Showing posts with label Steen. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Steen. Show all posts

Sunday, May 11, 2014

The mothers in my life

In honor of the mothers in my life on Mother's Day.

My mother, Geraldine Martin (1928-2013)

Geraldine c 1932

Geraldine c1960

Gerry 2012

My maternal grandmother, Clara Maxine Fitzgerald (1903-1987)

Clara Fitzgerald 1904

Clara Fitzgerald

Clara’s mother, Mabel Viola McAboy (1883-1966)

Mabel McAboy

Four generations – Clara Fitzgerald, Geraldine Martin, Mabel McAboy, Carolyn Levy, Deborah Levy

My beautiful picture

Mabel’s mother – Rebecca Moriah Waller (1845-1928)  Photo courtesy of Kris Nagamine

Rebecca Moriah Waller 1920

My maternal grandmother – Mildred Loraine Gunzendorfer (1896-1982)

Loraine 1897

Loraine Xmas 1912

Loraine 1969

Loraine’s Mother – Bertha Schwartz (1872-1950)

Bertha Schwartz1 c1876

Bertha Schwartz 3

BerthaSchwartz2 cropped

Bertha’s mother – Rebecca Steen (1848-1918)

Rebecca Steen cropped

Four generations – Rebecca Steen, Bertha Schwartz, Hannah Plotzky, Loraine Gunzendorfer

4 Generations cropped

That’s a lot of mothers!

Sunday, May 4, 2014

Step by Step

Don’t you just love it when you stumble across something that is not only cool but also chips away at your research?  That’s just what happened to me today!

Since I wasn’t sure what I wanted to write about I decided to go into my treasure chest of “stuff” and see what caught my eye.  And this is what I found.

High School Graduation

Standing on the right is my great grandmother, Bertha “Birdie” Schwartz.  I’d seen this photo a number of times but because it is fairly large, I’d put it into a larger box with some old newspapers and various other things and didn’t get back to it.

So I drug it out and showed it to my husband who promptly noticed the scrolls that each young person was holding and we wondered if it was some sort of graduation or something.  That could be since there were two older people (teachers?) sitting with the young people.  And that’s when he noticed Birdie’s left wrist and a bracelet she was sporting.  “Is that your bracelet?” he asked.  Oh my, I think he could be right!

One of my earliest blog posts was about Birdie where I showed a picture of the bracelet she was given at her high school graduation.  You can read it here but here is the bracelet again.

Bertha's bracelet

Not a great photo and the bracelet is safely housed in the safe deposit box so I couldn’t take another one but compare it to this close up of Birdie’s wrist.

Bracelet on wrist

Yep, that’s it!  This must be a photo of Birdie’s high school graduation!

On the back of the photo was this.

Back of Grad Photo
Property of Loraine Levy
To be given her after my demise

Loraine Levy was Birdie’s oldest child, only daughter and my paternal grandmother.  I’m glad to know the picture ended up with not just Loraine but her granddaughter many, many years later. 

Since Birdie grew up in Santa Cruz, California and the Santa Cruz Sentinel is included in the collection, I decided to peruse the site in the 1890 time period to see if I could find out anything about the graduation.  And look what I found!

Bertha Schwartz Graduation
Santa Cruz Sentinel
Saturday, 7 June, 1890
Page 3

There it is – Bertha graduated from Santa Cruz High School on Friday, 6 June, 1890!  Now if that’s not enough, it gives the list of graduates – 8 girls and 1 boy.  Take a look at the photo – 8 girls and 1 boy!  So this is the 1890 graduating class from Santa Cruz High School! 

But that’s not all - one of the graduates was Bella Steen who just so happens to have been the first cousin of Birdie’s mother, Rebecca Steen Schwartz.  Rebecca’s father, Joseph, was the brother of Bella’s father, Jacob.

I had also noted in the photo that the young lady sitting on the left looked familiar and I knew I’d seen her somewhere before.  Which got me thinking – could the familiar looking girl be Bella Steen?

A quick look at some of my photos and I found this.

Bertha and friend

Could this unidentified woman be the same as the graduate who looked familiar to me?

Bella Steen cropped Bella Steen Graduation cropped

I think they might be one and the same!  Maybe my Steen cousin can confirm for me but I think it’s the same person. 

I need to research Bella more thoroughly.  I do know that she married Morris Benas who just happened to be a brother of Goldie Benas.  That name probably doesn’t mean much to too many people but one of Goldie’s sons was Sigmund Levy, my paternal grandfather who married Bertha’s daughter, Loraine.  I would be willing to bet that Bella and Morris were the connection to introducing my grandparents!

Just when you hit a slump a little nugget appears – so now I’m going to follow the headline of the newspaper and take it step by step.

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

Top 10 Genealogical Finds of 2013

photo by Pierce Place

As 2013 comes to a close, I’d like to step back and reflect on what I’ve learned over the past year.  So in my best David Letterman voice, I bring you my third annual Top 10 genealogical finds of 2013.

Number 10:  I finally subscribed to  I don’t know why I’d hesitated all this time but I finally signed up for an annual subscription.  I decided that since I’d think nothing of paying $40 for a sweater and since this was going to provide me with an entire year of fun, I’d forego one sweater and see what I could find.  And boy am I happy I pulled the trigger as many of my top 10 finds are a direct result of

Number 9:  Louis Schwartz had siblings!  Louis has been a bit of a brick wall for me but this year I learned that Louis, indeed, was not alone in the world and had at least a brother and a sister.  Here’s what I found (thanks to in the Santa Cruz Weekly Sentinel:

Schwartz K brother Santa Cruz Sentinel 19 Feb 1881
Santa Cruz Sentinel, 19 Feb 1881
Schwartz Louis Estate Santa Cruz Sentinel 2 Jun 1893
Santa Cruz Sentinel, 2 June 1893
Jackpot!  Not just one sibling but two!  I’ve yet to learn more about them but at least that’s giving me a start.

Number 8:  I learned Dena Steen’s cause of death!   About 18 months ago I connected with a Steen descendent, thanks to my blog, and we’ve kept in touch since.  Earlier this year, I wrote about Dena Steen, who was the younger sister of my 2nd great grandmother, Rebecca Steen Schwartz, wondering what caused her death at the age of 28.  I thought maybe her death was due to an accident but wasn’t quite sure how to find out more but my new Steen connection was able to learn that her death was caused by pericarditis.  Once again, blogging solved a mystery!  Thanks again, Ben.

Steen Dena
Hills of Eternity Cemetery, Colma, California

Number 7:  This is late breaking news!  I finally got up my nerve and sent a letter to the current owners of the Louis Schwartz house in Santa Cruz, which I wrote a little about here.  I mailed the letter a few days before Christmas and quickly forgot about it with all of the activities.  Imagine my surprise when I opened my e-mail the day after Christmas to find a message from the owner!  I’ve given him some digital photos of the house from the 1880’s and he, in turn, shared an album with me of the home’s exterior being painted this past summer.  He also told me that the little art studio that was built for Birdie is no longer there.  I’m thrilled to have this new connection.

Number 6:  Thanks to my new subscription at, I was able to learn more about Louis Schwartz’ death in 1893.  I knew he died in Byron Springs but had been unable to get a death certificate to help me learn more about the cause of death.  But after finding some articles in the Santa Cruz Sentinel, I learned that Louis died from Bright’s Disease, which is now known as kidney disease.  I knew Louis was quite influential but what a gift to learn so much about him at his death.

Schwartz Louis Obituary Santa Cruz Sentinel 24 May 1893 Part 1

Santa Cruz Sentinel 24 May 1893
Schwartz Louis Obituary Santa Cruz Sentinel 24 May 1893 Part 2

The flags were at half staff!

Schwartz Louis Laid to Rest Santa Cruz Sentinel 27 May 1893
Santa Cruz Sentinel 27 May 1893
I was even able to read the words the Rabbi said – who knew they printed this stuff in the newspapers?  But I’m confused because the article talks about the procession moving towards the Jewish Cemetery in Santa Cruz when I’ve seen his grave at Mountain View Cemetery in Oakland.  Perhaps Louis was buried in Santa Cruz and later moved to Oakland to be with Rebecca?

Number 5:  I wrote last year about finding Joseph Steen’s grave in the same cemetery where my dad, and now mom, are interred.  I was so happy to know where he was.  But imagine my surprise when I found, again in, a record of his death.

Steen Joseph Obituary Santa Cruz Sentinel 4 Aug 1866
Santa Cruz Sentinel, 4 Aug 1866

Number 4:  I found another cousin - this time it was through a connection on  Her grandfather, Joseph Fitzgerald, was the younger brother of my great grandfather, Edward Fitzgerald.  We’ve had fun sharing information and photos and I’ve learned so much from her.  For someone with such a small family, it is a thrill to add new members to the mix.  Welcome to my family, Patti!

Number 3:  Back to Louis Schwartz.  I knew that Louis had been a neighbor of his future wife (and my 2nd great grandmother), Rebecca Steen, and I knew that they were married in 1865.  But what fun to read all about their 25th wedding anniversary celebration in the 16 October 1890 edition of the Santa Cruz Sentinel.

Schwartz 25 Anniversary Part 1 Schwartz 25 Anniversary Part 2
What makes it even more interesting is that I think I ran across a few of the gifts they were given!  I found this random fork at my mother’s house and when I looked closely, I could see LRS engraved on the front and 1865-1890 on the back.  So this must have been one of the forks given to Louis and Rebecca by their children as described in the article.

And I think I also have the sugar bowl and cream pitcher given to them by Mr. and Mrs. H. Loobliner from San Luis Obispo.  I’ve read about Louis’ many business adventures and there is reference to a business he sold to Henry Loobliner, “a cousin”.  I’ve spent a little time trying to connect the dots between Henry and Louis but I haven’t run across anything that truly connects them together.  Yet.  But I do have the silver sugar and creamer set engraved with LS, 1865-1890, October 15. 

Number 2:  Finding the death notice for one of my favorite ancestors, Emery Waller, was worth the cost of the annual subscription I purchased to  I’ve written a lot about my quest to find Emery’s final resting place and, ultimately, getting his grave marked (click here to read the final installment) but through all of that, I was never 100% certain of his date of death.  But when I found his death notice in the Hutchison (Kansas) News from 23 December 1890, I now know that Emery’s died on 21 December 1890 from heart disease.  Somewhere early in my research I found that death date but stupidly never sourced where I’d seen the information so finally – FINALLY – I know his date of death.  RIP, Emery.

Waller Emery Obituary Hutchinson News 23 Dec 1890

Number 1:  Losing my mother this year has been tough and cleaning out the home she and my dad shared for over 55 years was something we’d always dreaded.  But now that it’s over and I’ve had some time to sort through the boxes of things I brought home, I’m thankful that they were such packrats.  Pictures, slides, movies, and just about everything else imaginable was tucked away in that house.  I’m not sure I’ll live long enough to catalog everything but I’ll give it a try.  I have coveted one very special family heirloom for as many years as I can remember and now that it is hanging proudly in my home, I’ve named it my Number 1 genealogical find for 2013.

My parents found this pencil drawing of my paternal grandfather, Sigmund Levy, and his two older brothers, Herbert and Leon, in the basement of my grandparents’ home as they were cleaning out their home of over 50 years in 1982 after my grandmother passed away.  It was rolled up and left as trash.  But, thankfully, my parents picked it up, had it straightened out, put it in a beautiful frame, and hung it proudly over their living room couch where it remained for 30 years.  And here it is!

L-R: Sigmund(1888-1968), Herbert(1884-1952), Leon(1886-1962)

A special thanks to my brother and sister for allowing me to have this beautiful heirloom for my very own – I love it! 

And that’s my annual list of top genealogical finds.  I can’t wait to see what I’ll discover in 2014.

Sunday, November 17, 2013

Best wishes for a long and happy life together

Now that the ceremony is over, it’s time for a pause - first with the flower girl, Sandra Dick.  This picture is so sweet and just like any little girl would be, Sandy was probably so excited to be dressed up for the occasion and no doubt was dreaming about the day she would be a bride.


And then it was time to read the notes of congratulations that came pouring in!

Reading Telegrams

And the next page of the Bride’s Book shows the telegrams they received.  Telegrams were so popular back then but aren’t used anymore.  I can imagine it was very exciting to receive a telegram.

Again, my grandmother wrote the address on the telegram, probably so that my mother could send a note of thanks at some point.  Having an address will give me good information to research in the future.  Interesting that just a few years ago all of these names wouldn’t have meant a thing to me but now several are familiar.

Heartiest congratulations and best wishes
Cecile Cohen Leah Jacbos
Congratulations and best wishes on this very happy day with many more years
to follow
May Cerkel Marks

It’s hard to see here but someone, probably my grandmother, tried to fix the spelling from Jacbos to Jacobs.

Heartiest congratulations.  May all your days be as happy as this one.
Gussie and Paula Levy
Sincere and hearty congratulations.  Long life and happiness.
Mrs. and Mrs. K Simonian

Here’s a special one – Aunt Bella was Bella Steen Benas.  Bella was my grandmother’s cousin and was married to Max Benas, brother of my grandfather’s mother.  This is my first example of a cross over where my grandparents’ relatives married each other.  I’ll never know for sure but my gut tells me that Bella and Max were the individuals who introduced my grandparents.

May your wedded life be one continuous honeymoon
Aunt Bella

Uh-oh, here’s another example of relatives marrying each other.  Lionel Benas was the son of Max and Bella Benas – his wife, Hesper Hertz, was the daughter of Bella’s sister, Myrtle Steen, and Harry Hertz.

May your marriage lot be years of happiness and love
Hesper and Lionel Benas

We both congratulate you on this wonderful occasion and wish you a
long and happy wedded life
Louise and Jerry Riese
My sincerest congratulations and best wishes for your continued happiness
Al Mendelson

Lionel Traube was the brother of Natalie Traube Gunzendorfer, wife of my grandmother’s brother, Wilton Gunzendorfer.
Our love and best wishes for many years of happiness
Lionel and Ella Traube

And here’s another Levy mystery.  My grandmother added Mr. and Mrs. Melville Levy, 1037 N. Fulton, Fresno.  Need to add that name to my research to-do list.

Sincere wishes for much happiness.  Sorry cannot be with you
Levy’s and Markovits
Congratulations to you and young couple wishing all abundant happiness
Ethel and Arnold Friend

And this last one is appropriate for two Stanford grads, although I don’t know who Indian Ray is.  Since back in those days Stanford’s mascot was the Indian, I wonder if this has something to do with the mascot.

Congratulations and best wishes for all the years to come and keep the cardinal waving
Indian Ray

I’m sure all of the people who sent congratulations to my parents in 1950 had no idea their telegram would still be out there today.  Who knew?