Happy Black History Month!

Happy Black History Month from Greenland Genealogy!

During the month of February, I will be writing blog posts about the genealogies of prominent African-Americans in history including,

Singer / Songwriter Stevie Wonder

Civil Rights Activist Medgar Wiley Evers

Singer / Songwriter Jennifer Hudson

Basketball Hall of Famer Michael Jordan

and Dr. Mae Jemison!

Hope you enjoy!


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Stories of the Graveyard

Billy Wise: Neighbor and Classmate of Future President Jimmy Carter

Billy Wise, born William Edward Wise, was born on June 5th, 1924 in Georgia to Walter J Wise Jr. and Myrtle C Crawford. Billy had nine siblings named, James, Dorothy, Ruth, Kathryne, Mildred, Crawford, Carlton, Harold, and Donald.

In 1930, the Wise family lived in Smithville, Georgia where Walter Wise worked in the Farming Industry owned his own farm. This was the case for all of the other families on their street where the type of farming ranged from corn farming to ore farming.

Ten years later, a new family had moved into the farm next door. This family was the Carter family and included future 78th Governor of Georgia and 39th President of the United States James Earl (Jimmy) Carter Jr.

Wise Family highlighted in green, Carter family is above them

On this census, we see that both the Wise family and the Carter family were in the same type of farming industry and that Billy Wise was in his 3rd year in high school and Jimmy Carter was in his 2nd year of high school. Given this information, it can probably be assumed that the Carters and the Wise family had some interactions with one another during their lives in Georgia.

Jimmy Carter would go on to be the 76th Governor of Georgia and would eventually become the 39th President of the United States, but what happened to Billy Wise?

Two years after this census was taken, Billy Wise would register for the draft on June 30th 1942, just three weeks after his 18th birthday. Billy would be selected to enlist in the army and would officially enlist on February 24th, 1943 at Fort McPherson in Atlanta.

Unfortunately, after this record, there is no other record of Billy Wise until his death on April 13th, 1992 in Sumter County. Georgia. It is known that he would marry Betty Kirkland Bruce but it is not know when this marriage occurred or if they had any children.

If Billy and Betty never had children, it unfortunately increases the likelihood that the story of William (Billy) Edward Wise would be lost forever. Hopefully this will help to keep the memory of him alive for future generations to come.


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1930 United States Federal Census, Sumter Co., GA, Enumeration District 21, Page 7A.

1940 United States Federal Census, Sumter Co., GA,
Roll: m-t0627-00710, Enumeration District 129-8, Page 17A.

The National Archives at Fort Worth, Texas; Fort Worth, Texas, USA; Record Group: Records of the Selective Service System, 1926-1975, RG 147

Ancestry.com. U.S., World War II Army Enlistment Records, 1938-1946 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., 2005.

Georgia Health Department, Office of Vital Records; Georgia, USA; Indexes of Vital Records for Georgia: Deaths, 1919-1998; Certificate Number: 013935


The Short Life of Harry Klionsky

Harry Klionsky was born September 2nd 1899 in New York, New York to his parents Barnett Klionsky and Bessie Cohen. Harry had one older brother, Samuel (1897-1962) and three younger sisters, Beatrice (1903-1996), Libby (1906-2001), and Minnie (1911-1998). 

Harry Klionksy can first be found in the 1915 New York State Census where him and his family where living on Rutgers Street in New York. Harry’s father Barnett was working as a shoe dealer and his older brother was working as a salesman. Harry and his younger siblings were too young to work at this time and were attending school. 

1915 New York State Census

Three years after this census was taken, the United States entered into World War One. Harry was eighteen at the time making the age of enlistment for the military. On September 12th, 1918, just days after his nineteenth birthday, Harry walked down with his father to the local recruiting station, which was just a three-minute walk from their apartment, and registered for the draft. 

Harry Klionsky World War One Draft Card

It is unclear if Harry was called up to serve in World War One but he can be found in records beyond the end of the war. Harry can first be found in a record from October 22nd, 1922 when he married Adeline Schwartz in Manhattan. During their marriage, they would have two boys together, Jesse Heshel (1924-2003) and Herbert (1926-2006). 

Not much is known about the circumstances of Harry’s death other than he was declared dead on November 5th, 1927 and that he was kicked by a horse. His death at just twenty-eight years old left his wife Adeline to raise their two and four-year-old boys by herself. 


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New York State Archives; Albany, New York; State Population Census Schedules, 1915; Election District: 04; Assembly District: 08; City: New York; County: New York; Page: 50

Registration State: New York; Registration County: Bronx; Roll: 1753937; Draft Board: 04

Ancestry.com. New York, New York, Extracted Marriage Index, 1866-1937 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., 2014.


From Poland to America: The Story of Joseph Greenland

My Great-Grandfather Joseph Greenland was born January 10th, 1903 in Brest Litovsk, Poland (modern-day Belarus) to his parents Avraham Grymland and Rose Glotzer. While living in Poland, Joseph had two sisters, Ethel and Leah and four brothers, Sol, Izak, Aaron, and Moshe. 


The Complicated Road to the United States:

When Joseph was just 17 years old, he made the decision to leave his parents behind in Poland and immigrate to the United States. However, Joseph’s road to the United States would be anything but simple. As the family story goes, when Joseph traveled to the United States, he arrived at Ellis Island. While he was there, he was told that his paperwork wasn’t correct and he would have to go through a different port of entry. 

Since this was the case, Joseph headed north to Canada. Here, he would be able to get his paperwork in order and would enter into the United States from Montreal on July 15th, 1920 via the Canadian Pacific Railway. 


Becoming a Citizen:

Once in the United States, Joseph would take a job as a plumber’s helper and was living with his Uncle Jack Greenland in Brooklyn, New York. Four years after arriving in the United States, Joseph applied to be a Naturalized Citizen on April 30th, 1924 at the age of 21.

Joseph Greenland Declaration of Intention

Three years later, on April 13th, 1927, Joseph would officially become a citizen of the United States. At this point in his life, he was still living in Brooklyn, New York but at this point, he had been promoted from a plumber’s helper to a full plumber. 

Naturalization Record of Joseph Greenland


Marriage to Mollie Kaplan:

Joseph would eventually meet his wife Mollie Kaplan (formally named Minka Kopiesno) and they would be married on June 12th, 1932 in Brooklyn, New York. They would have one child together, my grandfather, and would be married for forty years until Mollie’s death in 1972. 


The Greenland Family During the Holocaust:

Even though other members of Joseph’s family immigrated to the United States, the majority would remain in Poland. All of this would change when the Nazis invaded Poland on September 17th, 1939. During this time Joseph and his relatives in the United States would scramble to try to get their family members out of harm’s way. Unfortunately, their efforts would not be successful as seven members of his family, including his mother, two of his siblings, and four of his aunts and uncles, would perish during this terrible event in history. 


Joseph would eventually move to Missouri, for unknown reasons, where he would live out the rest of his days until his death in August of 1978. Joseph had a life full of changes and challenges of which he was able to overcome during his lifetime. My grandfather has described him as a kind and hard-working man, which can be seen in the actions he took during his life. 


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Researching the Life of Aaron Greenland

Aaron Greenland

Aaron Greenland was born September 2nd, 1888 in Kobrin, Russia to Sarah Lena Kostrinsky and Rav Menachim Grimland. Aaron had six siblings, Avraham (1870-?), Harry/Herschel (1870-1939), Samuel/Shalom (1875-1924), Gabriel (1880-1966), Dora/D’vora (1882-1970), and George (1889-1952).

Aaron would immigrate to the United States on January 30th, 1906 when he was just 17 years old where he arrived in New York from Rotterdam on board the SS Noordam.


Over the next several years, Aaron would experience both great happiness and loss.  His father, Menachim, would die around the year 1918, just after Aaron’s immigration to the United States, and his brother Samuel/Shalom would die in 1924 at the age of just 36. Through these losses however, Aaron would also experience great happiness. On August 12th, 1922 his son Mason was born and in 1926, his son Melvin was born. On November 23rd, 1926 he would marry Blanche Lefkowitz the Bronx where they would raise Mason and Melvin.


In 1942 when the United States was entering World War Two, Aaron and his sons would register for the draft in order to serve their country.


Twelve years later, Aaron would pass away on July 31st, 1954 in Brooklyn, New York at age 65.

I have enjoyed getting to know Aaron through my research and I hope to help others learn the stories of their ancestors. If you would like to learn the stories of your ancestors please fill out this form to receive your free estimate!


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