Friday, December 8, 2017

My Grandfather's Birth Certificate Found!

Many years ago, when I listened to my maternal grandparents telling stories about their childhoods and their families, my grandfather, Richard V. Gilbert, remarked that he had never been able to find his birth certificate. He had been born when his family was on vacation in Vineland, New Jersey over Labor Day weekend, on 7 September 1902. They normally lived in Philadelphia. Repeated applications to the New Jersey archives had failed to locate his records so he had used affidavits as to his birth from his mother Fanny for passports and other records.

Some weeks ago, I thought to search the New Jersey birth index that the amazing Reclaim the Records had put up at the Internet Archive. I searched the 1902 records for a birth in Cumberland County, where Vineland was located, checking both Gaylburd, the original family name and Goldberg, the name they used in the US until the 1920s when nearly everyone shifted to Gilbert. I found an index for Jerachmiel born to Meyer and Feige Goldberg, certificate number 29200.

My Grandpa Richard had told me that his birth name, which was his Hebrew name, was Rachmiel. Some 20 years ago a cousin took me to Milwaukee's Spring Hill Cemetery where a number of my Goldberg and Gilbert relatives were buried, including my great-great-grandfather, David Goldberg (Richard's grandfather). I startled my cousin when I let out a cheer. His tombstone read David bar Yerachmiel. It was clear to me that this was where Grandpa's Hebrew name was from. Now looking at this index, I recognized that name and was certain it was my grandfather. I immediately ordered the actual birth certificate from the New Jersey State Archives and gave the exact spelling of his and his parents names and the place and the date my grandfather had given me.

Yesterday the certificate arrived and I was delighted to be able to show it to my mother. Here it is!

Some things to note here. Deerfield Township is next to Vineland on the map and probably was the location of the house they were renting. Richard's mother was known as Feigel but the person who filled out the certificate dropped the l (she was known in English as Fanny). Meyer and Feigel were first cousins (their fathers were brothers) so their names were both given as Goldberg. To my puzzlement, Meyer's occupation is given as mechanick although he owned a photographic printing company in Philadelphia, Commercial Photo-Engraving Co. It is noted that Feigel had had 4 children, of whom 3 were living. That would be Molly, Miltchik, Anna, and now Jerachmiel (my grandpa Richard). Miltchik, according to my grandpa, died as a baby. I have yet to find his birth and death records. The final total would be 10 children, of whom Miltchik, Judith, Isabelle, and Mordecai died young, leaving 6 children to grow up. Those were Molly Gilbert Hoffman, Anna Gilbert Houston, my grandpa Richard Vincent Gilbert, Taft Gilbert, Nora Gilbert Willig, and Leonard Gilbert.

Finally, the physician was N.G. Greenwood of Rosenhayn, NJ. This was another town next to Deerfield and Vineland. A check of US Censuses shows that he was a physician, Dr. Nathaniel G. Greenwood. He was Jewish and I have made a note of his name since I wonder if he might have been related to my Gaylburd/Goldberg/Gilbert family.

One final note. Unfortunately I don't have a baby or early childhood photograph of my grandfather so I end this post with a picture of Richard Gilbert aged perhaps seventeen at Stelton, NJ, on his annual summer visit to the Ferrer Colony at Stelton.


  1. How exciting to be able to find the birth certificate and learn of the slight name changes! I enjoyed reading your post :)