11 February 2012

Identifying Isidore: The Myers' Manifest Connection

Jack Garber & Isidore Morris
Sometimes one needs to look close to home (and backwards).  Isidore Morris (ca. 1874-1947) had been giving me fits. I just could not find his Ellis Island manifest. I had located the manifests of all of my other great grandparents including Isidore's wife (my great grandmother Sarah Morris).  She'd arrived from Lubin (Volhynia Gubernia, Russian Empire - today's Ukraine) with their 5 children on 7 June 1910 as Sure Morris, bound for Isidore's home on E. 105th Street in New York City. So, I knew that Isidore, a glazier who, according Sure's manifest was in NYC waiting for his family, had purchased the family's tickets and had adopted the Morris surname by 1910. [1]

In 1914, Isidore and Sarah's eldest daughter (my grandmother Dora) married her first cousin (my grandfather Jack or Jacob Garber).  Jack's late mother (Isidore's sister) was identified on Jack and Dora's marriage certificate as "Anna Matziwitzka." The Mazewitsky name was confirmed by my cousin and my uncle. [2]

I checked for people on manifests with the surname Morris - nothing. I checked manifests via the Ellis Island search function, the Steve Morse One-Step Gold Form (Ellis Island records), and Ancestry (New York City immigration records), using exact and soundex searches and various combinations of factors for anyone vaguely or exactly named Mazewitsky.  Results showed that there were people with similar names, but they were either too young or not from Lubin or any of the nearby towns.  I checked Isidore's tombstone for clues to how his name (Yitzchak Leib) might have appeared in on his manifest (it could have been Itzchak or Izak or any variation of the name) - nothing. Finally, the prospect of locating Isidore's manifest went onto the genealogy wish list as something I'd probably find eventually - when the clouds parted and the heavens roared - some other time. [3]

I began work on my Malzmann (Myers) family.  While Isidore had, according to my cousin Hal Blatt and my uncle Lenny Garber, no close family Mazewitskys who came to this country, his wife Sarah Malzmann Morris had scads.  All four of Sarah's brothers (Myer, Louis, Harry and Joseph), one sister (Rebecca Sotskess), her parents (David and Chaye Sarah) and several collateral relations (uncles, cousins, etc.) came to the USA between 1902 and 1921 and settled in NYC as glaziers. Before 1910, most of them headed to 210 or 212 Grand Street in Lower Manhattan where a Malzmann or newly minted Myers family member lived. Sometimes even before they'd left Europe, they'd changed their last name to Myers. All of them were from the Lubin area.

I'd already found quite a few of the Myers family members but there were a few holes. In one of those cast-a-wide-net kind of things one attempts too late in the evening, I'd decided to look up all Malzmanns and any relevant Myers and variations in manifest records. In Steve Morse's Gold Form, I entered the last name (starts with or is) "Meyer," the town name (starts with or is) "Lub," and specified ethnicity as Polish and Russian. There were two indexed results and one showed "Meyer, Malczmann" from Lublin - a glazier going to his brother (crossed out on the manifest and replaced with "sister") Louis Meyers at 210 Grand Street, New York, NY. He was accompanied by two other males from "Lublin": Endlmann Leyser, a glazier, and MacZevicki Jezik, a mason. All were 32 years old on their arrival at Ellis Island on the Carpathia on 3 January 1906. MacZevicki (definitely not an Irishman!) was meeting his uncle Avram Malzmann also of 210 Grand. [4]
A comparison of the records and indices at Ellis Island, Ancestry, and Family Search illuminates several mistakes between manifest creation and transcription: [5]
  1. The manifest image showed that the town had been incorrectly transcribed  for the Ellis Island database. Family Search's indexers correctly transcribed the town name as Lubin.
  2. Whomever wrote the names on the original manifest wrote surname first until they got to the three 32 year old males from Lubin whose first names were written in the surname location. Ancestry indexed the names in the order they appear: Endlmann Leyser, MacZevicki Jezik and Malermann Meyer. Both Ellis Island and Family Search indices correct the transposed names for two of the males (Leyser Endlmann and Jczik Maczeviaki), but not for Meyer Malczmann.
  3. Ancestry transcribers misinterpreted script letter "z" as letter "r" and the "c" as an "e." in Malczmann. Looking at the handwriting and other names on the manifest, the Ellis Island and Family Search interpretation is clearly correct.
One thing important to note is that the Carpathia left Europe from Fiume, today called Rijeka and located on the coast of Croatia. Croatian is written in the Roman alphabet and the letter "c" is pronounced as "ts" would be pronounced in English. Since we know that manifests were created in Europe by shipping companies, we can expect that local officials might spell names as they heard them. Thus, the name Maczevicki would be pronounced similarly to Mazewitsky. [6]
So, my search for a Myers relative resulted in finding Isidore Morris' manifest.  Interestingly, this may very well be the second US arrival for Myer Myers who also appears on a manifest in 1902. [7]

Bottom line? If at first one doesn't succeed, keep looking for those collateral relatives or landsmen (countrymen). Look upside down and backwards, if one must. If one can, look at different indices for the same database. Recognize that while some different search engines take you to the same digital images (both Steve Morse and Family Search take one to digitized images on the Ellis Island website), their indexing projects may have been independent. Look at the context for the record's creation. But keep looking.
1. "New York Passenger Lists, 1820-1957," digital images, Ancestry.com (http://www.ancestry.com: accessed 11 January 2012), manifest, Vaderland, Antwerp to New York, arriving 7 June 1910, p. 1, Sure Morris; citing National Archives Microfilm Serial T715.
2. New York County, New York, Certificate and Record of Marriage no. 19588 (12 August 1916), Jacob Garber and Dora Morris, New York City Municipal Archives, New York.
3. Montefiore Cemetery (Queens County, New York), Isidore Morris marker, block 89, gate 156N; personally read, 2008.
4. "Passenger Record." database, Statue of Liberty - Ellis Island Foundation (http://www.ellisisland.org : accessed 11 February 2012), entry for Malczmann Meyer, 32, arrived 3 January 1906 on the Carpathia.
5. Manifest, Carpathia, 3 January 1906, Page 61, Lines 17-19, for Leyser Endlmann, Iczik Maczevicki and Meyer Malczmann, digital images, Statue of Liberty - Ellis Island Foundation (http://www.ellisisland.org : accessed 11 February 2012); (https://www.familysearch.org : accessed 11 February 2012); and "New York Passenger Lists, 1820-1957," digital images, Ancestry.com (http://www.ancestry.com : accessed 11 February 2012), citing National Archives Microfilm Serial T715.
6. Sally Amdur Sack-Pikus, "Just How Were Passenger Manifests Created?" AVOTAYNU, Vol. XXV, No. 1 (Spring 2009), 7-12.
7. "Border Crossings: From Canada to U.S., 1895-1956," digital images, Ancestry.com (http://www.ancestry.com ; accessed 11 February 2012), manifest, Quebec, Montreal, Canada to St, Albans, Vermont, USA, arriving 8 August 1902, p. 1, line 29, Meyer Myer, citing National Archives Microfilm Serial M1464.

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