PROLOGUE

 

This project contains many photographs. I have kept the file sizes small to minimize the download time, but to those of you with slow telephone modems, I apologize for the length of time it may take to load these pages.

This has been a labor of love for me. Since retiring several months ago, I find that I have the time to do this kind of thing. Having been a photographer for all of my adult life, I have taken many pictures of my family over the years. I have been going through closets and I have found treasure troves of pictures that I had forgotten even existed. And, during a recent visit to my sister, Carol, I was given a photo album that was filled with old photos of parents, grand parents and even some of a great-grandparent that filled in missing gaps in our family history.

The accounts given here are from memory and may not be entirely accurate. I am 70 years old as I put this together and while I may not be senile at the moment, I often have trouble remembering what I had for breakfast a few hours before. So, please bear with me if I have gotten some facts or dates wrong. Where I am sure of the date, I will state the date in the text or caption. If I am not sure of the date, I will take an educated guess and will state the date as circa something or other.

 

When my children were young and going to school, they had to write reports on their family tree. It amazed me that I could only go back one or two generations on both sides of my family. I suppose that this was due, mostly, to the fact that both sets of grandparents had emigrated to America from Europe and a lot of family history was lost in the transition. That's a shame. However, with the advent of the computer and digital photography, everyone can take pictures and record the history of their families. I hope that my efforts here will serve to be a base for my grandchildren and their descendants to continue to record their lineage.

I hope that you enjoy this as much as I have enjoyed putting it together.

I wish you all a long and happy life.

Dick Kraus
December 5, 2002

 

 

ANCESTORS

 

The furthest back that I can go with my family are my parents' parents. Beyond that I have no knowledge. Both sets of grandparents fled Europe to escape persecution. My father's parents came here from Austria before World War I. There were no Nazi's then, but Jews were the targets of everyone's dissatisfaction with the government, the economy or any social bump in the road. My mother's parents came here from Russia to escape the pogroms of the Cossacks during the reign of Tsar Nicholas.

Both sets of grandparents came through Ellis Island. There is a story that I remember from childhood, about how my maternal family name came to be Sherman. My grandfather, Avram, came to America first, sending for his wife, Yetta, after he found a place to live and a job to support them.

The story goes that when he arrived at the immigration center on Ellis Island, in New York Harbor, he was questioned by inspectors. He was asked his name.

Communication was difficult since the inspectors only spoke English and my grandfather only spoke Russian and Yiddish. "My name," he said, "is Avram."

"Is that your first name?" he was asked.

 


When he understood what the question was, my grandfather nodded.

"Your American first name will be Abraham." he was told. "What is your last name?"

My grandfather didn't understand.

"Your last name! You know, your family name! What is the name of your family?"

Poor grandpa. Even with someone translating, he couldn't answer the question. In Russia, Jews had no last names.

"What were you called?" asked the inspector?

"Avram," he said. "Avram ben Yitsak." In English, that translated to Abraham, son of Isaac. Just as in biblical times, Jews were know by their first name and then son of whoever the father was. And girls were Felda bas Gittel. Felda, daughter of Gittel.

When the inspector finally realized what my grandfather was trying to say, he told him emphatically, "You have to have a last name in America. You can't just be the son of someone. Everyone in America has a family name."

He asked my bewildered ancestor. "What did you do in Russia? What was your job?"

Grandpa replied, "I sheared sheep for their wool."

"Then," said the government official, "Your last name will be Shearman, Abraham Shearman." With that, he filled out a document, stamped it and grandpa had a last name. Eventually it became Sherman. I don't know how accurate my dialogue is, but, I have always enjoyed telling that story, so let it be so.

 

 

This is Baba. Her name was Leah Pressman and she was my Great-Grandmother on my Mother's side. I have dim memories of an incredibly ancient woman who always wore a babushka (head scarf). She also wore an apron and kept pieces of bread in her pocket. It wasn't to feed birds, I was told. Baba had lived through Russian famines and deprivation due to pogroms. Now that she was in America, she didn't ever want to be without a crust of bread.

Baba spoke not one word of English. She conversed with her daughter, Grandma Sherman, and my mother, her granddaughter, in Yiddish.

My mother's family owned a huge three family house, also in the Bronx. They lived on the ground floor and rented out the other two floors. My grandfather was a very sickly man and he died when I was very young. I do remember being ushered into his darkened room so that he could give me his blessing before he expired. I was scared out of my mind.

Grandpa Avram Sherman holds me in his arms in front of the Bronx house

There were three sisters. The eldest was Rose. Then my mother, and then Ila. My grandmother owned and operated a small grocery on Manhattan's East Side. She would commute there before dawn on the subway and return home well after dark to take care of the house. This included stoking the furnace in the dank cavern of a cellar and hauling out huge cans of ashes to the curb.

 


Rose, Ila, Yetta and Avram Sherman and Betty

Betty and Rose


Carol and Dick. C.1939

I remember that big old house. As children, my sister, Carol, and cousin, Barbara, and I would love to play there. That big old cellar had many rooms and passageways. It was dark and spooky and just great for playing hide and go seek.

There was a front porch that was great for sitting and rocking while reading or just watching the people going by. And there was a small, fenced-in back yard, in the center of which grew a big, old fig tree. I would pretend to be many things as I climbed through the branches of that old friend.


Dick and Barbara C.1939

Living near-by was Grandma Sherman's sister, Gussie and her husband, Dave Needelman and their son, Isadore, whom we called Irving.

Uncle Dave had a shop where he fabricated leaders and gutters out of huge sheets of galvanized metal. He had large machines that would snip the metal like so much paper. There were other machines that would fold and bend the metal into the required shapes. There would be pots of hot solder melting over open flames and huge soldering irons being heated, ready to be used to join the pieces together. I loved the smell of that hot solder.

 

 

 

Of my father's family, I have very little knowledge. There seemed to be no pictures and there were few oral references. Fortunatly, when my Aunt Hilda Kraus heard of my problem she promptly sent me a wealth of great photos, some of which I include here.


This is my Great Grandfather, Isaak Langer. He was Grandma Sadie Langer Kraus's father. This photo was obviously from his passport.

 

Isaac Kraus, my father's father and my grandfather.

 

Sadie Kraus, my father's mother and my grandmother.

 

The Kraus Family, C. 1919. Morris (Moe), my father, Isaac Kraus, my grandfather, Aunt Anna, Aunt Helen, Uncle Jack, Sadie Kraus, my grandmother, holding Aunt Ruth. Aunt Hilda had yet to be born.

 

My grandfather died either before I was born or shortly thereafter. I have no memory of him. I remember my grandmother being very austere and unemotional. She was an aristocratic looking woman and I remember her having white, white hair. We all lived in the Bronx and I remember my mother taking me to visit her. We would take a trolley, I recall. She lived on Grand Concourse in one of the many new art-deco apartment buildings that were the rage in the '30's. They were a large family. My father was the youngest. His parents went back to Austria to visit while my grandmother was pregnant with him. He was born in Austria, and I believe that he held dual citizenship. Pop had an older brother, Jack. And, four sisters; Anna, Helen, Hilda and Ruth. Aunt Hilda is still alive, as of this writing, and living in Connecticut. Aunt Anna was married to Sol Goldschmidt and Uncle Jack was married to Jean. The three unmarried sisters still lived at home with their mother and I do remember that they made the household very lively. Helen and Ruth married much later in life.

An undated photo of Uncle Jack, Aunt Helen and my father, Morris (Moe).

 

Grandma Sadie and Aunt Hilda in front of their apartment at 309 E. 79th St., NYC. 1920.

 

Aunt Anna and my father, Morris. 1912.

 

Aunt Hilda, 3 years old and Aunt Helen, 13 years old, snapped by a photographer with a pony.

 

An undated photo of Uncle Jack at his Bar Mitzvah.

 

Another undated photo of Uncle Jack as a young man. He died of a heart attack at an early age.

 

Grandma Sadie (2nd from top) boards a plane in 1930, to visit relatives in Europe. From bottom to top: Uncle Jack, Aunt Ruth, Grandma, and Aunt Helen.

 

An undated photo of Grandma Sadie Langer Kraus.

 

This picture from 1933 shows Sadie Kraus, my paternal Grandmother (right) and her daughter, Ruth, with me on a Florida Beach.

 

Here we are again, with another boy.
Possibly my cousin, Joel Goldschmidt
.

 

Aunt Hilda and Grandma Sadie photographed in Cedarhurst, LI, in 1941.

 

An undated photo of Aunt Ruth, Uncle Jack, his wife, Aunt Jean, Grandma Sadie and Aunt Hilda.

 

Three of the four Kraus Girls, C. 1940. Aunts Hilda, Ruth (front) and Helen.

 

 

When World War Two broke out, Aunt Ruth joined the Marine Corps.

 

 

Aunts Hilda, Anna and Helen in 1954.

 

The family gathers for a group shot in front of my parent's home on MacDonald Street in Hempstead. C. 1942. Aunt Jean, Aunt Hilda, Betty Kraus (my Mom), Aunt Anna Goldschmidt, Moe Kraus (my Father), Aunt Ruth (in her Marine Corps Uniform), my cousin, Arnold (Mickey) Goldschmidt and my sister, Carol.

 

Aunt Ruth and her husband, Eddie Ellis, in June of 1953.

 

Aunt Ruth and her husband, Eddie Ellis, show the view from their Riverside Drive Penthouse in NYC. to Esther and her niece, Betty. C. 1959.

Aunt Helen cuts the wedding cake with her husband, Murray Lubell.

November 1953. Aunt Helen and her husband, Murray Lubell.

 

Mom and Aunt Helen on a Florida golf course in 1963.

 

Aunt Anna Goldschmidt in a most recent, but undated photo.

 

Aunt Hilda on her Westport, CN beach in 1977.

 

Aunt Hilda at age 88 and still going strong. She is shown here, the last of the 6 Kraus siblings, in her workshop in Connecticut in 2002.

 


Aunt Hilda vacationing in Belize. 2003.

 

Here are some more family photos from the 1920's and 1930's.

 


Pop (Moe Kraus) c. 1920's. How about that straw
hat?

 


Pop and Uncle Sam Vroman. C. 1920's


Pop, seen standing in front of the train, at right, was a passenger representative for the Union Pacific Railroad. He often took trips on the railroad to familiarize himself with places so that he could advise his clients.C. 1930's


Aunt Rose. c. 1930's

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Dick and Pop in The Bronx. c. 1936
 
Mom and Dick in The Bronx. c. 1937

 

The end of Ancestors.