Posted in Uncategorized

RootsTech Family History Conference – my experience & recommendations!

I went to RootsTech this year and had an amazing time learning, listening, meeting fellow genealogists, and spending time on my family history research – a full week to myself in the flow of genealogy.  RootsTech is the largest genealogy conference in the world held in Salt Lake City with over 200  learning sessions, inspiring speakers and an expo hall for Family History and Technology exhibitors.  Almost 30,000 fellow family historians, or as Steve Rockwood, CEO of Family Search called us ‘the Heart Specialists of our families,’ attended so you really were able to immerse yourself!  I missed my family but felt rejuvenated and rested when I came back. It was a nice retreat, genealogist style.  One of my favorite moments was after Lavar Burton (Roots, Star Trek) opened African American Heritage Day with a powerful message on strength, diversity and acceptance, he was presented with part of his genealogy by the FamilySearch researchers that he didn’t know about before.  Using newly digitalised African American Freedmen Bureau’s records (announced at RootsTech) they were able to find his ancestors who lived during emancipation.  It was an emotional discovery for him, in his words he found ‘his people.’  To lighten up the emotional tear-filled moment he asked the crowd of 30,000 thousand people ‘is this what you all do all day?’ We all laughed and said Yep!


The week was really jam packed with so much and I never got bored!  Here are a few highlights, memories and reminders for next year:

Some Conference Highlights

  • African American Heritage Day: Lavar Burton, Nkoyo Imambu and Genealogists Kenyatta Berry,  Sherri Camp, &  Melvin Collier  – beautifully discussed our African American Heritage in a way that remembered the atrocities of slavery but also recognized and honored how people who were brought here in forced slavery were significant contributors to our economy and also our culture – bringing ‘soul’ to America.  There where also some exciting announcements for those researching African American ancestors including the newly digitized Freedmen Bureau records to help break down the 1870 brickwall. Livestream recorded here.
  • CeCe Moore, Your Genetic Genealogist, a keynote speaker on the capabilities of DNA data.  This was entertaining, inspiring and exciting to hear about what we can do and will be able to do with DNA data for genealogy.  She contemplated and discussed the question ‘We know DNA passes down physical traits, but what else can it pass down?’  I decided to purchase a DNA kit after hearing her speak to at least start figuring out how to use the data as a genealogy tool after this. Her livestream recorded here
  • Jewish Genealogy learning opportunities. There were courses almost everyday to specifically help with Jewish Genealogy and a number of genealogists around to talk to and ask for advice.  JewishGen and IAJGS both had a booth in the expo hall as well.  Lara Diamond’s Where to Look and What’s Available for Jewish Genealogy helped me with making a list of records and places to search I had not thought of before. For example, she found a few important records for her family by asking Jewish historical institutions and museums where her ancestors lived if they had any un-indexed boxes of records in storage she could look at.   It was also exciting to hear about the efforts being done to rescue and digitize records in Eastern Europe that will be helpful for us to make family links before immigration.  This session was also live streamed here.   
  • GeneaBloggers has documented a summary of all the sessions that were livestreamed and where you can access them here. Livestreaming for select sessions reached over 100,000 households!

Here is a List of the Break-Out Sessions I attended:

Learning Paleography

Some Next Steps for me:

  • So much! I wish I had another week of vacation just to work on everything I learned!
  • Organize and analyze the documents and data from the Family History Library
  • Develop/modify Research Plans – I took a class on developing research plans and learned about a ton of new records and where I can find them throughout the week.
  • Focus on Naturalization Records hunt for immigrant ancestors
  • Download Google Earth Maps plus and start mapping our ancestors
  • Make a wish list of apps, resources and technology I learned about
  • DNA tests – Ancestry was selling DNA kits for half price, I picked up 2 to take the DNA plunge
  • Prepare for my next conference 🙂 I would love to attend IAJGS this year in Orlando, but not sure I can swing two conference in one year!


Reminders and Recommendations for Next Year:

  • Download the RootsTech App before the Conference and start marking sessions you would like to take – you can build a schedule in the app!
  • Try to leave space in your suitcase to bring stuff home and budget to buy things in the Expo Hall (amazing deals) – books, charts, family history memorabilia, historic maps, genealogy tools, DNA kits, children’s books, games, ect.
  • Be a part of the conversation and link up with others on Twitter using the #RootsTech hashtag.
  • Remember that booths like Ancestry, MyHeritage, FamilySearch and Genealogy Gems also have 30 minute classes throughout the day in the Expo Hall.  The schedules at their booths.
  • Have back up classes in case yours is full (for sessions you are really excited about go 10-15 minutes early to get a seat).
  • Wear comfortable shoes, clothes and layers.  There was a coat check for 2 dollars, cash only.
  • Bring a phone charger, snacks, water, phone with camera, note taking supplies (you get a free RootsTech bag with registration).  There was also water and food for sale in the convention center.
  • There is a coffee stand in the convention center and a Starbucks right in front in the Marriott Hotel.
  • Do not miss the keynotes.  All of them were inspiring, well put together and great speaking. I even sat in the back and it was still amazing – everyone was on a big screen and you still felt the energy.
  • Go to the entertainment events at night even if for a little bit. There are fun giveaways and just fun to see the energy of your fellow genealogists together.  I was invited to a Friday Shabbat dinner with some other Jewish Genealogists and meeting them was one of my highlights!
  • Books that I saw in the exhibit hall were sold out by the last day (when I waited) some booths were offering free shipping though.
  • The Family History Library is so close – you can even go during the 90 minute lunch break and they were open until 9 pm. I recommend walking down there as soon as you get there to get familiar with it so you can take advantage of it through-out the week when you find time. I wrote a little about visiting the FHL at this link.
  • Try to stay organized by labeling and filing data from the FHL, notes and information, next steps, project ideas and handouts electronically as you go so that you aren’t overwhelmed when you get back (I used google drive on my phone to do this – I downloaded the handouts from the app directly there) it was a bit of a distraction to do this after every session but well worth it in the end
Posted in Genealogy, Jewish Gen, Michlosky, Poland

Family History Library Visit and Polish Ancestral Town Findings

I was in Salt Lake City this past week for RootsTech and took the opportunity to visit the Family History Library and found a few interesting items.

The Family History Library is the largest genealogy library in the world holding over 2 million microfilms of important genealogical records and about half a million books. It was founded in 1894 by the LDS church to help their members in family history research but is generously open to everyone to visit.

There is one floor filled with microfilms of US records ranging from vitals, church records, old newspaper, military records and other records that were saved and might be interesting for researchers looking for people born before 1930. There is another floor entirely full of genealogy books organized by each state and there is also an international floor in the basement with both microfilm and genealogy books – mostly in foreign languages. This is where I spent most of my time.  On the ground floor is the Family Discovery Center where you can look up immigration patterns on large screens, take pictures in your ancestors clothes, and even make your own video recording to include in your family tree. In total there are 5 floors.

I found a few missing vital records for our family tree in the US microfilm collection and was able to look at some interesting maps and books on the areas our families are from.  One of my favorite finds was a microfilm of the ‘Civil Registration of Jewish births, marriages, and deaths for Wiżajny, Poland from 1829-1880′. Wiżajny is where I currently believe the Michloskys are from. I haven’t confirmed this and am still looking for a record or source that places these surnames there.  I came up with this assumption by taking the name of a shtetl of origin I found for Jacob Michlosky in a history book and searched on JewishGen.   Present day Wiżajny, Poland (Vizhon [Yid]) was the closest match. I found the the civil registration records in the Family History Library by searching ‘Wizanjy’ in the place search option in the catalog and then clicking on Jewish Records under the findings list.

Unfortunately these documents were only in Russian and Polish and very tiny writing so I couldn’t search through them for a connection. But being able to look at them was still well worth the effort as you can see they are beautiful.  Knowing that they are there is also helpful.  I might try to take a Russian, Polish or Yiddish for genealogists course and maybe one day be able to look through them meaningfully for a Michlosky (our surname possibly from there) reference.

FHL Source for Wizanjy Jewish Vital Records
Some tips for visiting the Family History Library

  • If you are in Salt Lake City, make sure you set time aside to visit the FHL – both for research and the Discovery Center (30 minutes to an hour in the Discovery Center)
  • Ask for help! The people there are so nice and eager to help you – they will help you learn how to find microfilm, how to use the microfilm readers, how to save documents you find in the best format, and even give you advice on genealogical brick walls
  • Bring a USB – you can use their computers to save documents found on microfilm. You can also buy one there if needed
  • Bring bottled water
  • You can bring your own computer, but there are computers there to use (I did not need my own)
  • Try to come prepared with microfilm or books that you would like to look at.  This will save time and help you not be so overwhelmed.  You can search the Library catalog from home here
  • Look for and/or request your microfilm list when you first get there.  One of the microfilms I wanted (1 out of 10) was in storage and took a couple days to come in.
  • Bring your camera/smart phone and have a scan app on it – and charger!  
  • Also (which I did not know) there might be a Family History Library Center near you and you can request an interlibrary loan if you can’t make it to SLC!


FHL Family  Discovery Center – Where are your from?
Notes and Links

Posted in Genealogy, Jewish Gen, Pearlman

Pearlmans – From Russia to New Jersey to Pennsylvania

Meyer and Anna Pearlman 

Meyer Pearlman is J’s Great Grandfather.  He is the Pearlman immigrant who came over to America from Minsk, Belarus (then Russia) abt 1900.  Things I would like to know about Meyer:

  • Where in Minsk did he come from?
  • Information on his family in Belarus

Here is what I know now of Meyer [Myer, Max].  Myer was born on January 10, 1880 in Minsk Russia to Julius Yuna [Jacob] Pearlman and Ida Woodinski. [1] [2][3][4]I believe he came over between 1898 and 1900 when he was about 20 years old.[5] He was naturalised in 1915. [4]

His sisters and brothers were the following who also came over – Hannah Pearlman Margolin, Sam, Harry, Louis, Charles, Carl and Henry (unconfirmed).

He was married to Anna [Hannah, Annie].  Who also came over between 1897 before Meyer according to the 1910 census or with him in 1898 and was naturalised in 1915 according to the 1920 census.[4] Meyer and Anna married around 1903 – that year he was 23 years old and she was 20.[5] She was 15 years old in 1898 when she arrived, therefore I am making the assumption she came over with her family and was married to Meyer in the USA.[6]

Meyer and Anna had four children:  James Max Pearlman Stacey (1904-1961), Pearl Pearlman Epstein (1906-1994), Sidney Pearlman, J’s Grandfather (1910-1988), and Florence Pearlman Vitale (1917-19884).  Their first 4 children were born in Newark, NJ and Florence was born in Wilkes-Barre, PA.

In 1910, Meyer lived in Newark City, New Jersey where there was a community of 80,000 Jewish immigrants from Eastern Europe. He was 31 and lived with his wife Anna, 28. He was a laborer working in the Spring Beds industry and his wife stayed home.  They lived with their children Max, 6, Pearl, 4 and Celia, 3 months. They rented a house on Somerset Street. Meyer and Anna’s native tongue was Yiddish but they both spoke English.  Meyer most likely had family or community connections from Minsk in Newark and went there first before moving on to Wilkes-Barre.  It’s possible they attended one of the immigrant synagogues started in the rented quarters and he visited the Young Men’s Hebrew Association at some point. [7]  

1910 Federal Census Newark

By 1914, the Pearlmans moved to Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania where they lived until 1942. In 1905 there was around a total population of 1,800 jewish residents  in Wilkes-Barre with 4 synagogues and a number of education and social institutions.[8] In 1914, they lived on 58 North Sherman Street when the Wilkes-Barre Record reported that there was a case of Scarlet Fever in the Pearlman Household.[9]


By 1918, Meyer was living on 241 East Market Street.  He was 39 years old and was working as a Mechanic at Nelson Brothers.  Meyer was 5’4” and had blue eyes and dark hair according to his WWI draft card:[10]


In 1920, Meyer and Anna, 42 and 38,  still lived at 241 East Market Street with Max, 15, Pearl, 13, Sidney, 9 and Florence, 2.  They were naturalised citizens at this time.  The children were in school, Anna stayed home and Meyer worked as a Laborer in a Silk Mill.[11] He is also listed in the 1921 Wilkes-Barre City Directory as a grocer and in 1923 as a Laborer. [ 12]

1920 Federal Census Wilkes-Barre, PA
1921 Wilkes-Barre City Directory
1923 Wilkes-Barre City Directory

In 1922 it appears that Meyer bought 236 East Market Street which they lived in by 1925 when Meyer was 45 years old and was the Department Superintendent at Nelson Brothers, where his son Sidney, at 14 also worked at that time [13][14]

1925 Wilkes-Barre City Directory



By 1942, Meyer at 62 and Anna at 59 moved to Brooklyn, Kings, New York where their daughter Pearl Epstein lived with her family.  Meyer and Anna lived with Pearl at 567 Monroe Street, Brooklyn the same address that Martin Epstein and his parents (who also immigrated from Minsk)  lived at for over 30 years since about 1925 (according to census records under the Epstein family tree). [15] Meyer passed away in 1951 at 71 and Anna Pearlman died in 1950 at Sixty-seven. They are both buried in Mount Hebron Cemetery in Queen’s New York.[16]


  1. U.S., World War II Draft Registration Cards, 1942 [Database online,] – note his WWI card has 15th January 1979
  2. Samson, Robert  Genealogy Research: Meyer Pearlman Genealogy Family Sheet’ Manhasset Hills, New York. 23 August 1992
  3. US Social Security Application. Meyer Pearlman. 10th January 1980
  4. 1920 Federal Census [Database online,]
  5. 1910 Federal Census [Database online,]
  6. The information I have from Robert Samson’s genealogy is that Anna and Family are from ‘Starin, Russia’ – I have not yet done any research on her family
  8. History of the Jews in Pennsylvania
  9. History of the Jews in Pennsylvania 2
  10. U.S., World War I Draft Registration Cards, 1917-1918. [online database]
  11. 1920 Federal Census [Online database,]
  12. U.S. City Directories, 1822-1995 1921 WIlkes Barre, PA; 1923 Wilkes Barre PA (both copied inserts)
  13. – The Wilkes-Barre Record – 22 Feb 1922, Wed – Page 8
  14. U.S. City Directories, 1822-1995: 1925, Wilkes Barre, PA
  15. U.S., World War II Draft Registration Cards, 1942 [Database online,] – note his WWI card has 15th January 1979
  16. Meyer Pearlman Find a Grave
  17. Further Information to Confirm: There is another name for a child in the 1910 – Celia who was 3 months old during the 1910 Federal Census completed in April – putting her birth in February 1910 (is this Sidney?
  18. Currently looking for Naturalization Records
Posted in Belarus Genealogy, Genealogy, Jewish Gen, Pearlman

Finding an Elusive Maiden Name Through Social Security Documents

I got an amazing genealogical gift through the mail – a new surname for the family from Minsk, Belarus! I received the Social Security Application for J’s Great Grandfather, Meyer Pearlman, in the mail which gave me the maiden name of his mother, Ida Woodinski.  We believe Meyer (1880-1951), our immigrant ancestor, came over without his parents, Julius [Jacob] and Ida Pearlman who stayed in Minsk (then Russia) where they were born around 1845 and died between 1900-1910.[1]  I had requested the application from the Social Security Administration about 5 weeks ago. It was incredibly exciting to open and see new information, because I wasn’t keeping track of when it would come and I wasn’t sure if they would even be able to find it.[2]

The record was signed by Meyer Pearlman on December 1, 1936.  It gave me information on his address during that time, his employer and employer’s address, his birthdate, his place of birth (listed as Minsk, Russia), his father’s name and his mother’s maiden name.  We had seen most of this information before, but Woodinski was new! Woodinski could also be a variation of of Yiddish Budinsky, or Budensky. [3]  This find gives us a whole new line to look at and another possible way to link us to somewhere in Minsk.

The other interesting piece I found on this document to explore was Meyer’s father’s first name, Jacob.  I had his name as Julius Yuna Pearlman until we saw this document.  His name Julius came from genealogical research done by J’s Great Uncle 20 years ago so I will need to do some more digging and cross checking with both of the names.


US Social Security Applications – What is it and how to get it

The Social Security Administration grew out of the period after the depression in the 1930s – which began a call for change to support the Americans in times of economic shock, leading to the signing of the Social Security Act in 1935 by President Franklin D. Roosevelt. The Social Security Act included several provisions for general social welfare as well as a continuing income for retired workers, aged 65 and older (a major issue of the depression being our elderly population was living on complete dependency and unable to work).[4]

Social Security poster; FDR Library Photo Collection [5]

I found my ancestors’ Social Security Application through two steps;  1) Searching for the Social Security Death Index (SSDI) where you might a social security number and then 2) Send in a request for their Application for a Social Security Number, Form SS-5 – which has all of this information I listed above!

You can search for a deceased person’s Social Security Death Index (SSDI) if they passed after 1962 on familysearch or ancestry sites.  The Social Security Act was passed in 1935, so any person alive after 1935 could have a SSDI and/or an application record.  The SSDI has limited information (it can be used as a proof of death) but you can take the Social Security Number listed on the SSDI and send away for the original Social Security Application that was most likely completed and signed by your ancestor.  A request for this document can be done through the Social Security Administration using a Form SSA-771 under the Freedom of Information Act.  This can be done online if you are sure you do not need a proof of death with your application.  The Social Security Administration is only able to send you documents for persons who are at least 100 years old along with proof of death and/or they are more than 120 years old.

Here are a few links that helped me::

Family Search  Summary of US Social Security Records for Genealogists

Social Security Administration Online Request for Deceased Individual’s Social Security Record


  1. Various census records of children who mother and father from Minsk Russia: 1910 Federal Census [Database online,]
  2. Social Security Application, 1936.  United States Social Security Administration Archives
  3. JewishGen search for potential matches
  4. History of Social Security Administration:
  5. FDR Library Photo Collection. NPx. 53-227(1733).(picture)
Posted in Genealogy, Jewish Gen, Michlosky

Bottling Whisky in 1880 Pennsylvania – Michlosky History

Dollar Weekly News (Wilkes-Barre) 7 May 1887

I found some entertaining newspaper articles from the 1880s about Jacob Michlosky (1852-1900), [1] J’s Great Great Grandfather, and one of his businesses.   Jacob immigrated to the US from Eastern Europe in about 1870 and lived in Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania.[2]   The first article I found was from 1887 (below) that discusses a court proceeding in regards to Jacob’s ‘Quart License Application’.[3]  The District Attorney  and City Attorney were his counsels and they presented evidence to show ‘the applicant was a proper person.’ Their argument also included information that Hungarians, Polanders and prominent people in town patronize his place and ‘bring their little jug’ to have it filled. Then there are two women who argue against him,  testifying that they have witnessed a lot of people leaving his place drunk! One of these women was Mrs. Hughes – who afterwards Mrs. Michlosky testified that ‘in fact’ Mr. Hughes had come in to get a quart of whisky but she didn’t give it to him because he had no money! Jacob also included in his testimony that he did not sell Liquor on Sunday except for one day when Mrs. Vanarsdale had the cramps.  The sub heading of the newspaper page was ‘The Women’s Temperance Union of that borough present in a body some lively and interesting testimony.’  There was a full page of articles about the temperance movement arguing against hotel, restaurant and quart license applications! It must have been a lively day at court! [3]  

I found another instance Jacob was listed under the Restaurant and Quarts applicant list.  The newspaper says that a Quart License is a license to ‘sell liquor buy the Quart and as bottlers’. [4] The newspapers  also talk about increased patronage, patrons going Jacob’s to fill up jugs.[5]  It sounds to me that he was running ‘jug house’ or bar at his home.  He did not have a restaurant license in 1887 but later his sons Joseph and Harry ran a restaurant – it could be the same place, the jug house could have evolved into a restaurant [6] (which later evolved into a successful banquet hall run by Harry and Joseph according to newspaper announcements[7]). I’m assuming our ancestor was running a neighborhood bar, maybe even a distillery where he lived in the Heights of Wilkes-Barre (the Jewish neighborhood at that time) in the time of the temperance movement.[4][8]

Wilkes-Barre Semi Weekly Record, April 1887 [4]
The Sunday Leader (Wilkes-Barre, PA), June 1887 [5]
In doing a little research, I found out that bottling/jug houses/bars were common before 1900, as glass bottles were too expensive for whisky producers before the invention of automatic bottling machines.  Hand blown bottles were fragile and rarely used.  Instead, consumers would bring their own bottle, flask or jug to purchase whisky from the barrel wherever it was sold locally like the one pictured below (The same for other goods such as sacks for flour, barrel for lard, ect).[9][10]  I also read a few articles that mentioned that Pennsylvania was famous for its Rye before Prohibition (1919) and that whisky distillers survived during the time of the temperance movement and prohibition by promoting the drink as an important medicine – as in the article of J’s Great Great Grandfathers court proceedings.[11][3]    


  1. Jacob Michlosky, Holche Yoscher Cemetery; Hanover, Luzerne County, Pennsylvania, USA. U.S., Find A Grave Index, 1600s-Current
  2. 1900 Federal Census Records; Year: 1900; Census Place: Census Place: Wilkes Barre Ward 9, Luzerne, Pennsylvania; Accessed Ancestry.Com
  3. ‘Granting License; Orphans Court, Saturday’ Dollar Weekly News (Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania) 7 May 1887, Sat • Page 8
  4. ‘License Applications to run hotels, restaurants and to sell liquor buy the Quart and as bottlers.’ Wilkes-Barre Semi-Weekly Record – 22 Apr 1887, Fri – Page 5
  5. The Sunday Leader  (Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania) 19 Jun 1887, Sun • Page 8
  6. ‘Business Men’s Gossip’ Wilkes-Barre Times Leader, the Evening News (Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania) 28 Mar 1904, MonPage 2
  7. ‘Hampton Hall: Amusement Hall employees guest of their employers.’ The Wilkes-Barre Record  (Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania) 28 Dec 1914, MonPage 11
  8. Levin, Marjorie, The Jews of Wilkes-Barre : 150 years (1845-1995) in the Wyoming Valley of Pennsylvania: Wilkes-Barre, Pa. : Jewish Community
    Center of Wyoming Valley, 1999.
  9. ‘History of Spirits in America.’ Distilled Spirits Council of the United States [Accessed November 2016] 
  10. Oatman-Stanford, Hunter. ‘Drunk History: The Rise, Fall, and Revival of All-American Whiskey’ 12 August 2015; Collector’s Weekly [Accessed November 2016]
  11. Veach, Michael.Dating Old Whiskey Bottles from the 19th Century.’ The Bourbon Review; 15 February 2016; 
  12. Note to do further research on Jug House and vario
    us articles on Tippling House and context of selling liquor in 1880s
  13. Note to do further research at the ‘Orphans Court’  and ‘Quarter Sessions’ records in Luzerne County, PA
  14. Notes for further research: in newspaper articles in 1888-1889 appears to be a rivalry with a A.Rush Pembleton, various incidences wgere each are witness against each other in liquor cases


Posted in Genealogy, Michlosky

Tombstone Tuesday – Jacob and Yetta Michlosky, Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania

Jacob Michlosky (1852-1960) , J’s Great Great Grandfather is buried in Holche Yosher Cemetery, along with his wife Yetta Silverstein Michlosky (1852-1921). [1][2] Jacob immigrated in 1868 and Yetta came in 1870, the year they were married.[3] Their 6 children were born and raised in Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania.[4]   I’m still searching for the shtetl of origin of Jacob, but believe it could be in former Lithuania, former Russia, present day Poland.[2][3][5][6]

In the US, Jacob first worked as a peddler of clothes.[7][8] He also opened a restaurant and a jug house – where he had a quart license to bottle and sell whisky by the quart.[9][10][11]   Jacob was an observing orthodox Jew and was a founding member of the Holche Yosher Wizan Synagogue in 1881, named after his place of origin in Lithuania.[3]   

Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania, City Directory, 1882 [7]
Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania, City Directory, 1882 [7]
Sunday News [8]
Sunday News, Wilkes-Barre [8]
Sunday News, Wilkes-Barre [10]
Sunday News, Wilkes-Barre [10]
Jacob and Yetta’s children became prominent citizens active within the synagogue and various philanthropic activities in Wilkes-Barre.  They were featured many times in the society columns of the Wilkes-Barre newspapers early in the 20th century.  Their 6 children were Samuel Peter, Sarah, Harry (J’s Great Grandfather), Joseph, David and Mollie.  Their sons owned a restaurant, a banquet hall, a jewelry store, a music store and an electrical lamp store. They were business partners with the Landau brothers and Jacob and Yetta’s daughters, Mollie and Sarah each married a Landau brother.[12]   

Jacob and Yetta are both buried in the Holche Yoscher Cemetary on 1225 S. Main Street in Wilkes-Barre, PA next to 4 other Michloskys; Abraham and Anna Berman Michlosky and their two sons Philip and Louis Michlosky.  My assumption is that Abraham is the brother of Jacob, but I am still looking to confirm this (along with confirmation of their place of origin). Holche Yoscher is also known as “the Jewish Cemetery at Hanover.”  The address is 1225 S. Main St. next to the B’nai B’rith Cemetery. It appears to be small, with 48 rows in the cemetery.[2][13] The Holche Yoscher Synagogue (dedicated on Lincoln Street in 1887) is no longer operating,[14] the congregation may have merged early in the 20th century with another synagogue as the Jewish population in Wilkes-Barre declined.

Daily Blogging Prompts: Tombstone Tuesday, GeneaBloggers (

Jacob and Yetta Michlosky's Family Tree
Jacob and Yetta Michlosky’s Family Tree


  1. Jacob Michlosky, Holche Yoscher Cemetery; Hanover, Luzerne County, Pennsylvania, USA. U.S., Find A Grave Index, 1600s-Current
  2. “Find A Grave Index.” Database; accessed 2016. Citing index and images. : 2016.
  3. 1900 Federal Census Records; Year: 1900; Census Place: Census Place: Wilkes Barre Ward 9, Luzerne, Pennsylvania; Accessed Ancestry.Com
  4. Levin, Marjorie, The Jews of Wilkes-Barre : 150 years (1845-1995) in the Wyoming Valley of Pennsylvania: Wilkes-Barre, Pa. : Jewish Community Center of Wyoming Valley, 1999.
  5. ‘Death takes A.Michlosky’ The Evening News – 28 Jun 1938, Tue – Page 2
  6. Samuel Pete Micholsky, 1936: Pennsylvania, Death Certificates, 1906-1964 Accessed:
  7. Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania, City Directory, 1882: U.S. City Directories, 1822-1995
  8. ‘Correspondence: Luzerne Borough’ Sunday News  (Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania) 9 Nov 1884, SunPage 7
  9. ‘License Applications to run hotels, restaurants and to sell liquor buy the Quart and as bottlers.’ Wilkes-Barre Semi-Weekly Record – 22 Apr 1887, Fri – Page 5
  10. ‘Colleen Bawn Speaks and Tells what is going on in Luzerne Borough’ Sunday News (Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania) 26 Aug 1888, SunPage 5
  11. Note to do further research on Jug House and various articles on Tippling House and context of selling liquor in 1880s
  12. The Wilkes-Barre Record, The Evening News, The Wilkes-Barre Times Leader (various 1911-1945)
  13. Jewish Wilkes-Barre Community Directory
  14. ‘Dedication of New Synagogue’ The Wilkes-Barre Record – 1 Feb 1887, Tue – Page 1
Posted in Genealogy, Jewish Gen, Michlosky

A Michlosky Puzzle – Lithuanian or Polish?

I thought I had a huge breakthrough in locating the ancestral shtetl (Jewish town) of the Michlosky line while looking at an old history book at the Library of Congress this week – but when I went to confirm connections, I came up with some contradictory information that has left me with a bit of a puzzle.

Michlosky Origins – What I knew:

Our Michlosky immigrant ancestor, Jacob,  lived, worked and raised his children in Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania from about 1880 to his death in 1900.[2] He was born in 1852.[1] Jacob and his wife, Yetta Silverstein, had 6 children.[3] Our ancestor is Yetta and Jacob’s, 2nd son, Harry Michlosky (J’s Great Grandfather), who was a prominent businessman and was in the local newspaper many times for his business and various philanthropic events.[4]    Harry was born in Wilkes-Barre so to find where this line immigrated from, I had to find his father Jacob, J’s Great Great Grandfather.[5] [6]

The only information on Jacob’s origin we have is a from his first son, Peter Samuel’s death certificate where it is listed as ‘Russia’.[7]  I do not know where in Russia and today’s map looks very different from the map during their time. Russia could mean any number of present day Eastern European countries.


Jacob Michlosky -What I found at the Library of Congress:

I searched Wilkes-Barre History books in the LoC Catalog and found a few books from the early 20th century.  I ordered them to the Main Reading room and spent a couple hours browsing and looking for our family surnames.  I found two very exciting things in The History of Jews of Wilkes-Barre by Marjorie Levin[8]: 1) a match to our Jacob that might link us to a shtetl in Lithuania and 2) Last name variations for the Michlosky in Pennsylvania.  Specifically mentioned in the book:

  • An Abraham (Abram) Michelowsky [Micholsky] and Jacob Michelowsky [Micholsky] were among the group that formed a new orthodox Synagogue in Wilkes-Barre on 10 October 1881: Holche Yoscher
  • The Holche Yoscher Synagogue building was dedicated in 1887 on 198 Lincoln Street in the Heights neighborhood of Wilkes-Barre
  • The group of founders were from Wizan or Vischan Lithuania (the Holche Yoscher name coming from their origin)
Picture of an 1881 Synagogue in Wilkes-Barre: B’Nai Birth. pg 26 [8]

Things I already know that I believe connect us to this Jacob:

  • Harry’s father Jacob was buried in Holche Yosher cemetery  [1]
  • There is only one Jacob buried there along with his wife Yetta (1847-1922). Yetta is confirmed to be our ancestor linked through her obituary, census records, available vital records of her children. [8] [3] [7][10] In the same plot are an Abraham Michlosky (1849-1930) and Annie Berman Michlosky (1851 d 1909) [1]
  • My assumption at this point is that Jacob and Abraham were brothers.

I took the new information I found and looked up the dedication of the Holche Yoscher Synagogue in the old Wilkes-Barre newspapers to see if I could find Jacob and Abraham’s names.  I found nothing for a Holche Yoscher.  The history book said the new building was dedicated in 1887 on Lincoln Street, and I remember a few of the weddings of J’s relatives occurred at the  ‘Lincoln Street Synagogue’ according to newspaper announcements.  I searched ‘Lincoln Street Synagogue’, refining the search for the year 1887.  Sure enough, I found a few articles discussing the new synagogue.[11][12]

None of these articles discussed the founding members. Searches on Jacob also did not link him to the Synagogue, so I decided to search Abraham Michlosky.  Abraham, who lived to 86 years of age,  appeared a few times later in life in the 1930s. He was the honorary member at anniversary celebrations for Holche Yoscher as the last living Charter Member (confirming the Abraham buried next to our Jacob as a founding member from the book).[13]  I also found a few obituary articles.[14]  These articles did not specifically mention his brothers or the descendants of Jacob but they did confirm Abraham’s wife was Annie Berman, the other woman buried next to our Jacob and Yetta Michlosky.  

The Evening News (Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania) 19 Feb 1936. Page 16


While all of these finds and information were exciting, as they were all lining up – the discovery of Abraham’s death certificate and obituary inserted new and possibly contradictory information to the search for Jacob’s ancestral home in Eastern Europe.  The History book [8] clearly said that the founders of Holche Yoscher were from the shtetls of Wizan or Vischan in Lithuania and named a Jacob and an Abraham Michlosky as founding members (a total of 6).  Which was confirmed by our Abraham’s obituary (linked to us by cemetery plot at this point).  But Abraham Michlosky’s death certificate said he was born in Poland.  His obituary specifically said he was from Warsaw, Poland. [14][15]  While J can remember some mention of a Lithuanian background, Poland coming up is a surprise.  Were one of the documents incorrect and/or is this just a question of borders changing?  


The Evening News (Wilkes-Barre, PA) 28 Jun 1938, pg 2

I have come up with a few next steps to find more clues:

  • See if I can contact the author of the history book and ask about the sources that led her to her conclusions and/or if she is available to discuss her thoughts on the founders being from Lithuania (maybe a stretch!)?
  • Contact the Holche Yosher cemetery and synagogue in Wilkes-Barre, PA to see if they have any records on their founder’s (I haven’t been successful to date finding contact information).
  • Look up the changing borders of Lithuania and Poland during the years between founding of the synagogue and Abraham’s death
  • Research the descendants of Abraham to see if there are any clues.
  • I’m still missing a death record for Jacob, and would like to order his son’s, our great grandfather, SS application to see what clues may be there


  1. Jacob Michlosky, Holche Yoscher Cemetery; Hanover, Luzerne County, Pennsylvania, USA. U.S., Find A Grave Index, 1600s-Current
  2. Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania, City Directory, 1882; U.S. City Directories, 1822-1995
  3. 1910 Federal Census Records; Census Place: Wilkes Barre Ward 9, Luzerne, Pennsylvania; Accessed Ancestry.Com
  4. The Wilkes-Barre Recrod, The Evening News, The Wilkes-Barre Times Leader (various 1911-1945)
  5. Harry Michlosky, Temple B’nai Israel Cemetery, Elmira, NY, USA. U.S., Find A Grave Index, 1600s-Current
  6. U.S., World War I Draft Registration Cards, 1917-1918; Registration State: Pennsylvania; Registration County: Luzerne; Roll: 1927076; Draft Board: 1 (Also, WWII Draft Registration Card)
  7. Samuel Pete Micholsky, 1936: Pennsylvania, Death Certificates, 1906-1964 Accessed:
  8. Levin, Marjorie, The Jews of Wilkes-Barre : 150 years (1845-1995) in the Wyoming Valley of Pennsylvania: Wilkes-Barre, Pa. : Jewish Community Center of Wyoming Valley, 1999.
  9. Wilkes-Barre Times Leader, the Evening News – 4 Aug 1921, Thu – Page 11
  10. Joseph Michlosky, 1956; Pennsylvania, Death Certificates, 1906-1964
  11. ‘Dedication of New Synagogue’ The Wilkes-Barre Record – 1 Feb 1887, Tue – Page 1
  12. ‘Jewish Synagogue Dedicated’ Dollar Weekly News – 12 Feb 1887, Sat – Page 7
  13. ‘Synagogue to Honor Abraham Michlosky’ The Evening News – 19 Feb 1936, Wed – Page 16
  14. ‘Death takes A.Michlosky’ The Evening News – 28 Jun 1938, Tue – Page 2
  15. Abraham Michlosky, 1938; Pennsylvania, Death Certificates, 1906-1964
  16. ’Death Takes Jacob Cohen: Founder of Lincoln Street Synagogue’ Wilkes-Barre Times Leader, the Evening News – 2 Sep 1932, Fri – Page 15