This is a picture of my grandmother, Ceil with her three siblings and another relative at the graveside of my great-grandmother, Bessie Shapiro. My grandmother is the one with her head against the stone. This picture is so sad since Bessie died in 1914, aged 36, and left four children. The youngest, the little boy in the picture, was five.
For about four years I have been searching for that little boy whom family stories said died around the same time as his mother. Growing up, I was never told his name and none of my remaining relatives knew it either.
I first started by using Ancestry to try to find the family in census data. The Shapiros are in the 1910 Census. One problem was that Ancestry read the little boy’s name as Olive. Of course I knew his name was not Olive since it is a non-Jewish girl’s name. Because Ancestry coded him as Olive, it made it very difficult to search for him in other databases on the site.
Although I had the picture of the family at the grave when I began my search I didn’t know where Bessie was buried. My working hypotheses was that the little boy would be buried where his mother was, especially if he died soon after her.
It turns he didn’t died right after Bessie but lived to be twelve years old. I spent a lot of time looking at the handwriting in the 1910 census and eventually decided the child’s name was Abie.
In the 1920 Census there is a Shapiro family with my great-grandfather Sam, his second wife, her children and my grandmother’s three siblings including Abie.
By the time I figured this out I had found out that Bessie was buried in Mount Zion Cemetery, Maspeth, Queens. There was an Abe there also but Shapiro was spelt Schapiro. Eventually I found that both Bessie and Abe were buried in the section of the cemetery for the United Mazirer Society which was one of many Jewish burial societies.
After all that I was able to get Abe’s death certificate which listed his mother Bessie and his father Sam. He died of encephalitis with a secondary or contributory cause being respiratory failure. He spent eleven days at Beth Israel Hospital in New York City and died on Feb.21, 1922.
A moth ago, I was able to go to Mount Zion Cemetery and visit both Bessie and Abie. I was very glad to both name and claim Abe as my relative.