Discovering Stored Treasures

Discovering Genealogy, One Ancestor at a Time.

Sunday, January 6, 2013

Where Were They 100 Years Ago?

Last night my head was spinning. I was lying in bed and think about +Randy Seaver Saturday Nigh's Genealogy Fun  post: Where Were They 100 Years ago? Randy proposed what at first seemed like an exciting and fun challenge.

  • Determine where your ancestral families were on 1 January 1913 - 100 years ago.
  • List them, their family members, their birth years, and their residence location (as close as possible).  Do you have a photograph of their residence from about that time, and does the residence still exist?
I loved the idea, but it was pretty late, so I decided to tackle this genealogy exercise in the morning. But when I settled down to bed, I couldn't help but scan my ancestors and try to imagine where they where 100 years ago. Very quickly I realized what should be any easy task for someone like me who has spent hundreds of hours researching her forefathers, was not as easy as it looked. As+Randy Seaver suggested, I cued the mission impossible music and tried to rolled back the clock. Part of me was hoping to use Michael J Fox's time machine from Back to the future. This Friday, was actually the day in the future he had visited. As I was dosing off to sleep, I imagined my self in the DeLorean, with Michael and Tom Cruise (why not?), landing in the old Russian Empire, in search of my relatives. 

Cruising back along my family's time line 100 years, takes me almost past my grandparents generation and into my great-grandparents. My grandfather Morris Bogdanow was born on July 10th, 1912 which would have made him about a year and a half old. He was living with his parents Abraham Bogdanow and Mollie Bogdanow (Katz) at 2103 Amsterdam Avenue, in NY City. There is a good chance the building is still standing, but I must admit, I have not visited. Google Maps did fly me right into the building faster than any time machine could have. 

View Larger Map
37 Eastman, Claremont NH, home to
Moses and Freida Bloomfield and
four younger sons 1914.
My other three grandparents were mostly a distant thought in 1913 so my challenge turns to my remaining three sets of great-grandparents. William Bloomfield, my mother's maternal grandfather, had been in the United States since 1904. He is a bit difficult to pin down as he moved around in search of work and personal fulfillment.  In 1913, I believe he was living in Claremont, NH. By 1914 he moved to NY. The Bloomfield family was in transition in 1913 (see my earlier blog post: Why in the World New Hampshire?). The 1913, Laconia City Directory, lists Moses (William's father) as owning a grocery store at 138 Oak Street. The 1914 Claremont Directory lists the family as living at 37 Eastman in Claremont. I don't believe William was living with his parents as he had been on his own for many years before that, but his exact whereabouts in 1913 are unclear.

To visit the rest of my ancestors in 1913, I must now take my DeLorean to Eastern Europe. Minnie Crane (Bloomfield), William's wife was very much dreaming of coming to America. If I was had set my time machine to January 1st, 1914, I would have caught Minnie on the deck of the SS Grosser Kurfurst as she was sailing across the atlantic from Bremen, Germany towards Ellis Island. But in January 1913, the idea of going to America seemed like an impossible dream to Minnie. Minnie, or Menuja Kranowitz as she was known back in Belarus, was fifteen years old, and had spent most of 1912 recovering from a terrible tooth infection and several botched mouth surgeries, alone in Konigsberg, Germany. Her older brother Harry had just visited on his way to catch a the Pinsk Oskar to the US which sailed  January 4, 1914.

Anna Celnik (Rosenblum)
My grandfather Baruch Lavi, or Zigmond Jampel as he was about to be dubbed, was probably very frustrated to have missed my visit from the future. Born on Feb 16, 1913 in Lvuv (Lemberg), Poland, he was close to embark on his personal journey. His parents Leon Yampel and Cyla Reiter were in the Fur Business. The both died in the holocaust and I know almost nothing about them. His wife Shoshana (Ruja) Celnik would be born in Tarnov, Poland later that year (September 28, 1913). Her parents Matias Celnik and Anna Rosenblum, had a three year old son Ashzer. They also all died in the holocaust and I know almost nothing about them. Anna Rosenblum, would have been about 23 years old in 1913. The only photo I have of her, is the one I've posted here, and though it's not dated, she certainly looks like she could be in her twenties in this photo, and so maybe it was taken around 1913.

This powerful exercise, highlighted to me, once again, how little we know about our past. One hundred years, only four generations back, and my family's story is just a silhouetted image, almost within my grasp, but yet foggy and unclear. While all my great-grandparents were all young, either single or about to start a family of their own, the were optimistic of their future. How sad it is to think that world history, intersected with some of their plans and prevented four of my eight great-grandparents from completing their journey the way nature intended. Thanks, +Randy Seaver for this genealogy challenge which truly embodies what we do in genealogy. You have re-inspired my to find my way to Europe to answer some of the major questions I have about my family's story.


  1. All great, except Marty McFly traveled to Oct 21, 1915

    The image has been altered several times to suggest several different dates, and I expect it will be altered several times more prior to the actual date.

    1. Thanks for pointing out the facebook hoax, though I think you mean, 2015 not 2015. Either way, wouldn't we all love to borrow that time machine!

  2. Well played, Smadar! Sorry my blog post kept you up last night, but look at the finished product! I sometimes use problems like this to fall asleep.


Thanks for sharing your comments!