27 May 2012

1940 U.S. Census: Finding celebrities who are less than a wink in their father's eye

There are just some names that are so unusual that one cannot forget them. When I lived in Albuquerque I was a big fan of the Dukes, the top farm team of baseball's Los Angeles Dodgers. They had awesome pitching. Along with Fernando Valenzuela, they also has Orel L. Hershiser. What a name!

And what a name to find whilst indexing the Erie County, New York 1940 U.S. Census pages!  E.D. 15-153, sheet 4B, family 129, lines 60-64. My first thought was "Hershiser, Orel L.?" What!?!

Screen shot (27 May 2012): 1940 U.S. Census, New York, Erie County, ED 15-153, sheet 4B, (FamilySearch.org)
Orel L. Herschiser was 35 in April 1940, was married to Marjorie (27) and lived with his children: Orel L, Jr. (age 7), Marjorie Ann (6) and John W. (7 months old). They lived at 289 Nassau Avenue, Kenmore, New York. Just a little north of Buffalo. They owned their home which they reported as worth $9,000.

289 Nassau Ave, Kenmore, NY (from Google Maps)

Turns out that this Orel was the grandfather of the famous LA Dodgers pitcher. His 7 year old son, Orel, Jr (actually Orel, III) later married Mildred and had Orel Hershiser IV in 1958 Buffalo.

I'd been thinking that it would be cool while indexing to locate a celebrity living in NY in 1940. Little did I know I'd find the family of a celebrity more than 18 years before his was born!

14 May 2012

1940 U.S. Census: What's that about probability?

I've indexed 137 pages of 1940 U.S. Census records from New York State and now the unthinkable has happened: I found a relative while indexing.

Last evening I electronically requested a batch to index. I selected New York State and waited a few seconds until the page popped up on my screen: Bronx ED 3-956, page 8B.  As sometimes happens, the first record only indicated a first name with neither surname nor household number: Sandra. As I have so many times since early April when I first started indexing, I looked at the prior census page to see the information from Sandra's family so I could enter her information correctly. Household 136.  Max, Fanny, and Anita Buchman. [gulp!] My great aunt and uncle and their daughters (my first cousins once removed).

Fanny Garber Buchman was my grandfather's youngest sister.  We knew her as Aunt Feigah.

The Buchman family lived at 1262 Boynton Avenue, Bronx, New York. The rented their apartment for $37 per month. The circle with the X next to her name indicates that Fannie was the informant for the Census enumerator.

Max and Fannie (she spelled her name as "Fannie" on most documents in my possession) were 38 and 36 years old, respectively. Max is recorded as having studied 7 years in school and Fannie, I think, 1.

They both emigrated from the Russian Empire and Max had become a citizen. He, in fact, was naturalized on 6 June 1927.[1]  Fanny didn't naturalize until 1952 when she still lived at this address.[2]

Columns 26-32 indicate that Max worked 44 hours during the week of March 24-30, 1940 as a salesman in the retail dress business. For this he earned $2080 per year. Fannie worked at home.

1262 Boynton Ave, Bronx, NY in 2012 (from Google Maps)
Anita was 11 and Sandra 4 on April 1, 1940.  Anita had completed sixth grade and Sandra had yet to attend school.

I had actually already located the Buchman family record several weeks ago in 1940 U.S. Census independent of this surprise. I'd determined their likely address, their possible EDs and then browsed the appropriate ED pages and located the Buchmans on these pages. But, it's still pretty amazing that they popped up when least expected as I was indexing.

When batches load for indexing, the program sometimes indicates that the page one is receiving may have been partially indexed. When this occurs, it is my understanding that someone may have not completed their indexing of the page within the allotted time and the program, therefore, turned the batch over to someone else.  This was one of those cases. Makes me feel like this one was seeking me out.

Considering that there were 132 million people in the United States in 1940 and in New York, the most populous state, there were 13.5 million, this is pretty amazing.

1. "Petition for Naturalization from the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York, 1897-1944," digital images, Ancestry.com (http://www.ancestry.com : accessed 13 May 2012), Petition for Naturalization No. 98373, Max Buchman, 6 June 1927; citing National Archives and records Administration microfilm publication M1972.
2. "Index to Petitions for Naturalization filed in New York City, 1792-1989," U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York, database on-line, Ancestry.com (http://www.ancestry.com : accessed 123 May 2012), Card No. 6997117, Petition No. 608951, Fannie Buchman, 16 June 1952; citing National Archives and Records Administration, Northeast Region.

13 May 2012

1940 U.S. Census: Mind Games

So, I've been indexing in the Bronx for well more than a month now and I'm starting to notice and imagine patterns that would be a ever so much better.  I'm heavy into Italian, Jewish and Irish families and it's astounding how many multi-generational and collateral families are recorded in the 1940 Bronx EDs.

Perhaps this is a function of the immigrant status of so many of these people: helping family members economically until they, too, can stand on their own. There are the usual widowed parents living with their children's family. It seems like more parents living with daughters than sons, but I really haven't been counting. There are the few divorced or widowed children coming back to live with mom and dad (or mama and papa). But there are also siblings' families living together (or on the same street).

It's frustrating seeing so many single, divorced or widowed adults living next door to each other.  Concetta, meet Morris. Louis, meet Philomena. Can't we all just get together here!

Many times, I've seen families consisting of parents, their children, one or more of the parents' parents, and the parents' siblings all in one home. It must have made for a vibrant household and I can't help thinking about the family Woody Allen presented in Radio Days: lots of noise, yelling, angst, humor and love. I haven't figured out if any of these families live under (or on) a roller coaster.

Of course, this is the Bronx, not Woody's 1940's Rockaway. But, if I were enumerating, I'd record it as "Same Place."

12 May 2012

1940 U.S. Census: the Morris Perrineville farm

I have been pretty successful in my family history work locating relations in the 1940 U.S. Census by determining their likely address in 1940, determining the 1940 U.S. Census Enumeration District (ED)and sorting through 20-40 pages of images per ED. My best prize thus far? The Morris farm.

For most of Isadore and Sarah Myers Morris' children and grandchildren their retirement from their Manhattan glass business to farming in rural Perrineville, New Jersey must have been a bit of cultural shock. Some of their children and most of their grandchildren had grown up in New York City and milking a cow and raising chickens probably did not come second nature. My father, the Brooklyn boy, talked with bemusement and some satisfaction about milking his grandparents' one cow at their Perrineville, New Jersey farm. 

For Isadore and Sarah their move to a rural setting must have been like going home to the old country - but much much better. They'd grown up in a rural shtetl: Lubin in Volhynia Gubernia, Russian Empire.  They'd left in in the early part of the century never to return.  In New Jersey there were no pogroms and they could actually own a home and land. 

The 1930 U.S. Census shows Isadore and Sarah on 234 East 105th Street, NY, NY [1]. I knew that they'd moved to rural New Jersey sometime after the Census was taken in April 1930 and moved back to NYC (627 Manida, Bronx, NY) sometime before Isadore's death on 22 December 1947 [2].

The 1940 U.S. Census finds Sarah Myers and Isidore Morris at number 6 and 7 on sheet 11A of Enumeration District 13-120, Millstone Township, Monmouth County.[2]

They lived in a rural area along what was identified as Perrineville Hightstown Road. Column 17 indicates that they'd lived in the same house five years earlier (on April 1, 1935). This gives me a better idea of when they might have moved to New Jersey from NYC.

They owned the home (column 4) and valued it at $5,000 (col. 5) for the census taker.  

Column 11 indicates that both Isadore and Sarah were 64 years old. This information comports with prior information I have for them.  

They were foreign born in "Russia" (col.15). Their Russian Empire village is within the boundaries of today's Ukraine. Column 16 indicates that they had both applied for citizenship.  The "PA" indicates that they had filed their first papers (aka the Declaration of Intention). However, I have yet to find any indication that they ever finished the naturalization process.  I will have to do some additional checking in New Jersey (mostly I've checked in New York records).

Column 26 indicates that Isadore usually worked 49 hours each week as a farm laborer (column 28) at his own home (column 29). Column 32 indicates that he earned no wages at this work. Of course this does not mean that the farm was not somewhat self-supporting, just that Isadore did not take wages.

Go to this link to see photographs of the farm in the 1930s and early 1940s. 

The photograph below shows a shot taken today from Google Maps of 842 Perrineville Road, Millstone Township, New Jersey: my great grandparents home as it looks in 2012.

1.  1930 U.S. Census, New York County, New York, population schedule, Manhattan, Enumeration District 31-816, sheet 4B, house 234, family 92, Isadore Morris; digital image, Ancestry.com (http://www.ancestry.com : accessed 12 May 2012).
2. Bronx County, New York, Certificate of Death no. 12512 (22 December 1947), Isadore Morris, New York City Municipal Archives, New York.
3. 1940 U.S. Census, Monmouth County, New Jersey, population schedule, Millstone Township, Enumeration District (ED) 13-120, sheet 11-A, family 243, Isadore Morris; digital image, Ancestry.com (http://www.ancestry.com : accessed 12 May 2012).