Discovering Stored Treasures

Discovering Genealogy, One Ancestor at a Time.

Friday, July 27, 2012

Springfield Vermont, Home of the Simpsons and the Bloomfields.

(This post is a parts of a series called roots trip, see the end of this post for links to the previous articles)

Springfield, Vermont, chartered in 1761 is a somewhat sleepy historic town, about two hours from Boston and not far from the New Hampshire border. As, I strolled along it's historic downtown,  I tried to absorb the feel of the place where my Ancestors lived and worked. I got a sense of the buildings, the river and the rhythm of the town. Located in what was known as Precision Valley, Springfield—in it's heyday—was part of a booming machine tool industry. Russian and Polished immigrants flocked to the town where they found work opportunities in the many factories. The various waterfall provided energy for these industries. Some of these old industrial buildings remain in use today, while others are abandoned and in search of a revival.

Today Springfield may be best known as Home of the Simpsons. Springfield, USA is the fictional city where the famous sitcom was set. The Fox hit series, purposefully, kept for the location of Springfield ambiguous. Springfield, Vermont was the winner of a nationwide contest as the  Springfield city to host The Simpson Movie Premiere. Like the Simpsons, many of the Bloomfields choose Springfield as their home. The first  Bloomfield in my family to live in Vermont was Max, who came around 1916 and opened a business with his brother in-law Barney Kenet. They began Kenet and Blumenfeld as junk peddlers. Over the years, their business expanded into groceries, meats and eventually grains (in a second partnership they formed called the Springfield Grains Co). They came to own many properties along Clinton street.

Advertisement in the Springfield City Directory
from 1928 for Max's store
Kenet and Blumenfeld showing how they went from
junk peddlers to General Store Owners
The add reads: General Merchandise
Staple & Fancy Groceries
Meats & Provisions / Fruits & Vegetables
Ladies' and Gents' Clothing
26-28 Clinton Street Phone 375-W & 349W
Springfield Vermont

To clarify the Bloomfield's path during the early years in Sprinfield, I prepared a brief timeline:
1916- Max and Leah Blumenfeld open Kenet and Blumenfeld with Barney Kenet at 26 Clinton Street.
1917, Jan 21st- Moses Bloomfield, the family patriarch, dies in Springfield. He is the first Bloomfield to die in America.
1926 Freida Toby (Moses wife and patriarch) and Barney Bloomfield (her son) relocate to Springfield from Laconia. She opens a cloth remnant business. They live and work on 116 Main Street.
1927 Freida Toby moves to 9 Park Street and opens a Men's Clothing Store, known as F Blomfield. Ben (her youngest son) is listed as working at the store. (See city directory ad for the store)
1928, September 30th- Freida Toby dies in Springfield, Barney Bloomfield inherits the store and renames it B Bloomfield.
1932 Ben is at the Fellows Gear Shaper Company working as an Engineer.

9 Park Street, Springfield VT
The building next to it was built in 1932
Why Freida decided to leave Laconia and move to Springfield is not clear. I venture to guess that she wanted to leave the Laconia Store for Harry and his growing family. Maybe Max's growing business need her support?  We know Moses was a tailor (from the 1910 Census), so we can assume she knew something about sewing. There was a textile factory in the center of springfield which would explain where she got some of her remnants.  Though her first Springfield address is no longer standing, finding the #9 Park Street home, was one of the highlights of the trip. This decapitated property, is clearly the original home. It continues to have a small storefront with a residence above. When we visited the Springfield historical society, they provided us with photos of Park street from the early 1900-1920s.

View of #9 Park Street in the early 1900s
(The house is at the top righthand corder, on the bridge, behind the post)
Courtesy of Springfield Historical Society
Freida only lived in Springfield for a short period but eventful period in the history of the city. I can't help to imagine how she and her sons were affected by the events.  July 26th, 1927 was one of the most exciting days in Springfield's history. Only two months after his historic transatlantic flight, Charles Lindbergh, landed at the Springfield Airportin the Spirit of St. Louis— as part of his US tour to promote aviation. Thanks to the Inventor, Engineer, Pilot and Entrepreneur James Hartness, Springfield was one of Lindbergh's first stops. Hartness was to became governor of Vermont. On that memorable day, he welcomed the St. Louis to the new airstrip he had built. Over thirty thousand excited visitors and towns folk crowded the air port. It's difficult to imagine that the members of the Bloomfield family would miss such an exciting event. Some may have stayed to man the stores, as business certainly must have been booming that day, but I'd put money on the fact that there is a Bloomfield in the photo below.

Reception at the Springfield Airport for Charles Lindberg (photo courtesy of the Library of Congress)
A few months later, Springfield made the headlines for a different reason. This time—on November 3rd and 4th—tragically, the town was hit by a devastating flood. This historic flood has been compared to the 2011 flood Vermont recently experienced. I found a lot of information and many remarkable photos of the flood on a web page dedicated to the Black River's Rampage. Two photos stood out. One photograph shows the Arch Bridge crossing Park Street, and a glimpse of Freida's store as it braced for the oncoming water. The other snapshot is of Clinton Street, Max's stomping ground under several feet of water. The flood killed 85 people across the state, 9,000 people lost their homes and 1,200 bridges were destroyed. A dam built to the north of Springfield after this flood, may have saved the town from similar fate during hurricane Irene. (Visit for a great news report comparing the two floods).

View of Park Street during the 1927 flood. You can see how high the water was compared to the earlier photo. According to the man we met at the historical society, Park Street itself did not flood. (Photographs from the A. W. LSYSATH collection). 
Clinton Street under water in the 1927 Flood.

If Aaron Bloomfield is credited to bringing the Bloomfields to Claremont, New Hampshire, then Max is responsible for the Springfield migration. Max was the first to venture into Vermont with his brother-in-law, and their success in business probably encouraged his mother, Barney and later Ben Bloomfield to join him. As far as I can tell, Max stayed in Springfield his whole life. His business suffered in the depression and foreclosed, but he managed to recover and continue to prosper.  How long Moses the patriarch spent in Springfield is unclear. Though on his death certificate it states he was a resident of Springfield, he was simultaneously listed the Laconia City Directory in 1916 and 1917, making it unclear where his permanent residence was. Like Max, Ben was a long time resident of Springfield. Both their fascinating stories will reveal much more about the Bloomfield family story, and I will be writing about them in the future.

More about the Bloomfields:
Guest blog on How I Met The Bloomfields

Roots Trips Series: Reports from a Vermont and New Hampshire road trip to research the Bloomfield family history:
Part I: Roots Trip Road-trip planning!
Part II: Three Tips for Genealogy Road Trips
Part III: Roots Trip Gem of the Day, Looking for Moses Bloomfield
Part IV: Why in the World New Hampshire
Part VI: Which Ancestors to Research?

Where Was This Picture Taken?- Legacy Roots
Friday's Faces From the Past: Mystery Man
Hot Off The Press

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Why in the World New Hampshire?

Page one form a written family history by
Ethel Snyder (Bloomfield) written in 2009
curtesy of my cousin Erica (Ethel's granddaughter)
Ethel was 87 when she wrote these notes.
Yesterday's post is only the beginning of the family history I learned on my recent roots trip. As I described in my post about planning this trip, there were some important questions we hoped to answer when we set out to Northern New England. This was a big question for me: Why would a poor Russian Jewish immigrant family go to rural New Hampshire and Vermont in the early 1900s? This particular question nagged me ever since I was a little girl. I remember driving past Laconia, which was a small city then, and thinking about why was my grandmother born there? It must have been a tiny place back then. What brought them to Laconia to open a grocery store? Couldn't they have open a store in New York?

I know, many of us Bloomfields have pondered this idea for a long time. There is a story, that floated around Harry Bloomfields branch of the family which shed some light on this issue. As we were heading deep into Vermont, Jimmy, my cousin, recollected the following Bloomfield legend he heard from his mother. Harry Bloomfield heard that Laconia, NH was expecting a wave of Polish immigrants, so the Bloomfields should go to Laconia and open a grocery store to sell Polish sausages. They did, but the Polish never arrived. As Jimmy and I dissected this family story, we found so major flaws, based on facts we knew. Jimmy's mother must of retold this story many times and when I looked up a written history she wrote for the family in 2009, the version was a bit different. She tells Freida, who was a widow according to Ethel, not Harry being told of a group of Polish workers expected in Franklin, NH. Clearly, only part of this story is historically accurate. The Bloomfields did eventually open a grocery store in NH.

What we do know is, that Freida was not a widow when she came in September 1909. We have the ship manifest from Ellis Island, documenting her arrival with Moses and four youngest sons together on the Estonia. We have a photo of Moses in the United States and he is listed in various city directories and finally dies in Vermont in 1917, seven years after arriving in America. Freida may have been the one who ran the show,  but it was neither her or Harry alone who made the decision to go to NH. Harry may have had a vote as he was in his late teens, and he may have liked the idea of opening a store, but the first store belonged to Moses and Freida and came years later. The older three brothers who were in America much longer, clearly had much to do with this important family decision. Ethel was right that they did not settle in Laconia initally, but I think she confused Franklin with Claremont, NH. I find no evidence of the Bloomfields in Franklin, but much evidence that they were in Claremont. Claremont NH, was going through a kind of industrial boom. If you drive through Claremont today, you can see signs for the Historic Industrial District.

I'm not sure when exactly the first Bloomfield arrived in Claremont, but by 1909 the Aaron, Max and William were pretty settled in Claremont, NH. I found the three of them listed in the 1905 Claremont City Directory, working at the Maynard Shoe Company and living at Aaron's home on 155 North Street. This is the earliest I can document the Bloomfields location in America. I have a gap of about six to seven years from when Aaron arrived in the US, to where I can identify he in Claremont. One thing is clear. It was not the grocery business that attracted the Bloomfields to NH. It was shoes! While both William and Max wondered a bit (they moved to Pittsburg according to the 1907 Claremont City Directory), Aaron remained in Claremont and at the shoe factory. By 1909 the three brothers were back in Claremont. If I had to venture an educated guess, they saved up enough money to bring their parents and younger siblings to America, and all returned to receive them, as they were to arrive in September.

The Maynard Shoe factory was on 18 Essex street and made boots and shoes. One of the few facts I knew about William Bloomfield from my mother was that he made shoes for a short time. Claremont was challenging in terms of addresses, since according to a local residen we met, they changed many street names after 9/11. We did walk up and down the industrial, historical district of the town, but we did not find the building where they Shoe Company was located. According to my GPS (which amazingly had the old street names, but knew they were wrong), Essex street was changed to Water Street. We found 18 Water Street, but looking at an old postcard of the Maynard Shoe Factory, we were not looking at the correct building.

On April 28th,1910 (the date their census was recorded), we can document the whole Bloomfield clan living and working in Claremont. Aaron is living with his growing family on 36 Fremont Street (where he was living since 1909) and continuing to work at the Shoe Factory. Max is newly married to Leah (listed as married two years) and living with her at 30 Hanover Street and working as a laborer in a Machine shop. William who had been living with Aaron's family in 1909, moves in with his parents and younger siblings who have newly arrived from Europe to 179 North Street in Claremont. Only seven months after landing at Ellis Island, Moses is listed as a Tailor and Freida is not working. They were renting their home. Reportedly, neither spoke English, but all their sons did. Everyone could read and write. They were married for 34 years in 1910 dating their wedding to around 1876. William and Harry were both working at the shoe factory (that totals four Bloomfield in the Shoe business) and the three younger sons Joseph, Ben and Barney were in school. No one is talking about Polish immigrants as of yet or sausages. They had three boarders living with them. Probably cousins, two of whom worked at the Shoe Factory and one was a Cabinet maker who worked at an antique store.

The records give some conflicting dates as to how long the Bloomfields stay in Claremont. The first mention of a grocery store is in 1913, where Moses is listed as a Grocer both in Laconia and still living in Claremont. In 1914 he continues the continue to appear in Claremont, but from 1915 they are listed as having a grocery store in Laconia. It's likely during some point in 1913 they moved to Laconia and therefore they appear in both the Laconia and Claremont directories. It's also possible that part of the family remained in Claremont while the rest of the family opened the business in Laconia, and eventually were joined by everyone else. What is clear is that the family splits, Aaron remains in Claremont, but moves to Windsor, Vermont  by 1915 to open of all things, a grocery store. Max moves to Springfield, Vermont and William leaves for New York City in 1914 and then Texas. Moses, Freida and the younger boys go to Laconia, and open a grocery store on Water Street.

12 Fremont Street in Claremont NH.
 Home of Aaron and his family in 1914
Though the siding looks
new, the home looks old, especially the back of the house.
According to an elderly neighbor, the house is the original house.
During our visit to Claremont, we searched all the known address for the Bloomfields. To our amazement, found two buildings still standing. One was Aaron's home in 1912, only a few houses down from the 36 Fremont address where he lived previously.

The second property we found still standing was the home of Moses and his family listed on the Claremont City Directory in 1914. This 37 Eastman street (Now Centurion Street) has gone through much renovation according to it's current owner, but the structure remains the original home.

Home of Moses and Freida and four youngest
sons in 1914. 37 Eastman Street, in Claremont.
Who knows, maybe around 1914 they were expecting a large Polish immigration, WWI was breaking out. It's very possible that since Moses suffered from Asthma and was elderly, it was hard for him to hold a job and opening a small store where Freida could work and the boys could help was a smart idea. Maybe the Bloomfields could not support themselves with one store, so they decided to spread out across neighboring towns and open a bunch of store, in advance of an expected bowing wave of immigrants. Maybe there was a family fight and everyone decided to go their separate ways. My great-grandmother hinted at that in her Memoirs, stating that the Bloomfield brothers were not close like she was with her siblings. Or maybe, worked dried up in Claremont. Either way, this is where they leave Claremont and begin their lives as merchants and small business owners.

More about the Bloomfields:

Guest blog on How I Met The Bloomfields

Roots Trips Series: Reports from a Vermont and New Hampshire road trip to research the Bloomfield family history:
Part I: Roots Trip Road-trip planning!
Part II: Three Tips for Genealogy Road Trips
Part III: Roots Trip Gem of the Day, Looking for Moses Bloomfield
Part V: Springfield Vermont Home of the Simpsons and the Bloomfields
Part VI: Which Ancestors to Research?

Where Was This Picture Taken?- Legacy Roots
Friday's Faces From the Past: Mystery Man
Hot Off The Press

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Roots Trip Gem of the Day

I learned a lot of things on my road trip! The Gem of the Day is: picking up documents in person will save you money, time and may have more information than what you will receive in the mail! Being an amateur genealogist, my learning curve is steep. I'm constantly learning new things! This monday, on my roots trip, I walked into three city clerks offices: Springfield Vermont, Windsor Vermont and Laconia NH. Previously, I had mistakenly assumed my ancestor, Moses Bloomfield died in NH. That fact, and the fact that his name on his death certificate was Moses Blumenfeld, made this record elusive to me, even though it available on Ancestry since 2010. In a collaborative effort with my cousins, last January, we stumbled upon this record and other Bloomfield family death records in the state of Vermont. Vermont Death Records (1909-2008) are online. 

Moses Bloomfield's Death Certificate from the Vermont State Archives available on Ancestry.Com
(Click to Enlarge)

Having Moses's Death Certificate was huge! In 1917 he was the first person in the Bloomfield clan to die in America. From the death certificate we learned several facts, most importantly that he died in Springfield Vermont, not in Laconia NH where he lived. His son Max was living in Springfield at the time, which would explain why Moses decided to die there. Maybe he was visiting Max? And so, we reasoned that maybe Moses is buried in Springfield. After all, it turns out, a lot of the Bloomfields died in Springfield. Moses, his wife Freida Toby, their sons Max and Benjamin and their respective wives Leah and Claire all died in the rural town of Springfield, Vermont. In fact, so many Bloomfields died in Sprinfield, that Springfield was our first stop on the road trip. We spent a lovely time at the Springfield historical society (more on that later) and then quickly found Benjamin and Claire's grave at the Oakland Cemetery (we knew would be there), but  if you read my earlier post: Three Tips for Genealogy Road Trips, you would know that the grand prize was Moses Grave. Unfortunately, we found no other Bloomfield in the Oakland Cemetery or anywhere in Springfield. Our theory (before they opened the Clerk's office on monday morning) was that since there was no Jewish cemeteries in Springfield, some of the older members of the family, must have cared more about being buried in a Jewish cemetery and therefore, went somewhere else. We suspected so even before we arrived in Springfield for various reasons. There is an Aaron and Alice Bloomfield buried at the Holy Hebrew Society in Burlington Vermont. This is quite far from where the Bloomfields live (about two hours on today's roads),  but we suspected that these were our Aaron and Alice Bloomfield and they chose this cemetery as it was one of the few Jewish cemeteries in Vermont, in 1939 (when Aaron died). Aaron's children were all buried in a newer and closer Jewish cemetery in Claremont, NH. Harry Bloomfield, another of the seven Bloomfield sons is buried in a Jewish Cemetery in NY. William Bloomfield, my great-grandfather and another of the boys is buried in a Jewish Cemetery in Houston, Texas where he lived. So this lead us to strongly believe that the missing Bloomfield graves must be in a Jewish Cemetery. Next door to the Oakland Cemetery, there was a headstone grave monument business. We walked into their office and inquired about the Bloomfields. The man was extremely knowledgable and helpful. He just about knew every tumb in the Oakland cemetery and the rest of Springfield, and he assured us, the graves we were looking for, were not there. The death certificates we had, did not include burial place, but he informed us, that to take a body out of Springfield, there has to be a permit and a paper trail, so the Clerk's office should know where a person who died in Springfield would be buried even in 1917. 

We asked ourselves the question: you were Jewish in chose to die in Vermont or New Hampshire, in 1917, where would you be buried? We spoke to some of the elders of the Jewish community of Laconia and asked them the same question. They all gave us the same answer. "Where you came from." What they meant was, if you came from Europe via New York, to New Hampshire, your family would bury you in New York, or Chicago or Hartford. It depended on where you spent time before, where you have family member and maybe where there was a benevolent society from your town in Europe, so you could be buried with your landsmen. Following this line of reasoning, we had a good hunch he was not in Springfield where he died, or Laconia where he lived. While we waited for the municipal office to open it's doors we visited some of the oldest Jewish cemeteries in Vermont. Luckily Vermont is fairly rural, with a tiny Jewish community to speak of in 1917, so we could hit many of the cemeteries. We went to the Jewish Cemetery of East Poultney which is the first Jewish Cemetery in Vermont and to Ohavai Zedek and Holy Hebrew Society in Burlington. In Burlington, we were looking for Aaron but had a small hope Moses was near buy. He wasn't. 

First thing Monday morning we reported to the Clerk's office. In no time at all, she pulled out, all the indexed records for all the Bloomfields who ever lived in Springfield. There were quite a few index cards. She only charged us a dollar a page! Ordering the record, would have taken weeks, required an application and cost $10-25 dollars depending on the city. 

Copy Moses Bloomfield's death certificate from the city of Springfield.
Note the three discrepancies: the spelling of the name, informant and burial.  (Click to enlarge)

Most rewarding was Moses and Freida's death certificates. What surprised us was that these were not the same documents we found online. If you look at the state record, it is typed. This record, contains only part of the information from the original town record. It seems the town puts out the death certificate in the name of the state and is required to hold the original copy. Then the state archive must have a different form which is filled out from the original death certificate and filed on a state level. The discrepancy were remarkable in three ways. First, the spelling of the last name. Blumenfeld vs Blumenfield (Note: everywhere else Moses is known as Bloomfield). 

The second difference between the records is that the town's record contains the name of the informant: Max Blumenfield. This to me, sheds some light on the last name problem. In Europe the Bloomfield clan was known as Belous (I've also seen it spelled Belo-oose, which means white mustache). Harris, Moses's younger brother was the first to arrive in America (c1892) changed his surname to Blumenfeld. For some reason, Aaron, Moses' oldest son who was the first of the brothers to arrive to America around 1899, spelled his last name Bloomfield. Aaron was illiterate, a fact I know from Aaron's marriage certificate which states that the bride and groom and both sets of parents were illiterate at the time of Aaron's marriage in 1895 in Lomazy, Poland. I can picture him reporting to the officer as he boarded the ship heading to New York. By then, he must of known that Uncle Harris uses Blumenfeld in America, so as the clerk asks Aaron, what's your name he says Blumenfeld, which sounds a lot like Bloomfield and the offer asks, how do you spell it. Aaron doesn't know. Or maybe he has it spelled on a letter from Harris. He hands the letter to the clerk. Here is where the clerk, seals the fate of our family name. Bloomfield it is! Max who followed Aaron, adopted his uncle's spelling and was the only one of the seven brothers to use Blumenfeld. Since he was the one who registered his father's death, it's understandable that a misspelling was created. On the handwritten death certificate, it's neither Bloomfield or Blumenfeld, but a combination Blumenfield which is a spelling I've never seen. The family acquired some varying levels of spoken English when they came (although Moses is rumored to refuse to learn the new language at his age). But it's hard to imagine that they were good at reading, writing or spelling, which would explain why Max misreported the spelling of the family names.

Moses Bloomfield around 1912 
The third discrepancy is that the town's record contains the date and place of burial as well as the undertaker. Moses Bloomfield is buried in Brooklyn, New York, together with his wife! Jackpot! Not the coveted prize yetthe grave itselfbut we learned that we were looking for Moses in the wrong states! To all of you expert genealogist out there who have more experience than me. Moses' grave remains a mystery. I have not found him in any where in NY yet, and I could use some help how to look next!

I always knew that going to the town clerk and getting the original document was essential. What I never planned on, was getting a copy of a document a thought I had, and finding out, it was a different version of the same document. This has made me re-evaluate all my previous research and think about which records would be worth going after again! Certainly, this trip has made me realize how important it is to visit each town or city my ancestors lived in which are within driving distance to me, rather than request the documents. With my knowledge of my family history, I knew for sure the death certificate belong to my great-great-grandfather, even though his name was misplaced and the Clerk did not find him under Bloomfield. She may have missed it, if I wasn't there. When we called the Laconia office on the phone, they told us all the records were in the state archive in Concord. We went anyways. Turns out, it's the same story. There are copies of the records in Laconia, it's free if you look yourself and copies are only 25 cents! 

More about the Bloomfields:
Roots Trips Series: Reports from a Vermont and New Hampshire road trip to research the Bloomfield family history:
Part I: Roots Trip Road-trip planning!
Part II: Three Tips for Genealogy Road Trips
Part IV: Why in the World New Hampshire?
Part V: Springfield Vermont Home of the Simpsons and the Bloomfields
Part VI: Which Ancestors to Research?
Where Was This Picture Taken?- Legacy Roots
Friday's Faces From the Past: Mystery Man
Hot Off The Press

Guest blog on How I Met The Bloomfields

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Three Tips for Genealogy Road Trips!

Me, infort of 675 Union Street in Lakeport NH. Possibly the house my great-grandparents William and Minnie Bloomfield live in when they came to New Hampshire in 1920.
I learned so much my roots trip, it's hard to know where to begin. This will be a first of many posts reporting on this genealogical expedition. I'm still gathering and organizing all the information I learned from the trip. In the meantime, I thought I would dedicate this post to some tips about genealogical travels. 

1. Plan ahead and know what you're looking for: One of the most important things we did as we planned the trip was ask some questions we hoped to answer. Before we set foot in Vermont, we had a pretty good idea of what we were looking for and this was key! Our prize as Jimmy put it, was Moses Bloomfield (the Patriarch of the Bloomfields) and his wife Freida Toby Bloomfield. While the idea of the trip was to learn as much as we could about the Bloomfields brothers' lives in their early years in America, our biggest question was: where is Moses and Freida Toby's grave? This question, has been nagging us for several years and understanding the Bloomfield family history in Vermont and New Hampshire where they settled is key to finding the missing graves. While you never know what you will unearth during a genealogy dig, knowing what you're looking for helps focus your search. At the same time, it's important to stay open and flexible and change course if necessary.

2. Check hours for places you plan to visit such libraries, historical societies, town halls and cemeteries.  Historical societies have limited hours. You will certainly learn a lot by visiting them in person rather than contacting them on the phone or by writing, but make sure you plan your trip according to their hours. Libraries have a wealth of information including photos, histories of the town, city directories and more. Town Clerks are your best friend, visit them in person, you'll be amazed how helpful it can be. Just make sure they are open. Many larger cemeteries have specific hours as well so be sure and check. Smaller ones may or may not be gated, but you can usually find a way in. Just make sure there is still light out.

3. What to bring: A camera, scanner (portable flip scanner if you have one), a gps and a notebook to take notes and information on the ancestors you are looking for. I must say that my iphone worked as all of the above at times and it was invaluable. Having access to my family tree at any moment through the web or apps was crucial. When I didn't feel like carrying my big camera or when it failed, I used the phone. When a photo or document was too large to scan easily, I photographed it with my iphone. And of course, I took quick notes on the phone as well. When the car's navigation system failed, the phone's  gps came to the rescue! Don't leave home without it!

Compared with what I knew about the Bloomfields three years ago (see my post: How I Met the Bloomfields), I was already an expert on them before I left on my roots trip. Some of non Bloomfields relatives must be wondering whats this obsession with Bloomfields and why concentrate on them if I already learned so much. To my relatives, I'll only request that you be patient with me. I am researching all my family branches and I will get back to your branch soon enough. One of the main reasons this trip focused on the Bloomfield was that I had two collaborators: my mom and my cousin Jimmy. My mom is always supportive of my genealogy quest and I need her personal knowledge of the family to guide me. Jimmy, is a fellow amateur genealogist an he is credited with planning the details of this trip and making it happen. As I dropped him off yesterday after an exhilarating and exhausting three days he thanked me and remarked that he could not have made the trip without me, and I hereby concur: I couldn't have done it without Jimmy!

More about the Bloomfields:
Roots Trips Series: Reports from a Vermont and New Hampshire road trip to research the Bloomfield family history:
Part I: Roots Trip Road-trip planning!
Part III: Roots Trip Gem of the Day, Looking for Moses Bloomfield
Part IV: Why in the World New Hampshire?
Part V: Springfield Vermont Home of the Simpsons and the Bloomfields
Part VI: Which Ancestors to Research?
Where Was This Picture Taken?- Legacy Roots
Friday's Faces From the Past: Mystery Man
Hot Off The Press

Guest blog on How I Met The Bloomfields

Friday, July 20, 2012

Roots Trip

I'm getting ready for a family research trip! A trip, a long time in the making. Since I moved to the US at the age of thirteen, every time I drove past Laconia, the same a thought crosses my mind: "My grandmother was born in Laconia. I should see the place where she was born, and where she lived." Even when I stopped in Laconia and visited friends, it's never been about my grandmother. For years, the thought was only a fleeting thought. In and out. Yet, when I became interested in genealogy, the idea has taken on a different meaning. Since I moved back to New England I have been trying to make quality time for this kind of trip. A trip up north, to New Hampshire, focused on my roots. I'm not going to see the foliage, or enjoy Squam lake or worry about making sure everyone else in the family has something to do. I'm going to revisit the past.

I've written in the past about the Bloomfield branch of the family (See my guest blog on How I Met The Bloomfields). This trip is about digging deeper into the Bloomfield family history. Luckily, I have two wonderful collaborators, interested in the very same family history. So tomorrow, my mother and a Bloomfield cousin and I are heading out to NH and Vermont to retrace our Bloomfield ancestors. We set out, armed with a flip scanner (as recommended by a colleagues Jacqi Stevens at A Family Tapestry Blog Spot, and Lorine McGinnis Schulze at Olive Tree Genealogy ), extra batteries, camera, smart phone, a trowel (for planting a plant at family graves), Billions Grave app, gps and my great-grandmother's memoirs. We plan to retrace the steps our ancestors took since 1903 when they arrived in the United States from the Pruzhney area in Russia, now Belarus. We will be visiting cemeteries, historical societies and known addresses of places they lived. My cousins has meticulously planned out almost every minute of our trip.  We hope some of the old buildings will be standing, and if not, we will enjoy and absorb their surrounding of where they lived.

One of the addresses we plan to track down is 9 Park Street in Springfield Vermont. My second great-grandmother Freida Toby Bloomfield owned a men's clothing store there in 1928. We knew they owned a grocery store, but found an add (on in the City Directory for her clothing store. There is a photo of her seated with her son Aaron and his family in front of their house (The home and the store are listed in the same address in the City Directory). These are the examples of the clues we will be using to guide us on this journey.

Add for Freida Bloomfield's Store in Springfield Vermont. (Top right) (Freida was my second great -grand-mother. 
Freida Toby Bloomfield with Aaron and Alice Bloomfield and family, Windsor Vermont. c1924

We will be departing tomorrow for this long awaited trip.  I know many family members who could not join us, are looking forward to updates so I will be posting some as we advance. I also look forward to hearing my genealogy followers who are in the NH and Vermont area with tips and advice.

More about the Bloomfields:
Roots Trips Series: read the full reports from a Vermont and New Hampshire road trip to research the Bloomfield family history:
Part I: Roots Trip Road-trip planning!
Part II: Three Tips for Genealogy Road Trips
Part III: Roots Trip Gem of the Day, Looking for Moses Bloomfield
Part IV: Why in the World New Hampshire
Part V: Springfield Vermont Home of the Simpsons and the Bloomfields
Part VI: Which Ancestors to Research?
Where Was This Picture Taken?- Legacy Roots
Friday's Faces From the Past: Mystery Man
Hot Off The Press

Guest blog on How I Met The Bloomfields

Thursday, July 12, 2012

And now on Kindle!

Today is a big day! Stored Treasures was released on Kindle! I must admit it's pretty exciting! The Kindle version has a few new pictures which I discovered after I published the first edition, so check it out!

Why did it take so long to go electronic? Good question. At first the book was available as an e-book with the print publisher The print version took quite a few months to make an appearance on Amazon. Then Lulu changed their ebook format from pdf to ePub (neither of which work on the Kindle).  I challenged myself to learn ePub, how difficult could it be? I spent weeks, and kept coming up with unsatisfactory results. My friend and co-author Barbara Waite, recommended a wonderful woman who could convert my book to an e-book. She did a wonderful job, but we had some glitches with the footnotes (there are over one hundred in the book and they are quite important). In the end, the new launch is also a Marketing move and spacing them out seemed to make sense. If it first I was not sure there would be a demand for an e-book, the numerous request for one, encouraged me.

Thanks to all of you who have supported Stored Treasures from it's conception!
To get your own kindle copy visit!
As always I appreciate reviews, likes and shares!

I want to share with you a recent review someone sent me of the book. This is from someone who actually read an earlier draft but never read the final version.

"So, I just finished reading Stored Treasures. I don't why it took me so long...I absolutely loved reading the rough draft/manuscript a couple summers ago (I want to say September 2010?) was so fascinating, inspiring, funny, etc., but I guess I just assumed that this was a glossier version of that - more pictures, professionally bound, etc., so there was no rush to re-read it. But a few days ago I decided to pick it up and I couldn't put it down - I basically read the whole thing, cover to cover, in two sittings. Amazing..... I could go on and on, but I just wanted to say THANK YOU.... it's a really remarkable story. "  Matt

Sunday, July 8, 2012

Part IV: One Ancestor and Israel's Independence

Breaking Ground: Tower and Stockade Period
Continued from Part I, Part II and Part III

The previous posts about my grandfather's life brought us to the period in Israel's independence called the Arab Revult. My grandfather was living in Magdiel at the time awaiting land from the Jewish agency for their new settlement. But, at the beginning of the Arab Revolt, Jewish settlements came to a halt. One group, similar to the Magdiel group was scheduled to settle Tel Amal in Beit Shan Valley. Insecurity and lack of protection from Arab attacks postponed their ground breaking date. Unwilling to give up their dream, the pioneers of this group, came up with a creative solution circumventing settlement quotas imposed by Mandate law. They found a loophole: existing settlements could not be destroyed. They proposed to the Haganah (the Jewish underground) to build a guard tower and defense wall within one day. This would allow the young settlement to defend itself immediately. Though imposed quotas did not allow for new settlement, there was also an existing law which did not allow for disassembling of existing settlements. The challenge was to build a settlement overnight so it would be able to protect itself from unfriendly neighbors. Their success, on December 10, 1936, was the birth of the tower and stockade campaign. Fifty-two fortified agricultural settlements were established during this campaign which lasted until the end of the Arab Revolt in 1939. The establishment of a continuous territory populated by Jews, was to become the basis of the Jewish State, as it was declared by the United Nations partition plan.

From the Spielberg Collection, a rare silent film 
of the construction of a tower and stockade settlement 
(Kibbutz Ein Gev). 

To Arab dismay, and without British support, Jewish settlement continued. To build a settlements so quickly, the Haganah recruited reinforcements. For this reason, among others, Magdiel membersin a secret, undisclosed locationwere sworn into the Haganah. In a candlelit ceremony, headed by the officer Eliezer Ziv-Av, my grandfather, took the following oath: 
“I hereby declare that based on personal voluntarism and my own free recognizance I am entering the Hebrew defense organization [Irgun Hahagannah Ha'ivri] in the land of Israel. [Eretz Yisrael]. I swear to be faithful all the days of my life to the Hagannah organization, to its constitution and to its duties as defined in its foundation doctrine by the high command.I swear to stand ready to serve the Hagannah organization, to take upon myself its discipline unconditionally and unreservedly, and, upon its call, to enter into active service at any time and in any place, to obey all its commands and to fulfill all its instructions. I swear to dedicate all my powers and even to sacrifice my life to defense and to the war for my people and my homeland, for the freedom of Israel and for the redemption of Zion.”

Note the typical uniform and the hunting gun of the Notrim. 
Why he never told me about partaking in this ceremony and enlisting I'll never know. Maybe he assumed I knew? I've concluded that he was among those who enlisted that night, thanks to the research I've done on the period and two photos of him guarding the kibbutz.

During this period of unrest, the Palestinian Police, composed of British, Arabs and Jews, was proved inadequate in the face of the surmounting violence. In response, the British authorities recruited two auxiliary forces. The Supernumerary Police which worked for the British, and the Ghaffirs. Ghaffir, an Arabic term left over from the Ottomans, means watchman. These armed guards were furnish with uniforms almost identical to the police and wore the typical Kolpak hat with a metal emblem (very much like the one my grandfather is wearing in these photos). These guards were paid for by the Jewish settlements and Jewish institutions directly. In general, they were subject to less supervision by the British, as they were employed by Jewish agencies. Equipped with hunting guns, they were permitted to enter territories between the Jewish and Arab settlements. The Haganahstill an underground illegal self defense forcesaw the new Supernumerary Police as an opportunity to legally arm and train a Jewish defense force. The Jewish Agency, supported the enlistment of Haganah members, into this force, thereby creating the first ever legal armed force of Jews for Jews. By June 1936, the various armed auxiliary forces were uniformly called Notrim, and were paid for by the British as well as the settlements. Each settlement could hire extra security, on a case to case basis. The commanding officers were British and the privates were Jewish.  

My grandfather, guarding the Kibbutz dining hall
 at Tel-Yitzchak's first location in Usha.
By 1937, there were some major ideological differences among the intellectual leadership of Magdiel Beit and little support from the main settlement of Magdiel. The original Hanora Hatzioni group split. A core group of die hards, joined by two others, from Petach Tikvah and Cfar Saba, formed the first Hanoar Hatzioni Kibbutz, Kibbutz Usha in the western Galilee. The ideological split which continued lead to an eventual compromise. The larger group, with a practical agricultural outlook, formed Cfar Usha. Simultaneously, only a few hundred meters away, a second settlement was formed by a smaller group of settlers. This group with a reputation for their high ideological standards, continued to refuse to join the Histadrut, the General Federation of Laborers in the land of Israel. They remained affiliated to the centrist Zionist political party which united the Zionist movements, called Brit Hatzioniyim Haclaliyim (The General Zionist) and formed Tel-Yitzchak. On November 9th, 1937, each group broke ground. They were allotted 900 donam (about 220 acres) of land each for fifty families. The built two independent camps, and the rest of the development was completed within a few months. Usha, located in the northern Galilee, was not strictly built in the tower and stockade fashion, yet it is considered part of this group of settlements. My grandfather held the responsibility of Gaffir at Usha, and manned the security post outside the dining hall. There was not enough work at Usha. Usha Members had to search for jobs outside the Kibbutz to help support the new development. My grandfather worked at several odd jobs such as a porter job at the newly completed Haifa port.
Loading Crates at the Haifa Port
(Baruch Lavi, bottom left corner)

Haifa Port Workers
(Baruch Lavi, top row, second from the left)

Hanita Breaking Ground 1938.
On March 21, 1938, my grandfather, was among five hundred young men and women, drafted to help raise the wall and tower of another Kibbutz, Kibbutz Hanita, also in the western Galilee. Fifty trucks carried volunteers and supplies. There was no road leading up to Kibbutz lands. They had to break a trail just to bring the trucks as closer. Finally, they walked the last strip, carrying the supplies on their backs the rest of the way. The one hundred men who remained on post that first night, were attacked by Arabs and two were killed.

To be continued in Part V: Kibbutz Tel Yitzchak