Thursday, December 31, 2015

My Endogamous Father

Nearly a month ago, I did a post on how I was able to see which of my DNA segments came from which ancestor.  I did the same thing with Kitty Cooper's Chromosome Matcher for my father's DNA and was able to see the endogamy underlying in my father's Ashkenazic DNA.
My father's DNA, on his father's side

Sunday, December 27, 2015

Mazal tov, it's a (63-year-old) boy!

My great-great grandfather, Shmuel Moshe Rutner was born in what was then Darva, Austria-Hungary (now Kolodne, Ukraine), in 1855.  So when I was going through some birth records from the town that began in 1895, I didn't expect to find his birth.
Birth Record, Mosko Ruttner, 1855 (registered 1918)

Wednesday, December 23, 2015

Uncle Izzy Joshowitz's Birthday

My grandmother's brother, Isadore Joshowitz (my Uncle Izzy), was the only child in the family born in Europe; my grandmother and their other siblings were all born in Pennsylvania.  Uncle Izzy never knew his exact birthday and always celebrated it as though he were born on February 12, 1913.

Well, he wasn't too far off....
Birth Record, Ignacz Joszovics; Darva (Kolodne), Austria-Hungary; 1913

Saturday, December 19, 2015

Chaim Joshowitz's Signature--Kind Of

My great-great grandfather was Chaim Joshowitz.  I saw his name as the source of information for the death record for his sister-in-law Basha Eizikovics Lebovics and got excited--all of the other death records I'd been looking at for Kolodne had the signature of the person who reported a death!
Death Record for Basha Eizikovics Lebovics; Kolodne; 1905

Tuesday, December 15, 2015

The Zubkis Family in 1875--With Some Mysteries

My great-great-great grandfather, Shaul Ber Zubkis, was listed in the 1875 Russian Empire census in the town of Kuna--but it was noted there that he and his 2-year-old son Shaya (my great-great grandfather) were living in Shpikov.  It turns out that Shaul Ber was also listed in the 1875 census as taken in Shpikov in an addendum for those who were registered in other towns.
Zubkis Family; 1875 Russian Empire Census; Shpikov; page 1

Saturday, December 12, 2015

Speaking in Philadephia Next Week

I'll be speaking in Philadelphia on December 20, 2015.

Mindel Joshowitz's Death, Two New Ancestors, and a New Ancestral Surname

I knew that my grandmother Minnie was named for her grandmother, Mindel Eizikovics Joshowitz.  And I knew that Mindel, whose husband was Chaim, died in Europe, at some point before my grandmother's cousin Minnie was born in 1916.  But that's all I knew--until now.
Death Record for "Minda Eizikovics," wife of Chajim Joszovics

Tuesday, December 8, 2015

Reparations for Avraham Beitch

My great grandfather, Avraham Beitch, was killed in the Holocaust.  I know bits and pieces about him from my grandmother, but not a ton.  However, in 1950, his wife Sheva applied for reparations for her husband's death, giving us some insight into Avraham's pre-war life.

Saturday, December 5, 2015

The Death of Chaim Joshowitz--And the Addition of Two Ancestors

My great-great grandfather was Chaim Joshowitz.  I knew that from his son Josef's gravestone and death certificate.  And I knew that he died in 1927 or earlier, since my grandmother's youngest brother Herbie was named for Chaim.  But other than the fact that his wife was Mindel Eizikovics, that's about all I knew about him.  Until now.
Chaim Joshowitz Death Record

Thursday, December 3, 2015

Mapping my DNA

As more and more of my known relatives have done DNA tests, I've been wanting to figure out which of my DNA came from which relative--both for my own curiosity as well as when new matches come in, to be able to determine on which side they were matching.

Kitty Cooper's Chromosome Matcher gives the ability to take known relatives' DNA and attribute shared DNA to known shared ancestors.  So I tried it.  And liked it.


Monday, November 30, 2015

Ita Farkas Rutner's Death, Another Generation, and Her Gravestone

I knew that my great-great-great grandmother was Itta Farkas Rutner, since her name was given on her son Shmuel Moshe Rutner's birth record.  But that's all I knew--until now.
Ita Farkas Ruttner Death Record, 1914

Chromosome Analytics--My Guest Post

As some of my relatives whom I've begged nicely asked to take DNA tests can attest, Israel Pickholtz of the All My Foreparents blog and author of the only book out there on Jewish DNA analysis has inspired me to leverage DNA testing to forward my only family's genealogy.

A few weeks ago, he published a post looking at the differences in the amounts of shared DNA expected and that seen between those with Jewish DNA; he also demonstrated how much siblings' matches can differ.  I now am administering enough kits that I decided to do a similar analysis.

Saturday, November 28, 2015

My Fifteen (Or More Like Two) Minutes of Fame

I was recently contacted by Yahoo News who saw my post about how genealogy saved my life.  They were planning a story on 23AndMe, which is back in the news now that they have been approved to give some health results, along with the genealogy results which they never stopped giving.

I spent Veterans' Day with the crew and have learned that the Hollywood life is not for me; it was a long and exhausting day!  But the resulting video is now released.  I can't believe how 6 hours were distilled to this story.

Thursday, November 26, 2015

The Homesteading Sinchers - Isaac

Last month, I discovered that two Sanshuck brothers, William (Velvel) and Isaac, left Krasnoye and came to America and changed their last name to Sincher.  Their wives later joined them in Denver.  Looking into this family a bit more, I discovered there were actually four Sanshuck/Sincher brothers--the other two were David and Morris (Meilach).  When the brothers first immigrated, they were living in Laramie County (perhaps in my honor?), Wyoming--and were homesteading.  This must have been quite a change from their lives in the Russian Empire!

The brothers all settled close to one another in Wyoming, but eventually they migrated to very different parts of the United States, so I'm going to take a look at each of them.

Isaac Sincher came to the United States in 1911 (as discussed here) and was living in Wyoming at least as early as 1918, when the newspaper announced his draft number.
Wheatland (Wyoming) World no. 49 October 04, 1918, page 8

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Amalia Rutner, Business Owner

My grandmother's aunt and uncle, Abraham/Adolph and Amalia (Kassirer) Rutner, brought significant documentation with them to the United States from their time in Budapest; their son gave me copies a while back.  Among the papers are documents showing that Amalia was very self-sufficient, applying for various business licenses in her own name.  Initially I thought that this would have been after her husband left to America, but he did not leave until 1925, and these documents were from earlier that decade and the previous decade.
Amalia Rutner Grocery Store Permit

Saturday, November 21, 2015

Sheva Baich's Reparation Application

Just as my grandparents applied for reparations (giving some insight into their pre-war life and their life during WWII), so did my great grandmother, Sheva Fine Baitch who applied in 1950, just over a year before her death.

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

My Great-Great Grandmother's Name--Back to a Mystery (And It's DNA's Fault)

In earlier posts, I discussed how in trying to discover the maiden name of Hinda Diamond, my great-great grandmother, I first discovered a document that had it as Christ--but I soon had a moment of epiphany and tied "Cousin Sam" mentioned in a letter written by my grandfather's first cousin to the Schmul Kreiss who emigrated to America with my grandfather's aunt and two cousins.  Schmul became Samuel Krise in America and lived in Detroit where he had three daughters.  I suspected that my great-great grandmother's maiden name had been Kreiss.

In September, I received an email from a woman named Lisa, who had found my blog posts--and who was a great granddaughter of Sam Krise.  And her grandmother is still alive.  Well, channeling Israel Pickholtz, I realized this was the perfect situation for DNA testing!  With my hypothesized relationship and the clues given in the aforementioned letter, Sam was likely a first or second cousin of my grandfather--definitely close enough for my father's, uncle's and probably my autosomal DNA to match.
Schmul Kreiss (Sam Krise)'s Ship Manifest (line 26); 1913

Sunday, November 15, 2015

The Kaufmans of Baltimore-- and Raboldshausen, Germany

I wrote earlier about Kaufman Kaufman, one of my nieces' favorite "family tree stories."  He was the brother of their 4th great grandmother, Amelia Kaufman Schwerin.  The Kaufman family immigrated to Baltimore in 1853, and since my family all arrived in the 20th century, I've been fascinated with the research opportunities available for earlier immigrants.  But could I trace the family further back to Europe?
Kaufman Family Ship Manifest; February 1853

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Always Check the Original

My sister-in-law's grandfather asked me if I could find out more information about his mother's mother.  He knew that his mother, Cecelia Resnick Miliman, had lost her mother at a young age, possibly in childbirth.  He wasn't sure of his grandmother's name or much else about her.  He did know that his grandfather, Louis Resnick, had remarried a woman named Anna who helped to raise Cecelia.

I was able to find Cecelia's birth certificate at the Maryland State Archives in Annapolis.  Apparently she didn't have an official first name until she was in her 60s!
Cecelia Resnick Birth Certificate; March 1901; Baltimore, MD

Saturday, November 7, 2015

WWI's Impact to the Sincher Family--and Most of Russia's Jews

A few weeks ago, I'd found a branch of my Sanshuck family that came to the US, changed the family name to Sincher, and ended up in Denver as of 1922.  While initially I'd found two brothers, I've now found four, all of whom lived in Wyoming in the 1910s.  One brother, Morris (Meilach), came on the same boat as William/Velvel (and was pointed out by Susan Steeble on a comment to that prior post).  In his naturalization papers was the translation of a letter from his sister-in-law, Mindel.  Morris was in America earning money to bring over his wife, so I can't imagine what it was like to receive this letter.
Letter to Morris Meilach Sincher from Mindel Sincher, ~1921

Thursday, November 5, 2015

Zubaty Family Overview

In multiple earlier posts, I've showed various revision lists with Zubaty families in Buki and Uman.  It seems like there are five distinct families here (likely all stemming from one couple 1-2 generations further back), with some of the notations on the census giving mention to connections between some of the families.  The following is what I've extracted from these records.  Information is from the revision lists of 1795, 1818, 1851 and 1858.
Zubaty Families from Buki & Uman areas

Tuesday, November 3, 2015

Funniest Census Record Ever

This past weekend, I did an Ancestry search for some version of Sanshuck.  I don't remember the exact search, but in the list of results was someone named "Purity Sincerity" in the 1940 census.  Although I knew she(?) wasn't related to me, I looked at the census record anyways--and found the best census record I've ever seen.
1940 US Census; New York City

RootsTech Update and Contest Winner

First of all, congratulations to my reader Vicki A. who won my giveaway for a free pass to RootsTech 2016!  But if you didn't win, it's not too late to register--the current "promo pricing" is only $169 for this 3+ day jam-packed conference.  Check below for a link to other Ambassadors' ongoing free pass giveaways!

The conference Thursday keynotes have been announced, and I'm really looking forward to hearing these speakers.

Sunday, November 1, 2015

HIAS Follow-Ups

As mentioned earlier (here and here), the Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society (HIAS), along with the Zuriff and Turk relatives, helped to bring my grandparents and great grandmother to America.  But even after April 1, 1947, when Sonia and Paul Diamond and Sheva Beitch arrived in New York, HIAS was still involved.
HIAS Letter Checking on Sheva Beitch; Summer 1947

Thursday, October 29, 2015

The World's Only Jewish Christening

Harry Zitelman, my grandfather's first cousin, was born in Frederick, Maryland in 1913.  His parents were Morris (Moshe) and  Rebecca Zitelman, both of who were immigrants from near what is now Lutsk, Ukraine.

102 years ago this week, the infant Harry's bris (circumcision ceremony) made the local Frederick newspaper.  And it's clear from the article that Jewish rituals were not well-understood in Frederick!
The (Frederick, Maryland) News; October 27, 1913

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

International Tracing Service Came Through! Paul Diamond's Displaced Persons Records

Over a year ago, I contacted the International Tracing Service (ITS) to see if they had information on my grandfather during or after WWII.  I had forgotten that I even submitted the request--and was pleasantly surprised to get multiple documents from them, tracing my grandfather's life after WWII finished until he left Europe for America.  My grandmother's account of those years can be seen here.
Pejsach Diment Alien Registration, December 13, 1945

Monday, October 26, 2015

Adolph Rutner, Documents Galore

Adolph Rutner was the brother of my great grandmother, Esther Rutner Joshowitz and her only blood relative (besides her children) with her in McKeesport, Pennsylvania.  When Adolph came to America, he brought along many documents from Europe--and his son Emile gave me copies of them back in the early 1990s.

Adolph was born Abraham Rutner in what is now Dulovo, Transcarpathia, Ukraine--part of the Austria-Hungarian Empire when he was born in 1894.

By 1914, he was living in Budapest, and he had to apply for official permission to live there.
Abraham Rutner Temporary License; Budapest; 1914

Thursday, October 22, 2015

I'm Going Sanshuck Tracking....

Many researchers have to take family names and figure out from an Americanized version, what the name had been in Europe.  However, this is an example of having to go the other way--and how changing up traditional search techniques can help solve a problem.

Sanshuck is a very uncommon name.  It is also the maiden name of my great-great grandmother, Zlata Tzipra Sanshuck Supkoff.  Based on the metrical records I have from her hometown of Krasnoye, Ukraine (near Vinnitsa), it appears that all of Krasnoye's Sanshucks are descended from one person, Yisrael Sanshuck.

I found ship manifests for two Sanshuck brothers from Krasnoye:
Itzko Schinzuk Ship Manifest; Liverpool->Maine; March 1911

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Finding Eastern European Records - Collection of Posts


Finding records from Eastern Europe can be challenging--but it isn't impossible.  This series of blog posts covers some strategies to help you locate where records may exist.  Do you have other ideas that weren't covered?  Please mention them in this post's comments!




Finding Eastern European Records, Part 1 (LDS Microfilms)

 

 

 

 

Sunday, October 18, 2015

Sonia Diamond Holocaust Reparations Application


After surviving the Holocaust and coming to America, my grandmother Sonia Diamond applied for reparations from the German government.  My father tells me that my grandparents did get reparations--and they turned the money around straight to charity.  The following is the content of her 1950 application.

Thursday, October 15, 2015

Finding Eastern European Records, Part 7 - Other Sources for Documents (and Beyond the Records)

I've often been asked how I find so many documents from various parts of Eastern Europe--many of which have appeared in blog posts.  This is the seventh in what will be a series of posts describing how to find Eastern European records for your own ancestors; the entire series can be seen here.

This post will concentrate on places to find not only documents beyond those already discussed, but also information about the towns or cities in which you family lived to be able to get a better understanding of their lives in Europe.  If you know of additional sources, please leave them in the comments!

Yad Vashem

Yad Vashem, the Holocaust Museum located in Jerusalem, is also a resource to learn about those who were killed and the towns in which they lived.  Yad Vashem's searchable database of Pages of Testimony can give insight into your relatives, and potentially help you locate more distant relatives who survived to fill out the pages.  They also have significant repositories of photographs, documents, and other information here.
Yad Vashem Page of Testimony for Dovid Eizik Eizikovic, my great grandfather's first cousin

Tuesday, October 13, 2015

Contest--Win RootsTech 2016 Free Registration!

I'm excited to be attending RootsTech 2016--and a lucky blog reader will be able to attend for free (a savings of $249 off the full price registration), with more details below.  Thanks to the RootsTech Ambassador program for making this possible.

RootsTech will be held February 3-6, 2016, in Salt Lake City.  Why do you want to attend?  Well, it is the largest family history event in the world.  Regardless of whether you're a genealogy beginner or an expert, there will be something for you.  There are over 200 classes over the course of the conference, a huge exhibit hall, and the ability to network with other genealogy addicts.

Monday, October 12, 2015

The Moving Marienhoffs, Take 2

Earlier, I showed the extreme distances that Yitzchok/Isaac Marienhoff and his son Binyamin/Benoit traveled during the 19th century.  The same sort of traveling was done by Binyamin's first cousins, siblings Louis and Jules as well.

Jules Marienhoff Antwerp Police Registration, June 1892 (page 1)

Sunday, October 11, 2015

Census Sunday - Zutelman Family; Boremel, Russian Empire; 1858

This is the 1858 Revision List (Russian Empire version of a census) for the Zutelman family in the town of Boremel, in what is now Rivnens'ka Oblast, Ukraine, located here.  The left page are the males in the family; the right side lists the females.

The top notes that this is from 1858, and is a revision list for Volhyn Province, Dubno County, town of Boremel.  This page contains the extended family of my great-great-great grandfather, Pesach Hirsch Zutelman.

Thursday, October 8, 2015

Paul Diamond Reparations Application

After my grandfather, Paul Diamond, survived the Nazis, he came to America.  In 1950, he applied for reparations--and in doing so, he documented his life both before and after the Nazis invaded his part of Poland (now Ukraine).

Tuesday, October 6, 2015

Settleman/Suttleman Connection?

My great-great grandfather Yechiel Suttleman was the son of Pesach Hirsch Suttleman.  Born in 1850 in what's now Ukraine, Yechiel came to America in 1911.  I have significant amounts of information (both on paper and from relatives' memories) on his three wives and twelve children.  But no one ever mentioned if he had siblings himself or aunts and uncles.

There is a gentleman (with the family name of "Settleman") who knows he is related to us.  He knew Hinda, daughter of Yechiel (and second wife Chana) as his father's cousin.  His father was Efraim (Frank in America), and his grandfather he believes was Abraham.  He knows that his father had a brother Pesach.  Is this family truly related?  If so, how?
Ship Manifest; Pejsach Zutelman; Argentina -> New York; December 1923 (page 1)

Saturday, October 3, 2015

Finding Eastern European Records, Part 6 (Getting Documents from Archives)

I've often been asked how I find so many documents from various parts of Eastern Europe--many of which have appeared in blog posts.  This is the sixth in  a series of posts describing how to find Eastern European records for your own ancestors.  While these posts will generally concentrate on how to find Jewish records in Eastern Europe, many of the strategies will also be applicable to records for other religions.  (Note that in the Russian Empire, most record sets were recorded separately by religion.)  The entire series can be seen here.

Dealing with Archives Directly

Some Eastern European archives are very responsive and can be reached via email addresses or forms on their webpages.  Others are not responsive at all to individual email queries.  (Many of the archives in Ukraine fall into this category.)  The archivists, should you get a response, are best utilized for specific queries.  Examples of what they can help with are:
  • "My grandfather, Leib Melamed, was born in the town of XXX on January 1, 1899.  Do you have a copy of a birth record for him?"
  • "I'm interested in entries for the Melamed family in the 1875 census for XXX town."
Examples of what they likely will not be able to help with include:
  • "My family lived somewhere in Vilna Guberniya.  What do you have on them?"
  • "Please send me all records from the Melamed family in XXX town."
1811 Revision List for modern-day Krasnoye, Belarus; Obtained from Lithuanian State Historical Archives (Halperin family is highlighted)

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Book Review: "Endogamy: One Family, One People"

Anyone with Ashkenazic Jewish heritage--or heritage from other self-contained communities--knows that genetic genealogy is much harder than it is for the typical individual.  We're all related to one another in many ways, and often we're a product of multiple close-cousin marriages.  Therefore, genetic closeness can be amplified, and a predicted 2nd-4th cousin match actually may be a 8th cousin 12 ways without a relationship closer than that.  This isn't to say that there can't be successes--genetic genealogy is how I found my grandfather's aunt's family--it just makes things more difficult.

Israel Pickholtz's new book "Endogamy: One Family, One People" serves to demonstrate how even when dealing with an endogamous population, there is still huge potential in combining genetic genealogy with traditional research.  To do this, he steps through the research he has done with his own family--and the reader can take lessons which can be applicable to his or her own research.

Sunday, September 27, 2015

RootsTech 2016 - Ambassador!

I'm honored to have been selected as an Ambassador for RootsTech 2016.  I'm so excited to finally attend RootsTech in person (although I've watched some of the presentations remotely in years past).  Registration is open, and I hope to meet some of those who have read my posts!

RootsTech 2016 will be held from February 3-6 2016 in Salt Lake City, Utah.  Registration is now open!


Saturday, September 26, 2015

My Eastern European Ancestors Stayed Put for Generations--Or Not (The Stories of Yitzchak/Isaac and Binyamin/Benoit Marienhoff)

Many people believe that their families lived in the same general area for hundreds of years.  And while that was the case for some families, I've seen significant amounts of internal-to-Europe migration.  I've already traced my Supkoff/Zubkis family from Shpikov to Kuna and potentially to Uman and Buki before that.  But those were in the same general area.

Within two generations, Yitzchok Marienhoff (my step great-great-great grandfather) and his son Binyamin moved across broad swaths of Europe--both within the enormous Russian Empire and beyond.

The first mention I have of Binyamin Marienhoff was as a 15-year-old in the 1888 poll tax census, when he was living in Nezhin with his father, step-mother (my great-great-great grandmother Mira), and some of his siblings (including some half and step).
1888 Nezhin Poll Tax Census; Binyamin is the 15-year-old; my great-great grandmother is the 17-year-old

Thursday, September 24, 2015

1818 Uman Revision List--One Page

I have one set of pages for the 1818 Uman Revision List.  There are no family names, but in case it is helpful to anyone in the future, here it is (with translation):
Families in 1818 Uman Revision List--Males


Sunday, September 20, 2015

Finding Eastern European Records, Part 5 (Locating records in European Archives )

I've often been asked how I find so many documents from various parts of Eastern Europe--many of which have appeared in blog posts.  This is the fifth in a series of posts describing how to find Eastern European records for your own ancestors.  While these posts will generally concentrate on how to find Jewish records in Eastern Europe, many of the strategies will also be applicable to records for other religions.  (Note that in the Russian Empire, most record sets were recorded separately by religion.)  The entire series can be seen here.

While a growing number of documents can be obtained in a researcher's local region (either online or via LDS microfilm) as discussed in earlier posts, an significantly larger number of documents are sitting undigitized--and sometimes disorganized--in Eastern European archives.
Birth Records for the Town of Shpikov--from Khmelnitski Archives

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

Coming to America, 1947 (Through the Lens of HIAS)

Previously, I traced the 1946 effort to bring my grandparents and great grandmother to America as seen in HIAS records.  In 1947, things started to come together:
New York HIAS Office Request to Baltimore Office for Fees

Saturday, September 12, 2015

Finding Eastern European Records, Part 4 (FamilySearch.org and Ancestry.com)

I've often been asked how I find so many documents from various parts of Eastern Europe--many of which have appeared in blog posts.  This is the fourth in a series of posts describing how to find Eastern European records for your own ancestors.  While these posts will generally concentrate on how to find Jewish records in Eastern Europe, many of the strategies will also be applicable to records for other religions.  (Note that in the Russian Empire, most record sets were recorded separately by religion.)  The entire series can be seen here.

FamilySearch.org

FamilySearch.org has a small but growing number of Eastern European data sets available.  In addition, since many Eastern European Jews spent time in Western Europe while in transit to America, often family members will appear in surprising places, so wider queries are recommended.

FamilySearch is free to use, although some of the documents it references are only available through other (paid) sites.
Hungarian Jewish Vital Records on FamilySearch; this is a joint effort with JewishGen's H-SIG

Monday, September 7, 2015

Zubatys in 1818 in Buki

Although I haven't figured out how/if they are connected with my family, in the hopes that these will help someone else (please contact me if so--I may have found more info by the time you read this), here are the Zubaty families in the 1818 Revision List for Buki.
Extended family of Srul Eveliovich Zubaty, 1818 Russian Empire Revision List, Buki--Males

Sunday, September 6, 2015

Finding Eastern European Records, Part 3 (Yizkor Books and KehilaLinks)

I've often been asked how I find so many documents from various parts of Eastern Europe--many of which have appeared in blog posts.  This is the third in a series of posts describing how to find Eastern European records for your own ancestors.  While these posts will generally concentrate on how to find Jewish records in Eastern Europe, many of the strategies will also be applicable to records for other religions.  (Note that in the Russian Empire, most record sets were recorded separately by religion.)  The entire series can be seen here.

Yizkor Books

After the Holocaust destroyed their hometowns, survivors wrote their memories of their towns and those who were killed--their neighbors and families.  Most of these books were published in the 1950s and 1960s, and most are in Yiddish with some Hebrew and English.  While each town's book covers different material, in general they cover the town's history (potentially mentioning family members back generations), often list names of those who were murdered, and sometimes have names of those who survived.
From Sefer Maramaros, a page about the town of Kolodne, giving the history of the town's Jews to the 1700s

Wednesday, September 2, 2015

Finding Eastern European Records, Part 2 (JewishGen)


I've often been asked how I find so many documents from various parts of Eastern Europe--many of which have appeared in blog posts.  This is the second in a series of posts describing how to find Eastern European records for your own ancestors.  While these posts will generally concentrate on how to find Jewish records in Eastern Europe, many of the strategies will also be applicable to records for other religions.  (Note that in the Russian Empire, most record sets were recorded separately by religion.)  The entire series can be seen here.

This post will discuss some of what's available on JewishGen; other components will be incorporated into future posts.

Town Locators

A critical component to finding family records in Eastern Europe is having identified a particular town of origin.  JewishGen's Communities Database allows searching using the misspelled or phonetically written versions of a town name which are often passed down orally or found in documentation and discovering the current spelling of that town name.  The results will also show the political situation of that town (noting the country, province and district) during various time periods, reflecting changing governments under which many towns found themselves.
JewishGen's Community Database is easily searchable from its homepage

Tuesday, September 1, 2015

Jacob Schwerin--Lost Son Found

Earlier, I wrote about Jacob E. Schwerin (born 1855), my sister-in-law's third great grandfather, who was from Sumter, South Carolina but did not appear on any of the many online family trees for the one Schwerin family from Sumter--that of Julius and Caroline Schwerin and their children.  There are many mentions of Jacob Schwerins and J.E. Schwerins in South Carolina in the 1870s and 1880s, but I wanted to find something definitively linking him to Julius and Caroline.

There were several things that I was able to find that alluded to Jacob's being a son of Julius and Caroline Schwerin.
The Watchman & Southren, November 13, 1883

Sunday, August 30, 2015

Getting the Diamonds to America--1946, the Year of HIAS Paperwork

I'd written a bit back in 2013 about finding my grandparents' and great grandmother's HIAS file, but I never went into detail about everything that was there.  Their file was very comprehensive and had letters, documents, and telegrams tracing the process of getting them sponsored to America, their transit to America, and the legal follow-up that needed to be done to ensure that they wouldn't be a burden to the American taxpayer.

Much of 1946 was spent with HIAS (Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society) getting the paperwork together so that my grandparents (Paul and Sonia Diamond) and great grandmother (Sheva Beitch) would be able to legally come to America.

The earliest document in the folder was from June of 1946.
Visa Affidavit, Nathan Zuriff, June 1946

Finding Eastern European Records, Part 1 (LDS Microfilms)

I've often been asked how I find so many documents from various parts of Eastern Europe--many of which have appeared in blog posts.  This is the first in what will be a series of posts describing how to find Eastern European records for your own ancestors.  While these posts will generally concentrate on how to find Jewish records in Eastern Europe, many of the strategies will also be applicable to records for other religions.  (Note that in the Russian Empire, most record sets were recorded separately by religion.)  The entire series can be seen here.

This post will cover how to find records available via the LDS on microfilm.
1888 Tax Census for the Marienhoff Family of Nezhin, Russian Empire (now Ukraine)
The document above is an example of a document found on an LDS-filmed microfilm.

The LDS have microfilmed a huge number of records from around the world, including Jewish records covering many towns and districts.  These microfilms can be ordered inexpensively ($7.50 for a 3-month rental) and delivered to the Family History Center of your choice.  Make sure to search multiple spellings for both your town and the district in which the town was located as often records are listed under the spelling for the time period in which they were initially generated--and spellings and even town names changed over time.

Friday, August 28, 2015

Other Buki Zubatys in 1851 (2/2)

Although I haven't figured out how/if they are connected with my family, in the hopes that these will help someone else (please contact me if so--I may have found more info by the time you read this), here are the other Zubaty families in the 1851 Revision List for Buki.  This is the second batch of Zubaty records from this Revision List; the first batch is here.
Family of Moshko Eveliovich Zubaty, 1851 Russian Empire Revision List, Buki--Males