Yesterday, I logged into my ancestry.com account, as I do most days. At the top of my ancestry landing page stands the members connect activity newsfeed. Unlike Facebook or Tweeter newsfeeds, my ancestry feed barely moves. There are new listing once a week or sometimes less than once a month. Rarely, have these bits of information resulted in something relevant, so I tend to ignore them. When I do check, I often discover that members connected to me took information from my public tree. I don't mind, it's public, but can't help feeling disappointed that they haven't discovered anything new that might help my research.
Yesterday was different. I noticed one of my favorite collaborators had attached new documents to family members we share. Our trees cross quite a bit, but my family is only related to him via an x-wife of a cousin of his. Still, he is an excellent researcher and meticulous with his documentation. Yesterday he sparked my interest since he was working on my second great-grandmother. I was curious to see if he discovered something I may have missed, so, I clicked on Freida Toby Bloomfield (Pomerantz) on his tree.
The three documents he attached to Freida Toby, were not new to me. I had located these documents as well as three others. But when I glanced at his comments, immediately jumped out. The annotation next to the 1910 US census, a document I had looked at scores of times previously, pointed out that Freida Toby and Moses had 15 children 7 of whom were living in 1910. Fifteen children!!! How had I missed this fact?
|Close up of 1910 US Census for the Bloomfield Family from Ancestry.com|
Click to enlarge. See line 47.
Columns 11 and 12 are: Mother of How Many Children: Number Born: 15, Number living in 1910: 7
|Photo of Moses and Freida Toby Bloomfield with a baby.|
The photo is from Marty Bloomfield's collection. It is not
dated. Marty believes the baby is either Joseph or one of his
younger siblings (Barney or Ben).
Most likely taken in Russia c1900-1906.
Well known family folklore suggests the seven Bloomfield brothers had sisters as well, but none of them lived to adulthood or made it to America. The story, not surprising for a poor family in Russia around the turn of the century, had never been confirmed, but consistent with some facts we knew about the family. A thirty year span separates Aaron Bloomfield, born c.1875, from Benjamin his youngest Benjamin (the musician, actor and engineer), born c1905. The age gaps vary from a year between Barney and Benjamin, to almost ten years between Harry and Joseph suggesting other pregnancies and children who may have not lived to adulthood. Another relevant detail is the fact Freida Toby and Moses were first cousins. First cousin marriages often unmasked a silent carrier gene in a family, which can leads to disease. These types of diseases can lead to early miscarriages, mental retardation and premature death. Then there is Barney, who was rumored to be "slow" due to uncontrolled bleeding at birth. My husband, who is a pediatrician, theorizes that Barney mostly likely bled heavily because of a vitamin K deficiency which can result in what was known as hemorrhagic disease of the newborn. This self limited hemorrhagic illness, today treated with prophylactic vitamin K injection, was not well understood back then. In severe cases, it could lead to neurologic damage and death. If this is indeed happened to Barney, it certainly could have happened to other Bloomfield children, who may not have survived.
For years, I understood the existence of Bloomfield daughters as a very likely truth, yet I found no birth certificates, graves or other documents to support this sad story. The 1910 Census, thanks to my Ancestry.com connection, is the first paper proof for the existence of more Bloomfield siblings. This finding, magnified the harshness of my ancestors lives and the multiple tragedies they endured. Freida Toby and Moses had 15 children, 15 births (not counting miscarriages) and lost 8 children before 1910. Some were most likely girls. This sad reality, though not uncommon back then, surprised me. Once again, I was reminded of the importance of examining and re-examining documents. And if I was not a firm believer in the importance of collaboration and sharing of public family trees, I am fully now convinced! Are you?