Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Grandparents lost, grandparents found, Part II

In our Zweighaft Family Archives (what I'm calling the 10 boxes of letters, documents and artifacts pulled together mostly from Blauvelt filing cabinets, closets, attic and basement), we have several clues about the final resting places of our grandparents and great-grandparents.  (see post #1 for a picture of mausoleum keys; also have hand-written notes from Aunt Belle with cemetery directions).

     After several phone calls to cemeteries around New York City, I located the relatives listed below at:
                 Hungarian Union Fields
                 83-45 Cypress Hills Street
                 Ridgewood, NY 11385
      The information on graves is maintained by Mt. Carmel Cemetery (718-366-5900)

       Simon and Sofia Zweighaft, our great grandparents
       Bernard and Blanche Zweighaft, our paternal grandparents
       Adolph and Helena Zweighaft Hirschberg, our grand uncle and aunt (Helena is the sister of Bernard)
       Seymour and Jane Hirschberg London (Jane is the child of Adolph and Helena)
       Leo and Jolan Hirschberg (Leo is the child of Adolph and Helena)

I was hoping to visit the cemetery on the way back from upstate New York, but as it was a Friday afternoon in the summer and the traffic was likely going to be horrific, plans were made instead to return sometime later this summer or fall with mauseleum key in hand.  Mary and I will make the trip together and would welcome other brave souls who dare to venture into a mauseleum probably unopened for at least 50 years.

Here is a copy of the letter from the cemetery in 1994, sent while I was corresponding with Leo's 2nd wife, Alva.


In my first post, I mentioned that the Sachs and Zweighafts might both be in Bayside, but now it seems clear that Hungarian Union Fields has the Zweighaft ancestors and Bayside likely the Sachs family.  Bayside is the Jewish cemetery which is in a state of disrepair.  I have requested information from Andrew Schultz, Executive Director, Community Association for Jewish At-Risk Cemeteries (CAJAC) who sent on my request to the rabbi of Congregation Shaare Zedek, the owner of Bayside and official custodian of the cemetery records. 

Grandparents lost, grandparents found, Part I

     Driving from Virginia to New York for our 1st Zweighaft family reunion at Lake Lauderdale, I stopped at the Staten Island cemetery where Mom's parents, Axel and Anna Strom, are buried.  They died in Brooklyn within 5 months of each other, in 1953, after 55 years of marriage.  At the time of their death, the cemetery was called Valhalla Burial Park, but has since been renamed Ocean View Cemetery (, 3315 Amboy Rd., Staten Island 10306, 718-351-1870; section Ideal, row/range #3, grave #8).  Anna and Axel both died in Brooklyn (Axel at Maimonides Hospital and Anna at their home at 102 72nd St.).  I'm speculating that Mom decided to bury them in Staten Island where we lived at the time, both so visiting would be easier and probably as it was less expensive than Brooklyn choices.
     Ocean View is a very sprawling, lush,  peaceful spot, with a most unusual office - an old Lutheran church with leaded stained glass windows and lots of beautiful old woodwork. 

 The last picture shows a grave for Arthur J. Paterson (section Ideal, row/range #33, grave #17), and is something of a mystery.  When asked if I were interested in finding any other relatives,  the only person the office staff came up with was an Oscar Strom whom they recorded as having died April 21, 1969.  The 1900 census lists a brother, Oscar, living with Axel, Annie and one year old Julia in Jersey City. For some unknown reason, an Oscar Strom is buried in the same grave as Arthur Paterson.  I'm not convinced that this Oscar Strom is indeed our long lost grand uncle, as, assuming the 1969 cemetery death date for Oscar is correct as well as the 1900 census birth date of 1863, Oscar would have died at the ripe old age of 106, somewhat implausible for the time period.  However, old records are notoriously inaccurate (indeed, the 1900 census entry for Anna and Axel has 2 known errors:  Annie's country of birth as Sweden and the last name as Strong, but I've confirmed that it is indeed our grandparents' family by the address which matches Axel's naturalization papers).  An interesting discovery this morning - reviewing the 1900 census again, I see that the neighbors of Axel and Annie in 1900 in Jersey City was a Paterson family.  No Arthur listed, but that's an unusual spelling of the name, so it makes me wonder if, by golly, Arthur Paterson was a family friend of Oscar's.  But until further corroborating evidence is uncovered, the Oscar Strom-Paterson mystery will remain just that. 

By the way, Mom says she never knew that Axel had brothers, but the 1900 census record, plus the Swedish formal photo of Axel with 3 other young men, most likely brothers, seems to indicate otherwise.

Axel Strom in Sweden, with brothers?