Like to write? You Can Help!

In many cases, I suspect, I know at least as much about our ancestors as anyone else living today. This is especially true in the case of those who have passed out of living memory; those people none of us had the chance to meet.

In other cases, I have no doubt that some of you have stories and recollections about which I know nothing. Sure, I have raw facts: when and where relatives were born, their profession, when they died. Perhaps occasionally I uncover a family scandal, long suppressed and forgotten. But that, in isolation, does not an interesting entry make.

On the other hand, some of those who have passed away more recently may be quite well-known to you, far more so than I ever will know them through my research. And so, I wish to invite everyone to write a short biography of these good people.

Here are some guidelines:

  • Nothing about living people without their express consent. If you want to write about yourself, or your mom doesn’t mind her story being placed out there, I’m great with that. Otherwise, off limits.
  • The person needs to be a common relative. Unless you’re my sibling or parent, you have some ancestors and cousins who aren’t related to me. I have no doubt that they were fascinating people, and more than worthy of reverence, but those stories will have to be published in another venue.
  • No worries if you don’t think you write well enough. If I can do it, you can too. If you CAN write well *cough*Hannah*cough*, you get double encouragement. 🙂
  • Shoot for at least 500 words, 1000 are better. But use whatever space you need. Electrons are cheap.

You’ll get full credit (/blame), of course. 🙂 Let’s see who can add to this growing blog!

Picture Postcard of Piaski

Just found this on-line… a postcard from Sandberg, Prussia (Piaski, Poland), likely dating from around 1900.  Earlier in the 19th century, it was the home of the JACOBOWSKYs, PAWELs, SALOMONSKYs, WOLFFs, and others. The last Jews left for larger towns or other countries within a couple more decades.

PiaskiPostcard

In the picture of the town square in the upper right, the building on the left still exists:

Piaski Today

It’s a little hard to see from the angle in Google maps, but the two larger buildings down the road are there as well.

Kunas in America II

Short post with an update.  A new piece of paper arrived, and set off a whole slew of revelations.

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Kunas in America

The KUNAs were the family of my great-great-grandmother along my direct maternal line. Until very recently, I knew very little about them, and today I only know slightly more, but enough that it’s worth talking about.  This post is not only about obtaining the addition bits of knowledge I have now, but also about the slow process of getting there.

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Peyser Abraham (1876-1950)

Pesach ABRAHAM, my great-grandfather’s brother, was born in Manhattan on 20 October 1876. He was the third child of Morris and Sarah ABRAHAMS, and the first born in the United States. Aside from his birth record and the Hebrew on his grave marker, he doesn’t seem to have used the name Pesach, but instead usually went by Peyser, sometimes Peter, or Pete, or even “Captain Pete”.  No one seems to remember how he picked up the latter moniker.

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Block / Abelson… a possible breakthrough

I have written previously about my great-grandfather, Elias SCHNITZ (a.k.a. Alex BLOCK) as well as the man listed as his cousin in the U.S., Samuel ABELSON.  I may have made a breakthrough regarding how these families are related.

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Block / Schnitz… What’s in a name?

This is a (very) slight extension of research I sent to close family a little while back, but I think it’s an interesting example of genealogical investigation, and it’s good to capture for “posterity”. This research involves my great-grandfather, who was known in the U.S. as Alex BLOCK, but whose birth name appears to have been Elias SCHNITZ.

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Elkhanon Leib Fingerbren, a.k.a. John Smith (1870-1958), and family

To the best of my knowledge, the first branch of my paternal side to arrive in the United States was that of Elkhanon Leib FINGERBREN, who took the very generic name of John Smith in this country. It’s impossible to know if this name was chosen simply to “fit in” in his new land, or if it was a play on words, given that the FINGERBRENs had been blacksmiths for several generations prior. Continue reading

Leigh Hecht (1882-1914) – and Family

Leigh HECHT was the fourth child of Solomon and Rachael FRIEDMAN HECHT, grandson of Caroline JACOBOWSKY FRIEDMAN. Caroline was either first cousin to, or half-niece to my great-great-grandmother, Helena JACOBOWSKY LEVY.

Leigh was born on 15 March 1882 in Norfolk, Virginia, and by his mid-teens was a salesman in his father’s dry goods business. One newspaper article from 1900 said that Solomon HECHT’s business concern had made the family “very wealthy”, but there’s little evidence whether or not that was true.

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Eva Abrahams (1879-1931)

My great-grand Aunt Eva was the fifth child of Morris ABRAHAMS and Sarah JACOBY ABRAHAMS, born in New York, and about as middle of a child as you could get. The second daughter, after her eldest sibling, Dena, yet the first female of what would be five of the last six children. I suspect she may have gotten less attention than she wanted.

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Gitel Wertel (1887 – 1943?)

Gitel WERTEL was a younger sister of my great-grandmother, Sarah WERTEL OCHOROWICZ (OCHOWITZ). From what I can tell, Sarah had six siblings born between 1882 – her only older sibling, Moshe Wertel – and the youngest sister, Genia, born in 1902. A large range, but not unusual for the time.  Sarah and Abe OCHOROWICZ , in fact, were married a year before Genia was born.

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