Catching up with the Sturmwalds

Years ago I struggled with conflicting information about second great grandmother, Eliza Sturmwald Lustig, and the name of her mother.

On Eliza’s death certificate, her mother is listed as Charlotte Newmann. On her marriage certificate, the name of Eliza’s mother appears to be Janetta Shyck. After some time thinking about it, with no other information to confirm, I moved onto other areas of research. Here’s what I did know. Continue reading “Catching up with the Sturmwalds”

New York City marriage affidavits and licenses

Thanks to the work of the Reclaim the Records organization, indexes to marriage licenses are now available online for the New York City, and the information in the index can be used to order documents from the New York City Department of Records and Information Services (DORIS). These documents tends to be more complete than the marriage certificates, whose index has been available online (for a more limited range of years) for some time.

Reclaim the Records was awarded the index in two parts. Records from years 1908 through 1929 were obtained from the New York City Municipal Archives. Records from 1930 through 1995 are housed with the New York City Clerk’s Office. The former have been available since April 2016, and the latter group was made public earlier this year.

A couple of months ago, I tested the waters by ordering four documents. I expected to wait several months for delivery, but I was pleased to receive them within four weeks.

Here’s what the documents look like. Continue reading “New York City marriage affidavits and licenses”

The Slawitz family: Feige Slawitz Berman and Chaia Sarah Slawitz Stein

I have to admit that I haven’t had a lot of time for family tree research over the last few years. The result is that progress has been slow.

But as more and more people are sharing their own research on, I was able to stumble upon some proof that confirmed the theory I posited in my last entry way back in March 2016. (Has it really been that long?)

The crux was that the inscription on the headstone for my third great grandmother (my mother’s father’s father’s mother), Feige or Fannie Berman, included the words “our beloved aunt and grandmother.” At the time, I was unaware of Feige having any siblings. And research was difficult because sources (her son’s marriage certificate and her own death certificate) gave her two different maiden names (Short, and Slobus, respectively). Continue reading “The Slawitz family: Feige Slawitz Berman and Chaia Sarah Slawitz Stein”

Anna, my great grandmother, finally found.

After a few years of occasional research — this isn’t by any means a full-time endeavor for me — I’ve finally solved a mystery. My mother’s paternal grandmother, Anna, was born in New York City, and so I thought that confirming details about her life would have been easier. With my mother and her cousin Barbara telling stories, I expected I’d be able to learn more about her. I did, but until recently, there was little I could confirm.

All that changed recently. First, I discovered that her father’s last name was Nachamin for their first few years in the United States, not Neckameyer. The family appears to have changed the name for the chance of better success in business, but that’s just an assumption at this point. This led to not only Anna’s birth certificate, but more vital records for Anna’s siblings, including a few I was not previously aware of because they died young. Because FamilySearch has indexed, though poorly, all names on New York City vital records, I’ve been able to find much more information.

Here’s her newly-found birth certificate from New York City. Continue reading “Anna, my great grandmother, finally found.”

From Hirschenbein to Hirsch and back again

Marty Hirsch and Shari Berman Landes via Shari Berman Landes
Marty Hirsch and Shari Berman Landes
via Shari Berman Landes
Some old family photos included a friend and cousin of my mother and her parents, Marty Hirsch.

As I progressed through my family research over the past couple of years, my mother identified Marty as someone who might be able to provide a lot of insight. Unfortunately, they lost touch some years ago. She was familiar with Marty’s address in Manhattan, and that helped us identify the Marty Hirsch who we thought was the “right” Marty — our Marty — among many listed in New York City.

And then I came across some bad news, taking the form of Marty’s friend’s obituary. Marty was listed as predeceased in this obituary.

Marty’s mother, Lena Neckameyer Hirsch, was the sister of my great grandmother, Anna Neckameyer Berman. Because I’m interested in learning more about all the descendants of my ancestors, I researched the Hirsch family, but I wasn’t able to get very far. The marriage certificate for Lena Neckameyer was a little difficult to read, and once again, my interpretation of handwriting eventually proved to be incorrect. Lena’s husband’s name (and the name of Marty’s father) was Morris, and on the marriage certificate, his last name was Hirschenberg. Or Hirschensomething. It wasn’t clear, and I decided to go with Hirschenberg.

Lena Neckamayer and Morris Hirschenbein marriage certificate
Lena Neckamayer and Morris Hirschenbein marriage certificate

Neither the names Hirsch nor Hirschenberg revealed much about these descendants of my second great grandfather, Wolf (William) Neckameyer. But over the last week or so, I turned my attention to this family, particularly because of their closer relation to the Bermans, and Lena’s presence in home films my mother’s cousin provided me at the same time I received the Berman recordings.

Using wildcards in searches and scrutiny of the results, I determined that the name I was looking for wasn’t Hirschenberg, it was Hirschenbein. With this realization, I was able to find more census and military records for Marty Hirsch’s parents, brothers, and sisters. I still don’t know much information about the modern Hirsches, but now I have a better starting point.

One new piece of information this led me to is Marty’s brother, Arthur, who was wounded in action during World War II. Arthur’s last name was usually spelled Herschenbein.

Arthur Hirshenbein, wounded in action
Arthur Hirshenbein, wounded in action adds 14 million New York records to database New York Records New York Records

The New York City Department of Records and the New York State Archives have released 14 million records to This includes birth, marriage, and death records for New York City, which were and are still indexed by the Italian Genealogical Group and the German Genealogy Group. Previously, these records were searchable by visiting the websites of these two groups or through one of my favorite genealogy websites,

The 14 million records also include the index to the 1855 and 1875 New York state census populations, which have been available at

I’ve already found many records for my ancestors and relatives within these indexes outside of, and I’ve ordered many record certifications of vital statistics from the Department of Records, but having these records completely incorporated into the family tree might provide some new hints towards details that I haven’t yet noticed.

Here’s the entry for the family of my second great grandfather, David Sturmwald. The Sturmwalds are likely my only ancestors to be living in the United States as early as 1875. David Sturmwald arrived in the United States from Bayern (Bavaria) in 1849, but I haven’t found him in the earlier 1855 New York state census.

David Sturmwald and family in the 1875 New York Census
David Sturmwald and family in the 1875 New York Census

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 to include the new details. It might take longer for me to update the local, free copy of my family tree on

Second-guessing information assumed to be correct led to a breakthrough

When I started looking into my family’s history, I had little information to begin with. A two-page handwritten document offered a brief overview of my father’s lineage, including his ancestors’ brothers and sisters. The document was writtreen either by my father’s aunt or uncle sometime within the past couple of decades. The information gave me a great starting point for my research.

Members of the family tree on can see the document here. You can join family trees on for free, despite the company’s incessant attempts to get you to part with your money. If you’re a relative of mine and would like free membership to see the documents I’ve attached to the tree, leave a comment on this website.

The second page of the document indicates that my great grandmother’s brother Albert Lustig married Sadie Jacobs. With this information, I had discovered where Albert and Sadie lived after they were married, but I couldn’t find any information about Sadie prior to the marriage. The marriage should have taken place in New York City during the time in which indexes are freely available via, but nothing with these names, or using the name Abraham Lustig, as the groom was also known, was available.

I did find a record for a marriage between Albert Lustig and Sadie Isaacs in New York, the same year that I expected my great granduncle to be married. I added this to the list of records to order, but it wasn’t a high priority. While there is a Family History Library about 30 minutes from where I live, ordering microfiche and scanning documents on-site is not something I currently have the time to do. Ordering the records directly from the New York City Department of Records takes a little more time and is a little more expensive. So I order only a few records each month.

In March, I ordered the marriage certificate for Albert Lustig and Sadie Isaacs. When the document arrived this past weekend, I was pleased, but not completely surprised, to see that Albert Lustig’s parents as listed were in fact my second great grandparents, Joseph Lustig and Eliza Sturmwald Lustig. Sadie Isaacs, born in Philadelphia, was the daughter of Henry Isaacs and Rachel Leon Isaacs. I later discovered that Henry Isaacs came to the United States from The Netherlands and Rachel Leon was born in South Carolina.

With this new information confirmed, I was able to find Sadie’s brothers and sisters. Other family historians with trees on provided some hints to the descendants of Sadie’s siblings, which sent me in search of more records — mostly census records and marriage documents — confirming these new relatives. Again, this isn’t a high priority in my search because most of these relatives are at least one marriage away from my bloodline, but still not as distant as many other individuals included in the family tree. With Sadie’s family’s history in the United States stretching back through time farther than that of most of my direct ancestors, more resources are available online for research, particularly through FamilySearch.

Had I ordered Sadie’s death certificate, I might have been able to determine the her maiden name. Because she passed away in 1965, fewer than 50 years ago, New York City would probably not release the document to me. Only confirmed direct descendants can receive someone’s death certificate within that time frame.

One thing from the original document pertaining to Sadie Isaacs remains correct: she and Albert had no children.

Descendants of Henry Isaacs, including Sadie Isaacs Lustig
Descendants of Henry Isaacs, including Sadie Isaacs Lustig

Updated spellings after new information

A few days ago, I spoke to another cousin, a first cousin twice removed, who found me thanks to the progress I’ve posted online as I research certain branches of my ancestry. He offered a wealth of information about the descendants of Wolf Neckameyer.

He mentioned that my great grand aunt, Celia Neckameyer Walcoff, held a job as a model for an uncle whose last name was Kashowitz. The name rang a bell. Earlier in my research, I obtained the marriage certificate for my great grandparents, Anna Neckameyer and Samuel Berman. I had a hard time interpreting the handwriting on the form, and I’m still getting used to interpreting different handwriting styles.

At first, I interpreted Anna’s mother’s maiden name on the certificate as “Rochaurtz.” This never sat well with me, and after further examination, and with the assistance of Lena Neckameyer’s marriage certificate where the name was written more clearly, I was happy with my new reading of “Rashowitz.” Although the cousin I spoke with didn’t know how Celia’s uncle was related, the fact that he said his name was “Kashowitz” forced me to go back to the marriage certificate once again.

With the new knowledge, it’s clear that the name is Kashowitz. The handwriting on Anna and Samuel’s marriage certificate is still a little suspect, but when I look closely, I can see that the initial is most definitely a “K” rather than an “R.”

Armed with the name Rashowitz and the possibility that more relatives were living in New York at the beginning of the twentieth century, I’ve discovered quite a few families with the last name Rashowitz documented in census records. I have yet to make any solid connection between these Rashowitz households and Rebecca Rashowitz, the first wife of Wolf Neckameyer, and the mother of my great grandmother Anna.

The three images below are how Rebecca Kashowitz’s name appears on three marriage certificates. I’ve slightly edited the images to get rid of lines from entries above and below the mother’s maiden name on the certificate.

Kashowitz on Marriage Certificate #1
Kashowitz on Marriage Certificate #1
Kashowitz on Marriage Certificate #2
Kashowitz on Marriage Certificate #2
Kashowitz on Marriage Certificate #3
Kashowitz on Marriage Certificate #3

Also, after receiving the naturalization documentation and death certificates for Martin Landes and his wife Pearl (Pauline), I’ve decided to change the spellings of Pearl’s maiden name, which happens to be the same as Martin’s mother’s maiden name (Bertha Brauna). I had been using the German-based spelling: Jereslawitz or Jaruslawitz. Many immigrants from Eastern Europe arrived in the United States will German spellings for their names, and that seems to come out of the fact that many boarded ships in Bremen, Germany. The boarding agent who transcribed the names simply wrote down what he heard using the letters he’s accustomed to associating with certain sounds.

As time passed, families took on the Anglicized spelling, using y instead of j for the Yiddish and Hebrew letter י, using v instead of w for the Yiddish װ. While there still is some inconsistency, I’m standardizing the name with spelling Yaruslavitz. This should also be closest to what I imagine the Yiddish spelling would have been (ירושלאַװיץ) or the Hebrew spelling (ירוסלביץ) using English transliteration rather than German.

Update: As I’ve found more, later records for newly discovered members of the Yeruslavitz family, this spelling is more common, so I’m updating the tree to reflect Yeruslavitz.

Rabbi Ezriel Yosef Yehuda in Russia

A few months ago while visiting the resting places of my ancestors and other relatives, I suspected a fallen gravestone to belong to my second great grandmother, Feige Berman. I asked for the stone to be reset and repointed and paid the required fee. Having discovered more ancestors buried at the same cemetery, I revisited recently. I paid a visit to Feige Berman to check on the gravestone, and it had been reset.

The engraving offered a new clue, but before I get to that, I had discovered more information about Feige from public records. Her son, Samuel, married Anna Neckameyer in 1919. This was the first marriage certificate I received from the New York Department of Records once I started searching for hard evidence beyond online tools like The certificate indicates Feige’s — or Fanny’s — maiden name is Short. That is the information I still have on my family tree, but it contradicts with something else.

Almost 30 years after Samuel was married, and outliving her son, Feige passed away. Her death certificate indicates her father’s full name is Joseph Slobus, and he was born in Russia. The name Slobus has not helped me turn up any additional information about her family. (Update: I’ve subsequently discovered the name is Slawitz.)

Feige Slobus (Short) Berman headstone
Feige Slobus (Short) Berman headstone

Feige’s gravestone, now that it is position upright, provides what could be valuable information. The Hebrew inscription of her name is as follows:

פײגא בת הרב ר’ עזריאל יוסך יהודא

“Feiga bat haRav R. Ezriel Yosef Yehuda.” This indicates her father was Rabbi Ezriel Yosef Yehuda, and as I know from census records and Feige’s death certificate, he is from Russia. Feige was born at 1848, so there is a good chance that the Rabbi was in Russia around that time. I’ve searched the internet and JewishGen, but I have not been able to find any Rabbi with that name.

I’m not sure where to go next. I’ve posted a message on the message board, looking for some assistance or clues. And I’m publishing this article on my family research blog, to document my research but also to serve as an outpost in the remote chance that someone else happens to be searching for similar information.

Family tree of Feige Slobus (Short) Berman
Family tree of Feige Slobus (Short) Berman

The two marriages of Fannie Landes

Marriage certificate for Albert Paltiel and Fannie Landes [NYC Department of Records]
Fannie Landes, daughter of Moses and Bertha, married Albert Paltiel from Canada in 1907. Fannie and Albert had two children, Joseph and Harry, before Albert passed away in 1909. Five years after Albert passed away, Fannie remarried, and her new husband, Adolph Goldenberg, helped raise the children. The information I have about the Paltiels of this generation came from the family history written by my grandfather’s brother, Mortimer (“Morty”) Landes, as well as a family tree document provided to me by my father.

The information led to census listings and a search for likely marriage certificates. The certificates for Fannie’s two marriages arrived earlier this week, and I’m relatively confident the certificates pertain to the Fannie Landes who is my great grandfather’s sister. Yet, there is still some confusion surrounding Fannie’s mother’s maiden name.

I mentioned that on the death certificate for Bertha Landes, her father and mother are listed as Martin Goldenberg and Bertha Goldenberg. Goldenberg is the last name of Bertha’s son-in-law, Adolph, the second husband of Fannie, so my first assumption was that Adolph might have reported the information incorrectly. I previously had information indicating Bertha’s maiden name is Jereslawitz. Both marriage certificates received this week for Fannie Landes, like Bertha’s death certificate, contradict what I thought I had known.

The first marriage certificate, for Albert Paltiel and Fannie Landes pictured above, lists Fannie’s parents as Moses Landes and Birth (I’m assuming this should be Bertha) Goldenberg. The second marriage certificate, for Adolph Goldenberg and Fannie (Landes) Paltiel pictured below, indicates Fannie’s parents’ names are Moses Landes and Bertha Goldberg.

About the certificate for Paltiel/Landes:

Continue reading “The two marriages of Fannie Landes”

Celia Neckameyer and George Walcoff

Marriage certificate for Celia Neckameyer and George Walcoff [NYC Department of Records]
Two years ago, I didn’t know the name of my mother’s paternal grandmother. When I began asking my parents about their family, I learned about Anna N. None of my close relatives could remember her maiden name, however. It wasn’t too long ago that I discovered I had Anna’s name in front of me for quite some time. It was listed on Seymour Berman’s certificate of death, a copy of which I had obtained from my mother. Seymour Berman was Anna’s son. I knew Anna had a sister Lena, so I was able to find census records that likely pertained to the Neckameyers in my family.

I answered many of these questions about the Neckameyers recently. Through Anna’s own marriage certificate, I was able to piece together a history that confirms that Anna and Lena have other siblings. One of these siblings is Celia Neckameyer, and the information I found points to her marrying a man named George Walcoff who lived nearby. I ordered their marriage certificate to confirm.

The facts on the certificate seem to support the conclusion that Celia is the sister of my great grandmother, Anna Neckameyer.

Continue reading “Celia Neckameyer and George Walcoff”

Marriage certificate: Joseph Landes and Sadie Lustig

The next marriage certificate arrived recently from the New York City Department of Records. It’s convenient having most of my recent ancestors residing in New York City — but ordering records is not cheap. With some time to spare, I might visit the department in person to discover and copy these items personally, but at the moment, time is at a premium for me. I prefer the convenience of online ordering. At some point, research will not be possible without visiting locations in person, so I’m taking advantage of convenience for as long as possible.

The latest document to arrive is the marriage certificate for my paternal great grandparents, Joseph Landes and Sadie Lustig. Joseph married Sadie when he was 28 and she was 18 according to the document, but other sources put Joseph’s age at 30 at the time of the marriage in 1909. The date of birth I have comes from a World War I draft registration card, and this is the only documentation I have of Joseph’s full birth date. Census records list Joseph’s age inconsistently.

The marriage certificate offers Joseph’s parents’ names: Moses Landes and Bertha Jereslawitz. This is the first indication I’ve had of Bertha’s maiden name. I should also point out that oral family history had previously indicated that Moses’s wife’s name was Brenda, but I’ve found no evidence of the name Brenda so far. All records, and I have a high level of confidence that the records that I’ve found do pertain to my family, list my second great grandmother’s name as Bertha. Incidentally, I have also discovered a related record indicating Moses’s other son Martin married Pauline Jeruslavitz. The last names are close enough, and I suspect that Bertha and Pauline were related somehow before marrying their respective Landeses, but I have no information yet regarding that relationship.

The Landes/Lustig marriage certificate provides names for Sadie’s parents: Rübin Lustig and Lisa Strümwald. My other information, namely Federal Census records, identify Sadie’s father as Joseph Lustig, so there seems to be conflicting information. This is the first time Sadie’s mother’s name is listed as Lisa; in all other records, the name is spelled Eliza, Louisa, or Louesa. I’m relatively confident that Lisa is either another nickname variation or a misspelling. Also, in all other cases, Eliza’s last name is spelled Sturmwald. Oral history indicates the Sturmwalds originated in Germany, and if this the case, Sturmwald — with or without the umlaut — would most likely be the correct spelling. Stürmwald translates to “raging forest,” and that’s a relatively exciting surname.

With every answer, more questions.

Continue reading to see the marriage certificate for Joseph Landes and Sadie Lustig. Perhaps you can help me decipher Sadie’s middle initial. It appears to be a “C.”

Continue reading “Marriage certificate: Joseph Landes and Sadie Lustig”

Marriage certificate: Wolf Neckameyer and Rose Goldfarb

The marriage certificate of Samuel Berman and Anna Neckameyer gave me the name of Anna’s parents: Wolf Neckameyer and Rebecca Rochaurtz. By the time Wolf is living in the United States with his daughter Anna (and possibly with other children — that’s a different discussion), Rebecca had passed away and he had remarried.

I ordered the marriage certificate for Wolf and Rose from the New York City Department of Records, hoping it would provide more information about Wolf. Rose Goldfarb was Wolf’s second wife. She was a widow herself, with the maiden name Schechter. She was born in Wolhina, Rossia, according to the document, and this most likely corresponds to the area known presently as Volhynia. Although Rose’s ancestry is not directly part of my heritage — Wokf’s first wife would be my second great grandmother — I have added her parental information into the family tree.

This document has also provided me with the names of Wolf Neckameyer’s parents: Aaron Neckameyer and Mollie Hecht. The certificate indicates Wolf was born in Minsk, another new piece of information for me. Continue reading to see the scanned marriage certificate.

Continue reading “Marriage certificate: Wolf Neckameyer and Rose Goldfarb”

Marriage certificates received: Berman/Neckameyer, Lustig/Sturmwald, and Klein/Herman

In order to complete the Family Tree I’ve been researching, I’ve ordered a number of birth, marriage, and death records from New York City. Last month, I received my first order, the marriage record for Sam Berman and Anna Neckameyer. Sam is my mother’s father’s father.

The record provided Sam and Anna’s parents’ names, filling in several holes, though Anna’s mother’s maiden name is a little unclear to me. I interpreted the handwriting as “Rochaurtz.” Take a look for yourself.

Continue reading “Marriage certificates received: Berman/Neckameyer, Lustig/Sturmwald, and Klein/Herman”