As you can see, I'm on a newspaper kick. These are my favorite - the noting of a normal, lifetime event, a moment of family gathering together, a hint that these people weren't just family - they enjoyed spending time together. And most importantly it's a reminder that these people weren't just names and dates - they threw surprise birthdays for each other, they had fun, they did impressions of famous actors, they lived lives, lives that we, as genealogists, believe are worth remembering. In this case, it's a surprise birthday for John Meinberg, my fourth-great uncle. I had hoped it was an article about his father, somebody I know absolutely nothing about - he had four children with my 4th great grandmother and then disappeared between 1873-1878, presumedly dead since she remarried. Still, this was a pretty neat find. Love the reference to Charlie Chaplin, back when he was actually a real live movie star!
The story comes from the Brooklyn Daily Star, November 1915: "A birthday surprise party was given John Meinberg of 1629 Decatur Street, Evergreen, on Saturday evening, November 13. Mr. Meinberg is one of Evergreen's oldest and most prominent residents. ... Dancing and merriment of all kinds were indulged in ... Fred Meinberg jr. gave an impersonation of Charlie Chaplin."
Among those present were my third great grandparents, Ed and Eva (Meinberg) Haase (Eva was John Meinberg's sister); my great great grandparents, Gus Haase and Meta (Ricklefs) Haase, John and Eva's sister and brother-in-law, Anthony and Elise/Elizabeth Smith, their brother and sister-in-law, Fred C. and Justine Meinberg, their half-sister Katherine and her husband, Henry Hennigan, John's son James W. Meinberg and his not-yet wife Edith Lorch, John's other son John Meinberg Jr., Fred's son Fred Meinberg Jr., August Lorch, who I assume to be Edith's brother, John Sr.'s wife, Emma, my fourth-great grandmother Katherine Hellman (maiden name Naeher, mother of the Meinberg children), her sister Elizabeth Riders, Elizabeth's daughter (and cousin to John, Eva, Elise & Fred Meinberg & Kate Hellmann) Kate Weigert, Elise's sons William, George, and John Smith, John Sr's daughters Dorothy and Deborah Meinberg; and Fred's daughters Elisabeth and Eva Meinberg.
There are a few people I have yet to identify, whether they be family friends or married names of daughters, but I'd like to look into that to see if they are important clues to this tree. But we have here three generations of a family - it just warms my heart to see this!