Sunday, August 21, 2016

Itty Bitty Envelope

Today’s installment of “what the heck is this” is an Itty Bitty Envelope that I found in my grandmother, Loraine Gunzendorfer Levy’s, things.


I’ve glanced at the envelope in the past, and maybe even looked inside briefly, but today I decided to look at everything carefully and see what I might learn.

Inside there were some photos and quite a few newspaper “clippings” folded up.

Envelope contents

Of course the first thing I saw was a few photos from New York Gallery, 25 Third St, S.F.  But, sadly, there is nothing identifying these mystery people.  More on that in a minute.

I slowly started opening up the clippings to see what was so important to keep in this itty bitty envelope. 

May 4, 1944

Okay, this makes sense.  My great grandfather, Abraham Gunzendorfer, died on May 4, 1944.  So, I wasn’t surprised to see stories about his death, most of which I have from other sources, in the envelope.

In case you’re interested, here are the others from San Francisco, or nearby cities, who died at that time.  Interesting to see that Mark Schwartz died on May 3.  My great grandmother’s (and Abe’s wife) maiden name was Schwartz and while I have never seen the name Mark associated with any of the family, is it just a coincidence?.


There was an article about the services to be held on Sunday, which would have been May 7, 1944.

Services Sunday

I must have really had a scotoma when I saw the article below.  I’ve looked at it in the past, looked at it today as I sorted through things, scanned it, opened it up, cropped it, and it wasn’t until I saved it onto my computer that I noticed something very peculiar.  Do you see it?

Abraham Gunzendorf

GUNZENDORF?  Where is the ER at the end???  Have I been missing something all these years or did the newspaper just make an error?  Of course, I immediately pulled out his death certificate to confirm – yep, GunzendorfER.  And he did not die on Wednesday night – he died at 12:30 a.m. on Thursday morning, May 4, 1944.  I’m chalking it up to an error by the newspaper because I’ve been researching this family for a long time (and they are the reason I started this journey in the first place) and I have never, ever seen any of them referred to as Gunzendorf.  But that could have been their name, I guess, when they first immigrated to America.  I’m keeping that in the back of my mind to pull out again on a rainy day.

Here’s an interesting story.

Long Tenancy Ended

My mother, who I typically tried to prove wrong my entire life, told me when she was visiting for Christmas in 2010 that Bertha and Abe had rented their home in Monterey for over 40 years.  I didn’t want to forget that so I actually wrote it down and added it to my family tree.  And look at this, while my mom was off by a few years, she was right! 

How I wish I had the date of this article about four of the Civic Club Founders.

Monterey Civic Club

When the Monterey Civic club honored its founders and pioneer members with an informal program of reminiscences and a tea last Friday afternoon, the four ladies pictured above, who were present at the club’s first meeting 31 years ago, were the guests of honor.  They are, reading from left to right:  Mrs. Amy B. Hooke, Mrs. A.B. Gunzendorfer, Mrs. Vinnie B. Barber and Mrs. Mary Carmody.

After a quick google search, I learned that the first meeting of the Monterey Civic Club was held on March 15, 1906 so this article must have been published in about 1937.

Back to the photos I found in the itty bitty envelope.  I have to think that these photos were people who, in some way, were friends or family of the Gunzendorfers .  The New York Gallery at 25 Third Street, San Francisco operated from about 1869-1887.  The fashions seem to be from about that time but since there is nothing identifying any of them, all I can do is wonder who they are.

Unidentified Woman
Unidentified Baby

Unidentified Boys

While the last photo gave me some clues, it really doesn’t mean much to me.  I’m hoping one day I find some more clues about J.M. Lowe.

JM Lowe 8_5_17
JM Lowe Back

Stanley?  I have no idea who Stanley could be.  Did someone keep a photo that was meant for someone else?  If only photos could talk……



  1. Oh come on Debi, have some fun with those photos. Surely they must be CLOSE to Bertha - her mother? Or to Abe? (Sorry - can't figure out how to estimate dates.) Who in the family lived in New York?

    1. These were taken in a gallery in San Francisco and lots of family and friends lived there over the years. I have photos of both Bertha and Abe's mothers and she doesn't look like them. And neither one of them had sisters. I'm not giving up, though.

  2. Ah, mystery photos. They both drive us crazy and make us happy when/if we ever figure out who they are.

    Did your ancestors have come from a place called Guzendorf? Dorf means village in German, and the -er would probably mean they came from there. I do see some references for a Guzendorf, Germany.

    1. My gut tells me they did come from Gunzendorf but I don't have any evidence that points them there. I just can't figure out why the newspaper would have printed Gunzendorf. However, the article about the upcoming services has some typos in it (Scwartz instead of Schwartz, Lorraine instead of Loraine) so maybe they just needed a new editor.

    2. Newspapers make a mistake?? No, never. :) I've been interviewed a few times by our local paper, and I can't tell you how many errors I've seen.

  3. Newspaper articles often make me chuckle. There are so many typos and non-fact-checked items! Thank goodness they exist though, they offer great clues.

    Sometimes those things we assume are errors turn out to be nudges toward additional sources, like the Gunzendorf "mistake". Who knows the mystery that reference may help you solve!

    Great post, and wonderful pictures! Thank you for sharing.