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09 November 2018 @ 02:47 pm
52 Ancestors Week 45 - Bearded  
The theme for Week 45 (November 5-11) is Bearded.

I could pull out any number of photos of bearded men in my family, though there were fewer of those over the years as people assimilated. I never saw my father or either of my grandfathers with a beard, but my brother has experimented with one now and again.

But the better story related to beards is one of surname origins. My maternal grandmother’s maiden name was originally SCHWARTZBARD (spelled various ways). Polish Jews didn’t take surnames until the partition of Poland in the 1800’s. Surnames have a number of different origins, but one of the common ones is personal characteristics. SCHWARTZBARD is Yiddish for "black beard." When I had first told my mother that I’d found that was the family’s original surname, she said, "oh, no, we’re descended from pirates!"

I should also note that my branch (the descendants of Enoch Ber SCHWARTZBARD) mostly became SCHWARTZ in the U.S., though my great-grandfather was buried under his original surname, or, at least, the Anglified spelling of it, when he died in 1937. His wife, Malka, nee MAKOWER, was using SCHWARTZ exclusively by the time she died in 1952. However, some of the children of his brother, Chaim Wulf SCHWARTZBARD, who died in Israel in 1959, took the surname BART or BARD.

I have probably mentioned this before, but SCHWARTZBARD to SCHWARTZ Is pretty obvious. So how did Enoch Ber become Henry? Family speculation is that it was because he lived on Henry Street. Since some records show him as "Henoch," that may be a simpler explanation, but it interferes with our running joke that it’s a good thing that he didn’t live on Delancey. Though there would be a certain charm to Delancey Schwartz as a name. And it would be much easier to research!

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