Friday, December 27, 2013

Lawrence Samuel

Margaret Evans - Packet ship built in 1846
Lawrence A. Samuel is my second great-grand-uncle, the third child of my third great-grandfather, Aaron Samuel. Lawrence was born on Dec. 27, 1846 in Whitechapel, England. In 1851 he lived with his family at 47 Green Street in Stepney, England. By 1857, Aaron and his wife, the former Phoebe Levy had 8 children in total. The youngest child, John, had just been born in February of 1857. John would become my second-great-grandfather.

By August of 1857, Aaron and his family were sailing to America on board the Margaret Evans. (More about this in the post on Aaron’s birthday January 4) Lawrence was 11 years old when he arrived in Hoboken, New Jersey.

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Paul Lichtenthal - December 10, 1900- my Maternal Grandfather

Normally, I would have a long, wordy post all prepared to go. Truth be told I do have a long, wordy post prepared.....too wordy! I really need to trim it down and determine a focus. Trust me, you'll appreciate that! So - in honor of my grandfather's 113th birthday, I am posting this series of portraits. Just looking at his face throughout the years will give you some insight into his life until I can get the article posted.

Happy Birthday, Pop-Pop Paul!!!


John Winchester Holman, Jr. - December 6, 1904

Having just had a lovely chat with my sister-in-law, I am making some edits to this post :-)

John Winchester Holman Jr. was born on December 6, 1904 in the family home at 418
Oakdale Avenue Chicago, Illinois. He was the second child of JohnWinchester Holman and Katherine Pearl Seeley. His younger brother, William Winchester would become my father-in-law. I met Uncle John in 1987 when my husband and I traveled to California with our oldest daughter who was then 2 years old. My impression of John at that time was that he once must have been a rather imposing gentleman. At 82, John was living in one room in what I remember to be a retirement home. After our meeting, I remember feeling quite sad for him – his shirt was stained and rumpled, his room had a small cooking area which was not in great shapes – it just seemed to me to be to be a lonely life. As the years passed, I have learned more about Uncle John. “Sad” is not an adjective that most family members use when describing him. (Actually my sister-in-law did use that adjective during our conversation today! So I guess my instincts were right on.)

There are several stories, often shared at family functions, illustrating John’s boisterous, off-putting manner. Apparently, John was not one to keep his opinions to himself and this often caused some tension within the family. I won’t share those stories here as it is probably not appropriate to do so. Plus, I can’t really remember all the details!

Sunday, December 1, 2013

Estelle Byk - My paternal great-grandmother

Nanny and Alan (my dad)
February 24, 1933

Estelle Byk was my father’s beloved grandmother. He loved her so much that, when he was just three years old he boarded a train in Long Island and headed for Nanny’s house in Brooklyn!

Later in life, he wrote a wonderful tribute to her titled “A Grandmother’s Love.” My sister, Elizabeth, is the main recipient of our father’s love of his grandmother. She has two middle names, “Rose” after our maternal grandmother and “Byk” in honor of Estelle.

Thursday, November 28, 2013

Alexander Sved - November 26

Happy Thanksgiving to all in the US!! My apologies for the delayed post. 

Alexander Sved was born on 26 Nov 1891 in Gyoma, Bekes, Hungary. He was the second of four children born to Frank Sved and Regina Newman, both also born in Hungary. I have yet to find his immigration information, but according to census information, he may have emigrated to the United States in 1905 along with his parents, sisters Rita and Ella and his brother, Henry.

Saturday, November 16, 2013

George Ralph Kesner

Geo. Ralph Kesner

George Ralph Kesner was born on November 16, 1856. He was my 2nd great-grandfather on my father's side.

Information gathered by my father indicated that George was born in Leeds, England. I could find no proof of that. Nor could I find any emigration or naturalization information that might confirm he was an immigrant. I searched for years, to no avail, for his parents’ names hoping that might determine his birthplace.

Finally, two weeks ago, I stumbled upon a newspaper article about George’s business dealings. The article was quite lengthy and detailed complaints about George Ralph Kesner’s insurance adjustment business. I will write more about that story and how it helped me break through a "brick wall" in a future post.

Monday, November 11, 2013

The Winchester Tradition

Tomorrow is my husband's birthday. Since I don't post about living people, I thought of another way to honor his special day (especially since I didn't buy him a present yet!) 

In my husband's family there has been a tradition for several generations when naming a child to give them the middle name of WINCHESTER. Where did this start you may ask? 

Read on to find out more

No one in the family had the last name of Winchester -
but it makes a nice illustration for the post, doesn't it?

Sunday, November 10, 2013

Peter Klauss Schuster

Peter Klauss Schuster was born on 11 Nov 1929 in Prague, Czechoslovakia. He was the only child of Felix Schuster and the former Claire Theresa Spiegel.

Peter was my first cousin, once removed. He was like a brother to my mom, who was an only child like Peter. Peter and his parents lived in Prague but I always got the feeling that they spent a good deal of time in Vienna, visiting their relatives.

Peter - April 12, 1932
Peter (right) and his cousin, Doris (Left)
Approx. 1935

Sunday, November 3, 2013

Paul (Nebenzahl) Nevins

Paul Nebenzahl was my Grand-uncle, having married my maternal grandfather's sister, Valerie Lichtenthal

Tante Vally and Unlce Paul - as I remember them - 1960s

Paul Nebenzahl was born on October 31, 1894 in Kraków, Poland. His parents were Solomon Nebenzahl and Cacilie Jakobsohn. 

 All I really know about him is what I have learned from photos I found and and the one "family secret" told to me by my mom. See my post about his wife, Vally for that! I learned more about Paul's family while researching my last post  "Whose Ashes Are On My Shoe?".

Monday, October 28, 2013

Whose Ashes are On My Shoe??

Today's post is not a birthday post but is related (pun intended!) to my next birthday post scheduled for October 31.

During the summer of 2012, my siblings and I had the difficult chore of emptying our mother's home after her passing in December 2011. Our family, the original owners of the ranch home, had lived there since 1959. My mother, an only child, had inherited not only her mother's personal items but her aunt and uncle's as well. The attic, which ran the length of the house, was chock-full of "goodies." I had finally worked my way to the section where Tante Vally (see Vally Lichtenthaland Uncle Paul's boxes lay.

As I emptied the contents, I noticed two handkerchiefs, each tied in a knot.

Sunday, October 20, 2013

Sigmund Lichtenthal - Expert

 Sigmund Lichtenthal was my maternal great-grandfather. While I don't remember him at all, I have definitely formed an impression of his personality. My mom used to tell me that Sigmund's business card identified him as an "expert" - no mention of what he was an "expert in, however. 

I figured she was exaggerating. After all, who would have had such a high opinion of himself that he would print up cards purporting to be an expert?

Then....I found it. 

Saturday, October 19, 2013

My Omi - Rosa "Rose" Spiegel Lichtenthal

Warning!! This will be a longer post than usual. Rose was my grandmother!! I have a lot to share.

Rose Spiegel was my maternal grandmother. Born in Semarang, Java on October 19, 1903, she was the second daughter of Herman Spiegel and Sophie Weiss. Her sister, Claire Theresa had been born on January 3, 1901. Her brother, Emil Gerrit, would be born on July 7, 1905.
Rose Spiegel - Semerang, Java - approx. 1904

Constance "Connie" Kesner

Constance Kesner was born on October 18, 1911 to Harry George Kesner and the former Estelle Byk. Her older sister, Hortense was born several years earlier in 1907. Constance, nicknamed “Connie” lived with her family in Brooklyn, New York at 277 Eastern Parkway. Years later (1945) Hortense would raise her family just down the street at 284 Eastern Parkway!

Connie (right)  and sister Hortense (left) about 1916

Sunday, October 13, 2013

Valerie "Vally" Lichtenthal


Valerie Lichtenthal was born on October 11, 1902 in Vienna, Austria. She was the second child of Sigmund Lichtenthal and his wife, the former Rosa Berger. Their first child, Paul (b. Dec. 10. 1900) was my maternal grandfather.

Valerie Lichtenthal

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Do you want an "S" on that?

Yep - it's true....this really happened. At least I think it did. I've told the story so often I can't remember if it really did happen...or if it happened to me...or if it happened to my sister Jeanne. At any rate, it's a funny story and is a great segue to today's topic: Why do some of our Samuel relatives have an 's' on their name and others don't? Read on to find out.......

Monday, October 7, 2013

Benjamin Samuels - That's right....there's an 'S' on that!

Today’s blog post is inspired by BENJAMIN SAMUELS who was born on October 7, 1878 in London, England. 

He and his father before him, both have added an ‘s’ to their last name. Today's post will share information about Benjamin's life. A future post (maybe tomorrow if I'm lucky!) will deal with the 'S' question.

Saturday, October 5, 2013

Katherine Pearl Seeley Holman

Katherine Pearl Seeley was born on October 4 in Albany New York. Her birth year is in question. The 1880 census lists her as “Kitty”, born in 1871 and the Illinois Death Certificate states her year of birth as 1867. In the family history book, Our Archipelago, her son William “Bill” Holman listed it as 1869, with her birthplace incorrectly listed as New Canaan, CT. (Note: all information written “within quotes” is taken directly from Bill’s book.)

Saturday, September 28, 2013

Emanuel Weiss

Emanuel (Mandl) Weiss was born on September 28, 1826 in Hungary. He is my second great-grandfather on my mother's side.

Almost nothing is known about him at this time. In question is the number of marriages he may have had. His daughter Sophie alluded to the fact that Emanuel’s son Josef, may have been her half-brother. (As related to me by my mother, Sophie’s granddaughter) This story warrants further investigation as Emanuel and Theresia were married in 1860, four years previous to Josef’s birth, so why wouldn't he have been a FULL brother?

Sunday, September 22, 2013

William Ackerly Setchel

I need to preface today's post for three reasons:
1) It is belated by 1 day. I was in Maryland celebrating the life of my wonderful brother-in-law, John Holman who passed away in June after a valiant 6 year battle with cancer.

2) It occurred to me that readers may want to know the familial connections to person being described. I am working on creating a family tree to include on this blog so it will easier to figure out how people are connected.

3) Our "birthday celebrant" is not technically related. This presents me with a good opportunity to express my philosophy on family history. Well...actually....I should save that for a post all its own. Let's just say, if you're somehow connected to me and my family, no matter have a place in my family history.

This quote sums it up:
"The bond that links your true family is not one of blood, but of respect and joy in each other's life. Rarely do members of one family grow up under the same roof."                                                                                                                   - Richard David Bach

From "The Onandagan"
Syracuse University 1940
William Ackerly Setchel
When William Ackerly Setchel was born on September 21, 1918, in Cuba NY, his father, Hayden, was 25 and his mother, Helen, was 23. William’s father worked as a bookkeeper at the local bank.

Thursday, September 12, 2013

John "Jack" Winchester Holman

John Winchester "Jack" Holman was born on 12 Sep 1871 in Indianapolis, Indiana His parents were Aaron John Holman and Elizabeth L. Winchester. The Holman side of family dates back to a land deed in Virginia in the 1620's. They had some Scottish blood and were among the early English colonists.

Saturday, September 7, 2013

Importance of Blogs in Genealogy - A Mystery Solved!

A Mystery Solved!

A few years ago, my siblings and I were going through a pile of pictures belonging to our grandmother, Rose Spiegel Lichtenthal. Included in the group was a picture of four women, two of whom were obviously our grandmother and her mother, Sophie Spiegel. But who were the other women? We didn't have a clue.

Thanks to a recently-forged connection with Luctor Herwig, the mystery is solved!!

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Hattie Kesner

Today would have been Hattie Kesner's 135th birthday. Hattie was born on September 4, 1878 in New York. She would become the oldest of six children born to George Ralph Kesner and Jessie Davis. The Kesner's second child, a son named Harry George, would eventually marry Estelle Byk becoming my paternal great-grandparents. That makes Hattie my "great grandaunt."

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Rene Berger

 Rene Mendel was born in Budapest, Hungary on September 3, 1883. She was the third and youngest child of Jacob Berger and the former Cecilie Schoen.

Rene’s sister, Rosa (b. 1875) married Sigmund Lichtenthal in 1899, becoming my maternal great-grandmother. Rene’s brother Rudolph was born in 1872.

Rene married Adolf Mendl. They had one son, Kurt, born in 1919. Prior to WWII, the family lived in Vienna, Austria. On or about May 20, 1942, Rene was transported on Transport 22 Train Da 203 from Vienna to Minsk, Belorussia (USSR). Her prisoner number was 164. 

To learn more about this transport see: Transports to Extinction

Sunday, August 25, 2013

A New Way to Share!!

I have so many projects started...I have so many family many much history to share with my family... so many "good intentions"...

Here is the current list of projects I have started:

1. "Who We Are and How We Got This Way" Volume One: Alan E. Samuel
2. "Who We Are and How We Got This Way" Volume Two: Doris M. Lichtenthal
3. "Letters Home" - Letters written by Doris Samuel to her mom, while in Japan  1954-1955
4. "Our Archipelago" 2nd Edition - written originally by William and Dorothy Holman

That list doesn't include all the stuff floating around in my head such as: documenting my grandfather's imprisonment in concentration camps after his family's business had been taken by the Nazis, documenting my great-grandfather's business in Java during the early 1900's, "Who We Are and How We Got This Way" Volume Three: The Baby Boomers", researching the families of my new son-in-laws, preserving and cataloging all our photos and documents...I can't even remember all the things I want to do.

Two things have now become obvious to me:

1. I don't know when to stop.
2. If I don't start sharing some of this information now, people may never see it.

"It's better to share some information now than all information never!

The above is something I learned while attending the 33rd IAJGS conference on Jewish genealogy this past summer. Makes sense. Apparently writing a family history is like owning a home...or paying're never really finished. With that lesson finally learned, I have decided to use this blog as a way to begin sharing what I have collected while still continuing to work on completing projects to be published in print.

Last year, I did complete one issue of a newsletter. My hope was to create quarterly editions. Nope. Good idea...lots of time. I think this may be a better approach. I can post a tiny snippet when I'm short on time or create a lengthy post when I'm on on a break (Remember last winter? 13 days out of school for weather- could have accomplished a lot!)

So, there you have it. If you'd like to help, that would be fun! If you have specific questions or are interested in a particular topic related to our family, just ask...that will give me some direction. In the meantime, I think I will try an approach I heard about from....somewhere....focusing each blog post on an ancestor whose birthday is approaching. 

See you soon!!