The title of this post refers to my great-aunt, Gertrude Silver, and I struggled to decide if the title should be a statement or a question.  I think I need a new punctuation mark, because the answer is a bit of both.

I’ve written about Gertrude and her husband Sam before.  Here is a brief synopsis.

 sam dandy

Sam Silver was 18 or 19 when he fought in the Spanish-American War.  When he left the army he went to New Orleans where he met the very young Gertrude Eliach.  Sam was about 23 and Gertrude 14 when they ran away to San Francisco and may have married.  At this point in the story my unromantic, pragmatic sensibilities say, “Gertrude, young, foolish, believing she was in love.”  And what of Sam?  My best-case scenario is youngish, equally foolish, maybe in love.  Worst-case scenario, hm, I’d rather not go there. This is not a story I expected to end well.  But here’s the thing, Sam and Gertrude stayed together for 22 years, until Sam’s death at the age of 41.  They had four children, only one of whom, Joseph, survived until adulthood.  Gertrude’s father died a few years after the marriage and by 1910 Gertrude’s mother was living with the couple.  She lived with them the rest of their married life.  Even the cynic in me has to say, “If that’s not love, what is?”

That’s what I knew until recently.  I put Gertrude and her son Joseph on the back burner and moved on to other genealogical challenges, but Gertrude was always on my mind. Her story seems so moving and so sad.  An elopement that seemed likely to end quickly turned out to be the story of a couple who lived, loved and struggled together through hard times and so much sadness until Sam’s early death.  I needed to know what became of Gertrude and Joseph.

Here’s what I learned.  Gertrude’s mother, Libby, died in 1935.  Gertrude and Joe buried her in Hollywood Forever Cemetery in Los Angeles.libby eliach grave

In 1934 Joseph married Beryl Reilinger. According to the 1940 census Joe and Beryl lived in a guesthouse run by Beryl’s parents.  Their block in Los Angeles seems to be a long row of boarding houses and guesthouses.  The couple had a son, Stanley, who was four years old in 1940.

Gertrude married again in 1966 at the age of 73.  She married Louis Philipson, also 73.  The California Marriage Index lists the marriage twice with Gertrude listed as Gertude Chertin and Gertrude Eliach, her maiden name.  There is an asterisk next to the last names. Was Gertrude married three times?

Lou and Gertrude had seven years together.  Lou died in 1973, leaving Gertrude a widow once more.  Gertrude died in 1980, she was 93. Sam must be gone by now too, but their son Stanley is likely still alive.  There are lots of avenues for me to explore, but I doubt they will answer my real question.

I want to know if Gertrude was happy.  No, I want to know that she was happy, but I suppose I can live with the answer no matter what it is.  I need to find Stanley Lee Silver or I need him to find me.  I need to hear about his grandparents.  I know Stanley was married for a few years.  Are there children, Sam and Gertrude’s great-grandchildren?

Stanley Silver was my father’s name too. Stanley, where are you?




Yes, October 1 is really International Day of Older Persons, at least according to the United Nations and who am I to argue with the UN.

I was completely unaware of International Day of Older Persons until a desperate need to find a blog post for this week drove me to Google to search for things that happened on October 1.  Older Persons Day seemed suitable for a genealogy post, so I tried to learn something about it.

Here is a bit taken completely out of context from

“International Day of Older Persons is a special day for older persons or senior citizens all over the world. In many countries, politicians make speeches, particularly those responsible for government departments that focus on senior citizens, at this time of the year. Some radios, televisions or newspapers publish interviews with senior citizens on various issues such as achievements they made to create a better society.”

I am particularly fond of the bit about politicians making speeches.  We just don’t get enough of that, especially in this country at this time of year.

My personal plans for celebration include:

1.  Getting older

2.  Finishing this post before I become a Much Older Person and

3.  Perhaps a wee drop of a restorative cocktail.

Now back to the post.  Older Persons Day does make me think about the people in my family history.  I looked into my database to see which ancestors had the longest lives.  I am focusing on those who were Really Older Persons, which I have defined as 95 or older. This is far enough away from my current age to make me feel less like one of them.

Not surprisingly those who lived the longest are those who died in the last half of the 20th century.  Modern medicine has greatly increased life expectancy in the developed world.

Amy Martin

The longest-lived person in my database is Amy Martin, my spouse’s great-aunt.  She was born in 1881 and died in 1982 at the age of 101.   I have written about her several times.  You can read about her here and here.

Henrietta Silver

Marian Cole













The next two Really Older Persons are my mother,and mother-in-law.  They lived to be 99 and 95   We lost them both two years ago within six weeks of each other.  You can read about them here.

Pauline Silver


I have told my grandmother Pauline’ story several times.  She was a remarkable woman, the matriarch of the Silver clan and much beloved by all of us.She died in 1977 at the age of 99.   Read some of her story here, here, and here.

Elias Cady

Finally there is the surprisingly long-lived Elias Cady.  Elias may or may not have served in the Revolutionary War.  His birth date is not completely clear, but if you believe the oft-stated date of 1756 Elias lived to be 97, a remarkable age for someone born in the 18th century.  The details of his somewhat murky story can be found here.

There are a few others whose stories I haven’t told.  I will leave those for another day.

What will Pat and I be doing when we are Really Older Persons?  I expect we will be scratching the two hairs left on our ancient heads and trying to come up with another blog post from our cabin under the Martian dome.

On this holiday we celebrate the American worker and his or her contribution to our American life, but the holiday was actually born as a way to appease workers after a brutal crackdown on the workers and the union during the Pullman strike of 1894.

The people who made the Pullman railroad cars lived in a company town. They were paid by the Pullman Company, lived in company housing and had their rent automatically deducted from their paychecks. When the economy crashed in 1893 there were layoffs, and wage cuts, but no decrease in rents.

The workers walked out.  They were soon joined by railroad workers led by the young Socialist leader Eugene Debs. Train service was disrupted.  The mail could not get through. There was rioting and destruction of railroad equipment, sometimes by mobs of non-union workers. 80 million dollars of damage was done and thirty people died.

The strike became a national issue.  Unable to resolve the labor dispute President Grover Cleveland declared the strike a federal crime and sent troops to disband the strike.

Pullman Strikers Confronting the National Guard

Eventually the workers were overpowered and forced to sign a pledge never to unionize again.  Eugene Debs, defended by Clarence Darrow, saw the charge of obstructing the mail dropped, but spent six months in prison for violating a federal injunction.  He continued to organize. When he ran for President in 1920 on a Socialist ticket he won a million votes.

Labor had long pressed Congress for a Labor Day holiday.  The bill was passed by both houses and hit Cleveland’s desk six days after the end of the strike.  The bill was signed into law as a means of appeasing the labor movement.   The new holiday was seen by labor not just as a holiday, but as a day for organizing.

Today we see Labor Day as the holiday that marks the end of summer.  Kids go back to school, parents breathe a sigh of relief, we grill things and try not to think about cold weather and heating bills.

Of course, genealogists think about their ancestors and I am no exception.  Here are some of our great-grandparents, grandparents, parents and their labors.

Samuel Bublick opened a candy store, what we might consider a convenience store in New York City.

Joseph Mason


Joseph Mason worked as a leather cutter making ladies handbags.  He was a wiry little man with arms of steel.

Morris Silverman was a capmaker in New York City.

Morris Silverman










His son Alex would organize for the capmakers union.

Alex Silver

Alex’s son, Stanley would work for the Signal Corp and then as a salesman.  He would be a union steward.

Stanley Silver














I am Stanley’s daughter.


John and Annie Costello homesteaded a farm in Sprague, Washington.

James and Sophie Cole

James and Sophie Cole homesteaded a farm in Primrose, Nebraska.

Edwin Cole





Their son Edwin would cook in a lumber camp, pour cement for the WPA and work as a janitor in a hotel.







Edwin’s son Merwin would become a union organizer, a carpenter and a contractor.

Marian and Merwin Cole


My husband is Merwin’s son






Stanley’s daughter and Merwin’s son got to go to college and now work at jobs that leave them trying to figure out how to get enough exercise. Wow!

Merwin’s son and Stanley’s daughter post exercise




If I had known that the 1940 census would be this interesting I would have started looking at it a lot sooner.

The last piece I posted for this blog was about my husband’s family’s appearance in the 1940 census and a surprise it held.  I made the point that although we think we know everything about people with whom we lived or whom our parents knew well, there are always things we don’t know.

I got quite the surprise when I looked for my family.  My grandparents, my aunts and uncles and older cousins are all in the census, all living in Philadelphia, but there is an extra son in my Aunt Ethel’s family.  Anomalies in the census always raise the question is it real or is it a mistake of the census taker, is it a disinterested lie to get the census taker out the door or an intentional falsehood for who knows what reason.  .

Here are the lines from the census.

There are my aunt and uncle and the two sons I know well, my cousins Marvin and Dan, but between them is Morris who my aunt reported was her son.

Morris isn’t there in the 1930 census, just Marvin and Dan.  I checked with my older cousins, no one remembers another son.

I have spent a little time looking for Morris Kessler, but I haven’t found anyone who seems related to my family.  So, who is Morris?  Is he a real person who lived for some time with my aunt and uncle or was he just another kid hanging out in the house when the census taker arrived?

I recently found this clipping from the Philadelphia Evening Bulletin in a box of stuff I was sorting through.


The clipping is dated January 1942. I know this from the reverse side, which features a patriotic advertisement.

Here is a better picture of young Dan.

Whenever I look back on this time in history I am reminded of the hardships that families endured with men away and money and commodities in short supply.  The government needed money to fight the war and the budget deficit was soaring. With rationing and price controls in place personal savings rates were high. The government tapped these personal resources to finance the deficit and the war.  People of every economic status gave generously to finance the war effort.

In April of 1941 Series E savings bonds were initiated. The bonds were renamed Defense Savings Bonds.  People could purchase Defense Saving Stamps and paste them into albums to be exchanged for bonds.  $18.75 would buy a bond that would yield $25 at maturity. Stamps were sold in denominations ranging from ten cents to five dollars.














The newspaper carrier boys’ defense stamp promotion was started by the Philadelphia Evening Bulletin in the September of 1941 and eventually included 900 newspapers and 150,000 carriers across the nation.

My cousin Dan sold 57,000 stamps, making him the ” Nation’s No.1 defense savings stamp salesman.”  I love his statement that “equal credit should go to the thousands of newspaper carriers like himself all over the country who’ve sold 40,000,000 stamps since The Bulletin inaugurated the plan in September.”

It sounds like cousin Dan should have run for public office.  He didn’t.  He moved to California and spent his working life in the growing entertainment industry.  He lives in the Los Angeles area now with his wife of 56 years with children and grandchildren nearby.