With new Iași records on JewishGen, I found my ancestors

Thanks to the work by dedicated volunteers — a community in which I don’t have the linguistic experience to participate — remote vital records, like births, marriages, and deaths, are newly available online. Volunteers traveled to Romania (or coordinated with locals in Eastern Europe) to retrieve, photograph, transcribe, and translate documents found in the national and city archives. Over the summer, these records were added to databases connected to the JewishGen website, the home of the primary collection of databases for worldwide Jewish genealogical research.

Thanks particularly to the Romanian Special Interest Group (ROM-SIG) project coordinator, Bob Wascou.

And it looks like I’ve had some personal success with the updated records. I’ve discovered what appears to be a marriage record for my second great grandparents on my direct paternal line, Moses Landes and Bertha Brauna Yeruslavitz.

The information in the record doesn’t precisely match existing information I have. Over the last year of my genealogy research, I’ve come to the conclusion that there are going to be times when one piece of information conflicts with another piece of information. I have to make judgment calls frequently not only to determine whether the newly-found record pertains to the individuals I believe it does, but to determine which might be more accurate.

The only information I truly have 100% confidence in is information pertaining to myself; every other piece of data carries at least some level of doubt.

Moses Landes and Bertha Brauna Yeruslavitz, Marriage Record from Iași, via JewishGen
Moses Landes and Bertha Brauna Yeruslavitz, Marriage Record from Iași, via JewishGen
There are some problems with this marriage record.

The groom and bride names are not accurate compared to my knowledge. Moses Landes is listed as Moisi Lande. Moses and Moisi are both common versions of the name משה from biblical Hebrew. Lande could just be a misinterepretation of handwriting on the actual record, or it could be the actual surname used at the time. The bride is listed as Brana Serislavitz, and I’d be willing to wager that the handwritten record starts the name with a J, and this is just a misreading.

The couple’s parents’ names are different than my records. With so few records in the United States referring with any consistency to my third great grandparents, I’d be more inclined to accept this new information as correct. Moses’s parents here are Hers and Perla Leea. On Moses’s gravestone, his father is listed in Hebrew was Joseph Chaim, and on Moses’s death certificate, his father’s name is recorded as Joseph. Hers (or Herș or Hirsch) are not normally substitutions for Joseph, but on Moses’s headstone, his fill name is inscribed as משה צבי ב״ר יוסף חיים. Herș is the Romanian spelling of the Yiddish הירש, the equivalent of the Hebrew צבי. Maybe his father’s name as listed on this marriage record is actually a reference to Moses’s full name

On Moses’s death certificate, his mother’s name is listed as Pauline Leon. I’ve seen Pauline as a frequent replacement for Pearl (or Perl or Berl), and Leon, which I thought might have been Moses’s mother’s surname, might be Leah (Leea), part of her given name.

The bride’s parents are listed as Meer and Eidil. The only information I had previously for her parents were too conflicted to prove worthwhile; this may be the best clue I have so far. Eidil could very well be Edith Yeruslavitz that traveled to Canada with the family but disappeared soon after immigration. Edith’s birth year would be 1842 according to the passenger manifest, and with Bertha’s birth year described below, it’s possible that the Edith who traveled to North America is the Eidil listed on this record. The name Meer matches Bertha Brauna’s father’s Hebrew name on her headstone.

The dates don’t match. My records indicate Moses was born in December 1852 (or less likely, 1854). The new record indicates he was born in 1845, which would have made him 81 at the time of his death. My records indicate Bertha Brauna was born in 1860; the marriage record indicates she was born in 1857 and was 18 years old.

Despite all of the discrepancies, I’m leaning strongly towards including this. The names, location, and marriage date (not long before the birth of their first child) give me enough confidence that this record represents my second great grandparents.

It helps to continue checking resources that receive occasional updates to the database. And if you can contribute to projects that endeavor to retrieve mostly inaccessible genealogical records and make them available to the world, particularly in support of a non-profit organization like JewishGen, do so.

Over the next few hours, I’ll be updating my tree on Ancestry.com to include the new details. It might take longer for me to update the local, free copy of my family tree on landesfamilytree.com.

The Landes Pharmacy and Joseph Landes in Bacău

At least two generations of the Landes family were involved in the pharmacy industry in New York City. When Moses Landes settled in Manhattan after passing through Canada on the way from England and initially Romania, he noted his occupation has a stand keeper, and on his death certificate, he was listed as having worked at a candy store. But just a couple of years after he was living in New York, his son Joseph was moving forward with his career.

Joseph’s work continued with his son Herbert, and for a time, with his other son Mortimer.

Landes Family Prescription Pad [via Joan Landes Norton]
Landes Family Prescription Pad [via Joan Landes Norton]
On May 21, 1902 at Brooklyn College, Joseph Landes passed the examination given by the Eastern Branch of the (New York) State Board of Pharmacy for the degree of licensed pharmacist and received his pharmaceutical certificate.

By March 1910, Joseph, living in Manhattan, was working as a pharmacist at 11 First Avenue, also in Manhattan. He was operating his store under the registered trade name Alo-Lax Chemical Company. He was also later a director and vice president of Sealeaf Emulsion Company, which was, probably after Joseph’s involvement, fined $50 for advertising unproven health benefits of a chocolate cod-liver oil product.

Before his death, Joseph had moved his operations to 4024 Fifth Avenue, Brooklyn, under the name Landes Pharmacy. When Joseph died, his obituary was printed in Volume 43 of Practical Druggist and Pharmaceutical Review of Reviews:

Joseph Landes who conducted a drug store at 41st Street and Fifth Avenue, Brooklyn, died recently aged forty-five years. He was well and favorably known to the drug trade as treasurer of the Bay Ridge Retail Druggists Association and as member of the New York Retail Druggists Association. He was also a member and organizer of the First Berauer, K. N. V. [sic] He is survived by a widow and three sons.

I’ve come to the conclusion that the printing of “First Berauer, K. N. V.” was probably a misreading of First Bacauer, K.U.V., the organization (landsmanshaft) that supported — or was intended to support — immigrants from Bacău, Romania, as well as relatives still living there. K.U.V. is an abbreviation for the Yiddish that translates roughly to “sick and benevolent association.” This would therefore mean that Joseph considered himself to be from the town of Bacău in Romania, and possibly that he and his siblings lived there before emigrating to North America by way of England.

It’s likely he was born in Iași like his brothers and sister, but perhaps he identified his childhood with Bacău. First Bacauer K.U.V. did not pay for his burial or the burial of any other Landes, but at first glance, the organization did not seem to have any money.

Joseph’s widow, Sadie Lustig Landes, was the proprietor of the store after Joseph’s death, and Herbert and Mortimer later operated or worked at the store.

Bi-Rite Pharmacy [via Google Maps Street View]
Bi-Rite Pharmacy [via Google Maps Street View]
After Sadie passed away in 1964, it appears that the family sold the business.

The store that contained the pharmacy became known as Bi-Rite Drugs after the new owners filed for incorporation with New York State on 17 May 1965. Bi-Rite moved between 1997 and 2007 to its final location at 4013 Fifth Avenue, and today, Bi-Rite Drugs is out of business.

Towards the top of this post is a page from the prescription pad from the Landes Pharmacy, provided by Joan Landes Norton who discovered the paper deep in a file cabinet. You can see the store’s phone number is GE 6-8239, the same number (718-436-8239) that stayed with the store for at least fifty years, even after the store changed locations and owners following the death of Sadie Lustig Landes.

The photograph here is how the storefront appeared in 2013, courtesy of Google Maps Street View. Even in this photograph, if you look at the bottom of the sign noting the storefront is available for rent, you can see the last few digits of the same phone number that stayed with the store since the Landes family arrived in Brooklyn.