Sunday, June 12, 2022

Full Siblings Different Surnames - Important Austria-Hungarian Surname Impacts

I've mentioned before that many couples in Austria-Hungary never civilly registered their marriages, or only registered them years after the fact.  These couples had religious weddings, and their communities considered them fully married, but the government considered their children to be illegitimate, and therefore they were given their mothers' surnames.  Multiple successive generations of religious-only marriages could have a major impact on surnames used by children--and sometimes full siblings within the same family would use different surnames.  Without accounting for this, you could miss records and full branches of your family.  Here's how this phenomenon manifested itself in one family.

Judesz Stober/Kaufman Birth; 1892

Monday, May 30, 2022

Giving Them Names - Finding Names of Holocaust Victims

My grandmother was able to tell me about her mother's first cousin, Chaim Fine.  Chaim was killed in the Holocaust--as were his wife and their daughters.  But my grandmother couldn't remember the names of Chaim's wife and girls.  And after watching the Shoah Foundation video of one of her other cousins, he also just mentioned "Uncle Chaim and his children."  For more than three decades, Chaim's wife and daughters have been listed on my family tree as "Wife of Chaim Fine" and "Daughter1 of Chaim Fine," etc.  I've been able to identify and memorialize more distant relatives who were killed in the Holocaust, but these Fine cousins' names were just a huge gap.  But now I am able to give them names.

Fajn Family, 1932

Sunday, May 1, 2022

Look for Obscure Sources Too; How I Found a Written Mention of Shlomo Diment

My paternal grandfather was a Holocaust survivor.  From him and his surviving siblings, I knew they had a brother Shlomo who was murdered by the Nazis soon after his bar mitzvah.  Their older sister Kreina was also murdered, along with her husband and their young daughter.  I've found mention of Kreina in written documents--both her birth record and a form filled out by my great grandfather relating to her schooling.  But other than oral history, I've seen no written document with Shlomo's name.  But now I have.

Diment Family, 1932; 286.1.68 - Lists of residents of Czaruków gmina of Jewish nationality

Wednesday, April 27, 2022

Yom Hashoah 2022

Yom Hashoah (Holocaust Memorial Day) starts this evening.  For the past six years, I have listed the names of the family members I've found who were murdered in the Holocaust.  In 2020, I listed 454 relatives.  In 2021, I listed 515.  And this year I list 642.

Every year, this list grows as I find new branches of my family--and then find that multiple members of those branches were killed between 1941 & 1945.  This year I found 127 more people--and many other relatives whose fates are as yet unclear.

Publishing this yearly list is my one small way to make sure they are all remembered--all 642 of those currently on this list.

Front Row L-R: Yosef Wollich, Mendel Chechman, Devorah Chechman; Back Row L-R: Sara Fine Wollich, Moshe Wollich, Chaike Chechman.  All were murdered in the Holocaust

Sunday, April 24, 2022

Chernigov Guberniya Records Indexed on FamilySearch

I've spent many many (many) hours paging through records from my ancestral town of Nizhyn/Nezhin and reconstructing my maternal grandfather's father's family.  Well, if you have family from what was Chernigov Guberniya in the Russian Empire, it's in the process of getting easier for you.

New-to-me marriage of my second cousin 3 times removed, Yosef Chatzkowitz, 1930

Thursday, April 14, 2022

Those Small DNA Percentages - They're Always Real, Right??

With the latest AncestryDNA update, I'm no longer predicted to be 100% "European Jewish," which had been unchanged for several years--and totally matches my paper trail.  (A while back I did have a random 1% Finnish, which disappeared.)  But as of this week, I'm down to 98% European Jewish, along with 1% Norway and 1% Baltics.  Does this mean that I need to start tracing where that 1% came from?  Are these small percentages always real?  Wouldn't it be the case that updates are more accurate than prior predictions?

My Ethnicity Estimate as of April 2022,

Sunday, April 10, 2022

Swapping Surname Confusion - The Impact of Religious (But No Civil) Marriage

In many parts of Austria-Hungary (including Galicia, Maramaros, Bereg, and many more megye), Jews would often have religious marriages but wouldn't register their marriages civilly.  This meant that while the community considered the couple fully married, the government considered their children illegitimate, and those children would generally have to use their mother's surname.  Sometimes people would marry civilly many years after their religious marriage because it was needed for some purpose, and this would retroactively legitimize their children.  (I saw this in my own family, when my great-great grandparents had a civil marriage after they were already grandparents.)

There are many implications for this in genealogy.  It means that yDNA, which generally follows the surname line, does not do so in these cases.  Sometimes, children of such a marriage would vacillate between using their father's surname and their mother's surname.  Sometimes an individual who used his or her mother's surname in Europe would immigrate to America and begin using his or her father's name.  An example of a confusion I've seen in my own family was with my great grandmother's first cousin Roza.  Her surname use teaches an important lesson for making sure that you don't overlook records for an individual from this part of the world.

Marriage of Roza Fuksz to Jakob Steinmetz, Maramaros-Sziget, Hungary (now Sighetu Marmației, Romania), 1914