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.