Sunday, February 10, 2019

Happy Anniversary Florence and Sidney

Sidney Schwartz's photo album/scrapbook

Today is my parents’ anniversary – they were married 68 years ago. So here is their story, in honor of their special day.
When Florence Gold and Sidney Schwartz were teenagers, they lived in the same apartment building on Ocean Parkway in Brooklyn, New York. Mom liked telling the story that when she saw Dad in the building, she said “I’m going to marry him one day!”. They began dating in 1946 when she was 15 and Dad was 17.

 According to the photo album/scrapbook Dad made, the two of them spent time at nearby Coney Island and Prospect Park in 1946 and 1947 and they took trips to upstate NY and Washington DC in 1948.

Then, as Dad writes in the scrapbook, “the little-big step”:


Possible engagement portrait, 1949

In 1949 there was a trip to Lake Hopatcong, New Jersey and 1950 they took another trip to DC with friends.

At last, they were married on February 10, 1951.


A honeymoon in Miami Beach, Florida, followed.

Life as a married couple began with Sidney’s service in the Army. They were together in El Paso, Texas most of 1952 where Sidney was stationed at Ft Bliss. By then (September 1952), Florence was pregnant with her first child. They were back in Brooklyn when baby Matty was born in January 1953, then they were apart for a brief time while Sidney was stationed in San Francisco where he was discharged from the Army at the end of 1953.

Florence and Sidney relocated to Maryland where they had another son and a daughter. Sidney spent most of his career at the Government Printing Office in Washington DC, working the night shift, while Florence worked part-time as a bookkeeper at John Ligon in Bethesda.
Family portrait 1967
Over the years, they had many friends with whom they enjoyed playing bridge (including duplicate bridge), dining, and traveling. Florence and Sidney loved to travel -- their most memorable trips together were to Hawaii for their 25th anniversary and to London.

Florence and Sidney were married for 38 years, till Florence’s death from breast cancer December 7, 1989 at the age of 58.


Wednesday, January 23, 2019

Family Lore – Fact or Fiction?

I’ve always “known” my Grandma Tillie (Segal) died from stomach cancer (in 1965). I’ve shared this information with family and in my health history forms. Some of my cousins were also informed that Tillie had stomach cancer. So imagine my surprise when I found out she actually had ovarian cancer. I recently obtained a copy of her death certificate which identifies cause of death as “generalize metastasis ovarian carcinoma.” I was flummoxed!

But I shouldn’t be surprised. Since beginning my genealogy research about 10 years ago, I’ve discovered other discrepancies between my family lore and facts found in documents.

My mom, Florence Gold, told me many stories about her mother, Tillie Segal, as I was growing up. These included the “fact” that Tillie immigrated from Austria when she was 15 years old and was accompanied by one of her brothers. I was able to find her listed in the 1913 SS Amerika ship manifest where her age was recorded as 17 and former residence noted as Austria. However, it appears she was traveling alone yet was joining her brother in New York City. So the story was partially true.

Line 5: Tillie as Taube Sigal, age 17, last residence Sokolowka, Austria


Line 5: Tillie joining brother Maidel Sigal (likely Morris)

One family story I will likely never prove or disprove is that Grandma Tillie had 14 brothers, was the youngest child, and the only daughter. Mom was only able to list 4 of the brothers’ names and so far I’ve only been able to track down one of those (Morris).

Family lore may not always be 100% factual, but there are usually some snippets of truth which are often good leads for further research.

Monday, September 10, 2018

Sidney Schwartz: Hole in One

My dad, Sidney Schwartz, was an avid golfer. I don’t recall when he started playing, but it was at least as early as the 1970’s, when he was in his 40’s and working at the Government Printing Office in Washington, DC. He played golf with buddies from work and was a member of UPIGA -- Union Printcraft International Golf Association. Mom and I went on a couple of UPIGA golf trips with Dad in the early to mid-1970’s – one in New York’s Catskill mountains and the other in Boca Raton, FL (my cousin Fran came along on the latter trip). They had a UPIGA Youth group – I have fond memories of hanging out with other teens and corresponding with a few of them for awhile afterward.

(Don’t ask me why I still have this ephemera!)
During my teens Mom and I took golf lessons at a country club on Georgia Avenue (Brooke Manor, I think). But golf never took hold of me or Mom. Dad didn’t seem to mind – he always had plenty of buddies to play golf with.
In 1976, the PGA tournament was held at Congressional Country Club in nearby Bethesda, MD and I attended one day with Mom and Dad. Dad was thrilled to see Jack Nicklaus and other pros up close. 
My interest in golf has mainly been confined to miniature golf (with occasional forays onto the driving range). A favorite birthday activity was going to the Putt Putt golf on Rockville Pike with a friend or two.
In 1994, Dad moved to Leisure World retirement community in Silver Spring, Maryland. His condo on the 5th floor had a slight view of the LW golf course on which he regularly played.
Dad spent winters in Florida (mostly Delray) the last 10 years or so of his life, which presented additional opportunities to play golf. Friends and relatives, including his son Matt, provided willing partners with whom to play.
Sid (3rd from left) kibitzing with his golf buddies
One of those winters, in March 1998, Dad played a round at Okeeheelee Golf Club with his friend Bud. On the 7th tee, he managed to hit a hole in one! He was so excited, that he ordered a plaque which he proudly displayed on the wall in his condo.

In 2002, Dad thought he was getting a new golf buddy. His grandson David was going to golf camp and Dad designed and printed a card for him as an encouraging send-off (alas, David did not take to the game).

Yet Dad’s love of golf lives on. His grandchildren Jeanne, Lindsey, and Nicholas inherited his interest in the sport.

Friday, April 13, 2018

The Tale of Two Surnames: Drucker and Gold

Morris Gold

My maternal grandfather’s name is Morris Gold. Morris had 5 siblings: Nathan Gold, Sam Drucker, Leah (Lena) Drucker, Libba (Lillie) Drucker, and Gussie Drucker. So why are some of the siblings Drucker and others Gold?

Leah/Lena Drucker Greminger
I grew up with the “knowledge” that some took their father’s name "Drucker" and others took their mother’s maiden name "Gold." But no one seemed to know the reason. Here are some anecdotal stories or theories that have been bandied about by some descendants of Morris and his siblings.

1)      Two fathers?
Their mother Jennie (also known by her Yiddish name Shaindel) was married twice -- one named Drucker and the other Gold.

2)      Goldrucker?
Their last name was originally Goldrucker and the siblings thought the name was too long, so they split the name, with some taking Gold and some taking Drucker.

3)      Drucker name was fabricated?
One cousin was skeptical that Jennie Gold was married to Harry Drucker. He said maybe Drucker was a fabricated name. He couldn’t understand why Jennie went by her maiden name instead of her married name of Drucker, especially on her grave stone [though she was likely not the one to decide which name went on her tombstone].

4)      Avoid military service?
Austria was a Catholic country and persecuted the Jews, so some families used multiple names to confuse the authorities which helped them avoid conscription.

5)      More American?
Some used the name Gold because it sounded more American.

6)      Family feud?
There was a rift in the family and some sided with the father and others sided with the mother.

To further confuse matters, Jennie used or was referred to as Gold, her maiden name, later in her life – she was listed as Gold on the 1940 U.S. Census record and on her death certificate and gravestone in 1947.

I also find it strange that Morris and some of his siblings changed their surnames while they were living in the U.S. For example, Morris traveled to the U.S. in 1909 under the name Moses Drucker then changed to Gold. Gussie was Druker on her 1908 marriage certificate but Gold on both daughters’ marriage licenses (Ester in 1922 and Ethel in 1939). Sam was Gold in 1910 and on his 1916 marriage certificate, but Drucker in the 1920 and later censuses and his death certificate.

 Vital records hold the key

The information found in vital records (birth, marriage, death) may or may not be accurate, depending on who has written or dictated the information. The individual’s name is most likely correct, but his parents’ names are less certain. I looked at all of the vital records I could find for Morris and his siblings and noted their last names and those of their parents when available.
According to his and wife Tillie Siegel’s marriage certificate, his father’s name was Harry (the license specifies Harry Drucker) and mother’s maiden name was Jennie Gold.
Gussie, Sam, and Libba's marriage certificates list Sheindel or Jennie Gold and Hersh or Harry Drucker, whereas Nathan's certificate gives Shandel Drucker and Harry as parents. 

Legitimacy was an issue

In Jewish shtetls in Galicia, couples typically were not married in a civil ceremony, and the marriage wasn’t officially registered with the officials. Thus, children were considered illegitimate when born to parents who were not “officially” married.

On the birth record, the child would be listed as “illegitimate” and the father’s name was usually relegated to the “Remarks” column in the record book. (If the father did not acknowledge paternity, then only the mother was listed). Children born to a couple could be known by the mother’s maiden name or the father’s surname, depending on the registrar’s practices and the couple’s official marital status. Sometimes just a given name but no surname was listed for the child and other times the father was identified in the father column even though the birth was identified as illegitimate. Moreover, the surname on the child’s birth record was not necessarily that used by the family or the community.
Here are what I believe to be Morris ("Izak Mozes") and Gussie's ("Gitel Ruchel") birth records. Gitel was born first, in 1878, and note that she is registered with her mother's maiden name Gold as her surname. Both she and Mozes are labeled as illegitimate ("nieslubny").
Page 1 Izak Mozes (likely Morris) and Gitel Ruchel (likely Gussie) -- Note father's name Hersch Drucker in right column):

Page 2 (Note mother's name Scheindel Gold in left column, along with her parents' surname Gold):


This confusingly inconsistent practice could explain why Morris and his siblings had different surnames. Harry (Hersch) and Jenny’s (Shaindel’s) official marital status could have changed at some point if they decided to officially register. However, this does not explain why some of them changed their names once they were already living in the U.S. After all, even Jenny changed from Drucker on the ship over here to Gold later on.


I doubt we will ever know the true reasons why Morris and his siblings were either given or had chosen their father’s or mother’s surname or why they changed from one to the other. Each may have had his or her own reasons. 

I've debunked theories 1-3 with the birth records and other records showing the father's name was Drucker and mother's maiden name was Gold.  Theories 5 and 6 are the most plausible and the legitimacy/birth records issue likely played some role.  Let me know if you have any additional theories!

Monday, February 26, 2018

Grandma Lillie Was Born in Liverpool

Grandma Lillie Was Born in Liverpool, England – that’s pretty much all that I knew about my paternal grandmother’s childhood, and that fact always struck me as interesting as I grew up in the Beatles era. But how did she come to be born there instead of Austria or Hungary like most of my grand- and great grandparents?

From her birth record I discovered that Grandma Lillie was born May 10, 1902 as Laura Bund to parents Moritz Bund and Tony Schneider.

Her parents had stopped in England for a few years on their way to the United States. I learned this was not an uncommon practice, most likely to earn money for their passage to the U.S. Most of the Jewish immigrants from the United Kingdom were not actually British but “transmigrants” who made England their temporary home before they continued their migration to the United States.1  Lillie’s parents traveled as Moses and Toni Bund from the port of Hamburg to London in August 1901. The Hamburg passenger list allowed me to learn the family originated from the town of Lemberg which at the time was part of the Galicia area of the Austro-Hungarian Empire and is currently known as L’viv in Ukraine.

I found out the street where they were living at the time of Laura’s birth, Sun Street, no longer exists. But here’s an overlay showing where the street used to be, before getting swallowed up by the University of Liverpool:

Later on they lived on Pleasant Street, where Laura’s brother Jacob was born in 1904.

Morris immigrated to the U.S. in 1904 and 3 year old "Leah" arrived with her mother and baby brother Jacob in August 1905. I wonder if little Leah spoke with a British accent! Though I imagine she didn’t interact with the Brits much and was home with her mother speaking mostly Yiddish. The 1910 U.S. Federal Census shows they all spoke Yiddish.
S.S. Noordland, c
Here is Leah’s actual inspection card which indicated she was vaccinated and that she passed daily health inspections during the voyage.

Morris, Tillie and children all immigrated via Philadelphia. I wonder why they didn’t go through Ellis Island since New York City was their ultimate destination. Maybe the ticket was less expensive or maybe they thought it would be less crowded. It was actually a longer trip: the voyage from Europe to Philadelphia is 200 miles longer than the journey to New York.2 (And then they still had to make their way to NYC).

Upon arriving at the Philadelphia port, immigrants first disembarked at a quarantine facility that checked for contagious diseases. This is where that health inspection card likely came in handy. The immigrants then continued up the Delaware River to Pier 53’s Washington Avenue Immigration Station, which was the final destination to enter the U.S.3
I realized I didn’t have an electronic copy of Leah’s ship manifest, so I searched on I not only found the manifest, but was surprised to see a record from a collection called “Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, Immigration Records, Special Boards of Inquiry, 1893-1909.” I went back to the manifest and noticed the initials “SI” in the margin next to the family’s names.

The SI indicates they were being held for Special Inquiry which required a hearing. It seems this hearing was held because the mother was traveling alone and had no apparent means of supporting herself and her children. Text of the hearing transcript:

I’m guessing “Has ticket” means she had a train ticket for her and the children to travel to NYC. The immigration station was built and owned by the Pennsylvania Railroad, which would have made it easy for immigrants to board nearby trains for destinations throughout the U.S. 4 So Sonny (Toni/Tillie) and her children were granted entry to the U.S. and they joined Morris in NYC.
This was a roundabout but hopefully interesting way of saying that even though my paternal grandmother Lillian Bund was born in Liverpool, I do not have any British ancestry!


Saturday, January 27, 2018

Uncovering Family Stories

Uncovering Family Stories
(Do you know who your grandparent’s siblings are?)

Many people who seek to build their family trees focus solely on their direct ancestors; that is, their parents, grandparents, great-grandparents, etc. They may note the names of those ancestors’ siblings, but look no further at those additional lines in the tree. I want to point out a few valuable reasons why researchers should consider looking at these related branches more closely.
Discover Facts About Direct Ancestors
I grew up knowing my maternal grandfather Morris Gold’s mother’s name was Jenny or Shaindel Gold and his father’s name was Harry or Hershel Drucker, and that Jenny and Harry lived in Austria.  What I never knew was that my great-grandmother Jenny emigrated to the U.S. And I may never have discovered that if I hadn’t been thorough in my research regarding Morris’s siblings. In 2012 after sorting through tons of records, I managed to find all of Morris’s siblings – Gussie, Leah, Libba, Samuel, and Nathan – and identified many of their descendants. When the 1940 U.S. census became publicly available, I looked up his sister Gussie Danches and was amazed to discover Jennie Gold listed with the Danches family in Cleveland!


This 1940 census record provided significant clues about my great-grandmother – her approximate date of birth and her marital status (widowed). I eventually found her (as Szejndel Drucker) in a 1922 ship’s manifest traveling with her daughter Leah Greminger and her family.

Connecting With Newly-Found Cousins
Growing up I knew all of my 11 first cousins (all on Mom’s side) but only knew a couple of my second cousins (on Dad’s side). One of the benefits of my genealogy research has been meeting “new” cousins both online and in person. Everyone I have corresponded and spoken with has been so warm and welcoming. I’ve had the pleasure of meeting my Berkowitz and Rosenbaum cousins in Baltimore and Horn cousins in NYC (descendants of Leah/Lena). During regular correspondence with Schwartz and Isaacson cousins (Dad’s first cousins) and others, I discovered many of my cousins are just as eager as me to connect and relate our stories. I’ve enjoyed getting to know my newly-found cousins and hope to meet lots more!

Sharing Photos and Stories
Meeting my relatives has involved the telling of many interesting stories about our shared ancestors. We have also shared some family photos. My second cousin Gwen even sent me the only photo I possess of our great-grandmother Jenny Gold! 

Genealogy isn’t just about names and dates; it’s learning details about the lives of the family members who make up our tree.

I continue to learn about my grandparents’ siblings and their descendants. Heartfelt thanks to my cousins from various branches of my tree who are helping me uncover so many rich stories.

Wednesday, November 29, 2017

My Yiddishe Mom – Fayge


Fayge with her parents Tillie and Morris

My mom, Florence Gold Schwartz, was called Fayge by her parents and siblings. This was her Yiddish name. Her parents, Morris and Tillie (Siegel) Gold, were from Eastern Europe (Galicia) – Burshtyn and Toporow, respectively. They spoke mainly Yiddish to mom and her sisters Rebecca (Rae) and Rose and brothers Sidney and Harold. Mom would answer back in English. However, some of the Yiddish became incorporated into her own vernacular. As a result, she often interspersed Yiddish words and phrases when she spoke. Some of her favorite sayings were “fershtay?” (understand?), “bubeh mineseh” (far-fetched story), “full mikh a gonk!” (you’re kidding me!), “feh!” (yuck!), “yenumvelt” (somewhere far and out of the way), and “don’t drert mein gelt” (waste my money).

For some reason, Mom used a lot of Yiddish words to describe chicken parts. I liked to eat the fleegle (wing) and pulke (thigh). Dad liked to suck the meat from the gorgel (neck) and eat the pupick (belly button – actually the gizzard, haha) from the soup. Mom used shmaltz (rendered chicken fat) in her chopped liver (yum!). If someone complained about the food during a meal she would pronounce “ess und krechs!” (eat and complain!). After we ate a good meal she often asked “ungefilte kishka?” (is your belly full and content?).

Mom with "us kids" --
Matty, Robin and Jeffrey

To us kids, she might say “I need that like a loch in kop!” (hole in the head) and “Don’t hock me a chinik” (bother me/give me a headache). Or sometimes “Do you want a poch on the tuches?” Mom might describe someone as “farblondzshet” (confused), “meshugeneh” (crazy), “meese” (ugly), “fershlaufen” (sleepy), “nisht mit alleh” (not all there), “ungebluzen” (under the weather or feeling blue), or “bubeleh” (sweetie).  When she got into bed she expressed pleasure/relief by saying “ah mechayeh” (wonderful).

I guess Mom used the word “fercockteh” (crappy) often enough that when I was very young and we went for a ride to the Catoctin Mountains (north of Frederick, MD), I’m told I announced we were going to the Fercockteh Mountains. (Needless to say, this story was often repeated to friends and family).

Veyizmeer (goodness)!

By hearing this Yiddish as I was growing up, I became exposed to this wonderful language and, in turn, started speaking many of the same words and sayings, as well. I wonder how many of my cousins were exposed to Yiddish through their parents and grandparents and speak the language themselves. Share your Yiddish experiences by submitting a comment below.

Friday, November 10, 2017

Veterans Day 2017

Sidney William Schwartz

I’m proud of my dad, Sidney W. Schwartz, for his service in the U.S. Army during the Korean War. He enlisted as Private First Class in March 1951 in New York City; he was living in Brooklyn at the time, newly married to my mom, Florence Gold Schwartz. He started out at Camp Edwards in Buzzards Bay, MA. Here he is with his buddies, __ Stein, Bob Stoutenburgh, Shelly Weiss, and Eddy Vath:

From January to September 1952, Florence accompanied Sidney while he was stationed at Ft Bliss, in El Paso, Texas.

On way to El Paso

Sidney separated from the Army as Technical Sergeant in December 1953 after completing his period of enlistment. He was stationed at Fort Cronkhite, at the Presidio of San Francisco, CA, at the time. Dad fell in love with San Francisco – I recall him singing (badly), “I left my heart in San Francisco.”
"Boys from New Jersey"...Battery B, 459th AAA Bn
According to his discharge papers, Sidney received a Good Conduct Medal and National Defense Service Ribbon.
My mom became involved in the Jewish War Veterans Ladies Auxiliary of the United States.

Sewn and quilted by Robin Thomas