Friday, October 25, 2013

Origin of a stage name

One of my great-grandfather's brothers was named Karl Sperling. Karl had three children: Lily, Olga, and George. Lily was an opera singer of some note in Australia, and Olga did some singing performances as well. They both went by the stage name "Kolos", and were known as "Miss Lily Kolos" and "Miss Olga Kolos" even though they had both been married; Lily to a man with the surname of Gerofi, and Olga to a man with the surname of Sussland. All of this comes from oral history, although my father could never tell me where the "Kolos" stage name came from. I had a feeling it must have some kind of important meaning, but was stumped for what that could be.

Well, lately, I've been redoing my entirely family history research database (don't ask; suffice it to say that with almost 10,000 people in my database, it's a long-term project...but it's going to be fabulous when it's all done, with a clear paper-trail path to all my conclusions and quick access to all supporting documentation). And one of the things I did as I went along was to take an audio recording of George (Lily and Olga's brother) talking about some of the Sperling family history (in about 1994), and to incorporate all the details he talked about into my database. I also transcribed the recording so I would be able to do a text search of the whole interview whenever I needed to.

Now, George lived in Australia and I'm in Canada, but I actually met George once when I was about fifteen or sixteen, just after I'd started to become enthusiastic about genealogy. He and his second wife were visiting Canada, happened to be passing through our area, and spontaneously called up to see if they could visit. They had dinner at our house that very evening, and George and I talked about family history all night. It was amazing. I liked him tremendously, and I got the distinct impression that he was delighted to find someone so young who was so interested in knowing about the family. I learned quite a bit of very important stuff that I hadn't known before, but what I'm still kicking myself about is that nobody thought to tape our conversation. It would have been marvellous to have that; George has since died.

At any rate, I have a decent sense of George and how reliable his knowledge of family history is, and although of course he's human and fallible, I consider his information very reliable. This personal impression is supported by the fact that I'm constantly finding documentation that backs up stuff which he's told me or which he mentioned in his 1994 taped interview. Therefore, when he said in the 1994 interview that his sister Lily had been widowed in 1935, in Europe, at the age of 27 (and that her husband was 44 years old when he died) -- which, let's face it, is a pretty specific bit of information -- I believed it.

So imagine my surprise when -- as I was going through each person in my database and all the documentation I could find for them -- I discovered that Lily's husband Eugene Gerofi was alive and well during the 1950s, according to the Australia Electoral Rolls! Heck, the guy didn't die until 1971, according to the New South Wales Government Registry of Births Deaths & Marriages. As well, various immigration documents I found for Eugene demonstrated that he was definitely not 17 years Lily's senior; rather, there was a difference of only about three or four years between them.

Well, I thought, that's alright, it's just that George made a mistake in his interview. He must have meant that it was Olga who was widowed in 1935 at the age of 27, with a husband 17 years her senior. Yes.

Except that we find Olga living with her husband Felix, alive and well, also throughout the 1950s according to the Australia Electoral Rolls. Not to mention that the various documentation I found gives Lily a birth year of 1907/1908, which works perfectly with the widowed-at-age-27-in-1935 calculation; whereas Olga was born in 1910.


The obvious next theory is that Lily had a husband before Eugene Gerofi, even though no one had ever mentioned such a thing to me. So I called up my dad and explained my findings. He was very surprised - as far as he knew, Lily had only ever had the one husband, and although he conceded that it was possible there was a first husband he'd never heard of, he wasn't very convinced of its likelihood.

I, on the other hand, knew that there had to be some kind of explanation, because George would absolutely not have made a mistake about his sister having been widowed young, in the old country, to a man much older than her compared to her Gerofi husband.

I was fairly sure that Lily and Eugene had been married in Europe, but I thought, what the heck, just in case, why not go back to the New South Wales online registry of vital records and search for their marriage anyway.

I got a hit.

They got married in Australia in 1941, about a year after they both fled Nazi-occupied Czechoslovakia. (And actually, it turns out from immigration records at the National Archives of Australia that Eugene, Lily, Olga and Felix all came over on the same boat trip; I don't know if that's how Lily and Eugene met; or whether they had already known each other in Europe and were travelling together, perhaps even engaged at the time.) But the real kicker is that Lily's surname given in this marrage index record is not Sperling -- it's Kolos.

Epiphany moment.

I should have realised it earlier, of course, but better late than never. Kolos wasn't an invented stage name; it was Lily's actual name! Lily's first husband did exist - his surname was Kolos, and that's where the stage name Kolos comes from. Lily was going by Kolos when she first started her singing career in Europe, and then she got to Australia and started doing performances there. Then she got married to Eugene Gerofi, but I'm sure she wanted to maintain the personal brand she'd been building up, so she kept Kolos as a stage name. I'm guessing Olga used Kolos as well because it was known in opera circles that she and Lily were sisters, so of course for appearances they would have wanted to use the same surname.

Mystery solved. Thank you, George.

Monday, October 14, 2013

The Five Dubowskis

According to family oral history, one of my great-great-great-grandparental sets was that of Simon and Ada Dubowski. They had five children that anyone knows about: Barnett, Asher, Annie, Dora and Mary/Miriam.

  • Barnett is supposed to be the Barnett Dubowski who lived in London, England and had scads of children, such as Rebecca, Moses, Solomon Wolf, Samuel Myer, Abraham, Amelia, Sarah, Dora, Mordecai, Rachel, Golda, and Beatrice. Barnett was apparently born in Odessa and immigrated to England.
  • Asher apparently also was born in Odessa and immigrated to England (London), and married twice.
  • Annie is my great-great-grandmother. She married Elias/Hillel Goldroad in Russia and also immigrated to England (London). The story goes that Elias went back to Russia to visit family and was killed there in a pogrom. Annie later married Morris Cohen; and Morris' son Mark later married Annie's daughter Nancy (my great-grandparents).
  • Dora was also apparently born in Odessa, and married Harris Wolfson there. They immigrated to England (London) and later to Australia. They had children: Deborah, Nancy, Jacob, Eva, Sarah/Sadie, Abraham and Ada.
  • Miriam married Jacob Goldroad (supposedly a cousin of Elias). They lived in London, England, but moved to Australia, also spending some time in New Zealand. The family surname was at some point changed from Goldroad to Barripp. They had children: Nancy, Barney, Annie/Sybil, Fay/Deborah and Samuel.

Additionally, the name "Micklehunsky" (or some such variation) is supposed to be connected to this branch of the family.

Got all that? Great. So, with this oral history in hand, I went searching for documentation to confirm it.

Dora is the best person to begin with. Here is the key information from her death certificate:

died 15 February 1934, "Hollywood Flats", Carr Street, Coogee, New South Wales, Australia
Dora Wolfson
Female, age 80 years
Parents Simon Meckenshank, merchant, and Ada
Informant G. Meyers, son-in-law, 60 Melody Street, Coogee
Buried 16 February 1934, Jewish Cemetery Rookwood
Born in Odessa, Russia; lived 55 years in New South Wales
Married in Odessa, Russia at the age of 20 to Harris Wolfson
Children: Deborah, age 59; Nancy, age 55; Jacob, age 52; Eva, age 50; Sadie, age 48; Abraham, age 44; Ada, age 40; all living; and 1 male deceased

(Incidentally, I love it when people die in New South Wales; the death certificate is fantastically detailed.)

The problem here, of course, is that the name "Dubowski" never shows up in this record. Looking at other records for clearly the same person, however, show us that "Micklehansky" and "Dubowski" (or variations thereof) were pretty much synonymous. First of all, it's important to know that the Wolfson surname was originally "Vallenvensky" (or some such variation). We can see this by looking at the 1881 England census, which lists this family on Booth Street in Mile End New Town, Spitalfields, London:

  • Harris Vallenvensky, lodger head, married, age 28, occupation not known, born Russia
  • Dorah Vallenvensky, wife, married, age 26, occupation not known, born Russia
  • Nancy Vallenvensky, daughter, age 2, born Middlesex
  • Debby Vallenvensky, daughter, age 1, born Poland

A fellow Dubowski researcher sent me a transcript of daughter Nancy's birth certificate:

Whitechapel - 1880 - Whitechapel North County of Middlesex - Regno, 765
Born: Twenty fourth November 1879 at 5 Goulston Street , Whitechapel
Name: Nancy
Sex: Girl
Father: Harris Walowinski
Mother: Dora Walowinski formerly Duborfski
Father Occupation: Glazier
Fathers address: 5 Goulston Street, Whitechapel
Registered on the Tenth January 1880

This same person also told me that Dora's surname was given as Dubofsky on daughter Eva's death entry. Another Dubowski researcher says that Dora's maiden name on son Abraham's birth certificate was given as De Boska; as Duboski on daughter Ada's birth certificate; and Dubosky on husband Harris' death certificate. However, Dora's maiden name was given as Mickleshanski on daughter Sarah's birth certificate, Micklehonsky on daughter Deborah's marriage certificate; and Micleshansky on daughter Nancy's marriage certificate.

From all this I conclude that a) Dora is definitely a child of Simon and Ada, and b) Micklehansky and Dubowski are synonymous surnames.

Moving on from this knowledge, then, we can hook up Miriam. And I have the marriage certificate of Miriam and her husband Jacob Goldroad. Here is a transcript of the key bits:

Eighteenth October 1882
Groom: Jacob Goldroot, age 22 years, bachelor, tailor, living at 53 Back Church Lane, father Moses Elias Goldroot, clerk
Bride: Mary Miklisanski, age 21 years, spinster, no occupation, living at 53 Back Church Lane, father Samson Miklisanski, teacher
Married in the Princes Street Synagogue according to the Rites and Ceremonies of the Jewish Religion by Certificate
in the presence of Saml J Cohen/A Hinkel (Frinkel?)

"Simon" is an anglicization of "Samson", and "Goldroad"/"Goldroot" is an incredibly uncommon surname, so this nails down Miriam/Mary as another child of Simon and Ada, and also gives us an occupation for Simon: teacher. This is further corroborated by this listing in the 1881 England census (about a year and a half prior to Miriam and Jacob's marriage), at 14 Dorset Street, Tower Hamlets, Christchurch Spitalfields, London:

  • Sampson Muhealcharsky, head, married, age 67, Hebrew teacher, born in Russia
  • Uda Muhealcharsky, wife, married, age 67, born in Russia
  • Miriam Muhealcharsky, daughter, unmarried, age 20, fur sewer, born in Russia
  • Nancy Muhealcharsky, orphan, unmarried, age 6, scholar, born in Russia
  • Abraham Muhealcharsky, lodger, unmarried, age 20, tailor, born in Poland
  • Harris Muhealcharsky, lodger, unmarried, age 18, boot maker, born in Poland

(Incidentally, I think the census transcriber went nuts with the "ditto" for the surnames of the last few people in this listing; I don't think the lodgers, born in a different country, were also Muhealcharskys; and I also happen to believe that the 6-year-old Nancy in this listing was my great-grandmother, daughter of Annie, whose surname should actually have been given as "Goldroad".)

At any rate, this census listing is terrific, because not only does it confirm that Simon also went by Sampson, that his wife's name was Ada, and that Miriam/Mary was one of his daughter, but we also find here that Simon and Ada actually immigrated to England. I therefore went looking for (and successfully found) their death records and ordered their death certificates. Most unfortunately, I haven't scanned Ada's death certificate yet and have managed to put it somewhere very stupid so I don't know where exactly it is; but I believe I remember that the address given for her was the same as that given for Simon on his death certificate; and I definitely remember that the informant (name, address and relationship to the deceased) for her death certificate was the exact same as the informant on Simon's certificate. And here is a transcript of Simon's death certificate:

20 May 1890, 6 Tusons Court
Simon Michelshousky
79 years
Hebrew teacher
informant S. W. Dubouski, grandson, present at the death, 106 Brick Lane, Spitalfields

(Ada's surname on her death certificate, incidentally, was given as "Michaelowski". It's also worth noting that 6 Tusons Court is the exact address where Miriam and Jacob Goldroad were living with their children in the 1891 census.)

So this is very interesting - it tells us that Simon and Ada had a grandson named S. W. Dubowski, who, in 1890 (Ada also died in 1890) was living at 106 Brick Lane, Spitalfields. And this is absolutely fantastic to know, because a year later on the 1891 England census, we just happen to have the following family living at 106 Brick Lane, Spitalfields:

  • Barnett Doubski, head, married, age 57, general dealer and grocer, own account, born Russia, naturalized British subject
  • Kate Doubski, wife, married, age 49, born Russia, naturalized British subject
  • Solomon W Doubski, son, single, age 26, assistant general dealer and grocer, employed, born Russia
  • Samuel M Doubski, son, single, age 23, assistant general dealer and grocer, employed, born Russia
  • Abey Doubski, son, single, age 20, assistant general dealer and grocer, employed, born Russia
  • Ammelia Doubski, daughter, single, age 17, assistant general dealer and grocer, employed, born London City
  • Sarah Doubski, daughter, single, age 15, assistant general dealer and grocer, employed, born London City
  • Mordeca Doubski, son, single, age 13, scholar, born London City
  • Rachel Doubski, daughter, single, age 9, scholar, born London City
  • Moses Doubski, son, single, age 7, scholar, born London City
  • Goldeau Doubski, daughter, single, age 3, scholar, born London City
  • Bloma Minzic, mother-in-law, widow, age 72, born Russia
  • Levi Goldstein, servant, single, age 26, carman, employed, born Russia
  • Senion Erellner (handwriting there is hard to read), servant, single, age 17, shop boy, employed, born Russia
  • Semlock Joseph, servant, single, age 17, shop boy, employed, born Russia
  • Dora Cohen, servant, married, age 26, general servant domestic, born Russia
  • Simona Isaacs, servant, widow, age 24, general servant domestic, born Russia
  • Rachel Moses, servant, single, age 20, general servant domestic, born Russia

Bingo. Here is S. W. Dubowski living at 106 Brick Lane. We can see from this census record that he is the son of Barnett Dubowski and, as we know from Simon's and Ada's death certificates, he is also Simon's and Ada's grandson. Since we also know from the many records listing the maiden name of Simon and Ada's daughter Dora that Micklehansky and Dubowski are the same family, we therefore know that Barnett is, as per family oral history, also a child of Simon and Ada.

And this brings us to Asher. Searching on and, even with wildcards to account for massive variations in spelling, there's really just one "Asher Dubowski" at any given time in the whole of England:

  • There's an Asher Dubosky on the 1881 England census at 36 Dorset Street, Tower Hamlets, Christ Church Spitalfields, London. (Note that his supposed father Simon was living at 14 Dorset Street ten years earlier on the 1881 census.) He's listed as 38 years old, occupation boot finisher, birthplace Poland, wife Sarah, and children Aaron, Nancy, Rebecca, Moses, Milly, and Annie.
  • There's an Asher Duboski on the 1891 England census at 130 Wentworth Street, Whitechapel St. Mary, London. He's listed as 42 years old, occupation boot finisher, birthplace Russia, wife Sarah, and children Aaron, Nancy, Rebecca, Moses, Emillia, Yetty, Myer, and Lizzie.
  • There's an Asher Dubowski marriage record in 1899. I ordered the marriage certificate:
    Thirty First January 1899
    Groom Asher Dubowsky, age 47, widower, provision dealer, living at 34 Wentworth Street, father Simon Dubowsky, teacher
    Bride Annie Rachel Greener, age 35, widow, living at 62 Wentworth Street, father David Greener, no occupation given
    Married in the East London Synagogue, Parish of Mile End Old Town, County of London
    Witnesses Israel Greenberg and A Winkel
  • There's an Asher Dubowski on the 1911 England census (can't find him for love nor money in the 1901 census, unfortunately), living at 107 Dalston Lane, St. John-at-Hackney, London. He's listed as 64 years old, occupation grocer (shopkeeper), employer, birthplace Russia Polland (sic), wife Annie, and children Leak, Ada, Samuel, Israel, Miriam and Katey, plus step-daughter Rachel Kruner.
  • There's a probate record for Annie Dubowski in 1911: DUBOWSKI Annie of 107 Dalston-lane Middlesex (wife of Asher Dubowski) died 17 August 1911 at the Metropolitan Hospital Kingsland Middlesex Administration London 29 September to Asher Dubowski provision dealer. Effects #128 19s. 6d.
  • There's an Asher Dubowski marriage record in 1912. A fellow Dubowski researcher sent me a transcript of the certificate:
    28 July 1912
    Groom Asher Dubowski aged 62 years, widower, grocer master?, living at 107 Dalston Lane Dalston, father Simon Dubowski, grocer
    Bride Annie Weinstein aged 52 years, widow, living at 107 Dalston Lane Dalston, father Naphtali Feldman, rabbi

Clearly, the Asher Dubowski from the 1899 marriage to Annie Rachel Greener; the Asher Dubowski from the 1911 census; the Asher Dubowski from the Annie Dubowski probate record; and the Asher Dubowski from the 1912 marriage to Annie Weinstein are all the same person, for the following reasons:

  • He's listed as a grocer throughout.
  • The first name of the wife in the 1911 census matches the first name of the bride in the 1899 marriage record and the 1911 census says they've been married 12 years, which gives a marriage date of 1899. Moreover, Asher has a step-daughter (i.e. wife Annie's daughter from a previous relationship) living with him with the surname of Kruner, and the 1899 marriage record gives the bride's surname as Greener. It's reasonable to assume that Greener is an anglicization of Kruner.
  • Asher is living at the exact same address in the 1911 census, the 1911 probate record for his wife Annie, and the 1912 record for his marriage to Annie Weinstein.

And on both marriage records for this same Asher Dubowski, we find that he lists his father as Simon Dubowski; as a grocer on his 1912 marriage record, and as a teacher (BINGO!) on his 1899 marriage record. We know that Simon was certainly a teacher; but we've also seen him listed as a dealer/merchant on secondary records about his children; Asher's paper trail unites the two occupations into the same person, and demonstrates that Asher is another child of Simon and Ada. (My searches have shown that Dubowski is a very unique name; I would argue that the odds of there being two Simon Dubowskis who were teachers at the right age to be the father of this Asher Dubowski are way too huge for Asher to not be the son of our Simon.)

The only question now is whether the boot-finishing Asher Dubowski from the 1881 and 1891 censuses is the same person as the Asher Dubowski in later years. Given the rarity of the name "Asher Dubowski", the odds are good; as well, the "Leak" (probably supposed to be Leah) in the 1911 census is just exactly the right age to be the same person as the "Lizzie" on the 1891 census. However, it wasn't certain...until I did even more digging for records on Asher Dubowski.

Turns out there is yet another marriage record, for Asher Dubowsky, in Stepney, London, in 1932, to a Sarah Berkovitch. This seemed incredibly far-fetched; I mean, even taking the latest calculated birth date on all the records I have for the guy, he would have been eighty years old at the time of this marriage. So I discounted it and figured it was probably the marriage record entry for one of our Asher's grandsons, also named Asher.

What I also found which was more plausible was a death record entry: Asher Dubowki, age 94, death registered September 1934 in Stepney, London. The matching probate record read:

DUBOWSKIE Asher Peretz of 133 Commercial-street Whitechapel Middlesex died 31 August 1934 at St. Peters Hospital Valance-road Mile End Middlesex Probate London 30 October to Miriam Levine (wife of Reuben Levine) and Israel Dubowski grocer. Effects #2303 5s. 3d.

This is excruciatingly likely to be our Asher Dubowski, first of all because the calculated birth year in the death entry is in the same general neighbourhood as the calculated birth years in the other documentation we have for him (and honestly, "same general neighbourhood" is the best we can expect because the ages that this guy gave to various recordkeeping officials were all over the map). Second of all, we know from the 1911 census that he had children named Israel and Miriam, and then in the 1934 probate record we have the probate going to a Miriam Levine, wife of Reuben Levine; and Israel Dubowski, occupation grocer. It's not a stretch to figure that Israel could have taken over his father's grocery business; and a quick search of the England & Wales Marriage Index reveals a marriage entry for Reuben W Levine and Miriam Dubowksi in 1925 in London City.

This made me want to order the 1934 death certificate, but I was still discounting that 1932 marriage...until I found an article from The Evening Telgraph (Angus, Scotland) on 6 February 1933. It's an incredible smoking gun of a record:

Weds Aftr Whirlwind Courtship
His Young Bride
Mr Ascher Dubowski, whose oldest surviving child is 70 years of age, married within a few weeks of his 90th birthday. For many years Mr. Dubowski carried on a grocery business in Wentworth Street, London, E.
His bride--he married after a whirlwind courtship of a few weeks--was Mrs. Sarah Jacobs, widowed for nine years, and the mother of six children. Mr and Mrs Dubowski live at 72 Commercial Street, E.1. Both are full of ??? romance and determined to make the ??? of their happy partnership. "My wife is the answer to all my prayers," said Mr Dubowski. "It has been worth waiting all these years for a wife like her. It is often said that it takes a lifetime to find the right person to marry. Well, here she is."
Up at 6.30 a.m.
The bride, looking like one 20 years his junior, said:--"I was a little bit ??? that when I married a man in his 90th year I should have to look after him like a child.
"But now I find him well able to look after me. He is in bed by 8.30, and is up every morning at half past six or seven to get me an early morning cup of tea!"
Mr Dubowski recounted how he came over to this country from Russia ??? [50 or 60] years ago.
"When I arrived here I started ??? finisher in a boot manufacturing business he said. "I worked from morning to night for 10s a week. Gradually I saved a little money, and when I had got a hundred pounds I began in business on my own.
"My wife is a grand business woman," he added, looking affectionately toward Mrs Dubowski. "She has already saved me a great deal of money by her advice. Always in a Hurry.
"Yes," the bride chimed in, "that is his trouble--he is always in a hurry. Whether it is business or anything else. Although he had only known me a ??? while, we were engaged very quickly. He gave me a #65 engagement ring and a diamond watch, and we were married without delay. He is a wonderful man--and I love him."
The bridegroom is extraordinarily ??? for his years. In appearance he is an athletic-looking old gentleman of, perhaps 70 or 75. He used to be a smoker, but he only indulges in tobacco on rare occasions.
"I prayed for a good wife," he ??? "and I have got one. I met many women of 50 and 60, and more, but no, I ??? a younger wife.
"As soon as I set eyes on my ??? I said to myself, 'She is the one for me. She makes me feel younger than I have been for many, many years. Of course I married her quickly--why, I was ??? somebody else might run off with her!"

Tell me that isn't absolutely fabulous. Here is a record that confirms that the 1932 marriage record actually is for our Asher Dubowski and not a grandson of the same name; and links the boot finishing Asher Dubowski in the 1881 and 1891 censuses to the Asher Dubowski who is the son of our Simon and Ada. (Admittedly, the bride's surname here is given as Jacobs instead of as Berkovitch as in the marriage record entry, but I'm guessing that one of those was her maiden name and the other the name of her late first husband.) Needless to say, I have ordered both the 1934 death certificate and the 1932 marriage certificate. I am extremely interested to see what the 1932 marriage certificate lists about Asher's father!

At any rate, this brings me to my own great-great-grandmother, Annie - supposedly the fifth child of Simon and Ada.

And here's where it all breaks down.

Family oral history is extremely clear on the point that after her first husband Elias Goldroad died, she remarried, to Morris Cohen, father of her daughter Nancy's future husband Mark Cohen. And indeed, in the 1891 England census we find Morris and Annie living together at 21 Buckle Street, St. Mary Whitechapel, London:

  • Morris Cohen, head, married, age 45, grocer, employer, born Russian Poland
  • Annie Cohen, wife, married, age 41, born Russian Poland
  • Nellie Goldroad (this is my great-grandmother; she alternated frequently between being called Nellie and being called Nancy), daughter, single, age 15, dairy maid, milk, employed, born Whitechapel London
  • Lizzie Thubert, servant, single, age 17, general servant domestic, born Germany
  • Rachael Cohen, sister, single, age 19, born Russian Poland
  • Clara Hoyer, visitor, married, age 32, slipper maker, employed, born Leipzig, Germany
  • Hugo Hoyer, visitor, married, age 36, slipper maker, employed, born Leipzig, Germany

I also got Morris and Annie's marriage certificate. It says:

14 November 1888
Groom Morris Cohen, 37 years, widower, tailor, living by Back Church Lane, father Samuel Cohen, furrier
Bride Annie Goldrose, 38 years, widow, living same place, father Michael Mikshomski, gentleman
Married in the Hambro Synagogue, Fenchurch Street, London City
Witnesses J Zaludsky and M. L. Staal

Michael Mikshomski. Not Simon - Michael. And not a grocer or teacher, but a gentleman.


So needless to say, this was very disheartening. Family oral history is absolutely clear on the point that my great-great-grandmother Annie was a sister to Miriam, Dora, and all the rest; but the only piece of documentation I have which would tell me the name of her father (and the only piece of documentation I could reasonably hope to find, since even if I could lay my hands on Annie's death record - which would be incredibly tough, given the number of Annie Cohens there were living in London at the time - English death certificates don't give the name of the father of the deceased) gives a different first name and occupation for her father than I was expecting.

Of course, this information was all given second-hand by a woman who probably didn't understand the language too well; "Mikshomski" (which we've also seen spelled as "Michaelowsky") is a word that's related to "Michael"; perhaps it's a patronymic surname and she misunderstood what she was being asked and gave her father's first name as Michael instead of Simon. Or perhaps it was Annie's new husband Morris who was the sole informant for the marriage certificate, and he didn't have a clear handle on what his new wife's father's name was. And perhaps in this culture, "gentleman" and "Hebrew teacher" are not mutually exclusive. My father, for example, believes that "gentleman" actually means "retired"...which would make sense, since the marriage took place while Simon was still alive (wedding was in 1888; Simon died in 1890) and he would have been about 75 at the time.

But while all this is very nice theory; it doesn't give me concrete proof that we have a father-daughter connection between Simon and Annie.

There is, however, a definite connection of some kind between Simon and Annie. For one thing, Annie's marriage certificate at least confirms that she's a Mikshomski. For another thing, we have a beautiful set of records which connect Annie and Simon's daughter Miriam. Because on January 3 1893 we have a record from the New South Wales, Australia Immigration Deposit Journals: Jacob Goldroad, who was living at 96 Gipps Street in Surrey Hills, New South Wales (which incidentally is exactly where his sister-in-law Dora Wolfson nee Dubowski/Micklehansky was living at the time, according to the birth certificates of Dora's children Abraham (1890) and Ada (1892), as transcribed to me by another Dubowski researcher) put down a deposit for his wife Mary Goldroad (age 30), and her children Nancy (age 8), Barnett (age 5), Annie (age 4) and Deborah (age 2), who were living at 21 Buckle Street, Commercial Road, London - the exact address where Annie was living with her second husband Morris less than two years earlier in 1891.

This tells us that Miriam was living with Annie while her husband Jacob was getting himself established in Australia (his Australian naturalization record and a passenger list show that he went there from England in 1892). So this means that, in addition to Miriam and Annie having the same maiden name, there is a close connection between them. Perhaps they are sisters. There's also the distinct possibility I mentioned before, of my great-grandmother Nancy being the Nancy listed with Simon and Ada in the 1881 England census. If true, this is another connection - it makes sense that she would be staying with her grandparents so shortly after her father's death (which, according to family history, happened around 1880).

And that is as far as I've got connecting up "The Five Dubowskis".

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

A Family Yarn

I am a huge fan of writer/cartoonist/knitter/photographer Franklin Habit. And when he wrote a piece on a family company, Lion Yarn (now Lion Brand Yarn), mentioning the company's origins and the fact that the fifth generation of the company's founder is now working there, I was inspired to look up the family's genealogy.

So I had a few starting points. Franklin mentioned in the article that Lion Yarn was founded in 1878 in New York by Reuben Blumenthal. The company's "About Us" page also gives an 1878 founding and mentions the Blumenthal family. Franklin says that the current CEO is David Blumenthal, a direct fourth-generation descendant of Reuben.

More information about the Blumenthal family as relates to Lion Yarn comes from various notices of the death of Isidor Blumenthal on December 9, 2003. According to these, he was about to turn 94 the next day, and had been married 67 years to his wife Ann (maiden name Chanchy). His children were Reuben, who married a woman named Beth; Deborah, who married Rabbi Marvin Bash; and David, who married a woman named Barbara. He had seven grandchildren and nine great-grandchildren at the time of his death. His siblings were Bernard, who married a woman named May; Sam, who married a woman named Melanie; George, who married a woman named Rose; Murray; Molly, who married a man with the surname Levine; Solomon; and Rosalind, who married a man with the surname Elbaum. He was born in 1909 in Ansonia, Connecticut. He was the longtime president of the Lion Brand Yarn and Orchard Yarn and Thread, and was a "third-generation merchant of yarns and notions". He took over the family business in 1958. Two brothers, two sons and three nephews joined him in the business. He appointed his son David as COO in 1991, although he was nominally still president. He lived in Far Rockaway, New York.

Isidor Blumenthal is extremely easy to find in the census record. In 1940, he's living on Benson Avenue in Kings, New York:

  • Blumenthal, Isidore, head, male, white, 30, married, b Connecticut, secretary, thread co
  • Blumenthal, Anne, wife, female, white, 28, married, b New York,
  • Blumenthal, Rubin, son, male, white, 3, single, b New York
  • Blumenthal, Deborah, daughter, female, white, 1/12, single, b New York

Clearly, his son David, the current president of Lion Brand Yarn, was born last.

There is a marriage record in the NYC vital records index for an Isidor Blumenthal to an Ann, on June 4 1936 in Kings, but the bride's surname is given as Seleran, not Chanchy. In fact, there is no Ann/Anne/Annie/Anna/etc. Chancy in the index, so perhaps we are looking at a typo, or her family changed their name. The index for births finishes too far back to be able to find Isidore and Anne's children in it.

Moving backwards in time, from 1930 onwards, Isidore is found living with his parents. In 1930, they're on 21st Avenue, Brooklyn, Kings, New York:

  • Blumenthal, Joseph, head, male, white, 45, married, age 22 at first marriage, b Russia, parents b Russia, speaks "Jewish", notions, wholesale
  • Blumenthal, Gussie, wife, female, white, 46, married, age 23 at first marriage, b Russia, parents b Russia, speaks "Jewish", housewife
  • Blumenthal, Isadore, son, male, white, 20, single, b Connecticut, parents b Russia, speaks English,
  • Blumenthal, Sadie, daughter, female, white, 17, single, b Connecticut, parents b Russia, speaks English, office work, store
  • Blumenthal, Agusta, daughter, female, white, 16, single, b Connecticut, parents b Russia, speaks English
  • Blumenthal, Mollie, daughter, female, white, 13, single, b Connecticut, parents b Russia, speaks English
  • Blumenthal, Bernard, son, male, white, 11, single, b Connecticut, parents b Russia, speaks English
  • Blumenthal, George, son, male, white, 8, single, b NY, parents b Russia, speaks English
  • Blumenthal, Samuel, son, male, white, 6, single, b NY, parents b Russia, speaks English
  • Blumenthal, Rosylyn, daughter, female, white, 3, single, b NY, parents b Russia, speaks English

This matches up with the information in Isidore's obituaries very well. We see Bernard, George, Molly, and Rosalind. Missing are Murray and Solomon, and we have additional siblings Sadie, Agusta and Samuel.

In 1925 (state census), the family is living at 440 Georgia Avenue, Brooklyn, Kings, New York:

  • Blumenthal, Joe, head, white, male, 40, b Russia, in the US 20 years, alien, store helper
  • Blumenthal, Gussie, wife, white, female, 40, b Russia, in the US 18 years, alien, housewife
  • Blumenthal, Isidor, son, white, male, 15, b US, school
  • Blumenthal, Sadie, daughter, white, female, 13, b New York, school
  • Blumenthal, Augusta, daughter, white, female, 11, b New York, school
  • Blumenthal, Mollie, daughter, white, female, 8, b New York, school
  • Blumenthal, Bernard, son, white, male, 6, b New York, school
  • Blumenthal, Georgie, son, white, male, 3, b New York, home
  • Blumenthal, Samuel, son, white, male, 1, b New York, home

In 1920, the family is, oddly, listed twice. Both times they're living on Georgia Avenue, Brooklyn, Kings, New York. First listing:

  • Blumenthal, Joseph, head, male, white, 38, married, arrived in US 1904, alien, b Russia, mother tongue Yiddish, parents b Russia, mother tongue Yiddish, salesman, wool
  • Blumenthal, Gussie, wife, female, white, 36, married, arrived in US 1907, alien, b Russia, mother tongue Yiddish, parents b Russia, mother tongue Yiddish
  • Blumenthal, Isidor, son, male, white, 10, single, b New York, parents b Russia, mother tongue Yiddish
  • Blumenthal, Sadie, daughter, female, white, 7 9/12, single, b New York, parents b Russia, mother tongue Yiddish
  • Blumenthal, Augusta, daughter, female, white, 5 10/12, single, b New York, parents b Russia, mother tongue Yiddish
  • Blumenthal, Mollie, daughter, female, white, 3 2/12, single, b New York, parents b Russia, mother tongue Yiddish
  • Blumenthal, Bernard, son, male, white, 7/12, single, b New York, parents b Russia, mother tongue Yiddish

Second listing:

  • Blumenthal, Joe, head, male, white, 36, married, arrived in US 1906, alien, b Russia, mother tongue Russian, parents b Russia, mother tongue Russian, retail salesman - store
  • Blumenthal, Gussie, wife, female, white, 36, married, arrived in US 1908, alien, b Russia, mother tongue Russian, parents b Russia, mother tongue Russian
  • Blumenthal, Isadore, son, male, white, 10, single, b Connecticut, parents b Russia, mother tongue Russian
  • Blumenthal, Sadie, daughter, female, white, 7, single, b Connecticut, parents b Russia, mother tongue Russian
  • Blumenthal, Augusta, daughter, female, white, 5 10/12, single, b Connecticut, parents b Russia, mother tongue Russian
  • Blumenthal, Molly, daughter, female, white, 3 4/12, single, b Connecticut, parents b Russia, mother tongue Russian
  • Blumenthal, Bernard, son, male, white, 6/12, single, b Connecticut, parents b Russia, mother tongue Russian

They can't be found on the New York state census in 1915, which makes sense, since the probably hadn't moved from Connecticut yet at that point. In 1910, the family is living on Central Street, Ansonia, New Haven, Connecticut:

  • Blumenthal, Joseph, head, male, white, 28, on first marriage, married 3 years, b Rus - Polish, parents b Russ - Polish, arrived in US 1907, speaks Polish, peddler, iron (old)
  • Blumenthal, Gussie, wife, female, white, 23, on first marriage, married 3 years, 2 children, 2 living, b Russ - Polish, parents b Russ - Polish, arrived in US 1908, speaks Polish
  • Blumenthal, Issore, male, white, 5/12, single, b Connecticut, parents b Russ - Polish
  • Blumenthal, Edward, son, male, white, 1, single, b Connecticut, parents b Russ - Polish

Here we have another child of Joseph and Gussie that we didn't previously know about: Edward.

The census record tells us that Isidore's father Joseph (who is clearly a second-generation Lion Yarn Blumenthal) arrived in the United States 1904-1907ish. Therefore, we can't expect to find him on the 1900 census.

So if the current president of Lion Brand Yarn is David, and David is a direct descendant of the founder, Reuben; and if David's father was Isidore and Isidore's father was Joseph, then Reuben must be Joseph's father. But here's the weird thing - Joseph, in record after record, is clearly listed as having been born around 1885 in Russia.

How does a guy whose son was born in Russia in 1885 found a business in the United States in 1878?

Now, I know that immigrants did sometimes go back to the old country - one of my great-grandfathers on my mother's side bopped back and forth at least once between Lebanon (then Syria) and Canada during the process of getting his whole family to emigrate. And a great-great-grandfather on my father's side apparently went back to Russia after his family had already emigrated to England (and then died there in a pogrom). But it seems odd that you would leave a business that you had founded in the US to go back to Russia? Moreover, I cannot find evidence of Reuben Blumenthal anywhere in the census record or anywhere else. He doesn't have a death record in the NYC index - the only Rubin Blumenthal died in 1912 at the age of 34; not old enough to father Joseph (and anyway, census searches for that Rubin Blumenthal show that he was a dentist).

To additionally muddy the waters, the February 16 1956 issue of the Long Island Star Journal has this obituary in it:

Jacob H. Slutzkin. Yarn Manufacturer Funeral services for Jacob H. Slutzkin of 111-23 76th road, Forest Hills, who died Tuesday of a heart attack in Miami, Fla., will be conducted at 10 A.M. tomorrow 1 nthe funeral home at 76th street and Amsterdam avenue in Manhattan C o m p l e t e arrangemerrts awaited the arrival of the family members from Florida today. Until his retirement four years ago, Mr. Slutzkin, who was 74, had been president of the Lion Yarn Company of Manchester, N. H., and Manhattan. He also had been the president of the Amoskeag Mohair Spinning Company of Manchester. He is survived by hte widow, Mrs. Anne Kaplan Slutzkin, a son, Jerome P. Sloane; a daughter, Mrs. Alfred Berger, three brothers, two sisters and four grandchildren.

Here's a (supposed) president of Lion Yarn who was not a Blumenthal. What happened? And who headed up the company from 1952 (when Jacob Slutzkin apparently retired) and 1958 (when Isidore took over)?

Clearly there is more research to do, avenues of clues to follow, resources to tap, and questions to answer. But this initial research makes it clear that the Blumenthal/Lion Yarn history is an interesting one!

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Black Sheep

My husband, Sean, is rooted in far more easily-researchable spots than I am. For example, his Baines side is firmly rooted in England. One of his ancestors is Thomas Sunderland, a great-great-great grandfather, who married his great-great-great grandmother Mary Beal. This man was quite the mystery for some time - I have been totally unable to find any information out about his death.

Based on various records, I belive that Thomas:

  • Was born 27 July 1811 in St. Cuthbert parish, York, Yorkshire, and christened 28 July 1811 in the same place, and later in May 1812.
  • Was living in Catton, Yorkshire on 3 February 1835; Stamford Bridge, Yorkshire on 24 Sep 1835; and Walmgate, Yorkshire on 22 Jul 1838.
  • Was a tallow chandler 24 Sep 1835 and 22 July 1838. He was also referred to as being a tallow chandler after his death on his son John Beal Sunderland's marriage certificate.
  • He married Mary Beal in Bossall, Yorkshire on 3 Feb 1835. As their daughter Jane was christened in September of that same year, I'm guessing Mary was pregnant when they married.
  • Their son John Beal Sunderland (Sean's great-great grandfather) was born 4 Jul 1838 in Walmgate, Yorkshire.

Mary Sunderland (nee Beal) and her children Jane and John then show up on the 1841 census living with her parents in Buttercrambe. Thomas is nowhere in sight. I assumed he was dead, but was puzzled by the appearance of a Thomas Sunderland, 25, tallow chandler, living in High Street, Gateshead, Durham, with Mary Sunderland, also 25 (remember that adults' ages were rounded down to the nearest multiple of 5 in the 1841 census), and Jane Sunderland (10), Job Sunderland (7) and Paul Sunderland (4). I figured that this was either an extraordinary coincidence, or that my Thomas Sunderland had been committing bigamy for a number of years. The bigamy theory, I thought, was ridiculously far-fetched. It was much more likely that my Thomas Sunderland died between late 1837 (when son John was conceived) and 1841 (when Mary was living with her parents), and I just couldn't find his death record, for whatever reason. Perhaps he died at sea?

Until the British Newspaper Archive came online and I found this:

Thomas SUNDERLAND having left his Wife and Family chargeable to the Parish of St. Dennis, in the City of York. The said Thomas SUNDERLAND is a Tallow Chandler, aged 30 years, stands 5 feet 8 inches high, has light hair, dark brown eyes, fair complexion, has lately been seen in Newcastle. Whoever will give such Information as leads to the apprehension of the said Thomas SUNDERLAND , shall, on the apprehension of the said Thomas SUNDERLAND , receive a REWARD of ONE POUND from the Board of Guardians of the said Union.
By Order, Henry BREAREY , Clerk.
York, Oct. 21st. 1842.

So he didn't die, he just up and left Mary! This would certainly explain my inability to find a death record between 1837 and 1841.

(Incidentally, Mary went on to have an illegitimate son William Harling Sunderland - coincidentally, there was a farm servant named George Harland living in her parents' household in 1841 - before marrying again to a John Farrell and having two more children, one of whom was born only six or seventh months after the wedding. Mary seems to have gone in for the extramarital sex!)

And then! I found this incredible article in the British Newspaper Archive:

The Nottinghamshire Guardian, Thursday Evening, September 6, 1849.
We have this week to record another of those disgraceful occurrences that have of late been so prevalent, and which so much prove the necessity of a strong law for the miantenance of decency and order amongst a portion of her gracious Majesty's liege subjects. We allude to the perpetration, by an inhabitant of Nottingham, of a most bare-faced and heartless case of bigamy, the circumstances of which are briefly these. Thomas Sunderland, who was formerly a tallow chandler but latterly a painter, has for a long time been residing in Nottingham, with his wife and 5 children. Though not in very good circumstances, they had, apparently, lived comfortably together up to Wednesday, the 23rd ult, when he informed Mrs. Sunderland that he had three weeks' work to do at Matlock, and that, therefore, he should be obliged to leave her for a short time. At his request she packed up all his best clothes and his working materials, and when they parted he kissed her fondly, telling her that she should receive some money from him on Saturday. The anxious wife waited patiently until the time came on which her husband had promised to remit part of his earnings, but instead of the much looked for assistance, a local newspaper was placed in her hands, containing the cruel announcement that he who, when they were blithe and young, had won her love by his solicitations and his prayers; that he who, at the altar's foot, had sworn before the Great Supreme to love and cherish her until separated by the hand of death; that he who had always been so kind to their children, and apparently, so devoted to herself, had been married at Saint Peter's Church, in this town, on the very day he had deserted her under the pretence that he was going to a seat of work at Matlock. We will not attempt to describe the agonised feelings of the injured wife, and still more injured mother. After she had, however, in some measure conquered her grief, she determined to test the truth of the announcement, which stated that her husband had been married to a Miss Mary Beckitt, of Gedling. She proceded to the village and soon ascertained that such a person had lately been cook in a highly respectable gentleman's house there. On going thither she found that Miss Mary Beckitt had in truth been married to a Thomas Sunderland, and from the description she received there could be no doubt that it was her own cruel husband. While on a visit to Gedling he had become enamoured of the fair cook, to whom he instantly paid his addresses as a single man, and the result had been as above narrated. The gentleman owning the house could not at first give credit to the unfortunate Mrs. Sunderland's story, and at his request, and with funds kindly given by him, she returned to Nottingham, and procured their marriage lines, which she afterwards produced at Gedling. The cook was still remaining there, waiting until Sunderland fetched her away. With her the injured wife obtained an interview which was of the most distressing description. The cause of Sunderland's base conduct here became apparent. Mary Beckitt was a good looking woman; and, what no doubt had been a greater inducement to a selfish man, she had contrived to save a little money from her earnings. She declared, however, that the wretch should not touch one farthing of it. She could not give full credence to the distressing tale upon which Mrs. Sunderland promised to give her most conclusive proof if she would go to Nottingham. A short time aftwards they met again in a house in Crown-court, in this town, and Mrs. Sunderland produced a letter couched in the most endearing terms, which she had received from her husband since his marriage with his second wife. This appeared quite conclusive, though not very satisfactory. But to return to the man--if man he may be called--who so deliberately committed this grevious wrong. On Saturday night he was at Burton's public-house, Long Eaton, singing sentimental songs, and delivering small essays on the beauties of the English poets, for the amusement of the company. Wood, one of the porters at the Maypole, was present, and, having heard of the circumstances which we have, as accurately as possible, narrated, on returning to Nottingham he went to Mrs. Sunderland and told her where her truant husband was. She instantly took train for Long Eaton, and proceeded straightway to Burton's house. Sunderland, either perceiving her approach, or having been warned of the fact, jumped out of a back window and took a cross country flight, over hedge, ditch, and dyke, to the station, where he took a second-class ticket for Derby, and seemed very impatient for the arrival of the up train from Nottingham. Mrs. Sunderland, who had witnessed his retreat, followed, as quickly as she could, in his wake, and arrived sufficiently near the station to see the train arrive and observe her husband assist a woman out of a third into a second-class carriage into which he also sprang. The carriage doors were speedily secured; the guard hailed the engineer with "All right," while the heart of the forsaken wife felt that all was wrong; and the huge engine shrieked, puffed, and moved first slowly, and then rapidly along, leaving on the platform the deeply injured, and sorrowing wife. We understand she has not since heard of him; but we trust that before long he will be hunted down and made to pay the penalty for pepetrating so gross a breach of domestic ties, and so great an offence agains the public propriety.


So although I have yet to be able to prove it with documentation, I strongly suspect that our Thomas Sunderland; the tallow chandler Thomas Sunderland in the 1841 census; and the Thomas Sunderland in the above article are all one and the same! I will certainly need to order the marriage certificate for Thomas Sunderland and Mary Beckitt to see what it says about the groom. My Thomas Sunderland was himself illegitimate, so if it's the same guy, the marriage certificate will either give no information for the father; information on his mother; information on his mother's husband (he was conceived after his mother's husband died); or, assuming he knows it, information on the man who really was his father, whoever that was (I certainly don't know).

What a fabulous article in the Nottinghamshire Guardian! What storytelling! What drama! What subjectivity!

And what a cad, eh?

Monday, February 13, 2012

What being "uppity" gets you

Recently, my local paper ran a letter dictated in 1865 by a former slave, Jourdan Anderson, to his former master, Colonel P.H. Anderson. The Colonel had asked Jourdan to return, "promising to do better for me than anybody else can", and offering Jourdan a "good chance", according to the letter. Jourdan's response was pure gold. Not only does he ask the Colonel for over eleven thousand dollars in back wages as a show of good faith before he'll even consider the offer, but he reminds the Colonel that he (P.H.) shot at him (Jourdan); and even gets veiled-ly threatening by bringing up some of the Colonel's questionable past actions (harbouring Rebs and murdering a Union soldier). Jourdan then goes on to say that his priority for his family is to get them educated, instill good morals in them, and keep them from harm.

It's an absolutely fabulous letter and, when I Googled it, certainly seems to be receiving a nice bit of buzz. But I wondered, what happened to Jourdan and his family? What happened to the Colonel and his family? Being an amateur genealogical researcher, I decided to try and find out.


  • Jordan says, "It would do me good to go back to the dear old home again and see Miss Mary and Miss Martha and Allen, Esther, Green, and Lee." These are probably members of the Colonel's family/household. Miss Mary is probably his wife, and Miss Martha his daughter.

  • Jordan refers to his wife as "Mandy".

  • Jordan names his children "Milly, Jane and Grundy".

  • Jordan refers to Milly and Jane as "grown up and both good-looking girls", and makes it clear that he fears they may be raped if the family was to return.

  • Jordan implies that he also has daughters named Matilda and Catherine, who were old enough to be raped when the family was still enslaved.

  • Jordan makes reference to a "George Carter", some kind of acquaintance of the Colonels, describing him as "taking the pistol from you when you were shooting at me."

  • The letter is sent from Dayton, Ohio, dated August 7, 1865.

  • The letter is sent to Colonel P.H. Anderson in Big Spring, Tennessee.


Jourdan's family is very easy to find in the 1870 census. They're living in Dayton Ward 8, Montgomery County, Ohio.

  • Anderson, Jordan, 43, male, black, hostler, b Tennessee, illiterate, US citizen
  • Anderson, Amanda, 39, female, black, keeping house, b Tennessee, cannot write
  • Anderson, Jane, 19, female, black, attending school, b Tennessee, attended school in the last year
  • Anderson, Felix, 12, male, black, attending school, b Tennessee, attended school in the last year
  • Anderson, William, 5, male, black, attending school, b Ohio, attended school in the last year
  • Anderson, Andrew, 1, male, black, b Ohio
  • McGregor, Percella, 69, female, black, lives with daughter at home, b Tennessee, illiterate

Interesting! "Amanda" is clearly Jourdan's wife Mandy. There's daughter Jane; Felix is likely the "Grundy" from Jourdan's letter; and two more children have been born since the letter was written: William and Andrew. And here's a gem: Percella McGregor, who is living with her daughter at home and must therefore be Mandy's mother. Milly is nowhere to be found, most likely because she's married and listed with her own household. Also no sign of Matilda or Catherine, who are probably also married, or dead, or were lost track of during the family's period of slavery.

In 1880, they're still in Dayton, Montgomery County, Ohio:

  • Anderson, Jordan, black, male, 50, married, coachman, illiterate, b Tennessee, parents b Tennessee
  • Anderson, Amanda, black, female, 49, wife, married, keeping house, cannot write, b Tennessee, parents b Tennessee
  • Anderson, William F, black, male, 16, son, single, at school, attended school in last year, b Ohio, parents b Tennessee
  • Anderson, Andrew, black, male, 11, son, single, at school, attended school in last year, b Ohio, parents b Tennessee
  • Anderson, Valentine, black, male, 9, son, single, b Ohio, parents b Tennessee
  • Anderson, Lottie, black, female, 6, daughter, b Ohio, parents b Tennessee
  • Anderson, Ava O, black, female, 3, daughter, b Ohio, parents b Tennessee

Jane and Felix seem to have moved out at this point, but we still have William and Andrew, plus three new children: Valentine, Lottie and Ava O. No Percella McGregor - likely she's died by this point.

As genealogy buffs will know, the 1890 US census was mostly destroyed, so no use trying to find the family in there, which brings us to the 1900 census. They're living in Dayton Ward 7, Montgomery County, Ohio:

  • Anderson, Jordan, head, black, male, b Dec 1825, 74, married 52 years, b Tennessee, parents b Tennessee, retired butler, unemployed all year, illiterate, can speak English, owns home free and clear, house
  • Anderson, Amanda, wife, black, female, b Oct 1829, 70, married 52 years, 11 children, 6 living, b Tennessee, parents b Tennessee, can read, cannot write, can speak English
  • Anderson, Valentine, son, black, male, b Nov 1870, 29, married 5 years, b Ohio, parents b Tennessee, physician, not employed in past year, literate, can speak English
  • Anderson, Lottie, daughter, black, female, b Jun 1873, 26, single, b Ohio, parents b Tennessee, literate, can speak English
  • Anderson, Eva, daughter, black, female, b Jul 1876, 23, single, b Ohio, parents b Tennessee, literate, can speak English
  • Anderson, Abigail, daughter-in-law, black, female, b Apr 1873, 27, married 5 years, no children, b Ohio, parents b North Carolina, literate, can speak English

Based on this, I think we can surmise that Jordan was a house slave, probably Colonel Anderson's butler, which would certainly explain why the Colonel got so angry when Jordan wanted to leave that he tried to shoot him. I think my favourite part about the 1900 record is where it lists Jordan as owning his own house completely free of any mortgage. My second favourite part is that his son Valentine has become a doctor. We can also see that Valentine has married a woman named Abigail. We can also see that Mandy had 11 children, six of whom are still living - presumably Eva, Lottie, Valentine, Andrew, William and Jane?

In 1910, the family is, predictably, still living in Dayton Ward 7, Montgomery County, Ohio:

  • Anderson, Amanda, head, female, black, 80, widowed, married 65 years, 11 children, 6 living, b Tennessee, parents b Tennessee, can speak English, no occupation, literate, owns home free and clear, house
  • Anderson, Valentine, son, male, black, 39, married 14 years, b Ohio, parents b Tennessee, can speak English, messenger for carworks, worker, not out of work this year, literate
  • Anderson, Eva O, daughter, female, black, 34, single, b Ohio, parents b Tennessee, speaks English, no occupation
  • Anderson, Abigail, daughter-in-law, female, black, 36, married 14 years, no children, b Ohio, parents b North Carolina, speaks English, no occupation, literate
  • Stewart, Charlotte, daughter, female, black, 37, married 8 years, no children, b Ohio, father b Virginia, mother b Tennessee, speaks English, no occupation, literate
  • Stewart, Samuel C, son-in-law, male, black, 37, married 8 years, b Ohio, father b Virginia, mother b Tennessee, speaks English, janitor for church, worker, not employed in last year, literate

So we see that Jourdan must have died between 1900 and 1910, having lived to a nice old age somewhere between 75-85ish. He left his family with their own home, mortgage-free, and made sure his children were educated. It's a wonderful legacy. It is worrying to see that Valentine is no longer listed as a physician, which is a bit mysterious; and that he and Abigail have been married 14 years with no children. His sister Charlotte (Lottie) has married between 1900 and 1910 to Samuel C. Stewart. They also have no children, although they've been married eight years.

The family really likes Dayton, because in 1920, they're in Ward 8, Montgomery County, Ohio, all right next to each other:

  • Stewart, Samuel, head, owns home free and clear, male, black, 48, married, literate, b Ohio, parents b Virginia, speaks English, janitor in church, worker
  • Stewart, Scharlet, wife, female, black, 46, married, literate, b Ohio, parents b Tennessee, can speak English, no occupation
  • Anderson, Valentine, head, owns home free and clear, male, black, 49, married, literate, b ohio, parents b Virginia, speaks English, doctor, general practice
  • Anderson, Abigal, wife, female, black, 49, married, literate, b Ohio, parents b North Carolina, speaks English, no occupation
  • Johnson, Charles H, head, rents, male, black, 44, married, literate, b Pennsylvania, parents b Pennsylvania, speaks English, janitor for church, worker
  • Johnson, Eva O, wife, female, black, 43, married, literate, b Ohio, parents b Tennessee, speaks English, no occupation
  • Johnson, Catherine, daughter, female, black, 12, single, attended school during the year, literate, b Pennsylvania, father b Pennsylvania, mother b Ohio, speaks English, no occupation
  • Johnson, William, son, male, black, 10, single, attended school during the year, literate, b Ohio, father b Pennsylvania, father b Pennsylvania, mother b Ohio, speaks English, no occupation

Amanda has died by this point, having lived to a lovely old age of about 80-90. Her three youngest children are still quite close. Valentine is once again a doctor; Lottie is still married to Samuel; and now we can see that Eva was married, to a Charles H Johnson, and they have two children.

The family is still close in 1930, in District 81, Dayton, Montgomery County, Ohio:

  • Stewart, Samuel, head, male, negro, 55, first married age 27, not attending school, literate, b Ohio, parents b USA, speaks English, custodian church, veteran of SP
  • Stewart, Charlotte, wife of head, own, value $2K, female, negro, 55, first married age 27, not attending school, literate, b Ohio, parents b Tenn, no trade
  • Johnson, Charles, head, male, negro, 52, first married age 20, not attending school, literate, b Penn, father b Penn, mother b Virginia, caretaker church
  • Johnson, Eva, wife, own, value $2K, female, negro, 52, first married age 37, not attending school, literate, b Ohio, parents b Tenn, no trade
  • Huggins, Katherine, daughter, female, negro, 23, married, first married age 19, not attending school, literate, b Penn, parents b Penn, no trade
  • Huggins, Ruth, granddaughter, female, negro, 3, single, not attending school, b Ohio, father b USA, mother b Penn, no trade
  • Huggins, Harold, grandson, male, negro, 4, single, not attending school, b Ohio, father b USA, mother b Penn, no trade
  • Johnson, William, son, male, negro, 21, single, not attending school, literate, b Penn, parents b Penn, caretaker church

No Valentine or Abigail here, but Charles and Eva Johnson's daughter Katherine has clearly married and had some children of her own.

So that's the census record for the Jourdan Anderson family. It indicates that they were quite successful, and never ended up taking Colonel Anderson's offer to return to the South in his employ.

Hunting for further details, I found Eva O Anderson's birth record:

Eva Anderson
b Dayton, Montgomery, Ohio
b 19 Jul 1876
father Jourdan Anderson
mother Amanda Gereger

"Gereger" is probably some horrific mis-transcription of the surname "McGregor".

But there was another birth record:

Salma Anderson
b Dayton, Montgomery, Ohio
b Oct 1874
father Jordan Anderson
mother Amanda Anderson

She probably died in infancy or childhood, as she never appears on the census record, and since we know that five of Amanda's children predeceased her.

There's an obituary notice for Jourdan in Dayton:

Jordan Anderson
published 19 Apr 1905
Dayton, Montgomery, Ohio, USA
d abt 1905
age 79, 60 Burns Ave., death notice
Dayton Daily Journal
v42, iss228 pg11, col7

There's death information for Valentine:

Valenti W Anderson
d 10 May 1920, Montgomery, Ohio

(from Directory of Deceased American Physicians)
Valentine Winters Anderson
b 1870 OH
d 10 May 1920 Dayton, OH
practice type: Allopath
Practice specialties: Dayton, OH, Sep 14 1911
Licenses: OH, MI, 1904
Practice dates: Dayton, OH, Sep 14, 1911
Medical school: Louisville National Medical College, Louisville, 1900, (G), MI-08 Michigan College of Medicine and Surgery, Detroit, 1904, (G)
JAMA Citation: 74:1533
Cause of Death: cerebral hemorrhage

From, we find out when Felix died:

Felix Anderson
b Mar 14 1859 Tennessee, USA
d Jul 1 1916 Monroe County, Ohio, USA
Woodlawn, Dayton, Montgomery County, Ohio

So it appears that the eleven children of Jourdan and Mandy were Matilda, Catherine, Milly, Jane, Felix (Grundy), William F, Andrew, Valentine Winters, Charlotte (Lottie), Salma, and Eva O.

South of the border

But what about Colonel P.H. Anderson? Was his life after the Civil War as successful as Jourdan's? Well, we have his family listed before the war, in the 1860 census, in Wilson, Tennessee (Tuckers Cross Roads Post Office), where there is indeed a Big Spring:

  • P H Anderson, 37, male, farmer, land worth 66K, estate worth 92,327, b Tennessee
  • Mary Ann Anderson, 33, female (Miss Mary)
  • Patrick H Anderson Jr, 13, male, attended school
  • Martha H Anderson, 11, female, attended school (Miss Martha)
  • Paulain Anderson, 9, male, attended school
  • Tinus Anderson, 6, male, attended school
  • Edgar Poe Anderson, 3, male
  • Mary M Anderson, 1, female

And there are "Miss Mary" and "Miss Martha".

We also have his slave schedule from 1860:

  • 50, male, black
  • 34, male, black
  • 35, male, black
  • 28, male, black
  • 26, male, black
  • 23, male, black
  • 22, male, black
  • 18, male, black
  • 16, male, black
  • 16, male, black
  • 12, male, black
  • 10, male, mulatto
  • 10, male, black
  • 6, male, black
  • 6, male, black
  • 6, male, black
  • 3, male, mulatto
  • 3, male, mulatto
  • 1, male, mulatto
  • 50, female, mulatto
  • 50, female, black
  • 25, female, black
  • 22, female, black
  • 18, female, mulatto
  • 15, female, black
  • 18, female, black
  • 12, female, black
  • 12, female, black
  • 10, female, black
  • 8, female, mulatto
  • 3, female, black
  • 14, female, black

No names, there, of course. Why would you bother recording the names of your livestock, after all. (Read extreme sarcasm and disgust there.)

But by 1870, P.H. Anderson Sr. is no longer in the picture. Here's the family in Lebanon, Wilson County, Tennessee:

  • Anderson, Mary, 42, female, white, keeping house, 5000/200, b Tennessee
  • Anderson, Lovie, 21, female, white, at home, b Tennessee
  • Anderson, Laily, 10, female, white, at home, b Tennessee
  • Anderson, Sally, 8, female, white, at home, b Tenn
  • Anderson, Paul, 19, male, white, farmer, b Tenn
  • Anderson, Tinies, 16, male, white, at home, b Tenn
  • Anderson, Edgar, 12, male, white, at home, b Tenn
  • Anderson, Don, 9, male, white, at home, b Tenn
  • Anderson, Berry, 5, male, white, at home, b Tenn

Likely he's died - probably between 1865 when Berry was born and 1870 when the census was taken.

Some more digging gives us some verrrry interesting information - his marriage to Mary Ann. Notice her last name:

Patrick H Anderson obtained a license to marry Mary A McGrigor
Aug/Sep 1844 in Rutherford, Tennessee

So I would guess that Mary Ann brought Mandy with her to the marriage, and that's how Mandy and Jourdan met. I'm guessing Mandy was also a house slave, likely Mary Ann's personal maid.

There's a whole whack of Anderson and McGregor records from a family bible, too:

  • Patrick Henry Anderson, born June 24, 1823 (obviously our Colonel)
  • Jesse Hord Anderson, born Jan 27, 1826
  • Paulding Francis Anderson, born Sept 27 1828
  • Rufus Dixon Anderson, born Jul 31 1831
  • Martha Anderson, born Apr 22 1834
  • Joseph Anderson, born Jul 2 1836
  • James Monroe Anderson, b May 1818, 1838
  • Eudora Anderson, b Jan 8 1841
  • DeWitt Anderson, born May 2, 1843
  • Anthony Wayne Anderson, b Oct 14 1845
  • Sally Erskine Anderson, b Nov 20 1847
  • Churchwell A Robinson b Jul 14 1853
  • John McGregor b May 6 1858
  • Patsie Hord McGregor b Mar 4 1860
  • Andrew McGregor b Nov 8 1861
  • Paul Britton McGregor b Jan 23 1866
  • Leonora McGregor b Friday morning Feb 16 1868
  • Temple Harris McGregor b Thurs am May 12 1870
  • Eudorah Anderson McGregor b Tues night Oct 22 1872
  • Frankie Graeme McGregor b Monday 9 o'clock Mar 1 1875
  • Sally Ashe McGregor, b Apr 23 1877
  • Frank Anderson McGregor b Oct 9 1879
  • The twins M and D McGregor, Nov 28 1881
  • Paulding Anderson and his wife Martha T Anderson were married May 24 1820
  • P F Anderson and his wife Mary McGregor married Aug 1841 (should be 1844, but maybe there was a transcription error)
  • Patrick Henry Anderson died Sep 28 1867 (aha!)

So Jourdan goes on from slavery to work hard, educate his children, pay off his mortgage, live to old age, and, one hopes, get a huge amount of satisfaction out of life. Colonel Anderson, on the other hand, dies two years after receiving Jourdan's in-your-face letter.

Ahhh. Sometimes fate works properly, doesn't it?