The Jacobs & Frank Families History Part Two: Highlights 1950-2014 (3)


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Please see previous postings on the Jacobs and Frank Family:

The Jacobs Family: Prologue
The Jacobs & Frank Families History Part One: 1904-1940

Dora Schram Jacobs was the wife of Jack Jacobs and mother of Frances and Morris Jacobs.

Dora with her Grandchildren June and Bill.

Dora was called Dotty by family members. Her Granddaughter, June Frank Frost Curran, shared her memories of her Grandmother’s later years when we spoke on August 3, 2014. The family lived in Brooklyn during this time.

• June remembers coming home from school and sometimes there would be other people at the kitchen table that Dora had prepared a meal for. Dora loved to share food with other people.

• In particular, June remembers how close Dora was to the officers of the 66th Precinct. Dora loved to give them something to eat when she met them on the street. They thought very highly of her.

• Dora was a very lively person. Once Dora was at a party with June’s Cousin who is also named Frances. It was very boring. Dora got up on the table and began to sing. The party really came to life after that and everyone enjoyed the rest of the evening.

• Dora passed away peacefully in her sleep on January 3, 1979. She was laid to rest in New Montefiore Cemetery, Long Island, New York in the plot next to her daughter Frances.

Photos from the albums of Bill Frank and June Frank Frost Curran. Used with permission.

The Jacobs & Frank Families History Part Two: Highlights 1950-2014 (2)


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Please see previous postings on the Jacobs and Frank Family:

The Jacobs Family: Prologue
The Jacobs & Frank Families History Part One: 1904-1940

Ellen Jacobs Richards is the daughter of Morris and Lenore Jacobs.  Morris Jacobs was the brother of Frances Jacobs Frank.

This photo was taken at the wedding of Ellen’s daughter Nicole.
From left to right:  Jim and June Curran , Ellen and Bill.

On September 2, 2014 Ellen shared some corrections to earlier information about her father and shared some highlights of his life after the 1940s.

Morris Jacobs circa mid 1940s or early 1950s.

• Morris, the son of Jack and Dora (nee Schram) Jacobs was born on August 16, 1914.
• In the 1940s he had a laundry route.  Ellen would accompany him as he drove to the clients’ homes.
• In the 1950s he drove a taxi in Manhattan.

Morris Jacobs (right) with nephew Bill Frank (center) and daughter Ellen Jacobs Richards (left).
This photo was taken at the Bar Mitzvah of Eric Frost, son of Barry and June (nee Frank) Frost.

• Morris was an avid baseball fan and his favorite team was the New York Giants.
• He lived in Jackson Heights, New York before moving to Lecanto, Florida which was his last place of residence.
• Morris passed away in January of 1991.

Photos courtesy Bill Frank and Ellen Jacobs Richards. Used with permission.

The Jacobs & Frank Families History Part Two: Highlights 1950-2014 (1)


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Please see previous postings on the Jacobs and Frank Families:

The Jacobs Family: Prologue
The Jacobs & Frank Families History Part One: 1904-1940

Frances was the daughter of Jack and Dora (nee Schram) Jacobs. Her children are Bill Frank and June Frank Frost Curran.

Frances Jacobs in pin-up photo framed and displayed in her son Bill’s home.

• In addition to her career as an entertainer, Frances was also a model and pin-up girl during the 1940s.

• June has a few of these pin-up photos in her family album. Bill has a large pin-up photo framed and displayed in his home.

• In the 1940s, Frances was featured as a centerfold in “Photoplay”, a popular magazine focusing on the lives and lifestyles of popular celebrities.

• She also appeared in “The New York Daily News” in a photo spread featuring performers who entertained the troops on board ships during World War II.

• June provided details of her mother’s professional life after the 1940s in an email to me dated September 30, 2014.

o Frances’ stage name was Sissy Lee. She’s not sure if there are two s’s in the first name.

o She worked in two restaurants when Bill and June were children. One was called the Steak Joint. June thinks the other was called Dempsey’s. Both were high-end restaurants in Manhattan. Frances was friends with the boxer Jack Dempsey.

• Frances also loved spending time with her dog Snoopy. In an email to me dated October 4, 2014, Bill described Snoopy as a black dachshund who used to run in stores and run out with merchandise.

Morris and Frances circa 1950s.

• Frances and Morris maintained a close relationship.

• Frances suffered stomach pains in 1959 which doctors incorrectly diagnosed. By the time she was hospitalized in 1960 they discovered too late that she had stomach cancer.

• Frances passed away on April 13, 1961.

• The entire family was present at her memorial service. Frances’ niece, Ellen Jacobs Richards, remembers that Frances’ father, Jack Jacobs, attended. Ellen and Jack sat together during the service.

• At the foot of her bed in the apartment Frances had shared with her mother Dora, was a large carved chest which contained many photos and mementos of her show business career. Unfortunately, the trunk and its contents were stolen while the family attended the service.

• Frances was laid to rest in New Montefiore Cemetery, Long Island.


Emails September-October 2014 from Bill Frank and June Frank Frost Curran.
Photos provided by and used with permission of Bill Frank.

We’re back!



Greetings to all readers, visitors and subscribers to this blog. Life is resuming a more even pace as I get settled in the new apartment. Postings to this blog will resume on a more frequent basis.

We’re going to pick-up with Part Two of the Jacobs and Frank Family History. I want to thank Bill, June, Ellen and Jon for sharing their photo albums with me.

I learned so much not only about this branch of the family but also how to work on a research project when the participants are living in distant locations. Everyone had great patience with the process of reviewing and correcting the initial drafts. There were many emails exchanged and it was exciting to see the highlights for each family member evolve.

The format was kept simple to showcase the photos and provide in a clear and easy to access format a brief update for the family.

We hope you will enjoy the next series of six postings about the Jacobs and Frank Families.

Have you ever searched for someone like Mr. Ruggles?


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Before I return to the tedious tasks of wrapping and packing dishes and glasses I want to announce a new blog created earlier this month.

It is called “Looking for Mr. Ruggles”. There is one long entry in this little blog and many precious photos. It tells very simply how Julian Ruggles transformed into Julian Stephen Kennedy and how with the assistance of his son Robert, the family history project has helped answer many questions about what happened to Julian’s mother while he was in foster care as a baby.

Yet, there is one person who has never appeared in any searches and that is the mysterious Mr. Ruggles. Julian is still searching for the connection to any relative in the Ruggles family. Please read his touching story and if you’ve got any research tips or advice please comment at that blog.

And even if you don’t have any leads or search techniques to share we hope you’ll come away with a greater enthusiasm and appreciation for just how deep and far reaching a family tree and research can grow and how beneficial the fruit of the tree can be.

Taking a break…

To All My WordPress Friends and Followers:  As you’ve noticed, my output has slowed down these past few months.  My commeting and participation in discussion at other family history blogs has also fallen off.  This is not due to a lack of interest on my part or a lack of interesting material at the blogs I follow.

I have been in a tiring and prolonged process of moving out of the building where I currently live.  The people and events around me have been intrusive and disruptive causing the need for increased rest and quiet time.

All this is going to change in three weeks when I move into a beautiful new apartment in Bay Ridge, Brooklyn.  It is really true that those who love and care about us will reach out even when there have been years of separation and no contact.  This is the case of my Mom’s Cousin Alfred and his wife Angela.   In a way I have my Mom to thank for this since it was through the family history project that I reconnected with the relative in whose house I will be living.  It is a beautiful turn of the 20th century brownstone that has been restored to the beauty and simplicity of the era in which it was built.  I am looking forward to setting up my new apartment and resuming the research and blogging after that.

There will be many new postings so please stay tuned.  The first will be an update on the Jacobs and Frank families featuring photos and highlights of accomplishments in the family.  This will be followed by a series of postings with updates on the Torregrossa family provided by the granddaughter of Rosario and Liboria Torregrossa.  These will be especially lively since they will be presented in the formats of the emails and phone converations that we had.  The flow of communications was so good I decided to post the exchanges as they happened.  This permits you to focus on the specific topics.  When the series is completed there is will be an even greater sense of the big picture in progress as the actions of our Torregrossa ancestors continue down into the present.

I wish everyone a great Labor Day Weekend.  See you in the Fall.

The Jacobs & Frank Families History Part One: 1904-1940


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Dora Jacobs in her youth.

Highlights of Dora Jacob’s life as related by her Granddaughter, June Frank Curran, August 3, 2014

• The earliest family members were born or lived in Egypt.

• They fled to Paris to escape persecution.

• The family was living in Paris before coming to the United States.

• Dora was born in New York.

• Dora and her siblings were placed in separate orphanages. She grew up not knowing where her brothers were.

• At the age of 13 she was released from the orphanage and obtained employment as a chamber maid at a hotel in New York.

• Dora was determined to find her parents. She saved her money for the time when she would travel to wherever they may be.

• When she was still 13 years old, Dora learned that her Mother had remarried and was living in Boston. She took a bus to the part of town where her Mother and new husband were living.

• Dora’s Mother told her that her new family did not know about her and that she could not let her come to stay.

• Dora returned to New York and despite this event never spoke negatively of her parents. She never mentioned them to others.

• From an early age, Dora had said that she wanted to be a Mother to a boy and a girl so that she could name them after her own Mother and Father.

• Eventually Dora and her brothers found each other. They remained in touch throughout their lives and visited each other from time to time.

• Dora sang in Yiddish at the Jewish theaters in Lower Manhattan. She subbed on occasion for Sophie Tucker, who is described in Wikipedia as one of the most popular entertainers of the early 20th century known for her comical delivery of risqué songs.

Note: In the 1920 Federal Census, Dora stated that Romania was the birthplace for her Mother and Father. During our discussion on Sunday, August 3, 2014, June informed me that a descendant of Dora’s sister has in her possession the map which shows the part of Egypt where the family lived before going to Paris. Further research is needed to confirm the exact ancestral country. On August 1, 2014 I ordered a copy of Dora and Jack’s 1913 Marriage Certificate from the NYC Municipal Archives. Using the names for Dora’s parents as they appear on the Marriage Certificate may bring back earlier census records where Dora’s parents are entered as well as the country of origin they gave to the Census Enumerator.   Continue reading

The Jacobs Family: Prologue


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Anthony and Frances, circa 1940.

Anthony Tortorici, the son of Thomas Gaetano and Angelina (nee Torregrossa) Tortorici, met Frances Jacobs sometime in 1939 or 1940. Their son Bill was born in 1941. Anthony and Frances did not marry due to disapproval by family.
Continue reading

The Tortorici Family 1909-2000: Until I rest with you again…


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Photograph of Angelina’s Monument courtesy of FindAGrave volunteer photographer, Maspeth. Used with permission.

Inscription on the monument placed at the gravesite of Angelina Torregrossa Tortorici:

“Qui Giace
Tolta Al Mondo
Nei Piu Belli Giorni
Della Vita
A Soli 27 Anni
Il di 22 Novembre 1913
L’infelice Sposo
In Memoria Della Sua
Ideale Amata
Riposa in Pace”

“Con I Tuoi Poveri Orfanelli
Piangeremo In Eterno
La Nostra Sventura
O Gentil Fiore A Noi Rapito…”


Angelina Torregrossa Tortorici was born circa 1884 in Caltanisetta, Resuttano, Sicily to Alfonso and Benedetta (nee Di Francisco) Torregrossa. Her father immigrated to the United States in the mid-1890s and settled in the Fourth Ward of New York City where he opened a grocery store. Angelina and her mother arrived in New York in 1896. She attended school in the area and completed 8th Grade. In the 1900 Federal Census her entry states that she could speak, read and write English.
Continue reading

Torregrossa Family: Through the Children, Part 2


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Photo of Rosa Torregrossa’s headstone by FindAGrave Volunteer Photographer, Maspeth.

My Mom used to tell me a story about Buona Fortuna and Mala Fortuna whenever I was a child and questioned why I shouldn’t wish for the good luck to get more money or extra gifts from relatives or friends. She especially emphasized this after Grandpa Al Torregrossa gifted each of his Grandchildren with a $2,000 trust fund for college expenses around 1961 or 1962.

“Don’t get used to it,” Mom used to tell me. “You never get anything for free. If Al and Blanche don’t attach some conditions to it you can be sure life will come along and send you a hit in the head if you start getting so proud about it. Let Daddy and I take care of it. Now forget all about it. Get back to your Barbie dolls or go plan a puppet show with your friends…”
Continue reading


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