I am hoping to take the first research trip for J’s family genealogy to the cemetery where his great grandparents, Meyer and Anna Pearlman are buried. Meyer and Anna immigrated from Russia and I’m hoping that exploring their grave plot might give us some more detailed clues as to their ancestral shtetl (or maybe some names of their siblings). FindAGrave.com has given me the cemetery and plot information but there hasn’t been a picture posted yet. Here is what I know of their burial place:
Mount Hebron Cemetery is located in Flushing, Queens in New York City. Meyer and Anna came through New York from Russia around 1900 but they settled in Pennsylvania for the majority of their adult lives. Around 1942 they moved to Brooklyn to live with their older daughter Pearl Epstein in the home of her husband’s family (also from Minsk, Russia) and were later buried in Queens. What is interesting though is that Pearl is buried with her husband and his family in Montefiore Cemetery. Which raises the question of why Meyer and Anna are in Mount Hebron if no known children are buried there as well. Are there other family members in Mount Hebron?
Mount Hebron Cemetery opened to the Jewish community in New York City with its first burial in 1909. There have been over 217,000 burials since then. Apparently it is a very large cemetery so we might need a full day to navigate and explore (I have no idea how I will convince J to take a day trip to NY to hang out in a cemetery all day)! I believe there are also memorial sites for communities lost during the Holocaust which we will want to visit as well.
Through further Mount Hebron research, I learned about society’s that Jewish immigrants formed at the turn of the century to support each other in the New World. These society’s were formed around shared houses, neighborhoods, synagogues, professions and/or places of origin and not only provided a social life they also supported their members with certain social welfare benefits. This included health insurance type of benefits and also burial support. Some of the societies bought large tracts of land in Jewish cemeteries for their members – including in Mount Hebron where 80% of the land was sold to local Jewish societies in the first years. I looked at the list and it looks like there are 100s maybe even 1,000s of different society plots in Mount Hebron.
The internment search I did on the website for Meyer showed me that he is buried in the Workmen’s Circle Society plot. Whats interesting here for me is that Meyer lived and worked his adult life in Wilkes-Barre, PA only moving to NY to live with his daughter in his later years – I wonder why, how and if he was a member of this society. The cemetery website says the Workmen’s Circle plots are in blocks 14, 113, 75, 63, FCIR. Meyer’s record shows he is in 113, line 13. He is in grave 26 and Anna in 27.
I found website for the Workmen’s Circle Society – today it is a non profit that promotes social justice and Jewish education, including Yiddish! I emailed them through their contact page to see if they had any information on Meyer’s membership. They emailed me back within a day and had checked their burial lists and confirmed that both Meyer and Anna were at Mount Hebron, buried next to each other, in the Workmen’s Circle plot. I also found that genealogists can access paper based records from the Workmen’s circle in English and Yiddish at American Jewish Historical Society in New York.
I guess the next step in this trail is a visit to New York! I’m noting the links below to save in the case that one day we plan this trip. Any tips on Mount Hebron Cemetery and/or general cemetery visits?
Relevant Links and Sources: