Category Archives: Genealogy

Warsaw, Poland – Summer 2018 Trip, Part 3

When the IAJGS conference concluded, my roommate’s daughter showed up, so I headed out to another hotel for a few nights, where the price was lower.

This is where my plans ended. I had a couple of rough ideas of what I’d do and gave myself almost two weeks in Europe before my return flight, but I was even less prepared this trip than the previous one. I was actually hoping that some people would want some research done, so I somehwat expected to not have time to do my own. But alas, for all the interest after my previous trip to Europe, I was here just for myself.

And then, the walking started. I thought I’d go on the Old Town walking tour, but I went out for a walk on my own first. Once I took a good look at the map, I could finally orient myself from my previous visit six years earlier. That time, I came in to Warsaw through the train station, which was just a few blocks from my hotel. And ulica Sienna was in between the two, the last remnant of the ghetto wall. There were lots of memorials to the ghetto wall in Warsaw with engravings on the ground showing where the wall was, including one right next to my hotel, but I believe that one is the last original piece.

Six years earlier, I had marked a bunch of things to see on a map and I didn’t spend much time in Warsaw to do them. This time, I opened up that map and went looking for it all. The old map was not of great quality in my phone, but I managed to find everything on it and more. Philip had shared a Google map to the conference, and he put a couple new things on it. As I did six years ago in Krakow, I accidentally walked farther than I meant to and made it all the way to Old Town in Warsaw. So I skipped the tour that I was thinking of doing the next day.

I headed to the Warsaw Uprising Museum on Sunday, when it was free. After standing in line for longer than I should have, I gave up and went walking again, all the way back to Old Town and then across to The Palm from my 2012 map.

IAJGS Conference – Summer 2018 Trip, Part 2

After my family reunion in Maine, I headed out to Warsaw, Poland for the IAJGS Conference on Jewish Genealogy. The two events fell on the same weekend. I missed two days of the conference. Because of that, I felt like the conference was just starting as it was actually ending.

It’s good to be the webmaster because I have access to the On Demand videos, so I will be able to watch the opening session and any others that I missed that were recorded. I’d consider buying them if I didn’t already get them. The opening sessions are usually really interesting.

I met a cousin at IAJGS this year. It’s not easy for Ashkenazi Jews to research enough to find fifth cousins, but I did that during this past year. Sady, I did not get to meet him. He was visiting with his mother and went home before I arrived in Poland. But I did get to meet my fourth cousin, once removed, Myra! We just connected some months ago. She is the first person I have found who attends IAJGS conferences who turns out to be my cousin. I have lots of DNA cousins, but we’ve never found the genealogy connection. She’s also my first confirmed Australian cousin (along with her descendents) and had an exciting story of how her ancestors went from Poland to Siberia and China. Myra found a marriage record and contacted the people in the JewishGen Family Finder with the new-to-her surname, Mularzewicz. And because of her diligence, we also made contact with three people in another branch of our family that we found online too.

I gave two presentations, went to a few SIG and BOF meetings, and attended just a few other lectures. I reprised Search as an Art on Friday and a new session called Three Adoptions and an Ethical Dilemma was on Wednesday. I think they both went really well. The BOF that I lead, the Webmasters Roundtable, was well attended; much more than I expected in Poland.

At the banquet, I received the IAJGS Award for Outstanding Project for CSI: Crowd Sourced Indexing! IGRA nominated me and made me an honorary member after the conference.

I don’t usually get a lot of photos from the conferences because my cameras don’t do well indoors, and I’m picky about good pictures. Also, crowds-at-conferences pictures never turn out the way I hope.

IGRA folks shared some other pictures that include me, but I’m just posting the ones from my camera here.

Maine – Summer 2018 Trip, Part 1

It seems to be time for me to begin catching up with my blogging. Here I am, settled into my hotel for the night in Kalisz, Poland, and I haven’t posted much of anything online about what I’ve been doing. With the other conference bloggers already on their way, I decided I’d get started.

This year’s summer trip is a big one. Just like the IAJGS conference in Paris set me on a trip a month long in Europe, so did the IAJGS conference in Warsaw.

To begin my trip to Europe, I went to Maine. Yes, the state. I began my trip to Europe in Maine.

My cousin Bonnie threw a smallish reunion. The Wolfe family was based in Portland, Maine for a while, where she still lives, so she invited a bunch of cousins to see where their ancestors lived, where they worshipped, and generally to walk in their footsteps.

I arrived earlier than most and spent a couple nights at Bonnie’s home. She drove me around and pointed things out along the way, most of which we revisited for the official reunion or I saw again on a trolley tour. We visited the two Portland area Jewish cemeteries where relatives and almost relatives were buried. And we visited four lighthouses.

Then the other cousins started showing up. I ended up rooming with Cheryl and hanging out with sisters Stacey and Sydney. As it turned out, these were the only people at the reunion who are not my cousins, but they were a lot of fun.

How are they not my cousins at a family reunion? Bonnie invited mostly people that she knew in the Wolfe branch of the family, and a few outside of it. It was supposed to be a Szleper/Shemper reunion: Moses Wolfe married Ida Shemper then Ruchel Szleper, who later went by Rose Bornstein. While a few non-Wolfes were supposed to be there, in the end, it was just me and the Wolfe pack (and spouses and significant others).

Bonnie arranged for a little walking tour, starting at the active synagogue, going to the house where Moses and Rose lived, and going to the ex-synagogue that they helped to found. The next day, we had a big meal farther south and went to Old Orchard Beach Pier. We finished off with a brunch at the community room at Bonnie’s home. Each day had a few more people join in and she left us plenty of time for touring and touristing.

It was a blast. I got to meet a pack of Wolfe cousins all in one place. I’d already met a few, but there were so many more I was already in contact with mostly via Facebook. Plus, there were a few surprise attendees too.

Besides weddings and such where a bunch of family show up and it’s sort of a reunion, this was only my second family reunion. (The first was five people, so this was really different.) I do hope that more of my relatives plan things like this. I wouldn’t be able to decide which branch of the family to do first, how big to make it, where to go, or what to do. But I’d be happy to try to help in the planning and the finding of relatives to invite.

Update: It has been pointed out to me that 50 people is not a “smallish” reunion. While I have seen pictures and heard of reunions of 100 people, I can agree that 50 was probably at least medium sized. Also that five generations of Wolfes have lived in Portland, which means, I’ve had relatives living there for over 100 years.

I’m Going to Europe. Who Needs Research?

It’s about time, right? After my first trip to Europe, I was all ready to go back right away, like at least once a year. And here it is, six years later?

Well, if it takes an IAJGS conference for me to finally go back, so be it. The IAJGS Jewish genealogy conference will be in Warsaw this year and I’m going.

Because of how long the flight is, I will be staying for a couple of weeks after the conference to do research, so I will be there for most of August. And I am for hire. If you are interested in some on-site research in Eastern Europe, please contact me.

My fees are a little more complicated than the in-Utah fees posted on my web site, but they’re not too bad. (I really don’t want them posted publicly for several reasons, including they could change for each trip.)

If nobody hires me, I have research to do for myself in Warsaw, Pultusk, Lodz, and Kalisz in Poland, and Uzhhorod in Ukraine. I am looking into visiting Grodno in Belarus and Moldova, but while I’d like to go, they are less likely on this trip.

On the other hand, if you need research in any other Polish archives, or in other Ukrainian archives, I would be happy to help you out. (I’d be happy to help in other countries’ archives too, but I haven’t been to them yet, so I can’t tell you how it might go.) All of the Polish archives should be open this August, though they may be hot. In Ukraine, I have so far only worked in Uzhhorod and I will require a translator anywhere but Poland, but I’m happy to head out there and see what I can do for you. (I need someone to communicate for me, but I do the research in the records myself.)

Some people ask me to do European research for them when they haven’t done all the US-based research they could do. Sometimes they are missing US records and sometimes there are European records that can be accessed without going all the way to Europe. So please contact me soon so we can try to get all of your pre-trip records first. Then I can spend my European time on records we can’t otherwise access.

You can see the archives I have already successfully researched in on my Research in Europe page. I wouldn’t mind adding a few more to that when I get home.

So, who needs some research done in Eastern Europe?

WDYTYA Nitpicker’s Version – 10×03 – Megan Mullally

I haven’t written a nitpicker’s guide in a while. Sometimes I fall behind and sometimes I just don’t have anything specific to say. This post is for the third episode of the season; I had no particular comments about the first two episodes.

The episode started out with Megan and her husband joking around, including him saying he was not interested in her ancestry, yet they both did their DNA tests. Nothing really came of that. Was Ancestry hoping something weird would show up that they would follow up on? Or were they just promoting their product in the hopes more people would test and do nothing with it?

Research Begins

Kyle Betit arrived with newspaper articles. Megan knew that her ancestor committed suicide yet she seemed to have a hard time reading the article about it. When I discover someone who committed suicide, I react less than the celebrities do on this show.

Kyle said that they had enough details to look at census records. Really? I look at census records first. She already knew her ancestors back to the 1920s. I would have started in 1930 or 1940, then made my way back in time.

Then they skipped back to when Charles was one month old in the 1860 census, without finding any other census. And the surname didn’t match exactly. And they had nothing in between but the one article that said he was from Macon, Georgia. That’s not the way to do it. You don’t look for a baby on the census without finding the names of the parents in some other record for the person.

Knowing they do a lot of research before the episode, they probably did all this. I hope they did all this. But people just watching the show who don’t know how to do the research learn bad practices.

Kyle then directed her to search for the marriage of Ira and Elizabeth, the parents found in the 1860 census, but he obviously knew there wasn’t a marriage for the people she was looking for. They never did find the marriage record they wanted. Did they find it and not show it in the episode? If I was doing the research, I’d look for it offline too.

To Georgia

At the Georgia Archive with Dr. Robin Sager, we saw another newspaper article.  The article was about Richard rather than Ira. Maybe that was why there was no marriage record in the index? I like that Robin mentioned that this article was backed up by other documents, showing that they had done other research that doesn’t appear in the episode. But how much do amateurs pay attention to little details like that?

I did like how Megan kept trying to figure out when things were happening in her family, calculating dates and ages, and when Elizabeth was pregnant. Some celebrities are seen taking notes, but she seemed to be memorizing it all.

Robin pointed out the time period right before the Civil War and Megan went straight to wondering if the second husband, James Venable, was a slave owner. Did she not wonder that about the first husband?

Fold3 was the next stop, a site with military records. Why did she say “wow” while the site was loading? Were they messing around in editing? She was thoroughly surprised by the Amnesty Papers found on James and Megan wanted to know more. Except it was just an index and Megan was sent off to find the actual record at NARA. Shouldn’t that collection online have been called an index? Some people, just like Megan did, will think that’s the whole record.

To Washington DC

Before she was even finished reading the letter written by James, she was asking more questions. Are the celebrities instructed to ask every question as they’re going even before reading every word in front of them? It seems jarring to me. That’s not how I do research. I read everything before asking follow-up questions, because sometimes the answers are right in front of me.

Back to Georgia

At least they didn’t send her over an ocean and back again. But she wanted to change her name to the second husband even before she learned any more about him.

Back in Georgia at the Bibb County Courthouse, she met with an historian from California who was somehow able to find a bound volume of old newspapers in Georgia. Did she really find that or did someone local do the research? In another newspaper article, from 1869, we learned that James wasn’t much better than the first husband, right after Megan said she liked him. And then she was sure that Elizabeth was the only one who wasn’t crazy, yet she knew very little about Elizabeth at the time too. She made a lot of assumptions about these people before she knew anything about them.

All that way for just one article? Then off to another library for more. The next researcher was from North Dakota State University, who apparently found another newspaper article. Why were all these people researching in Georgia from all over the country? Does Ancestry have no researcher in Georgia who actually did the research who could be on the show?

They were up to two articles in 1869 then skipped to 1890 to a court case between Elizabeth and her son over property that she bought between her marriages. The paper mentioned that she had other children with James and Megan began asking about those other children. But they never looked in the 1870 or 1880 censuses to find out more about those children. Instead they skipped ahead to 1900 where she had no other family living with her, and Megan found her listed as an inmate in a sanitarium.

By this time, Megan started assuming the worst of everyone instead of hoping they would do the right thing. She also assumed that Elizabeth supported her husbands. There was no evidence of that either. We hadn’t seen any record of the occupations of the husbands, especially the second one. That 1869 court case didn’t say anything about property that remained after James died, or if he had, or if the Mullally sons just wanted the property she had bought on her own before she married James.

Finishing up at the Central State Hospital, the site of the former sanitarium, Megan met with one more “researcher”, this time from Lakeshore Grounds Interpretive Centre, which is in Canada. What did all these people have to do with researching this family in Georgia? Did any of them actually do any of the research on this family or are they chosen from a hat to appear in the episodes? From the Georgia Archives, the admission records were brought out to the hospital grounds. Why do they keep removing records from their archives?

That question about other children? It was on that last document, not read aloud in the episode, but it clearly showed she had eight children, but I couldn’t read if all eight were involved in admitting her. What did the document say that we couldn’t see on screen?


It seemed I found a lot more to say about this episode on my second viewing. I wonder if I’d have more to say about the previous two episodes as well.

This random assortment of researchers and historians from all over the continent but no one locally disturbs me. I hadn’t noticed that in the show before. What’s wrong with the people who did the research or local historians? Aren’t there any?

And they never did anything about Richard and Elizabeth coming from Ireland. Did they find anything more on that? Maybe they weren’t able to go back to those records. But since they don’t tell us, we won’t know. Many episodes focus on the immigrants and where they came from. I do like that they sometimes don’t, but they glanced over these people coming from Ireland. I had to go back in the episode just to find that it was mentioned where they were born.

I could see these episodes focusing a little more on looking at the details and making conclusions from them, rather than focusing on a celebrity overreacting to everything they see and speculating about their ancestors before actually learning about them.

I guess this is one reason why they use celebrities instead of average people. Celebrities are used to acting and an average person wouldn’t give them the giant overreactions they seem to like in this show.

RootsTech 2018

RootsTech took place last week. I have attended every year; living in Salt Lake County makes that easy. In the early years, I was a regular attendee and probably blogged a lot more. In more recent years, I have spent most of my time in the Expo Hall in the IAJGS booth. (Last year, I was in the Innovator Showdown and had my own booth for CSI.)

Robinn Magid and Ken Bravo, IAJGS
Robinn Magid and Ken Bravo, IAJGS

This year, I again spent the week in the IAJGS booth. Once again, many people approached our booth with stories of finding that one Jewish ancestor and wanting to know where to go, or they have a small percentage of Jewish DNA. A few of those stood out and I wanted to share them.

One of the first people to approach us Wednesday night said she had .2% Jewish DNA. She went on to say that a bunch of cousins had the same percentage, and it may have been 2% rather than the two-tenths the story started with.

Another one had some interesting results where she showed me that her father was 2% Ashkenazi, her mother was 11% Mizrahi (Iraqi/Iranian Jew), and she was 6.4% Ashkenazi. I recommended she ask at the MyHeritage booth, since those results came from their site, and I went over to ask about it myself.

One person said that her father had 2% and her mother had none, and she had 4% Jewish, so it must have skipped a generation. We tried to explain that that’s not possible. You can’t inherit DNA that your parents didn’t have, but she insisted it was like other traits that not everyone gets (like hair color).

The Tree came by our aisle a few times
The Tree came by our aisle a few times

I was invited by MyHeritage to a focus group session to talk about DNA testing. We had a small group of four participants. We ended up speaking more about the ethnicities than the matches, but I have had some great match results. It’s just how we answered the questions.

I visited a few of the other vendors for various reasons, including the Italian Genealogy Group, where I made sure to mention that I had 3% Italian DNA, according to MyHeritage. :-)

All in all, we had a good time talking to people about their possible Jewish family and trying to help them, directing them to our upcoming conferences and their local societies. As always, many Utahns stopped by and we hope to see them someday at Utah JGS meetings.

I attended the closing performance at the conference center, which was lovely. And the blogger party at DearMyrtle’s is always a great way to unwind at the end of a hectic week.

Pretty good seats in the Conference Center
Pretty good seats in the Conference Center

And then, I was pleasantly surprised to find that the live streamed videos were available immediately after the conference. They had eliminated the Innovator Showdown for an Innovation Showcase, which was nothing like what they advertised it as. I didn’t see them showcasing any programs but instead they had conversations about technology. I ended up skimming and skipping much of it.

I didn’t see the new DNA Innovator Showdown in the videos, so maybe they didn’t stream it. I watched the main keynotes first and enjoyed them. Henry Gates had a similar presentation to what he did last year at IAJGS. Scott Hamilton told a wonderful story.

I plan to watch a few more of the videos from various lectures, but it was time to finally publish this post.

DearMyrtle's Blogger After Party
DearMyrtle’s Blogger After Party


Nitpicker’s Guide to Finding Your Roots – Sanders/David

I’ve never nitpicked Finding Your Roots before, the TV show hosted by Dr. Henry Louis Gates, but watching the episode about Bernie Sanders and Larry David, I have to make some comments. And they’re longer than Twitter can hold.

Because the show goes back and forth between the two, I’m going to not do that since it gets confusing without the full episode and the video.

Larry David

Beginning with Larry David, when looking for the origins of the family beyond Brooklyn, Gates said “We were completely stumped… We didn’t even know where to start looking… One of our researchers noticed a tiny little thing.”

Hey Skip, that tiny little thing is a big flag in Jewish genealogy. Every good Jewish genealogist knows to look for the place of origin for a US immigrant on the naturalization. Other good sources include the ship list and the SS-5.

Larry didn’t even know his mother was born in Europe? Interesting.

Also, Blume is not pronounced the way it was on the show, nor was Regina or Leib. Skip, do you want a Jewish genealogist to consult with you? I’m available. ;-)

They believed that Larry’s grandfather, of the ten siblings, was the only one who immigrated to the US. I assume they looked? They didn’t say why they believed that.

They found a lot of records at Yad Vashem for the surnames in his family. Did they try to track down the survivors and find living relatives? I remember asking that for a UK episode of WDYTYA many years ago. I love when they do distant cousins reunions on the show.

Gates really needs some help in pronouncing Jewish names. The synagogue name in Alabama was said completely wrong.

Only about 3000 Jewish men fought for the confederacy. That statement needed qualifying. How many fought for the union? How many lived in the US at the time? Without additional information, that number alone doesn’t say much.

Larry’s reaction to learning his ancestor was a slave owner was outrageous to watch. Well, he did fight for the confederacy, Larry.

Bernie Sanders

And now for Bernie Sanders. They spent some time finding things on his father’s side that are not easily available, so some of it was interesting in that it added to what I was able to find.

They stated that Elias Sanders arrived in the US at the age of 16. The ship list clearly showed he was 17. They covered that part of the page with his photo in the video. They did have the right ship list, but didn’t highlight him on the page showing that he arrived as Eliasz Gutman, or why that was his name.

Actually, there were two ship lists that listed Eliasz Gutman and I found both. One was the year before, showing him as 16, but that wasn’t Elias on the ship. It was his brother Henry. They showed the correct one for Elias. Did they not get that part and thought he travelled himself on both ships? Then why did they show the page for the second one? Was it because he was at the top of the page on that one so it looked better? I don’t know what to make of that now.

Henry was still talking about the Sanders side of the family, but showed a photo labeled Radzyn. That was his mother’s side. I wonder where they found the picture that Bernie had never seen before of his Sanders family, including his uncle.

After learning his uncle was killed by the Nazis, why would the book include a picture of the man who had him killed? I wouldn’t want that in my fancy family book.

I was impressed that they were able to trace all the way back to Hersz and Kayla Mlynarz, as well as the Apeloig family that they didn’t feature on the show but I saw it on the tree. No online trees went beyond Frejda Mindla Mlynarz, even though at least one had that name on it. And that was also why I wanted my blog post to go out before this aired; I didn’t want to seem like I got any of the research from the show. They did find some things I didn’t for the Sanders side, and they obviously researched the history whereas I just did the genealogy.


Then they looked at the percentage of Ashkenazi Jewish DNA each man had. How did they calculate that? When I first tested, I was told I was 85% Jewish. Now, I’m 96%. My DNA didn’t change. The DNA isn’t labelled. Having Jewish DNA is self-reported. My DNA matches 96% that the specific company has deduced matches other Jews. It doesn’t mean I have 4% that is not Jewish. It just means that 4% hasn’t been determined to be Jewish yet. I was not impressed by this part of the show.

And exactly how much did Bernie and Larry match their DNA? Does Gates know that almost all Ashkenazi Jews appear to be distant cousins via their DNA? Since they don’t go into details, I can only guess it was the same kind of insignificant amounts that I match almost every other Jewish genealogist I know. But yes, I’d believe that two Ashkenazi Jewish men were distant cousins. I’d also believe that I may match both of them just as distantly.


Both men’s family trees extended back to 18th century Europe and “then disappear”. No, they don’t actually disappear. The Jewish records run out. Did they search the Catholic records to go back further? Did they even know that earlier Jewish Polish records can often be found in the Catholic records? Radzyn has Catholic records. I just didn’t have the time to go through them. I may have been able to go back a little bit farther if I had. I do less German research, so I couldn’t say more about that.

I loved all the bits of history that were told during the course of the episode. This is also the reason why I like Who Do You Think You Are? And I like that this history applied to my family in this episode. Somehow the Jewish episodes of WDYTYA, at least lately, don’t cover the European Jewish history even when they have someone Jewish on the show. As much as I like learning about the Civil War, the American Revolution, and the royal families of Europe, I prefer the history that applies to my own family.

I don’t know why I haven’t watched every episode of Finding Your Roots over the years. No wait, maybe I do. I think the DNA analysis often bothers me. I remember, I believe it was the first season, when they specifically compared a Jew and an Arab and then decided the bible was true somehow from that. OK, I need to put that aside and watch this show more often because I definitely enjoyed this episode.

And to finish up, I will again share the photo taken at the IAJGS Conference this summer in Orlando. Henry Gates was the keynote speaker at the banquet and his presentation was terrific. This picture was taken at a private reception just before the banquet.

Blurry me and Henry Gates
Blurry me and Henry Gates

And Skip, I was serious earlier. I’m available for consulting when you need a Jewish genealogist to help. :-)

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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Reizel Halpert Found… I think

Reizel Halpert and Family
Reizel Halpert and Family

I have had this picture of Reizel Halpert for years, obtained from Cecil Halpert and Rachel Tucker.

On the back, it was clearly labelled as Henry’s sister. But he had two sisters. In the Yiddish, I could see that this was Reizel rather than Faiga. But I could never make out the surname.

I showed the back to some Hebrew and Yiddish readers, but they didn’t give me anything for the surname either. They probably knew how hard it was to figure out, so they didn’t want to guide me in the wrong direction if they were wrong.

Scouring through JRI-Poland once again, I finally found something. There is a 1928 marriage in Lodz for Rajzla Halpert and Symche Worowski-Konskier. The record isn’t filmed or digitized, so all I have to go on for now is the index. Other records show the name listed as Wozowski or Wiazowski. By golly, I think that’s what the name says on the back!

Reizel Halpert and Family - back
Back of the photo

Does anyone else see it?

It also appears that Symche died in 1929. Also in JRI, the Lodz cemetery lists him in 1929 and her in 1940, with her father’s name as Icek, which is correct. And my cousin’s 1969 family tree also shows her death in 1940. According to their ages in the cemetery records, he was 15 years older, but that also means she married at 48 years old. If the cemetery age is correct, that also moves her up to the second oldest in the family and the oldest to survive to adulthood.

But there are still so many questions. Who is in the picture with her? If her husband died the year after their marriage, is this him? She died with his surname, so this couldn’t be another husband after him. And whose child is that? I couldn’t find an earlier marriage for him indexed (which doesn’t mean there wasn’t one) and she got married under her maiden name, so it’s less likely she had a child at marriage.

Typical genealogy. Answer one question, generate several more.

PWMF Innovation Award – Thank you Gesher Galicia

In my haste to write a conference blog post, I missed one of the big highlights of the week.

PWML Innovation AwardAt the IAJGS Conference in Orlando, I received the Pamela Weisberger Memorial Fund Innovation Award from Gesher Galicia for CSI: Crowd Sourced Indexing.

“The Innovation Award given in her memory is to recognize outstanding individual contributions that shape the future of genealogy research.”

I am honored to be the first recipient of this award, which is a $2,500 prize in addition to the lovely trophy in the photo.

Pam Weisberger was a friend of mine since 2006 and she is greatly missed.