Smile for the Camera - 19th Edition: Gift  

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footnoteMaven has tasked us once again with finding something unique to share with our readers: "It is the holiday season and a time for giving. So give Smile readers the gift of sharing, sharing a family photograph. It can be a gift given or received, it can be the gift of talent, it can be the gift of having the photograph itself. The interpretation of gift is yours. Admission is free with every photograph!"

I decided to focus on family pictures and look for the oldest ones I have. As usual I will have two submissions, one for my ancestors and one for my wife's.

The Smorgonski Family - Dolhinov, Poland (about 1932)

I've written about this picture before, but thought it was worth displaying again. This is my great-grandfather and his family (without the oldest sister, Hanna, who was probably in Israel by this time). Everyone in the picture except for the top row of older siblings perished in the holocaust. They were murdered by the Polish villagers in their town of Dolhinov by being herded into a barn that was then set on fire.

Top row (left to right): Zipora (my grandmother), Shlomo and Pesia
Bottom row (left to right): Ida (Ita), Henia Segalchik, Joseph Haim, Avraham Smorgonski and Haya.

Hanna, Zipora and Pesia were the daughters of Avraham Smorgonski and Ester Segalchik. When Ester died, Avraham married her sister Henia and they had Shlomo, Ida, Haya and Joseph Haim.

I am not sure where this photo was taken or who saved it. Since The three oldest sisters left Poland with the Jewish youth movement before WWII, I suppose one of them brought it with her.

The Rightmire Family - Parsons, West Virginia (about 1906)

This is the the family of Thomas Ward Rightmire and Edith Mae Conley, my wife 2nd-great-grandparents. The family lived in Parson, West Virginia and from census records I suspect the were tobacco farmers. In the 1900 Census the three oldest children are listed as having an occupation of Stogie Rollers.

I believe this photo was taken after 1906 which is the year that Pearl Alta Rightmire was married and left the household to live with her husband Saul Isaac Hytowitz in Pittsburgh. I still need to figure out how the son of Jewish/Russian immigrants who lives in Pittsburgh married a girl from West Virginia, who was definitely not Jewish. But that's a story for another post.

This photo is on a postcard, which probably will give me more clues. In it we see Thomas and Edith, the parents, as well as their three sons, Myron W. Rightmire, Dale Mannington Rightmire and Otto Kent Rightmire. It is the oldest family photo I have on my wife's side of the family.

US Census Shenanigans - Part 1  

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When I started researching our family history I thought the US Census was the best source of information out there. Little did I know that it is full of mistakes, missing info, duplicates and some of the weirdest spelling variations possible. In fact, sometimes the Census can leave you scratching your head more times than it will leave you smiling.

So here's an interesting story. My wife's Uncle Glenn met a woman in Florida that turned out to have the same maiden name as his original last name, Hytowitz. This is a fairly uncommon name and many of the Hytowitz's have changed their name at one point or another to Hyde. So needless to say, they were very surprised to find each other. They had no idea if there was a family connection between them or not (and we still don't know).

I got a message on from this woman the other day where she told me that he grandfather had a son, who was not listed on our tree for some reason. She wanted to know how to add him and his wife as well as their daughter, Jacqueline Hyde, who was a Hollywood actress and had roles in Woody Allen and Sidney Polack movies amongst several other roles. I might write another post just about her and using media sources to find out about recent relatives.

I was confused as to why her parents were not in our tree. My early Hytowitz research through the US Census was pretty exhaustive and I managed to scrape together several families and even connect some of them. But Phillip Hytowitz and Ruth Peller were missing. Until I searched for Ruth by herself.

When I found Ruth things started to fall into place. Here is the 1930 US Census for this family:

Jacob Peller owned the house at 708 Greene Avenue in Brooklyn, New York. The home was valued at $15,000 and he had 3 other families paying him rent to live there. Must have been a big house to hold 14 people in it. The shenanigans start when you see that Walther and Ruth Hytowitz are listed at the bottom of the household. He is 21 and she is 19 and they have been married for 2 years.

Originally, I had no way to connect this Walther Hytowitz to any of the other families I had found in previous Census years. So I had him listed as a separate family. He is listed as being born in New York State, with both his parents from Russia. So I just lumped him under the Russian Hytowitz generic names I used for all the families that I could not connect yet.

But if you look three rows above Walther Hytowitz, you see another Walther. This is Walther Peller, the son of Jacob Peller. Could it be that son and son-in-law were mixed up when the enumerator wrote down the names? Since we don't know who provided the information, could it be that one of the other 14 people in this house gave erroneous information? The only reason I know that the name Walther is wrong is that a living relative told me about her Uncle Phillip and Aunt Ruth.

So I tried to find out where Phillip was in the 1920 and 1910 Census. Finding them in 1910 was tough because had a transcription of Hertowich, which I updated to a 'variation' of Hytowitz. The 1910 Census lists Phillip as being 4 months old. The names of his older sister and parents match the 1930 Census as well as all other information.

1920 was even harder and I eventually tried to use the enumeration district numbers and went page by page to look for this family. Eventually I tried a different approach. I entered just the first names and left the last name blank. There are a lot of Samuels married to Sadies who lived in Brooklyn and were born around 1883! I then decided to search for the children and entered the oldest child, Lena, along with the first names of her parents. Bingo!

Seriously? The name in the index is Sam Heckowitz with a correction to Sam Herkowetz. How was I supposed to find them? Anyway, all the children are there including Phillip who is now 10 years old.

Oh and thank you very much mister enumerator for barely pressing down when you wrote. It is so hard to read what is written, no wonder there were so many mistakes.

So to recap, this family lived in three different places in 1910, 1920 and 1930. And their names were Hertowich, Heckowitz and finally Hytowitz. The were not around in the 1900 Census because the in 1920 it says the immigrated in 1904.

And that in fact is the biggest find of all. Because now I can check immigration documents and try to find out where Samuel came from and maybe I can find out who his parents were. That might connect some of the Hytowitz families I am trying to find common ancestors for. But that's a story for another post.

Am I really related to Kim Kardashian?  

Posted by Abba-Dad in ,

Well, not really. But my wife is. Sort of. Let me explain.

I've written several times about getting my whole family on and how I have discovered many distant lost cousins and branches of our family through this online family tree. As part of my blog subscriptions I also check out their RSS feed from time to time. Lately, it has been reduced to downtime announcements and even worse - the dreaded "profile of the day." So I usually skip those.

But today the profiles are of the infamous Kardashian sisters: Kim, Kourtney and Khloe. Sometimes when I see a name I recognize I'll click the link, go to the profile and then click the "How are you related" button. So I know I am not related to William Shakespeare, for example.

But I am related to the Kardashian sisters. Well, my wife is. Sort of. And if you can figure out what the connection is, well, good for you. This is how it says I am related to Kim Kardashian:

Kimberly Kardashian is your wife's fourth cousin once removed's ex-wife's second cousin once removed's ex-husband's brother's ex-wife's father's ex-wife's ex-husband's wife's daughter.

Good luck with that one, right? There is actually a link that says "We found the path you requested to Kimberly Kardashian. Click here to view the path." But alas, it is only for Pro accounts and right now, I am not going to fork over the moola to find out that path. I even tried to use my own Rootmagic genealogy database, but quickly realized that no amount of roots magic will solve this genea-problem since I have to go through too many generations and 5 exes.

What was even funnier is that the profile says that it was added by Nicolas Cage. Could that be? Does Nick Cage actually have a Geni account where he adds famous people? I doubt it. But I clicked on it anyway and found out my wife is related to him as well:

Nicolas Cage is your wife's fourth cousin once removed's ex-wife's second cousin once removed's ex-husband's brother's ex-wife's ex-husband.

And guess what? Nick Cage was added by Francis Ford Coppola, who started this whole family tree and to whom we're also related. I'll spare you the path this time. He's Nick's Uncle.

So, what famous people are you related to? Leave me your answers in the comment.