Saturday, April 30, 2011

Rebecca Steen


Rebecca Steen Schwartz

I should carry on in some organized fashion by staying with the 'Rebecca' theme and getting back to my paternal California ancestors by focusing on Rebecca Steen.  I want so badly to believe that the photo above is Rebecca but I will admit that I'm not 100% sure that it is.  I found this photo in some belongings given to my dad that Rebecca's grandson had when he passed away in 1989.  Wilton Gunzendorfer was my dad's uncle and since he had no children of his own, my dad and his brother were the only 'family' he had once his sister died. 

Last year my sister found some things tucked away at my mom's home and sent them to me (thank you, sis!).  In the envelope was a wallet with Wilton's card in it and a few itsy bitsy photos.  I could identify all but one of the photos - there was my dad and his brother when they were young boys/men, Wilton's parents (Bertha and Abe Gunzendorfer), Bertha's father (Louis), and this unidentified woman.  So my best guess is that this is Rebecca Steen, wife of Louis Schwartz and my great great grandmother.  I will, however, admit I've made a mistake if I find something in the stash of old photos at my mom's house that proves otherwise.

Rebecca was the daughter of Joseph Steen and Hannah Plotzky.  She was born February 8, 1848 (whoa, I just realized that my other 2nd great grandmother, Rebecca Waller, was born on February 7) in Poland.  The first record I found for Rebecca was in Liverpool in March, 1851 where she shows up on the census as Rebecca STAIN with her parents Joseph, Anna (Hannah), and a 6 month old sibling, Dina (a female born in Liverpool).

Since the next record I found was arrival in New York from Liverpool in 1851, I'm guessing they were just temporarily in Liverpool while they waited to make their way to America.  I found a passenger list with arrival October 15, 1851 and it shows Joseph, Hannah, Emily Stam (or Stein, hard to read) with Joseph and Hannah's ages correct.  I'm not sure who Emily might be, though.  And with them are Robina (age 2, which would be about right for Rebecca) and a son Denis (age 9 months).  I'm guessing this is them but there's still a few questions, although the 1910 census shows that Rebecca did arrive in 1851.

After arrival in New York another child, Samuel, was born in 1855 and then the family must have moved to California as the next child, Meyer, was born in about 1856 in California.  The 1860 census shows them in Santa Cruz, next door to Louis Schwartz, Rebecca's future husband (and my 2nd great grandfather).

The 1910 census shows that Rebecca had 8 children, 4 of whom were living in 1910.  I can account for those alive in 1910 but have only found mention of two other children.  So I'll have to keep my eyes and ears peeled for two more children.  Maybe Dina or Denis is one of those?

I don't know too many details about Rebecca's life as Mrs. Schwartz but I know they lived together in Santa Cruz until shortly before Louis' death in 1893 (more on Louis in a future post - he was quite a guy).  The balance of her life was spent in Oakland where she lived with either her brother, Samuel, or one of her children until her death on January 7, 1918.  Rebecca's Memorial

Wait - the story doesn't end there.  I did find another jewel in the package my sister sent to me!  In the package was this little book.


Since this was with my great uncle's things and I know nothing about fraternal organizations, I assumed this was from some organization he'd been a member of.  Hmm, I thought, must have been Eastern Star based on the ES on the front.  

So after a few days, I finally opened the book and found a paper folded up inside.  I took it to work to show my genealogy pal and when I opened it up (expecting it to say Wilton Gunzendorfer on it), I found something else altogether. 

Tune in next time to see what I found!


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