Right here, from the 1930 U.S. census for Ward 6 of Jersey City, N.J., is one compelling reason to become a Census Nerd™.
Here is what the Ancestry.com index gave me for a gentleman named Philip Teitelbaum:
“Philip Deitelbaum [Teitelbaum]”, born about 1895 in New York, in the household of a father named Edward Holman in Jersey City, N.J. Clicking through to the image set for Ward 6, I found the beginning of the household, at the bottom of Sheet 13B.
|Holman, Edward, 46||Head||Ohio||Ga./N. Dakota|
|James, Julia, 46||Boarder||Georgia||Georgia/Georgia|
|Livingston, Elijah, 49||Boarder||Ohio||Tenn./N. Dakota|
So there is Edward Holman. Ohhh-kay. Let’s look at the rest of the family, which is continued on the next scanned image, Sheet 14A.
|Guthier, Dorothy, 8||Daughter||New Jersey||New Jersey|
|Ruane, Anna, 27||Servant||Irish Free State||Irish Free State|
|Schwartz, John, 12||Son||New Jersey||Poland|
|Schroder, John, 3||Son||New Jersey||New Jersey|
|Deitelbaum, Philip, 35||Son||New York||Czechoslovakia|
|Fulton, Joseph, 3||Son||New Jersey||New Jersey|
|Williams, Roger, 20||Brother||South Carolina||South Carolina|
|Robinson, Eric, 16||Niece||Georgia||Georgia|
What an enigmatic patriarch Edward is – born in Ohio, or New Jersey, or Poland, or Czechoslovakia; running a boardinghouse, and siring children with four different surnames! (Not to mention siring Philip, only 11 years his junior.)
This is either an early example of a family in the Witness Protection Program, or a terrific cast of characters in an abandoned novel by John Irving. (The World According to Holman? The Ward 6 Rules?)
Beguiling as those possibilities are, of course that is not what is going on here. What is actually happening is signaled by a line written by the enumerator at the bottom of Sheet 13B, right after Edward Holman and his two boarders:
“Enumerated by Elizabeth Finkel and Finished On April 9. Here ends District 368 Block District 9-10.”
Ah. If you hadn’t sensed it before (and gosh, I hope you did), now you know that Edward Holman & Co. on Sheet 13B are probably not connected to the group on the following sheet. And in fact, they aren’t.
That final sheet, 14A, with its wildly varying assortment of names and ages and relationships and birthplaces, represents a bunch of people connected only by one circumstance: Elizabeth Finkel somehow missed them on a previous go-round. But she wanted to make sure they were counted. So she carefully noted, next to each name, the sheet number and line number of the household where each of these individuals actually belonged.
Therefore, in the far left-hand column next to Philip “Deitelbaum’s” name, is the notation: “Sheet 10, Line 35.” Backing up to that location in the image set, we find:
|Teitelbaum, William, 60||Head||Czechoslovakia||Czechoslovakia|
|Teitelbaum, Rose, 57||Wife||Czechoslovakia||Czechoslovakia|
|Teitelbaum, Harold, 22||Son||New Jersey||Czechoslovakia|
Philip, age 35, born in New York of Czechoslovakian parents, is a much nicer fit for this family, isn’t he? (Also, note how one might have been tempted to erroneously conclude that the people on 14A were boarders in an establishment run by Mr. Holman — unless one stopped to notice stray marginal notations and ill-fitting ages/relationships.)
This is a great example of what makes an index a finding aid, a starting point, not an actual source. Indexes are compilations with varying degrees of accuracy. Mind you, not all indexing issues are as beautifully explicit as this one. But they can stall research just as effectively – unless you take that closer look.
Related: Turn That Page. Seriously.
Urban ecologist James O’Brien shares haunting photographs of the old Marlboro (NJ) Psychiatric Hospital, closed in 1998 and slowly being absorbed by local flora and fauna. The hospital operated for six decades, considered a state-of-the-art facility at the start, but by the end of its official life, a troubled echo of the bad old days of psychiatric care.
According to NJ.com, state officials will finally demolish the complex in Monmouth County once they resolve issues related to asbestos remediation and decommissioning an old wastewater treatment plant. (It was supposed to be razed two years ago.) For now, the buildings remain, tangled in vines and scrawled with graffiti. Some of the interiors sport huge fireplaces, beautiful panelling and graceful bay windows — Downton Abbey crossed with Hill House.
A note for the researcher: The records for Marlboro are held by New Jersey’s Department of Human Services, and some contact information can be found here. However, being medical records, they may well prove tricky to access for the genealogical researcher who must work within today’s privacy regulations. A lot can depend upon the time frame and the relationship of the researcher to the patient (also, to be frank, some luck). This thread contains an interesting discussion about Marlboro and ancestor hunting.
As the little ribbon at the top of my Ancestry.com page reminds me: Free access to immigration and naturalization records until Sept. 2.
A nice holiday-weekend present if you don’t have a subscription and you want to take a look.
The story of a 93-year-old woman who was mugged visiting her childhood home in Manhattan is just … ragemaking.
I was relieved to read that the woman and her daughter suffered only “bumps and bruises” when the accused assailant, who offered to take them up to see the family’s old apartment, promptly proceeded to mug them. But how horrible that an innocent trip to take scrapbook pictures and revisit childhood memories should end in such a violation of trust.
I don’t know what to say about someone who would coolly trap and exploit someone like that, I really don’t.
What makes me even angrier is remembering the many times I’ve benefited from the goodwill of strangers in strange cities. Their kindness is an eloquent rejoinder to this contemptible person’s behavior.
The Big Brown Envelope of New York Vitals from Albany lingered in the pile of post-vacation mail for about a second. That’s because getting vitals from New York State is about as carefree a process as snagging a breakfast reservation to Cinderella’s Royal Table at Disney World.
Just kidding! It is not THAT bad! Still, in the interest of full disclosure: The last time an envelope from Albany arrived, I was high as a kite on painkillers following elbow surgery, but I came roaring back to alertness at the sight of a return address that read “Department of Health.” Mr. Archaeologist had no idea a zombie could open an envelope that fast.
This time was no different. Shoving silly nothings such as credit-card bills and municipal tax reminders aside, I tore into the envelope, to be rewarded with a treasure trove of data. In a lot of cases I was getting confirmation, not discovery. Overall, though, it was a satisfying haul.
There was only one dud, but it was a tough one. The certificate I thought might be for my great-great-grandfather Patrick Connors turned out to be for an 18-year-old; clearly not my Patrick, who should have been at least in his fifties.
“So you guessed wrong,” said Mr. Archaeologist helpfully.
“I do NOT guess,” I said coldly.
“Excuse me. I meant your hypothesis turned out to be incorrect.”
Well, it was true about my guess … I mean, my hypothesis … oh, let’s just come clean; this was a great example of wishful thinking. In my defense, when I ordered up the certificate, I didn’t know everything I know now. But still: I’d had a burial card for Patrick from St. Agnes Cemetery, Menands, that read 10 March 1882. When I went to search the death index microfiches, all I could find for a Patrick Connors who died in West Troy was a death on 18 September 1883. Maybe the burial card was somehow in error. (Although these St. Agnes cards haven’t been wrong yet. See? Wishful thinking.) Or maybe the death was reported some time after the fact.
The day after sending in the request, I turned up an Albany County probate filing that stated my ancestor’s death was 10 March 1882, in other words, what the burial card said. If I’d had the probate filing 24 hours earlier, I’d have snapped out of it. Oh, well. The request was already on its way.
What now? Back to the index, I guess, and see what I can see again. Did I really, truly check all the name spelling variations? Did my eyes cross over one listing too many?
It is helpful to get a reminder from time to time about how important it is to keep your cool and not let the desire for a quick solution override common sense. This is, of course, a great life lesson in general, but in genealogy, it is particularly pertinent.
The Archaeologist recently experienced one of those painful paradoxes.
This is the one where a person is about to depart for a seashore holiday, surrounded by boxes of Indispensable Seashore Stuff like sunscreen, bug spray, beach towels and the seventeen boxes of mac ‘n’ cheese that the offspring are not using as their main nutritional foundation, they’re just emergency rations, honestly …
Ahem. To resume: What would be A Very Frustrating Thing in such circumstances?
A breakthrough on a genealogical brick wall, that’s what. Of all the things to happen when one is about to depart from one’s hometown library haunts and Internet connections!
Alas, we cannot pick and choose the timing of these matters. So a full account of the excitement must wait until I return.
Meanwhile, I have had to content myself with other people’s ancestors. On Block Island, I took the three-mile (round-trip) walk from the ferry slip to the island’s hilltop cemetery — very much worth it for the exercise, the peaceful atmosphere, and the lovely view:
Meanwhile, on the mainland, there have been nice sunsets.
And sea breezes.
But as nice as it is to get away, it will also be very nice to get back home. And get digging.
See you soon.