether there was any building in the location of 254. She confirmed the change, affirmed that the numbers were likely the same and that 254 was an empty lot. 

    I visited the lots on Diamond Street a couple of weeks ago (photos, above). 254 is on the northwest corner of Columbia and 3rd Street. The building that today stands at 19 Diamond Street (above, right) is a few lots east of Front Street and was built during the time of urban renewal 20 or 30 years ago.

    My Internet searching indicated that Diamond Street and Hudson had some notoriety about which I'd been previously uninformed. I haven't seen the street name change (which occurred in 1926 [4]) linked directly to the notorious history of Hudson's Red Light District, but my relatives apparently lived across the street. At the turn of the 20th Century, the 300 block of Diamond Street, between 3rd and 4th Streets, was the center of the activities and had been so for more than 50 years. It remained an active prostitution area until 1950 when the powers that were in the State of New York decided to end the entrenched and protected illicit activities in Hudson.[5] 

    I have a notion that all the activities in the area, especially on weekends and after paydays, shocked my great grandmother Hoda, newly arrived from a small shtetl in the Russian Empire. But, of course, it may just have made her stronger.
    1. 1900 U.S. Census, Columbia County, New York, population schedule, Hudson, Enumeration District 19, sheet 8A, dwelling 126, Family 172, Cyrus Wilson; digital image, Ancestry.com (http://www.ancestry.com : accessed 10 August 2008).
    2. Register of Births in the City of Hudson, Columbia County, New York. Esther Wilson, Register Number 3612, date of birth 10 November 1898, Register in the City Clerk's Office, Hudson, New York.
    3. Hudson City, Claverack and Stottville Directory for 1898 (Hudson, NY: JH Lant
    Co., Inc., 1898), 156, entry for Wilson, Saul; Directory for 1899, 156, entry for Wilson, Saul; FHL Film 2,156,840.
    4. Hall, Bruce Edward, Diamond Street, Hudson, New York: The Story of the Little Town with the Big Red Light District, Chapter 5: "The Block," Hudson: Black Dome Press Corp., 2005.
    5. ibid: Chapter 7.

    07 October 2012

    My Genealogy Journey to Hudson, NY, Part 1

    Hudson-Athens, NY Lighthouse began operating in 1874
    Seeing is believing and I’m so glad to have recently seen Hudson, Columbia County, New York. I recall hearing my grandfather, Joe Wilson, talk about growing up in Hudson, NY after his Wilensky family emigrated from the Russian Empire (today Belarus) in 1897. But, as with so many other items of family history interest, I do not recall asking any follow-up questions that would have put flesh on the bones of the story. 

    During the last few years I’ve collected much genealogical information about Joe Wilson’s family life in Hudson and read a couple of books about the city.[1] But some things just must be personally experienced. I wanted to visit all the places my family lived in Hudson. The time was right for a genealogy journey.

    Hudson is an interesting work in progress: at once a warning against the destruction of the past and an appreciation of efforts to preserve what’s left. There are many old buildings abandoned, many falling into ruin, but also many that are undergoing stabilization and restoration. Many buildings on the main street, Warren, sport small brass plates identifying the architectural style and date of the building. Some go back to the late 1700s and are still (or once again) in use as homes and  businesses. (For a wonderful blog on Hudson and it's historic preservation, see The Gossips of Rivertown.)

    Hudson, NY (from Google.com)
    The city was also, for me, a reminder of the long and interesting history of communities along the Hudson River. The city has had a roller coaster economic history. It can lay claim as the first planned community. It was chartered in 1785 by “the Proprietors,” Quaker merchants from New England. They visualized a prosperous port and whaling community serving the needs of the interior United States. They laid out streets and parks and planned their full-service community.

    Whaling, however, did not last long. After the War of 1812 and the opening of the Erie Canal, Hudson lost its cachet as a port of entry. By the mid Nineteenth Century other types of industry (including knitting mills) sustained the community and a vibrant red-light district fed its (and surrounding communities’) appetites. The city flourished in the 1870s, but by the late 1890s when the Wilson family made its home in Hudson, the community was not at its economic best.

    Saul Wilson (nee Selig Wilenski) had arrived in New York Harbor on the Polaria on 23 November 1891.[2] I am still seeking his whereabouts for the five and one half years before his family joined him in 1 June 1897.[3] By 1898, the entire family was living in Hudson.[4] 

    I arrived in Hudson with several family history issues I wanted to address, if not answer:   
    1. I'd documented seven places where the family had lived while in Hudson. What did those places look like? Were the buildings still there?
    2. Both my grandfather Joe and his younger brother Ben worked for years in the sweater industry in New York City. Did they get their background in the knitting industry during their stay in Hudson? Could I locate any knitting mill records?
    3. Might I find additional local newspaper records mentioning family members?
    4. Were there any school or synagogue records that might shed light on the family in Hudson?
    5. What would have drawn the Wilsons to Hudson? 
    In this and the next several posts I will relate my success or lack thereof in on-site research in Hudson, NY.

    First up is the the house at 60 Chapel. My earliest evidence of the Wilsons in Hudson comes from the 1898 Hudson city directory.[5]

    Chapel Street was in one of those areas of Hudson that was “renewed” in the 1970s. In fact, the housing development obliterated Chapel and several other streets that once defined the area.
    Chapel Street on 1898 map provided in Hudson City Directory [6]
    Former location of Chapel Street. Columbia St. was once Diamond St. (Base layer from Google.com)
    Today there is no Chapel Street in Hudson. The circle shows where it used to be. There is nothing in the area to help us understand that specific locale in 1898.

    Next, on to Diamond Street!
    1. Hall, Bruce Edward, Diamond Street, Hudson, New York: The Story of the Little Town with the Big Red Light District, Hensonville, NY: Black Dome Press Corp., 2005; Fone, Byrne, Historic Hudson: An Architectural Portrait, Hensonville, NY: Black Dome Press Corp., 2005.
    2. "New York Passenger Lists, 1820-1957," digital images, Ancestry.com (http://www.ancestry.com: accessed 20 October 2008), manifest, Polaria, Stettin, Germany to New York, arriving 23 November 1891, passenger 196, Selig Wilenski, citing National Archives Microfilm Serial M237.
    3. "New York Passenger Lists, 1820-1957," digital images, Ancestry.com (http://www.ancestry.com: accessed 7 September 2009), manifest, Pisa, Hamburg to New York, arriving 1 June 1897, list 7, Hode, Nachame, Josef and Benjamin Wilensky, citing National Archives Microfilm Serial M237.
    4. J.H. Lant 1898 Hudson City, Claverack and Stottville Directory, (Hudson, NY: JH Lant, 1898), page 154 , FHL microfilm 2,156,840.
    5. ibid
    6. ibid