Monday, January 4, 2016

Abrams Sisters. Tampa and the Ones in England. What's In Our Genes? Music it seems....

A little not here before I continue writing; a note to explain a little more about me.

I do weather in I write about weather and more specifically hurricanes. So I packed up my genealogy notes, cards (old school) and multiple books and put them away for a bit.  During the hurricane season I have commitments and to be honest the hunt for my Great Great Grandmother really isn't going anywhere. In fact, as time goes by new information get posted online so often that even a few months offline can make a big difference when you return to Ancestry.

For instance let's look at my adorable Great Aunt that I never met her, but my mother mentioned her often. Bessie Ruth was the daughter of Annie Abrams Falk, my Grandmother's older sister. I was told Bessie Ruth was a spinster who never got married; taught school up in Tampa. In Miami back in the day ... "Tampa" was "up north" compared to "Myamuh" which is how my Grandma Mary pronounced it. Not MY-AMEE but MY-am-MUH. For that matter Grandma made Tampa sound more like Tempe Arizona but not as much emphasis on the "e" more like TEH-mpeh.

So, back to Bessie Ruth who was my Great Aunt's daughter.

Bessie Ruth Falk was raised in Tampa.
For a while her parents Annie and Myron Falk lived in Hyde Park.
It was a new fashionable suburb.
Still pretty nice.

Turn the sound up. Great site.

Her graduation picture a few years later is a little more put together.
Personally I love the flapper look...

Her parents moved up to Quincy Florida in Gasden County.

They called it "Shade Tobacco" and Grandma barely said the o in tobacco.

The Falks and Abrams had tobacco plantations up that way. 
You might call them farms.. but Grandma Mary said plantations.
Either way they traveled often back and forth it seems.
Perhaps they maintained the house in Tampa for the Winter Season.
One of the first "proofs" she existed was a notice in the paper.

Eventually I found much other information.

Last year this reference was not on Ancestry.
New Year's Day I was playing and lo and behold...
Bessie Ruth got married in North Carolina...
Which is odd as I live part of my time in North Carolina.
What was she doing here? Made no sense.
Checked the source and it's definitely her...

Note Myron was of the New Orleans Falk family.
German Jews who had been in the South a bit.
Annie aka Anna was from Tampa.
They seemed to have lived apart a bit and then divorced..
Later it seems Bessie Ruth also got divorced from Ormond Jr.
She and her mother lived in Tampa with Morris.
Morris was a Realtor when not in the tobacco business.
He was heavily involved in the Holmes Beach subdivision.
Bessie Ruth continued teaching.

I imagine it could have been a war time marriage.
You know he was sailing out...
Or they simply met, got married and not much was said on it.
They did live up in Tampa and we lived in Miami.
There was no Facebook....
What happened in North Carolina I suppose stayed in North Carolina.

I imagine Ormond Jr was not Jewish and ....
....the more traditional side of the family probably never talked about it.

I did find reference to Bessie Ruth in Tampa Historical Society.

She was it seems interested in history.
Perhaps we had much in common.

So one lesson learned is "don't believe everything you heard" growing up.
She didn't have children than I can find though as the obit says..
"She was a teacher" and taught many kids in Tampa in her lifetime.

Her mother Annie Abrams Falk was into music and gardening.
See the small blurb about her singing in the Tampa Bay Tribune below.

Later when Annie lived in Quincy she performed with the Woman's Club.
She is listed as Mrs. M. L. Falk.

Music and art was an important part of life in the Abrams household.

Grandma Mary was a music prodigy I've been told. My Great-Grandfather Wolf got a piano for the parlor for Annie to take lessons. Annie was five years older and getting to be that age that playing a musical instrument showed culture.  Wolf heard heard someone in the middle of the night playing on the piano and walked downstairs expecting to see Annie practicing her lessons finally. What Wolf saw was Mary at age 5 playing as if she knew how.  The story goes he went upstairs and told Ida "forget about Annie ...we have to get Mary lessons, she can play" And, Mary played when she was supposed to and when she wasn't. She was caught in the movie theater playing music to the silent movies on a piano and told "young ladies don't do that" by her parents. Young ladies it seemed played at home or for the Temple Women but NOT in the local silent movie theater.

Her parents were traditional Jews on some level members of society in Tampa. While visiting her sister Annie in Quincy she was asked to perform for the Governor of Florida. She wore a long lace dress with many layers of white ruffles and her hair pulled back in long curls. She wore a velvet ribbon around her neck with a cameo pinned to it. The pictures the family had were destroyed in a flood in my Aunt's house but I remember them well. She looked like a princess or however a princess would look in that place in time. As a young girl she was allowed to give music lessons at her brother Jake's house in Tampa.

She also got in trouble with her parents for allowing to be filmed for a movie.
The producers wanted to offer her a job in the motion pictures.
They wanted to take her back to California...
Grandma had big dark eyes and long curls. 
Her parents were not impressed.
They sent the movie producer packing.
She was watched over more carefully by her brother's after that.
She had a young maid, daughter of the family maid, who was put in charge of her.

Sadly the movie was never finished.
But there was a scene filmed .....
......of her walking down the big staircase at the Tampa Bay Hotel.

My Great Uncle Morris had offices in the Tampa Bay Hotel.
The family was there often.
Now the old arcade is used as offices for the University of Tampa.

My brother and I went last year and did some family research.
We roamed around. Took pictures.

You know the hotel, the cemetery, some various streets on which they lived.
Ybor City where my Grandfather had a business.
The mirror has been moved but it's the same mirror.

My brother and I visited the cemetery. 
Old stones, pictures on stones and hanging moss.

Oddly one mystery leads to more mysteries.

Wolfe and Ida Abrams came to America from Russia.
However....they met in England while they were both visiting relatives.
Everything is always a little sketchy on Wolf Abrams.
Ida's father was a Cantor who performed for the Jewish New Year.
Other siblings of theirs had gone before them and were settled in England.
She had cousins there, her father had cousins there.
Wolf Abrams had family that was established there.
Supposedly Ida sang, again music was a big part of their life.
Wolfe went by Wolf and Wolffe .... His Hebrew name was Velvel.
His stone in the cemetery simply says Wolf Abrams.
The year of birth may be off.
He may have also gone as William somewhere.

Don't know much about his father though his mother was Mary Morris.
In fact there is talk the name was shortened from Abrahams to Abrams.
Or possibly a longer version of Abrams.

Ida also went by Ada.
Chaya Etel Bas Joseph in Hebrew.

A foot stone simply says Ida Abrams.
Legally she was Ida M. Abrams.
The M might have been for Marks... Morris... Mar?????

Grandma Mary was born when her mother Ida was turning 40.
Ida died young, leaving Mary with not much info on life before Florida.
As I said before ... the "old country" was "Philly" though England was mentioned often.
Grandma drank tea with milk in it as she was taught by her father.
She also sang bawdy sort of English tunes or ditties as she'd call them.
Trained in Brahms and Hayden she was almost embarrassed to play other stuff...
...but she did often ;)
She played this so well it's painful to hear anyone else play it.
Not her playing sadly.

She sang a song about Crazy Jane that I remember well.
Grandma Mary (Miriam Leah) had a lot of charisma.
Everything she did was done with great drama... 
She sang it faster than it was meant to be sung but the words were the same.
The woman who sings it online sings it beautifully.
My mother would absolutely love it.. alas Mother has passed on..

While reading in the Tampa Tribune about Grandma singing with her sisters...
I began to Google more information on the Abrams Sisters who sang.
In my case it was Annie, Jennie and Mary Abrams.

I kept getting references to the Abrams Sisters in England.

What caught my attention was that my mother sang soprano in the opera in the 1940s.
Abrams Sisters in England were famous singers; one a famous soprano.

The picture below is of my mother.
Second from the left ...with the yellow arrow I drew..

That's mother dressed for the opera Martha...
...below is the article about her in the newspaper.

Surprisingly Theodosia Abrams, the English soprano, has her birthday.
Month and day not year.
Gets confusing the whole Abrams Sisters history.
Add in the name Theodosia was used more for her as well her daughter.
Some articles confuse them. 
Beatrice also is used several times; another name in our family.
Bessie Ruth was short for Beatrice.
Annie's sister Jennie named her oldest daughter Beatrice.

The English Abrams Sisters were part of a family of performers.
They came to England as Abrahams then became Abrams ...all musical.
No one seems sure of where and along the way they converted; married well.

When I took the DNA tests after a year or two of playfully researching the Abrams Sisters.
I was surprised to find I share ancestors with Theodosia Trollope .. Garrows... Fisher... 

I found that out by accident looking through a list of other names.
I also share DNA with a woman she left money to in her will.
The plot thickens. 
Yet it was a long time ago and far away.

What is in our genes?
Do I love music because I was raised with it???
Or do I love music because it's in my genes?
Or a combination of both it seems...

My mother loved music. She also was a published poet.
I write poetry and I dance... 
Mother kept the singing voice genes to herself....
I have a degree in International Relations.
I have a degree in English.
Theodosia Trollope wrote about Italian Independence.
She wrote essays on politics. Go figure.
Music, poetry and an interest in politics. Hmnnn
Seems the more you learn the more you find what you already knew ...

Who are you?

My mother told me once that music was "the love of her life"
She said that while dancing to some music while holding onto a walker....
She explained..."music will never disappoint you"

The sign my mother kept up on her desk in Miami.

Besos Bobbi

Ps... Thanks to the person who commented recently and made me remember...
... I'd been meaning to update this blog ;)
I'll write more next time on things I found about the Abrams Sisters.

The ones from England... not the ones who grew up in Tampa singing together.

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