Sunday, January 24, 2021

"I humbly ask you not to recruit my own sons, but take the sons of my husband's brother"

I've mentioned how I got various cases relating to my family from the Chernigov Archives, thanks to J-Roots tipping me off to their existence.  I just finished getting the largest case (nearly 100 pages) translated, and it reveals a tale of betrayal, ancestors being arrested, relatives illegally traveling to far-away districts to hide from the draft, and an ancestor of mine who was set on protecting her remaining children, whatever it took.

Life for Jews in the Russian Empire under Czar Nicholas I was very difficult.  There were many difficult edicts that impacted where they could live, what professions they could enter, and how much they were taxed.  One of the most hated edicts was the mandatory military service that took Jewish boys from their families, with the ultimate intent of converting them to Christianity.  Jewish boys were taken as young as aged 12 (and sometimes younger, illegally) and conscripted to military institutions until the age of 18, at which they were mandated to enter the regular army for a 25-year term--which started at that point, meaning that if they survived, they were serving until the age of 43.  These boys were called Cantonists, after those military institutions.  Each Jewish community had a quota to meet, and everyone knew that once a boy was taken, he'd likely never be seen by his family again.  There are lots of stories of what families would do to try to protect their sons.  (You can read more about this era here.) In a document I've recently had translated, I've learned part of my own family's story.

And I've learned that you should not mess with my 5th great grandmother.

One page of correspondence

Sunday, January 17, 2021

My 5th Great Grandfather's Signature - And How I Found It

Finding names and dates are great and are the foundation of genealogical research.  But I love finding documents that tell the stories and show that my family actually interacted with those documents.  So how excited do you think I was to find my 5th great grandfather's signature?

Meir Lefand's Signature

Sunday, January 3, 2021

Following the Clues to A Grammy Winner and a New Year's Rockin' Eve 2020/2021 Performer

I started writing this just this past Thursday, based on a trail I latched onto the previous day.  When I started, I expected to write about a huge mystery behind how a branch of my solidly Russian Empire family ended up in Hungary.  Just a few days later, I've likely figured out why they emigrated to Budapest--and I've discovered that I'm distant cousins with a Grammy Award-winning cellist and a performer who was on New Year's Rocking Eve (but of course I only found that connection the next morning when it was too late to watch it, but I did watch on YouTube).  I have not discovered why that musical talent did not make it into my DNA.

This is another tale of why you need to use multiple sources to fully flesh out a family.  Keep track of how many different resources I use in figuring out these connections.

A Marriage Record With A Mistake - Keep Reading to Find Out More!