“Macy Battalin” was a name I had heard a number of times over the years. My uncle Julie Fass said Macy was my maternal grandfather Louis Battalen’s cousin, who lived in Connecticut and was an optometrist; it’s very possible that other family members knew Macy and his family. In 2004 my mother Ethel Battalen Goldstein told me that she had met Macy’s father Henry when he visited them at 1320 East 7th Street in Brooklyn, New York. She said he was heavier, darker and taller than her father Louis, but she could see a family resemblance between them. At that visit Louis said to her, “This is my cousin.” I haven’t found documentary proof of the relationship, but that statement has to carry some weight. Since that home was purchased in 1945 and Louis died in 1951, it would have been during those years that Henry visited and my mother met him.
In letters he wrote to my grandmother in Russia after he immigrated in 1911, my grandfather Louis mentioned that he had cousins who were already in the US, without giving their names. So, I had reason to suspect that Macy really was related. I have found a number of documents for the family of Henry and his wife Rachel Battalin (this is the spelling they use). These include US Census records, naturalization papers, draft registrations, death records, photos of tombstones and obituaries, all of which gave me an outline of the family members and a sense how they were related to each other.
I had one other piece of indirect evidence from my mother’s first cousin, Sophie Passof Korb. In a conversation in the mid-1990’s, Sophie told me that she had a cousin named Sarah Schneier Fine, whose mother Anna Battalyon Schneier and her two brothers, Henry and Morris Battalyon (as they spelled it then), were cousins of Sophie’s mother Ida Battalen Passof. In other words, Anna’s, Henry’s and Morris’ father and Ida’s father were brothers. Ida’s father was Haim Battalen but Sophie did not know the first name of Anna’s father.
However, I got his first name from his son Henry’s tombstone, which names Henry in Hebrew as “Aharon son of Eliezer.” Based on other documents I found, I know that this is Macy’s father Henry.
According to Louis’ sister Fannie Battalen Schulman, their grandparents Lev and Sheineh Battalen had several children: Zalman, Haim, Yoneh, Simcha, Hershel, Noteh and “eight others.” I’m reasonably sure that Eliezer was one of the “eight others,” making Louis and Henry first cousins.
All of this was interesting, but I never explored this family further as I had other research priorities.
Then in January 2022, I got an email from my paternal cousin Tasha Lebow. She’d been contacted through Ancestry.com by a woman named Jen Battalin whose grandfather was Macy Battalin. The Battalin name is on Tasha’s family tree because I am related to her, and my mother was a Battalen. Tasha forwarded Jen’s email to me, and I was 99.9% sure that7 the connection with this Jen Battalin was real.
I emailed Jen immediately and she was thrilled by all the information I could provide, because she only had details on her Battalin side up to her grandfather Macy. We shared our trees on Ancestry.com and I referred her to my website, www.familyhistorieslouise.com. She explained that Macy had five sisters: Rose, Florence, Alice, Lillian and Elizabeth; these names were all familiar to me from the US Census and other documents I’ve found. Macy and his wife Sadye had only one child, Jen’s late father Lawrence, who has had only daughters; therefore, the Battalin name won’t go any further in their branch of the family.
In early February we met on Zoom and I found Jen to be friendly and very easy to talk with. Being biologically related to someone doesn’t necessarily mean you’re going to click, and when we do, I’m very grateful.
Originally from Connecticut, Jen now lives in the Naples, FL area with her partner, Lisa Martin; they are currently building a house in Englewood, FL. She has a twin sister, June Battalin Drude, who has a son and two daughters, one of whom is named Macy. Jen’s father Lawrence had been married previously, so she has older half-sisters, Andrea Battalin Koch and Renee Battalin Sullivan, with another five nieces and nephews from that side. Though her mother Kathleen McCallion is Catholic, she and her siblings were raised Jewish.
Jen was very close with her grandparents Macy and Sayde and had a lot of stories about them. Macy wanted to be a movie star, was handsome and hilarious; he even had a few bit parts in silent movies. He told her that his parents had given him a “window of time” to pursue movies in the late 1920’s and early 30’s, to see if he could really get that career off the ground. According to Macy, he had received a telegram offering him the lead role in some movie (“Gone with the Wind??”) but, his parents never showed him the telegram and so he “missed” his big chance. After the “window of time” ended, he became an optometrist like his father. Macy said he should have married Lauren Bacall. Jen is pretty sure there’s no truth to this story.
Jen told me that it was really Sadye who ran the show; she was both beautiful and an astute business-woman. Macy and Sadye Battalin started a beach club in Easthaven CN called “Colony Beach Club,” with their friends Lou and Sylvia Garson. To this day Jen is still friends with the Garson’s daughter, Roberta. Later the Battalin’s sold their share to the Garson’s and founded a swim and tennis club in Farmington, CN called “Silver Sands;” Jen says she more or less grew up there. Silver Sands was sold when she was 13.
After Macy retired from optometry at age 50, he and Sadye travelled all over the world. Macy died in 1992 and Sayde in 2012, at the age of 96, and Jen did a lot to help Sayde during her last years. Sadly, Sayde had been predeceased by her son Larry, Jen’s father, in 2008. Macy Battalin’s Obituary
I told Jen that she has some Battalen cousins in Florida; hopefully someday they’ll get to meet each other.