(going) The Extra Yad... a helping hand in genealogy
The Extra Yad is a play on English and Hebrew (“Yad” means hand and is also the name of the pointer used while reading from the Torah scroll) words reflecting the several realities of my involvement with Jewish family history
I never understand why people leave conferences before they close. Excellent presentations are often given on the last day. When planning my flight home from Warsaw, I made sure that I selected a flight that would allow me to stay at the conference until the end (i.e., before lunch).
I heard two excellent presentations on Friday morning. In fact, I think these two were among the better ones I heard this year.
Ed Mitukiewicz presented, "Location, Location, Location: Using Historical Maps to Find Your Ancestral Towns in Eastern Europe." This presentation paired nicely with Carol Hoffman's on Wednesday afternoon. These should be required for anyone who is have difficulty locating their family shtetl.
Ed completely won me over when he noted a methodology dear to my heart: one should compare and correlate information from multiple sources to locate one's ancestral community. It is similar to triangulation - look for the area of intersection among evidence in one's sources.
Renee Carl's, " 'Did You Know Your Grandfather was a Twin?' And Other Questions I've Asked My Mother," addressed in another way a topic similar to the one I had presented on Tuesday in my talk "When It Takes a Village: Applying Cluster Research Techniques." She advocated for widening the net: collecting many records for many family members.
She suggested that researchers should:
gather oral history
create research plans to answer questions
try to prove or disprove information from gathered oral history
question whether one really has a brick wall in one's research
create wide trees (include collateral relatives)
examine original sources
Essentially, she argued for an iterative process between oral history and document research.
This was all very good stuff. And imagine! It was all in the last two hours of the conference!
Seems like something comes up nearly each year that I miss the Professional Genealogists BOF meeting. I managed to attend last year. Last year I missed attending the IAJGS Annual Meeting because I was making a presentation (I sent another member of the Phoenix Jewish Genealogy Group to represent us). This year I figured I should attend the IAJGS Annual Meeting, myself. That meant missing the Professional Genealogists BOF, which was scheduled at the same time - Thursday morning. Such is the IAJGS conference experience when one is involved in one's community!
IAJGS announced that new board members are Janette Silverman, Sarina Roffe and Christa Cowen (all U.S. residents). There was some animated discussion regarding the lack of new board members representing other countries this year. Apparently 1/3 of IAJGS member societies are international and the current board will not reflect that diversity. In the recruitment committee's defense, they apparently contacted representatives of non-USA societies and no one from those societies stepped up this year. I imaging that two year's from now some new tactics will be employed.
This past year the membership committee has been employing new tactics that resulted in ten new societies joining the IAJGS. These include societies in Albany, NY; Kansas City, MO; Hungary; northeast Florida and Fort Wayne, Indiana. Nice!
Two awards winners were announced. The Stern Award went to Litvak SIG for their "Vilna Household Register Books project." Reclaim the Records took the Stegman Award for their acquisition of the New York City birth and death indices.
Next year in Cleveland! - 28 July - 2 August 2019.
Thursday was just that sort of day, and I had to make a hard choice for my next event, as well. There were a number of good options and I chose to attend Doug Hykle's "Documenting the Life and Death of an Eastern European Shtetl - Research Sources for Genealogists."
I first made Doug's acquaintance several year's ago when he asked me for contact information for my 2nd cousin once removed, Sally Eisner, who was born in Zaleszczyki, moved to nearby Torskie when she was about 10, and was interned in Tluste (Tovste) during part of WWII. Quite a few years ago Sally had recorded her recollections for the USC Shoah Foundation and Doug had some questions for her about her experiences and testimony. With information I was able to provide, Doug made contact and traveled to Sally's home to interview her in-person. He's that kind of researcher. He describes his work as "community-scale forensic genealogy" and he has created and manages a wonderful website on Tovste that chronicles both Jewish and non-Jewish life in the community. Original sources come from the State Archives in Lviv, where the earliest Tluste Jewish records date to 1787.
Doug Hykle's research is a tour de force. So glad I attended his session.
For this conference, as I have for the last several, I organized an informal Jewish genealogy blogger's get-together. This year we did a bring-your-own lunch. Ten bloggers (or blogger wanna-bes) attended - which was more than I expected. We chatted about the blogging platforms we use and their pros and cons.
Several of us who use Blogger (a Google product) are worried that Google, based on past history with other apparently non-monetized products, might not continue to support it. We have no inside information, really.
We also talked about different emphases and pages on our blogs that some use as lures for readers. These include Philip Trauring's forms and Compendium of Jewish Genealogy on Blood and Frogs; Lara Diamond's genetic genealogy articles on Lara's Genealogy; Banai Feldstein's WDYTYA nitpicker articles at The Ginger Jewish Genealogist. A year of so ago I added list of Jewish genealogy blogger's as a page on my blog.
I'd a busy morning, but, fortunate for me, I was well-prepared for my presentation: "Learning Our Craft: Online Opportunities for Improving Our Research Skills." The concept for this presentation is that one ought to return to the IAJGS conference next year with a solid year's worth of genealogy learning and experience under one's belt. The talk provides information on how to find blogs, podcasts, webinars and online courses and programs. I had quite a good audience for this presentation - which was not recorded.
I attended Carol Hoffman's short presentation, "Where's My Shtetl OR What's in a Name?" because overcoming challenges in identifying towns of origin is one of my pet topics (and peeves). I had no problems with Carol's presentation. Carol, past-President of Litvak SIG and 2018 IAJGS Volunteer of the Year, ably covered the topic within the limited time-frame. The limited time meant the presentation had to be basic and there was not a great deal of time for the audience to ask questions.
I have to admit that I am not a fan of the short presentation format that IAJGS has introduced in the last couple of years. I especially feel this format is unnecessary at a conference outside the USA where all presentations have been shortened to one hour (45 minute talk plus questions) from the usual 75 minutes (one hour talk plus questions). Short presentations (25 minutes) short-change discussion and push speakers to over-simplify their topics. The general reception for all conference attendees was held immediate before the Thursday evening banquet. And immediately before that was the IAJGS President's reception. Since I am a JGS president, I was invited. I definitely did not need any more food! I like to eat breakfast and I am not used to eating as late as I have been at this conference. Polish people seem to do dinner a bit late in the evening. Eating late means I am still digesting when I wake up in the morning. At this reception I was, however, quite happy with the provided glass of wine.
Early in the conference Max Heffler offered to reserved a seat for me at the JewishGen table during the banquet. That was pretty nice because the table is in the front row (it was also nice because there were some nice people at the table).
The banquet speaker was Kanstanty Gebert, listed as a journalist and Jewish activist. He also has taught a universities in Poland, Israel and the USA. His talk at the banquet centered on the complex development of Polish feelings toward remembering the Holocaust and the place the Jewish community once had in Polish society. I know that few things in life are one-sided or black and white. And Gebert's talk, placing the evolution of Polish and Jewish attitudes in recent historical context, surely bore that out.
The IAJGS Lifetime Achievement Award went to Mark Halpern. All I can say is that Mark is one of the kindest, most generous and accessible genealogists I know. I, like so many others, are indebted to him for his good work and his willingness to help and share.
I had the pleasure of breakfast with Judy Golan this morning. I have been enamored with her prize-winning work tracking marriages and contacts among Jewish people in the Opatow area of Poland ("Reading Between the Lines: Mining Jewish History Through Extraction of Polish Archive Data"). Take a look at the International Institute for Jewish Genealogy and the Paul Jacobi Center website to read her research report.
I see her work as quite anthropological (and just up my alley). Unfortunately, I could not attend her presentation Tuesday morning since mine was scheduled at the same time.
Judy has also been very helpful to me in seeking JRI-Poland indexed records for researching my Aunt Lee Urbass Wilson's family from Opatow and Ostrowiec. Thank you Judy for making time for a fan.
Wednesday morning belonged to Ukraine SIG. I attended the Ukraine Special Interest Group meeting followed by the luncheon.
Ukraine SIG's mission is to collect, transcribe, translate and create indices for records from towns within the Russian Empire portions of today's Ukraine.
There are now 4,163 subscribers to the JewishGen's Ukraine SIG Discussion Group. This year, there are 11 new town leaders and several new kehilalink (ancestral town) websites hosted on JewishGen.
The SIG is slowly working through 1897 Russian census records (67,000 pages) and has translated 600 pages, resuting in 1,644 lines of information.
A 1916 business directory covering Kiev, Podolia and Volhynia gubernias the latest project.
At the luncheon, Lara Diamond, Phyllis Grossman and Anna Royzner spoke about their successful (and sometimes poignant) roots trips. These should be inspirational to anyone planning such a community visit in the old country.
After lunch I attended the Bukovina BOF get-together. It was rather free-form. Some of the same tpics discussed at the RomSIG meeting the previous day were discussed. One of the challenges that I see it that there are several unrelated websites hosting Bukovina Jewish records. While JewishGen's RomSIG page includes some links. They do not include all of them.
Later in the day, I took in "Unique Surname Gives insight Into the History, Adoption, and Regulation of Jewish Surnames: Poland, Galicia," presented by Drs. David Elbaum and Heshel Teitelbaum. One of the reasons I wanted to attend this talk was to meet Heshel. He and I have crossed paths since he came up as a fairly close relative of a couple of my father's first cousins (siblings). My cousins are related to me via their father. They are related to Heshel via their mother's family. It was nice to make the connection.
The talk was interesting but I have to admit the time of day and emphasis on rabbinic genealogy conspired to make me miss portions of the talk. Their apparently provocative hypothesis was that Rabbi Yakov Koppel Likower of Poland was actually an Italian Jew (possibly from Amsterdam or Venice). I kept on thinking that DNA testing might be a good idea.
The JewishGen 2018 Annual Meeting was at 6:00 PM.
JewishGen now has over 1000 volunteers working all over the world. They announced Yefim Kogan, of Bessarabia SIG, as volunteer of the year.
This year's meeting included announcement of additional partnerships that can only enhance JewishGen's status of a go-to center for Jewish genealogy:
Miriam Weiner Routes to Roots Collection - this collection includes items Miriam collected over the years as she researched in archives in Eastern Europe. Material is and will be searchable via JewishGen's search box. Som material is already online. More will come. The collection includes more than 15,000 Holocaust records, maps, name lists for Poland and Ukraine, antique postcards and both Miriam Weiner's books.
Israel Genealogy Research Association - by Fall 2018 one will be able to search their website via access through JewishGen (and vice versa).
Jewish Galicia & Bukovina.org - 10,000 burial records will soon be added to JOWBR.
Gesher Galicia - received a grant from JewishGen to index 8,000 Holocaust records from the Polish State Archives in Nowy Sacz and Rzeszow.
Beit Hatfutsot - Their family trees will be included when one searches JewishGen's Family Tree of the Jewish People.
Of great interest to me, since I am one of the moderators of the JewishGen Discussion Group, was the long-overdue announcement about improving the group by replacing the Lyris software. The new software will have html capability, allow plain text and non-Latin characters. Hurrah!!!
In the next few year, JewishGen will start the process to replace and update their website.
In the meantime, the current JewishGen site now includes a unified search capability that it did not previous have. Now one can search the Family Tree of the Jewish People, the JewishGen Family Finder, Jewish Records Indexing-Poland, and all-country and all-topic databases from one search box. This is a significant improvement for reesearchers.
I started Tuesday, day 3, at 8 A.M. with the first of my two presentations at the conference: "When It Takes a Village: Applying Cluster Research Techniques." This talk discussed the advantages of researching those who associated with your subject relative. This is an especially useful strategy when information about a particular family member is scant. I discussed the case of Feiga Grinfeld who I only knew from a passenger manifest. She appeared to be a family member. But I could not determine how she might be related to my family.
Through following other immigrants from Feiga's Russian Empire town of origin and broadening the search to include their relatives and in-laws I was able to locate Feiga geographically far from where she was initially expected to be.
Once I located her and still could not identify family links, it was possible to conduct genealogical research to find her current relatives, test their DNA and compare the results to my known relatives. Through a combination of DNA analysis and document research I was able to place Feiga Grinfeld within my family tree.
I had a slight break in action before heading to the JewishGen Expert Table in the Resource Room at 10:15 to help walk-ups with their genealogy queries. I spoke several researchers and tried to help. Sometimes I was more successful than other times. But I always enjoy the interactions and challenges.
I then attended the Romania Special Interest Group (SIG) lunch. This year, due to reorganization/rejuvenation of RomSIG, this was an informal affair - but well-attended.
After lunch I listened to my friend Janette Silverman's interesting talk about her research into Displaced Persons Camps after World War II: "From DP Camp to the US and Back to Europe."
Janette generously donated her time and research skills to find information about her friend Ruth Ebner who arrived in the United States with her mother and father sometime between 1948 and 1950.
For this type of research the best bets are Yad Vashem, US Holocaust Memorial Museum and International Tracing Service (ITS) databases. Often an online search will locate information that then may be acquired by emailing the repository. In Ebner's case, their passenger manifest was in a United Nations compilation accessible in ITS records.
Please Review the Presentations You Attended I was told that last year I had many more reviews of my presentations than any other speaker at the conference. One of reasons, I believe, is that I always include a slide near the end of my presentations showing people where to find the review form in the conference app.
It is not too late to review presentations at this year's conference (but do it soon!). Go into the app, find the presentation page and click on the clipboard (see, below). The complete the review. The presenters, many of whom will benefit from constructive feedback, with thank you.
I have lagged in the blogging this conference. I left my laptop home and expected to blog my Eastern European visit via my iPad as I had done five years ago. Now, however, iPad apps for using Blogger are no longer supported by Google. Thus, I had to blog directly in the browser (Safari) on my iPad.
This method is far from user friendly. I stopped and started several posts and then decided to finish them when I returned State-side and could work in Blogger via my laptop.
So during the next few days, despite being in the throes of jet lag, I will complete my self-assigned task.
On Monday, 6 Aug 2018, I started the day with an topic unfortunately relevant to much of my Eastern European research: "Hopeless Case Studies: How to Search for Family Roots in Towns Without Records." This talk by Jakub Czuprynski was quite good. Jakub, a Polish native, speaks excellent English. He was easily understood.
Jakub explained that the paucity of records in some places is related to destruction due to a variety of events. Building fires and World War I and World War II caused record loss. In addition, there were poor archival practices in the Austrian Empire before 1875. In some cases there was deliberate and systematic disposal of documents.
In 1876, the Austrian administration created the position of clerk for vital records registration. It wasn't until 1919 that the Polish State Archives (PSA) was created. At that point local repositories were to send their records to the PSA.
Jakob's take-away message was that persistent research can bring some results. Passport applications, notorial records, land and mortgage books, and court records may be located in municipal and district offices. He also mentioned the Antoni Schneider Collection - an unfinished encyclopedia of Galicia research by the late historian. This collection is in the National Archives in Krakow.
Next on my schedule was the Romania Special Interest Group meeting chaired by Barbara Hershey. I have recently agreed to serve on the new board for this group that is retooling after a change in leadership. Barbara explained that we have quite a few records in our possession that need indexing. Hew priority is to index those in hand before seeking out additional collections. There is much to do!
Those with interest should know that there are RomSIG records uploaded to Crowd Sourced Indexing. They are ready for those who have the ability and desire to help.
It seemed to be "Hopeless genealogy" day for me and I next attended the Disna Birds of a Feather (BOF) meeting chaired by Ralph Salinger. The discussion was quite interesting to me.
A few years ago Ralph took over the group within Litvak SIG and did a great job finding records from the Disna District in what is now Belarus and Lithuania. But shortly after starting he announced that all records had been found.
I recall asking if Litvak SIG had search archives in Belarus. He said, "No," and promised they would do so. Then shortly after that, he again announced that all records had been located. Needless to say, there were few records from my community, Kozyany, and none representing my family.
Paul Zoglin, an expert in Belarus records, pressed Ralph on Litvak SIG's methods of collection and record discovery. I now hope that the group will refocus their search.
The next talk on my schedule was cancelled, so I spend time in the Resource Room reviewing my PowerPoint for my talk tomorrow morning.
I attended the conference "Meet and Greet Reception" and intended to listen to the Pamela Weissberger Memorial Lecture by Dr. Barbara Kirshenblatt-Gimblett in the evening. But, a friend asked me to dinner and I took that opportunity instead.
The blogger population is a bit thin at this year's conference, but true to the pattern of the last few years, this post will collect and post links to all blogged content relating to the conference. Please check back daily for updates.
Bloggers, please send me a link to your first post on the conference and I will include you on the list. I understand that some of us (me included) are having issues with using the Blogger.com platform - which no longer supports use with iPads. So, unfortunately, some individual's posts may not be fully realized until the writers return home to their usual hardware. I will, as needed, continue to update this compendium for a week or so after the conference.
I usually stay close to the venue when attending IAJGS Conferences (this is my seventh) but having never been to Warsaw, I decided tomiss some of the morning sessions and take one of the Taube Tours, "Jewish Warsaw from A-Z," on Sunday morning.
They piled us into a large van (or a short bus) and we started our journey at the south end of the WWII ghetto. I liked the technology they provided: small receivers with an earphone attachment so that no matter how softly the guide spoke, we heard him.
We began at one of the ghetto wall remnants where there is a map of the ghetto. The guide's presentation was chronological. It started with the establishment of the ghetto where much of Warsaw's Jews already lived. In this small area up to 300,000 people were interned. When the German's had removed all but 60,000, the stage was set by those who remained for the uprising. After all, what did they have to lose? We saw several monuments to those who suffered and died and those who rebelled. A sobering morning.
In the afternoon (from 3-5 PM), I served Romania Special Interest Group (SIG) at their table in the Share Fair. Usually I work for Ukraine SIG, but this year I moved to Romania. The Share Fair room, as usual, was crowded and somewhat loud, but I managed to help (I hope) several people with their research. I also managed to eat some chocolates provided to all by the conference.
Nearly all repaired to the Ballroom for the conference opening. Ken Bravo, IAJGS president, welcomed us and then gave way to Rabbi Michael Schudrich, Chief Rabbi of Poland. Mark Halpern of Jewish Records Indexing - Poland, one of the conference sponsors, and Dr. Wojciech Wozniak, General Director of the Polish State Archives extolled their long-term agreement that has, as of now, resulted in about 5.5 million indexed Jewish Records on JRI-P. The agreement started with Stan Diamond in 1997. We have all benefitted from Stan's and PSA's foresight and inspiration.
Mark's and Dr. Wozniak's words were followed by Dr. Antony Polansky, an historian and scholar inresidence for the conference. Among his other laurels, he is professor emeritus at Brandeis University. He discussed the thought that history and genealogy are a continuum with history elucidating the context of the events and experiences in our ancestor's lives. Then Professor Dariusz Stola, who was the Director of the Polin Museum of the History of Polish Jews when it opened in 2014, spoke of the museum's success: 1.4 million people have seen the core exhibit thus far. The museum has been recognized with several awards for its design and exhibits.
Last we heard from Holocaust survivor and Chairman of the Board of the Polin Museum, Marian Turski. His passion for his subject was clear and movng. It is truly wonderful that he has been able to guide such a lasting remembrance and legacy. The thought occurred to me that seeing the large ballroom filled with hundreds of genealogists whose passion is remembering and reconstructing lost family must have been a moving thing for Mr. Turski, as well.
I did not stay for the final event of the evening: a performance of Chelm stories. Dinner called and we made our way to a Polish restaurant called Folk Gospoda. The restaurant is but a few blocks from the hotel and others from the conference seemed to have the same idea. A Rohatyn group treked in. A group from Ancestry ProGenealogists made an appearance, as well. Genealogists fairly filled the outside patio. The pirogi and beer were quite good and filling.
We arrived in Warsaw late Friday, August 3rd. Our bags however decided to enjoy a layover in Amsterdam. They did finally arrived Saturday night in time to keep annoyance from escalating to distress. Before we knew for sure they would make an appearance, we used the 100 Euro promise from KLM to get some clean clothes at the mall within walking distance of the Hilton. Much needed showers and clean clothes improved our outlook.
On Saturday morning after a hearty breakfast, we walked the 1.2 miles to the POLIN Museum of the History of Polish Jews, which opened in 2014. The museum is an impressive undertaking. We visited the core exhibit and rented the audio program, which includes 60 stops on two floors. The exhibit takes one from the year 965, when Jews are first documented in Poland, through today. We were in the exhibit for about three hours.
I had heard about the wooden synagogue roof/ceiling construction when the museum was being built. But no description can really do it justice. I think we tend to think about the past in black and white and our ancestors lives in muted, dismal tones. Not this place! I do not know much about wooden synagogues (although I was certainly impressed with old wooden churches when I visited Ukraine five years ago). I was struck not only by the vibrant colors, but also the surprising imagery: zodiac signs and all sorts of animals. [I am having technial diffculties posting from my ipad app. I have been trying to add photos but to no avail. I will add them when I get home, I guess, when I have access to my laptop.]
Samosas, chicken tikka masala and naan from an Indian restaurant close to the hotel rounded out a pleasant day. Also pleasant: our bags arrived shortly afer 8 PM.
IAJGS registration was a cinch. And I think I acquired enough ribbons(!). The ribbons include: SPEAKER MENTOR JGS PRESIDENT JewishGen Ukraine SIG Romania SIG JewishGen Kehilalinks Professional Genealogist
I could have added a few more including one that said "Volunteer," but that seemed understood.
My mother had two Liebross aunts, sisters Rose and Celia, who'd never married or had children. Or at least that's what I thought when I started my research. I did not know either of them. Younger sister Celia died on 16 December 1946 and Rose passed away on 24 November 1955.
My brother, who was quite young when Rose died, recalls her as unassuming and quiet. We never heard much about Rose or Celia from my mother - although it was clear that she was fond of all her Liebross aunts and uncles, most of whom lived upstairs in her parents' two-family house. I do recall that my mother said that her wedding party on 9 February 1947 was kept small and reserved in keeping with the fact that the family was still in mourning for Celia who had died just two months before.
So, I was surprised when I found that Rose had been married and divorced. She had married Nathan Judas Bernstein, a dentist, on 14 November 1926 at 144 Beach - 74th Street in Rockaway Beach, Queens. This was the home of Rose's uncle and aunt Simon and Ethel Liebross. Rose and Nathan divorced in Hamilton County, Florida in 1931.
According to Nathan's marriage record, he was the son of Aaron and Rebecca Bernstein and was an immigrant from the Russian Empire. The 1925 New York State census found him living with widow Rose Goldberg and her family as her "adopted son." They resided at 1170 Walton Avenue, Bronx, NY.
Nathan (Nochem, age 6) arrived in New York in June 1897 with his sister Hinde (age 15) and brothers Isser (age 11) and Hersch (age 3). Their surname was Dubnozowa. Nathan's naturalization in 1914 indicates he was born in Slutsk (now in Belarus) and that his former surname was Dubnitska.
I do not know how, when, or why Nathan was "adopted" by the Goldberg's, but I have found him living with the family in census enumerations in 1910, 1915, 1920 and 1925. Rose Goldberg's husband Morris died in about 1905. In 1910 Nathan was working as a telegraph messenger. In 1915, as a Chemist. By 1920, he was studying dentistry.
More recently I found that Rose Liebross and Nathan Bernstein actually did have a child together. Ira Howard Bernstein was born on 12 September 1928. He lived but a few months and died of bronchitis on 3 January 1929.
Thus far, I have not been able to find much specific information on Rose's and Nathan's Florida divorce. We cannot discount the pain and stress on a relationship that loss of a child might cause. But subsequent events may shed some light on Nathan's character.
Nathan remarried on 2 August 1936 to Frances Hirschcoff. On 22 June 1937, the following article appeared in the New York Post:
Dentist Drilled Into Her Cash, Wife Testifies
Heart Was Won Through Her Teeth. She Tells Court - Asks Alimony
Love blossomed into matrimony during the five years Dr. Nathan J. Bernstein tenderly ministered to his third wife's dental ills, but when, after their marriage, he started drilling into her bank account, she hollered "Ouch!" And, in the Supreme Court today, Mrs. Frances Bernstein asked Justice Louis A. Valente to administer novocaine in the form of alimony and counsel fees. The dentist, whose clintele includes a number of Park Avenue elite, moved into her apartment after their marriage ten months ago, she told the judge, and spent only $20 on her during the whole time they lived together. After he had extracted $4,000 of her savings and continued his "grasping, money-crazy attitude," she said, she left her no choice but the courts.
Apparently, this case was resolved prematurely when Nathan died on 6 November 1937. An autopsy was ordered. The medical examiner reported that Nathan was found unconscious, frothing at the mouth and had suffered respiratory distress. There was an odor of cyanide. Letters had been left in Nathan's office suggesting death via suicide.
Nathan was 5' 4" in height and weighted about 150 pounds. He had thinning brown hair flecked with gray. While Nathan had suffered from heart disease, chemical analysis of this stomach contents indicated that cyanide was present in large amounts.
Nathan seems to have had an interesting life - and death. Considering his suicide and the information in the Post newspaper article, it appears that Nathan may have been a troubled person - or, at least a person who would bring trouble.
Additional records (among these the court cases in Bronx County, the Florida divorce case, any records of Frances Bernstein's case, info on Nathan's other wife, and possible probate records) are yet to be acquired. Further information about the Goldbergs and any possible information about Nathan's biological brothers and sister may be useful.
In the 1920s and 1930s, divorce was considered shameful. So, I am not surprised that the Liebross clan did not talk about my great aunt Rose's failed marriage. In addition, painful episodes, such as the death of a baby, were often left to silence. In my research I have found several family lines where small children died and were, essentially, forgotten in time through family silence. To me, that's the greater shame.
Notes: 1. New York County, New York, death certificate no. 26589 (1946), Celia Liebross, 16 December 1946; Municipal Archives, New York City. 2. Queens County, New York, death certificate no. 5951 (1927), Simon Liebross, 18 November 1927; Municipal Archives, New York City. 3. 1925 New York State Census, Bronx Co., NY, enumeration of inhabitants, the Bronx, assembly district 2, election district 30, p. 32, entry 44, Nathan J. Bernstein 4. Manifest, S.S. Veendam, 7 June 1897, line 144, Nochem Dubnozowa, age 6; images, "New York, Passenger Lists, 1820-1957," Ancestry (http://www.ancestry.com : accessed 21 July 2018).
5. The "...ska" ending in a Russian surname is for a female. Nathan's surname was, likely Dubnitsky. "New York, County Naturalization Records, 1791-1980," database with images, FamilySearch(https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/3:1:3QSQ-G9M8-VHS1?cc=1999177&wc=MDSY-SZ9%3A326209701%2C329551201 : 21 May 2014), New York > Petitions for naturalization and petition evidence 1914 vol 179, no 44101-44350 > image 190 of 630; citing Supreme Court, New York County, New York, entry for Nathan J. Bernstein, naturalization, 1914, petition 44169 (17 December 1914).
6. Nathan was not with the Goldberg family in 1900 and I have not yet located a 1905 New York State Census that shows him or them. 7. Ira Howard was also the first and second name of my mother's brother, Ira Wilson, Rose Liebross' nephew. Kings County, New York, death certificate no. 361 (1929), Ira Howard Bernstein, 3 January 1929; Municipal Archives, New York City. 8. There are a couple of court cases filed by Nathan J. Bernstein (plaintiff) in Bronx County in 1931 and 1933. I have not yet ordered copies of those records. 9. New York County, New York, marriage certificate no. 19086 (1936), Nathan J. Bernstein and Frances Hirschoff, 2 August 1936; Municipal Archives, New York City. Apparently, this was his third marriage. More research will be required to determine the additional earlier marriage. 10. "Dentist Drilled Into Her Cash, Wife Testifies," New York Post (New York, NY), 22 June 1937, p. 3; images, Fulton History (http://fultonhistory.com/Fulton.html : accessed 19 may 2015). 11. New York County, New York, death certificate no. 23977 (1937), Nathan J. Bernstein, 6 November 1937; Municipal Archives, New York City. 12. New York County, New York, Office of the Chief medical Examiner, case no. 6034, Nathan J. Bernstein, 6 November 1937; Municipal Archives, New York City.
Sometimes we just need a small crack, a chink, to give us enough light to see the way to the goal. Such was my journey from little or no information, to a hunch, to finding my quarry. I successfully tracked my grandfather's mistress (later his second wife), Alice.
My grandparents' marriage was not made in heaven. Jack Garber and Dora Morris had known each other their entire lives (they were both immigrants from Labun) and were first cousins.
My father and his younger brother Lenny would joke about their mother's terrible cooking and housekeeping. My father said that if someone exclaimed that a meal was "just like mother used to make," he would run in the opposite direction.
My grandfather had more than one mistress. My father's first cousin, Hal, related that fairly early on there had, apparently, been a family meeting among the Garbers and Morrises about the state of my grandparents' marriage. Dora's mother, Sarah (who was also Jack's aunt), opined that Jack's wandering was Dora's fault for "inviting" whatever woman my grandfather was having an affair with at that time into the house. Needless to say this soured the relationship between mother and daughter.
A few years ago I asked my uncle Lenny why he thought my grandmother was such a failure at cooking and housekeeping. He suggested that she just didn't seem to care. From my distant perspective, it is hard to know which came first, chronic depression or a wandering husband.
I do not know exactly when Alice came into my grandfather's life. It was definitely before my grandmother died of cancer on 24 August 1954. My father's elder sister Leah never forgave Jack. My father, ever the peace-maker, would dutifully take us to Brooklyn to see Papa Garber (our name for my grandfather Jack) and Alice from time to time.
I have wondered about Alice. I did not know much about her. She was round, had short straight white hair and, unlike my grandfather, spoke English without a foreign accent. My older cousins told me that they had heard that Jack was seeking a woman who, unlike my immigrant grandmother, was a real American (!): born in the USA. I also recall hearing that Alice had some children from a previous marriage.
After he died on 1 June 1963, and my grandfather's small estate was settled, I believe the family rarely, if ever, had contact with Alice. Considering the family's feelings, it is not surprising that Alice's grave is not in the First Lubiner Progressive Benevolent Association plots where my grandparents and many family members are interred. I did not know when Alice died or where she might be buried. I had no idea what her maiden name or prior married name might have been.
There are so many Jewish cemeteries in the New York metropolitan area that if one does not know where a person had been buried it is nearly impossible, without a death certificate, to know where to look. I would have gotten nowhere on my search if I'd not recalled that Jack's sons told me that Alice was devoted to my grandfather and "carried on" at his funeral. My hunch was that Alice's devotion would have translated into a strong desire to be buried in the same cemetery as Jack. I searched Montefiore Cemetery's online index for the grave of Alice Garber. Bingo!
Sarah Elka daughter of Tzaduk
May her soul be bound in the bonds of the living
DEC. 25, 1894
AUG. 30, 1975
While I wasn't completely sure at first if this was her, this information did give me enough to start my research. The next step was to acquire her application for Social Security (SS-5) and their marriage record.
Alice was originally named Sarah. She was the fifth child of ten born to Charles Mushnick and Lena Goldstein/Goldfarb/Goldberg on 10 December 1893 in Providence, Rhode Island. Her tombstone and Social Security application indicated that she was born on 25 December 1894. This was, according to the date on her Providence, RI birth register, incorrect.
Her father Charles emigrated in about 1886 and was followed in the early 1890s by Lena and their first three children. In Providence, Charles had a business as an express wagon driver.
Sarah still attended school in 1909, but by 1910, she worked as a bench hand in a jewelry shop. In the 1940 census, she reported that she'd completed the 8th grade.
In 26 May 1912, Alice Mushnick married Samuel I. Rodman in Providence.
By 1920, Alice and Samuel Rodman lived in Brooklyn, New York, with their two children: Leonard (b. 8 Oct 1913) and Lillian (b. 3 Sep 1915). Samuel Rodman was a shoe salesman. The couple's third child, Florence, was born about 1920.
Alice and Samuel were recorded together in the 1930 census. The 1940 census found Alice divorced and living with her children in Brooklyn. The date of the divorce is unclear. When Alice married Jack Garber in 1955, she stated that her divorce was effected on 11 February 1927 in Chicago, IL. If this was true, then either the information in the 1930 census was not correct (i.e., Samuel did not live with them), or Alice recalled the date of her divorce incorrectly.
Jack Garber married Sarah Alice Mushnick Rodman at the Kings County Municipal Building in Brooklyn on 8 January 1955, less than five months after my grandmother died of cancer at the age of 56.
1. Kings County, NY, certificate of death no. 156-54-315803, Dora Garber, 24 August 1954; Department of Health and Mental Hygeine, New York City.
2. Kings Co., NY, certificate of death no. 156-63-311669, Jack Garber, 1 June 1963; Department of Health and Mental Hygeine, New York City.
Lena's original surname is reported variously on several of her children's records. On Alice/Sarah's birth record, it is Lizzie Goldstein. On Alice's SS-5, she recalled her mother's maiden name as Goldfarb. Her sister, Rebecca's, 1905 birth register shows Lena's maiden name as Goldberg. [add citations]
3. Under New York law, I could not acquire her death record.
4. For Alice's birth, see: Providence, Rhode Island, 1893 birth register, vol. 15, p. 182, Sarah Mutznick, 10 December 1893; "Rhode Island, Town Clerk, Vital and Town Records, 1630-1945," images, FamilySearch(https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/3:1:3QS7-L9VD-J2T8?cc=2146229&wc=Q6HB-WZ3%3A1590132303%2C1590132304%2C1590132373 : accessed 18 March 2018), Providence > Providence > Birth register, 1891-1893, vol 15 > image 226 of 262; Rhode Island State Archive, Providence City Archives, city and town clerk offices. Lena's maiden name appears with several variations in records. She was identified as "Lizzie Goldstein" in Alice's birth register. On her SS-5, Alice says her mother's maiden name was Goldfarb. On Alice's sister, Rebecca's birth record, her mother is identified as Goldberg. See, "Rhode Island Births and Christenings, 1600-1914," index, FamilySearch (https://www.familysearch.org : accessed 17 March 2018), entry for Rebecca Mushnick, 8 November 1905, Providence, RI.
5. 1910 U.S. Census, Providence Co., Rhode Island, population schedule, Providence, e.d. 26, sheet 11B, dwelling 115, family 246, Charles and Jennie Mushnick family; images, Ancestry (http://www.ancestry.com : accessed 17 March 2018).
1920 U.S. Census, Providence Co., RI, pop. sched., Providence, e.d. 193, sheet 9B, dwell. 83, fam. 183, Charles and Lena Salomushnick family; images, Ancestry (http://www.ancestry.com : accessed 17 March 2018); citing NARA microfilm publication T624, roll 1442.
6. 1910 U.S. Census, Providence Co., RI, pop. sched., Providence, e.d. 26, sheet 11B, dwell. 115, fam. 246, Charles and Jennie Mushnick family.
8. "Rhode Island Town Marriages Index, 1639-1916," index, FamilySearch (http://www.familysearch.org : accessed 17 March 2018), entry for Samuel Isaac Rodman and Sarah Alice Mushnick, 26 May 1912, Providence, Rhode Island.
9. 1920 U.S. Census, Kings Co., NY, pop. sched., Brooklyn, e.d. 734, sheet 6B, dwell. n/a, fam. 28, Samuel and Alice Rodman family; images, Ancestry (http://www.ancestry.com : accessed 17 March 2018); citing NARA microfilm publication T624.
10. 1925 New York State Census, Kings Co., NY, enumeration of inhabitants, assembly district 13, election district 13, p. 4, Samuel and Alice Rodman family; images, Ancestry (http://www.ancestry.com : access 25 October 2013), New York State Archives, Albany.
11. 1930 U.S. Census, Kings, Co, NY, pop. sched., Brooklyn, e.d. 24-45, sheet 6B, dwell. 10, fam. 116, Samuel and Alice Rodman family; images, Ancestry (http://www.ancestry.com : accessed 25 October 2013).
12. 1940 U.S. Census, Kings Co., NY, pop. sched., Brooklyn, e.d. 24-2041B, sheet 1A, household 4, Alice Rodman family.
13. Kings County, New York, certificate of marriage registration no. 18441 (certificate 26171), Jack Garber and Alice Rodman, 8 January 1955; Office of the City Clerk, New York.