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She Started Life in Boston in 1918 as Beatrice Magaziner

December 8, 2016
Family 1948

Family 1948; My mother second row, second on the left between Aunt Pearl and Aunt Ray.

The family name on my mother’s side of the family is “Magazine”; there were also relatives with the last name Wychezchi (different spellings) and Burwick. During the course of her long life, my mother had five last names.

She started life as “Beatrice Magaziner”; that changed sometime in the 1920s, when after what I was told as “a long discussion” about “Americanizing” the name, the “r” was dropped and she became Beatrice Magazine. Marrying my father in 1942 (I believe that was the year) she became Beatrice Prensky. But then in 1947 when I was all of three years of age, “for business reasons (of course)” my father changed the family name from Prensky to Prince – I protested vigorously to no avail – so thus she became Beatrice Prince. My folks divorced in 1958 and then a decade later my mother married Nat Kaye and became Beatrice Kaye, and that was her name when she died at the age of 90 some seven years ago.

So, a visit to the Boston Public Library today, a world-class place. I will spend more time there. OK…so, a bit more of what was the family history comes to light from a one hour trip to the Boston Public Library. Anyhow, I remembered that my mother was born in Boston in 1918 and wondered if there might be any records I  might find. Directed to the Genealogy Department the librarian suggested I look at the 1920 census and bingo! some interesting information although it took a little figuring out.

Looking at on-line information from the 1920 census – and that of 1930, sure enough, interesting and relevant information popped up. I  knew my mother’s original family name was not “Magazine” but “Magaziner.” The 1920 census had her name but misspelled as “Beatrice Magazina” – the “er” changed to an “a”. I know it is the correct information as the names of her parents, siblings are all accurate.

The 1920 census has “Beatrice Magazina” born in 1919, but she was born a year earlier, in 1918 according to her birth certificate which I have in my possession. Small error. It gives her birthplace simply as “Massachusetts,” noting that at the age of one she lived in Boston’s Ward 5, Suffolk, Mass. and on “Barton Covet” street.

It gives other family information that was of interest, like the age of her parents, my grand parents and those of my sisters and cousins, Julius and Sarah “Magazina.” Some surprises, among them, that in 1920 both Julius and Sarah were 42 years of age. This is interesting because it suggests that Grandma Sarah had my mother when she was 40 or 41 years of age, the last of 14 births of which seven survived to adulthood. At that time, 1920, Mom’s brother Louis was 17, Molly (who changed her name during adulthood to Malvina) was 13, Uncle Willie (William) 11, Uncle Joe 8. Uncle Hy (misspelled as “Lyman” although in the 1930 census that was corrected to “Hyman) was 6 and Israel (who I knew as Uncle Ira) was 4. Mom was all of one.

The information from the 1930 census included a number of changes. The family had moved to Brooklyn, New York, address given 3009 Ave K. But when did they move from Massachusetts? And I know that for a certain time the family also lived in Buffalo but when was that? Concerning what is now “Beatrice Magazine”, she is all of 10 years old and according to the census, she can read, write and speak English.

Now Julius Magazine is dead and Uncle Lou has moved out and married Aunt Doris; Grandpa Julius died in 1924 after drinking poisoned prohibition-era vodka (or some kind of hard alcohol) on the job to keep warm at work. At the time he was a construction worker. He had previously worked in steel mills and did fancy cement work. Grandma Sarah was 51, a widow with seven kids. Molly (Mal) was 21, Willie (William) 20, Joe (18), Hymie (now they got his name right – Hyman) 16. Izzie (who was Israel in the 1920 census but I knew as Ira) was 13 and Beattie, as Mom was called was all of ten years of age (except she was 11 or 12).

They lived in Ave K just off Nostrand Ave. Sister Laurie and I visited there just after our mother died. I went back with niece Julie just last year. To this day it remains a very orthodox Jewish neighborhood. The synagogue where Uncle Willie and Aunt Thelma was married is a block away; I would guess this is where the family went on the high holidays.




6 Comments leave one →
  1. Henry Feldman permalink
    December 12, 2016 9:48 pm

    Rob –

    When I first read this post, I searched for Boston, Ward 5, as I do not know the city by wards. It looked like it was mostly Back Bay and Beacon Hill, neither of which struck me as having had much in the way of Jewish communities. Tonight I went back to the current map to see if the West End might also be included. It does not look like it is now, but the boundaries could have changed.

    My grandfather lived in the West End when he was a kid (born 1900). I worked not far from there when I was in high school (early ’60s). Most of the neighborhood was gone. My sense is that the urban renewal that was done put the streets in different places with different names. I think the rest of the neighborhood was destroyed by the Government Center project, which also put streets with different names in different places. That happened after I left town, so I am not sure of my “facts”. Anyway, this could explain why the street no longer seems to exist.

    I know a bit about Boston, so if you have questions I may be able to help (or get you really tsimished).

    Henry Feldman

    • December 13, 2016 6:26 am


      Thanks for comments. Appreciated. At the Boston Public Library where I did the search they told me, as you related, that the wards and neighborhoods had changed considerably over the years. I have an exact address for where my mother lived when she was born (on her birth certificate I believe) but forgot to bring it with me here to Boston. Also while she was born in Boston I was told that the family moved around a good deal and that they lived in Buffalo, Cleveland, Detroit, Boston before settling in Brooklyn where they stayed from sometime in the 1920s onward. Most of that information is anecdotal. I found it interesting that the section of town where you believed they lived was not particularly a Jewish neighborhood, only because the family was quite religious, Orthodox. Have found the synagogue in Brooklyn, just off Nostrand Ave. and Ave. K where most of my uncles were bar mitzvahed and where many aunts and uncles married. It is still a small pocket, but vibrant Orthodox Jewish community.

      • Henry Feldman permalink
        December 13, 2016 8:09 am

        It is possible that there were small Jewish neighborhoods in what is now Ward 5, but my guess was that the old West End was then part of the ward and that, having a large Jewish population, was a more likely home. While living outside a large Jewish community would have been possible, not traveling very far to shul was not the only pull, even for less religious families. I am still just guessing.

        I have been doing a small part of this sort of research with a niece and some cousins. My search has focused on the two years (including kindergarten) that my grandmother lived in Denver “under the viaduct” (14th and Decatur) when her father had TB. I think that it is an interesting path into history.

        • December 13, 2016 9:36 am

          It turns out…more connections. My paternal grandfather, Abraham Prensky, I was told, had TB and came to Denver for treatment. My father mentioned this at one point although the dates of Grandfather Abraham’s stay are not known. Presume that he was cared for at National Jewish or something like that (some other Jewish medical institution). He eventually died of TB in the late 1940s

        • Henry Feldman permalink
          December 13, 2016 9:52 am

          I found some information about my great grandfather in the JCRS records that were on line in the archives of a Jewish studies program at DU. There were a few other Jewish pulmonary facilities in Denver. The city directories for 1907 and 08 had some helpful information also. Paul Stewart, founder of the Black American West Museum, pointed me at that resource many years ago.

        • December 23, 2016 8:36 am

          will check it out. thanks Henry

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