Even if these essays about my immigrant forebears don’t receive publication, I know I’ve been able to somewhat piece together the fragments of their lives into a sort of biography. During a bout of insomnia the other night, I thought maybe I already had the name of the cemetery where my mother’s grandparents are buried. I searched through a list of Jewish cemeteries in the New York area. Not all had websites, and not all websites had a search function. But yesterday I opened my file cabinet to the drawer where I have hundreds of folders organized by an old numbering system from an older genealogical software package, Personal Ancestral File. I found the folders for Chaim Joseph Entel (310) and Estera Tauba Drewno Entel (311) and sure enough, I had death certificates for each of them with the name of the cemetery. Also in these files were agreements signed by my grandmother with the synagogue. So my great-grandparents must be buried in the synagogue’s plot at United Hebrew Cemetery on Staten Island. I could not find a search function for the interred, so I may have to call. I’m assuming my mother’s sister gave me the cemetery papers at some point. The name of the synagogue (Agudath Anshei Mamod, Society of Supporters of the House of Sages, Inc.) has led me to purchase Gerard R. Wolfe’s Synagogues of New York’s Lower East Side, Second Edition.
But this search highlights one thing: Sometimes “old school” genealogy is more effective than all the Internet tools. I started my family history research in 1990, obviously pre-Internet. I have death certificates for my direct ancestors in America. I wouldn’t find them on Ancestry or on other genealogical information sites. I have my two grandfathers’ passenger records. One would not be able to find them in the Ellis Island database, one due to transcription error and the other, I have no idea why the record doesn’t come up. Again, “old school” efforts proved to be effective.
I spent some time last week typing up my raw material on Estera Taube (Esther Toby) and Avram Mendel Pryzant. Now I need to really sit with them and shape them into something that might be marketable.
I’ll be participating in at least three Amherst Writers sessions this week. I might start writing about my maternal grandmother, Rose. I also found four pages about Baron Hirsch schools in Sefer Galitzia, a regional Yizkor book. They’re in Yiddish. I hope they add information I can add to my essay about my paternal great-grandfather, Henoch Zuckerkandel, and his trusteeship of the Baron Hirsch school in Kozlow.