Uncovering the past

11
Dec
2007

This is getting really fascinating. I have been pouring over original documents with rapt attention. Here are a few tidbits I have found out about my ancestors:

-It appears my paternal great grandfather and grandmother had a 20 year age difference between them and it was the second marriage for at least one of them. It looks like my grandfather may have been the only child of them both, with several half siblings.

-Several of my male ancestors list “Peddler” as their profession. This probably accounts for why they moved around so much in their younger years.

-On various documents, information reported will change. Normally this will involve a year or two fudging of age or arrival date.

– One of my ancestors lists (on his WWI draft registration card) that he is a citizen of both Russia and Poland, and then that he was born in Romania and Hungary. Could this have something to do with shifting boundaries?

-In many cases for the first immigrants, in the census where it asks for language spoken, they wrote “Jewish”. I am pretty sure today that we refer to this language as “Yiddish”, but it is interesting how the names of things will change over time, partially obscuring them from us.

At this point it is sad to say that I doubt I will be able to find out much more before any arrival in the US. There are many reasons for this including name changes on arrival as well as bad or no records of place of arrival or ships boarded. It would seem difficult to pierce this veil.

Who were they?

10
Dec
2007

Yesterday, I came across a fascinating/creepy new search engine that looks up all kinds of records about people. This led me to a genealogy site where I was able to look up records about people from census reports, birth and death records, marriages, etc.  As our family history had become a hot topic over the past few weeks here, I was interested to fill in some of the gaps, especially around my great grandmother’s generation.  I have to admit to being rather amazed at the information one can find for certain time periods. Census reports that are more than 72 years old are all available and so I was able to reconstruct location and age information from these. I was able to pinpoint the arrival years in the US for my great grandmother’s parents (Jacob in 1890 and Ida in 1892) and to verify where they came from (Russia). I was also able to find some birth and death year information for my grandmother’s siblings. I was able to look at signed copies of WWI and II draft cards. There is a ton of information, but also a ton that is missing. Some items were not recorded, or wrongly recorded. I am just at the beginning of my search, but it is fascinating.

All sorts of questions come to mind when looking over these documents. What was it like, leaving their home country? What brought them to this part of the country? What sorts of work did they do? What was life like back then? What did they love in life, what did they value? In short, who were they?