Surname Saturday 2.0: The Senefts

The Seneft Family

I have covered most of the Seneft family story already in the Hillinger family entry, but to be complete, I want to do a separate entry on the Senefts.

I only have about one and a half generations of Senefts in my family line. I'm not even sure if there are any existing Seneft descendants who still use that name.

If things had gone a differently, my maiden name would have been Seneft, but due to German legalities, my great-grandfather was forced to use his mothers surname instead. As I said in the Hillinger post, this line was Jewish, and so his parents were married in a religious ceremony. Likely, if that religion had been a Christian one, there would be no issue, but because they were Jewish, a religion which has always faced persecution in Europe and elsewhere, that made him an easy target.

The the earliest I can trace the Seneft family is in the mid to late 1880s, with my great-grandfather's birth. He was one of five or possibly six children born to his parents, all of whom were born in Galicia. At some point, his father decided to move the family to London, likely in search of a better life, as life in Galicia was very difficult.

His father was a Rabbi, though I do not know exactly when he began to practice that calling. What I do know is that my great-grandfather finished growing up in the city of London, and lived there until the start of World War I, when he was sent to Camp Douglas on the Isle of Man for being an enemy alien on English soil.

After the war, the English government expelled him for still being German, and so my great-grandfather left and never looked back. Unfortunately, upon arrival in Germany, he was told that he was required to take his mother's maiden name, and so he became Alex Hillinger and never used the name Seneft again.

It's not an uncommon story for German Jews, unfortunately. But it does make finding more about our family difficult, even without the usual overlay of the Holocaust.

Despite his return to Germany after the first World War, my great grandfather and his family survived the Holocaust, as he chose to leave Germany before things got their worst. And none of his siblings were in Germany, so the Seneft branch managed to avoid the worst during the war, though many of the next generation served, some of them died in their service.

The Seneft line is identical to the Hillinger line, but it follows for those interested:

Ø      Leon Seneft married Mindel Hilinger sometime in the mid 1800s, likely in Galicia. He was a Rabbi, in London at the very least.
o       They had at least five children, three boys and two girls: Alex, Jennie, Annie, Jack, and a third son whose name I currently do not know. I believe all the children were born in Galicia.

Ø      Of their five children, only two had children of their own.
o       Alex and his wife, Dora, had six children: Ben, Mina, Sam, Helena, Hilda (aka Peppi), and Selma, all born in Frankfurt, Germany. Five of the six of Alex and Dora's children had children, and that line flourished in the US, and still thrives there today, mostly in Seattle and Chicago.
o       The unnamed son had about five kids. Three or four sons, most or all of whom died in World War II, and a daughter named Kitty. Sam's notes tell me that his unnamed uncle stayed in England, and that at least one of his children (his daughter) had children, at least one of whom is now residing in Vancouver, BC, Canada.

What I don't know:

Ø      I know Seneft is a German name, so I believe that his branch of the family were Germanic Jews, though I am not sure where all they may have lived, as I know of none aside from Leon and his children.

Ø      I do not know when Leon became a rabbi, and would love to learn more about his time as a rabbi.

Ø      I am uncertain when he died, though I believe he outlived his wife, as I found a gravestone that appears to be hers with her daughter's name on it. I do know that he was apparently dead by the time my grandfather was born, or so he told me.

Ø      I am still hoping to find out more about his other children.
o       I know that Jack lived in New York after the war, though I am not certain when he left England for the US.
o       I know that one of their sisters (Annie, I believe) married and settled in Memphis with her husband.
o       I also know that their other sister also married, though I am uncertain where she met and married her husband.
o       The final son stayed in England, as stated above, but I know almost nothing about him aside from the loss of several sons during World War II, and that he had a daughter who has descendants today. I would love to know more.

Other information about this branch of the family:
Brick Wall Posts -
Ø Brickwall Ancestors
Ø Brickwall Update – the Seneft/Hillingers
Ø Brick Wall Update
Ø Brick Walls –a different listing
Ø Brick Wall Update
Ø Brick Wall Update 2012
Old Surname Posts
Ø Seneft
Where We're From Posts
Ø Where We're From – England
Ø Where We're From – Galicia
Ø Where We're From – The Unknown
Other -
Ø The Life of Sam Hillinger as told by Maggie Hillinger
Ø Searching for: Galician Town Names
Ø Hillinger Family History
Ø Women's History Month – Week 1
Ø Women's History Month – Week 3
Ø On Jewish Names and Naming Traditions
Ø World War II Draft Cards

Surname Saturday 2.0: The Howells/Gabriel/Howels

The Howells Family

Of my Welsh family lineage, the Howells are the best tracked. My mother's maternal grandmother came to Canada when she was still young, but she and her family never lost touch with those branches who remained behind in Wales.

My knowledge of this line starts in Northern Wales with a man called Gabriel Howel. He was born in the late 1700s, and by family lore did some business as a weaver as well as farming. Apparently this was a common talent in this branch of the family. His son married the granddaughter of one of the major Welsh Quakers of their day, and their eldest son was my great-great grandfather, Gabriel Howells.

Though I can only speculate at this stage, I believe that this line may have descended from Huguenots who had escaped France's purge of their religion. I had not known anything about this part of the family line until my aunt mentioned it to me one day on a drive to visit my grandmother. After returning home, I looked up the possible lines, and searched for "Welsh Huguenots" and discovered a mention of a group of Huguenots who settled in northern Wales and became quite well-known in those parts for their weaving abilities. Between the connection of weaving in the Howells line, and Gabriel's name, which is decidedly French and was passed down through several generations, I believe this may well be that line.

Welsh genealogy is an odd beast. I'm used to family surnames that generally remain intact over countless generations, as well as the Scandinavian Patronymic system. But not all Patronymic systems are the same. In Wales, the practice has changed a few times due to laws created by the English to try and "get those damned Welsh in line." At least, that's my belief. But for some families, at least, there is one consistency: instead of the children all taking on a version of their father's name as their surname, only the firstborn son does. Or, at least, that's the way it works in this branch of my family tree.

Unfortunately, aside from the Howells, I have little else to go on. This is the only one I have full information on more than three generations. But those generations are very telling. My progenitor, Gabriel Howel (sometimes Howell) had at least two sons. The elder, my ancestor, was named at birth Howel (or Hywel) Gabriel. His firstborn, my great-great grandfather, was in turn named Gabriel Howells (with the S at the end to denote "son of"). I'm not sure if his son would have eventually gone by Howell Gabriels or something else, because he died as an infant, and they never named any of their other children that way.

So as you can see, it makes looking up records quite confusing. In some records, the children are listed with their parents' surname. In others with the one they would use as an adult. So it makes it very difficult to find the appropriate records.

Still, I'm muddling my way through it. After all, I managed to find the original Gabriel Howel's wife and a second son who was apparently named for her side of the family—Evan. I'd love to find more, though. And I do keep trying.

The Howells line is as follows, for those interested:

* My earliest known ancestor in this line was Gabriel Howel, farmer and weaver in northern Wales, born between 1794 and 1796. He married Gwen Evan sometime before 1822, and the couple had at least two sons (and likely several more children) in Merionethshire in northern Wales.

* The two children I have are Howell Gabriel, born 1822 in Dogelly, and Evan Howel, born 1827 in Towyn.

* Howell married Catherine "Catti" Jones sometime before 1849, and the two had at least 8 children.
> Gabriel Howells, born 1849, married Selina Roberts. Their descendants will follow in the next point.
> Howel Gabriel, born after 1852, married Margaret Owen, and they had at least one daughter, Gwen, born 1892. It is possible his wife's name may also have been Lillian, or that Lillian may have been her first or middle name, though I am uncertain of this at this time.
> Catherine Gabriel, born sometime after 1854, who died in her teens.
> Evan Gabriel, born about 1855.
> Edward Gabriel, born about 1857, married Catherine Thomas.
> Lewis Gabriel, born 1859, who moved to Canada, settling there on a farm in Manitoba or possibly Seskachewan. He married (not sure if they married in Canada or Wales) Sarah (I have no last name), and they had three children: Winnie, Howell, and Ap Cell.
> Hugh Gabriel, born about 1864, married Catherine Norris, and I believe they had four children: Mary Catherine, Hugh, Drynwen, and Celt. I know Celt married a woman named Joan, but have no other information on this line.
> Gwen Gabriel, born about 1870, married Griffith Roberts, and they had at least two children, a girl named Cattie (possibly Catherine?), and a boy whose name I do not know.

* Gabriel and Selina had 8 children. Ellen Catherine and Howell Gabriel Howells both died in a whooping cough epidemic within days of each other in 1877. The others all lived to adulthood.
> Selina Jane, born 1878, married Thomas Cockrill, and the two had six children together: Selina, Mary Ellen, Catherine Elizabeth, Violet, Tom, and Edward. I know that there are descendants of this line, or at least that there were marriages for three of the four girls, but I know nothing more than their husbands' surnames. Selina died in 1965.
> Gwen Mary, known in adulthood as Winnie, born 1880, married James Kay, and they had three children: Gwen, Marguerite, and Hugh Ross. Gwen and Marguerite married, and I know that Marguerite had grandchildren, though I am uncertain if there have been more descendants in this line. In 1944, Winnie married again, this time to a Rich Curtiss. Winnie died in 1956.
> Hugh Cadvan, born 1883, married May Tait, and the couple had one daughter, Ethel. I believe she was the last in this line. I do know that uncle Hugh served in the RAF during World War I, but know nothing of his record. Hugh died in 1942.
> Eliza Anne, known to everyone as Bess, was born 1885, married my great-grandfather, Daniel Thomas Jones in 1911. They had three daughters and one son, who will follow below. She died in 1980.
> Catherine, born 1887, married Robert Thomas Williams, and they had four children. I am uncertain at this time if they have further descendants. Catherine died in 1937.
> Edward Gabriel, known as Ted, was born 1891. He married Esther Vanadestine Henderson, and they had three children: Earl, Margery, and Bill. I do not know if there are other descendants in this line. Ted died in 1981.

* Eliza and Daniel had four children:
> Marjorie Grace Jones, born 1912, married Herbert "Bert" Robinson, and the two had three daughters and have a flock of descendants today spread around the Northwest and throughout the US and Canada. Their first great-great grandchild was born this year.
> Edwina Hanna Jones, born 1913, married Kenneth Merilees, helping to raise his two sons and had a third with him. Their boys have four children between them, and three grandchildren.
> Merle Tydfil Jones, born 1915, married George Bordewick. My grandparents had four children, two grandchildren, and their second great-grandchild was born last year, who my grandmother got to see several times before her death this year.
> Ivor Howell Jones, born 1920, married Marjorie Carnahan, and they had two children, who have four children and seven grandchildren between them. After his first wife's death, he married Mary Nixon. He died in 2005.

What I don't know:

* How many generations the Gabriel/Howells clan was in Wales before my ancestor Gabriel Howel.

* How many children Gabriel and Gwen had . I would love to learn more about their family in general.

* What boat the Howells emigrated to Canada on. I know they lived with Lewis's family on their farm for a time before moving to Winnapeg, but beyond my grandmother's stories and assorted Census forms, I know little more about this part of my ancestor's lives.

* When the various Howells children moved to Vancouver, and when Gabriel and Selina moved there. I do know they lived there for some amount of time before their 50th anniversary, which was celebrated by the entire clan in Vancouver BC.

Other information about this branch of the family:
Brick Wall Posts -
Brick Wall Update
Brick Wall Update
Brick Wall Update 2012
Old Surname Posts
Where We're From Posts
Where We're From – Canada
Where We're From – Wales
Where We're From – The Unknown
Other -
Four Generations
Gabriel Howells
Testimonial to the Howells
Women's History Month – Week 2
My Nain – Eliza Anne Howells
Saturday Night Genealogical Fun

Why I Don't Index

As someone who has done at least 75% of her research online, I am grateful to all those who spend their days indexing when they have those moments to spare. I think it's a vital job, and great for the whole Genealogical community.

Because of this, I have considered doing the same myself. But I have one problem with it.

I have stated before in this blog that I am not religious. I was raised in a non-religious household by a father who was also raised non-religious and a mother who was raised Christian (mostly Methodist, I believe). Despite that, I have feelings about spirituality being a very personal thing that should not be imposed on someone else by anyone unasked.

Which is my problem. The main way I know of indexing at the moment (I am sure there are others, but it is the most easily accessible and wide-reaching group) is the Family Search site. But because they are funded and run by the Church of Latter-Day Saints, I know that some, if not all of those records will be used to baptize more people after their deaths.

While I may not personally be religious, I have many ancestors who were. Extremely so, in fact. One whole branch of my tree is Jewish, and above all, I don't want them re-baptized, regardless of what it might actually mean in the hereafter. None of us really know that, so how can anyone know what might cause someone problems there, or if it would make any difference to anyone here for doing so. I suppose I could see it as another myth that helps people get through their own lives, but to me it seems rude, presumptuous, and downright uncaring of those people who felt very strongly about the religion they were in at the time of their deaths. Which is probably a good percentage of my ancestors.

And if I don't want it to happen to my ancestors, I'm quite sure others don't want it to happen to theirs.

Again, it's a great resource, and I use it myself. Which is why I continue to struggle with the idea of indexing. I just don't know how to get past the idea of what it will be used for. Because otherwise, it seems like it would be a great way to contribute to the community at large.

But as it is now, I can't morally help. Not if it means it will be used in a way I consider hurtful and cruel.

Surname Saturday 2.0: The Parks

The Park Family

For me, the Park family was the initial reason I got into my genealogy. After my grandfather died, I realized there were few people left in his generation or before for his family, so while I had the Bordewicks traced out on paper, I had nothing for his mother's side. I had to start by hand, asking my mom and her siblings and my grandmother who the Park children were, and who they married, but even then, I only got two generations of information, and it was a bit shaky at best, but it was a start. At a family gathering, I managed to hook up with a cousin from my great-grandmother's mother's side of the family, and she sketched out a few more links for me, but for a long time, I had little to nothing about this side. Only in the last few years have I finally learned my great-great grandparents' parents names and where they were born.

The Park line is Irish. I've known that for a long time. I can't even remember when I first learned it, so I must have been small. It was only after I started to research this line that I began to hear that they weren't Irish, but Northern Irish, with pretty much everything that entails for someone who lives in the US.

My great-great grandfather, Robert Park, was born to John Park and his wife, a woman who to this day, I still only have the surname of, Dunlop. I know he was born in 1852, but beyond that and their names, I have little else on his family before he met his wife Elizabeth Curran and came to the US in the 1880s. I suspect his mother's name may be Mary, as they named my great-grandmother Mary Dunlop Park, but I have no proof of that, so that is only a speculation at this time.

Robert and Elizabeth came to the United States about 1883 and settled in Philadelphia, where Robert worked as a cabinet maker and woodworker. The couple had nine children there between arriving and when they left in the early 1900s, two of which died in infancy.

In the early 1900s, things became difficult in the US for immigrants, and so Robert decided to move his family back to Northern Ireland. By 1911, they were settled in Belfast, and are listed in the Irish Census of the time. The children were growing older, and several of them began to find their own ways at the time. One of the older daughters married, and she and her husband moved to Canada, settling there. When she wrote back glowing reports of the country, the family moved again, this time settling in Vancouver BC, where my great-great grandparents lived until their deaths.

My great-grandmother met her husband after the family settled in Vancouver. His family were immigrants from Norway (see the Bordewick family story), and had also recently arrived. The two married in 1917, and had two boys, my grandfather, George Robert, and his younger brother, Henry Norman. Henry died in the war, and my great-grandfather died in 1950, leaving my grandmother on her own. Her younger sister Margie moved in with her, and the two lived together until the late 70s or very early 80s when my grandfather had her moved down to a Masonic nursing home in Washington so he could be closer to her so they could visit more frequently once it was difficult for her to get around.

The Park line is as follows, for those interested:

* John Park and his wife (Miss Dunlop) married sometime around/before 1852, when their son was born. As of yet, I have only one child for them, my great-great grandfather.

* Robert Park was born in 1852, and married Elizabeth Curran sometime in 1883. The two then (or so I believe) emigrated from Northern Ireland (at the time, just Ireland, as Northern Ireland didn't come into existence until after the Great War) about that time, and settled in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania in the USA. There they had 9 children, then moved back with them to Ireland in the early 1900s after the youngest was born. They moved to Canada in the mid 19-teens, and both died there.

* Their children:
o The two eldest, who died in early childhood or infancy, whose names I can only guess at this time, though I have found a record for a Jennie Curran Park with the right parents whom I suspect may have been named for Elizabeth's mother. The other child may have been a boy, but at this time, I cannot be certain.
o Robert Curran Park, who died in 1912.
o Elizabeth "Bessie" Park, who married and settled in Vancouver, living there until her death in 1966.
o Mary "May" Dunlop Park, my great-grandmother, who lived to the grand old age of 91, and who I still remember fondly to this day. She married Bjarne Bordewick, and they had two sons; my grandfather had four children, and his daughter had two, and she even has one great-great granddaughter and one great-great grandson today.
o Rhoda Park, who also lived a good long life. Married and lived to 1982 as well. I have vague memories of meeting her as a child, though she was not as constant a visitor as their sister Marge.
o Margaret "Marge" Park, who lived with her sister for many years after Bjarne's death, and lived to the amazing age of 106.
o George Dunlop Park, who managed to outlive my grandfather who was named for him, married in Vancouver, and lived until 1993.
o And the baby of the family, Florence "Florrie" Park, who was the only one of the siblings to leave the British Columbia area, and settled in Ontario after her marriage. She and her husband had four sons, and they are the only cousins my grandfather had, though they were closer in age to his son than himself. She has descendants in both Ontario and BC still today. She died in 2001.

What I don't know:

* I believe that this line is what we in the US call Scots-Irish. Park and Dunlop (especially Dunlop) are very Scottish names, and many of those expelled from their land in Scotland moved to Northern Ireland after. I would love to have this confirmed.

* I would love to know more about John Park, and where he was born, lived, and died. I would love to know how many children he had as well, as an Irish family with only one child seems a tad unbelievable.

* I want to know where Robert and Elizabeth married. I assume that was in Ireland, but I could be wrong. I also want to confirm the lost child I found, and learn the name of the other child they lost as well.

* I would love to know about any of the boats they traveled on. I don't know when or where they may have departed from (though I assume the one back to the UK was from Philadelphia…), but it would be great to find out.

Other information about this branch of the family:
Brick Wall Posts -
Brickwall Ancestors
Brick Wall Update #2
Brick Wall Update
Brick Walls: a Different Listing
Brick Wall Update
Brick Wall Update 2012
Old Surname Posts
Where We're From Posts
Where We're From – United States
Where We're From – Canada
Where We're From – Ireland
Where We're From – The Unknown
Other -
The Bordewick Family
Four Generations
New Discoveries
Women's History Month – Week 2
Heirloom Quilt

About this blog

This blog is maintained by two sisters who have had a life long interest in geneology.
Mika writes here mostly about our family (Hansen, Hillinger, Bordewick, Park, etc), and her search for more information.
Shannon mostly uses this space as a place to make the many stories written about and by her husband's family (Holly, Walker, Walpole, etc) available to the rest of the family, present and future.

Our blog is named Oh Spusch! mostly because Shannon is bad at naming things. The first post I put up includes a story about the time Walker's great grandfather took his whole family out to see a play and the littlest kept saying "Oh! Spusch!" No one ever figured out what she meant by that.