I am in the process of switching to a new genealogy database.  Rather than importing the data I am entering it by hand and taking this opportunity to review material, assess what I know and yes, clean up those source citations we have all heard WAY too much about recently. While I enjoy some of the OCD aspects of this project, it is a bit dull because it consists only of facts and not the story behind the facts.

The intersection of facts and stories struck my fancy, so I thought I would show anyone who is interested how I move from the bare facts to the story of my family.  This will probably be a multi-part adventure.

I started with my grandfather, Alexander Silver.

What I Have


1.  The 1900 U.S. Census

Some facts from this census


1.  The name is Silverman, not Silver.

2.  The Silverman family is living on Forsyth Street in Manhattan.

3.  Alex is living with his parents, Mendel and Lena, his wife Pauline and his

daughter, Hatti–my Aunt Ethel

4.Alex was born in November of 1876 and was 23 years old.

5. Pauline was born in December of 1878 and was 21.

6.  Ethel was born in July of 1897 and was 2 years old.

7.  Ethel was born in New York, everyone else was born in Russia.

8. Alex and his parents emigrated in 1891, Pauline in 1888.

9.  Alex had petitioned for naturalization

10.  He was in the novelties business.

11.  Alex and Pauline could read, write an speak English


2.  Alexander Silver’s Declaration of Intention and Petition for citizenship














Some facts from the Declaration and Petition


1.  The declaration of intention was made in 1907.

2. Alex and family were living in Detroit in 1907

3.They were living on South 7th St. in Philadelphia, PA. in 1911 .

4. Alex came to the U.S. from Russia via Havre on the S.S. Campagnia.

5.  He arrived in New York an Aug. 20, 1891

6.  He had three children, Ethel, born July 10, 1898 in New York, Sylvia, born

Nov. 25, 1902 in New York and Stanley born May 10, 1909 in Detroit


There’s much more of interest in these documents, but I’ll keep that for later.


The story as I like to tell it will be Part Two.  Some facts may get bent, but not broken  and some things will be implied from the facts.  Context will be added to truly tell the story.


They said it would never last.  They really did say that forty years ago when Norman and I were married and they had good reason.  We are very different people, different interests, different religions, and raised in very different circumstances by very different people. It hasn’t always been an easy marriage and never a simple one, but it has never, not even for a single day, been boring.  We were both heavily influenced by our mothers; I’m sure we were also influenced by our fathers, but it is our mothers’ ways that we remember most.

We lost both of these women in the last few months and I’d like to tell you a little bit about them and about us.

Both of our moms left their jobs to care for their families.  In this these two rather different women were quite similar.  They were devoted to their children and to their children’s future.  Norman and I both remember knowing we would attend college for all of our lives.  We probably knew this in the womb.  The only allowable question was which college we would attend.  Our mothers worked tirelessly for our schools.  They were presidents of the Parent Teacher Organizations; always available to help in the classroom or with any extracurricular activities we might be involved with.

I remember a basement full of Girl Scout cookies when my mother was cookie chairman.  Norman remembers hutches full of rabbits for his brother’s Boy Scout merit badge project and chickens for his sister’s 4H project.  His mother dispatched them as necessary.  We both remember the many hours they listened to us read or helped us learn to write.

How did the children of such different backgrounds meet?  We met at college in Ohio.  It was the farthest west I had ever been.  It was the farthest east he had ever been. We both yearned for the experiences that were second nature for the other.  He took me camping, fishing, and boating.  I took him to New York and showed him how to master the subway.  We met each other’s families.  He took me to the northwest where I thought he would kill us both when he stopped to eat wild berries.  My people knew that things that grew in the woods were dangerous.  Norman knew what wild blackberries looked like.  I found out what delicious means.  I took him to Philadelphia and taught him about lox and bagels.  He learned the proper protocol for ordering in a Jewish deli.  When we moved to New Haven years later he went to the local Jewish deli for the first time with our two young children in tow. He was obviously a stranger.  Half an hour later, having ordered properly, one thing at a time, and having schmoozed about our history with the owners, he belonged.  The children each left with a cookie in hand.  He says with pleasure that he can pass.  He can, his black Irish looks fit in and his manners are impeccable.  I have learned to fit with his family.  I do my best not to interrupt the speaker with varying degrees of success.  They seem to love me anyway.

We are grown now, both sixty, but all this recent loss has made us feel slightly adrift.  I think we will eventually be fine. We have each other and we were raised right.