Wednesday, April 5, 2017

Finding Mira--Creative Search Techniques

My great-great-great grandmother was Mira Halperin Lefand Marienhoff.  Although she came to America after the death of both husbands, I've found her using her maiden name as well as both of her married names--with varying spellings--in the seven years she lived in America before her death.  She did consistently use the first name "Mary" in America.

Mira lived in Pittsburgh for her entire time in America--her ship manifest had her joining her son Louis Leiffand there, she was enumerated in Pittsburgh in the 1910 census, and her 1913 death certificate was issued in Pittsburgh.  So it would make sense that she would be listed in Pittsburgh's 1912 city directory--right?
Mira in the 1910 census on Colwell Street--using a form of her first husband's surname
I couldn't find her.  I tried searching for her under each of her three surnames.  I looked at the images to try to find any of those surnames with the various spellings I'd seen her use.  Nothing.

But then I noticed something:

Death certificate for Mary Marrienhoff, of 1620 "Caldwill" Street

In the 1910 census, Mira was living at 1609 Colwell Street.  When she died in 1913, it was at 1620 "Caldwill" Street--1620 Colwell Street was where Mira's daughter and son-in-law (my great-great grandparents) lived.  So Mira was likely living on Colwell Street when the 1912 city directory was published.
Searching using the Keyword field

I searched Ancestry's City Directories collection for someone living in Pittsburgh in 1912.  In the "keyword" field, I entered the street address in quotation marks.
First search results

In addition to my great-great grandfather Hillel Tolchinsky's listing, there is one for "Mollie Marcenkoff."  While I can't say for sure that this is Mira, if someone with a thick Yiddish accent says that her name is "Mary Marienhoff," I can see "Mollie Marcenkoff" as the resulting entry.
Mollie Marcenkoff, 1912 Pittsburgh City Directory

So if you have information other than someone's name, sometimes entering that information can help find an individual whose name isn't being found by traditional searching!

Note:  I'm on Twitter.  Follow me (@larasgenealogy).

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  1. Great suggestion, Lara. And I agree---that's your Mira/Mary. :)

  2. Thanks for this clever search trick, and the clear illustrations. Will give it a try!

  3. This is great detective and research work, Lara! Thanks for sharing! I am going to put a link on our Facebook page "Genealogy! Help Me!"

  4. Good search tip! Was Mira married to an Israel?

    1. Her second husband was Yitzchok. She had a grandson named Israel whose Hebrew name was Yitzchok, so I assume she used that name, even though her husband Yitzchok never came to America.

  5. Mollie is actually a diminutive of Mary, so it's consistent.

    1. True, but I haven't seen her use that name anywhere else.