Birth records from Czecze don’t include Joseph Lustig

I’ve discovered very little about My second great grandfather Joseph Lustig. The 1900 census indicates he was born in January 1855, I have his parents’ names from his own death certificate and marriage certificate, and the death certificates of one of his children indicates he was born in the town of Czecze, Hungay, which seems to correspond to the town currently known as Cece.

Joseph Lustig came to the United States in 1875 or 1876 and became a naturalized American citizen by 1900. I haven’t been able to find any documentation of his naturalization, immigration, or any other events prior to his arrival in the United States. I have found his listings in New York City directories for various years.

Joseph Lustig's HeadstoneAfter asking for some assistance brainstorming within the Hungary Exchange Facebook Group, I decided to order a microfilm from the Family History Library that should help. In the 1950s, volunteers in Budapest photographed synagogue and church records, including births, marriages, and deaths, in the towns not far from this capital city. Cece was one of these towns.

The microfilm arrived at my local Family History Center in East Brunswick, New Jersey earlier this week, so I took a couple hours out of my day to visit the center and scroll through the microfilm. I found several entries for Lustig (or Lusztig) in Cece, but none appeared to be associated with Joseph Lustig. I could not find his parents’ names, either.

I left the center a little disappointed. After arriving back home, I began digging through some more records. I made a careful record of the changes of his home address, and then discovered something new. Joseph Lustig, my second great grandfather, was listed as a witness to the naturalization of another Lustig from Hungary living in New York City, Nathan Lustig, in 1902. I haven’t figured out whether there is a relationship between Joseph and Nathan, but it seems likely.

I found more information on Nathan, whose father was Elias Lustig. Nathan’s naturalization documents include a testimonial from Joseph stating that he is Nathan’s brother, but the ages make this seem unlikely, and neither of Nathan’s parents’ names coincide with any of the varied names of Joseph’s parents. In another location in the naturalization papers, Joseph is indicated as Nathan’s uncle. Nathan would be the right age to be Joseph’s nephew. There is a probability that when Nathan and Elias arrived in New York in 1891, they knew Joseph had been living in the city for several years, and Joseph might have even helped Nathan and Elias immigrate.

If it’s true that Joseph is Nathan’s uncle, Joseph and Elias would be brothers. There’s about thirteen years’ difference in age between Joseph and Elias, which isn’t impossible for brothers. However, a family history document written by Mortimer Landes, Joseph’s grandson, says the following: “Joseph had no brothers or sisters as far as I know — but there were many cousins from his side — and I still have contact with some of them.” Morty died twenty years ago, so I never had a chance to ask who these cousins may be. Perhaps Elias and Nathan Lustig are some of those cousins.

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 Ancestry.com can see the document here. You can join family trees on Ancestry.com 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 stevemorse.org, 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 Ancestry.com 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

Adventures in Brooklyn: streets and cemeteries

A few weekends ago, I spent two days in Brooklyn with two goals. First, I wanted to visited cemeteries to document gravestones and resting places of relatives, and second, I was hoping to visit the homes in which my ancestors lived.

Sadie and Albert Lustig, Green-Wood Cemetery
My first visit was to Green-Wood Cemetery, a location that is also a national historic landmark. The grounds, while partially under construction, were quite beautiful. I may return to take the trolley tour of the location, and now that I know at least one additional relative is resting there, I have a strong reason to return. I visited Albert Lustig and Sadie Jacobs Lustig at Green-Wood. Albert is the brother of my great grandmother, Sadie Lustig Landes.

This visit introduced me to the term columbiarium. The columbarium was busy with a group of mourners, so I was careful to be very respectful of others while looking for the Lustigs’ spot.

I am not familiar with the different neighborhoods of Brooklyn, and relied on GPS to find my way. I was able to visit a few old houses to snap photographs of the their exteriors before heading out of Brooklyn.

The next day featured a trip back to Brooklyn, Queens, and Long Island. There were many sites to visit, so I used a Google document to keep the day organized. The document has also helped me remember after the fact where I had been, which is important if I plan to write about these trips on this site. The first stop was Mount Hebron in Flushing to visit Samuel W. Berman, my great grandfather, and his mother, Feige Short Berman. Finding these graves took a good deal of time, even with directions from the cemetery’s office. My girlfriend, who went on these trips with me, didn’t have a great feeling about visiting this cemetery.

I’m not superstitious in any way, but once we found the stones, the bad feeling made sense. What we suspected to be Feige’s headstone had fallen. After documenting Samuel’s grave, we returned to the office to let someone know about the problem. They informed me they would have someone look at the plot, determine if the stone did belong to Feige, and send me a bill to fix it. I received the bill today. I’ll be looking forward to visiting again once the stone is reset and repointed.

After Mount Hebron, I visited my great grandmother Pearl Kerstman Rosenberg at Mount Judah. Pearl’s story has become more interesting lately. Pearl’s first husband was Shlomo Kerstman according to family history recorded by Jon Derow, mentioned in the linked article. Her maiden name is documented as Libowitz on her son Isadore’s marriage certificate, but it is recorded as Hoffman on her own death certificate, informed by her daughter Lillian. In my family tree online, I listed her birth name as Libowitz.

This has attracted the attention of someone who is a potential cousin as identified through AncestryDNA. His ancestors include Leibowitz, and he believes that the Pearl Libowitz in my tree is the Pearl Leibowitz recorded in his own family tree, someone for whom all records seem to be missing. This potential cousin also happens to have been a neighbor to my family twenty-five years ago. The coincidence is a little difficult to believe. According to the information I have, Pearl was born in or came from Odessa, while her son, Isadore, was born in Poltava. This doesn’t match with the Leibowitz history according to my potential cousin, but it doesn’t rule out the possible relationship either.

I’m now looking for additional documentation, but I haven’t had much luck finding anything prior to immigration. Isadore’s naturalization records might provide some clues, but these need to be ordered directly from the Kings County Clerk’s office and could take much longer to receive, particularly in the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy.

After visiting Pearl, I spent more time in Brooklyn looking for old residences. Many buildings from the early twentieth century are gone, replaced with retail establishments or different buildings. In some cases, the addresses no longer exist. Moving forward in time, my family moved to different areas of Brooklyn, and these areas continue to be residential. I’ve included photography in the family tree.

The day ran long, and I didn’t make it to all the sites I had planned, but this fall I intend to return and continue my visits. A few days later, I noticed something I didn’t see in person. Samuel Berman’s headstone includes a Freemasons symbol at the top: the square and compass with the letter “G.” I didn’t expect any of my relatives to be Freemasons, but it does give me the opportunity to reach out to another organization that would potentially have records pertaining to my relatives.

Is this the real Joseph Lustig?

Joseph Lustig’s death certificate [NYC Department of Records]
I wrote last week about the difficulty I had reconciling what I thought to be Eliza Lustig’s death certificate with the Eliza Sturmwald Lustig I had come to know as my second great grandmother. Death certificates are notoriously inaccurate, and it’s understandable. The informant providing the information to the Department of Health is often either grief-stricken and unable to recall obscure facts, or not close enough to the deceased to know the answers.

With information on the certificates contradicting known facts, it becomes much more difficult to say with certainty that the certificate is pertinent. Other clues might help, and the death certificate I received last week for Joseph Lustig is full of clues.

The date of death is one thing you can count on being accurate in a death certificate, and Joseph Lustig’s date of death is 22 December 1918 and a year of birth of 1855. From census records, I know that the Joseph Lustig in my family must have passed away between 1915 and 1920, so the date is right. The cause of death is almost guaranteed to be correct, though limited by technology and medicine of the time. The cause of death is listed as idiopathic cerebral hemorrhage, but I have no other information with which I can compare.

The death certificate does not list Joseph’s residence, only the location of death. The certificate identifies the place of death as 75 Second Street, a tenement in Manhattan. The doctor who signed the certificate indicates he had attended Joseph for three weeks leading up to his death, and the picture I’m drawing in my mind is that this doctor, based on 7th St., visited Joseph frequently until the time of his passing, if this in fact my second great grandfather.

So I’m looking for a Joseph Lustig most likely living in New York not far from this address. The 1915 New York Census and the 1920 Federal Census are good places to start, as I look for relatives — or Joseph, himself — living in the area. In June 1915, Joseph lived at 210-212 East 2nd Street in Manhattan, but his daughter Sadie lived with her husband and family at 71 2nd Street. That’s a distance of only two and a half long city blocks. I’m thinking the location is right.

Is there any other Joseph Lustig — a 63 year-old real estate agent — living in the area in 1915, born around 1855, that I could reasonably assume might be the Joseph who passed away at 75 Second St.? According to the index to this census on Ancestry.com, there are no other Joseph Lustigs who fit that description.

Other clues allow me to positively identify this Joseph Lustig:

Continue reading “Is this the real Joseph Lustig?”

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 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”