Category Archives: Celebrity Genealogy

The Genealogy of Bernie Sanders, Part 2

I know this is long overdue, but I’ve been a little busy. At first, I was waiting for a little more information before writing it up. Then the Finding Your Roots inspired me to finish before Bernie’s episode aired, but I didn’t make it. I haven’t seen the show yet, but it’s time to finish the story.

From the marriage certificate of Elias Sanders and Dora Glassberg, Bernie’s parents, in 1934, Dora was 21, born in NYC, and the daughter of Benjamin Glassberg and Bessie Greenberg.

Benjamin Glassberg, Petition for Naturalization, Southern District of New York, 1926
Benjamin Glassberg, Petition for Naturalization, Southern District of New York, 1926

Dora, or Dorothy, was born about 21 October 1912 in New York City. I say about because the date comes from her father’s naturalization. I could not find her in the NYC Birth Index to verify. Some of her siblings were listed and their dates on the naturalization were slightly off, so I can’t be sure if hers was correct. Polish Jews at the time didn’t pay attention to birth dates, and sometimes that spilled into the first generation in the US.

Dora had six siblings, including a twin sister. I realized they were twins looking them up in the US censuses, but the naturalization (found after) showed the same birth dates.

Everyone in the family changed their names at some point, with the exception of Max; Max was always Max. Dora’s siblings were Sholem/Solomon/Saul, Philip/William, Jonah/Joseph/John, Max, Jennie/Sadie/Zelda, and Fannie/Fay. Their parents also had lots of name variations, her father as Berel, Bernard, Barnett, Bennie, and Benjamin and her mother was found as Braine, Bella, Fannie, Beckie, Bettie, and Bessie. Of course, some of these changes are just what the various records say and may not have been names that they actually used.

Dora’s obituary also listed her siblings as Sol, Phillip, John, Max, Mrs. Sid Barash, and Fay Green. Her mother Bessie was also listed, so it appeared Bessie outlived her.

Max Glassberg, Birth Certificate, New York City, 1907
Max Glassberg, Birth Certificate, New York City, 1907

I was able to find the US and NY State censuses on Ancestry, but NYC vital records were on microfilm at the FHL. I found the marriage certificates for all of her siblings except Joseph/John. (Sometimes I’m not sure which names I should use.) I also found the births for Joseph, which appears to say “Job.” (with the period) and Max. And as stated already, both of their birth dates were listed a little differently on the naturalization.

Benjamin died in 1940 and is buried at the United Hebrew Cemetery on Staten Island. His parents, on his death certificate, were listed as Abraham Glassberg and Frieda Melinuch.

Bessie died in 1963. Another researcher, Renee Steinig, provided that information. I was not able to get the cemetery to answer me, but she was buried in the same cemetery with Benjamin. Also at that cemetery was Benjamin’s brother Morris and his father Abraham.

Benjamin Glassberg, Obituary, The New York Times, 1940, via ProQuest
Benjamin Glassberg, Obituary, The New York Times, 1940

Benjamin’s obituary also provided a list of his children, grandchildren, siblings, and his father was named as well.

I did some more research into the US records, lots of censuses and such for Benjamin’s siblings, but let’s go back in time instead. I was able to find a lot more records on this side of Bernie’s family, so much that this blog post could go on for days if I filled in all the details.

Benjamin arrived to the US in 1903 as Barnett, joining his cousin, Jacob Hecht. I did not yet follow up on this cousin.

Bessie arrived to the US as Branie with Phillip in June 1904. The family had been in England long enough that Philip was born there. Sholem arrived in August 1904, five years old, with Cisel Gershtein, a cousin of Benjamin’s. Another cousin that I did not yet follow up on.

Abraham Glassberg, Benjamin’s father, died in 1942, the son of Louis and Sarah Feige. An online tree showed that his wife, Freida, had died in 1908, but I don’t know what the source of that was and I didn’t find a record yet. None of the trees showed Bessie’s date of death, which I thought should have been easier given that it was in the US. Abraham arrived in the US in 1914 as Abram along with his daughter Malke.

From his naturalization, Abraham’s wife was Chaya Rifka and that youngest daughter became Mollie. Other children were Bennie, Sonie, Sarah Ptashek, Morris, Louis, and Zelda, and it showed he was born in Radzin. I had a few other records showing Radzin as well.

Abraham Glassberg, Petition for Naturalization, Southern District of New York, 1927
Abraham Glassberg, Petition for Naturalization, Southern District of New York, 1927

I did more research on Abraham’s other children, but one held the key to the next part of the research. As I searched Radzyn Podlaski records on JRI-Poland, I could only find one record for this family indexed, the marriage of Sura Gela to Szlomo Ptaszek.

There appeared to be no other records from the Glassberg family in Radzyn. There were lots of Glassbergs, but no Benjamin, no Abraham, no Louis, no Polish variations of those names, and none of Benjamin’s siblings except for that one marriage record.

The Polish archive has many records online and they had Books of Residents for Radzyn. I searched it quickly but found two pages that listed a couple of Glassberg families. One page had an Abram Glassberg born about the same year as this family’s Abram. That Abram had no vital records. And with two Abram Glassbergs born in Radzyn about the same time, they were likely cousins named for the same ancestor, but there was no Abram Glassberg at all indexed in Radzyn. I had evidence of five or six generations of this family with no vital records, except for Sura Gela who married into a family that registered their vital events.

Abram Glasberg, Radzyn Podlaski, Book of Residents
Abram Glasberg, Radzyn Podlaski, Book of Residents

This was a blow to the research. I still scanned every Glassberg Polish record that JRI-Poland had indexed, and found nothing else that fit into this family as I knew it. Perhaps another pass through the records again, or a more recent search of JRI would find something, but back when I did all this work originally, there was nothing. I did put together a large Radzyn Glassberg family tree, but this branch didn’t show up anywhere, although there were lots of places for them to go, if I could just find some more records.

Because I couldn’t find Glassberg records, and especially the marriage of Benjamin and Bessie would have been useful, I was not able to do more on Bessie’s Greenberg family either. JRI had gobs of Greenbergs indexed in Radzyn, but nothing matched her birth, and especially without her parents’ names from the marriage or a death certificate, I had nothing more to go on there.

But that marriage certificate for Sura Gela Glassberg was most helpful. I had found two or three US records showing the name of Abram’s first wife, but it was only from the Polish records that I got the full name and the correct surname. She was listed a Frejda Mindla Mlynarz.

Sura Gela Glasberg, Marriage Certificate, Radzyn Podlaski, 1904
Sura Gela Glasberg, Marriage Certificate, Radzyn Podlaski, 1904

Having two given names for Polish Jews at the time wasn’t all that common, besides certain names that pretty much always went together (like Tzvi Hersh, for example). But Frejda Mindla was a more unique pairing.

It turned out that JRI-Poland had indexed a Frejda Mindla Mlynarz birth right about the same time that Abraham Glassberg was born. There were no other records for anyone else named Frejda Mindla Mlynarz. I did not have her age or her parents’ names to verify. So at this point, I had to make a leap that this was the same person.

And then the Polish record floodgates opened. Not only did I have her birth, but I found four other siblings, her parents’ marriage in 1860, Chajm and Zelda Apeloig, his parents Berk and Sora, his parents Szymcha and Ruchla, and his parents Herszk and Kayla. Szymcha was born about 1775 and died in 1840 in Radzyn. I also filled in the rest of the family tree from the records available.

Szymcha Mlynarz, Death Certificate, Radzyn Podlaski, 1940
Szymcha Herszkowicz Mlynarz, Death Certificate, Radzyn Podlaski, 1940

I was also able to find more on Zelda’s family, her parents Lemel and Sura, his parents Dawid and Perl Malka, and his father Moszko. Dawid was born about 1789. And again, I filled in the families with all of the Polish records I could get.

And thus I was able to trace some of Bernie’s family back to the time of the American Revolution. They were in Poland, but it was the same time. I’ve been able to do this with many Polish families. With the brick walls I faced with Sanders, and then even with Glassberg, I was happy to have so much more to find.

I’ve obviously skipped over many more people and details, because there were so many. I ran into some online trees while I was doing this. I don’t remember it being deliberate, just that they showed up in searches. None of them were entirely correct.

Morris Glassberg, Benjamin’s brother, appeared in several trees online, all of them wrong. There were at least two people with that name and about the same age, but all the trees mixed information from both. I found several that pointed to this Morris’s death index entry, but he was clearly a different Morris with different parents. I also found at least one tree showing Chaya Rifka as the mother of Abraham Glassberg’s children just because she was listed as his wife on his Petition for Naturalization, even though his Declaration of Intention stated he was widowed. I think the Geni tree was the most accurate, but even that one listed Philip and William as separate people.

I hope you’ve enjoyed reading about the genealogy of Bernie Sanders. I had a lot of fun researching it, and there’s still more to do. I don’t know if I’ll get back to it any time soon, unless I hear from Bernie or his family and they want to know more. ;-)

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This blog post is part of a series.

The Genealogy of Bernie Sanders, Part 1.5

As I’m writing this blog post, I am still working on the Glassberg side of Bernie’s genealogy. I had begun writing that blog post as I was working, but I’ve decided to break out a bit of it in a separate entry, because there is so much to write about for the Glassberg side.

Sometimes, even when everything in genealogy research is done well and organized, there are things that are not noticed the first time around. In this case, I originally saw that Henry Sanders was a witness to Elias Sanders’s marriage, and I definitely took note of that. It was only later, when looking at that marriage certificate after I had “completed” that part of the research, that I noticed something else significant. The other witness was Carl Kornreich.

How is that significant? Henry Sanders married Hilda Kornreich. Carl was not her father but I surmised he might be a brother. I left it at that.


As I researched Dora Glassberg’s family, one of the first batch of records I retrieved from the FHL contained the marriages for her siblings. Her oldest brother, Solomon, married Pearl Kornreich, Hilda’s sister. Also, Carl was a witness to that marriage too.

I didn’t want to spend a lot of time researching a family that was only related by marriage, albeit two marriages, but I did verify that Carl was their brother. (If I were to look into this Kornreich family more, I’d also follow up on the witness to Henry’s marriage, George Wurtzel, as Wurtzel is the Kornreichs’ mother’s maiden name.)

So Dora’s brother-in-law married her sister-in-law’s sister.

And I did find one record that kind of says it all.

Hilda Sanders Obituary, The New York Times, 8 August 1972, ProQuest Historical Newspapers


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The Genealogy of Bernie Sanders, Part 1

Especially with shows like Who Do You Think You Are?, celebrity genealogy is all the rage right now. There’s also a saying that if you want your genealogy researched, run for public office.

Since my specialty is Jewish research, I thought I’d participate with Bernie Sanders, our next US President. (Don’t argue with me. I believe that.)

With my access to the Family History Library and various subscription sites that I can use there for free, I plan to expend no money. How far can I go for free?

Bernard “Bernie” Sanders was born 8 September 1941 in Brooklyn to Eli Sanders and Dorothy Glassberg. This information came from Wikipedia, and I continued on my own from there.

I tried the 1940 US Census first where I found Eli and Dorothy Sanders with their son Lawrence living in Brooklyn. The census said that Eli was naturalized, so I looked for that on Ancestry. I found a naturalization for Elias Sanders from the 1920s before he was married, so I could not yet be sure it was the right person, but I held on to it.

1940 US Federal Census; Brooklyn, Kings County, New York; ED 24-305, Sheet 11A, Lines 24-26;
1940 US Federal Census; Brooklyn, Kings County, New York; ED 24-305, Sheet 11A, Lines 24-26;

From ItalianGen, I found the marriage of Elias Sanders and Dora Glassberg in 1934, so I retrieved it from the FHL. Elias’s parents were Leon and Ethel Horn. One of the witnesses was Henry Sanders. I continued up this part of the family.

NYC Marriage Certificate, Bronx County, 28 July 1934, Cert #5607, FHL Film #1927886
NYC Marriage Certificate, Bronx County, 28 July 1934, Cert #5607, FHL Film #1927886

Leon and Ethel were clearly Americanized versions of their names, unless they came to America and changed their names themselves. (No evidence was found of this.) And I would be on the lookout for Henry.

There was still a question of whether I had the same person on all these records. I returned to the naturalization and looked up the passenger ship list listed on the Certificate of Arrival. Elias Sanders arrived as Eliasz Gitman in 1921. He left his mother, Jetti Gutman, in Stopnica, his last residence. And he was joining his uncle Abraham Louis Horn in Brooklyn. Bingo. That matched his mother’s maiden name. Also, Jetti is Yetta is Etta is Ethel. (In Jewish names, yes, it really is.)

Ship Passenger List, Eliasz Gitman, SS Lapland, Antwerp to New York, 11 June 1921,
Ship Passenger List, Eliasz Gitman, SS Lapland, Antwerp to New York, 11 June 1921,

I followed up on Abraham for a bit at that point. I found him in the 1915 New York State Census at the same address as on the ship list, so I knew I had the right person. He lived with his wife Katie and children, Henry, Ada, Silas, Eli, Manuel, and Rose. I went on to find the 1925 NY State Census, the 1930 US Census, the 1940 US Census (where Abraham was a widower), and eventually the 1920 Census, which took a bit more effort.

1920 US Federal Census; Abraham Horn Family; Brooklyn, Kings County, New York; ED 1064, Sheet 10A, Lines 32-39;
1920 US Federal Census; Abraham Horn Family; Brooklyn, Kings County, New York; ED 1064, Sheet 10A, Lines 32-39;

I also found two passport applications for Abraham, in 1920 (with a photo) and 1908, and a draft registration for World War I. His dates of arrival and naturalization were varied on the censuses, with his arrival 1885 or 1892, and his naturalization may have been 1894, though that census stated “unknown” for his wife’s arrival, making the date less likely to be correct. Either way, it looked like his ship list and naturalization probably would not yield new information if they could be found and verified to be his, since they were so early, so I headed back to Elias Sanders.

US Passport Applications, Abraham L Horn, #172750,
US Passport Applications, Abraham L Horn, #172750,

A general search on Ancestry yielded a ship list for Elias in 1931. He was a US citizen, claiming 1672 Broadway, Brooklyn, as his address. A few lines above him, Henry Sanders, five years older, was claiming the same address. Recall that Henry Sanders was also a witness to Elias’s marriage. It was time to follow up with Henry.

I found a naturalization for Henry where he was also living at 1672 Broadway. His declaration listed the name Hyman, so he had changed that along the way. And his certificate of arrival listed his name as Elias Gutman. He arrived under his brother’s ticket? I checked the ship list, which listed the same relatives, and had Elias’s age instead of Henry’s. It also listed his mother as Etel Gutmann, instead of Jetti — but those are the same name. We hear stories of people arriving using other people’s tickets. Here is one. (This is the second I’ve ever found proof of.) Henry used his brother’s ticket, and Elias arrived the next year under his own name.

I checked the 1925 NY State Census for 1672 Broadway. There were two families there, but no Sanders. In 1930, one of the same families was still at the address, and they were from Austria, with a son named Elias (recall that Abraham had an Eli/Elias also). Elias is not the most common of names, but it is common for a bunch of Ashkenazi Jewish cousins born around the same time to be named after a relative who had just died. In this case, the three Eliases were born about 1904, 1904, and 1910. So I decided to look into this family who lived at the address that the Sanders brothers kept using. Perhaps the wife was a sister of Elias and Henry’s?

1925 New York State Census, 1672 Broadway, Kings County, AD 5, ED 32, Page 5, Lines 8-13,
1925 New York State Census, 1672 Broadway, Kings County, AD 5, ED 32, Page 5, Lines 8-13,

The 1925 Census said that Oscar and Rose Wiener were born in Austria and their kids were born in the US. The 1930 Census said they were all born in Austria. The 1925 gave the date of his naturalization, but it wasn’t on Ancestry. Rose and the children all had the same year for arrival, so I looked for their ship list, hoping to find them all together. Ancestry brought me to the page where they were detained aliens and I had to search for the other page, but they were from the same town as Elias Sanders, she left behind “family” Chaye Horn, and they were joining Oscar who was already at 1672 Broadway. I was wondering if this could be a sister to Elias, but this made it look more like a relative on the Horn side. Since they were married in Europe, it could be harder to prove.

Searching harder for Oscar’s ship list online, I finally found it indexed on the Hamburg list, but Ancestry was taking me to the wrong page. I reversed the search for the US ship list by searching on the ship name and finally found him mis-indexed. He was also from the same Stopnica and joining brother-in-law A J Horn. At this point, it was clear that Rose was the connection and she was a Horn, not a Gitman.

Eventually I found the family in the 1940 census, the one daughter missing and Oscar widowed. A search in ItalianGen left me a few options to find Rose’s death certificate.

It was time to switch over to FamilySearch to look for more. I wanted to find the naturalization for Oscar. I checked my naturalization reference guide for Kings County (which was stated in one census) and discovered they were indexed by JGS NY. I found two entries for Oscar Weiner and Wiener. Back at FamilySearch, the catalog said the records were online, but the search didn’t find it and didn’t show me images. I noticed they were browseable and was able to find both. One was the correct one, which also pointed back to the ship list I had just found. He was not born in Stopnica, but Alt Wisnics.

The JewishGen Gazetteer couldn’t make heads or tails of that, but the Gesher Galicia more simple list of towns included Wisnicz, which is somewhat north of Stopnica.

While still home and unable to get more records from microfilm, I scoured JRI-Poland for anything about this family but I was unable to find any listings that matched any of the people I already knew about, including an Eliasz in the Horn family who probably died between 1902 and 1904. I was really hoping to get back further into the European records but it can’t always be done with the materials in Utah. Stopnica records were only microfilmed for 10 years and the remaining records have not been digitized yet by the Polish archive.

Another FHL visit brought on many more records. First, the death certificate of Rose Wiener showed her to be the daughter of Elias Horn and Chaia Goodman, giving me both the person that the Eliases were likely named for and placing her in the family. Because next I found that Abraham Horn had the same parents on his death certificate.

NYC Death Certificates, Brooklyn, 1935, #17795, FHL Film #2079653
NYC Death Certificates, Brooklyn, 1935, #17795, FHL Film #2079653

A 1940 US Census I’d found earlier for Henry was verified when I found his marriage certificate to Hilda Kornreich, listing his parents exactly as Elias had on his marriage certificate, Leon and Ethel.

I also sat at an FHL computer and looked through ProQuest Obituaries. I found obits for Elias and Dorothy Sanders, Henry and Hilda Sanders, and Abraham Horn.  No other family members were mentioned beyond those that I already found, other than children and grandchildren for some. I got an unintended head start on the Glassberg family because Dorothy’s obituary listed her siblings. And interestingly, Hilda’s mentioned a sister who married a Glassberg. I wonder if there’s a chance they’re doubly connected through marriages.

Obituary of Elias Sanders, The New York Times, 6 August 1962, Page 25, ProQuest Historical Newspapers
Obituary of Elias Sanders, The New York Times, 6 August 1962, Page 25, ProQuest Historical Newspapers

In the end, I did not find the death of Oscar Wiener, nor was I able to get any Polish records to research the family back. I did find two siblings to Elias’s mother Ethel, though no documentary proof that they are siblings outside of the ship lists stating others were uncle and brother-in-law, and they all have the same surname. I’ve found ship list relationships to sometimes not be correct, but when there are this many that put the family together, I will trust it, unless I find something later that brings it into question.

I eventually revisited JRI-Poland and retrieved all of the Gitman and Horn records from Stopnica in the hopes of finding some connection to the names I already had, but they were all for new people. The Polish archive has 1875-1903 and 1906-1909 Jewish vital records, but they haven’t been digitized yet. If there are earlier records in another town, I haven’t found what town it is yet; it’s apparently not indexed by JRI, or none of this family have any vital events registered. That sometimes happens too.

Since I mentioned at the beginning the line about going into politics if you want your genealogy done, I thought I’d add in a little something, since that’s seemingly meant to find the skeletons in the closet. I’ve heard Bernie state that his father came to this country with no money in his pocket. (Or did he say with only a nickel? Maybe it was without a nickel. Now I’m not sure.) For the record, the ship list says that Elias arrived with $25. I have heard that the immigrants would claim the amount of money they had and the officials wouldn’t always verify it, but the ship list does state that amount.

Outside of being stuck in US records, I found this to be a lot of fun. I look forward to chasing up the Glassberg family next.

Update, 3 February 2016: I have been corrected by Renee Steinig in comments. There are two Polish towns of similar spelling, Stopnica and Słopnice. I originally did much of this research several months before posting the article, but I recall having a bit of a conundrum about which town was the correct one. On various documents, handwritten information said Słopnice, while typed always said Stopnica. I believe I did have a bit of outside influence as well from an Internet article. But the 1908 Abraham Horn passport application was clear that the correct town was Słopnice, not Stopnica as I stated in this article, going so far as to say “Słopnice, County of Limanova” for his place of birth. I obviously did not spend enough time with that document — the 1920 was the one that captured my attention with the photo. However, with the correction of the town, there are now no Polish records available to for me to search.

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