Finding John Costello

Finding John Costello – A DNA Journey: The Fried Family, John’s Family, Part 1

Finding John Costello

All good DNA work pairs DNA evidence with historical records.  In the case of my great-grandfather, John Costello, the records for his life begin in June of 1917 when he was supposedly twenty-seven years old.1  The stories he left behind, combined with the identity his descendants know, just don’t match any records before June of 1917.2

But what about the records for his DNA matches and their ancestors?

Thankfully, those records have been far less elusive.

Through careful analysis of many DNA matches, it became clear that John is the full brother of Isidore Fried or, John IS Isidore Fried.3  No matter which of those two possibilities is true, the story of Isidore demanded my attention.

But there is a second DNA cluster to consider.4  A cluster of matches that descend from a man named Samuel Fried.  This cluster of DNA matches also match my John Costello DNA cluster and the Isidore Fried DNA cluster.

So that begs the question, are the two Fried families connected?  This necessitated researching the Samuel Fried family as well. Between Isidore and Samuel, the research has been fascinating!  So now, finally, I have a story to tell you.

But before we dive in there are three things we need to chat about–names, birth information & crimes.



Names can be complicated things in genealogy research, especially for immigrants.  That is something I am very familiar with.  But what I am far less familiar with is how widely varied names are for Jewish immigrants – as in the names of the same person are widely varied.  I wish I could point you to a specific resource that would help you understand what I am barely beginning to be comfortable with myself, but I can’t.  So instead I am going to lay out a few name variations for the key players in this epic tale I am about to tell you and hope you will trust me.

We have three surnames to address – Fried, Geier, and Salzman.  You will see these variants:

  • Fried – Freid, Freed, Freit.
  • Geier – Geyer, Gajer.
  • Salzman – Salzt, Schultz.

The first names are a bit more varied.  We have spelling variants but we also just have different names for some people.  This is common in these circumstances.

  • Samuel Fried – Schije, Schye, Sam, and interestingly – Rabbi Yehoshua Fried.
  • Isidore Fried – Isaak, Isadore, Isaac, Israel, Itzchor.
  • Fannie Fried – Feige, Fanny.
  • Morris Geier – Moses, Moris, Mortiz.
  • Sarah Esther Salzman – used Sarah consistently.  Bless her.
  • Sarah Geier – Sadie, Sarrah.
  • Adele Geier – Hettie, Hattie, Edel.
  • Leona Fried – Lena.
  • Celia Fried – Sarah, Cecilia.
  • Fannie Fried – was ‘Baby Fried’ on her birth and then used Fannie consistently.
  • Hinde Fried – Anna, Annie.
  • Sara Fried – Sura, and possibly Zilda.

[For my family members, known and unknown, if you are interested in my fully cited timelines and data analyses, let me know, and I will send you a few pdfs.  All name variants are cited to the records in which they appear.  Plus lots of other goodies.]


Birth info.

Birth dates are very fluid for the Fried family members born in Europe.  The simple fact is they didn’t know their birth dates.  This knowledge has been passed down through descendants and on to me through living cousins.  Places are a different kind of complicated.  Immigrants often name the largest city they lived closest to, a region, or just the country of their birth.  Add to that all of the border changes and you have inconsistent birthplaces in records over time.  But a careful study of all the records can often tease out the actual locations.

The bottom line for you as a reader is this – be flexible on names and birth info.  Pay attention to the groupings of people and the facts that are consistent.  We are reading the patterns.


And lastly, crimes.

There will be plenty of talk of crime and the ramifications of said crime.  If I seem cavalier in my approach, please recognize two things.  First, I have been searching for the story of my great-grandfather for twenty years.  Finding bits of it in unexpected places is so joyful to me that I am not upset by any of my discoveries.  So far.  Second, I’m not a fan of hiding truth.  I know that some truths and the consequences represent real pain for some of the family members I will introduce you to.  For some, that pain ran through our tree to the present.  I recognize that and am deeply sorry for the suffering of some of my own family.  However, hiding the truth is what built my John Costello brick wall.  Un-bricking it, so to speak, requires facing the secrets head on.  I hope I can be sensitive and respectful in my telling.


Okay!  Preambles aside, are you ready?  Brace yourself.  The tale of this family–my family–is long and twisty.



Isidore & Sarah Immigrate


Isidore Fried and Sarah Esther Salzman, as they were known in the U.S., immigrated to New York in about 1905 with their young daughter Leona.5

The exact date of immigration for this family of three is unknown.  No ship manifest listing this trio has been found.  However, all three of them were consistent in stating that they arrived in the U.S. in 1905 or 1906.

It wasn’t long after the Fried family arrived, that they welcomed a second child into their home.  On 9 July 1907, “Sarah Freit” was born in the Society for the Lying-In Hospital in New York City, a beautiful maternity hospital that was built in 1902.  At the time of Sarah’s birth, her parents, Isidore and Sarah, were living at 7 Pitt Street in New York City.6  While this new baby was named Sarah on her birth record, she would be known as Celia throughout her life.



Fannie & Morris Join Isidore & Sarah in New York City


Just a few months after Isidore & Sarah welcomed young Celia into their family, Isidore would welcome his sister and brother-in-law into the U.S.

On 10 November 1907, “Moses & Feige Geier” arrived at the Port of New York.  Their 1907 ship manifest is one of only two records that tie Isidore directly to his siblings and father.  Moses and Feige, or Morris & Fannie as they were known in the U.S., listed “Isaak Freid” of “7 [or 9] Pyt Str, New York” as the relative they were joining in the U.S.  Morris listed Isidore as his “bro i l,” and Fannie listed him as her “bro.”7

Screen Shot 2019-06-13 at 5.27.46 PM
1907 Ship Manifest for Moses and Feige Geier, item 18 on page 2.  View record here.


The address of “Pyt Str” is an important tie between The Isaak Freid of this record and the Isidore Freit listed on the birth record for “Sarah Freit.”



Another Baby Sarah & Some Trouble


Almost fifteen months after their arrival in the U.S., Fannie and Morris would welcome their first known child into the world.  On 28 January 1909, “Sarah Geyer,” was born at home, 21 Avenue B in New York City.8

Less than six months after Sarah Geier’s birth, her uncle, Isidore Fried, was arrested and sent to Illinois to stand trial for grand larceny.  The first hint of trouble comes from an article in The Decatur Herald on 23 March 1909.9 It reads:

“A requisition was also issued on Governor Hughes of New York for the return to Chicago of Isadore Fried, who is wanted on a charge of grand larceny.  The complaint in the case was made by Philip Balkus [sic], who alleges that he went to visit Fried, and showed him a roll of money containing $3,200. He claims to have been drugged, and when he regained consciousness the money was missing.”

It wasn’t even two full months before Isidore had been transported, tried, and ultimately convicted.  On 12 June 1909, “Isadore Fried” was sentenced to 1-10 years of imprisonment for larceny.10

Less than three weeks later, on 30 June 1909, Isidore was received at the Illinois State Penitentiary in Joliet, Illinois.  At the time of his imprisonment, his wife Sarah was living at 545 Jefferson St. in Chicago with their two children.  The next day, Isidore was assigned to the prison yard and then on 15 October 1909, he was assigned to the shirt factory of the prison.11

Five days later, on 20 October 1909, Fannie Fried, daughter of Isidore and Sarah, was born at home, 543 Jefferson in Chicago, while her father was a prisoner.  This was the third child born to Sarah and Isidore and all three daughters were living at the time of Fannie’s birth.12



A Family Separated


By April of the following year, the young Fried family had experienced further separation.  On the 1910 U.S. Census, Sarah, Leona, and Fannie were living in Chicago at 651 Maxwell Street.   Sarah was listed as the mother of three with three children living and as having been married for 8 years.13  But Celia, the middle Fried daughter, was not living with her mother.

Sarah, Leona, and Fannie Fried living in Chicago in 1910.  View full record here.


Isidore Fried was enumerated on the 1910 US Census as an inmate of the Illinois State Penitentiary in Joliet, Illinois.  His occupation of “shirt maker”14 is consistent with his prison record.

Isidore Fried as an inmate in the Illinois State Penitentiary at Joliet in 1910.  View full record here.


Sadly, two-year-old Celia Fried was living in the New York Infant Asylum as a lodger.15

Celia Fried as a lodger in the New York Infant Asylum in 1910.  View full record here.


A search of the remaining asylum records housed in New York-Presbyterian/Weill Cornell Medical Center Archives produced no records for Celia’s time in the Infant Asylum.  When she arrived, when she left, who checked her in, who checked her out, are all details lost to time.


At the same time of the Fried family separation, the Geier family was experiencing some stability in New York City.  They still lived at 21 Avenue B, their address at the time of their daughter Sarah’s birth.  Morris was working as a belt designer and Fannie’s occupation of “none” implies that she was home caring for young Sarah.16

Morris, Fannie, and Sarah Geier in New York City in 1910.  View full record here.



The Prospect of Freedom


In late October of 1910, Philip Backus, the victim of Isidore’s crime, had a change of heart about Isidore’s fate.  He visited Isidore in prison and reports of their story are found in many newspapers on 29 October 1910. The most notable article appeared in the Chicago Tribune:17



Philip Barckuss, Who Sent a Thief to Prison, Begs for Liberty for Him.




Wealthy Alaskan Asks:  “Who Am I That I Should Take This Life from His Family?”

“Philip Barckuss [sic], a wealthy Alaskan, has paused in Chicago on his way from the Klondike to New York, just long enough to attend to a little matter that has been on his mind and conscience for two years.  He is seeking a pardon for Isadore Fried, who is serving in the penitentiary on a sentence of ten years.

Two years ago Mr. Barckuss, not so wealthy then, paused in Chicago in another of his long flights about the world and a little matter of some moment centered about him as leading figure.  Isadore Fried drugged and robbed him of $3,000 or more. It is for this misdeed he is serving his sentence now.

Mr. Barckuss put him where he is today and Mr. Barckuss plans to raise heaven and earth as well as the Joliet penitentiary and the Criminal court if necessary to rescue him.

“I see him in my sleep,” said the little, dark haired man, not half so large as the prisoner who stood facing him yesterday in the penitentiary, and he shuddered.  “When I sleep, that is, I see him, but I don’t sleep.

“I shudder with the awfulness of it and it seems as if somebody stood over me and says, ‘Who sent him there?’  Then before I can answer, the same person answers, ‘You!’ I am tired, but I am wide awake by that time, no matter how many miles of rough country I have traveled over in the day.  I can’t sleep–I can’t sleep.  For two years I have not slept.  That is why I have stopped to undo that work of mine two years ago, when I was crazy with rage and my sense of wrong.

Begs for His Liberty.

“Isadore Fried was guilty; nobody ever denied that he is guilty.  When I stood before him today he cried and said, ‘I am guilty, Mr. Barckuss; but help me, help me!  I am not going to live, I think, to finish out my ten years.  And O, I should so love to be free to live my last two or thre [sic] years for myself, my wife, and my three children.’

“Who am I to keep a man from living his own life?  I am going, God helping me, as I think he will, to set him free.  When I put him there he was big and husky.”  The wronged man looked deprecatingly at his own small body.  “He looks to me now as if tuberculosis was pulling him down.

“I left a few dollars with the warden for his papers and his cigars.  I left some more for his family, who are in a sorry plight.  He left me, when he drugged and robbed me, with just 5 cents.  Five cents and unconscious in a strange city!  And I had bought his supper for him that night.

Describes the Crime.

“I was stopping just for a night in Chicago.  I had my $3,200, which was all I did have on earth, and I had made it.  I met a friend of the days when I was poorer still.  He invited me to his house.  I went.  He was living with Fried and his family.  I started to give my friend a present of $10, and I took out a roll of bills.  Fried saw it.  They begged me to stay all night, and they sent out for wine and sandwiches.  The house and the people were awfully poor.  I paid for the things.  They said the women folks had better go out.  After a while they produced the wine.  I drank some of it and felt sick first, then fell unconscious.  When I came to I was alone and my money was gone.  That is, they had left me 5 cents.

“I trailed that man through nine states, but I got him.  I said to the police, ‘I will get him.’  They got $150 for me to pursue the chase.  I started east.  I stopped in every city.  I went to every gambling house, theater, and saloon along my course.  I was after him for two months.

Captures the Robber.

“Then I hit New York.  I was there for three days, and I ran into him on the street.  My agreement with the police was that if I found him I should engage him in a fight.  I did and I held him for twenty minutes.  Then the police came.  They took us to headquarters and then to the Tombs.  At headquarters they telegraphed Chicago, and the word came back to ‘hold him.  We want him.  Will forward papers.’  They did and sent a detective to fetch him back.  In Albany the extradition papers were signed.

“But while we were at the Tombs he told me where he lived and I went there.  He had bought himself some nice furniture and had set up housekeeping.  I asked his wife where he was and she said she didn’t know.  I said: ‘Well, I do.  He’s in the Tombs.’  Then she fainted and after I had gone back to the Tombs along came his sister, who is well to do, and offered to buy me off.  She had $50 in $5 bills.  I looked at them; they were marked.

Wife Depends on Charity.

“Those women were clever; they thought they had me.  Mighty different that wife was there in New York, gay and well dressed, with her three children, from what she was when I saw her last night.  The Associated Jewish Charities is paying her $8 rent every month now.  And she looks drawn and sick and old.  It’s the women folks that suffer when the men do wrong.  She did not know her husband.  She trusted her husband, as all good women do.  She had been poor with him before that night when he drugged and robbed me.  She trusted him when he told her how he got that money.  And she trusts him still.  When he comes out of prison, which I think will be within two months, she will be the first to welcome him.

“It’s an exciting story, and I never cease to think of it.  I have been all over the world since then and have made more money than I had ever dreamed of then.  I sell jewelry.  I am in business for myself and I am my own drummer.  I have sold it in the far north, in South Africa, in Buenos Aires, and the Philippines.  But I am thinking always of that man.  When he is free I think I may cease to think of him, and I pray that I shall.”



Would Philip be able to free Isidore and reunite a family?




to be continued . . .



  1. “United States World War I Draft Registration Cards, 1917-1918,” images, Ancestry ( : accessed 19 June 2019), card for John Costello, Draft Board 3, Clough Precinct, Spokane County, Washington; citing NARA microfilm publication M1509, roll 1992105. 
  2. Amberly Beck, “Finding John Costello – A DNA Journey: The Missing Brother,” 16 April 2019, 
  3. Amberly Beck, “Finding John Costello – A DNA Journey: Isidore Fried & Sarah Esther Salzman Data Analysis,” 14 May 2019, 
  4. Amberly Beck, “Finding John Costello – A DNA Journey: Connecting Four MORE Cousins,” 26 March 2019, 
  5. Department of Corrections, “Alton State Penitentiary and Joliet/Stateville Correctional Center – Registers of Prisoners,” Record Series 243.200, Illinois State Archives, Joliet Vol. 18, Oct 30, 1908-Feb 2, 1910, entry for Isadore Fried, date received 30 June 1909.  1910 U.S. census, Cook County, Illinois, population schedule, Chicago, sheet no. 14A (penned), dwelling 72, family 257, Sarah Fried household with Selda Kamin family, lines 45-47; image, Ancestry ( : accessed 25 May 2019); citing NARA microfilm publication T624, roll 250.  1910 U.S. census, Will County, Illinois, population schedule, Joliet Township, sheet no. 7A (penned), Illinois State Penitentiary, Isadore Fried, prisoner, line 14; image, Ancestry ( : accessed 25 May 2019); citing NARA microfilm publication T624, roll 334.  1920 U.S. census, Cook County, Illinois, population schedule, Chicago, sheet no. 4B (penned), dwelling 33, family 77, Sarah Fried household, lines 77-79; image, Ancestry ( : accessed 25 May 2019); citing NARA microfilm publication T625, roll 330.  1930 U.S. census, Cook County, Illinois, population schedule, Chicago, sheet no. 13B (penned), dwelling 82, family 257, Leo A. Rivkin household, lines 60-65; image, Ancestry ( : accessed 27 May 2019); citing NARA microfilm publication T626. 
  6. City of New York, New York County, New York, Department of Health, birth records, Sarah Freit, 9 July 1907, certificate # 36920 (stamped); image, “State of New York certificate and record of birth (Borough of Manhattan) 1898-1909,” FamilySearch ( : accessed 26 May 2019), DGS film #4206257, image 1940 of 2528; citing, FHL microfilm #1991706. 
  7. “New York, Passenger and Crew Lists (including Castle Garden and Ellis Island), 1820-1957,” database, Ancestry ( : accessed 25 May 2019), entry for Moses Geier, age 24, and Feige Geier, age 20, arrived New York 10 November 1907 aboard the Wittekind from Bremen. 
  8. City of New York, New York County, New York, Department of Health, birth records, Sarah Geyer, 28 January 1909, certificate # 7739 (stamped); image, “State of New York certificate and record of birth (Borough of Manhattan) 1898-1909,” FamilySearch ( : accessed 26 May 2019), DGS film #4206963, image 246 of 2537; citing, FHL microfilm #1992516. 
  9. “Former Corporation Head Under Charges,” The Decatur Herald (Decatur, Illinois), 23 March 1909, p. 1, col. 4, par. 4 of article, “A requisition . . . return to Chicago of Isadore Fried . . .”; image Newspapers ( : accessed 14 June 2019). 
  10. Department of Corrections, “Alton State Penitentiary and Joliet/Stateville Correctional Center – Registers of Prisoners,” Record Series 243.200, Illinois State Archives, Joliet Vol. 18, Oct 30, 1908-Feb 2, 1910, entry for Isadore Fried, date received 30 June 1909. 
  11. Department of Corrections, “Registers of Prisoners,” Isadore Fried, 30 June 1909. 
  12. County Clerk, Cook County, Illinois, “Chicago birth certificates, 1878-1922,” Baby Fried, 20 October 1909, certificate #4898; image, FamilySearch ( : accessed 9 August 2018), DGS film #4297976, image 1186 of 1275; citing FHL microfilm #1288177. 
  13. 1910 U.S. census, Cook Co., Illinois, pop. sch., sheet 14A (penned), dwell. 72, fam. 257, line 45-47, Sarah Fried household. 
  14. 1910 U.S. census, Will Co., Illinois, pop. sch., sheet 7A (penned), Illinois State Penitentiary, line 14, Isadore Fried, prisoner. 
  15. 1910 U.S. census, New York County, New York, population schedule, Manhattan, sheet no. 17A (penned), New York Infant Asylum, Celia Fried, lodger, line 25; image, Ancestry ( : accessed 25 May 2019); citing NARA microfilm publication T624, roll 1046. 
  16. 1910 U.S. census, New York County, New York, population schedule, Manhattan, sheet no. 20A (penned), family 342, Morris Geier household, lines 5-7; image, FamilySearch ( : accessed 25 May 2019); citing NARA microfilm publication T624, roll 1011. 
  17. “Pleads for Man Who Robbed Him,” Chicago Tribune, 29 October 1910, p. 3, col. 1; image Newspapers ( : accessed 19 April 2019). 

29 thoughts on “Finding John Costello – A DNA Journey: The Fried Family, John’s Family, Part 1”

  1. Wonderful. So glad to finally read his story! PS The struggle with names is common in Jewish genealogy. And you did not even touch on when the parents are not allowed a civil marriage, only a religious one, so the children have their mothers last name.

    1. Thank you, Ellen!! Oh, wow, I don’t even know about that yet. Well…wait, now that I think about it, that is ringing a bell, but I certainly haven’t dealt with that in my research yet. I have so much to learn still! 🙂

      1. We all have our Hebrew/Yiddish religious names and then our secular names and then the nicknames and the changed names when they moved here. Then the last name changes are confusing. Each success is a celebration.

        1. YES!! There is so much going on with Jewish names. It’s a lot.

          Thank you, I agree. We all need to celebrate with each other. ❤️

  2. Wowsa! Maybe you should save this for the nonfiction novel!!! The victim is certainly nice because what was done to him was not.

    1. Thank you, Luanne!!! Yes, he certainly was. Assuming the newspaper account is accurate. I really wanted to get my hands on the trials records but they were destroyed. Bummer.

  3. I loved the very helpful introduction and saw parallels in what I’m writing this week. When names are changing patterns are very important for our research. The story is so dramatic and enthralling that I read every single word. Oh Amberly, why did you leave me hanging at this point in the story? I know you will be continuing soon, likely in several installments, but it’s hard to wait for the ending.

    1. Sorry!!! Normally I write a series and schedule it. But I am rushing this time because Anna/Hinde’s descendants are gathered so they are reading and comparing memories. 🙂 I’m glad you enjoyed it.

  4. I am glad I waited until I was fully awake this morning to read this! What a story. Philip was certainly a forgiving man. And I can’t wait to read the next chapter of the story.

    And oh so many questions—why had the Fried family left NYC? Why were they then back in NYC? Who else/what else was Isidore hiding from?

    1. YES! Exactly, what on earth was going on with Isidore? I find Philip’s account a little bit fishy. I was hoping to get my hands on the trial records but they were destroyed. Big bummer! But as I’ve been writing, I’ve found a few more clues that I hope will lead me to some of the records in NY.

  5. My first husband’s last name is Geier, as is Dillon’s last name. I have always believed it is a German name. Do you know? It is interesting that your Jewish relatives have it.

    1. I don’t know for sure. A quick google search seems to indicate that it’s German. I don’t know that the original spelling for my cousins was “Geier”. I’m looking forward to getting my hands on the records in Europe, that should help clarify that.

  6. Hi just wanted to follow up on my Twitter note about Coincidences.

    I am also looking for my great grandfather whom I discovered was Jewish through a DNA test which helped confirmed my prior discovery that my father had changed his surname! Seems my great grandmother Sarah (1872-1938) had my grandfather out of wedlock at 16 yo with my g-grandfather, “the unknown.”

    Another coincidence regards the Tombs. I was surprised to read about in your blog as my father worked at 100 Center St. the address of NYC Criminal Courts, which was adjacent to the Tombs. My dad would take me to work with him occasionally to teach me or scare me straight by sitting me in Part 1A, the Arraignments part of the Criminal Court to see the parade of criminals and then a visit to the Tombs to see where they were incarcerated.

    Looking forward to your next post re: John.


    1. WOW!!! I had never even heard of the Tombs until I found this article. Fascinating. I’m hoping to find some records in NY for Isidore regarding his first imprisonment on Blackwell’s and his trial there. Fingers crossed!!

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