About Luanne

Writer fascinated by genealogy and family stories. thefamilykalamazoo.com, enteringthepale.com

Findagrave for Dummies

In the world of family history, there are a nearly unlimited amount of toys to play with–from family tree creators to DNA painters to “search engines” to aid in research. Of course, the problem is finding the time to adequately learn and use each toy.

One of my favorite toys is Findagrave, but I have barely used it (time constraints, you know). Since I don’t know much about it, I had to title this post Findagrave for Dummies because if you are ignorant of the site as I am, the little I’ve recently learned might be useful. If you know more about Findagrave, please chime in with a comment!

Every dead person is entitled to a memorial page on Findagrave. Even if somebody has no actual grave, there is a solution. This is what their FAQs page says about cremation.

 What if someone was cremated or does not have a traditional ‘grave’?

Find A Grave supports common alternative dispositions to traditional burial. This includes cremation, burial at sea, and donated to medical science. In these cases, select the ‘Not buried in a cemetery’ option on the ‘Add a Memorial’ page. If there is an existing cenotaph within a cemetery for someone who had a alternative disposition, do NOT add another memorial under the alternative disposition.

What’s more, not only is every dead person entitled to a memorial page, but so is every pet buried in a pet cemetery (I kid you not).

A memorial page can be created with very little information. It might only be the knowledge that there is a grave in a specific location with the name of the deceased. But as soon as possible, it’s nice to include the birth and death dates, all correct name information, as well as a photo or two of the individiual and a photo of the headstone. You can also add a transcription of the headstone, a short bio, and links to family member’s Findagrave memorials.

The first service I began using almost from the beginning was that of requesting photos of headstones. When a memorial had been started, but the headstone photo was not loaded, I would request a volunteer to take a picture. This is invaluable if you are looking for specific dates, for instance, that might be engraved on the stone.

For a few years I’ve added info to memorials in a hit or miss fashion. I had to submit additions and corrections to what I thought was an unseen administrator for approval. It took time to hear back.

I’ve also sponsored memorials for many family members, even ones that weren’t particularly close relations. This is a one time $5 fee that removes all ads from a memorial. I couldn’t bear seeing ads cluttering up memorials of the deceased.

But it was only this weekend, through spending a bit of time with the updated Findagrave website, that I discovered that although I had sponsored a lot of memorials, I only managed six. What did manage mean?

The answer wasn’t readily available, but what I figured out is that the person who adds the person is an automatic manager of that memorial. It can be a complete stranger who, as a volunteer, adds in some cases many graves to the site. This is understandable. It’s what made it easy for me to find people on the site to begin with.

But that is why I had to get permission when I was asking to edit dates and names and other information. I was asking permission of  the manager–most often, a complete stranger with no knowledge of the family. When I first gave birth info on Isidore, the manager accepted it. When I edited it with corrected information once his birth record was found, the manager wanted documentation of the correction. Hmm.

So then I read up on taking over management of family memorials so that I could make sure to put up correct information and that I wouldn’t need to get permission from someone who, hypothetically, might not give it to me.

This weekend, I put in a request to take over management of a whole lot of memorials.

In the meantime, here are the links to the memorial pages of Celia, Isidore, their son Murray, and daughter-in-law Diana.

https://www.findagrave.com/memorial/148995707/celia-scheshko

https://www.findagrave.com/memorial/148995160/isidore-scheshko

https://www.findagrave.com/memorial/60566469/murray-harry-castle

https://www.findagrave.com/memorial/60566468/diana-dale-castle

Isidore in the Czar’s Army

Recently, I was able to find Isidore Scheshko’s WWI draft registration. This, of course, complements the photo of Isidore in his U.S. Army uniform that was recently colorized.

The family story from the gardener’s father was that Isidore served in the “Czar’s army” before immigrating to the United States–and that he then signed up four years after arriving in the U.S. to fight on behalf of his new country in WWI.

This document does confirm that story.

If you notice, it says that he was a private in the Marine corps in Russia for 3 1/2 years.

Now, I will say that it’s unlikely that he, being Jewish, was in the actual Marines in Russia.While the Russians were very thorough about making sure young Jewish men were forced to serve, they generally would be in the army and serve under very awful conditions.

I found this information from The YIVO Encyclopedia of Jews in Eastern Europe:

Between 1874 and 1914, there were more Jews in the Russian army than non-Jews in proportion to the general population. For example, in 1907, Jewish soldiers constituted almost 5 percent of the entire military but only 4 percent of the population of the empire.

Isidore was born in 1887, although January 26, not December 28 as listed here, making him almost a year older than he may have thought. I say that because it’s likely that he didn’t actually know the date of his birth. So let’s say he was conscripted at age 16 (the age at which Jews were conscripted ranged from age 12!!! to 25 and the term could last for 25 years or more! To give you a sense of the whole picture, non-Jews could not be conscripted until age 18!) and served for 3.5 years. He would have been done by age 20. If he was conscripted at 18 he would have been 22 when he was discharged. (I use discharged loosely because we have no way of knowing how he left the Russian army).

During the period that Isidore would have served, the far right in Russia was arguing that Jews should be banished from the military; however, it did not happen. I suspect it could have made things even more difficult for Isidore, though, because it could have fueled anti-Semitism toward Jewish soldiers.

If you have information to share on this subject of Jewish soldiers in the army of the Russian Empire, I would love to know more.

 

Why Port Chester?

Celia (Goodstein) Scheshko gave birth to the first of her two children, Murray (the gardener’s father), on 5 June 1921 in Port Chester, Westchester, New York.

If the family lived in Brooklyn, why was he born in Port Chester?

I wish the gardener knew the answer to this mystery.

Celia’s sister-in-law Malka (Molly) and her husband lived in Port Chester, but did Isidore and Celia briefly live there? It would have been about this time that Isidore was working as a house painter (according to the census)

Let’s look at the documentation. On the 1920 census, it seems that Isidore and Celia still lived in Brooklyn, as boarders with the Steinharts.

Then Murray was born in 1921.

On the 1925 NY census the three of them lived at 739 Essex Street in Brooklyn with their own boarders, cousin Rose Goodstein Cohen, her husband, and their child.

I have yet to find the family on the 1930 census. By the 1940 census they were living in the Bronx.

So what did Malka’s husband, Isidor Riskin, do for a living? First I have to say that some of the documents for Isidor are listed under the name Waldimer Riskin. We have no idea why this name is connected with him. The name Vladimir was not a name traditionally given to Jewish sons. Isidor Riskin’s documents say he was born in Moscow, which of course was not in the Pale of Settlement. Maybe that explains the name. So was he Isidor or Waldimer? Isidore was his Yiddish name. Perhaps Waldimer was his Russian name.

In the 1910 census Malka’s husband is listed as a Black Smith in the Horseshoes industry. They lived at 65 Travers Avenue, Port Chester.

In the 1920 census he (called Isiaac here) was a Packer in the Nuts and Bolts industry. They lived at 58 Townsend Street, Port Chester. Their only child, Charlotte, was born in 1919, the year before. This is only a year before Murray was born.

In the 1930 census they lived at 43 Townsend Street, close to where they lived during the previous census time. But now Isidor was a Wrapper in the Hardware industry.

I can’t find them on the 1940 census. But, on his WWII draft registration, I discovered that Isidor Riskin worked for Ruby Golding at 141 Wilkins Avenue, Port Chester.

Amy Cohen so kindly found an obituary for Ruby Golding’s sister Rose here.

What kind of business did Ruby run and what did Isidor do for him?

Another kind Facebook group member provided this information and told me that Ruby Golding’s business was Awnings and Shades:

Ruby Golding n Port Chester in the city directories, and in the 1940 Census that owned an awning and shade business. (below)

FamilySearch Indexing

Ruby Golding
United States Census, 1940
Name: Ruby Golding
Event Type: Census
Event Date: 1940
Event Place: Port Chester, Rye Town, Westchester, New York, United States
Sex: Male
Age: 31
Marital Status: Single
Race (Original): White
Race: White
Relationship to Head of Household (Original): Son
Relationship to Head of Household: Son
Birthplace: New York
Birth Year (Estimated): 1909
Last Place of Residence: Same Place
Household Role Sex Age Birthplace
Yetta Golding Head Female 58 Russia
Ruby Golding Son Male 31 New York

I searched stevemorse.org by address for the Riskins on the 1940 census, but 43 Townsend, the address listed for them on the 1930 census AND his WWII draft registration, is not listed as an address on the census. And I couldn’t find the family anywhere on Townsend Street.

This is not the first time that I have searched for a specific address only to see the address not listed on the census. These are apartment buildings, so there are many families at the same addresses. I think this makes it even stranger because it’s not as if a one-family house was missed.

I even tried searching on the 1940 census for a “Charlotte” in Port Chester, and there is no trace of Charlotte in Port Chester. She would have been 21. I don’t yet have Charlotte’s marriage record, so I don’t know what year she and Danny Vendola married.

Back to the original mystery: why was Murray born in Port Chester? Could they have been visiting the relatives when it was time to give birth? Could they have chosen Port Chester for Murray’s birth for medical or familial reasons? Any ideas on how to find out more information?

Isidore in Living Color

Last week I showed you how Val Erde at Colouring the Past was able to take Celia Goodstein Scheshko’s photo and add color.

This week I asked her to take Isidore Scheshko’s U.S. Army photograph and do the same thing. Note that these photos have the same background and might have been taken in preparation for their wedding in 1919.

Here is the photograph I gave Val to work on. Note that it is the best I had, but not an original photo.

Now see what Val did with it!

Any idea what that X on his sleeve means?

Here are Celia’s photos once again. Note that the background and floor are the same, but the more Val worked with the background the more she learned about it. These interpretations are different, although similar.

The original image:

And here is the photo after Val’s work on it.

 

The amount of research, knowledge, and artistry that Val puts into the photographs is remarkable.

Don’t tell the gardener about these. I’m ordering prints for his birthday!

Celia in Living Color

Last fall I took the B&W challenge on Facebook and took pix of my everyday life in black and white instead of in color. I loved the focus on shapes and the balance of light and dark. The idea was not to include any people in the photos.

And I can see why not. There is just something about color that brings people to life. That is why our antique black and white or sepia photos of ancestors are wonderful to have, but really just give us an “outline” of the individuals.

So I asked Val Erde at Colouring the Past to take Celia Goodstein Scheshko’s photo and add color. Wow, look at the difference!

Here is the original image:

And here is the photo after Val’s work on it.

See how pretty she looks! And now those nifty two-toned boots show up even better.

I feel myself getting hooked on this. I wish I could have all my old photos colored!

Murray’s U.S. Military History

Murray Harry Scheshko, the gardener’s father and son of Isidore and Celia, was a highly intelligent, active, and energetic young man who came of age at the time of WWII. He was born on 5 June 1921 and can be found on a U.S. Marines muster roll on 11 January 1940. He was 18 years old.

He was a private, and the listing is alphabetical, so he is about #9 up from the bottom.

Also, on 11 January 1940, this is listed on Ancestry for Murray, but again, no record to go with it: NEW YORK NATIONAL GUARD SERVICE CARDS.

Name: Murray H Scheshko
Birth Date: 5 Jun 1921
Birth Place: Port Chester, New York
Residence Place: New York City, New York
Enlistment Age: 18
Enlistment Date: 11 Jan 1940
Enlistment Place: New York City, New York, USA
Unit: Co A 1st Mar Bn

U.S. Veterans Affairs Death records show Murray as enlisting on 8 January 1941. But 8 February 1941, a month later and a little over a year after the Marines muster list, he is showing as enlisting in the U.S. Army, Airborne division. What happened between the Marines and the Army? Between 1940 and 1941? I don’t know. And I don’t have a document for this as this is text info on Ancestry.

I’ve never heard of this site before, but they have his army serial number listed (12025969) and mentioned he was Air Corps.  For those of you who don’t know, as I did not know, there was no U.S. Air Force before 1947. The air division was part of the U.S. Army.

Murray’s military history must have been extremely interesting. On the one hand, when I was dating the gardener, I was regaled by the gardener and by Murray with stories of how he spent most of his time in the brig for fighting. At one point, I knew how many days he spent, and it was astronomical. On the other hand, he must have spent some time not in the brig because when the gardener was little, his father had a bucketful of military medals, including a Purple Heart. The gardener has rueful recollections of playing with the medals (and possibly cutting up the ribbons) when he was a kid.

What I didn’t know until somewhat recently is that Murray was part of the 353rd Fighter Group that flew bombing missions over occupied Europe. They are considered heroes in England. Murray was not a pilot. He was staff sergeant, an “armourer,” which means that he was in charge of the weapons for the group. There are websites online devoted to the group, and Murray is mentioned in them.

American Air Museum

353rd Fighter Group

I have also been given some photos of the group with Murray in them.

Murray is standing, on our left.

Murray on our right

Were the brig stories exaggerated? Or was he able to be a hero in between his fights? By way of explanation about the fighting, I will mention that during the time that Murray was stationed in England he experienced a great deal of anti-Semitism which tainted his time with the English.

I am posting a photocopy of a pic of Murray with other soldiers in the U.S. Army in case someone finds this blog post and recognizes someone in the photo.

Murray was a gentleman and a good father, but there were some vestiges of him as a “tough guy” throughout his life. He always dreamed of being an attorney (and loved his copy of Black’s Law Dictionary), but the opportunity didn’t happen for him. Instead, he became Plant Manager and VP of Research and Development for Dr. Denton (yes, the pjs with feet) and Lambknit sweater mill (southwestern Michigan).

After his American military career, instead of going to school or settling down, and before he became a business executive, Murray took one detour. To be continued at some point.