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.

sourcefhl-wizajny
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 https://familysearch.org/catalog/search
  • 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!

polish-immigration

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

Posted in Genealogy, Jewish Gen, Michlosky

Bottling Whisky in 1880 Pennsylvania – Michlosky History

quartarticle
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]

quartlic
Wilkes-Barre Semi Weekly Record, April 1887 [4]
good-patronage
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]    

Notes:

  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

juginsta

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 (http://www.geneabloggers.com/daily-blogging-prompts/tombstone-tuesday/).

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

Notes

  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. http://www.findagrave.com : 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: Ancestry.com
  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.

petemichloskydeathcertificate

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)
bnaibirthsynagoge
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.  

synagogue-honor
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?  

abrahamdeathcert

abrahamobit
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

Notes

  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: Ancestry.com
  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