Discovering Stored Treasures

Discovering Genealogy, One Ancestor at a Time.

Friday, January 4, 2013

Friday's Faces From the Past: Julius Burakoff Anyone?

Past-Present-Future is now in it's second year! This year I plan to post more often on an expanding set of topics, so be sure to check more frequently! To kick off the year, I would like to announce a new Friday Series of posts about one of my favorite genealogy mysteries: unidentified photos.

Friday's Faces From the Past will feature unidentified photos from my collection. As I leaf through my albums, I wonder who these people were and how their lives crossed with mine? I'm convinced that some hold an important clue to my family's past. I know many of these fading images belong to friends of the family whose descendants may have never seen a photo of their ancestors.  The beauty of the internet is that I can share these priceless portraits with the world, and together we can solve their mystery and share their story. 

There are many blogs posting unidentified photos, and I'm not sure how successful they are. This series is challenge of sorts. I want to test how long it will take to identify these images. In addition to the photo, I will share why I choose this particular photo and any clues I may have to improve the chances of identifying these images. My barometer for success? At least one identified photo in 2013. 

Genealogy is full of questions about the past. We attempt to answer these questions by collecting clues and piecing together a puzzle of sorts. This is a creative process and is much like weaving a tapestry from random strands of yarn or pasting a collage. It requires diverse scraps of materials such oral testimonies, official documents, aging tombstones, newspaper articles,  personal letters and memoirs as well as pictures. I collect these bits of history, try to make sense of them and weave them together onto the tree. By sharing these photos, I hope to draft my family, friends and fellow genealogist to the growing project of my family tapestry collage.

Today's Face From the Past is Julius

Julius came to me from the my Uncle Michael's lastest bag of treasures. Somehow, when I think there are no more lost treasures in the attics, some uncovers another surprise, mixed bag of old photographs and home movies belonging to my great-grandmother and my grandmother. Luckily, this particular photo, printed on a postcard cardboard has a lot of information on the back. 

The dedication written in pen,
is dated Labor Day 1918 and reads:
In commemoration of Sep 1,2- 1918 Htfd. CT
To Minnie from Julius. On the side in pencil it says Mrs. Burakoff.
The image is stamped H Tucker Photographer,
666 Pitkin Av, Brooklyn NY
This seems to be a photo of Julius himself, which he gave to my great-grandmother Minnie in 1918. There is something serious, yet gentle and kind in Julius's gaze in this rather stiff formal portrait, typical for the period it was take. From the nature of the dedication and my knowledge of Minnie's life, I surmise that Julius and Minnie had some kind of romantic weekend on Labor Day, 1918. In her memoir, Stored Treasures, Minnie reflects kindly on her early years in America when she was single and dated often, until she finally settled down and married William Bloomfield. She mentions many suitors, but rarely gives names. She never mentions Julius or the Labor Day escapade. Even if her "relationship with Julius" was not long lived, it's not surprising it is part of her collection. Minnie had many friends and remained friends with many of the men she dated which would explain why she kept his photo. I looked at our family tree, and there is no Julius which fits the age range (mid-late twenties?) for the man in the photo. This leads me to believe that this man was a friend or suitor, rather than a cousin.

The photo was taken in Brooklyn. Julius was likely a resident of New York rather than Hartford, though he may have spent some time in Hartford and that is how he met Minnie. Alternatively, they may have met during the months Minnie spent in NYor during one of her  brief visits, and then he came to visit her on Labor Day in Hartford. 

Mrs Burakoff, is the additional clue which jumps up at me. Scribbled later than 1918, in what is most likely Minnie's hand writing, is the name Mrs. Burakoff. Is this a photo of Julius Burakoff? Did Minnie intend to give the photo to a Mrs Burakoff later and that is why she labeled it such? Was Mr. Burakoff no longer around?

I did a little research on Julius Burakoff on-line. On Ancestry, I found a Julius Burakoff born in 1896 who registered for the draft in Jun 1918. He was living in Brooklyn. The form lists his father as the closest relative so I assume he was not married yet. Then in 1925 he appears in the NY State Census as living in the Bronx with a wife, Rose and a one-year-old daughter Mildred. I've located a family tree for this same Julius Burakoff and have contacted the manager to see if this may be the same person in my photo.

I'm not sure Julius' story will shed light on my family, but I have a feeling some of his descendants might enjoy seeing his portrait.

All of you photo detectives out there, I'd love some ideas of where to look next! 


  1. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

    1. So true Jacqi! I will remain hopefull that the spider webs of the world wide web will do these photos more good than those in the attic or a dusty antique shop! Julius's photo has spread to The Tracing Descendants Daily already. I did find a fictional character by the same name. It's in a book written by a Sara Burakoff called Brighton Third Street, published in 2004. Interestingly, the fictional Julius lived in Hartford and then moved to New York. I looked her up and she was born in 1919 in NY and passed away in 2008. She may have been a daughter of my elusive Julius.

    2. Jacqi, I just removed your comment by mistake. I meant to add a comment to mine, correcting my previous assertion about Sara Burakoff the author. I believe she was the wife of Jack Burakoff and he was the son of a William and Bertha, Burakoff. They may be related to a Julius but I haven't found the link yet. Sorry for deleting your comment inadvertently.


Thanks for sharing your comments!