Chapter 1
My Ancestors

IT has been a very interesting project looking into my ancestral tree. It's been amazing to see how many people fit into my tree. In order to find the information for this chapter I had to contact lots of family members including my parents, grandmothers, aunts and cousins. Since then I have constantly been adding new information into the family tree.

My mom's great grandmother, Mary Cooperman, was born in Russia and she traveled by boat to the United States in the early 1900's with her parents and seven brothers and sisters. The trip took months. Unfortunately, conditions on the boat were not very good and the two youngest children died before reaching the USA. Mary and her family settled in New York City. Eventually Mary married David Cohen and they had one daughter Bessie Cohen. When Bessie was 18 she married Ruben Neigeborn. They had one daughter, Thelma, who ultimately became my grandmother. Thelma eloped with Meyer Toonkel in 1949. They had three children. My mother Maureen was their oldest child.

My mom's great grandfather, Samuel Neigeborn, came to the United States from Austria where he lived as a child. He settled in New York City where he got married and had a family. His son, Ruben Neigeborn, eventually married my great grandmother, Bessie Cohen.

The Toonkel name is from my mom's father's side of the family. My mom's grandfather, Frank Toonkel traveled to the United States in the 1900's from his native Russia. Frank had some relatives in New York City who started a plumbing supply company. They gave him a job and helped him find an apartment. After saving up some money he was able to afford to bring his wife, Rebecca, to New York from where he had left her in Russia. Rebecca was a young woman and she traveled all alone on a boat for many months. At one point she was let off in Alaska and told that it was New York. After Rebecca moved to New York, she and Frank had a son Meyer Toonkel. Meyer became employed as a plumber. He lived only three blocks from Thelma Neigeborn, so that is how they met.

Two names have been prominent on my father's side, Million and Cyr. My grandfather, Charles Guy Million, was born in Illinois and I understand that there are a lot of Millions in Illinois and Kentucky. Some of the Millions who lived in the South were plantation owners. As was common in those days slaves took the surname of their owners. As a result there are some black people in the south with the last name of Million. Charles eventually moved to Duluth, Minnesota where he worked for the Power and Light Company. There he met Dorothy Cyr. Both had children from previous marriages. Together they eventually ended up with a family of ten children. My dad, Dennis, was the second youngest.

The Cyr family can be traced back to the 1800's when they were French Canadians living in the Quebec province. I have not yet been able to find out the name of my great great great grandfather Cyr and I have labeled him as unknown Cyr in my family tree. I did find out that this unknown Cyr had a brother who had two children. One of those children was Louis Cyr, who at one time was known as the Strongest Man Who Ever Lived. So that means that Louis Cyr was my great great great great cousin.

All in all I have found that I am part of a very interesting family. It is my goal to continue searching into my family history. I hope to be able to prepare a short biography on each member in my family tree complete with as many photos as possible.

Next chapter: My Parents
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